We’ve had a very busy last couple of months. Allow me to attempt a summary here.
It has been crazy. We traveled, we found a new job, we novelled, we did some shopping, we fed Sophie an Oreo cookie…
|Photo by Rochelle – From Family Stuff|
Like I said. It’s been crazy. If you check out the Family Stuff album, you’ll likely see more photos of Sophie’s first Oreo experience. One of my favorite shots is of her examining the slimy remains of one of the cookies.
Ok, poll time. I spent the entire month of November writing for NaNoWriMo and completed the first draft of a 50,000 word “novel” (really, more like half a novel in length, and far less in actual content). This site (blog thing) is decidedly not for me to post entire chapters of a mediocre first novel draft. However, I might make it available for curious eyes via DeviantArt if enough people would be interested in reading it. Please be honest, the poll is completely anonymous and I won’t be upset if nobody wants to read it (I’m not sure I really want to read it again). To be fair, it is titled “Alex” and it is a science fiction novel that would most likely appeal to teens (though they might need to be drugged or bribed to actually read the story). It contains very little of my famous witty humor, and was written with the sole goal of reaching the 50,000 word count mark.
Most likely, I’ll spend some of my writing nights going over the draft and using it as practice for some of the editing techniques I’m learning about in the various books on writing that I’ve accumulated. With a massive amount of luck and stupidity on my part, the draft may even one day find itself polished enough to not embarrass me as much as it does today.
For those of you who haven’t followed us very closely while I wasn’t posting here for a while, our Thanksgiving trip to Arizona went really well. We had a great time and my parents were extremely gracious hosts. We all got to meet my sister’s friend (of the male variety). I found it surprisingly easy to resist throwing most of those embarrassing jokes at him. I had hoped to find it in me to ruffle him up a little, but alas – he came away unscathed. Maybe next time.
We had considered visiting other people while in Arizona, but we didn’t even get confirmation that our travel plans were approved until the last minute, and since we drove out (a 12+ hour trip) most of our vacation week was spent in the car. Eventually we do hope to visit all of our dear friends and family members (except those who live too far away for our meager world-travel budget – we’re sure you understand).
In the way of a quick update, our family is doing very well. I recently received a call about an assignment. Training begins in the early parts of January (don’t send any perishables for my birthday, I’ll be done with training sometime in March). Micah is making steady progress adjusting to school life, Sophie is making steady progress adjusting Mommy to slave life, and Mommy and Daddy are nervous about the move (we still don’t know where we’re going to be sent for this job).
|Photo by Brian – From Family Stuff|
Most of my time at home these days is spent laughing at Sophie (like when she climbs into the space under the sink as seen above, but then decides its too far up to get down on her own) or working on a new family project (tentatively titled, “The Family Book” – including our family mission and the system outlined below, among other things). Ok, there are plenty of other things I spend my time doing, but those are the big ones.
Our family is developing a financial system. It’s something like a reward system and an allowance all rolled into a tortilla. At school, Micah is rated by his teacher based on his performance during different class activities. He comes home with a rating of a star (excellent), happy face (only one warning, then he did better), sad face (the warning didn’t improve his behavior) or a rain cloud (his behavior was terrible).
Under the old system, we used the Wii as our leverage to get him to keep his bed dry and his school behavior satisfactory. If he went three or more days in a row with a dry bed, he was allowed to play the Wii for any amount of time that we saw fit. Wii privileges were removed when he woke up with a wet bed. However, if he behaved well at school, he could earn up to half an hour of play time per day regardless of his bed. At the time he was rated in five different categories in the classroom, so it followed that stars and happy faces were worth six minutes each, and anything else was worth nothing. Too many rain clouds though, and he got nothing.
The new system is much cooler, in my opinion. Using a free program called InkScape I designed our own family money. When Micah gets home from school, he gets two family dollars for a dry bed, two for each star and one for each happy face (he’s been way too satisfied with happy faces lately, but that still means he was doing something wrong and the teacher had to correct him). If we catch him doing anything extraordinarily wonderful at any time, we (his parents) can hand him some family money to say thanks.
Here’s a sample of the family one dollar bill:
Whenever he wants, he can use his family money to purchase things from the family store (a list of available items that we have posted on the refrigerator). Among the items for sale are: minutes to play the Wii (five minutes for one family dollar), going out for a scoop of ice cream (twenty family dollars), and going out to breakfast at a restaurant with mommy or daddy (thirty five family dollars). The prized item on the list (as far as he’s concerned) is a little card I made in InkScape that entitles him to play the Wii without purchasing minutes. The card is nice, with pretty graphics and everything, and we even had it laminated. The back of the card explains:
This card entitles the holder (child) to unlimited time on the Wii (with no need to purchase additional play time) according to standards and regulations to be determined by the parents of said child.
This card may be revoked at any time by the parents based on infractions to any set household rule.
Basically: as long as you hold this card you don’t need to spend your family dollars on Wii time, but if you break any rules or wet your bed, we’re probably going to take that privilege away from you and you’ll have to save up your money to buy it back. We didn’t want the card to be impossible to get, so it only costs ten family dollars. On a really good day, he could earn two for a dry bed and he now gets three ratings from his teacher so up to six family dollars from school behavior – that’s eight family dollars a day. Even if he doesn’t have perfect days, he should have enough to buy the card after a couple of days with no problem. Although, today he only got two family dollars (two happy faces at school, a sad face and a wet bed in the morning). We gave him his own wallet to keep everything in (the money and the Wii card, when he buys it) and basically told him to treat all of this stuff like the real thing. He seemed excited, but a little depressed that he only got two dollars on his first day of doing the new program.
When Sophie gets older (old enough to count and do basic addition with some help) we’ll start her on this too. I think it’s a good introduction to money and it is a great reward system for children who can handle it. If we tried it right now with Sophie, she would eat the money. She loves eating paper. We really have to watch her lately, because anything she can tear goes directly into the mouth for consumption.
She’s been experimenting with new sounds as well, and a lot of what she says sounds like real, deliberate speech. She forms rudimentary sentences using phrases like “bite bite” which sounds more like “bye bye” combined with “mama” or “dada.” She also says “dis” (this), “dah” (that) and “I did id” (I did it). She also claps (occasionally her hands even slap together to make the traditional clapping noise, but most of her clapping is silent) and says “yeah!” Most of her expression is in her beautiful face, though, and she makes the most adorable happy sounds (lots of raspberries, grunts and squeals).
Everything she says is said with a fat, heavy tongue that causes spit to go flying everywhere and all of her attempts at “S” sound more like “SH.” Imagine our surprise, then, when she attempted to say “sit” this morning. If she hadn’t demonstrated the action immediately after saying it, we might have thought she had picked up a bad word from somewhere (though we couldn’t imagine where – nobody in our house uses words like that). Since she was already seated when she said “sit,” the only logical place to go from there was to the reclined position, which she achieved by throwing herself backward.
To demonstrate to us that she had completely mastered the word and technique, she sat back up, said “sit” (with the “SH” sound still, but a little clearer), and threw herself back to lay down again.
To give you an idea of how I spent my November, as of right now, this entry contains roughly 1,500 words. To meet the requirement of 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo last month, I had to average at least 1,667 words a day (for thirty days) or, since I wanted to finish early, I set the goal for myself of hitting at least 2,500 words a day. I didn’t always meet that goal, but I did finish the story a few days early and there were at least two times when I didn’t write for a few days in a row.
Well, that’s all for today. I’m sure there is more I can share, but it’s late and I want to get this posted and send out an e-mail so you all can enjoy my meaningless ramblings. Thanks for reading, and be sure to keep in touch.