09 January 2017

Felix Funnies

That four-year-old of mine has been saying some funny things lately. Here are a few:


While I was getting ready for work one day and he was whining about going to the sitter's I asked him if he could remember what my job was.

Me: I'm a genealogist. Can you say that?
Felix: No, I can't. It's not a real job, mom.

At least a week later, while reading to both boys, after not discussing this in any way:
Felix: Wait, Mom, stop. I have to tell you something. Genealogist is not a real job, Mom.


One day when he had a stomach bug:
Me: Felix, come inside so you can have some lunch.
Felix: I'm not eating lunch today. I'm fascinating.

A photo posted by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on


When he is angry with me:
Felix: You're grounded, Mom.
Me: What am I grounded from?
Felix: You're grounded from making dinner.
I then explained this is actually not a punishment for me.


When Eric made peas to go along with dinner one night:
Felix: You're fired from making peas for dinner, Dad!


Felix is not a picky eater, but lately he complains about whatever we are having for any meal. I could feed him a bowl of cotton candy, and he'd find a reason to complain about it. Each night at dinner we do "good, bad, and helping" where we tell something good about our day, something bad about our day, and what act of service we did that day. Many days with Felix go like this:
Felix: My bad thing is we're having this for dinner, and I just didn't want this. My good thing is it's very delicious.

A photo posted by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on


I read Matilda by Roald Dahl to the boys. It starts with an explanation that most parents think their kids are pretty great, even if they aren't. I stopped to explain some of the wording to my boys, and Felix said:
Felix: Just like we think Baby is the best baby in the world, even though she scratches and pulls hair?


I'm having a baby in June, and Felix loves to tell people we are having two babies. He means that when our new baby arrives we will have Trixie (the current baby) plus the new baby, but it always comes off like we are having twins. Then I have some quick 'splaining to do.

31 December 2016

2016 Books

I set this to publish automatically and forgot to add my top ten percent of 2016's books to this list. So, for those who didn't read it on the day of publication, you get a bit extra. I read 35 books, 20 fiction and 15 non-fiction. Rounding up, that gives me four books for my best of 2016:

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos
  3. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
  4. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Three of four are non-fiction. This should point me toward more non-fiction for 2017, but I'm sure I'll steer right back to fluff over and over thinking that I'll enjoy it more than I will. (Not that all fiction is fluff, but I frequently seek out an easy read or something fun to listen to and then rarely enjoy those as much as the non-fiction stuff.)

1. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger - A great way to start my reading for this year. The plot and characters are so likeable, even if a bit far-fetched. The writing is excellent.

2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos* - This was just a really good story. I started it right around the time I quit commuting so much to work (August 2015), so it took me ages to get through it because I lost my time to listen to audiobooks. The time it took me to finish doesn't reflect the quality of the book at all. It's very solid writing, and just a really good story.

3. Columbine by Dave Cullen - A really well-written read about the shooting. I couldn't stop telling Eric about it.

4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - Such an enjoyable read. I had many laugh-out-loud moments, and I dog-eared lots of pages to read to Eric (and my brother when we were traveling to Texas together).

5. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes - My first read by this author. I found it entertaining, and I'll probably return to her when I'm looking for some fluff reading.

6. Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - I read this one in 2012 and then recommended it for my book group for this year. I enjoyed it immensely again, but apparently some of the groupies found it a little boring.

7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare* - Listened to this one for book group and liked it as well as I did when I listened to it in 2013.

8. Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai* - Listened to this one for book group too. I didn't know it was written in verse until after I finished it. That certainly explains the narrator's reading style, which I actually enjoyed.

9. Sarah Bishop by Scott O'Dell - Decent historical fiction. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.

10. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han* - Decent YA fiction. I really liked the main character, but her best friend and her older sister were really unlikable. I liked the writing and the plot, on the whole, though.

11. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella* - This was my first Sophie Kinsella book, and while I get the appeal of her writing (it is very funny), there were a lot of things about this book that rubbed me the wrong way, mostly the fact that the parents are portrayed as total idiots. I far prefer my YA lit with parents who are not total buffoons.

12. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie - I enjoyed it. I'd like to read it to my kids one day.

13. The Martian by Andy Weir - I expected to really like this book, and I did. The main character is brilliant, the plot is constantly engaging, and it was funny too.

14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky* - I do not get the hype of this book.

15. My Story by Elizabeth Smart* - A story worth reading, despite the lousy writing.

16. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Elizabeth Sherrill - I've read this book half a dozen times at least. It's such a good one. I read it this time for book group. I'm sad I'll miss the discussion.

