Monday, March 26, 2012

More Books

You can tell I'm on Spring Break with all these blog updates, huh? I'll be back in hibernation in no time.

I'll begin with my favorite: OK for Now. I absolutely LOVED this book. It's probably the best book I've read for awhile. The story is told from the point of view of a thirteen year old boy (the voice in this novel is outstanding!) The books begins as his family moves to a new town. He tried to fit in, but he came from a rough home and the new town seems quick to judge. While it may sound like a downer, the book is full of light and goodness. I was moved to tears (both happy and sad) multiple times. The book is insightful, funny and warm. LOVED. IT.
Chains is another young adult fiction. Set during the Revolutionary War in New York, Chains tells the story of a young slave girl and her disabled little sister. It's a quick, easy and insightful into both the American Revolution an the issue of slavery. I was most fascinated to learn about the role of the slave population in the Revolution. It's the first in a series, and I do plan to pick up the next one. I liked it!
Sopie Kinsella does it again with her novel Twenties Girl. I've read most of her books and thoroughly enjoy them all. Twenties Girl follows a young woman who finds herself able to communicate with her recently deceased grandmother. Obsessed with her past, a young version of grandma harangues her living granddaughter into following her orders. Light, fun, cute, mind candy.
Before I Go to Sleep reads like a mystery. Due to an accident, the main character of this book wakes up every morning not knowing who she is. Every day she meets her husband for what feels like the first time. Everything is new. Every day. But she has started to keep a diary and begins to piece her life together. She's never really sure who to trust and things come to a dramatic climax. It was compelling and captivating. (Although the F word is thrown around quite a bit).

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True
is two stories in one. Both set in Poland, the first story begins in the mid 1930 in one of the mountain villages. The second story is set in modern Poland and partway through the book the two characters collide. I found it interesting to see how Poland has dealt with all the suffering that nation has endured. This is the author's first novel, and while I didn't love it, it was a solid read.
We read Outsiders for book club this month and I found the book to be lovely. I had read it as a teenager and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. The themes are timeless and the characters are great. It's hard to believe this was written by a sixteen year old!

The Brothers is a book intended for a Mormon audience. It's set in the premortal world (before we came to Earth) and focuses on the War in Heaven. It felt very Utah-centric. I just can't imagine that 'heaven' feels so twenty-first century and includes a version of Utah Lake or a look alike of Mount Timpanogos. Seriously, so weird to me. That said, it was an interesting take on the premortal existence, and for that insight it was probably worth reading.
Another thumbs down goes to Tending Roses. It's like reading a Hallmark movie - blech! Tending Roses follows a new mother who spends a lengthy visit with her growingly incapable grandmother. Grandma mysterious leaves these little stories around that provide insight into her granddaughters problems. The relationships were flat, the advice was trite (with occasional moments of decent) and the story was predictable. Skip it.
I heard about Thirteen Reasons Why from TZ. The story unfolds as the main character receives a shoebox full of old cassette tapes with messages recorded by a young girl who just committed suicide. She uses these tapes to explain why she opted to kill herself. Each side of the tape is directed at one person at school that somehow contributed to her suffering. It was a really interesting look at the darker side of high school and I found it very telling.

I also reread New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker. But since I've already reviewed it, I'll skip that. But I will say it made for an amazing discussion at book club. Some opted out, which I totally understand. But for those who read the book and came it was a fabulous night.

The best of this group? OK for Now, Twenties Girl and Chains. Next on my list? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Laks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At Least He's Thorough

The Caboose came home from kindergarten yesterday with a pile of writing he had worked on over the last several months. Let me 'transcribe' this one for you, written January 4, 2012:

"My resolution is to not say bad words like butt and fart, stupid, poopie, pee, boobie, boob, your butt is ugly and your face is ugly and your butt is ugly and poop is ugly."

Well, at least the list is pretty thorough...

(There was also a full book he wrote about his little girlfriend. That one wasn't as disgusting. Maybe there is hope???)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Super Tuesday

While Romney and Santorum were fighting over votes in Ohio, Massachusetts and Georgia, Big Boy #2 was working to earn votes himself. The kids at school were getting ready for their big field trip to Ameritowne.

It's a place designed to teach children financial literacy and the basics of community life. In preparation for the field trip, the kids had to fill out an application, interview for jobs or run for elected office. BB#2 ran for Mayor of Ameritowne. He prepared a PowerPoint presentation and easily won the primary (his actual class). The next step was to present in front of the whole fifth grade. On Super Tuesday the results came in, and he won Mayor!!!

Yesterday the kids headed to Ameritowne. It's an amazing place, that feels a bit like Main Street in Disneyland. All of the kids had uniforms/costumes that corresponded to their jobs. At the market, they wore aprons, at the hospital, they wore lab coats, etc. The Mayor? He wore this bad boy.

Each student is given a specific job and as the Mayor, BB#2 had to begin the day by taking the oath of office and then giving a speech to the entire group.

As head of the government, he then swore in the Ameritowne police officers.

But if you ask him, probably his very favorite part was ceremoniously cutting the ribbon with these giant scissors.

Each student had work to do, but BB#2 thought that after giving his speech, he would pretty much just be hanging out. He was wrong. There was a lot to keep this young mayor busy.

To start, each business had applied for a business license, and the Mayor had to get those filled out and distributed. Then he worked on their web site, filled in for the judge when she was on break and also selected the winner of the Ameritowne Stamp Design competition. "I have to do a lot of signatures today!"

