Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The other night I told Levi that he could go downstairs and play while I worked on putting Haley and Jesse to bed. So he was set up as a "big boy" as opposed to one of the "little kids," who are always the first to go to bed. (In that strange family dynamic in which those who least desire sleep get the most of it and those who crave sleep stay up cleaning the kitchen.)

So what did Levi do in his Big Kid moment? First he grabbed his bike and rode round the cul-de-sac. Then he came inside and jogged in place for a few minutes. (Now I've paused the bedtime routine to peek down the stairs and observe.) A minute later he comes into view holding dumbbells retrieved from the garage. He hoists those five-pounders a few times, then slaps his hands together in satisfaction. Workout complete.

We've become a family all jonesin for fitness. Mark sometimes runs and, more often, does a weight bench / ab workout at home. I do cardio at the gym or yoga at home. Logan practices karate forms at random moments. Haley, of course, works on cartwheels and handstands. Occasionally we all gather in the front room and I challenge everyone to try a new yoga pose I've learned. Or we critique each other's push-up form.

But Roscoe is by far the fitness winner in our family. A couple times a week he goes to a Teen Fit class at the rec center, where they do things like lunge their way across the basketball court. A couple times a week he goes to karate. And almost every day, he follows a workout of his own devising:

He's made this chart in his journal. It involves the weight bench and sit-ups, but also things like hopping up the stairs on one foot or hoisting Jesse onto his shoulders and running up the down the stairs. I'm excited for spring if for no other reason than that one of these days Roscoe will take off that big, floppy hoodie and I'll be able to check out his physique.

Who'd a thunk the Qshurst-McGees would become a bunch of exercise addicts?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

For Mom, for her birthday

A rare event: Roscoe allows a picture to be taken of him. He's holding a pretty cedar box he made at school.

Haley and Jesse dress up and imagine and play act together.

Mark returns from Logan's first Blazer campout. He's putting away gear in the garage.

Levi and Haley enjoy leftover campout candy.

Ang poses in her sexy new apron after giving Levi and Haley haircuts.

Haley in her new haircut.

Levi in his "office" under my kitchen desk.

How Roscoe normally behaves when I try to photograph him.

Levi dressing up as a Dad during Primary sharing time.

Jesse's birthday wishes:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My daily NaBloPoMo blogging is undermined by the fact that my life is kinda LAME right now! I keep writing posts about the lameness, and then delete them. My potty training woes have already scared Josh right out of the ranks of future parents...and all I have to offer are more excrement-themed tales of Jesse's stomach flu, and how by nine o'clock this morning there was nary a clean towel in the house.

Our family is having some challenges right now that are pretty deflating. But at the same time, I'm spending a lot of time just overwhelmed by gratitude for what we do have. One good thing about the current economy is that I think it's helping everyone see how blessed we really are.

And that's the most positive spin I can muster for now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New York Doll

So in the 1970s, Arthur Kane was a glam rocker from the hugely influential band New York Dolls. In his tamer moments, he looked like this:

Fast forward to 2004, and now our Arthur looks like this:

Check out the tag. Yep, he's a Mo taking the bus to work his shift at the Family History Library. His years as a punk and the ensuing years as a bitter wash-up certainly took their toll and the man is a few short of a six-pack. But New York Doll, the documentary about him is strangely, grippingly compelling. Mark and I saw both Slumdog Millionaire and New York Doll this weekend, but it's the Doll who has been on our minds ever since.


~ Not one but two instances of Morrissey discussing death, with all the affection and wistfulness you would imagine.

~ Scenes of Arthur's home teachers, bishop, and the little ladies at the Family History Library discussing his former career. Hilarious!

~ Arthur talking about his new religion with his old bandmates--and not wavering for a moment, even when attacked by the sultry president of the French Fan Club.

~ Arthur's Mormon friends trying to describe what it feels like to receive a witness from the Holy Ghost and concluding, "It's hard to explain," followed by Arthur stating definitively, "It's like an LSD trip from God." I don't know--maybe he's exactly right.

~ And I don't want to give away the ending, but you'll be alternating sitting on the edge of your seat, laughing, and tearing up. By the end you'll have seen the understated peace and firmness the gospel can give to anyone--yes, indeed, anyone!--who lets it into their heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

If this were Mark's blog...