17. I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson* - Eh. Not Bryson's best. Nonetheless, an enjoyable book to listen to in fits and starts.

18. The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler* - We institutded "a good thing and a bad thing" at family dinner. I liked that this book is full of ideas, but he doesn't have an agenda of the "right" way to raise a family.

19. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi* - Easily one of the best books I've read in years. It was so thought-provoking and moving.

20. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - I enjoyed this when I audiobooked it a few years ago, but I liked it even better this time around with a paper copy.

21. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys* -  I appreciated this book for telling about a different side of WWII than what we often hear (Eastern European refugees fleeing Stalin into Germany very late in the war), but I didn't love the narrative style or the characters. Still a good one to listen to.

22. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - Definitely an interesting and quick read. I found it fascinating, but it's not one that I'll necessarily talk everyone's ear off about.

23. Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay - There is some good stuff in this book, but the delivery is obnoxiously repetitive and condescending.

24. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann - I did this with Ike. Sometimes it was really hard (for everyone), but we managed to finish it right before his kindergarten testing. If I decide to teach my others to read (and I really don't know at this stage if I will) then I'll use this book again.

25. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell* - This book was so delightfully entertaining. It was a great mix of history, the author's modern day travels and commentary as she did her research, and terrific quotes from historical figures. We sure don't give the French enough credit for their role in the American Revolution. It's shameful.

26. Follow the River by James Alexander Thom - I wanted to quit my life so I could just read this book and do nothing else. Alas, I have a family and a job, so it took me six days to get through it. This was a book group read; otherwise, I doubt I ever would have picked it up.

27. The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier - I'm glad it was short because it was really dark. The great writing doesn't make up for the darkness for me.

28. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson - I just cannot get behind this author, even though she is really popular. I found this book even more grating than Edenbrooke.

29. Life Itself by Roger Ebert* - Okay, I technically didn't finish this one. It was okay, but not engaging enough for me to finish it. I may have gotten through it if it were half as long.

30. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Read this one aloud with the boys, and it was so great to read together.

31. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White - Another great read-aloud with my boys. Felix had a bit of a hard time listening, but Ike was fully engaged and always wanted me to read more. I had read it as a child but liked it far better as an adult.

32. Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray* - This is a really interesting mystery, but I didn't love the author's telling of it. I probably should have just read about it on Wikipedia and called it good.

33. Cinder by Marissa Meyer* - I liked it well enough to want to read the next one.

34. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs* - I was looking for some fluff to listen to, and this served adequately.

35. Matilda by Roald Dahl - I read this to my boys. It was over Felix's head, but Ike really enjoyed it. I felt like I had to edit out some of the violence and harsh language (stupid, hate, shut up), so that made it a little less enjoyable for me even though it was one of my favorites as a child.

*Denotes audiobooks.

29 December 2016

2016 - In Review

I love to review my year. Over the years I've adapted the cut and paste form I used to fill out since some of it was redundant or just not really applicable to me. I'm sure it will continue to morph over time.

Places in 2016:
Noteworthy things for 2016 (in no particular order):
  • Eric started a graduate program related to his field of teaching, so he will get a raise when this is over!
  • Trixie was released from her supplemental oxygen and nasal cannula in February. Then in July her cardiologist said we didn't need to see him for a year.
  • Trixie got tubes in December after four ear infections in less than three months.
  • Trixie said "mama" before "dada." Then her ear infections caused her to go basically mute. Then when her words came back "mama" was first on the list.
  • I survived two weeks of Eric being away at summer camp.
  • My dad survived his heart stopping for an extended period of time (about 10 minutes). (A perfect stranger performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, zapped him with the paddles a few times, then hustled him to a hospital. He was unconscious for about 18 hours and then needed a few weeks of treatment, but his survival was quite miraculous.)
  • I taught Ike to read.
  • I read a few chapter books to both boys: Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte's Web, and Matilda
  • Ike started Kindergarten.
  • Ike learned to ride a two-wheeler with only the assistance of neighborhood children, no adults!
  • Felix started preschool.
  • I coached Ike in soccer.
  • I had a very successful year in work and came really close to beating Eric in the gross earnings race.
  • I got pregnant and am having baby #4 in June 2017.
  • Eric finished the basement.

