Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank you, Hermes

We got up at 5:00, drove for 13 hours with 5 kids, and it turned out to be an almost perfect day. We're on our way to my sister's house in Virginia for what we're thinking of the Qshurst-McGee Pilgrimage to Washington, DC. We're going to do two(ish) family reunions, play in the Atlantic Ocean, and see all manner of exhibits, monuments, and national treasures.

Today we drove through Wyoming and Nebraska, with miles and miles of rolling green hills, pastures, and farms. The kids were mostly cooperative, though at one point in the afternoon Jesse decided he had had enough and began shouting, "I want to go home!" Roscoe felt I should administer some form of discipline--but, really, what can be done when he's already strapped down?

We finally drove into Grand Island, Nebraska, to check into our motel and locate a Chinese take-out place where we could perhaps get some actual vegetables. We were tired, sticky, and bordering on grumpy. Things could have gone downhill fast. But the Gods of Roadtrippers were with us. We found a little drainage canal, where the kids played happily while I procured the take-out. Then we drove to a county park--the Mormon Island State Recreation Park, to be exact--where we found a picnic table in a little glade full of fireflies. Which are an exotic treat for us Westerners. Then the big midwest sky gave us an amazing lightning show. It couldn't have been perfecter.

We only have to drive 10 hours tomorrow, and then my aunt in Chicago promises us dinner, beds, and a swimming pool.

Mallory update:
She's not here. Because she has a court appearance while we're gone, they wouldn't let us take her with us. So yesterday I dropped her off at another foster home for "respite care" until we return. I hated it. My job is to be consistent, reliable, and present for her until the day I return her to her parents. Now I am another link in the lengthening chain of disuptions and disappointments in her life. Yeah, yeah, it's not my fault. But still.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Thanks to the ipod and enthusiasm of our friend Lee, a vanfull of chilluns wore the requisite ears, spots, noses, hooves, and signage to get free meals at Chik-Fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day.
I took our Primary to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple open house. (See Haley in her yellow dress front and center.) It's a beautiful temple. "Sparkly lights" rated as the kids' top fave on my informal after-event opinion poll. There are now 3 temples in birds-eye view of our house. If you live outside Utah and are jealous of our surfeit, come try to jostle your way into a Friday-night temple session--it's kind of like waiting in line for Rolling Stones tickets.
Jesse carefully counts his allowance money. Then promptly loses it all.

Levi finished the first Magic Treehouse book. It's always a fun summer when a child is ready to start this series. Right now, we read each chapter together. By the end of the summer, he'll be on book twenty-something and will be blasting through them on his own.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tidbits from last week while I was in a blur of flu, friends, and single parenthood

On Being an Introvert Parent

It's not ideal. The way I've heard it described is that introverts, though they love and enjoy people, find interactions draining and need to refuel with solitude. While extroverts refuel through interaction. I'm definitely an introvert. And the constant barrage of my kids opinions, comments, and critiques--even minus arguing, etc.--is definitely draining to me. Last week while Mark was out of town I realized that one of the biggest services he does me when he comes home from work is to de-throne me as Preferred Audience #1. When he's home, the kids want to tell him everything that's on their minds. And I can do things like walk down to the laundry room without three people screaming, "MOOOM!" Or walk out of the bathroom without confronting a crowd gathered outside the door.

On Harry Potter

Yes, Roscoe and I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the first day. I liked it. But it failed to really capture the beautiful message of the movie, which is the importance of love, and that you can choose love no matter the circumstances--even if, say, someone is standing on a rooftop trying to kill you. Dumbledore's cryptic words to Malfoy on the roof are totally slaughtered in the movie, and you don't see clearly how, to Dumbledore, saving a soul is worth sacrificing it all. And this turns out to be not only the main theme of the next book and in fact the whole series, it's the thing that in the end allows Harry to prevail over Voldemort.

Green Smoothies.

I adore them. Fill your blender 2/3 with raw spinach. Stems included. Add fresh or frozen fruit. Any kind. Add some flax seed. Some water. Blend. Looks awful. Tastes lovely. Makes you positively buzz with happy healthiness.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fewer Family Rules

So with great gusto the kids listed a thousand rules. Then Logan snipped, sorted, and organized them into these categories:
  • Regular
  • Don't be lame
  • Misc
Then we had a family meeting to, ahem, further refine the categories. We also decided that although "Don't be lame" truly does cover a lot of ground in family dynamics, we'd change it into a positive.