...he'd be writing about this:

"Most of you have discovered that your priesthood duties will stretch you to the point that you wonder if you can stretch that far. It may have happened when you were asked to speak in a stake conference before hundreds of people. For the recent convert, it may have been being asked to pray in public or teach a class for the first time. For some, it may have been trying to learn a language in a missionary training center . . . [or] on the streets of a strange city when your mission president charged you to speak to every person you met to testify of the Savior and of the Restoration of the gospel."You may have thought then, 'Once I finish my mission, being a faithful priesthood holder will get easier.' But in a few years you found yourself getting even less sleep at night, while trying to support a wife and a new baby, being kind and loving, scrambling to get some education, reaching out to the members of your elders quorum, perhaps even helping them to move their furniture, and trying to find time to serve your ancestors in the temple. You may have kept a smile on your face with the thought: 'When I get a little older, being a faithful priesthood holder will not require so much. It will get easier.' Those of you further down the road are smiling because you know something about priesthood service. It is this: the more faithful service you give, the more the Lord asks of you. Your smile is a happy one because you know that He increases our power to carry the heavier load."
Henry B. Eyring, "O Ye That Embark," Ensign, Nov. 2008, 57

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Jesse's feverish and spent about half last night lounging in the arm chair in our bedroom blabbing to himself. Quietly at least. I'm not feeling so hot myself. No big potty break-throughs. More work on Logan's rock candy experiment = more sugar syrup glaze all over the kitchen. Between potty training and illness, I have some major cabin fever. A trip to pick up Roscoe's carpool today with a stop for a half-price Sonic drink was a highlight of my day. Pitiful. At least it's lovely and sunny here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Potty Training, Day 2

After many, many puppy puddles, I concluded Jesse had letting-down issues--he'd pee the moment he got off the potty. So this afternoon I plied him with root beer, juice, and milk and made him sit on the potty--for about an hour.

After the allure of fruit snacks and Skittles wore off, I enlisted Logan to keep him entertained.

Which is Logan's specialty.

Finally--at a moment when I was talking on the phone and taking a pizza out of the oven--Jesse peed. He was so surprised, he leaned back and sprayed the room. I rushed over, did a bit o' redirection, and sure enough that boy got some pee in the pot.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Potty Training, or Just Keep Working the Program

Here are the potty training plans I woke up with this morning:

Dress the Part
You're going to spend the day discussing and handling human waste, which can be seriously demoralizing. This is not the day to schlep around in yesterday's yoga pants. Get dressed in something you like; put on some make-up. You're going to need all the pick-me-up you can get. Ditto on your environment: Start in a somewhat clean house or the please-just-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye-and-save-me-from-this-hellhole will set in faster.

Assemble the Supplies
You need juice, pop--whatever sugary, otherwise off-limits drinks your trainee will drink in abundance. The child needs practice, which means lots of pee. Ideally, the kid is peeing every 10 minutes. Today, you're the drink pusher. Also you need pocketsful of bite-sized treats to dispense each time the trainee sits on the potty (no matter the outcome). A peeing doll is useful.

The procedure:

In advance, you've been talking this up: How potty training works, how it's so awesome, how you'll be a big boy with big boy underpants, how treats will be involved.

To begin, take off the diaper. Put on loose-fitting underpants (so the trainee can get them on and off easily). Celebrate the new pants.

Potty train the doll. The doll is playing until, "Oh! Her potty is coming out!" Run her to the potty, sit her down, surreptitiously squirt some water from a medicine dispenser into the potty. "Good job, Dolly! She put her pee pee in the potty!" (Do not linger to reflect on what you've just said.) With your trainee, admire the dolly's pee.

Then do the same with the trainee. "Oh! Time to go potty!" Shepherd them over to the potty, make them pull down their pants and have the seat. Once they're seated, give them a Skittle or marshmallow or whatever. "Is any pee pee coming out?" Then pull up their pants and off they go.

Repeat every 10 minutes or so.

When they pee on the floor, think to yourself, "Oh what a great learning experience they just had!" Calmly walk over and say, "Are your pants dry?" Make them touch their pants to notice that no, they aren't. Say, "Let's see if any more pee pee comes out." Walk them over to the potty and do your routine like normal, Skittle and all.


And repeat.

All day.

Calmly and happily.

Like you don't mind potty talk and puppy messes all over the place.


Afternoon update:
So far, we've had 3 accidents in 3 highly inconvenient places. (I have miles of easy-to-clean hardwood floor! You can't pee on that?!) No pee in potty. Skittles don't seem to be a big motivator. I just keep telling myself, Work the program - Work the program.


Most exciting potty training moment of the day:
Jesse is on the pot in the kitchen, when I hear Haley's wail from outside. "Doesn't she know how obviously fake she sounds?" I grumble. Then I turn to see Haley with blood dripping down her forehead and into her eye. Her eyeball is floating in blood. I gasp. Which makes her cry all the more. Also now Jesse is crying. Turns out Levi hucked a stick, which accidentally clocked Haley. It's a little cut, but man did it give a dramatic presentation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Accomplishments

Okay, okay, I didn't blog yesterday and am now a NaBloPoMo washout. But look at all I did do yesterday:

Mark and I stayed up half the night on Friday and painted the kitchen a lovely, fresh shade of green. (Okay, yes, it was already a lovely shade of green. It's a long story involing evolving design plans, custom paint colors gone awry, varied lighting conditions between kitchen and playroom...and now it's my slightly different lovely shade of green.) My favorite part is the unmarred, glossy white windowsills.
Painting concluded much quicker than expected. (Long story.) So Levi and I made a run to Ikea for this adorable ladybug light. Levi and Jesse both wake with nightmares pretty much every night. We're hoping this will cast a green glow of serenity. We tell Jesse that the ladybug says, "Sweet dreams!"
Also at Ikea, we found this aloe plant, which looks right at home in my fresh new kitchen. Why didn't we already have one of these?

Also I installed these cute little canvases I found on clearance to make Haley's room actually look girlie.

Saturday night concluced, of course, with a nice mopping of the kitchen floor. As always, I forbade the kids from walking across my wet floor, and this is how they entertained themselves.

Watch for:

1. Jesse shouting "Ace of Spades." Yes, not only does he enjoy heavy metal, he actually knows the words.

2. Logan feelin' the fever and ripping his shirt off.

3. Mark catching the fever....

4. ...until off comes his shirt as well. (At this point I have already warned him that, yes, this certainly is blogworthy material.)

5. Logan carefully watching Dad's moves.

6. Logan falling to the floor and doing an Angus Young.

So since we had about the most productive Saturday in the history of suburbia, don't you think I should get a special exemption from blogging for one day?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Roundup

Mark and I are painting the kitchen this weekend. When we moved into this house, the kitchen/playroom area was painted 4 different colors. Now it'll all be one. Phew!

Haley is going to a birthday princess party and my is she excited.

I'm having a midlife crisis induced by Facebook.

I'm going to potty train Jesse on Monday. We bought Skittles and root beer (when Mark saw it, he said, "Oh, there's the pee.").

Logan and I are growing rock candy crystals for his science project.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Fave Parenting Books

I’m gearing up to tell you about this radical discipline program we’re doing, but I'm afraid--it's so hard to explain! You'll think I'm crazy! So instead, here are my favorite parenting books. Really, you should scan through each of these.

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years

All the ways you can discipline without punishment by catching the good. Holds that little kids can’t be good until they feel good. You can definitely take this philosophy too far, in my opinion, and end up with overempowered kids that sap your energy. But much of the time, parents should stick with the positive approach, especially for little kids who aren’t so much naughty as uncivilized.

This is sort of the opposite of #1 and in my opinion should be used in conjunction. It’s a little too authoritarian for my taste and it compares children to dogs, who should learn to “sit” and “stay.” But the overall philosophy is that parents should establish consequences, good and bad, attached to each choice their children make. Then the parents step back, let the children make their choices, and administer the appropriate consequence. Every parent should know how to do this—isn’t that, after all, how Heavenly Father operates?

If your bickering children drive you crazy, you should read this. It delves into the kids’ psyches to reveal why they take such joy in tormenting each other. Then it gives you a great set of proactive strategies to limit the torture. This will change your paradigm of how you view your children, and you will feel great relief from the responsibility for refereeing their fights. The same authors wrote How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, which I like as well.

I came across this one by happenstance and it was just what I needed. It’s about how to transition older kids from being monitored and instructed by Mom at each turn to moral independence and responsibility.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

First, Haley discovered that she could wow adults with her awesome snapping. The girl snaps like a pro, and it became a sure-fire way to get people to stop what they're doing, look at her, and say, "Hey, nice snapping!" You can bet she's used this power on more than one occasion.
Then someone compliemented Haley on a cartwheel. It wasn't much of a cartwheel at the time, but that girl felt the fire of motivation. She carted and wheeled like mad. People were constantly bashing into her as she flung herself across the room.

Now she's a pro cartwheeler, getting those feet high in the air (but still sometimes crashing into passers-by).

Then one day, Haley discovered middle C on the piano and plunked out the first few notes of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I showed her the song, and for the next 4 days she practiced over and over...and over and over. First she could play only the first phrase, then the first two, and now she's a pro.

Then yesterday, she discovered that you can play the first few bars of "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" on the same notes. So I showed her how it's done and--you guessed it--we're thanking O God all the day long around here.

