Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Update

It’s late. The house is dark, and quiet. Well, not quite. Mr. Baseball just opened his door and is now in the bathroom, which means the door is wide open, the fan is running, and the light is on. But it was dark and quiet, and it’ still late. I'm sitting up in bed next to a sleeping QB and I'm beginning to sweat because this laptop computer puts out entirely too much heat. The sinus cavity above my right cheekbone is throbbing--the last hurrah of a late-fall cold that opened up shop in my respiratory system about three weeks ago--and I really should be in bed. I mean asleep. I am in bed. I really should be asleep. Callan just came in wearing an "I'm up now and I'm not really interested in going back to sleep even though I can barely keep my eyes open" look. I gave him a hug and sent him off to his room. I think I heard an exaggerated sigh as he went back into his room.

I'm so mean.

Since the last post (two weeks ago?) I have finished my final assignments of the quarter (20 pages worth of writing), I've graded my students' final papers (some of them quite good), and I've turned in grades (some of them quite bad). We've been to Utah for Amy' and Caleb's wedding, we've baked five desserts for a Thanksgiving dinner at our Branch President's house, we've watched several movies, including Kung Fu Panda, Wall-e, Christmas with the Kranks, and about thirty seconds of Lord of the Rings before the fighting got bad enough that the QB asked me to change the channel. I've made significant progress toward finishing five PhD applications (necessary evils), and we attended one baptism (a necessary good).

Today was a normal lazy Sunday (not to be confused with this Lazy Sunday) the QB was playing the organ for sacrament meeting, so she was a little nervous (and so was I , because that means I sit alone with the two boys in the pew and try to keep them entertained for the hour-long meeting). She spent most of last night going between her primary music time lesson and the keyboard, worrying about whether she was going to play well in Church. She played four Christmas songs today--which means they're not hymns that she plays very often, which means she rarely practices them, which means she made a few mistakes that I know she feels ten times worse about than she should. Her primary lesson went well by all acounts (I didn't see what she did exactly, but I know she was teaching a song called "I'm Thankful to be Me" from the Children's song book and the first line reads:

At night, when I'm alone in bed,

I close my eyes and see,

The many things I'm thankful for,

That God has given me.

She brought a pillow and blanket today and had the kids take turns lying down and pretending to be asleep, thinking of everything they're thankful for.

After church we ate turkey sandwiches and left overs and the boys and I took naps while the QB enjoyed some quiet time to herself. After dinner we sat down at the table to make some Christmas crafts and ended up cutting and folding and gluing for more than an hour. Even the monkey sat in his chair the entire time (granted he was buckled in) and tore several sheets of paper up. He even used the scissors a little. the QB made a big snowflake and Mr. Baseball and Imade Santas. Before we knew it, it was 8:30pm and way past bed time. We all got pajamas on and read some books on the bed before saying good night to them both. More than once we had to go back into the room to help the monkey remember that he was supposed to be in bed, including once when I found him half-way up Mr. Baseball's ladder. "Want sleep Callan's bed" he said.

Here are a few photos from the past two weeks...

These dinner rolls were a hit on Thanksgiving. We doubled the recipe and used 1/2 whole wheat flour. Usually rolls are an after thought and we have to cut back on rising time, but we made these well in advance and gave them plenty of time on the counter. The results were grand.

I had two helpers for the pie crusts. My mom has always hated making pie crusts and at some point along the way (I think I was twelve or thirteen), she delegated holiday pie crust making to me. I've had varied success with shorting recipes, but a few years ago at my in-laws house I discovered a cream cheese pie crust recipe from the Joy of Cooking that is virtually impossible to mess up. The Monkey and Mr. Baseball both did a fine job cutting in the butter and cream cheese, but their real triumph was stealing dough from the rolling surface while I wasn't looking.

(Three ounces of cream cheese cut into six table spoons butter and 1 1/4 cup flour and a dash of salt. Sprinkle with two 2 tbl spns. milk and toss with fork. Form into ball, adding flour if necessary to reach desired consistency).