A Reflection On 2016 Goals:
  • I kept Trixie healthy during cold and flu and RSV season in 2016. I was very concerned about her because of her heart defect, but all was well!
  • I did not resume bread-making for our family. I don't even think I did it more than once or twice. But I was pretty good about meal planning and cooking.
  • I read all the books for book group!
  • I did not get around to hosting a meal at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Primary Children's Hospital, and I feel immense guilt about that.
Goals for 2017:
  • Physically, focus on getting steps in each day. That 10,000 step mark is pretty distant for me, especially when I can't go on walks outside. Even hitting half that is a pretty physical day for me. I just want to continue to be conscientious about moving my body and not being sedentary.
  • Finish my Personal Progress. It's something my bishop encouraged us to do this year, and I have worked on it in fits and starts.
  • Submit some writings for publication in genealogy literature.

24 October 2016

Fall Happenings

In the last two years my blogging has dwindled to only highlight birthdays and vacations. I'd love to make promises about more devoted writing time or more frequent postings, but I have no intention of doing either.

Here are a few pictures and blurbs about what we've been up to this fall, though.

On Eric's birthday we hiked to Donut Falls. It was a nice hike for our little family. Afterwards we went to an Indian restaurant. And we both were so happy that we can take our kids to actual restaurants to eat actual food without having to deal with them acting like horrible people.

I coached Ike's soccer team this year. My brother aptly calls soccer for this age group "Swarm Ball." It was a neat experience, and I'll probably do it again at some point. I loved spending extra time with Ike. I sometimes felt annoyed with parents who shouted at their kids opposite instructions of what I was giving them, or who wanted to give me pointers on coaching. Folks, I have never played soccer except in elementary school P.E. I only signed up to coach because I got a few emails saying our team still really needed an assistant coach. If all you other parents think you can do a better job, then by all means, please do. Otherwise, the appropriate thing to do is say, "Thanks for coaching this soccer team." Also, I think there was an attitude of, "Oh, I'm too busy to coach." Which, okay, I get it. But who isn't busy? We're all busy. It's the American thing to be doing too many things. If it were just the kids, I'd be all about doing this more often.

At this age level the teams do not play with referees, instead the coaches and parents referee the game. We don't really call handballs unless the kid straight-up picks up the ball with his/her hands, and we don't keep score (officially). I loved it when my fellow ref (usually a coach, but sometimes a parent) had the same attitude about this whole thing that I had. (My attitude was, "This is a game, and my kid is five.") Those games were the most fun for me. I never once reffed with another female. Some men treated me like I was stupid. These games were the least fun for me.

Sometimes this boy was constantly in the action, but as the season wore on he was more likely to hang out of the swarm and see if he could head off an opponent who had taken off with the ball.

It looks like I'm chewing this kid out, but I promise I'm not. His parents had come down hard on him during half time, and he came back very upset. I was telling him that he was doing a great job. (He was one of our better players, and one of my favorite kids.) About three minutes after this was taken, he got nailed in the face with a soccer ball and hardly shed a tear.

Being around Ike and watching him interact with a bunch of boys his age was such a fun experience. I really do love this little boy, and I'm glad we got to do this together. I'm also pleased to report that even if I had not been his coach, I think my boy would have been one of the better behaved and least annoying children on the team. And I'm grateful for that. I feel bad for the parents with annoying kids. (Not even going to try to pussyfoot around that. There were definitely some obnoxious kids on my team.)

We didn't manage to get a big group together for our annual Pumpkin Cruise down by the ropes course on the Provo River. Instead, we hired a sitter for Trixie and just took the boys. We didn't bother with jack-o-lanterns for our boat and just went on our own. There was a big logjam, and we had to portage around that. Felix found that experience really distressing for some reason and kept insisting that we just turn around and go home. But everyone really loved the lights. This was one of those rare occasions when Eric didn't want to do something, and I had to encourage him that it would be worth it. When it was all over he agreed and was glad we got it together to go.
Also, how long until my boys are bigger and stronger than me, and they can be the ones to help Eric with carrying the canoe to the river and getting it on and off the car?

17 October 2016

Felix is Four

I'm more than a week late, but Felix is four now! His birthday celebrations were numerous. On the day of his actual birthday I let him pick a treat to have with our dinner that night. He picked cinnamon rolls. We also had turnips because he requested them. The next night we had a picnic dinner at the Ashton Gardens (formerly the Thanksgiving Point Gardens). Saturday he had a birthday party with friends, and I made cupcakes for everyone. Sunday we had Grandma and Grandpa L., Grandma Great, and my nephew Tyson over for dinner. And we wrapped it up with pineapple up-side-down cake. Then, on Tuesday night we went to Cold Stone for birthday ice cream. Which is all to say, this kid had plenty of treats for his birthday.

