Monday, February 28, 2005

#23 - Reading Too Much... or Too Little

Browsing around this evening brought me to this reading of the Proclamation on the Family. On its surface it brings some thoughtful questions to light. Deeper down, I wonder where the mystery is.

The phrase in question is, "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

First, my caveats. I am no lawyer. I have no patience for legal documents in any form. I break out in hives when I sign for guest parking passes here in my mobile home park. That probably makes me pathetic, and I can live with that. Also, I am no theologian. Oh, I served a mission, and I've taught just about every kind of class a guy can be called to, but I'm no Nibley. Hence the need to take the following opinion with the obligatory grain (or year's supply) of salt.

Then to it. Given the state of society today, that phrase as framed by the First Presidency makes perfect sense. In order to understand that, we need to elevate it to a level not attained by earthly, human laws. Any law we create in mortal society is by definition flawed. At best, it can only mirror eternal law and, at its worst, often mocks that law. As man continues to evolve away from those laws ordained by God, society falls farther away from its highest form. If we use Zion as the standard for a perfect society, then we currently live in Sodom, suburb of Gomorrah.

Scripture is replete with utterances by prophets which speak of an obedient people who live in a God-centered society. In other words, they often describe to us the vision of a Zion people. Zion carries with it a level of perfection that we realize we may never attain in this life. But we can try.

In fact, the Lord continually admonishes us to do better; to be that light that dispels the darker elements of life; to strive for Zion wherever we may live. That said, we also know that today, as never before in the history of the modern Church, families are under heavy assault. In the last twenty years, every Bishop I have served under has decried the increase in abuse found in families in any given ward. One Bishop went so far as to say that when he has Primary aged children sit in his office and tell how afraid they are of their fathers, his heart breaks, almost literally.

The Proclamation, then, teaches us the Lord's standard for families in Zion. Children, by virtue of their innocence, are born with certain rights. Chief among them are the rights of life, safety, and love within the family. Many children are denied even these basic rights, and it makes the heavens weep. Those who seek to nullify those rights will suffer, I am convinced, severe consequences in the hereafter.

As for "entitlement," there is nothing in the spiritual language of the Proclamation that implies "forcing" people to live in a family dynamic. The Church cannot now, nor has it ever denied rights to anyone merely for getting a divorce, for example. If one or the other spouse was guilty of some transgression which led to the divorce, then rights may certainly be curtailed for a time. If a young girl becomes pregnant out of wedlock, we may counsel her to consider marrying the father, but more and more often this may be an undesirable solution. Times have changed, and such decisions must be made even more carefully today than, say, thirty years ago. Were the Church to begin "forcing" people to live in family dynamics, they would be guilty of the very thing that necessitated the War in Heaven.

Do children have a claim on the Church? Certainly. If the Church is collectively doing its job, children will always be cared for. In homes where only one parent belongs to the Church, that parent receives assistance from many sources. Needs of a family, even a broken family, must always be addressed by the Lord's church, or that church has no claim to blessings from the Lord. Should the "ideal" family continue to be defined as a man and woman living in fidelity and creating a loving environment? Of course. The Lord expects nothing less. But the Lord also understands better than do we that today's families are under the heaviest attacks they have suffered since the days of Noah. Today's children are bombarded with propaganda that teaches them to question and mock authority, to pander to their own pleasures, and to win at all costs.

If you were among the General Authorities of the Church, wouldn't you issue a proclamation to set people straight?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

#22 - Faith Precedes, Accompanies, and Grows After the Miracle

Faith defines the person. Where the world eschews faith as being far too ephemeral to be reliable, people of faith constantly look for ways to improve their condition based on their understanding of their future state. This is where people who lack faith fall short: they cannot see beyond this life and its challenges, and so they mark their success based on how well they position themselves in life. People of faith understand life as being merely a test. This is where we prove that we can follow our Creator without regard to our relative position in mortality.

Part of that journey of faith involves believing in miracles. For most of us, that means understanding what constitutes a "miracle" as opposed to an explainable event that has no connection with God or his gospel.