The apple-cranberry crumb-top pie with the over-sized crust was the biggest hit of the five desserts we made for Thanksgiving (close runners up were the chocolate cream pie and the pumpkin swirl cheesecake). We used this tool to peel, slice, and core 18 granny smith apples for the filling.

The cranberries were an afterthought. We thought about putting raisins in, but changed our minds at the last minute when we found a bag of frozen cranberries in the back of the fridge.

This is at the airport in Columbus, around 10pm Sunday night after we got in from Utah. The Monkey had done very well the entire trip, and maybe he could tell we were getting close to home, because at baggage claim he just decided to lie down.

In Utah, Papa Fitz borrowed a neighbor's digger and gave the boys a little ride.

Of course, the monkey was tentative at first, but after a few minutes...

Thanks Pa!

We forgot to bring our camera to most of the Wedding events in Utah, but brought home fantastic memories of one of the more spiritually inspiring temple ordinances I've ever witnessed. That deserves an entire post in itself, but suffice it now to say only this: There is something powerful about witnessing two young people covenant not only with each other, but with God, to walk the disciples path.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
--Mark 10:7-8

An LDS person's childhood is full of promises to God (often called covenants). We make promises of obedience and discipleship from baptism at age eight and every week after when we take the sacrament (communion). These are personal, individual promises between God and individual. The QB and I were married more than six years ago, but the significance of that ordinance didn't really hit me until I watched Amy and Caleb go through the same ceremony last week. It is the first promise to God that I made in tandem with someone else. The promise of obedience and discipleship was not just to God, but to my wife as well. And the promise of marital fidelity and mutual support was not just to my wife, but to God. If I fail God, then I'm failing my wife, and in turn, if I fail my wife, then I am failing God. Put differently, when I strengthen my relationship with God, I am bettering my marriage, and when I better my marriage, I am improving my life as a disciple.

Marriage then is so much more than a convenient social custom, or a legal distinction, or an old-fashioned remnant of patriarchal oppression. Rather, it is THE institution designed to help men and women become the best that they can possibly be. That doesn't mean that society has always treated it that way, or that individuals have always honored it accordingly, but it does mean that the scripture still stands:
neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.--1 Corinthians 11:11
I need something from the QB, and the QB needs something from me, and we both need everything from God. I'm grateful this Thanksgiving weekend for the reminder from Amy and Caleb why I am married to my wife, what my responsibilities are towards her, and what opportunities we have to grow together in the Lord.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you saved some room for Christmas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Monkey's Birthday, a week after the fact

So we know that the Monkey turned two more than a week ago, but we've been busy. So, here are the pictures. The Cake was good.

The QB just can't help herself on Birthdays. This is, as requested, the Monkeys "Dig Dig Cake."

This, also as requested, is an"Elmo present"

The day of his birthday, the Monkey and Mr. Baseball and I went to the Park and the community Garden. A recent wind storm has knocked down 90% of the leaves in town.

Before the park, we stopped at the community garden to dig in the dirt a little and winterize the plot. We found these peppers that apparently finally appeared sometime after our last trip to the garden (which was back in September). There were six or seven that looked like they would have been good had we come back before the first frost. Too bad. Maybe next year.

The boys dug and dug and dug.

I think this is actually a picture taken on Sunday (we've dubbed that day "inbetweener" day because it's the day between my birthday and the Monkey's and almost seems like it deserves to be celebrated right along with everything else). The Monkey really wanted to eat on the counter. Go figure.

’Tis the season

This December we are going to Utah to visit Melissa's family, as well as several branches of the Franklin family tree. This has meant lots of coordination and as it stands now, it looks like we will fly to Utah and stay with the Fitzgeralds for a week or so, then drive to Vegas to see my Mom and Dad and my brother Josh and various members of my Dad's family, then come back to Utah to attend Savior of the World with the Fitzgeralds (including newly Married Amy and Caleb), and then meet my other two brothers (Jason and Tom), plus my sister Misha and her husband Chad and my parents for Christmas in Salt Lake City at Jason's house. And we'll likely round out the trip with a final few days with the Fitzgeralds before coming home at the end of December.

