Monday, November 26, 2012

From the Pens of Babes

It's not just the mouth of babes that says funny things.  Once these kids get writing, they are quite entertaining.  (BTW, click on the pictures to enlarge them if you want to see the details.)

Last night, #4 came across a Valentine booklet that her classmates made last year in second grade.  Each child wrote a page for all the other classmates, and the teacher bound them into booklets.  Just for kicks, here are some of our favorite messages of love to our sweet #4.  I am leaving the second-grade spelling and grammar as is, because it's more fun that way!

Dear [#4], want to have another play date sometime.  Yes____  no____  Love, Madeline
     You gotta' love the classic Yes and No waiting for a checkmark.

Dear [#4], I like you in my class.  You are the best.  You have a great math folder and math teacher.  I will be out of school.  So I will be out of school.  You go to a great church.  You live in a great house.  Love, Eduard.
     For the record, Eduard has the best handwriting in the book.

Dear [#4], I love your voise, hair, eys, and lips.  From, todd.
     This one makes #4 giggle every time we read it!

Dear [#4], I love your hair.  I'm very glad that you are in my class.  from, Amanda
     Second graders must not be very picky about hair, because #4 only brushed it 50% of the time last year, yet everyone seems to love it.  In Kindergarten, Eduard used to love #4's long braid, so she asked me to braid it frequently that year just to make him happy.

Dear. [#4] you look good.  from. Jacob
     #4 didn't giggle at this one until I started reading it with great emphasis on "goo--ood"!

Dear [#4], I like you because you have the same initials as George Washington.  Sincerely, Autumn #13
     There is much I love about this note!  Besides the obvious, the compliment is funnier to me because Autumn #13's dad is English; that she would tie her favorite thing about #4 to George Washington who beat the Redcoats just strikes me as funny.  And the fact that she identifies herself as #13, her line-up number, cracks me up.  (Or maybe she watched a lot of House.)

Dear [#4].  I like your hair.  You are nice.  You are cute.  Love, Grace
     I guess hair is a really important feature to eight-year-olds.

Dear [#4] I think you are the nicest kid in the class.  I like how you collect a lot of stuff.  love, Maddie
     Well I don't like how she collects a lot of stuff!  Though I am glad for the sake of the reappearance of this Valentine booklet that she kept reams of homework and other papers from last school year.

Dear [#4], you are nice  love, Cam
     Don't worry, we razzed her about the underline of "love" from Cam.  More giggles!

Dear [#4], I like that your after me in line.  from, Brandon
     Does this kid have the beginning of a superiority complex?

Dear [#4]  I love your hair and I also like how you dress.  From Whitney  to [#4]
     Again with the hair.  Even funnier is the fact that #4's school enforces a uniform policy, so all the kids dress the same!  At least Whitney likes the uniform.

Dear, [#4]  I like you long hair  From, cole
     That makes five!

Dear [#4]  I like your last name.  thank you for being a good freind and pal love, lucy
     I like her last name too.  It shares an initial with George Washington.

Dear [#4] I like you I like your Belt It cut.  Love Michelle
     More support for the uniform policy.  These kids are brainwashed!

And my favorite...
Dear [#4]  I was just kiding About your bur p's their tromendis they go BuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurP
     (Not #4's favorite compliment.)

#4's classmates aren't the only prodigious authors on the topic of love.  #5 enjoys practicing his relatively new writing skills as well.  Recently, I found this red-dry-erase-marker message scrawled on my bathroom mirror:
In case you can't decipher it, here's what it says:

 Mom and dad
               Mom + Dad
          ♥           ♥                                    kis on the [sketch of lips] evry day                 
          ♥       eechther
          ♥        bi
                 [#5]   ♥

At least the kid is secure in his parents' love for each other, even if he is tending toward graffiti.  It makes me a little nervous that he tried to write our phone number at the end.  What is that for?  "For a gross time watching my parents kiss, call 812-07P5"?  That's so junior high!

Sorry for all the lovey dovey stuff in this post.  I'll end with #5's recent composition.