I'm so proud of Haley for her diligence and follow-through. What an awesome life skill to be able to find a task that's doable but challenging and practice til it's perfect.

Haley just came home with flashcards of three-letter words from preschool. She's supposed to say each sound, counting them on her fingers, and then put all the sounds together into a word. I happen to know that this is a pretty big cognitive leap for little preschoolers. But guess what Haley did? She took those cards up to her room with her during her hour of private time, and already she's a better reader than she was yesterday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Things to Come

In coming days I will tell you about a radical discipline and instruction system we've imposed on a certain young man of the household. And I will document Haley's new discovery that practice does, indeed, make perfect. But for now, good night.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Bedtime comes an hour earlier tonight thanks to daylight savings, and that's just fine with me. The nubby little buds on the willow tree outside my kitchen window are a bit bigger every day. Some bulbs have sent up green shoots. But for now I'm quite happy to burrow down under thick covers and savor the joy of flannel sleeping on cold nights.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Going Native, or The Underworld appropriates Mom

Generally, the messages from the underworld that I encounter are like this one:
I'm happily kneading pizza dough for dinner when I notice that someone has hidden this menacing weapon beneath the bowl. A reminder? A threat?

But something happened the other day that let me know that the divide between Underworld and Upperworld is less firm than I had let myself believe.

Levi sat down for the dinner only to find a dirty diaper sitting on his chair tucked neatly under the table.

But this time, the culprit was me. Not only did I myself place the diaper there. Far worse is that when, later, I realized my error, I took a picture...and again left the diaper behind.
Rather than bringing the light of order and civilization to my heathen scalliwags, I have instead succumbed to their native depravity and mayhem.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday News Roundup

Out of the closet: I'm doing NaBloPoMo for March. Nancy wrote all about it. But I kept it a secret in case I decided to flake. Which I guess now we know I haven't.

On Monday, 50 people visited my blog and 2 people left me a comment. What gives? Know you not that your comments are precious gems of friendship and hope?

On both Wednesday and Thursday we were all home for dinner and didn't have any scheduled events. (Other than karate.) Man, it's nice.

Mark and I like the new show Lie to Me.

Logan has been sick for 3 days. He loafs around and emits little moans every time I walk by. I love it. (!)

I cleaned the oven. This was a major feat.

I have sharing time on Sunday and I haven't done a thing but ponder while falling to sleep. Which isn't a terrible strategy, just...insufficient.

Our friends are coming over to hang out and spend the night and eat pizza. Yay!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Power Wanes

Jess shouts, "Power! Power!" (no, not the power to read or scripture power--just power) and feels he can fly on those Buzz Lightyear wings forever.

But after Mom shouts, "Do it again!" for the fifth time (for cinematographic purposes) he huffs and puffs like the dragon from The Paper Bag Princess.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Logan: Mom! I'm going to marry an ostrich! My magic meatball tells me so!

Mom: Oh, that's wonderful, dear!

Roscoe: I wonder what your children will look like.

Mom: They'll look just like Logan, of course.


Roscoe (when asked by his mother to choose between Navy Bean or Vegetable Beef soup for dinner): How about just beef--like the Norsemen of old.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Weekend Roundup

Mark's time away from home working for the bishopric has been, alas, more than I expected. It's 9:30 pm and he's been gone since 10:00 this morning. He says it's a string of bad scheduling luck. We'll see. I'm having dissertation flashbacks.

Mark and I went to the annual meeting of the Association for Mormon Letters, where Mark received an award for the first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers. The Association for Mormon Letters is right up my alley, but I actually dreaded going. I feared that all those bright literati would leave me feeling like a has-been housewife with a dull intellectual life. Actually, Mark and I both enjoyed feeling that we were among kin--fellow believers who wouldn't gasp in shock at some of our more liberal views. And when the keynote speaker, a nationally prominent scholar who happened to be at our luncheon table, made a quip about whose book would be first on Oprah's reading list, Mark informed the table that it would be my forthcoming Great American Novel. Which is probably a lie. But is also about the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

We left the kids home alone while we were gone. Just as we had left them alone the night before for our first-ever date with long-time friends Matt and Lindy. Which gave me opportunity to notice how sometimes our kids are very cooperative team players. We can round them up to announce The Plan, then assign persons A through G to complete tasks 1 through 7, then leave them to play computer, watch movies, and eat hot dogs without us. I think they actually enjoy their freedom when we leave, and they have fun devising turn-taking strategies. As we walked out the door, Roscoe had Levi, Haley, and Jesse lined up on the couch and was saying to someone, "You can't vote for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire because you already voted for Scooby-Doo--you only get one vote."