Last Christmas we spent with the missionaries and a single friend of ours in our little campus apartment and we ate Avalanche Pizza. And as much as we love our missionaries, and as much as we love our friends, and as much as we love our neighbor down the street who is responsible for all that award-winning pizza down at Avalanche, we are all looking forward to Christmas with family.

Christmas has always meant crowded malls full of busy shoppers caught between the peace and pressure of the season and a list of seven brother and sisters, plus mom and dad, plus a variety of husbandswivesgirlfriendsboyfriendsinlawsniecesnephewsneighborsfriends who all need gifts, deserve gifts, may not get gifts if I don't get out and get some shopping done, and the three tattered boxes marked "Christmas" pulled from storage and opened to reveal strings of white lights from my oldest sister's wedding, and the old-standard ornaments--the snoopy set, the plaster santas and plush picture frames and clothes-pin-reindeer and broken bulbs and three dozen macaroni angels painted white holding neon pink hymnals, and miles and miles of fake ivy and that old Mr. and Mrs. Claus--heavy cast ceramic wrapped in the same yellowed napkins we repack them in every year, and the nativity scene that looks like some half-hearted family reunion with only Baby Jesus, and Mary and a headless Joseph accompanied by a sheep, a camel, a ram, and just one remaining wise man, ever faithful, returning year after year to our living room to worship the Christ child, and I wonder if he's carrying the gold, the frankincense, or the mir--and all by himself up there he feels like some kind of metaphor. . . and that nativity always sits on the hallway table, overlooking the freshly vacuumed carpet around a newly decorated tree and the soft glow of lights peaking out the window . . . and in the kitchen on the counter--squares of fudge or thumb-print cookies or candy-canes decorated like Rudolph brought on paper plates to the door by friends and neighbors and home teachers (thanks Brother Potter), and a growing basket of Christmas cards from friends and faces from around the corner and across the country, and the whole family breathing the cool air of the front porch while carolers smile and sing with rosy cheeks, and a bag or box or truck-load of canned goods, a few gifts, maybe a tree for a sad stranger, and ginger bread houses leaning leaning leaning from the weight of so many gum drops--and the cross-stitch of the three wise men my mother always hangs in the hallway--the three that always come together-inseparable and ever-present during the season, and the birthday party my in-laws throw for baby Jesus on Christmas Eve (complete with the Birthday song and cake) and long nights of chatting over pumpkin pie and rounds of Boggle, and one long night on Christmas Eve of wrapping and setting out and filling stockings, and (for all parents I'm sure) a night of wondering if they got "enough" for everybody, wondering if this year will be "fair," worried about the paper hearts of their children, so expectant, so hopeful, so innocently greedy for the bounty of Christmas morning--and then its early, or as we've gotten older, not so early, and breakfast is hot and long and carries very much the feeling of the pre-game show on Superbowl Sunday, and then we sit and talk and unwrap and "ooooh" and "ahhh" and "thank you," and "how wonderful" and "uh...." and "I can't wait to try it on," and "I'm definitely borrowing that," and "can you believe all this wrapping paper," and "I think there's one more, way back there behind the tree," and then the post-Christmas calm when for perhaps the only time in the entire year, no one really feels like they NEED to be anywhere but where they're at, when the toys on the floor don't seem to be a mess and the chess boards and decks of cards and old movies come out and outside it's quiet like someone turned off the city, except for the boys across the street trying out their new remote controlled car, except for the sounds of car doors shutting and bodies shuffling up the walk to grandmas house or Mom and Dad's or somewhere else they don't get to often enough, and though it all may seem sentimental, and at times (most-times) overly commercial, I don't think any amount of marketing could ever completely do away with the glorious potential for Happy that comes with the month of December.

