Go. To. Sleep.

Jonathan woke up last night at midnight, coughing and still about half asleep. He was whimpering like he was sick, but he didn’t have a temperature, so we had to play a guessing game. “What do you want?”



“Mmm, wa?” His eyes almost closed.

“I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“mmmwassumm bweddan waa?”

“You want some bread and water?”


We gave him some bread and water, which took him about 30 minutes to get through, and cheered him up by playing with a stuffed dog (which he named either “You” or “Nyu.” Not sure which.) After the bread and water, the real challenge began.

Tucked him in. Screaming. Held him. Crying, but not screaming. Got him almost asleep, tucked him in. Screaming. Held him. Eventually, screaming turned into soft crying, then calm breathing. Suggested putting him down, and the breathing turned to screaming.

Ethan and I alternated between letting him scream it out and going to his rescue, because we weren’t really sure what to do. Also, he very seldom does this, which made us think he might have actually been sick. Eventually, I went in to hold him and he asked for a story. I devised a cunning plan.

“One time, when I was little,” I began, “I woke up and decided to eat some breakfast. I poured some Cheerios in my bowl, and put a spoonful of sugar in it, and then the milk, and I took one bite. Then I took another bite. Then bite number three. Then bite number four. Then bite number five. Six. Seven. Eight….”

I kept counting, gradually slowing down until I was only counting once per breath. John calmed down and his breath slowed down, too. My counting got gradually quieter, and I scooted down the bed until I was laying down, with John on top of me. Which meant John was laying down. “Eighty-seven…eighty-eight…” I was barely even whispering at this point.

“Mom’s gonna bite all the way to a hundred!” muttered John, clearly impressed.

“Mm-hmm,” I said, then continued counting. After a while, I was pretty sure he was asleep. Then suddenly, around a hundred and thirty, he sat bolt upright and looked at me. “Mom ate a really big breakfast!” This wasn’t working the way I thought it would. I wrapped up the story and changed tactics.

“John, do you want to set a timer?”


“We’ll set a timer for nine hours, and after the microwave beeps, it’s time to wake up. But we have to stay in bed until then, okay?”

“Okay!” (He’s kinda shaky on how long an hour is.)

He helped me set a timer (which I turned off as soon as he wasn’t looking), and we went back to his room. I set up a mat on the floor, got a pillow and blanket, and figured I would be camping out in there all night. Surprisingly, he was thrilled to be in bed, as long as he knew the timer would let him know when to wake up. Also, apparently he’s obsessed with clocks. And the microwave. More on that later.

Anyway, it was about this time that he started telling stories of his own. We usually hear him doing this for about an hour before he falls asleep, but this is the first time I’ve been privy to the details. It started out really creepy.

“Miss Ali had some hands, and then she dropped all the hands on the floor. And then she stepped on the hands. There were eighty hands. (He said this part really slowly. Eiiiiiighty haaaaaands.) … And then Mom said….. ‘Whoa. That’s a lot of hands.'”

This got a little less creepy when he started talking about the hands on the clock and I realized he probably wasn’t thinking about body parts. He went on to describe Sarah and Duck, playing with Clock and Microwave, both of whom had legs and feet and wore slippers. Then the four of them went on an adventure that made The Brave Little Toaster look like a logical sequence of events. At one point, the microwave (I’m pretty sure his name was “Microve,” which he pronounce different from “Microwave.”) went to the microwave store to buy a pink microwave to be friends with.

At this point, he was pretty happy and definitely not screaming, so when he started putting his feet on the floor, I told him if he tried to get out of bed, I was going to go. He thought for a minute, put a foot experimentally on the floor and the other one on my back, and said, “Mom will go now.”

I went. He babbled for another hour or so, but I don’t know whatever became of Microve and his new girlfriend. ♥


Sarah & Duck

The other day, I came home to find Ethan half asleep while John watched some soothing children’s program with a British narrator. (Having a British narrator automatically makes any children’s program more soothing.) “What are you watching?” I asked.

“Sarah and Duck!” John shouted. Ethan opened one eye and grunted.

I lay down next to John. “Here, I’ll hold the screen so Dad can sleep.” Sarah and Duck were trying to cheer up a gloomy donkey.

I hunkered down for some cuddles. John’s not super cuddly, so I take them when I can get them. At this point, Sarah was playing the tuba for the donkey. Donkey was scared of the tuba.

And this is the story of how I got addicted to a children’s show.

Being a Sunbeam is Hard.

We’ve spent the past year complaining a little sad that John would have to spend another year in nursery. His birthday is January 1, which means that since Sunday School is organized by calendar year, he’s always going to be the oldest in his class. And he has to wait all the way until his birthday before he gets to move on. I mean, nursery’s great and all—but he’s been one of the oldest kids in there, and all his friends (some of whom are just a few weeks older than he is) get to move on to Primary.

