Friday, March 28, 2008

More Strider Sayings

Some of the things he's said recently...

Strider the Wordsmith
Strider: Mom!
Me: What?
Strider: Nothing. I was just trying to waste your words. Now you probably only have about 3 billion left to use in your life. I have about 4 googol.*

And another day...

Strider: Mom, I think Colsen's favorite NBA team is the San Antonio Spurs. He keeps saying "Sas! Sas!" and SAS stands for San Antonio Spurs!

He sure thinks highly of me...

Me (to Pete); Good grief! I forgot to put out all the salad toppings on the table last night when we had the Yoran's over! That was such a boring salad we had and I didn't even think of it! I'm so lame! I'm the lamest! [yes, slightly dramatic.... maybe you see where Strider gets it from]
Strider (overhearing): Mom, you're not the lamest. I bet there's some drunk guy somewhere that's lamer than you.

And another time...

Strider: Mom, you were right. This latch-hooking is getting a lot easier. I guess it wasn't as hard as I thought.
Me: See, Strider? Once in awhile your mother is actually right!
Strider: Yeah, once in awhile. But usually you're wrong.
[Sarcasm backfired.]

And one last "note:"

When Strider practices the piano he sometimes will start just playing the same note repeatedly until I finally tell him to stop! Then he says, "I'm stuck! I'm like a CD!" [Just what we need around here -- more annoying noise.]

You never know what is going to come out of the mouth of a child...or his fingers, for that matter.

* Yes, this is actually how you spell it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Madness

As everyone knows, this past week was chock-full of holidays. St. Patrick's Day, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, First Day of Spring, and Easter.... it was no wonder Rayna woke up on one day last week and right away said, "What are we going to celebrate today??" Colsen thought Thursday was another special holiday, too... Trash Pick-Up Day. Happily for him, he gets to celebrate that day every week.

But the greatest day of the week from Strider's standpoint was.... the opening day of March Madness. (Well, maybe he changed his mind after Easter, but I don't know for sure). Very sad, but true. I guess he gets it naturally, though: at one point early last week, Pete moaned to me, "Why does the best weekend of the year have to fall on Easter weekend this year??" He quickly retracted it, saying, "Oh, that sounded terrible!" but there it was anyway.

And, as usual, Strider approached the weekend with his usual intensity and passion. (This was him last year.... but this year was even worse). Starting several days ahead, he was writing on his arms about his favorite teams, planning out all the possible scenarios of which team would get into the "Big Dance," etc. He knew a whole list of which teams had already earned automatic bids... when I started to ask him about it he went on and on and on about who won which game and what that meant for the selection and the bubble teams, etc., etc. I got way too many earfuls on all that.

Then once the brackets were published, he carried his around and filled it out with great earnestness. Then he followed me around for the next 2 days periodically saying things like, "Just a reminder: brackets are due by noon tomorrow!" Then on Thursday I kept hearing things like "Announcement! Less than 2 hours until the start of the tournament!"

His focus has been paying off though, I have to say. In the pools that Strider entered online, he's doing reasonably well -- actually way better than both Pete and I are doing. But he may be getting a tad too into it... As he was watching one of the games recently, it was going down to the wire (as they all do) and he commented, "Man! My heart is just beating so hard!"

Rayna, meanwhile, is still pretty clueless. We got her to fill out a bracket, too, and it was a pretty funny conversation. At the end, she looked up at me and said, "Mom, who do YOU think is gonna win? Here are the choices: Anson-C, Georgetown, or George Bush?"

I'm going with Anson-C, whoever that is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Multimedia Franks

In the last few weeks, both boys have had their pictures in the paper... much to Strider's delight!
Here is the one of Strider and his friends:

COCOA kids

And here's Colsen's:

Meanwhile, Pete is now on Google videos. We made a video of him teaching to enter it in a contest. He won an "honorable mention!" If you're curious to see how he looks when he's being professorly, here's the link: Pete teaching

And I have been briefly quoted in an online article about baby signing! It's at Here's the link. Go to the 3rd page I think.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This past week's fun

This past week we've had some good school times.... First we made volcanoes:

Needless to say, it was a big hit with all 3 of them. As Strider exclaimed afterwards, "That was an Adventure!"

(My other favorite quote from the experience was when I told him to not eat the vinegar. His reply was "Why not?? Jesus did!")