After our family brainstorm, Mark and I had a parental confab and created, ta da!, these six family rules, which we unveiled last night.

1. Be Golden
This is the new version of "Don't be lame." Other contenders were "Be considerate," "Be kind," "Be courteous, and "Be respectful." We like "Be Golden" because it evokes the Golden Rule. (And because it reminds us of Juno saying to Bleeker, "You're golden, man.")

So all day long, I've been telling kids, "Be golden," or "How could you be more golden right now?" Earlier, I caught Levi red-handed and he looked at me sheepishly and said, "That wasn't golden."

2. Be a good steward
This addresses taking care of things and all the rules about picking up your stuff and not stomping on library books.

3. Do you part
This addresses work and the concept that family members should step forward to do all they can rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Logan likes to call it, "Pull your weight."

4. Be safe
This covers all the rules about seatbelts, door locks, and permissions.

5. Be honest
I guess this could go under Be Golden, but we thought we needed a whole rule for this.

6. Obey your parents
Why do we even need this rule? Well, we do. A certain someone just justified his excessive arguing with the claim that he reserves the right to lobby against unfair decisions from his parents. "Dude," I said. "Rule 6."

Additional detail you'll find lame unless you're a full-time practitioner of hooligan management:
It would have been cool to boil things down to even fewer rules, but we also wanted rules that were clear and concrete. We found that fewer rules meant vaguer rules, like "Be righteous," which covers pretty much everything but wouldn't pinpoint the issue of the moment.

Many thanks to those who have donated to Roscoe's Eagle Project. (He's supposed to be sending you thank you notes.) He still needs more than $50, even with all the money he's earned through extra chores for Mom and Dad, so please float him a few if you can.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Roscoe's Eagle Scout Project

Yesterday Roscoe turned 14. Which I find kind of stunning.

This summer Roscoe is working on the Leadership and Service Project to earn his Eagle Scout. His plan is to make 100 wooden toy cars for Tiny Tim's Foundation for Kids (the same foundation we've made 89 hats for). Our friend who runs this foundation makes a compelling case for the importance of these little cars. He talks about how a child who has never before had a toy will spin one wheel, then another, while the wheels in his head start whizzing in a way they never have before.

Roscoe needs to collect a $1 donation for each car, organize and run a Scout event to sand and paint the cars, then finish them all at Tiny Tim's toy factory. Here's his plea to you for donations using the handy-dandy Donate button on the sidebar:

If you would like to make a $2.00 donation to Tiny Tim's please press this
Roscoe Qshurst-McGee is making little wooden toy cars for Tiny Tim's
to give to poor children in Mexico who have no toys at all. Please make a
donation. Each car is one dollar. How many do you want me to make?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Family Rules

The other night for Family Home Evening, the kids and I brainstormed our family rules, as they are and as the kids feel they should be. Interestingly, those least likely to comply with rules were most vocal. My favorite moment was when Logan commented, "Everyone likes to do it, but everyone hates it when it happens to them." I think they were talking about silly noise-making.

Other notable rules the kids came up with:
  • Don’t give Mallory besos unless she wants them.

  • Throw up in the toilet, not in your bed.

  • No lame excuses.

  • Don’t be piggy.

  • Wash your hands.

  • Use soap.

  • Don’t poop on the arm of the chair.

  • Always flush.

  • Don’t pee on the rim.

  • Lift the seat before peeing. (Apparently the kids and I share an intensity of feeling on this issue.)

  • Don’t get grounded.

  • Don’t ruin stuff.

  • No slapping.

  • Don’t be lame.

Today Logan's Mission Possible (a la his list) is to put the rules into categories so we can boil them down into five or so family standards.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet...

...I've just been partying. Our Fourth of July weekend included a visit from my parents and Mark and Kelly and we maximized every moment.

  • Lunch at Golden Corral as requested by Roscoe for his upcoming birthday. Buffet + Kids = Heaven.

  • Screening of Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian as part of our preparation for our BIG TRIP to Washington, DC.

  • Carnival rides, big scary ones for the big kids and a little pony ride for Jesse.

  • Fourth of July parade, which the three boys got to be in.

  • Picnic in a cool mountain meadow and a close encounter with a moose.

  • Firecrackers at home.

  • Fireworks at the park.

  • A trip to Fillmore, Utah, my Dad's home town for family hanging and a wedding.