Take Geoff Johnston's recent incident with his small son. They found him face down in a pool. After rushing him to the hospital, his condition was critical and his grip on life tenuous. A day later, the boy's prognosis is optimistic and he should be coming home sometime over the weekend. Without any other commentary or knowledge of what happened in that hospital, this is a wonderful story. It gives hope that this youngster will continue to have a normal, happy and healthy life. But there's more - so much more - behind the story.

Geoff himself explains best what happened:

Briefly: While my wife and I followed the helicopter to the hospital we prayed and began to feel the beginnings of faith that we cold save the boy. When I gave what probably sounded like a brash blessing to my boy in the emergency room my faith grew. When I learned all of our family and ward were praying for a recovery I felt slightly better. When I followed my impression to ask for help here I felt a little more confidence. But it was only after my brother Russ told me that my plea at my blog was not ignored, but rather many righteous Boggernacle saints (who wouldn't know me from Adam) were praying for my Quinn... It was then when I finally knew... Sorry if it sounds dramatic but it was then that my tears of gratitude finally flowed. Quinn was going to be fine.

When my stake president later came to the hospital and prophesied that Quinn would fully recover most remaining fear and doubt disappeared. When the doctors told us there was no signs of neurological damage and our Q-dog (the nickname his missionary uncle gave him) would have a full recovery it was fitting, but not surprising.

It's interesting to note how this faith grew step by step throughout this experience. Whenever I have had to take children to emergency rooms, my own faith is sorely tested at the outset. This, I think, is only natural. We feel that we have no control over this child's immediate destiny, and we find ourselves fearing the worst. People of faith, however, turn to the one source they've always believed to be constant. Prayers are uttered in silence to a being that they've probably never seen, whose voice they've probably never heard, but who they believe to be watching everything that's going on in their lives. Geoff marked that as the beginning of his faith.

Latter-day Saints, by virtue of our priesthood, take a more interactive approach to faith. That power enables even the weakest of us to bless the lives of others through authority granted by the Savior himself. Geoff blesses his child and feels his faith grow. Please note that it was not a case where faith didn't exist in the first place. This was an instance where faith had been squeezed for a moment and needed rejuvenation. His understanding of prayer and the knowledge that those close to him were praying for his son continued that rejuvenation. He requests the prayers of others, bloggers and blogreaders alike, to join in those prayers. His call is answered. Faith grows stronger still. His stake president offers his spiritual prophecy - well within his calling - that this child will make a full recovery. Faith has been restored and, like well-polished silver, glows brighter than it did before this incident occurred. Hence the lack of surprise (although sighs of profound relief, I'm certain) when the doctor pronounces his positive outlook.

Can the boy's recovery be explained naturally? Of course. Hundreds of children (and others) will suffer similar incidents where life will hang in the balance and a rapid response by medical professionals will make the difference. But let's consider:

Would medical services have been as rapidly available as they were in Quinn's case fifty years ago?

Would the medical knowledge available fifty years ago been adequate to ensure Quinn's full recovery?

Maybe, and maybe not. Kids have been falling into pools for decades, and medical science has advanced tremendously just in the last fifty years. I suspect his chances for a full recovery would have been much slimmer had he been born when I was. (Note: I'm not fifty yet. But I'm close.) Where does all this advance come from in the first place? People of faith know the answer to that question.

No, the miracle here is that not only will Quinn live, but that he and his family will be able to look back on this incident as a faith-promoting experience, rather than as a near-tragedy. Oh, they'll use that near-tragedy as a teaching tool, you can be sure. They'll be even more pool-safety conscious than they've ever been, and they'll teach Quinn in no uncertain terms how to be safe around them. But they'll also be able to teach Quinn in those same uncertain terms about the power of prayer, the power of the priesthood, and the need for faith. They will continue to bear powerful testimony of those things, which will help rejuvenate the faith of others.

In today's world, this lesson will become its own miracle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

#21 - Sound Effects. Ew.