After a year of listening to him beg for piano lessons, I started teaching him at the beginning of this school year.  Unlike my other children, whose enthusiasm faded after two months and devolved into the normal moaning and groaning of piano practicing, #5 can't get enough of the piano.  Every Monday, he rushes through the door and asks if we can please start his lesson NOW!  We recently watched a six-year-old piano genius on Ellen, and I mentioned that the boy reminds me of Mozart, who started composing at about that age.  After I explained to #5 what composing is, he made a beeline to the piano and began putting together his master works.  I told him he could earn a piano star (ten stars equals a prize) if he wrote a song.  At his next lesson, here is what was written in his notebook:

In case you can't see the double bar lines at the end of his lines of letters, those indicate the seven songs he composed, beginning with his rendition of "Pop! Goes the Weasel".  He had counted his existing three stars, and filled in enough compositions to get a prize.  I told him the songs generally needed to be longer, so he quickly added some repeat signs and played through them all for me.

I dutifully presented Little Mr. Loophole, who takes after his sister, with seven stars.  I then gave him some manuscript paper and a quick lesson in writing notes, clef signs, and time signatures.  I don't want to squelch his interest in composing, but he's going to have to show me the real thing next time he wants a plethora of stickers in his notebook.  

The bonus to his seven stars, which he was quick to ask about, is that he also earned three more stars for passing off songs during his lesson, which means he now holds the record--ten--of all my students for the greatest number of stars earned in one lesson...and he hasn't let us forget about it!  He challenges his sisters so frequently to break his record that I wouldn't be surprised if we see the gauntlet thrown down on their bathroom mirror in the near future!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Parenthood is Messy

My cousin-in-law posted this on her Facebook page today:

"Um, pleased to announce Owen [age 2], Grant [age 2 mo.s], and I performed a circus act at the grocery store today! With toy balls flying left and right down isles, while waving and yelling hi & chatting with every person we saw - courtesy of Owen, I then proceeded to knock over an entire Thanksgiving display with the cart and boxes went flying everywhere. We then somehow spilled the bag of grapes at checkout stepping on half of them while paying. Ran into a cement post on our way out... And realized we got charged for something we never got, all to make a second trip back into the store... Getting home to realize we really did get that thing I thought we never got. Hm. Some days I wonder...... ;)"

In the comments, I officially welcomed her from the stage of being a cute mom to being the frenzied, publicly humiliated mom that most experienced mothers become sooner or later.  If I didn't reach that point earlier, I certainly reached it when #4 was an infant.  Halfway through my shopping list, and with a very full cart, #4 began wailing in Wal-Mart.  She wouldn't calm down for anything, so I went to the ladies' changing rooms to nurse her.  There I encountered an attendant who told me the changing rooms weren't for nursing mothers.  The baby's crying underscored the tears I could feel coming, which softened the attendant's heart and she finally offered me a room at the inn, I mean stall...I mean a stall in the store.  When I lifted the babe out of her carrier, we all discovered that she had blown out her diaper with the signature mustard yellow squishiness of newborns.  It was up to her neck!  I was so desperate to get her calmed down that I just wrapped the messy baby in her blanket, disappeared into the changing room, and nursed her anyway.  When she was calm, I wiped her clean as best I could and headed home.  The silver lining is that I at least didn't have #s 1 through 3 also with me.  That would have put me over the edge!

Do you have any frantic or funny stories with your young ones in public?  Share them!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Crisis of My Political Faith?

All my adult life I have considered myself socially conservative and labeled myself a Republican.  Listening to conservative pundits, I occasionally would disagree with their spin.  I did become disappointed with the ineffectiveness of national Republican administrations and congresses, but I've read the platform of the Utah Republican Party several times and have taken issue with no part of it.

I'm starting to think, though, that the labels I happily accepted do not mean what I think they mean.

This week, I completed an online survey at  The surveys they offer are conducted by social psychologists at three universities.  Their research looks at why people disagree about what is right, and how that translates into social and political values.  I took the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, which gave a broad overview of my morals.  The results surprised me.

