Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blessing Maggie

Today in church we blessed Maggie. My mom came, which was nice (and afterwards held her and got her to sleep for us, suh-weet! She usually fusses through Sacrament Meeting.) In the circle, besides Jeff, were the bishop, Jeff's dad, and for the first time, Jeff's brother (half-brother, whatever), Kevin (he was ordained an Elder just recently, so this is the first time he's been able to participate in blessing one of the kids.)

She wore the family dress (see my post on blessing Bridget), which I washed using Clorox 2 and got a little lighter, and darned several spots on by hand (the bigger holes that had developed since last use; the smaller ones I decided to leave and not do more damage.) And she didn't spit up on it, which was good. She's the first girl who's been small enough to wear a size Newborn onesie underneath, the other two wore size 0-3 mos. by the time they were blessed. (Maggie wears 0-3 in most things and 3-6 in pants, because of the length, but still fits Newborn onesies, because she is long but SKINNY. Like our other girls. But she is more petite, bone-structure wise, than the other two. Except her feet, of course, which are huge.) The dress hung off her a bit, but it was okay. She is just so narrow. Afterwards, we changed her into a white dress I found at the thrift store, and got for $0.50; so cute! It has lace around the collar, is made of Swiss dot fabric, and has poofy little sleeves. We put a white headband on, too.

The blessing was pretty short, compared to the other two, but that was okay; what the Spirit directs the Spirit directs and when the Spirit says "the end", that's it! She didn't make a sound, unlike her sisters. We got her into her father's arms and calm before time to go up, so there was no transition to make her scream. It seemed to work well. The main points were as follows:

-Name by which she shall be known in the records of the Church is Margaret Nancy;
-That she may be an example to her siblings;
-That she may seek an education;
-That she may be married in the Temple to a loving husband and father.

Like I said, short but very sweet. I was particularly interested in that first point! ;) It is interesting to me that Emma and Maggie were blessed to be married in the Temple and Bridey was not; we will see what happens there, I guess! Of course we want that for all of them, but more than anything we want their happiness.

During Sunday School, Bridey came in to get her diaper changed and cracked everyone up yelling out, "The find the daddy! The find the daddy! The change me! The POOP!" *giggles* It was the fifth Sunday so we had a combined RS/Priesthood meeting third hour. That was really great. As usual. I love when the Bishop teaches. After church we went to my aunt's and had lunch and cake (Emma insisted that we had to have candles and sing "Happy Birthday"-- even though it was no one's birthday), then home for a nap, then to my mom's, where we talked (and played) with my sister Megan (half-sister, whatever) and then she had to leave as Jeff's parents and Kevin showed up for dinner. It was a great evening, after dinner we looked at old photos that Jeff's mom had brought, and they were so cool. We found out some interesting things. Jeff sits, squats, stands, and holds a kid EXACTLY the way his grandfather did (which I never knew, his grandpa died while we were dating.) Emma has her Grandma Leslie's grin. And Maggie looks almost exactly like Jeff's cousin Barbara did when she was an infant. There are definitely some dominant genes in that family! ;)

All in all it was a great day, despite a few minor willful episodes on the part of the older sisters. It followed a very full weekend (on Friday, the Pacific Asia museum and a Dodgers game; on Saturday, the train to downtown, lunch at Phillipe's, Chinatown, shopping for lunch Sunday, and then dinner with my dad and Sheri and Jeff's family at the Star Cafe), and we are looking forward to a more restful one next week, though we had fun (and Emma REALLY bonded with Uncle Kevin!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Perez Hilton asks, "Is this Safe... Or Legal?"

The answer: No and no.

Normally I would not link to (or read) Perez Hilton. But this one's right up my alley. Anthony Kiedis, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, went riding in his Gem car with his infant strapped to his chest in a front carrier.

Boo! Hiss!

The Gem car is a smart car from GM; it has seatbelts and is a street-legal vehicle. As such, it falls under the California law that says that all children must be in a properly used carseat or booster in the back seat (unless the vehicle does not have a back seat or does not have belts in the back seat or the seat otherwise cannot be properly installed in the back seat, in which case they may be in front) until they are 6 years of age or 60 lbs. It is neither a bus nor a motorcycle, which are the only exceptions other than standard medical, etc. exceptions; it is a citable offense. Also, he needs to be wearing that seatbelt himself, it's also the law.