Here in Woody's House of Pestilence we have a zero-tolerance policy against silent suffering. As I noted before, when Daddy is miserable, whining abounds. Now, Mrs. Woody and the smaller Woodyette are both under the weather. The older Woodyette was threatening, but she pulled out of her dive rather quickly. Still, a remnant remains.

Years ago, Bill Cosby did a wonderful routine revolving around his five linoleum lizards. One child, the one he tagged "the Glazed Donut Monster" was the one with the perpetually runny nose and a sound effect like the Blob on steroids. That one always tickles me, because all of my children (the ones that were actually babies in my house at one time or another) went through that stage. Sound effects and all.

Now that my last babies are a bit older, the sound effects have gotten more sophisticated. And louder. Since they both can be drama queens when the Muse is upon them, everything is done for effect. Subconsciously, of course, but effect nonetheless.

Even now, as I focus on this post, I am aware of an interesting rhythm going on around me. The girls are both watching videos at the moment. The older one chose "The Parent Trap" (the classic, not the knock-offs) while the younger one is enjoying "Zeus and Roxanne." Of the videos I am blissfully ignorant. The sound effects are hilarious. This is what it sounds like when small children refuse to use tissues:


I think there really is a pattern here. They are not by any means aware of it, they're just doing it. Daddy, in the meantime, is silently shaking with mirth. I'm not sure why I find this funny, but I do. Maybe it hearkens back to my days as a missionary in the Guatemalan highlands having extremely immature contests with fellow missionaries. I leave it to your imagination what those contests may have entailed.

Mrs. Woody is already in bed, having wisely put her germs down for a nap. Woodyette the Younger unfortunately had a four hour nap right about the time I got home from work today, which means she will be wide-eyed until about, oh, five o'clock in the morning. The other one is tired enough to fall asleep standing up, but she will refuse to go until her movie is over. Lessee... it's the campground scene where the girls have boobytrapped the golddigger's tent. Nuts. Another 20 minutes to go.

Ah, well. If it weren't for sleep deprivation, I'd have no hobbies at all. The good news is that I don't have any meetings tomorrow. None that I have to stay awake for, at any rate. I should be able to catch a few winks at my desk. In the meantime, enjoy the dulcet tones of our new family band:

The Honking Noses of the Woodyettes.

#20 - LDS Lileks?? Oy.

Peggy Cahill has a terrific blog called Speak Up For Truth. She mostly posts about things that drive me to speak out as a Dad in a world gone mad. She provides the deeper backgrounds, if you will, to my generally light-hearted writing. Although, truth to tell, I don't have anyone waiting for me in North Carolina. At least, I don't think I do.

I'm flattered by her comparison of me with Mr. James Lileks, Esq. Actually, the term "LDS Lileks" causes me to chuckle appreciatively. I read his stuff daily, and he's probably waaay smarter than I am. But we do share a love of Daddyhood, and are both hopelessly wrapped around our girls.

Anyway, I consider her stuff to be family friendly, and you can find links to Speak Up For Truth on both of my blogs (this one, and my evil-twin Woody's Woundup). Fix yourself a steaming mug of Postum, pull up the easy chair, and sit back for some deep reading.

Monday, February 21, 2005

#19 - Paralyzed, But In a Good Way

It's Sunday evening, and the family is crowded around the TV. We've been stuck in front of this thing since returning home from Church. This is not a bad thing.

The other day, one of the Woodyettes (I think the younger one) had requested one of our "family" tapes. This is a series of tapes onto which I have transferred our camcorder stuff until such time that I can afford a good DVD burner. Anyway, the girls both love to watch "their" tapes. The older one had the camcorder to herself right up until her sister was born. That's one tape. The next tape has her sister's birth through first year or so. She requests this one a lot.

Unfortunately, the girls have also reached that stage where they're not shy about pushing buttons on their VCR. You might have guessed that they quite recently pushed "Record" on a tape that I had failed to relieve of it's lock tab.

This meant that Daddy had to set up the camcorder, load up the original tapes, and re-record everything onto VHS. It was a wonderful treat.

This is one of the essences of family history. Just like going through old scrapbooks, watching old family films was a major treat for me when I was growing up. Grandma and Grandpa had a super-8 camera and lots of time on their hands. Every visit to grandchildren, relatives, or the boat was fodder for Grandma De Laurentiis. We all mugged for the camera, knowing that we would be able to have Grandma have us do our wacky stunts in slow motion or backwards, time after time after time on request.

Can't quite do that anymore with our basic VCRs, but it's still fun to watch just how much the girls have grown in the last seven or so years. We always remark about the hair. "Look at that hair!" we say. "She was bald, for pete's sake!" "Yes," points out Mrs. Woody. "She had her Daddy's hair." (For the record, I must point out that I am not bald, but I have a hairline that has receded to the high tide line, if you catch my drift.)

We remember things like Woodyette Number One's "Zen Hum." All kids do something like this, but they usually don't vocalize it to the point my daughter did. Most kids may mutter under their breath, or just stick their tongue between their teeth. The Zen Hum started shortly after she became mobile, if I remember correctly. It was her way of concentrating on a given task. Once she was into something, she would begin a very intense single-note hum. Sort of like the "One Note Samba," but without any rhythm. My own Dad loved it. He was intrigued enough to realize that she hummed on exactly the same pitch every single time. One day he sat at the piano and pegged her at F-sharp (we think she'll be an alto). Toward the end of her humming days it moved up a half step, and by age 5 or 6 it had disappeared for good. Except on tape. Even now, having written this paragraph I realize that words do the Zen Hum absolutely no justice. You have to hear it to understand it.

We've actually been doing this since Saturday afternoon. We have re-transferred something like 9 hours of tape since we had to replace not one but two VHS cassettes. Life around us has pretty much come to a complete standstill. It has taken me two days to clean the girls' room instead of one because I keep coming out to watch "just a bit" of the tapes. We have missed every one of our evening TV programs (we actually stopped in time to catch the replay of "Iron Chef America," which I enjoy), but we have not regretted it one bit.

We've been having far too much fun remembering.

UPDATE: Great. Now I can't get "One Note Samba" out of my head! Help!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

#18 - Copping a 'Toon 'Tude

I try not to watch too much TV news. Really, I do. Lately, however, I've been enjoying some CSI-type crime shows during the 10:00 hour (when I really should be going to bed), and local news appears immediately following. Last night I'd seen a teaser for something I had very mixed feelings about: a makeover for Warner Bros.' venerable Bugs Bunny.

I say mixed feelings because my perceptions of the Warner Bros. stable have changed over time. Needless to say, like most boomers I grew up watching Bugs and the rest hoodwink their collective way through a Toon life. I was constantly on the floor laughing my fool head off, but that was mostly because I tended to overact on my better days. Anyway, I loved the schtick and still do. However, having reached fogeyhood (as defined by Dave Barry), I'm not such a big fan anymore of allowing today's kids to grow up with the same influences.

Society has done much too efficient a job of turning yesterday's social gaffes into today's social staples. Attitude plays a huge part, and today it mostly stinks. Authority has become a hiss and a byword, if you will, to be mocked at all costs. All popular media, from movies to magazines to cartoons, propagate the theme that the winner-take-all approach to life is the only one worth having. Cartoons that play to these themes become enablers of that attitude and literally teach the kids how to "cop the 'tude." Just what we need.

I recently watched an anthology of Warner Bros. classic 'toons from the studio's heyday. I was astonished at how I felt. While growing up I remembered those cartoons as being hilarious. Watching them a few months ago I found myself thinking, over and over, "Please don't let my kids see this stuff until they're eighteen!"

Over-reacting? Perhaps. But now consider the new and improved Bugs Bunny (and friends!) under development by the studio today.

The new character is named Buzz Bunny, and he's been given the look of a futuristic (circa 2772 AD) super hero. These characters are supposed to be descendents of the originals. One gal quoted in the Daily News says they look "more robotic." More telling was one youngster they interviewed on our local news last night: "He looks evil."


Saturday, February 12, 2005

#17 - Angels Watching Over Me

This is my second majorly nasty head cold of the season. It came on overnight last night. I have no idea how long it'll last, but I'm sure at least part of this is due to the weather we've been having. It has rained on and off for weeks now, and I'm sure the drought - in Anaheim, anyway - is over. Let the pollen wars continue.

Speaking of Anaheim (and pollen), it was announced on the radio news earlier this week that Anaheim ranks Number One as the Allergy Capital of the Country as reported by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, closely followed by Atlanta, Georgia. I think I'm seeing a pattern here.

Anyway, back to my main point. I'm sick. Being the male of the species in this household, that grants me the privilege of being a huge baby about it. I'm certain I've been whining all day long about it, except for the nap I got earlier this afternoon. Mrs. Woody does not get naps, healthy or sick. It's not allowed. Daddy gets all the naps he needs. To be fair, I have encouraged Mrs. Woody to stay in bed whenever she gets migraines and has to deal with that light-sensitivity thing. Unfortunately (or, really, fortunately) she only gets a couple of those in a given year. Otherwise, asking her to lie down for a while is tantamount to asking her to stop being a Mommy.

To tie all this in with this post's title, I need to spin a little narrative. Last weekend Mrs. Woody had me take a turkey out of the freezer. This is the penultimate turkey for this winter. There's still one left. We kinda went overboard this season with those super deals they always have on turkeys during the holidays. Anyway, the plan was to cook the bird last Monday. Turkey, as you well know, will last for days if you're willing to put a little effort in it. Soup, of course, being a mainstay. Monday, however, came and went and we found ourselves just too busy to deal with cooking a turkey. Tuesday passed the same way, then Wednesday. That put Mrs. Woody in a bit of a pickle because we were planning to travel up to visit family over the weekend, meaning that Thursday was do-or-die day. So, on Thursday, Mrs. Woody put the turkey in the oven, and we feasted well Thursday night.

Thursday night was also, as Southern Californians will recall, the latest round of the Storms vs. Humanity title fights we've had all winter long. It promised to pour buckets down here right through Friday. After much consideration and not a little angst, we decided to call off our trip. One of our nieces was a little under the weather (so to speak), and between that and the weather, we just didn't feel like we were supposed to go. We were sorely disappointed, but it happens.

Friday indeed poured, pretty much all day long. (Side note: Satellite TV is wonderful, unless heavy storm clouds sit between your receiver and the satellite that, of course, hosts the very programs you were hoping to watch on Date Night. Just FYI.) We were just beginning to feel smug about cancelling our plans when it happened. I went to bed Friday night feeling that familiar post-nasal discomfort, and by morning was fully engulfed. Yuck.

No fear, though. Mrs. Woody, through propitious circumstance, had only recently cooked the turkey, and spent this morning picking and boiling the carcass. By lunch time we had a huge pot of her wonderful - and healthful! - turkey noodle soup. Twice today I have feasted, and twice I have felt that wonderful down-home comfort knowing that your soup not only tastes wonderful, but was made with far more love than you probably deserve. At least, that's how I view it.

Before dinner, I asked the younger Woodyette to bless not only the food, but Daddy as well. She responded with one of those sweet, pure prayers that only a five year old can utter. Short, but to the point. I know Heavenly Father listens to sincere prayers, and there's no reason to suspect that hers was anything but.

Daddy still feels miserable, but Daddy's Angels - all three of 'em - will keep Daddy as comfy-cozy as possible.

Friday, February 11, 2005

#16 - Seriously Dad

Dadhood is nature's way of keeping men from becoming the insufferable pigs that feminists have accused us of being for decades now. Show me a dad who hasn't gone to church at least once in his life with unidentifiable stains on his tie, and I'll show you a dad who takes himself way too seriously.

