Jeffrey Quote: Song

As we were about to sit down for piano practice this morning . . .

JEFF:  Mom!  I need to tell you something.

ME: Now is not the best time.

JEFF: But I want to tell you something — IN SONG!

ME: [considering potential hilarity]: Okay, what did you need to tell me?

JEFF: [leaning in and staring intensely]: Mom, I think I have discovered a song that will conquer Gangnam Style and make us famous and wealthy!

ME: Well, okay, what’s the song?

JEFF: [beatboxes furiously]

JEFF: What do you think?  Is it catchy?

ME: [heroically not cracking up]: I think I need to hear it again.

JEFF: [beatboxes with as much energy as he can muster]

ME: Yeah, that’s pretty memorable.

JEFF: Now all we need is to make a video with William and Katie acting all crazy!  And put it on the Internet!

Geez, get-rich-quick schemes have changed quite a bit since I was a kid.

Get Your Ninja On

Jeff’s current obsession is with Lego “Ninjago” toys.  These are little ninja guys who battle each other by spinning around on tops.  Regular whirling dervishes, they are.

Which of course led to Jeffrey wanting to have a ninja-themed birthday party.  Gosh if I knew how to do that.  But we improvised.

We made throwing stars out of cardboard and duct tape and threw them at targets in the yard (way harder than you think) (Jeff took it SERIOUSLY)

and had a relay race that involved chopsticks and marshmellows.  We also played Blind Man’s Bluff, cleverly renamed as “Ninja Sneak.”  This was followed up by a Speed Slice tournament on Wii Sports Resort.  Even my parents played; they were really good at chopping up the giant bamboo.

I even went a little crazy at the Asian grocery store and served the kids gyoza and red bean ice cream.  The ice cream went over fine, but the gyoza?  Not so much.


So, a ninja cake.  How is it done?  Probably not like this:


And with candles, this ninja is happy to see you!

Jeff turned 9, but we always put on an extra candle “to grow on.”  Jeff was pretty thrilled.  Who cares what anyone else thinks?

But Mr. Ninja didn’t fare so well with the candles removed.  “He looks like Elmo!” is what all the children said.  One of them even gave him a cookie nose.  Sigh.  Well, I’m just glad my sweet boy had a special day.  Hi-YAH!

Not-So-Urban Legends

Sometimes the things Jeffrey says requires a bit of digging to understand.

JEFF: “I need a notebook that flips around!  So I can keep track of the birds!”  STATUS: True.  Turns out he had a field trip to a bird refuge.

JEFF: “We need to collect our recycling so I can write an opera!”  STATUS: True.  The third grade is, indeed, writing an opera about recycling.

JEFF: “I need to go on a garbage hunt.  In the roundabout.”  STATUS: Unconfirmed.  Perhaps this is a Cub Scout project that we are unaware of?

JEFF: “I’m going to need glasses.  Camo glasses.”  STATUS: False.  Jeff does not need glasses.  I’m not even sure that camo-print frames exist.

JEFF [at 5:45 this morning]: “I need to go on a night garbage hunt! In the roundabout!”  STATUS: False.  Also, whaaat??

Finished Up

What’s cuter than a kindergartener in a graduation cap?  Well, I’ll show you:

SEVENTY kindergarteners in graduation caps . . . making FIST PUMPS!*

This was all part of the graduation ceremony/singing presentation given by the entire kindergarten class at the end of the school year.  And it was only 40 minutes long!  And that included time spent at the cookie table afterwards!

I only mention this because Jeffrey’s kindergarten singing program was TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG. I love hearing little kids sing, but that was a little excessive.

Speaking of Jeff . . .

The second grade finished the year with a program about Africa.  Sweeping cultural generalizations aside, I found it pretty cute.  It was basically the same thing as the kindergarten program, only with more songs about world peace.

Each of the kids made these really cool animal masks as part of the study unit.  Jeff made the lion mask there.  Nice, eh?

*Oh, the fist pumps were part of a song called “America Rocks!”  While I’ve nothing against synthesizer-heavy patriotic power anthems from the 80s, I still can’t understand why the kindergarten kids can’t learn a patriotic song like “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” or “America the Beautiful,” or something else they’ll be expected to know the words to later on in life.  But then, again — “America the Beautiful” has little potential for cute hand motions.  No fist pumps there, bro.

