Thursday, October 16, 2014

What's Next?

I've been spending the past few days debating about what to do about some things in my life, mostly in relation to blogging (hence my online absence for a few days).

My book is going to be published next year sometime, and I'm an unknown author.  This makes me feel a little nervous about how my book is going to sell... because people can say all day long things like "Oh, it doesn't matter if it sells or not, at least you got published!" but that's not the reality.  The reality is that I would like for this to be a source of income. Ultimately (and I'm just being completely honest), I want to do this full-time, or at least have my books be successful enough so that it will lead to full-time employment of some sort.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Board books, and the small people who love them.

I love books - reading them, writing them, buying them.  Books for adults, books for children, you name it.  But there's this one subset of books that I never knew about until I had kids - the board book.

What's the point of the board book, you ask?  Well, have you ever seen what small children do to "regular" books?

Take, for example, my Bible.  I'm actually missing the first five chapters of Genesis because of a small child.  Thankfully I already know about Creation and the Fall, but what if someone steals my Bible out of my car (this happened to my college roommate) and then tries to read it?  So sad.  This person may never know about how it all began.

Actually, if babies had better organizing skills, and could work together without pulling each other's hair or snatching toys away from each other, they would most certainly have a Baby Olympics, and Book-Ripping would be one of the events. Some other events would be Breaking-Out-of-the-Crib (it would be timed), Clothes-Change-Thrashing (the one who manages to evade his parents the longest would win), and Poop-Smearing (there would be an artistic score for this).

Back to Book-Ripping, though.

It happens a lot in our house because we are always leaving our books around.  Although ripping is only one of the many ways that small children can undermine older people's reading pleasure.  There's also the "Bookmark Pull-Out."  Oh, this is annoying.  Your book looks like no one's touched it, but then you settle into the couch for five minutes of peace, and lo! A small child has pulled out the bookmark.  Now, your five minutes turns into 2 minutes of actual reading because you spent 3 minutes trying to find your place.

This is why we buy board books for our little ones.  For although they do not keep the smallest Keen family members from tormenting the rest of us by assaulting our books whenever they can, at least they can start to learn the joys of reading with something that is a slightly more difficult to destroy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Little Passion

A little passion, please, for a Monday!

It's a little humdrum in life sometimes, I feel. Not that we don't have anything to do - quite the contrary, we're actually very busy. But it's busy a lot of times (as I'm sure it is with most people), with stuff that is mundane and, let's face it, just life maintenance and boring.

Sometimes it's easy to lose the passion that we should have for life as we are in the midst of the everyday. That's the challenge. See, most of life is the mundane, and the key to not wasting your moments is to live them to the fullest.

Just take a cue from the kids, I guess.  Take for example the way our one year old has so much fun just watching her big sisters and trying to be like them. Or the way she belly laughs over someone swinging her around.

She's in the moment.  Not worrying about tomorrow, not regretful over yesterday, just full of happiness right now.

And, even when she's not happy, she's fully sad, or frustrated, or angry.  And that's okay for adults to remember too.

Do we always need to be happy-go-lucky like some sort of hippie?  Owning what we're feeling, and not trying to suppress or deny is a good thing as well.  Of course, there's a level of self-control that adults should be able to muster up, as opposed to a three year old who may have a complete temper tantrum.

Life is full of these moments, and it's up to us to catch them and not let them float away into nothingness.  How sad to get to the end of one's life and realize that you missed out, that you spent too much time wishing the moments away.

Anyway, it's something to practice.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Clothing Optional

One thing that our children do not lack in life is clothing.  For one thing, my wife saves all the clothing from one child to the next.  Then, because we have four girls, people are always giving us clothing for them, figuring (correctly) whatever they give us will fit one of them (or eventually will at any rate).  Then, also because they are girls, they like to ask for clothes for birthdays or Christmas gifts.

They get excited about clothes! They love clothes! They talk about clothes and discuss "outfits" to put together.  They even like to dress their baby dolls, their Barbie dolls, and their paper dolls.

