Thursday, January 28, 2010

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ruth has discovered that money has value, and that it allows you to get things you want. She's interested in that. A couple of months ago, she and her dad were sitting around talking about how much things cost. He asked her what kind of things she was interested in, and she immediately came up with shopping at Justice. So, Dad went to the website and opened up a shopping cart for her. He let her put anything she wanted in the cart, with the understanding that they weren't actually going to purchase. When she had finished, the total came out to about $1000. Then, Ruth wanted to know how she could get a thousand dollars. From there, we came up with a plan. Ruth agreed to take on the family's laundry (sorting, washing and putting away, as far as she is able), and I agreed to pay her $10 a week for completing that task. We also talked to her about tithing, and she excitedly agreed to give one of every ten dollars she earns to the church. At that rate, she can earn around $1000 in about two years. She is working very hard and has not complained or grumbled once. And besides that, she does a great job. (And I don't have to spend my time on the laundry, which is what we call a win-win situation)!

Ruth also came across a horse right before Christmas that is just the right size for her dolls to ride. She needed it, or so she said. She had some money in her piggy bank from her birthday and thought it was enough to get the horse. But, I wanted her to wait a while, to see if she really still needed it. She never wavered, but continued to ask about the horse and to wonder aloud when she could get it. Finally, I gave in. When I took her to the store, she found that she had remembered the price wrong or had looked at the wrong price to begin with. She didn't miss a beat, but immediately piped up and asked if she could wash my van to earn the difference. I was impressed with her desire to earn the money for it, rather than for just asking me to give it to her. As it was the last horse in the store, I let her buy it on "credit." I paid the difference, but she would not be able to have the horse until she had earned it. She thought this was fair. She started on the van as soon as we returned from the store, but her efforts soon turned into a fiasco and had to be put on hold. Then the weather kind of turned on us and getting the van washed began to look less and less promising--but of no fault of Ruth's. Today, I decided that I better figure out a different way for her to earn the money, so I had her do some things that I never seem to find the time for, as well as some things I just didn't want to do. She cleaned all the glass doors on the inside and outside and thoroughly scrubbed all the cabinet doors/drawers in the kitchen. She also cleaned off all the counters and the table, and unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher twice. She was so pleased when she finished up and I presented her with her horse. And I believe she will take good care of this horse and will think often of all she had to do to earn it.

It is important to Jeff and I to teach our kids the value of hard work and the concept that you don't get something for nothing. We are very proud of Ruth for all her hard work and for her entrepreneurial spirit. And she is really proud of herself, too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A letter for Weston

Son, I need to tell you that my heart broke today as I sat in a sound-proof booth with you and listened to the audiologist in the next room speaking to you through your special headphones, while you sat there completely oblivious, not hearing a word--or hearing, but in such a muddled way as to not be able to repeat the words back to her as she asked. I had to turn my face away. It was hard for me to watch. And, I didn't really want you to see the tears in my eyes. Moms are pretty fragile creatures under our ultra-tough exteriors. Your level of hearing is not good. But, as with almost every set back, there is a bright side. The nerves in your ears have the ability to hear at a normal level. You just can't hear at that level because of all the fluid you are stockpiling in your middle ears. And we now have a plan. A way to beat this. And for that I'm thankful. We have scheduled you to have tubes put in your ears to drain off the fluid, and simultaneously for you to have your adenoids removed. This will all happen on February 11. The draining of the fluid should help with the hearing, and the removal of the adenoids should allow you to breathe more easily. I will admit, the word "surgery" gives me pause (though that word means almost nothing to you), but I understand it to be a relatively simple procedure, with a fairly quick recovery time, and a low incident of complications. I am glad we have a plan. As far as you are concerned, it is an opportunity to eat all the ice cream you want. I think that's awesome. I feel like I'm being a bit melodramatic about the whole thing, especially when, for you, it all boils down to ice cream. Elizabeth Stone was right when she said, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." I guess I'm just writing this little note to you so that you will possibly catch a glimpse of what it feels like to be your mom. And, so you will remember that little set backs aren't the end of the world. There are almost always answers and solutions, and in your case, there is always a mom who cares. I love you so much!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Plumb tired of plumbing issues

Right before we left for the holidays, the boys' potty started acting up. It was kind of flushing, but not quite. We didn't really have time to deal with it. When we got back, it seemed to progressively get worse. We pronounced it off-limits. Finally, facing a house full of house guests (some of which would need to use that bathroom), I called the home warranty company to have them send over a plumber. A man who exuded creepiness entered our home a few days later, pulled out his auger, and...failed to fix the problem. We did not know this until late in the day the next day. So, on the very day that company was due to arrive, another plumber from the same company came over to "make things right," and...he did! Thank goodness. What he found was a toothbrush wedged at an unnatural angle, and when Jeff suggested that it was almost certainly our little monkey who had placed it there, the plumber scoffed and asked where the toothbrushes were kept. When Jeff told him that they are kept on the second shelf of the cabinet above the toilet (in an attempt to keep little monkeys away from them), the plumber deemed it impossible. "No two-year-old could get all the way up there," he said with a laugh. Clearly, he doesn't know our little monkey!