Also in school we studied China last week (the birthplace of cousin Grace), and this week we're learning about Japan (the birthplace of Auntie Keiko)! Obviously, these are very good "food" weeks! Here are the Chinese lanterns we made last week...

And speaking of things up in the air... Here are the mobiles we made yesterday for St. Patty's Day:

.... and here is the "egg hunt" the kids went to over the weekend!
This helicopter apparently dropped 20,000 eggs or something crazy like that, and then a mob of kids (and adults-- pathetic) went racing into the field to get them. When the kids got back home, the first thing Strider said to me was, "That was INSANITY." But he also had a big grin, of course.

Big things have been happening this past week in the lives of some of our friends... some really good, some really hard. I've been feeling the depth of life more keenly this week.... so while our little adventures are pretty simple and ordinary, I find myself being very thankful for them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top o' the morning to ya!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! (Each of these little guys is at least 13% Irish... though there are days when I am quite sure the percentage must be much higher.) Today we are celebrating this green holiday with some treats and fun (though no green beer is on the menu for them)... and we've already read the story together about the real St. Patrick. Interestingly, he was not Irish -- was Celtic, in fact. He grew up in the equivalent of a nice, upper-class Christian family in Great Britain (under the control of the Roman Empire at the time)... but was not a Christian himself. Then before he was 16 he was apparently kidnapped by Irish pirates, and forced to be a slave in Ireland for 6 years. After he escaped back to England, he felt God was telling him to go back to Ireland as a missionary -- which he did for the next 30 years. Ireland sounds like a scary place before Patrick's time, so he was pretty brave to do that!

Rayna evidently felt we should kick off the celebration a little early. On Saturday I came home from work and found this:

She apparently had colored ALL over his head and face with a green marker. Sadly, Pete did not get any pictures of his face -- he was too concerned with calming the screaming baby and getting the marker off his face and out of his eye. But Colsen was able to sport his punk-rock hairstyle until the next morning when he got a shower.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why I don't get anything done around here

Seems like everytime I walk into a room these days, I'm greeted by a scene like one of these! Colsen is definitely our prime "destructor" at this point in our lives.... definitely pulling our "productivity function curve" (see below) in a negative direction!

It seems very appropriate that one of his first words was "trash" -- and it remains a favorite. And the fact that he often runs to the dustbuster and "asks" to use it probably also gives you further confirmation of his favorite activities.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Determining our productivity level

Some people may think that Wake Forest wasted a bunch of time and money when they gave me my MBA degree. After all, I only worked in the official world of business suits and networking handshakes for a couple of years, and my career path has certainly not led to corner offices and power lunches. (It’s been more focused on corner cobwebs and cleaning up peanut- butter lunches)

However, I would like to contend (or at least hope) that my business training has not all been wasted. In fact, I think in many ways it has prepared me for life has a home manager. There have been the more obvious benefits, such as being able to work in a team setting, knowing how to deal with highly pressurized situations, knowing how to handle requests from multiple parties simultaneously, and being able to function at a normal level on very little sleep. All of these skills were honed in business school, and I am grateful for the preparedness that gave me for motherhood.

But I also find myself thinking in business language for some of my daily activities as well. For instance, I use the thinking behind the Critical Fractile ratio when doing my “inventory planning” (i.e. shopping for household supplies). I often find myself weighing the cost and/or probability of under-stocking versus the cost of over-stocking… It’s been a very useful model for me.

And this past week I’ve been earnestly trying to determine an equation for the Productivity Function of our household. As time goes on, our fight against entropy in this house has seen shifts in the various players within our family unit. Some of the players have been very negative contributors to the positive productivity in our home (i.e. they are “destructors”) at certain times, and then, over time, they have started to migrate into the net positive territory. For example, when Strider was a toddler, he was a great destructor, and therefore, his net contribution to our family productivity was quite negative. Now, however, he is capable of being quite helpful around the house—helps with the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, etc., so his net contribution has become positive. In the intervening years, though, we have obviously had 2 other players born into the family who quickly evolved into net destructors, and Strider’s positive pull has been negated by the destructiveness of these others. As Rayna is growing in skills, though, her contribution is heading towards the positive field as well……..

