Becca is eager to help Leila work on her quilting and her book, including stepping on all quilt blocks laid out on the floor, pounding on keys at the computer and negotiating for turning on "Phineas and Ferb" with hand signs, shrugs, and grunts whenever the computer is on.
She also is the first to put on her winter clothes hoping that someone will take her outside to play. She always knows where her shoes and coat are and most days dresses herself in them or grunts for help so that she is ready to go outside at all times. Plus it is cold in our house. . .
She also wants to do all of the same things as the big kids including finger and head painting. Emily showed her how to write on herself and often she has marker scribbled up and down her legs and belly if she can find a marker. We try to keep them hidden, but you know how it is.
Kate probably will be more than ready for school next year. Colleen sits her down and teaches her much of what she has learned each day, especially wisdom from "Life Skills" like the dangers of playing with sharp stuff. Kate wants badly to submit drawings to the friend and will write her name on anything she can.
I put this up to show Emily's belly writing handiwork. Kate and Becca seem to have perpetual belly smiles.
Colleen thrives at school. She usually holds class after school for her little sisters and teaches them writing and drawing from school. Our friend Doug sat down with her when he was here last summer and practiced drawing with her and it has made a lasting impact. She often practices drawing eyes and shading, just like her practice with Doug. She will regularly tell us about all that she learned during her art lessons with Doug and how that has made her drawing so much better.
Colleen sees the world in black and white. She regularly talks to us about how she is going to just grow up to be a mom and that she doesn't need to go to college because she will just end up taking care of kids at home. I don't know where she gets this stuff because Leila and I have always pushed higher ed and both of us are college grads. Leila does stay home, but wow.
Colleen begged to take piano lessons at the beginning of the year. She is the most eager to practice and loves to make up her own songs to stories. She played me a long song the other day that was a musical version of "Goldilocks and the three bears" complete with a theme for each bear and Goldilocks and a scale progression for their trip upstairs and a pounding discordant escape at the end. She has been begging to start the violin and I hope that it goes as well.
I will write more about the rest of the girls as soon as I find the camera to take some pictures of them.
Aleah is my reluctant piano student. She swears she will never regret quitting piano lessons. I have discussed with her there are a lot of people out there that wish they had kept taking lessons. Are you one of them? Do you have a story to tell her that will keep her playing piano?
A week or two ago now, Leila was at her quilt guild meeting and I was home with the girls. We were watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix. Becca was wandering through the kitchen. Suddenly, the lights in the living room and the computer/library room went out.
I installed three ceiling fans in those rooms a few years ago. Instead of pull cords, each fan is controlled by a remote control. My first thought was that Becca was playing with the remote control, but it was high up on the shelf, out of her reach. I tried turning them on and off with the remote, but it didn't work.
Next, I went downstairs while the girls watched TV in the dark to check to see if we had flipped a breaker switch - one of the joys of living in an old house that has been rewired when convenient ever since 1906 by not so professional handymen. None seemed to be flipped and it seemed like the library was on a different breaker from the living room, plus the outlets were on the same switch and should be out as well.
I tried poking around and following cords to see if there was a problem, but I had a hard time tracking which cord from which junction box in the basement ceiling went to the lights in the living room. I decided to call Mike - my neighbor and the previous owner of the house. He did a lot of updates to the electric, plumbing, added a kitchen, finished the basement, added the built-ins, and on and on. Whenever I am stuck, Mike knows how to fix it. Mike said he would come right over. Mike knew which junction boxes went where and pretty soon we had them open, but were confused by the eight wires that went into one box that should only have had four. We opened the light switches and reconnected the wires. Nothing.
Then we started taking down the ceiling fans to see what could be the problem there. I had a crazy theory that a mouse had chewed through the wires and disconnected the fans. No evidence of a mouse, only my less than stellar installation of the ceiling fans. After dismantling the second ceiling fan, Mike suggested that we go get a light from his house and connect it to where the ceiling fan was to see, just to be sure, that there wasn't a problem with the fan. The light turned on.
It was a problem with the fan, and it got worse. Mike asked if we had changed the batteries in the remote control recently. I had not. I changed the batteries, pointed it at the remaining ceiling fan and the light turned on.