True story: Back in the days when ties were required at work (this was during my so-called "starter marriage") I was sitting at my desk hacking away at my computer. One of my coworkers wandered by and commented, "Strained peas?" I was so intent on my uncooperative program that I must have stared at her like she had just come from the mother ship. "Beg pardon?" was my confused enjoinder. "Strained peas," she insisted. "You must have fed the baby strained peas recently, because you have a spot on your tie." She was chuckling, but she was right. I just hadn't noticed. I smiled and assured her that they were delicious, as my son would never have willingly eaten them without a fight.

That's dadhood.

Not taking myself too seriously allows me to enjoy my family at different levels. One of the best things a non-serious dad can do is take his kids very seriously. Acting as if their little problems or conundrums are worthy of Daddy's full attention makes them feel important. I almost drew the line at being Barbie's fashion advisor once, but in the end I relented and offered my opinion. "But, Daaaaad!" she accused. "That doesn't match her shoes!" I wasn't ready to capitulate. "So change the shoes!" I shot back. "But, Daaaaaaaaaad!" came the last straw. "She has to wear the boots so she can cook the dinner!"

I must state, for the record, that she had never once in her short life witnessed either her mother or, for that matter, her father ever cook while wearing boots. I have no clue where that idea came from, and I'm certain I don't want to know. Secretly, I believe that these kids are more sophisticated than we give them credit for, and they come up with this nonsense just to watch Daddy get exasperated. I think it gives them an adrenalin rush.

Thus I spend my days alternately wearing that long-suffering look that my own Dad perfected, or the immensely smug and proud look of a Dad whose kids are already way smarter than he is. It's an interesting combination, and the "conflict" (if one may indeed call it that) fuels my sardonic sense of humor.

Of course there are things that I take very seriously. I also let my children know that parts of life are and need to be very serious. I also let them know, on the other hand, that it's okay to have fun with life. Especially when they're kids.

I hope I never forget that lesson.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

#15 - I Am... The CraftMaster™!

I do not consider myself to be an artsy-craftsy kind of guy. I watch my wife while she scraps of an evening and think wistfully to myself, "Must be nice." But I'll never try it. My total contributions to any given scrapbook in our house consist of occasional journaling that she gets me to do. Trust me, it's safer that way.

In times past - during the Messofzodiacs Era - I was a model railroader. When Mrs. Woody and I were first married, I was still revelling in the reflected glow of carefree evenings where we could do any number of things with no interruptions. Jigsaw puzzles, videos, quiet reading time, or hobbies. One of mine was model railroading. I still have my layout hiding safely behind our family room couch with track laid, but in sore need of maintenance. After all, I haven't really touched it since Woodyette Number One was born. Coming dangerously close to "arts and crafts" is the act of putting together a model of, say, a five and dime storefront, circa 1910. We guys mask this behavior by comparing it to building model airplanes or cars when we were younger. Same thing, we argue. It's not "artsy" or even "craftsy," it's just modelling. Or, if you use parts from different kits, you can call it by its somewhat more testosterone-ish appellation, "kit bashing."

Mrs. Woody has served as a poster maker of no small renown in the church. I will admit that, on occasion, I have aided and abetted by giving, erm, technical assistance to make her job easier. I'm not an artist, but I can help.

So why is it that late on a Tuesday evening I find myself making Valentine Boxes for my daughters?

Mrs. Woody was feeling just a tad overwhelmed about tomorrow. Tomorrow is Great Brain Day in our homeschool group. It's a chance for the kids in the group to show off what they've been learning so far this year. They can demonstrate something, perform a musical number, or do a table display. My ultra-shy girls will, of course, do a table display. They will show things they've been learning about the Nez Perce tribe. Even as we speak they are a thundering herd of buffalo. Amazing how well they thunder.

Anyway, on top of the Great Brain Day activities, the girls also were to be prepared with Valentines to hand out, and a Valentine Box each to receive Valentines from others. With so much to have prepared in so short a span of time our Headmistress was feeling a tremendous weight. She laid out what needed to be accomplished, and I arrived at a decision. I volunteered to make the Valentine Boxes.