At the end of the survey, the site gave a bar graph showing my results ranked against the average results of self-described liberals and conservatives.  In only two out of nine rankings did I come close to the conservative morals.  Two of the bar graphs put my values in line with Libertarians.  The other five bars were either in between conservative and liberal results, or well beneath both.  

These results piqued my curiosity, and I wondered if perhaps a political party other than the big two would reflect my political values more.  So I read up on Libertarians, since my Liberty and Property scores seemed to be in line with them.  I like some of their ideals, but I don't believe their ideals can be realistically applied to society.  I'm not Libertarian.  The Green Party doesn't fit me well either.  (Although, I am giving ear to a friend of mine who says that greed too easily overwhelms our stewardship for the environment and animals.  Can I give up my desire for Utah to develop its energy resources in favor of protecting species?  That remains to be seen.)

So where do I fit?  I think maybe I don't.  Kent gave me a link to an interesting TED talk by Jonathan Haidt, who is one of the researchers behind the Moral Foundations survey: "The moral roots of liberal and conservatives."  Though he is a self-proclaimed liberal, Haidt wraps up his short lecture by insisting that both sides of the political spectrum need to listen to each other.  Liberals consider themselves open-minded and diverse, yet if they are closed to conservative viewpoints, their open-mindedness goes out the window.  I agree that both sides need to be present in our society, but more importantly, they need to make compromises politically if we are ever going to make lasting progress.

I guess that means I'm more of a moderate independent.

So will I renege my Republican registration?  Not in Utah; especially not here in Utah County.  In this state, the only way to have a voice with my vote is to work through the Republican primary process, since it will almost always be a Republican who wins.  At each November vote, I can still vote for whatever candidate I like (and it hasn't always been the Republican), but at least I might get a good candidate through the primary elections.

I haven't voted yet, because I'm undecided on our local school board candidates.  However, for our national leader, I will be voting for Mitt Romney.  Even if Mitt weren't the candidate, I would almost certainly still vote against Barack Obama.  In a nutshell, here's why.

My vote for Romney:
Major reason:  I liked Mitt Romney during the primaries leading up to the 2008 election.  It's not because he shares my religious persuasion, but because I respect him as a businessman.  I have wanted a businessman (or woman) in the White House for many years.  I think a businessperson will have an understanding of and solutions for our economy that lawyers and politicians just won't grasp or believe.  Romney's track record in turning around corporations and giving the U.S. a profitable Winter Olympics leads me to believe that he can do a better job for our economy than most anyone else who has been presented as a presidential option.  I expect he'll make budget cuts that will hurt, but that will also make Americans take more responsibility for their own decisions.  Yes, I would even give up the EITC or the Child Tax Credit if that would help balance our budget.  I also believe he has the right business and leadership experience to negotiate trade relations with China and other countries that we must work with.

Minor reason:  I like the people Mitt Romney surrounds himself with.  I like Paul Ryan, and I like that Mitt's family members are the ones reaching out to his base.

My vote against Obama:
Major reason:  I don't believe he represents Americans well or has America's best interests at heart.  I don't generally like how he handles international affairs.  I don't like his extravagant parties and vacations in the midst of our tanking economy.  I don't like his position on abortion.  (He and Michelle Obama are more left on that issue than even many liberals).  He has said things that I agree with, and I'm trying to give Obamacare the benefit of the doubt, but overall I don't think he represents the majority of Americans, including many who voted for him as a symbol of a new American era in 2008 based on his race and his "Hope and Change" campaign.  

Minor reason:  I don't trust the people President Obama surrounds himself with.  His close ties with Planned Parenthood and Acorn make me nervous.  Van Jones and Reverend Wright are also not good people to have listened to.  His extensive use of teleprompters has me wondering how much of what he says comes from his own brain. newly self-labeled Independent mind feels better already.  Now that all that political stuff is off my chest, I can go vote on Tuesday and take my blog back to happier posts about family events, funny kids, and the upcoming holidays.