Other than being illegal, it's unsafe. If in a crash, if they were both not ejected from the vehicle (which is likely to cause death or serious injury), he would probably be thrown forward into the steering column, and the baby would be crushed against it. The baby would be likely to die, and he would probably suffer severe internal injuries himself.

Get a clue, Anthony! Get safe for yourself and your son, that's way uncool!

And where's the CHP when you need them? Or the LAPD? Someone write the man a ticket and make him learn how to be safe in the car!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tech-savvy Kids and Their Assorted Stuff

Emma figured out how to use the mouse by the time she was about Bridey's age. (Note to self: schedule Bridget some alone time on the compy so she can learn, too.) Much as we may like to extol the virtues of giving our kids no electronic toys or screentime until they're Much Much Older, in our house it just Ain't Gonna Happen That Way. (We haven't even succeeded in getting people to stop giving them toys that make noise, much as we would like to. Heck, we haven't even really stopped ourselves, we'll occasionally buy one.) These kids grow up knowing technology and understanding it almost instinctively-- if there's a button to push, they figure out how to push it, if there's a sequence to follow it they learn in two seconds what takes older people several repetitions to remember, and if you take their picture they want to see it right away-- these are children of the digital age.

So once we've given up on the tech-free lifestyle, the problem becomes how to placate them in their love of all that beeps, plays movies, or otherwise has technological bells and whistles without them messing up our stuff. The phone issue is pretty much solved by locking the cell keypad, letting them make the occasional call (but not teaching them how to use the one-touch speed-dial) and giving them toy cell phones that sing and make annoying noises (you learn to tune out the noise after a while and, besides, the small annoyance is usually worth them not calling Italy.) The camera can be used with supervision-- it's not a waste of film since digital photos are easily deleted-- and important photos on the flash drive "locked" for protection. But then there's still the issue of the computer. Ah, the computer.

We have several ways we let our kids enjoy the computer. First is good old-fashioned (well, not really) YouTube. Now, before you flame me for letting my four year old navigate around YouTube, she doesn't do it willy-nilly. She does it while I'm in the room (or at least within hearing distance and walking by frequently); I start her off with a Sesame Street video (or whatever), she may not get on by herself, and she can ONLY click on links to other videos that are either pre-approved or she asks about (I have to approve anything before she clicks on it), and when I say a video goes off she knows that means navigate off the page NOW, like before I get there, or she will not be allowed on the computer for the rest of the day, if not longer, no arguments and no fuss. Our thinking: it's better for her to learn these "internet safety" rules and procedures now on this relatively safe site than have to learn them when she's more argumentative. (I say "relatively safe" because we can immediately see or hear if something is not appropriate, unlike a forum or chatroom where it would be harder to monitor; she can't read yet so even if there's an inappropriate word on the screen, she doesn't know it yet. These rules give us a foundation to build on when she gets older and CAN read and go on forums and such.)

The second is Starfall. Oh, how the kids love Starfall! And it's educational! 'Nuff said. Starfall is great. And it's hard to go astray from Starfall (though, you have to be careful about them closing the window and messing up your desktop, as I've learned the hard way. And teaching them to use the "back" button on the browser is useful if they tend to get "lost" from the content they want sometimes.)

Third, "Watch Instantly" from Netflix. Again, not allowed to choose a video without getting approval, but since they came out with this we've really gotten our money's worth from it; this is how Emma discovered The Wiggles, among other things (and boy was I glad when they took the monthly limit off-- that meant I could watch movies myself without worrying about hitting the limit and then not being able to let Ems watch!)