By now it was almost 11:00. The kids were in bed. Leila was in bed. Mike was tired and went home. I was alone with three junction boxes to hook back up, all my light switches take apart, two ceiling fans to reinstall and totally and completely embarrassed that I had turned our house upside-down and pulled Mike into the chaos for a burnt out battery in the remote control.
Before my trip to Mexico, Emily pressed her library book into my hand and made me swear that I wouldn't lose it. She said she had read it over and over and still wasn't tired of it. I would love it, she said. She was right.
Matthew Kirby has written a first-person fantasy novel that avoids all of the cliches. There are no dwarves, elves, rings, schools of magic, quests, or orphans with a destiny, only the children of a Norse warlord waiting out the war in a tiny keep pressed against the edge of a glacier and a freezing fjord. I guess this is juvenile fiction, but the best kind.
This was the best book I have read this year. I read it three times through in Mexico and I wasn't tired of it either.
Things have slowed down at work and I had a whole week off for Thanksgiving. Since Leila and I got step throat and the two youngest are sick, I am ready to go back to work. However, while I have been off I have had more time to read for fun.
This was originally going to be a review of the books I have read over the last few weeks, some new: Kon Tiki - by Thor Heyerdahl, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans, Unwind and UnWholly by Neil Shusterman, and the Supernaturalist by Eoin Coiffer, and some old favorites: The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien, Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. I try and read all of the books that Emily and Aleah are reading - I usually like young adult speculative fiction and it helps me keep tabs on what they are reading. Instead, this is more of a meta-review/ramblings about what I think our fiction tells us about us and our God.
In genetics, you can test the genotype of an individual by progeny tests - for Mendelian inherited qualitative traits - segregation ratios, for quantitative traits - frequency and distributions. I think the the same is true in life. If you want to really know about the parents, look to the children. If we are are created in God's image, then one way to understand the nature of God would be to look at ourselves. I think that it is significant that we spend a majority of our lives creating universes - TV, movies, books, stories, music, art. I love science fiction and fantasy and the highest praise is that the author has created a complete universe - think of Tolkien's Middle Earth which is complete with mythology, history, maps, languages, and people. No other creature spends so much of its life steeped in imagination. Even more concrete sciences and professions are built upon a foundation of imagination - engineering, inventing, design, etc. So many of our technical advances started as something imaginary that someone willed into existence. The idea of the lightbulb went off before it could be made in reality. This shows that God is truly a creator. Like my own children pretending to be parents, cats and owners, cooks, pirates, princesses, and teachers, we imitate the creator when we imagine worlds beyond our own.
One of the reasons I think is that fiction helps us to understand the world around us or how we feel. Ursula Le Guin describes this in her forward to The Left Hand of Darkness:
"Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events, which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That's the truth!"
Make-believe is a huge part of my life I am afraid. I feel like I know many fictional characters and events as well as I remember real life. Even my memories are layered with the stories that I have told about them. I think that is why my siblings memories of key events do not always agree with my versions. The stories I have told myself and others overwrite the true events because the story is more powerful than the memory. I can see this with my kids as their memories and the stories they tell converge over time.
The counter-argument would be that imagination gives an evolutionary advantage, which is definitely true. Even in the absence of civilization the ability to imagine is adaptive - it surely helps in hunting, in adapting to and modifying our environment. It helps in human groups - nothing fills the evening and attracts a mate like storytelling and music around the campfire. Role playing helps prepare for future situations. The evolutionary development of imagination would be adaptive with or without the relationship with deity, so it still comes down to whether you believe that we are children of deity or not.
So why does this matter? Since we have inherited this from our God, imagination isn't just escapism, but is the beginnings of creation. It is divine and should continue throughout our life. As we mature, we progress from pure imagination to creation - putting those ideas into reality. As adults though we begin to limit our imaginations to fit what we see as the bounds of our creative power, and often we are wrong. We have fewer limitations than we think. The balance though is that reality is bigger and richer than we imagine it to be. Any fiction that clouds reality is a distraction.
I loved this quote from Pres. Uchtdorf speaking to the Relief Society - I abhor the sappy musical accompaniment but can't find a video link to the whole talk: