What Do I Need? An iPad or a MacBook Air?

Oh goodness, I haven’t written for almost a week.  I’ve been too busy brushing my children’s teeth. Oh, and our computer are pretty broken down too.  You wouldn’t believe how much harder it is to post things when your computers aren’t working.

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On Sunday, a big black blotch appeared on the top of our laptop’s screen.  I set it down, and then a crack came down the screen.  Shortly thereafter, the whole half of the left screen was out.

I was so worried that it was my fault.  The captain has not appreciated the casual way I treat computers.

When Ben announced the broken screen to me, I said, “Do you think we can keep this from you dad until Friday?”

I’m really wanting an iPad for my birthday (which is on Friday), but the captain subscribes to the outdated notion that you shouldn’t get new toys if you haven’t been taking care of your old ones.

Anyway, the captain discovered the screen for himself on Tuesday.  He was surprising calmly but sorely disappointed.   To my relief, he announced that the screen had been broken because a child had thrown a wooden block at it.  Well, thank goodness! I knew I hadn’t gone that far. In fact, it was probably one of the neighbors.  My children and I are very good at blaming things on the neighbors.

Unfortunately, the captain did say to me, “See why I don’t think we should get a new laptop?”  Of course, I wasn’t thinking that at all.  I never liked our laptop anyway, so this seemed a great opportunity to get a new one.

I’m not quite sure what I need.  I want to get an iPad with a keyboard, but I also want to use it to keep a journal, post blog posts sometimes, and who knows? Maybe write a novel?  It would be awfully nice if 32 gigabytes could do the job, but the salesman was quite convinced that I needed at least 64 and that I probably needed the MacBook Air (which only costs another $400).  Please, I need some advice!

This is all I want my Apple device to

1) Keep me organized

2) Be easy to take everywhere yet never get lost

3) Keep a journal

4) Help me write my million dollar novel (or just write it for me).

5)  Check e-mails, order things online.

6)  Make blogging super easy!  (Taking great pictures would help.)

Anybody use any Apple products?  What do you have?  What do you love and hate about it?  Friday is approaching!

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Shopping with Boys

On New Years Day, we went to the Dillard’s sale with the rest of Utah County. I took my husband and two of our boys, and when we got there at 10:45, the parking lot was packed. We went straight to the men’s shoe section to find that the locusts had already taken them. Ben asked if we could leave now.

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The captain struck out on his own, and I went to find a pair of  30″ W 34″ L pants. That’s what size Ben is, and apparently there weren’t any pants of that size in the store.  We looked for a few shirts, and when we finally found some things that didn’t elicit a strong reaction from him, I told him to go into the dressing room to try them on.

“What?!!  You want me to try these on?”  he asked incredulously.

“That’s the idea,” I said.

“I’m not, no matter what, I’m not trying these on.”

“Well can you just try on a couple shirts just to be sure?”

“Fine,” he said as he walked into the dressing room because of course he was doing me the favor.

The captain was gone a long time, but he finally came back.  “I found these pants,” he said.

“But I thought you were a 32″ length.”

“Oh,” he said.  I handed him some 32″ length pants, and he held them up to his waist and protested.  “But look how long they are on me.”

“Honey, can you try them on please?”

“You want me to try them on?”  he asked.  Hadn’t I just had this conversation?

“Yes, honey.  Go find a dressing room.”

Ben liked a few of the shirts, but only if they were dark blue or grey because heaven help the boy if people actually noticed him. Davy, on the other hand, was disappointed that they didn’t have any brightly colored shirts in his size.

We decided Davy might have better luck in the boys’ section, and as soon as we got there he said, “Cool!  Pink and purple shirts!”  but none of them were the right size either.  Turns out he is both too small and too large for Dillard’s.  He was somewhat satisfied by a fluorescent green shirt we found, and then we went back to Ben who was lying dead in the hall of the dressing room.

I was sure I had killed him, but I made him try on some Levi’s anyway.

“I am NOT trying on any jeans,” he said as I handed them to him and pushed him back into the dressing room.  He tried on three pairs and was so exhausted by the end that he offered no resistance when I asked if I could buy him a pink shirt. The lines were way long, and the boys were super hungry and grouchy and iPhones had to be lent out on the way home to buy their silence.

The whole day had been shot, they told me (three hours to be precise, which is incidentally the same time they can play the Xbox and tell me they just barely started).

The captain was a pretty good sport about it all, but I could tell he had reached his limit too.  All the kids and cousins were going sledding that afternoon.  I had planned on having a quiet afternoon at home while the captain took them, but it was clear that that was not going to happen.  He needed some caveman time in his garage to recuperate so yeah!  I got to take the kids sledding!  I can’t wait until Dillard’s sale next year.

Question:  Are pink shirts okay for guys.  I LOVE them, but some cavemen I know had a few concerns . . .

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It’s Time for Confessions . . .

I took the kids to the dentist yesterday.  Dental appointments don’t usually provide positive feedback on my job performance as the head mama around here.

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He looks like he has great teeth. Don’t let him fool you.

I suppose we’re allowed to drop the ball on a few things although helping your kids brush their teeth is actually pretty important.  Also pretty basic.  The thing is I’m just so wiped out at the end of the day that I just hope the kids find their way to their beds.  (So yeah, I also get a thumbs down on tucking them in too.)

Sometimes after I’m in bed, I get up to check on them just to make sure that they are all there.  Usually they are.  Sometimes we find a straggler hiding in the computer room which means we’re also flunking internet safety 101.

Anyway, getting back to this whole teeth brushing thing.  I think I should get some credit for making sure that we have toothpaste and fluoride and dental floss and all that stuff in the house.  What they choose to do (or not do) with the dental hygiene supplies is their business.

Still, I was pretty upset when the dentist told me that my seven-year-old has four cavities.  Not only that, but they were in the same place that the cavities were last time which means our insurance won’t cover it.   (So no, we didn’t learn our lesson nor do I appreciate our insurance company acting like they have the moral high ground here.)

My eleven-year-old also has four cavities.  I’m the kind of parent that believes in doling out harsh (and frequently unenforced) consequences more than I believe in helping my kids do things they are perfectly capable of doing on their own.  So we’re calling a moratorium on candy until the next dental visit or until some Wiley Wallaby Watermelon licorice finds it ways into our house.  We also have a reliable Cub Scout den leader, and I’m thinking about paying him $10 a week to brush and floss Ricky’s teeth every night.   And while he’s at it, he can put him in his pajamas.

So now that I’ve got that confession off my chest, I should let you know that I also drag my feet at picking up my fifteen-year-old from basketball practice.  He’s used to hearing, “Can’t you walk?” or “Isn’t there anybody else that can drive you home?” or even worse, “Sure, I’m just finishing up something. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Oh, and also, I don’t recycle.

Let the becky bashing begin!

What confession do you want to make?  Don’t worry.  I’m very understanding.

Welcome to Our Land of Oz. Christmas 2013

The Neighborhood Halloween Parade

Even witches have standards when it comes to doing their hair–

Our wizard: No charlatan but the real deal.  Pulls fish hooks out of boy scouts, makes chessboards in woodshop, and juggles new banking regulations.   He’d love to hear from you!

Our witch:  Tries to be the good witch, but she has her days.  No longer changes diapers and will soon be done with car seats.  Loves this season of her life.  Her favorite mathematical equation: Uno + tennis + piano > spit up.

Our flying monkey (14):  Not good at taking orders from the witch.  Flies to scouts, basketball, tennis, and school.  Always flies away from the girls.  Right Ben?

Our tin man (12):  Big heart.  Loads dishwasher without being asked and helps younger siblings.  His mom worries he will soon be a heart throb; learning French and playing Beethoven.

Our scarecrow (10):  Definitely has a brain but doesn’t use it when annoying older brothers.  Math and science whiz.  Loves explosions.

Our cowardly lion (6):  Getting braver everyday.  Showers and fireworks now okay.  Balloons problematic.  Not afraid of cute babysitters.

Our Dorothy (4):  Tornados follow her wherever she goes.  Fashionista.  Outdated mom insists that outfits match.  Dorothy costume was a hard sell until she saw the ruby slippers.  Likes to hang out with the witch.  Knows there is no place like home.  We miss you all and love you!

Merry Christmas!

Our Favorite Things–Christmas 2011

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Really, the captain loves kneeling on rocks much more than this picture can adequately express–

Favorite Recreational Activity

David:             Scout Camp! (Yes, I’m serious.)

Rebekah:       Reading to the children before bedtime.

Ben:                 Playing basketball. (But really, it’s flicking his brothers.)

Eli:                   Practicing piano. (Oh wait, that was in my dream last night.)

Davy:              Running up and down the mall escalators against traffic.

Ricky:             Any electronic device will do.

Deborah:      Going on walkabout.

Favorite Thing to Hear

David:             I think the kids are asleep.

Rebekah:        Your children are so well behaved.

Ben:                 Sure you can have a late night.

Eli:                   You are in such big trouble Davy!

Davy:              I guess you can play Capture the Flag, but you’ll do your homework later, right?

Ricky:              Here, have the Wii remote.

Deborah:         Give Mommy a kiss!

Favorite Contraband

David:             The wood shop.

Rebekah:       Chocolate chips.

Ben:                 Mom’s iPhone.

Eli:                   Not applicable.

Davy:              Five pound bag of C& H Pure Cane Sugar

Ricky:              Plants vs. Zombies

Deborah:         Mom’s make-up.

Favorite Theme Song:

David:             I’m a Hard Working Man.

Rebekah:       I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Ben:                 Yakety Yak, Don’t Talk Back.

Eli:                   Do You Hear Me?  Do You Care?

Davy:              Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Ricky:              Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.

Deborah:       I Get Around

Dancing in the Streets

Favorite Family Purchase:         Our new 12 passenger van!  I’m sure you’ll see it around.  It’s hard to miss.  Fire Engine Red.

I’m Serious. Cleaning Out the Storage Room Is Really Important

Yesterday was an unusually productive day.  I did eight loads of laundry, cleaned our bathroom, picked up, oh, a gazillion things, organized the Christmas gifts,  ironed a dozen shirts, reorganized our closet, and made dinner.

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I was feeling proud of myself.

But my husband didn’t notice that I had organized the shoe closet.  So I pointed it out to him.  I even added “and let’s try to keep it this way” for good measure.

So yes, I was just a tad miffed.  It’s hard sometimes when I at home, vacuuming, knowing I’m just as smart as my husband, have just as much education, and yet . . . I’m vacuuming.  I tried to make things more equitable when he was helping my son with his English homework last night.  Why not he sweep the floor and put away the last load of laundry so I could talk about Tom Sawyer?  Of course, being the good sport he is, he quietly got up and took the broom.

Anyway, last night I stumbled upon this quote by writer Marilynne Robinson (Pulitzer Prize winner for the lovely novel Gilead). 

“At a certain level housekeeping is a regime of small kindnesses, which, taken together, make the world more salubrious, savory, and warm. I think of the acts of comfort offered and received within a household as precisely sacramental.”

It didn’t even really sink in until today, just what it all meant.  Creating order out of chaos, making a delicious cobbler out of soft apples, sorting the laundry– it is rather a holy endeavor.  It truly is a regime; a certain kind of discipline is required to strive for cleanliness when there are no deadlines, and when nobody seems to care whether clothes are in their closets or on the floor.   Mom cares.

I got to thinking though, it’s not like the captain has it easy either. He commutes work everyday without complaint and stressful days too.  He just doesn’t feel that he needs to share every detail of it with me.

This morning, I got up and made a good lunch for my husband.  He was so grateful.  And so am I, captain. So am I.

One week later:  Today I cleaned out the storage room.  I told the captain all about it.  He still hasn’t looked at it yet, but I know he’s dying to see it.   But then to my complete surprise, Ben, my 15-year-old, said, “The storage room looks awesome!” You never know!

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Revisited–The Quest for a Princess-2010

Once upon a time, there was a queen who liked to read in quiet places, but quiet places were hard to find.  Her four young knights were loud and messy, and sometimes the queen was heard to say, “Who do you think I am?  Your scullery maid?”  (As the castle was short-staffed, she was indeed, the maid, the cook, and the washerwoman.)

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The young knights always burped at their round table and laughed too loudly and fell off their chairs, which greatly dismayed the queen.  The knights were also getting a reputation for doorbell ditching.

The queen was ready to throw in the towel.  She wanted to run off  & join the Shakespearean company, but that didn’t seem fair to King David.

One night, after her exhausted husband had foreclosed on yet another fiefdom, she complained, “We are not raising these boys to be good knights.”

“Are you kidding?” he said.  “They can headlock any young boy in the village, they’re quick with their swords, and they’re eating plenty of meat.  They’ll be fine.”

“I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about the code of chivalry.  They need to learn to be honest, loyal, and true.  And they also need to learn how to use a napkin.”

“Ah, for that they will need a princess sister to teach them good manners.”

“But don’t you remember?  My best friend A sorceress cursed me.  I can only bear sons.  A daughter is not destined for our family!”

“Then get uncursed,”  he said.

The queen was grateful she had a husband with all the answers.  She called up the sorceress who promptly uncursed her.  The sorceress had just born a son and decided that maybe she had been a little to harsh on her former best friend.  Even by her evil standards, the “only boy” curse was a little much.

So the king and queen did have a girl, a gentle, quiet, girl who played the piano with dainty fingers and cast a spell of silence at the dinner table.  Well, not exactly.

Unfortunately, the princess was even louder and more boisterous than the knights.  And even though she hadn’t yet learned to walk, the village children said she could slay dragons.  Anyone that tried to hold the girl knew this to be true.

However, the local bards sang ballads about a princess who shot an arrow right through her mother’s heart.  The queen see the beauty around her, and she no longer wished for another life.

At least most of the time.

She never did find quiet places to read alone, but she did read stories to her boys.  And her children gave her plenty of stories to tell.  As for the king, he tried to teach his children to be honest, loyal, and true.  Tune in next year to see if he succeeded.

*As in most fairy tales, all of the events are true.

We’d love to hear from you.  E-mail beckyblackburnwrites@gmail.com.

A few notes on this story:

The first part of this story can be found here.

The Sicilian hex is all true.  My friend truly hexed us and unhexed us.

It’s also true that I didn’t know she was Sicilian until he hexed me.  If I had known, I might have been more careful.