If You Build It, They Will Come

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Here’s the front view, where you can see the slide and the rock wall.

Since I don’t have school or work right at this moment, I’m (usually) happy when I get some sort of project. Bonnie’s Mom bought a huge swing set for the kids, and I got to put it together (along with Sterling, Clark, and Christian – Steven was a slacker). The directions said that it would take 4-6 hours, but after finishing it up earlier this week, I think it may have been a typo. 46 hours would be more accurate. It’s also possible that I’m just really slow and not as handy as I’d like to think.

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Here’s the little picnic area underneath the main structure.

Sterling and I worked on it all morning and part of the afternoon Saturday. Then he wasn’t feeling well so I did it myself for a while. Then Christian and Clark helped out for a while in the evening. Even with all of that work, it didn’t get finished until I went out for a few more hours on Monday.

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Here is the back corner with the rope ladder to nowhere. Seriously, you can’t get into the top by climbing the ladder.

It was a pain to put together, but it’s an impressive structure. L and R can go out and play in the backyard with minimal supervision now, which is a huge blessing, and it’s just fun to look outside and see something that I assembled. Who needs to go to the park anymore, right?

Thankful Thursday 7 – MIB


I’ve been slacking off with my posts lately. I think Zed’s describes me missing so many Thursdays in a row well.

A few weeks ago my sister got married to a great guy (congrats again Linda and Jared). It’s always fun to see people get married. There’s an excitement and a sense of potential that can easily get lost as we move through life and get down to the business of actually being married.

I have to confess, I don’t remember much of anything about our wedding day. I don’t really remember what people wore. I don’t remember the ceremony at all. Basically it’s all a giant blur with occasional moments that stick out like snapshots.

As I’ve been reflecting on this for the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by how our wedding day is both completely essential and totally inconsequential. On the one hand, our covenants are eternal and have given Bonnie and me a lot of comfort as we’ve tried to deal with her illness. On the other hand, the actual day of our wedding is totally irrelevant. It could have been any day of the week, any time of the year and it still would have been just as effective. We could have had a tiny reception with just family and close friends or a huge party where the whole city was invited. The thing that really matters is what happened in the temple when we were sealed.

Today I’m grateful for marriage and temples. I’m grateful for Bonnie, and I’m especially grateful for the covenant that we made to each other.

Bonus Picture:

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L and R looked awesome in their wedding clothes, which I totally picked out.

I Was Sitting Down to Write a Big Post When…

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This is me as Leporello in IU Opera Theater’s production of Don Giovanni. Emily Holsclaw is Donna Elvira. This picture is very appropriate for this post. Photo courtesy IU Opera Theater.

I’ve been slacking off on the blogging thing for the last week or two, because I’ve discovered a great irony about blogging: if you have stuff to write about then you’re busy so you don’t have tons of time to write. If you’re not busy so you have time to write then you don’t have anything to write about.

I’ve had several ideas for posts kicking around in my head for a while. I had some free time this afternoon, so I decided to sit down and knock it out. However, when I opened up wordpress I had over 300 comments sitting there. Apparently the spam bots found me.*

It bothers me when I see that there are new comments languishing as they wait for my approval, so my posting time was eaten up with sorting the wheat from the chaff in the comments.

I’m figuring out a spam filter (maybe captcha) for the comments. Tomorrow (or the next day) I’ll get the post I wanted to write finished up, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m not dead, and that I haven’t yet abandoned the blog.

*If the real Louis Vuitton ever comments on this blog, it’s going straight to the spam folder.

Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

Bonnie took this picture of R looking a little concerned. I wanted one of them crying, but I couldn't find any.

Bonnie took this picture of R looking a little concerned. I wanted one of them crying, but I couldn’t find any.

In the last month or so, our lives have been turned upside down. We packed up our house (with a lot of help from the ward). We slept in a dozen different beds and sleeping arrangements. We drove across the whole country. We had one family reunion (with another coming up this week). It’s just been a lot of craziness for Bonnie and me and the kids.

With all of that going on, there have been a few more tantrums than normal (though to be fair the kids have been absolute champs). Some of the tantrums have reminded me of this site, but I think others could have been avoided if Bonnie and I had done a better job at parenting.

Several of the tantrums came on days where we kept the kids up way too late. Specifically, at the recent family reunion, we’d be doing something fun and either decide to let the kids keep participating, or just get distracted and not get bed time going at the right time. Inevitably when we did that, the kids would lose their minds and be screaming for hours. Similarly, if we didn’t get them food at nice, regular times then we’d have problems.

This is where the title comes in. The wording always used to make me think of a parent tormenting their kid, which seemed strange to me. I have lately come to think of it as more about setting your kids up to be successful and happy, rather than simply not bothering them. When my kids are upset, I keep thinking about what I could have done to prevent the situation:

  • Have I been ignoring them so they’re bored? Maybe I should have set them up with some activities before getting on the computer.
  • Are they hungry? Maybe I should have started preparing lunch earlier, or picked something quicker to make.
  • If we’re having problems at bedtime it’s almost always because we started it too late.

Even when they get in to things they shouldn’t, I still feel like I have some responsibility because I could have put things away somewhere else. Maybe up higher, maybe behind a child lock, etc.

As I’ve thought about this concept, I find that it has a much broader application than simply parenting young children. Most people will end up being in charge of something at some point in their life. The people for whom you have some responsibility need and depend on you to make it easy to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. Here is a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers. He’s talking about this as it pertains to businesses and preventing theft. It’s long, so I’ll grab a few excerpts:

“human nature being what it [is], employee theft [is] inevitable so it [is] the moral responsibility of the owner to protect both the shareholders and the employees from their own worst nature.”

“By accepting a fact that I still find emotionally unpleasant, I’ve saved us a lot of potentially expensive lessons.  And that itself is a lesson – never refuse to act because you have a hard time believing something you’d rather not believe.”

Beyond businesses and parenting, it’s essential in our personal lives. I would bet that if you pick your favorite sin, you can probably find some common factors that influence you in that behavior. Just like an alcoholic probably shouldn’t hang out in a bar, you can make a conscious effort to avoid and prevent situations in which you know your will isn’t as strong as you’d like. Consciously setting yourself and those around you up for success instead of failure is a powerful tool. I’m still working out more ways that it can be put in place in my life, but small changes can make a huge difference in the results that you get.