Right after we arrived home from our wonderful beach vacation, the weather here deteriorated completely into freezing temps...and freezing pipes. The Saturday after we arrived home, just as Jeff was asking me if I had noticed any problems with the water pressure, there was a knock on the door. It was our neighbor telling us that there was a geyser shooting up at the front of our house. Apparently, the pipes froze and the sprinkler regulator or some such thing exploded. We were literally just about to walk out the door to go to Ruth's basketball game, so we got the water shut off to the sprinkler system and the water pressure restored to the house, and just left it. It hasn't been dealt with since, because, frankly, I don't want to think about it.

And finally, today, Ruth asked to wash the van to earn a little cash. I got her set up with her task and then came inside to visit with Jeff. He was leaned back in his recliner, and as we visited, I suddenly noticed a huge puddle on the floor all around his chair. I was just about to ask if someone had spilled something, when I realized it was not a pool but a stream, flowing to all parts of the living room. I ran outside and shut the water off and Jeff ran for some towels. There is apparently some kind of water leak associated with that faucet. Joy. I will be calling the home warranty company again tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm thinking seriously about ditching this house altogether.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Hello. My name is Mandi, and I have a problem.

I am not a T.V. watcher. In fact, we are not even set up with the capability here to watch regular television. And when I do watch it or when I have watched it in the past, I am usually only partially attentive to whatever is coming out of the screen. That is, until now. Jeff recently purchased the first season of 24 on itunes, and asked me to watch with him. Now, I am completely addicted. I'm the one pushing to watch one more episode before we go to bed. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. I think maybe the second step is to face the problem head on, so I'm pretty sure I will have to watch every episode of every season before I can put the addiction behind me. Fortunately, I have a very supportive husband, who will not leave my side (on the futon) until this is fully dealt with.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Turning Two

As you know, Max turned two on the 12th. But, in true Watts fashion, the party lasted much longer. We took him out for dinner at McDonald's on Tuesday evening and gave him the gifts we had for him--a big stuffed monkey and a tricycle from Mommy and Daddy, a Mr. Potato Head from Ruth and a bop bag from Weston. Then on Thursday, he celebrated with his class at preschool. And, we partied with the extended family over the weekend. Max was still in the party spirit when he got up this morning and managed to climb up on the counter, find the cake carrier with the left-over birthday cake, get it open (which is a feat I can barely accomplish since the lid fits very snuggly) and finish it off--all before I got out of the shower and apparently while wandering through most of the downstairs! There has been a definite increase in Max's usage of the word "No" since Tuesday, and come to think of it, an increase in our usage of that word as well. But all in all turning two has been really fun, as you should be able to tell from the pictures.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hey, Buddy, you got your ears on?

A dinner conversation at our house...


Weston: What?

[More talking]

Weston: What?

Daddy: Weston, do you have your ears on?

Weston (at the top of his voice): WELL, THEY'RE TURNED ON BUT I STILL CAN'T HEAR!!

And we laughed--but part of me wanted to cry, because I know the truth behind that statement and how frustrating it must be for him. On Tuesday, Weston had his hearing retested, and he still didn't pass. That's three pure-tone hearing tests that haven't turned out well for him. So, we're off to see an ENT doctor in about a week and try to get this little problem solved. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hey Monkey:

You're two--but you are telling everyone you are four! You are appropriately called Monkey--though you are also called Little Boy and Macco from time to time. You can climb anything, and you never show the slightest hint of fear. And most of the time, the fear I show proves to be unnecessary. You have a talent and skill for getting to high places in a very coordinated and athletic way. In fact, you show great athleticism even when you aren't climbing. You can throw, catch, kick, balance, jump (with both feet off the ground), dance, and run like nobody's business. If you could figure out how to fly, I'm sure you would enjoy that, too! You also walk around on your tippy-toes most of the time. I'm not sure if you do that because it makes you feel bigger or if it makes you faster, but it's quite cute!

You have become a talker in the last year. You can mimic any word anyone says to you, and you are starting to put together little two and three word sentences. You are not shy about talking to new people, and you definitely have your own opinion...on almost every subject! You are also starting to sing along with your favorite songs. And singing is usually the best way to calm you down when you are upset.