What This Tradition Needs is Big Flamboyant Hats

Jeffrey went to his first Pinewood Derby this past Friday night, and this is what he looked like:

That’s right, a blur.  When Jeffrey gets excited, he gives it his ALL.  The kind of All that you usually only see in the drunken infield of a NASCAR race.  At the end of the evening, his voice was hoarse from all the cheering.  Yes, cheering — he rooted for everybody, and hardly cared if his own car placed first or last.  In this picture, he zipped out of the frame just as I clicked the shutter button:

(Jeffrey’s car is the one on the far left.)

It was exhausting to watch him — we had gone downtown to the Living Traditions international festival just before the derby, and I was groaning from the Tongan Hula Platter I’d consumed — but at least he got out enough energy to sleep like a log that night!

Brian held him still long enough for this portrait, and as you can probably tell, he nearly exploded after all ten seconds of it.  His car is painted gold with what Jeff calls “pirate decorations” all over it.  At the last minute, he taped a Lego knight in the driver’s seat.  Ain’t he cute?

My Man of La Mancha

This evening, Brian looked out the window and said, “I think Jeffrey is turning into Don Quixote.”  The reason?

Can’t blame me if that PVC pipe looks like a lance, right?  And for some reason Jeffrey seems very fitting as the knight errant Quixote.  Windmills beware!


I was feeling so smug, thinking I had finally managed to capture one of Katie’s smiles on camera.  But then I realized that Katie smiling . . .

. . . really isn’t all that different from Katie not-smiling . . .


. . . oh, well.   But I see the difference, and trust me, the smiles are cute.  They go a long ways towards moving her away from what I call the “Beardless Orson Welles” phase.

In the meantime, when I was downloading pictures off of my camera, I also found about fifty different variations of this photo:

This, according to Jeffrey, is titled “Blueberry Muffins in Mountain Landscape.”  The foil represents the mountains, and he referred to the muffins as “the villagers.”  Ah, there’s nothing better than child-created Outsider Art.  Do you know of any good examples?


We had a Family Home Evening lesson about journal writing last week. It was secretly part of my plan to get Jeffrey interested in writing — I’ll do just about anything to get him to practice handwriting, which he hates.

So, we talked about the benefits of journaling, and I even hauled out a few of my old journals to show the kids.  One was a little chubby volume covered in faux-Chinese embroidered fabric, used when I was ten.  The entries are brief, with a lot of page space taken up with fancy, loop-de-loop embellished signatures.

Fancy signatures were, apparently, an important thing for me when I was ten.

The other volume was one I kept in high school.  The entries are longer, of course, but are still plenty of drawings and sketches in the margins.  Jeffrey was nonplussed at first, but a few days after the lesson, he picked up the journals and began to leaf through them.

He couldn’t really read them (they’re in cursive) but was fascinated with something that, for him, seemed quite old.

“Mom!” he exclaimed.  “These books are history! They are part of our family history! They are ancient artifacts from thousands of years ago!”

I hastily explained that the books were only 15-20 years old.  Which I knew for him was an era shrouded in the Mysterious Mists of Time.

“Whoa,” he said, “These are the oldest books I’ve ever seen in my LIFE!”

Which, of course, is not true, but why spoil it?  Jeffrey now sees me as a semi-mystical scribe of ancient lore, and who am I to ruin that?

Actually, I discovered that spending time reading funny stories from my journal was the best way to get Jeffrey to write in his.  I found a description of a Young Women’s activity that went awry — while singing a slow, inspirational song to folks at a rest home, the accompanist accidentally hit the “demo” button on her electric keyboard, and “Flight of the Bumblebee” began to play instead — and the kids found it hilarious.  Jeffrey laughed while jumping up and down, then rushed to get his journal.  Without any prompting, he sat down and wrote about his day: “I went to visit the doctor.”  (We had, for his persistent cough.  It turned out to be nothing.)

Sure, the rest of the page was taken up with pictures of “army guys fighting,” but a sentence!  A whole sentence!  It was a day destined to go down in history.

Breakfast Adventures

It used to be that Jeffrey slept like a teenager.  If left to his own devices, he’d sleep deep and late, requiring me to use a crowbar to get him out of bed for school.  Even on Christmas morning, he’d easily snooze until 7:30 or 8:00.

BUT .  .  .

Somehow in the past couple of weeks, his internal clock has been flipped around, and how he’s up and about at 5:45 almost every morning.  I suspect that it might have something to do with Katie’s crying at night, but Brian and I are suffering.  Dealing with a newborn in the dark is one thing.  Dealing with an overactive eight-year-old is something else.

We try to get him to go back to bed, but he more often wanders around the house, doing odd deeds which we don’t discover until we’re up and dressed a few hours later

Like: taking all the instruction manuals for our Wii games out of their cases and putting them in a pile.

Or: dragging a sleeping bag out of the basement and making a tent with it.

Or: taking the weather report in the newspaper and leaving it in some unfathomable place in the house.  It’s always in a different place each time.

On weekends, Jeffrey goes so far to wake up his siblings and then helping them make breakfast.  “Make breakfast,” of course, is limited by Jeffrey’s meager set of cooking skills.  Last Saturday, Brian and I emerged from our room to find the kids having a “tea party” in the sun room with sippy cups of water, two rolls of Ritz crackers, and 64 slices of American Cheese.

(“Mmmm  . . . 64 slices of American Cheese . . .”) <– five points for those of you who can name this reference.

The other breakfast trend is what the kids refer to as “Toast Buffet.”  Jeffrey puts in slice after slice of bread in the toaster, and then lines up a variety of toppings on the counter: butter, peanut butter, raspberry honey butter, honey, and whatever jelly or jam they find in the fridge.  The kids can put whatever combination of spreads on their toast and then munch down.  Evidence of a Toast Buffet includes about seven different table knives crusted over with multiple spready things, a bowl of rejected toast slices, and crumbs.  Lots of crumbs.  Everywhere.

Brian and I think this is ADORABLE, although, I will admit it makes our household supply of sandwich bread disappear faster than I’d prefer.

But why dwell on the downside?  I’m just glad they haven’t discovered the jar of Nutella in the pantry.

Twinkle Lights & Vampires

There are days when I have said that I would give anything for a paper printout of whatever is going on in Jeffrey’s mind.  This past Tuesday was definitely one of those moments.

We had decided to go down to Temple Square and see the Christmas lights while the weather was still warm.  In the car the kids excitedly pointed out all the decorations we saw along the way.

ELEANOR: I see a reindeer!

WILLIAM: I see a snowman!


And Jeffrey continued to see vampires everywhere.

JEFF:  Look!  There’s another vampire, walking along that sidewalk.  Another one by that store!

JEFF:  Aaaah!  A vampire going into a house!

Eventually, our logical daughter could take no more.

ELLA: Jeffrey, I don’t think you can see vampires.  Vampires are not real.

WILLIAM (aka “Eleanor’s Shadow”): Yeah, vampwires are not weal!

JEFF:  Yes they are!

ELLA: No they aren’t!

JEFF: Yes they are!

ELLA: No they aren’t!

JEFFREY (beginning to lose his patience): Okay, FINE!  We’ll take a POLL!  [shouting] ARE VAMPIRES REAL?




ME: No.


ME: But . . . um, sometimes it’s fun to pretend that vampires are real.

JEFFREY (instantly happy again):  Oh, look!  There’s another vampire walking by that Christmas tree!

ELEANOR: [sighs in disgust]

ME: So, Jeffrey, why are you seeing so many vampires, anyway?

JEFFREY: Well, at Christmas time, there are lots of family reunions.  And when there are family reunions, then there are always lots of vampires around.

Well, of course! Because every extended family has at least one vampire, right?

This level of enigmatic Jeffrey-speak may conquer the current champion — the evening Jeffrey was reduced to tears because we wouldn’t let him have two plates at dinnertime, one for his main food and one for the side dish.  If it’s called a side dish, he insisted, then there should be two dishes side-by-side!  (There was no way I was setting a precedent for that.)

Just for the record, he forgot all about vampires by the time we got to Temple Square.  Instead, he wanted to know why none of the various nativity scenes around the square featured a big star.  No poll-taking was involved.