And we are definitely looking forward to it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to me...

So, it's my birthday, its 9:13 AM, and its already been quite a day. I woke up at 5:00 am when the Monkey came into our room, flounced onto the bed and said, over and over again, "downstairs, downstairs," except that when he says it, it sounds like "downchairs, downchairs." Between me rubbing his back and then the QB finally picking him up and rocking him for a minute, he fell back to sleep. And when Mr. Baseball woke up at Six the QB got up with him and let me sleep in until 6:30 (which is a full half-hour longer than we've been getting up the past week, so I appreciated the extra sleep).

I had a few papers to grade this morning, so I did that while the QB did the morning stuff and at 7:15 we had breakfast--a Franklin birthday breakfast, which is a hold over from the QB's family tradition--a box of sugar cereal. Since we usually eat Cheerios, raisin bran, or occasionally Frosted Mini Wheats, sugar cereal is like eating desert for breakfast.

We had Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Mr. Baseball and I had two bowls each. At the table I said to the QB, "Can you imagine if we ate this stuff every morning?" And now, I'm thinking that, as a kid, we did. Not that I ate sugar cereal ever at home (I only got it once or twice a year, usually in my Easter basket) but that I use to put so much sugar in my cheerios that it layered the bottom of the bowl and it filled half my spoon with every bite.

So then I road my bike to school and the weather was pleasant, for November 10th. The sun was coming up behind me, the wind blew gently, the river caught the light of the rising sun, giving off a brilliant, if illusionary sense of nature, and NPR was running a story on Barack Obama's transition to the White House. What could be better?

In class, my students and I workshopped two essays--one about addiction, and one about mixed martial arts fighting like UFC. I've never been a fan of MMA, but the student author was convincing enough that I pulled up a short video of something called a "flying arm bar," which I'd never heard of, and now, after having seen the video, am convinced that it's the most amazing martial arts move I've ever seen.

So, however you feel about mixed martial arts, maybe you can appreciate, as I did the "shock and awe" affect of this move. I think I'll stick to thumb wrestling with Mr.Baseball.

After class, I walked into the office and saw this image on the computer. I laughed for five minutes and then sat down to write this post.

Who knows what the rest of this birthday will have in store for me. If the past three hours are any indication, it should be fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Two steps forward one step back

The Monkey has been a great sleeper most of his life, but in the past week he has reverted to fussing all the way to bed. For the past several days we've had to rock him to sleep, or let him scream, or rub his back and sing him songs until he finally goes out. Tonight, it only took me about fifteen minutes of singing and cooing with him in bed to get him to fall asleep and he was out by 8:15pm, but about twenty minutes ago (around 10:15pm) he came thumping down the stairs, wandered into the living room, climbed up onto the couch next to me, leaned over, and fell back asleep. I've been reviewing some student work and he has been a little restless next to me, but has stayed asleep. His little head is warm against my side, and every once in a while he breathes a quiet child breath that wheezes out his nose. And now, I hear his brother's feet on the stairs. I think everyone is feeling like they need some company. So, off to bed for all of us.

Sunny Days... Sweeping the Clouds Away...

The Monkey's birthday is coming up, so while in Columbus yesterday we stopped at the Science Museum to check out the new "Sesame Street: The Body" exhibit.

The Monkey chanted all day as we ran errands. And he b-lined it for the entrance once we actually got there.

Mr. Baseball's favorite part was about digestion, including, you guessed it: bodily function sounds. (Of course!) And the Monkey's favorite part was Elmo's World,( a house designed with a crayon, for those of you who haven't seen Sesame Street lately). We all liked Hooper's store with real registers and lots of fake food to play with.

Fun fun fun fun fun!

*And yeah, the Student and I wore the same thing. But it was an accident, we're not into that couples coordinating outfits kinda thing!