You have been going to preschool one day a week since September, and you are getting pretty good at counting and saying your alphabet. You never cry when I drop you off, but you do cry on the days that we take Weston to school and you don't get to stay.

You are starting to interact more with your brother and sister. You love to be involved in their games and participate in their activities. But, you still maintain a fierce independence that allows you to play and, um, "explore" all by yourself. You certainly have a mind of your own and aren't waiting around for anyone to tell you who you are or what you should be or do.

You're a good eater (as evidenced by your standing in the 83rd percentile for weight, at 31 lbs). You love corndogs, corn on the cob, "roni cheesy," a dip of any kind, and anything sweet. But, you like to control what goes in and when. Just because you loved something yesterday doesn't mean you will eat even one bite of it today. You have been known to skip a meal or two and to throw a fit if everything isn't to your liking. You have NOT been known to get your parents to bend to your will, though. No doubt, that will not deter you from trying. You continually sneak into the kitchen to try to steal food out of the pantry and fridge between meals. But, unfortunately for you, you aren't really very sneaky (and your older siblings usually rat you out), so you usually get caught. We have gone to a pantry door "locking system," involving double-twisted rubber bands to keep you out when no one is watching. Most of the time, it works--when we remember to put it back in place. We haven't figured out what to do about the fridge yet.

You are interested in writing and drawing, and reading books with Mommy and Daddy. You love to play with magnets and blocks (especially the kind that go together and come apart). You also like trucks (LOVE in the case of the garbage truck that visits our house twice a week) and you are almost constantly seen carrying around a "cell phone." You love animals and enjoy playing with all your stuffed friends, as well as interacting with live animals when the opportunity presents itself.

You are learning to dress yourself. More often than not you prefer to wear your cowboy boots and mismatched socks. Turns out cowboy boots go with shorts, pjs and even just a diaper. You even sleep in them sometimes! You also like hats and one particular necklace of Ruth's. You are absolutely adorable!

You have just recently begun to pray on your own, and each and every prayer blesses us so much! It is so wonderful for us to see you already developing a love for the Lord and for His project.

Max, we are challenged by you at times, but you should know that we are having so much fun with you at this amazing stage of your life. We see you turning into a little boy before our eyes, and we are blessed to be a part of the process. We love you very much, and we are so very proud of you! Happy, happy birthday!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Not filling a talent position

I have always wanted to be really amazing at something. Have some incredible talent that defined me. The reality is I have always been quite average. (I'm not looking for sympathy, so don't feel like you have to mentally interrupt me here and say, "But wait, I think you're really great at..."). The problem is that, over the years, I have gotten it in my head that if I couldn't be great or if I couldn't be the best, that I shouldn't even really try. But maybe there is something great in just embracing the average me that is, rather than wishing for the super-talented me that isn't. I will admit, this is really hard for me, and I don't quite know where to start. I tend to reject new activities and ideas before I've even tried them, simply because I'm afraid that I'll realize that this, too, is not my super-talent. I also tend to quit activities quickly, without giving them much of a chance, when I see that I'm not going to be amazing at them. Sounds crazy, right?! It feels a bit crazy, too. I'm trying to work through this, while I cling to the certain knowledge that there is One who knows me and understands me intimately. Who put me together just this way for a particular reason. One who, if I hide myself in Him, can be amazing enough for the both of us.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why Vacation World is more fun than Real World

On vacation... almost never have laundry to do--and if you do have to do a load or two it doesn't take all day and it doesn't really have to be put away. do not get really, really cold--even if you're in a cold place. That's just how it works in Vacation World. Plus in Vacation World, there is always a fireplace and never-ending hot chocolate or chai. (Or in my case, sun and a beach...and chai)!
...dishes may have to be washed occasionally, but it's not the same as "doing the dishes." never, ever have to talk to medical billing or insurance people on the phone.
...there are NO bills to pay. (Hotels and dinners out don't count).
...the kids are supposed to run around screaming and yelling.
...floors don't have to be vacuumed and mopped, and toilets don't have to be cleaned.'s perfectly acceptable to sit around playing games all day. do not have plumbing problems--and if you do, someone else has to deal with it. keep the crying and whining to a minimum. can eat whatever you want, because food has no calories in Vacation World. can read one novel after another, or just sit around looking at magazines all day. don't have to unpack your bags if you don't want to. don't have to make the bed.
...going for a walk doesn't have a connotation of exercising.
...there is always something new and interesting to see or do.

I'm for moving permanently to Vacation World. Who's with me?!

Friday, January 01, 2010