As part of learning about personal finance, each worker received a paycheck, which they deposited at the 'bank'. They were encouraged to save some of their money as well as invest in high, medium, or low risk stocks. They each had a debit card and checkbook. With the left over money the kids shopped at each other's stores - for real things, like snacks or small toys.

At the end of the day, he was a part of the closing ceremonies, distributing certificates to all the business leaders of the community.

As a social studies teacher, I was beyond impressed with what those students learned at Ameritowne: supply and demand, interview skills, investment risk, money management, the basics of running a business, advertising, etc. And they had a fabulous time while doing it.

BB#2 was on cloud nine the entire time. He loved that his peers were calling him "Mayor" all day long, he loved the free stuff he received from the townspeople, (Whaaa? Corruption already???) and he loved his picture and interview on the cover of the Ameritowne newpaper. Overall, a GREAT experience!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Thumbs Up

The Caboose has been sucking his thumb since he was a newborn baby. The pediatrician figured that this habit probably started in the womb.

While my other babies were pacifier addicts, this one opted for his thumb - always there, always accessible. He slept better than his brothers, because he was able to soothe himself. I remember expressing concern to my sister in law, Jill. Wouldn't it ruin his teeth? Her response was "Hey, the kid will need braces either way, right? You might as well enjoy the good sleep." I took her advice, figuring it would all work out well enough.

So the Caboose kept sucking his thumb while clinging to his soft, silky blankie. When the other boys were about two or three years old, we took their Nuks away. It wasn't too much of a problem. One or two bad nights and they were able to move on. (Big Boy #2 gave his Nuk to Santa - who left him a special present for being such a big boy). But one of the problems with sucking a thumb is that you can't exactly take it away. Always there? Always accessible? Yup.

The Caboose kept sucking his thumb, and frankly, I had a hard time really trying to stop it. He just looked so stinkin' sweet with his thumb in his mouth. When he turned five he declared he was finished. That didn't even last an hour. We took away his blankie, but he just found other soft things to rub his fingers on; his brothers' silky althetic shorts, the soft sheets on the bed, he would even play with my hair or rub his fingers over my skin to find something soft. When he swore of his thumb the night before he turned six, I wasn't too optimistic.

But he did it. Once he woke up on his birthday, he didn't suck his thumb all day. He was in high spirits and very proud of himself. However, by nightfall, he was tired and wanted to fall asleep with his thumb in his mouth. The way he has done every single night of his entire life. He was crying and saying "I can't do it! It's too hard!" I tried to console him. I bribed him with a Slurpee if he could make it through the night. I encouraged him to say a little prayer that he would be able to make it.

A little bit later I heard him say "YES! Heavenly Father did it!!!" "Did what?" I asked. "He made it easy to not suck my thumb!" (Love this for sooo many reasons.) He made it through the night and we celebrated with a Slurpee the next day.

He's been doing great ever since. A couple quick slip ups in the morning, but otherwise he has stayed strong. Talk about willpower! He just decided he was done, and BAM! Done!

Then last night he was having another hard night. He was tired and just wanted to suck his thumb. I brought him downstairs and let him lay on the couch to fall asleep. As he finally drifted off I notice his little mouth working away - no thumb, but sucking in his sleep much the way he did was he was a baby and his thumb had fallen out of his mouth. My little baby is growing up. I'm so proud of him, but I will miss the tenderness of my little baby with his thumb in his mouth. Man I love that kid!

Monday, March 12, 2012


The Caboose is SIX! We celebrated this momentous occasion with a Phineas and Ferb birthday party. Here he is with the Perry the Platypus birthday cake. (Thanks Carolyn for the fondant recipe!)

Phineas and Ferb's older sister Candice is always trying to get her little brothers in trouble and is known for the phrase "You're busted!" In her honor, we had a "You're busted" balloon pop. Most of the kids loved it, but there were a couple who weren't so keen on the loud noise. Oops!
Doctor Doofenshmirtz is always trying to catch Perry the Platypus. So the kids made these contraptions to catch Perry - complete with a cookie for bait. We named each contraption after the kid who made it, like the "Donavin-inator 6000". It was really cute.

We played "Where's Perry" hide and seek and also let the kids make there own "Ice Cream Invention". It was a great little party and I think the kids had a fun time.

After the party we headed off to Red Robbin for a birthday dinner. (Of course the only reason they pick Red Robbin is for the shake and the sundae.)

Here's the Caboose at age SIX:
-The Caboose LOVES: reading, playing with his brothers (and his brothers friends), McDonald's, soccer, his Nintendo DS, having friends over, playing on mom's iPod
-The Caboose HATES: When his brother's bug him, being treated like a baby, sleeping in his own bed, and when Diamond sings
-Favorite subject in school: recess
-Favorite food: Taco soup

Happy birthday little man. We love you TONS and TONS and even more than that!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I hate the idea of having a braggy blog, but sometimes you just can't help it! Big Boy #1 has earned his Life Scout. Yay!
You'd never guess that there may have been a bit of parental urging to earn all those merit badges, huh? (Although I have fallen in love with Merit Badge colleges!)
Every time a scout earns a rank advancement, they present their mom with a Mother's Pin. Honestly, Diamond deserves this way more than I do. Next stop? Eagle baby!
Meanwhile, Big Boy #2 earned the "Rising Star" award from the University of Denver.
It's an award for students who demonstate strong leadership and hard work. Sounds like BB#2 to me! The best part was that the prize was 15 tickets to a DU Men's Basketball game.
With fifeteen tickets to share, there was enough for Big Boy #1 and his pals, and their cousin too.

Silly boys!
Good job buddy!