A few of Felix's favorites:

  • Colors: blue and red
  • Foods: Pretty much everything. He's a delightful eater. But if you ask him, he might say cabbage.
  • Activities: playing with friends, watching movies and shows, playing with his cars, going on walks at the gardens
  • Movie: probably Planes: Fire and Rescue (I know, ugh, but it's better than Cars, which I absolutely despise.)
  • Show: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood or Wild Kratts
  • Songs: "Praise to the Man," "Eye of the Tiger," "Slave March," "Mighty Lord and King All Glorious," and many other Primary songs and instrumental pieces from various movies, especially Star Wars
  • When he grows up: Wants to be whatever Ike is. "But what if Ike is just a bum? "What's a bum?" "A bum is just somebody who doesn't have a job and does nothing all day." "Well, if Ike is a bum, then I guess I will just have to be a bum too." Alternatively, he has told me he wants to work at the the gardens so he can be one of the workers that is allowed to go in the employees-only sections. And he has told me he is going to be a flower cutter so he can cut flowers and bring them in the house for me.
Special traits:
  • He's quite sensitive.
  • He's brave, even if he's scared of something.
  • He has a good memory for learning texts and lyrics. (But he skips #15 when counting 99% of the time.)
  • He will always share food with you if you ask, even if it's his last bite of a special treat.
Other stuff about him at age four:
  • He's scared of strangers and is trying to understand when to be cautious and when there is cause for alarm. (The other day he came in from playing because there were strangers outside. I asked him if they were walking, and he said, "No, they drove by in a car.")
  • He would go to preschool every day if he could.
  • He almost never cooks with me anymore, far preferring to play with friends. (This makes me insanely sad.) But he does come around begging for food a lot.
And here are a few blurry pictures (and also evidence of why I will never be a famous blogger):

Sometimes Felix can be really ornery, but mostly he's a sweet boy who can be persuaded to do pretty much anything. He brings our family a lot of happiness. He asks great questions, and when his apologies are sincere, they are just insanely sweet. I sure do love him.

23 September 2016

Ike and Felix Speak

I have loved some of the hilarious things my kids have said recently.

While walking home with Ike from the bus stop:
Ike: I saw Cameron today in the gym.
Me: Oh, did you have P.E.?
Ike: Yes!
Me: What did you do in P.E.?
Ike: They gave us cups, and we put them over one eye and had to read tiny letters!
Me: That was vision screening, not P.E..


We have been reading Little House in the Big Woods, which has been a huge hit. We had tried chapter books last summer, and Ike was ready, but Felix definitely wasn't, which made things difficult. Felix still struggles a bit to be still and listen, but overall reading from the book has been a great boon to our bedtime routine. After reading about how Laura and Mary and Ma made butter, we made butter one morning. We then used the butter and resulting buttermilk to make buttermilk biscuits for our dinner that night. While reading about how Pa and Grandpa gathered sap to make maple syrup, Felix asked if we could do that sometime.

While reading from the book I frequently remind the boys that this book took place long ago, before there was electricity and cars. One time after a reminder Felix said, "Well, why didn't they just invent a car?"


On a walk with Felix, and I made him walk part of the way (after first letting him ride in the stroller with his sister while I pushed them both up a pretty big hill):
Felix: Mom, my leg hurts.
Me: Does it? Just keep walking, and it will feel better.
Felix: But it hurts worser than a lot!


While trying to get Felix to put his toys away:
Felix: You have to help me, Mom.
Me: No, these are your toys, you need to put them away so you can go play with friends.
Felix: But remember our family night, Mom? You have to do service!


While I was getting ready to go on a date with Eric:
Felix: How about Dad goes on a date, or you go on a date? But not both. It can't be both, Mom.

Then, later in the evening:
Felix: Mom, when I get big and I'm a grownup, can I go on a date with you and Dad?


While I was standing on the porch talking to somebody I saw Ike go by on a bike. He yelled, "Mom, look at me." I casually waved at him and said, "That's great, buddy!" Then I realized he was riding a bike with no training wheels! I had tried to teach him months ago, but he was too afraid of falling, and then I was too lazy to keep trying. But now he knows how to ride a bike!


Felix only has preschool on Fridays. In the week leading into his second day at preschool, he asked me on two occasions, "Is today my first day of preschool again, Mom?"


Felix took a cabbage to show and tell when the theme was "something you love":


At pre-school today Felix is taking something that starts with a letter B - his teddy bear. I was asking him what he is going to tell his class about his bear and he laughed hysterically and said, "I'm going to tell them I grew it in my garden!" (Which is what he said about his cabbage last week.)