Post Roundup

Photo from

This looks weird, but it’s awesome. Photo from

Hello people who occasionally read my blog. I’ve had several ideas floating around in my head for the last few weeks, but none of them really seemed like they’d work for a full length post. So I’m just going to go ahead and do a little roundup of things that I’ve wanted to post.

Suggestions from readers

Several people have sent me suggestions based on previous posts. Two of my favorites have been a book called Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett (excellent last name) and a poem called “Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver. The book is hilarious, and the kids even laughed at it when I read it. But it’s also a little trippy. I still don’t totally know what happened at the end, but I liked it. The poem is sort of an ode to the things that we don’t understand. In particular I loved the line “Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have all the answers.” The funny thing is that I think I probably used to be one of those people to be avoided. Every year I seem to get a little less sure about a lot of things.

Stories from the kids

L asked to give a talk in primary a couple weeks ago, right after Bonnie passed away. I didn’t know about this until someone in the primary presidency talked to me about it the week before. L dictated her talk to me, and then I wrote it down, so here is her primary talk:

My mom died a couple weeks ago. She was a great mom. I know that I’ll see her again because of the temple and because she will be resurrected. And I know families can be together forever.

L was very excited to give this talk because she thought that it might help some other people who don’t know about this and how important it is.

R is also very awesome, though he tends to just say funny things. The other night he said, “Why does everyone have arms that are shorter than God’s arms?” I assume that he heard something like “God’s arm is lengthened” in the scriptures or something, because otherwise I have no idea where that came from. L was of course very confused by his questions, so she spent a while asking me how we knew that God had really long arms.

I also started potty training R today. It’s a little later than I would have liked to start with him, but I’ve had a little bit going on in the last year. What I’ve learned so far is that I need to trust myself. Four times today I’ve looked at him and thought, “I should probably  get him to the bathroom.” Four times I’ve ignored that idea, and four times I’ve found myself scrubbing the carpet. Pray for my soul.

Other Random Things

If you know me very well, you know that I make a lot of plans to do strange/cool things in the future. Occasionally I even do some of them, but that’s definitely the exception to the rule. In the last few weeks, the wheels in my head have been turning.(a dangerous past-time..) I got this super cool book from the library called Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together. Basically the idea is that you circulate water between the fish tank and the grow beds for your plants. The fish fertilize the water, and the plants act as a natural bio-filter for the fish. The major input that you need in the system is fish food, which is relatively cheap. If you do it right, you can grow fresh, organic vegetables and farm-raised fish at the same time. I love the efficiency and the elegance of the system. There are plans to be made…

Punishment genie

"LLW Aladdin genie" by Jerry Daykin from Cambridge, United Kingdom - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“LLW Aladdin genie” by Jerry Daykin from Cambridge, United Kingdom – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s this idea in society that the punishment should fit the crime. It’s at least as old as Dante’s inferno, though I would guess that it goes back much further than that. This idea frequently shows up in parenting. It feels to me like parents are generally expected to come up with suitable punishments for the things that their kids do. Suitable meaning that the punishement has some relationship to the thing they did wrong. Supposedly this type of punishment helps kids in some way? I can’t remember ever reading anything on the subject, but I feel like it’s the sort of wisdom that lots of people just believe.

I think it works to a point. If a child isn’t playing nice with the other kids, then they get a time out so they can’t play for a bit. Or if a child refuses to pick up their toys, then the gunny sack comes and takes their toys away.

Here’s the problem. What do you do when your child behaves badly in a weird or unexpected way? For example, sometimes my kids get out a bunch of food and mix it all together (when I’ve told them not to do that many times), wasting a lot of food and making a big mess? What’s the punishment that fits the crime for that? I can’t deny them food for an extended period of time. I can’t make them pay for the waste with their own money because they don’t have any. I can’t make them cook dinner for the family for the next few days because they’re too young. So I make them clean up and then I put them in time out. What does that have to do with making a mess and wasting food? Nothing. But it’s easier, simpler, and more immediate.

Trying to come up with creative punishments that fit the crimes makes me feel a little like one of those jerk-face genies who grant wishes but always in stupid ways. Like you say “I wish money would always come to me” and you spend the rest of your life being pelted with small change. It like you have to ask yourself “how can I twist what they have done to make the punishment something related but really unpleasant?”

Another example. My kids turned on the hose (strike one) left it running and wandered off (strike two) and had the end sticking into the garage (strike three). I luckily got there and turned it off before there was much damage done, but there are definitely things in the garage that shouldn’t be sitting in water. So what’s the punishment for that? This is complicated by the fact that they were trying to clean the car to surprise me. Good intentions have to count for something, right?

So the solution that I, as the sadistic punishment genie, have come up with is that they have to clean up the whole family room (which is quite a mess). I’m typing this as they’re (more or less) working on that. The rationale is that they did something destructive to the house, so they now have to do something constructive to the house. Thus the cosmic scale will be balanced. I have no idea if this is a good punishment or not, but at least we’ll get a clean family room out of the deal. So there’s always that. Take the small victories where you can get them I guess. If anyone else has a better way of handling these things, I’d love to hear it. In the meantime I’ll just head back to my lamp.