Mrs. Woody was extremely grateful, but Woody was proportionately nervous. It took me a solid half hour of wandering around the house looking for some sort of inspiration before I decided on a basic design. I found a half sheet of poster board and from it made two simple open boxes. A cut out heart shape with a craft foam heart in its place that the girls decorated. Simple. To the point. Ar..rrr..rrrt... don't make me say it.

Ok... artsy.

I can't imagine that anyone will be seriously impressed with my project tomorrow. However, the girls will have their boxes and will be able to receive their Valentines and have something in which to bring them home.

I, however, am exhausted. May have to call in sick tomorrow. I wonder if this Martha Stewart hormone I've suddenly developed will land me in Club Fed?


Saturday, February 05, 2005

#14 - Woodyettes Redefine "Interactive"

Shortly after breakfast this morning, Woodyette the Elder asked whether she could play on the computer. Not being Lileks, you see, I have to share the family machine with everyone. Mrs. Woody agreed, since she was in the office doing our finances for the week. She knows she can trump the girls' computer play whenever she's ready to pay a bill online. Daddy has no such preemptive power.

I generally don't have to pay much attention when the girls play, even online. We're both in tune enough to know if they're on a site they shouldn't be. Also, the girls are both still innocent enough that if they saw anything questionable, they would question it. Loudly. So, they spend time (an hour a day limit!) on, NickJr, Playhouse Disney, and so on.

Just now I glanced over at the machine. Both Woodyettes were sitting in front of the monitor, watching a static image. has a beauty shop, and the girls were looking at a young lady getting her hair done. They had Little People figures in front of them which they were manipulating in front of the monitor.

They were being interactive.

The older Woodyette pioneered this practice in our family. She has a tremendous imagination. She has always been able to project herself mentally into any image, whether on TV or in a book. The other night I caught her walking a magazine around on the floor. It was a homeschooling magazine and had a photo of ballerina feet in the en pointe position. She was pretending to be a ballerina, using the feet in the photo.

The Little People, in this case, were customers of the beauty salon. Apparently this was more interesting than what the site was designed to do. Both girls were playing together without clicking the mouse more than once or twice in the ten minutes I witnessed. As play progressed, it became a drive-through salon, as indicated by the old-fashioned Little People (the old wooden ones, remember them?) in his vehicle. Later they were joined by a fuzzy caterpillar, although I'm not sure what his function was. Occasionally he becomes the herky-jerky car that sits outside of grocery stores and costs 50 cents to breakdown the moment your child sits in it.

I like to see this kind of interaction because it means the Woodyettes are still not content to let the computer do all their thinking and imagining for them. When the girls ask Daddy to play one of the Harry Potter games (their own hand-eye coordination being still under development), they immediately trot off to their room, don their Harry Potter robes, grab their Hermione wands, and dance around behind Daddy yelling "flippendo!" or "alohomora!" whenever the video Harry does the same. They get way more exercise than I do.

Of course, whenever Daddy decides to play "Indiana Jones" or my latest "Railroad Tycoon" (thanks, Sis!), the older Woodyette still loves to sit right by me and give helpful suggestions. "Try jumping off the cliff, Daddy! What happens if you jump off the cliff, Daddy?" "You die a horrible death." "Can I see it, Daddy?" She has even suggested that I try to build my railroads directly through mountains in timeframes where tunnelling technology was still a decade or two off. Just to see how the software will mock Daddy when he asks for something unreasonable. She lives for that.

So do I.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

#13 - Cam's Right... 'Tis Poetry

Brian B of Memento Moron is both a fresh Dad and an (at least) occasional poet. Better add him to the ol' blog roll while I think of it. Anyway, he had written something a while back and posted it here. He calls it a doggerell, my esteemed hermano says it's poetry. I side with my bro here, and link to it as an outstanding statement of the importance of our family ties, both present and past. Being the family history nut that I am, as well as a Dad, that kind of statement is irresistable.

Thanks, Brian, and belated congrats for The Lad!