Well, not anymore! For all our complaining, our neighbor finally checked the handbook. A Primary kid gets to leave nursery and join the Sunbeams class when he’s 3. And they determine the age on January 1. As in, if he is 3 on January 1, he gets to go to Sunbeams. He made it by 1 day.

We’re so excited! John gets to go to Primary with his friends. (And John now gets confused and thinks he’s 4, since I kept telling him he got to go to Primary when he was 4. Explaining that Mom can be wrong is harder than I thought it would be.)

So we went to Primary with John yesterday. First he was sad that he wasn’t going to nursery. He loves nursery. Then he was rattled that he had new teachers. He loves his nursery teachers. And then he had to sit. still. in a row. with about 8 other kids. All of whom were also new to this experience. At one point I looked down the row to see one of the kids lying tummy-down on the floor, hands to his sides, with a glazed look on his poor, tired, chubby face. Sitting still is really boring when you’re used to snacks and toys.

Then, since John had a birthday recently, they did a spotlight and talked about him. His favorite color is (apparently) yellow, and he likes strawberry yogurt. And (since they asked me to tell them exactly how he answered the questions,) he knows he’s a child of God because his bike is big, and when he wants to help someone, he shouts, “Help! I’m lost!”

John, of course, was uneasy and cried through most of this. They gave him a birthday pencil, though, which helped. It’s nice to be appreciated. About halfway through Sharing Time, the teacher asked John to pick an object out of a bag. It was an object lesson, of course, but John found a lemon in there and wanted to eat it. Then he started asking for various foods, and we realized that since church starts at 11 this year, we were trying all these new experiences smack-dab in the middle of a lunch that John wasn’t eating. The poor kid acted like he was going to starve to death.

In class, his teachers asked him what things he was grateful for. “What do you like, John?”

(Sniff.) “I like…” (more sniffles.) “I like… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…” (that shuddering, half-crying sniffle) “…and some veggie straws?” his voice went up toward the end, because he had started crying again at the thought of food he wasn’t eating.

So yeah. We have some progress to make here. We ended up spending most of Primary out in the hall, eating veggie straws we kaifed from the snack closet. And then we came home and he ate an entire bratwurst. I promise we feed the kid.

He’ll get better at it. And I don’t really have any obligations during Primary hour, so if he needs back-up, I can come in. And we discovered today at the doctor’s office that his Primary birthday pencil changes colors when you rub it—which was cool enough to get us happily through a doctor’s appointment—so if we really emphasize how great that pencil is, maybe the word “Primary” can still be a positive thing for the rest of the week. ♥

The Dog Next Door

I have found. The cutest. Dog.

A puppy, actually. I have found the cutest puppy. I’ve been on the lookout for puppies… well, most of my life, to be honest. But especially so since I had a kid. I want this kid to be a dog person. And since his initial reaction to dogs was screaming in terror, I figure I need as many good, calm canine examples as I can find.

Fortunately, two of my neighbors have very good dogs who are happy to be approached by a tentative toddler. One of them even got him laughing the other day.

But this story is not about those dogs. It’s about the puppy next door. It’s the roundest, fluffiest, cutest little baby boof-dog I’ve ever seen. Apparently, it’s a Bernedoodle: cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle. And it’s freaking adorable.

Look at this little floof! This is not actually a picture of the neighbor’s puppy. The neighbor’s puppy is cuter than this one. But I don’t know said neighbor quite well enough to fangirl all over her dog without coming off creepy, so… Yeah.

So I wrote an entire blog post about him instead. Not creepy at all.

I now have motivation to get to know my neighbor better, though!

Still Ripping Library Books

I took the library books back on Saturday, primarily because the Provo library was having their annual “get these things out of our used bookstore” sale. And by “sale,” I actually mean free books.

I should have known better, first of all. By the time I got there in the evening, the books had been picked over so well that the only ones left were romance titles like “Santa Slept Over!” So I abandoned the book sale and decided to just return the children’s books we had checked out.

Then I remembered that John had ripped another book. He’s been experimenting with ripping his own books, and occasionally the library books as well. I’m at the point where I’ve been thinking of just leaving the library alone. I don’t want my kid to be responsible for damaging the entire children’s section.

I apologized, embarrassed, and showed the librarian the two shredded pages. “What would you like me to do?” I asked.

“Just leave it here,” she said, “and we’ll send it to Damages. They’ll figure out whether they can fix it, and if they can’t, they’ll charge you for the book.” Surprisingly, she was still smiling. I was expecting a stern lecture or a disapproving glare. Something to make me feel bad for letting me little boy treat their books with such disrespect, at any rate.

“I’m so sorry,” I said again.

“It’s worth it!” She said cheerfully. “Your son is becoming literate!” That’s the first time I’d ever thought of it that way. I mean, I’m willing to be a little more lenient when it’s a book we own. Especially if it was cheap, from the used book store. But I’ve always assumed the librarians were in charge of keeping unruly kids in order. This lady wasn’t babysitting; she was providing teaching materials. And of course that means something’s going to get broken.

So I’m trying to be a little easier on my toddler. He still needs to learn to take care of his books, but he also needs to learn to read, and that means there are going to be casualties.

Why We’ve Been Opening the Door So Fast Lately

A couple nights ago, we came home to find a package on our doorstep. It contained a book, which contained $175 in smaller bills tucked in the pages. We asked the babysitters if they’d heard anything, and they said they’d heard a knock at the door, but didn’t know who’d left it. Then we argued for about 10 minutes about whether or not we were allowed to pay them for watching our kid. (We compromised by giving them a book instead.)

Then they left, and we just kind of stood there looking at each other. “Are we poor?” we asked. “Like, are we poor enough that people think they need to leave anonymous donations on our doorstep?” We knew it was a goodwill gesture (it’s Christmastime in Mormontown, after all,) but we still had a hard time thinking that someone thought we might need help.

Then the next night, we heard a knock at the door and opened it to find—nobody—and an envelope on the ground. With a Wal-Mart gift card in it. And we looked at each other and said, “No, but really—whose list are we on? Do they know we still have money in the bank?” And then a few minutes later, someone else knocked and Ethan whisked the door open in time to see a kid running away and two Hot Wheels cars on the doorstep. Apparently, our upstairs neighbors got the same thing that night. So that made us feel a little better. At least we’re not the only people getting gifted.

It’s not like I don’t appreciate gifts. I mean, free stuff, right? And holiday cheer and giving and all that. It’s just that it hurts my pride a little when it’s anonymous, and when it’s money. It makes me wonder if people think we can’t make it on our own. Like we need charity to survive. The fierce, independent young woman in me roars, “Don’t open that door for me! I’ve got arms!” …and forgets that it’s just a kind gesture, not a condescending one.

So a couple hours ago, when our bishop knocked on our door and said, “Wait right here; I’ve got some stuff to bring in,” Ethan and I looked at each other like, “Uh-oh.” And then a small parade of boxes entered our living room, full of groceries. Like, full full. And while we stood there a little awkwardly, Bishop said, “Look, I want you to know you’re not special. I mean—you’re special. Of course you’re special. Please feel special. But please know that we’re doing this for other families as well. You’re not a project. We just wanted to make sure you have a good Christmas, and that means making sure you stick around.”

“Like, in this neighborhood, or like not dying?” I asked.

“Yeah, some from column A and some from column B,” said the bishop’s son.

And that was it. They left, we unpacked a ridiculous amount of groceries, and then I cried a little bit. From relief,  mostly. And from finally being in a neighborhood where people actually notice if we’re struggling. And, I guess, because it finally clicked that if Christians are supposed to be so dang nice to each other, someone has to be on the receiving end. Right now, we’re on the receiving end.

It’s been a blow to my pride, but probably one I needed. And when I stop to admit it, we really have needed some help. So thanks to all the anonymous donors. And just FYI—if your neighborhood hasn’t noticed you yet, and you’re struggling, hit us up. I’m a pretty good cook, and we’ve got a lot of hot chocolate mix now. Come chill. ♥


Fixing Books

Today, my son finally ripped a library book. I’ve been expecting this for the past year or so (as long as I’ve been getting him library books), but he’s been surprisingly respectful so far. Today, however, he got bored waiting for me to read G is for Gzonk (which I was hoping not to have to read at all), and he experimentally ripped a few inches of the page.

So I gave him a time out (which he loves), then considered making him return all the library books without checking any out (which would be torture for me, because I would have to read the same old books we have), and at my husband’s suggestion, settled on making him “pay” for the damages.

And by that, I mean I made him do some extra chores and paid him small change for them. Then we took a little plastic container (filled with his glorious 40 cents) to the librarian.

“Will you tell the librarian what happened?” I asked.

The librarian patiently waited while I prodded a “I ripped a book” out of him.

She started to tell him it was no big deal, but I gave her a look and whispered, “I know, but I’m trying to teach him a lesson.”

She nodded knowingly, then wiped the smile off her face and said thoughtfully to my son, “Well, thank you for telling me. We’ll fix it with some tape.”

“Give her the money,” I said.

She started to protest again, and I whispered, “It’s just 40 cents. Just take it.”

She nodded again and took the money, thanking John for his responsibility. John actually looked really concerned about the book, and I gave him a hug and thanked him for fixing the problem. And then we went about our normal library activities of checking out about a bazillion books. ♦