Clothing is a big deal in our house, but I have one question...

How come they are naked or only partially clothed so much of the time?

Go get ready for the day, I say to them in the morning. Sometimes this task is only partially followed. Pajamas come off, but nothing goes on.  I go in the room, and there they are playing with Legos, just pants on.  Or just a top.  Or nothing.

Why aren't you dressed?!  I cry out in dismay.

Huh?  Blank stare.

Get some clothing on!!

Then, they come out a few minutes later.  Only pants on (and not the same ones they had on earlier)...

What is going on, girls?

Daa-aaad!  (They whine as if I am asking them to do something unreasonable.)  I can't find anything to wear!  [Note that we are actually caught up on laundry, and so the closet and dressers are filled with clean clothing.]

You have a ton of clothes!  There's no excuse for not putting any on your body.

But Daaa-aaaaaad!!!  I can't find my sparkly, hot pink, ruffle-y skirt or my black and white puppy dog shirt that goes with it!!  I wanted to wear thaaa-aaat!!  (This is where my children bring out the southern accent that lies dormant within from the gene pool of their mother.)

Thus begins the Search For The Hot Pink Ruffle-y Skirt And Black And White Puppy Dog Shirt.

Which ultimately ends 30 minutes later with me pulling out a wadded up ball of clothing from under a bed.  This ball o' clothing is said skirt and shirt, and are still bearing the stains of last weekend's cookout when a big blob of ketchup fell off the daughter's hot dog and onto the shirt and skirt.

It has to be washed, I say.

NOOOO-OOOOO-OOOOOO, wails the child.

The lecture comes. That's why you PUT YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES IN THE DIRTY CLOTHES BASKET!  Find something else to wear.

Big, big sigh from the child, combined with some tears.

Okay.  I'll just wear this [she pulls the first thing she sees out of her drawer].

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Few Quirks

Oh, my four girls... (Not my three girls... in case you didn't notice, a few days ago, I wrote a post where I mentioned that I had three girls... who caught that?  Not me, not my wife.  My Mom. Well, she mentioned it first, I'm sure others noticed it also before I could change it.)

Anyway, what was I saying? 

Oh, my four girls... they are something. Some funny stories:

  • The oldest, in her gym class is one of the youngest, smallest ones - she got picked to be a team captain in dodge ball, and instead of picking all the big, athletic kids to be on her team, she just picked all her friends, who are not the most athletic.  Well, at least she's loyal!  And apparently not very competitive. 

  • The youngest doesn't speak English yet, but she does babble and make a lot of fun sounds that sort of make you feel like she's playing a secret game of MadGab.  She also likes to add appropriate hand motions and facial expressions (which usually involved sticking out her lips for a few seconds after the sentence is complete) to help us in our translation attempts.

  • The three year old has learned how to fold, mostly hand towels and washcloths. Also, instead of disposable wipes, we use flannel squares, which we usually just stack one on top of another. Last night while helping my wife fold laundry, she proceeded to fold each one, and put them in a little pile. There were easily 30 little wipes there.  It's also interesting to note that if my wife or I need something to get done, we can usually count on her to accomplish it before her older sisters.  Watch out, World.  Caroline's going places, and she's probably going to be supporting us in our old age.

  • Our seven year-old is such a skeptic. She trusts no one, not even her math paper. I know I've relayed this story before, but I will revive it to show her skepticism. There were two boxes, and each had dots in them. Well, one did. One had four dots and the other box had no dots. She was to count the dots in each box and then add them. Well, the first one was easy. There were four. But the second box, she couldn't get past it. I said count how many dots there are. She was like, "I don't know. It doesn't tell me." I asked her again. "How many dots are in the box?" She was like, "I don't know. There could be three, five, seven. I don't know. It won't tell me." I don't remember how many times we did this before she realized the answer was zero. Always the skeptic. She even thinks her math paper is trying to pull one over on her. 

Oh well, we love our children and their quirks. It's what makes parenting interesting.