And the one that prompted this post: the Fisher-Price Easy Link Internet Launchpad. I got it on clearance from Toys R Us, and it was well worth the money. (We also got two extra character sets-- Barney and The Wiggles, and Clifford and Arthur. Emma wants Bob the Builder and Thomas, but we're not sure if we'll ultimately get them or not.) Man, this thing works just the way it claims to! It locks the kids out of your files, desktop, out of doing anything other than navigating to the allowed sites and, I guess, doing a hard shutdown of the computer (they could if they really wanted to-- but they never want to.) The software that comes with it (one time installation) is fast to set up and doesn't try to install ten gazillion add-ons (at least not that I remember); it allows you to put a timer on computer use, and requires a password to change that or other settings (such as allowing or disallowing printing) or to exit the program once it's started. Even when the USB cable to the Easy Link is unplugged (thank you Bridget for testing this), the software does not allow you to exit until the password is entered. Nice. Neither does the website shut down if the character "key" is removed while in use; you just can't navigate to another website until another key is entered. And the websites have no objectionable content other than a few ads; even the shows that contain the occasional "stupid" (a word not allowed in our house) do not have it on the site. The only two problems I have with it: there's no in-program volume control, so if I want to change the volume my only options are to either exit the program, change it, and re-enter the program, or to use the external mute on the speakers, and the software is not downloadable. The problem with that is that we have a broken CD drive on one computer, so in order to install it it has to be put on the good computer, copied to a USB flash drive, and then installed from there. And what if I lost the CD and wanted to re-install or install on another computer? They should really make it available for download. Other than that, it's great, though! The games are suitable for a wide variety of ages and abilities; Emma loves the "painting" pages and some of the sorting and matching games, while Bridey loves the sequencing games. The hardware is easy to use (though it still requires a bit more force and finesse than Bridget is used to to insert the keys, she's getting the hang of it); the only things you need are a computer, the console itself, and a mouse to play. (Bridey broke Abba's wireless mouse by removing and sucking and chewing on the USB part repeatedly, but they have both learned to use the touchpad mouse on the laptop since we haven't had the spare cash to replace it, as well as the regular mouse on the "big" computer.)

The only option we know of that we haven't tried is keyboard basher programs. You know, programs that lock the keyboard out from other functions but bring up letters or educational activities when the keys are pressed. There are several I know are available for free download or free trial periods, but since we're doing so well with what we're doing so far, we have never tried them. If any of you have used them, or used other options, I'd love to hear all about them! My tech-savvy kids will thank you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I so wish I could take advantage of this...

All my kids are napping at once. And I can't sleep 'cause I'm in too much pain!

Ems and Bridey fell asleep on my bed watching Sesame Street. Maggie is out here with me, also asleep.

But my cheek still hurts, even though I just took my Tylenol 1/2 an hour ago. See, I got my wisdom teeth on my right side out on Thursday. And my jaw is killing me. I went and got them checked this morning (we went to my dad's, Ems and Bridey stayed with Grandma Sheri and Grandma Ronnie-- their great-grandma, who is in town right now-- while my dad took Maggie and me. Afterward we went to SunThrift and I got cool stuffage (clothes for the older two, Sesame Street play quilt for Maggie, a few things for eBay-- yes I think I'm starting back up there soon unless I can find somewhere better to sell) and then he took us home-- did I mention that I got three carseats in the back of his 1988 Corolla, a Cosco High Back Booster (with harness) for Bridey, Emma in the center in her extra Radian that lives in his car for picking her up from preschool, and Maggie in a SnugRide with no base? Anyway, I digress...) But the check-up re-hurt my jaw, which had been starting to feel so much better. Wah. I get my sutures out on Thursday, hopefully by next week I'll be back to normal. I'm sick of not being able to chew properly! I was conscious for the extraction, btw. Did you know that when they pull a tooth out, it sounds crunchy, like potato chips? Also, another one to add to my list of weird drug reactions: Novacaine gives me tremors. Nothing else, and it didn't impede me getting the work done, just gives me tremors. Also, I metabolize it very rapidly. She used about 3 times as much as she planned to, used all her extra she had out and had to have the assistant go get more, because it kept wearing off. And she didn't take that long, I just metabolize it quickly. I kept my teeth, btw. The assistant thought I am a bit strange. I think they're cool, and fascinating. The roots are all curved, and you can see the flat surface where the impacted one grew into the tooth next to it (and the cavities in it; I had to get a surface fill of the cavities that were forming in the tooth next door, as well.) I'm tempted to do something cool with them. Earrings? Or drop them in Coke and see if they dissolve... I also have to be on penicillin. I hate penicillin. Loathe it. It hurts my tummy; both if I take it on an empty stomach (or if my stomach gets empty while it's in there), and later on in the digestive tract, lower down... Yeah. I despise taking almost all antibiotics for this reason. But better safe than sorry, and at least it's cheap.

(About the not posting the last month-- sorry. I have been super-busy and have photos of most of it, but I have been too tired to edit and post them. I basically have a bunch of photos and stuff written that I'll publish when I feel up to it, hopefully soon. So, yeah...)

P.S.-- Rayann (Boon from Hatrack) is coming next month to see us! w00t! I am so excited! She is like my bestest friend EVER. I can't wait for us to meet each others' babies. And go to Disneyland. And the beach. And shopping at Sun Thrift and IKEA. And... :D