So as I graphed it out, here are the individual productivity functions of the various players:

Now obviously our total productivity as a unit will be a summation of these individual lines, so should look something like this:

And all of this has led me to think: In what year is our minimum point in this Productivity Function? And have we already hit it? Or is the worse yet to come? Knowing that calculus can help us find these optimization points, I just need to fully identify the equation, and then can start taking derivatives. This, however, is the point where I am stuck. I know based on the shape of the curve that there will be several variables, and some of them will be squared…. But I’m not quite sure what they all are. Obviously the logical variables are number of kids, and ages of said kids, but I’m still not sure how to define it. Can anyone help?

I figure this equation will be of great use once it is finalized. For instance, this might be able to show us how many more gray hairs I will get if we add another child to this unit. Also, it could help determine allowances/wages for the players based on their contribution. Another benefit would be the help this equation would provide in budgeting for cleaning supplies in the future. Or, I could use it to forecast our future maximum point in the productivity curve, and schedule a nice long vacation for that time. On second thought, maybe the best time for a vacation would be at a minimum point.

And surely this concept and customizable equation will be marketable, right?

See, Wake Forest? My education did not go to waste.

**You will notice that my productivity level is graphed at a higher level than Pete’s. This is purely a function of time spent inside the home. You will also notice that over time the positive contribution for both adults is seen with a decreasing rate over the years. This is due to the quickly fading mental capacities and energy levels of said adults.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The thought processes of kids

Here are some of the things we've seen and heard 'round here lately....

Strider's thoughts on names:
He recently came up to me and said, "When* we have our next kid, I think we should call him William Robert." I thought this was actually pretty acceptable -- certainly better than a lot of the suggestions he's had in the past. But when I asked him WHY, he said, "So we can call him Billy Bob." So we will officially NOT be naming any future babies William Robert.

He also recently read some things about Shaquille O'Neal and learned about what a great basketball player he's been. So, using this information along with the fact that his favorite (high scorer) player on the UNC-Charlotte b-ball team is Leemire Goldwire, Strider has concluded that people who have rhyming first and last names have a better shot at being good players. Now he wants us to change his name to "Hank."

Sweet Guile (if there is such a thing):
Rayna still has not mastered the skill of good lying -- though not for lack of effort. (And of course we are certainly glad about this fact.) On numerous occasions we'll yell to her in another room, "Rayna, what are you doing?" And she'll yell back, "I'm NOT dumping out all the puzzle pieces from the box," or some other obvious lie. The other day, though, my favorite was when she came into the kitchen behind me and I asked her what she was doing. She said, "I'm NOT playing with THIS." ("this" turned out to be a vacuum cleaner attachment piece that she had taken out of the closet and most certainly was playing with) Good try, girl.

And Colsen is rapidly following in her footsteps. He is sneaky enough to get into things he knows he's not supposed to.... but he still thinks he should tell me about it while it's happening. (Again, I'm extremely grateful for this) Yesterday he got into a bag of potato chips (well, Flat Earth chips -- so they have vegetables in them- - could have been worse), but he came to find me right away as he was putting one into his mouth. Then he kept pointing at the bag after I took it away, until he could finally get me to name what it was, as if he wanted to know for future reference. Something tells me "chips" will be added to his working vocabulary quite soon.

One last thought:
Strider was trying to stand on top of a huge pile of couch cushions yesterday (yes, our house was in its usual looks-like-a-tornado-struck condition) and he was nervous he was going to fall off. His comment was, "I'm glad I'm not Yao Ming! It would be scary to be this tall all the time!"

*I was surprised to hear that it was a definite assumption there would be another kid. I was not aware that Pete and I had made that decision yet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Recent highlights

In our study of world geography this year, we reached the country of India. Up until this point, whenever we've studied a country, we've done things like make food from that country, construct art projects related to the culture, read stories or biographies of people from that country, etc. But this was the first time we dressed up in clothing native to the country. After learning about dhotis, saris, bindis, turbans, etc., we decided to try out some makeshift versions of them. Some friends came over that afternoon, too, so we got everyone all dressed up!

The boys weren't as enthusiastic about it as I would have thought they would be.... but Rayna definitely got into it!

R with sari, bindi

Other highlights of the last week included:
selling hot chocolate and cookies -- raising money for a cause we are excited about!

...and, for Colsen, a ride in a TRUCK!

being men**********
Then this afternoon we enjoyed some time outside. I love the colors in the picture below.... and I also happen to love the boy in the picture as well: