Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
We did a neighborhood scavenger hunt with Butterfingers for the winnners (which was everyone who cared to eat a Butterfinger).
On a sudden whim, the ladies up and whisked ourselves out the door to see New Moon, which earned six thumbs up. All day I just felt grateful to be living this life.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Since he's been feeling better, he's resumed his usual flair for outfits that make him buff, awesome, or like a superhero. This generally requires boots, capes, hats, belts, and tidy-whiteys.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Jesse and I loaded into the van, and the friend volunteered to come along. As we wove through our neighborhood, we saw another friend, who flagged us down to report on Levi's exact location: at the end of the black path where it meets the sidewalk.
On the next street, we saw another neighborhood kid who gestured sadly at his bottom lip and shook his head as we passed. (And that was when I composed the title to this blog post.)
Exactly at the designated spot, there was bloody-faced Levi, perched on a fence post. Logan was standing guard next to him. Levi already had two band-aids on his chin. I was amazed to learn that Logan and his fellow-Blazer buddy had made First Aid kits at Scouts and now carried them in their backpacks. Levi had been pretty well patched up and even offered antibiotic ointment.
The good news is that Levi's lip was scratched up on the outside but intact on the inside. No trip to the urgent care was required. Major kudos to the scooter pack, who handled the situation with as much skill and wisdom as anyone could desire.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
So today when I sent three kids riding off to school like leaves in the cold, fall breeze, I turned to launch into a day of peace and productivity. Also, Jesse asked for lots of extra Mom time, which I think he suffers for when everyone else is home.
My turning over of new leaves was not unlike Haley's transformation last week:
She is missing four teeth right across the front of her mouth. The dentist pulled them out. Actually they've been missing for years. When she came to us almost four years ago, she had four ugly, fake teeth in her little baby mouth. I have always hated them. They're cheapo, with just a dab of white on the front. And they represent things I don't like to think about. Like how this girl could possibly have rotted out four of her teeth while still a baby.
The dentist always said they'd fall out like regular baby teeth, but then they started getting yucky and abscessed and so finally out they came. Pretty real teeth will grow in.
And yet another of the burdens of Haley's past is sloughed away.
She can hardly talk with no teeth to hold her tongue in her mouth. It's pretty adorable. Last night when we were all engaged in an hours-long game of FBI Agent, Haley was "Agent Toothless."
Jesse was Agent Naked. Levi was Deputy Director of Intelligence Operations, Central District. Logan was--guess?--Director of Intelligence Operations, Central Distract. And I was the Executive Director.
I was almost convicted of treason when the kids fingerprinted me and then found my prints on the enemies' computer mouse. I saved my skin by demonstrating that the usb stick implanted in the bottom of the mouse was really my secret recording device.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Haley in leaves.
The squirrels eating the last of their Halloween candy.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Foster parenting training has been a great blessing for Mark and me. We have never had children with autism, but learning the extreme tactics used to teach those kids gives us great ammunition for ours. And the same has been true for what we've learned about parenting kids with attachment disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, abuse and trauma, etc.
So here's an obedience tactic I picked up from the autism class that we're using to good effect. When you want to issue an instruction, follow this exact procedure:
1. Make a "please" request.
Jesse, please shut the door.
2. Wait 5-10 seconds.
If the child complies, dole out enthusiastic praise and reinforcement. If not, move on to step 3.
3. Make a "you need to" statement.
Jesse, you need to shut the door now.
4. Wait 5-10 seconds.
If the child complies, dole out enthusiastic praise and reinforcement. If not, move on to step 5.
5. Apply a consequence.
Looks unimpressively simple, doesn't it? But it's been very effective for us. We're doing some pretty major obedience training (and power struggles) with Jesse, but still we hardly ever get to step 5.
I think the genius is partly that stating every instruction with a "please" request trains children to respond. It's like a Pavlovian signal to turn on "obey" mode. Also, waiting those several seconds shows kids that this instruction is for real. Sometimes Jesse will immediately say "no," but then obey while I stand silently counting to five.
And to be frank, partly this is training for me. It makes me think about commands before I issue them. Instead of blazing through a room shouting instructions haphazardly, I have to slow down and follow the procedure. If it's not worth enforcing, I shouldn't say it.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Jesus Christ and the Atonement,
repentance and forgiveness,
the gospel and the church,
the wife and kids,
mom and dad,
brothers and sisters,
family and friends,
my employment and my work,
a little piece of land,
our warm and dry home,
food and clothing,
cars and bikes,
mountains and hills,
great rivers and small streams,
American and Mormon history,
Joseph Smith's papers and the Joseph Smith Papers Project,
dinner and a movie,
Rock and roll,
Mountain Dew and Cocoa Puffs
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Right now the kids and their favorite neighbors are out on the tramp. They're concocting different games, all somewhat dangerous or violent, and then conferring hotly on the rules. Jesse is across the yard, draped belly-down over a swing and trailing his fingers in the dirt.
I'm upstairs puttering around with the never-ending laundry situation, occasionally looking down on them from my high window. They don't know I'm watching. They're all beautiful to me, and precious. Just because. Even when they're fighting, a little obnoxious, a little stinky. I love them just because they are here. Their little souls shine brighter than the sunlight.
I think that's a little how Heavenly Father sees us.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I've always known I talk too much and too loud to my kids. I'm always hollering things like, "Get your shoes on! Get in the car! Everyone in the CAR! Hey, why aren't you in the car yet? Where are your SHOES?"
So today, by force, I walk downstairs and softly intone, "Everyone get in the car, please." And that's it. I don't say anything else, because I can't.
And guess what? After a few minutes--those minutes when normally I'd be hollering--they're all in the car.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
~ My completion of 10 hours of foster care training in one week. Nevertheless, as of today, our license is expired while our background check gets processed. Apparently it takes a few weeks to determine that we haven't committed a felony since they did our background check twelve months ago.
~ Mark and my outing to a grown-up Halloween party. We dressed up, which I don't believe we've done since Disco Night at Classic Skate back in our BYU days.
~ My 38th birthday, which was lovely. The kids went out of their way to be sweet and solicitous all day.
~ Trick or Treating. This year we had almost zero costume drama. Jesse really got into the spirit, but Roscoe opted out.
Levi, if you can't tell, was Frodo Baggins the Hobbit. He was entrusted with my engagement ring, and he carried it safely through his journeys.
Other tidbits from our week: