Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Laugh, Cry, Try a Little Harder

A couple of weeks ago Christi and I encouraged Taylor to wear a vest to school. It was almost the end of May and it was freezing cold outside, so we figured it would be the last day of the school year when he might be willing to wear warm clothes. We, in our infinite wisdom, told him how handsome he looked. How the girls would think he was cute. How stylish he would be. What do you think?

All morning he insisted that it wouldn't work. He was embarrassed and had no desire to wear the vest. But mom and dad just KNEW he would be cool. WRONG. Several kids teased him to his face. One wasn't brave enough to do that and left him an anonymous note of disdain in his desk. Can you believe that? Kids can be so mean. And of course Christi and I were left to ponder on how little we know about grade-school fashion. We committed to each other to place more stock in the wisdom of our children going forward. Kind of reminds me of a line from a campaign speech for high school student body president many years ago...but that's another story:)

My dad came to stay with us for 9 days in May. The kids love it when Grandma and Grandpa Green come to town. Unfortunately this time Grandma couldn't make it, but the kids still had a ball with Grandpa. He timed his visit so he could hit a couple of baseball games, the pinewood derby and a school play. Grandpa at the pinewood derby has become a tradition. At Taylor's first derby, two year ago, Grandma and Grandpa just happened to be in town. Of course, most of my vast store of racing knowledge comes from my father, considering he guided me through three pinewood derby cars of my own. So we invited Grandpa Green to help us build Taylor's car. Taylor won 1st place that year, and a tradition was born. Last year my folks specifically scheduled a trip to coincide with the derby. Once again Grandpa helped (even more appreciated since I had TWO boys who needed cars!) Since Taylor had already won 1st place, we put most of our efforts into Parker's car. We did a good job on Taylor's car, but we really pulled out all the stops on Parker's. We worked diligently on the wheels and axles. We drilled holes in the sides of the wheels to decrease the rotational inertia that had to be overcome at the starting line. We polished the axles and the bore of the wheels. We sanded the wheels all the way to 600 grit wet sandpaper. We coned the hubs to decrease the surface area that would rub against the car body. Parker's car was awesome. Before we went to the derby, I promised Parker: "I don't know if you'll win first place, but I GUARANTEE you'll beat Taylor." Uh-oh. Taylor took 2nd and Parker took 3rd. Park was heartbroken-not because he didn't win it all, but because Taylor had beat him, even with all the extra work we put into Parker's car.

So this year I asked Taylor to do something really hard. Taylor is a super-competitive kid, but he also has a heart of gold. I asked him: "How did you feel the last couple of years when you won 1st and 2nd." "GREAT!" "Do you think other kids might like to feel that way?" "Yes." "So what would you think about not putting any effort into making your car fast this year?" I could see the disappointment in his eyes, but he sweetly agreed that it would be a good thing to do. We made it look cool, but we just slapped the wheels on and applied a little graphite. Parker, however, was still itching for first place!!! So we once again did everything we could to speed up his car.

Grandpa looks on.

Chill out, guys!

Don't mess with my big brother:)

Best Friends.

Taylor's Car.

Parker's Car (Middle-black and gold)

Taylor looks on.

Trying to look nonchalant.

Xander's pretty intense!

Awaiting the final results...

Parker wins 1st place!!!

So next year should be a pretty laid back experience:):):)

While he was here, my Dad read to the kids pretty much every day. He read the entire book "Ribsy" to Graci over the 9-day trip. But it was Xander and Jesi who couldn't get enough of Grandpa:

Also occurring while Grandpa was here: Graci's play where she was "White Woman 1" (see post on May 26 below:). Graci was mortified to have to do the Lindy Hop with a boy (he doesn't look much happier about it:):

She had one speaking part. The was dressed up as an old lady coming to support some civil rights protestors. She was supposed to say something like "keep it up." Graci does a great old woman impression. She had a cane and a hat and a sweater and looked really cute as she tottered on the stage with another "old woman." But when she took the mic to deliver her big part -- she lost it. The started cracking up. She couldn't keep a straight face. She brought the mic to her mouth time and time again, but could not do anything but giggle, giggle, GIGGLE. I know it's hard to believe, an 11-year-old girl and all, but it's true. Then she got so embarrassed she handed the mic to the other girl and did some kind of awkward kick-skip thing off the stage. Remember, she tottered on as a wobbly old woman, so the contrast was pretty stark. Anyway, the audience all got a kick out of it. As far as I was concerned, it made the whole hour and forty-five minute play worth watching. This is a picture of her high-stepping back off the stage with that goofy, embarrassed grin on her face:

My cousin Chelsea had a baby on Easter Sunday. We met darling Brynlee recently, and our kids fell in love! Jessica had to go get her baby Dora and feed her alongside Chelsea:)
Obviously Jesi enjoyed her hamburger that night:)

Graci, Jess and Xander with Grandpa Great (Christi's paternal grandfather), a World War II vet and American Legion member, on Memorial Day:

Taylor just finished section 1 of Perplexus...WITH HIS EYES CLOSED!

And finally, in this random, hodge-podge post...
Parker is very fashion-conscious. He is always concerned that his clothes match, that his hair is perfect and that he looks gooood! So tonight, I notice him at the bathroom mirror slicking his hair back, Pat Riley style. If it had been Taylor, I would have done a double take and asked him what in the world he was doing. But with Parker, I didn't even give it a second thought. Then several minutes later, he walks in like THIS:

Dress pants on, white shirt with cuffs and collar up and a sneer on his goateed face! Where does he come up with this stuff? I don't know what I would do without that kid!!!

To bring things full circle, Graci had an experience today that helped Christi and I see that although some kids are mean (eg. the vest-teasers), many, many are good, caring people that I am grateful my kids can associate with. Today Graci forgot her lunch. She didn't even think about calling home, so she was at the lunch table with nothing to eat. Jacob, the BOY sitting next to her (you should have seen Grace blush when she told us about this) asked her if she would like to share his. He gave her the entire chicken-wrap-main-dish from his school lunch. What a sweetheart! Thanks, Jake. As Graci was telling us, she said, in her cute little accent: "At first I was suspicious, 'cuz you know boys...they sometimes put poison in things!"

So for those of you who are still reading this rather lengthy post...My kids make me laugh. My kids make me cry. And my kids make me want to try a little harder (ok, maybe a lot harder) to be a good person and a good dad. Our url is very appropriate. I am a bona fide kid junkie. I have a lot of kids. And I have a good life.



  1. Please tell Taylor that he really does look great in that vest and that he's cooler than all the kids that made fun of him. I hope he'll try the vest thing again in high school when the other kids will be able to appreciate it more.

    Please make Parker promise you that he will let you show his goateed pictures to his future girlfriends. They will love him even more. And congratulations to him for winning first place!

    Please tell Graci that it is rare for boys to put poison in things, but that she is smart for being cautious.

  2. Wow - ya'll really know how to pack in posts - there's a ton of stuff here!

    Taylor - ya'll looked good - no matter what anyone said!

    Parker - congrats on the win! I like to consider myself a pinewood derby designer as well - I love the idea of drilling the wheels, never thought of that...but I'll share my aerodynamic design with you for next year! Scouting is something I love - near to my heart!

    Loved the play story - G as an old woman - that would be funny...and I can hear the laugh!

    Kid junkies - yeah - we are in fact Blessed beyond measure....

    hugs and love to all you guys -

    aus and co.

  3. PS - almost forgot - grandparents! So glad that Gpa Green could be involved - and our personal thanks to Gpa Great - because of men and women like him we are free enough to have blogs (and so many other things that we Americans take for granted) - Blessings on all of them!

    hugs - aus and co.

  4. Loving the vest, but then again, I am *old*. Boys he getting big. Won't be too much longer and you all will have 2 priesthood holders in your home. What a treat that will be.
    Congratuations Parker! Those pine wood derby's can be intense!!
    Poison in the food. I think that is about the one thing my boys haven' thought of...yet!

  5. and an interesting life to boot! :)

  6. It is so amazing to be able to know my neices and nephews through the blog! I love them all the more. Tell Taylor if he wants to swap horrid teasing stories, we should chat. Oy! At least you learned your lesson. The photo essay on the Derby was great!

  7. Adorable kids!!!! Kind of tough to realize that you, jeremy and christianne are getting older. i used to know what was "cool"- and i know you did too. What is wrong with kids these days? :) i think taylor looks very handsome indeed in the vest. sigh aunt debbi

  8. Remind Taylor of the story "Stephanie's Ponytail". The boys have me tell it to them all the time. If school weren't out, I bet several boys would be wearing vests now to be like Taylor. He is a great example and such a good kid. (And sooo handsome!!!)


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