Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy 4th birthday, Cooper!

Cooper turned 4 years old Monday, and he couldn't be more delightful. I wrote a post for Penny's birthday, so here are some of the ways Cooper makes our days brighter:

- His bedtime routine is one of my favorite times of the day, and not just because it means we get to sleep soon afterward. Once we have his pajamas on he eats his snacks (fruit snacks and a small piece of Hershey's chocolate) and we watch a show together. (Right now it's PAW Patrol on Nick.) During the show he won't sit still, crawling all over my lap and legs and knocking stuff off the table.

When the show is done and I tell him that it's time to go to bed he gets excited and walks over to Val as they say, "Sack of potatoes!" That means Val picks him up on her side like a big sack of potatoes, carries him into his bedroom and slings him on the bed. So cute. It's going to be weird when he's bigger than she is in 8 years.

Once in bed, Cooper has to get back out to look out his window and see which house's lights are on along the street, then go to the bathroom. When he comes back it is time to lay on the bed to say prayers and sing songs. Cooper doesn't exactly sit still for prayers, usually he's rolling around or messing with his stuffed animals. We sing, in order, "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and he make sure we sing them in order and all the way through! Except, nowadays we always substitute "me" for "Cooper," "children" for "Cooper" and "star" for "Cooper," as he giggles every time.

When he asks us to do something and we either don't do it because it's a bad idea, or we take our time he'll say, "Can you do this now? You forgot!"

Then we tuck him in and close his door just the right way lest he get frustrated, even though he'll go in and out of the bathroom five more times and come into our room with some excuse to get us to tuck him back in. If we're in our room with the lights out he'll give up, content that we're actually going to bed, too. After I go to work, sometimes during the night he will climb into bed with Val.

- Watching Cooper and Penny play together warms the cockles of our hearts, as they laugh and run and jump and roughhouse from room to room. Cooper even called Penny his best friend the other day, which is just so sweet.

- He always, always wants to play outside. When we go out front he'll take his scooter, as will Penny. By the time me and Penny have made it to the driveway he's already sped down our hill and made his way halfway around the cove. When we're out back he has such a good time on the swingset, swinging on the swing on his belly like Superman.

- We love watching him play with other kids. Cooper is not a leader, so if he can find some kids who will play with him he will follow them around doing the same things, yelling the same things and just laugh and feel part of the cool crowd. That's why he so enjoys playing with older kids, because they are like the cruise ship directors who organize playtime and give him ideas for new games.

- He really likes going to school and looks forward to it every Tuesday and Thursday. When we tuck him in the night before and tell him to get lots of sleep for school he says, "I'm going to school tomorrow?!"

- He has really picked up how to work the Kindle Fire very well and can find his games and watch videos, especially videos of Thomas the Train to the song of "Accidents will Happen." Once he watches those and he has plenty of ideas, Cooper will get out his trains to re-enact what he saw in the video.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cooper and Penny at the Howell Weenie Roast, pt. 1

Val gets some sleepy lovin' from Cody and Katie's new baby boy, Levi!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cooper and Penny at Priddy Farms, pt. 1

Last weekend Cooper and Penny went to a birthday party for a friend in the neighborhood at Priddy Farms over in Bartlett. It's open every October with a pumpkin patch, big play area for kids and hayrides. The kiddies had a blast ...

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Winston Churchill was awesome

I like to print out the transcripts from Hugh Hewitt's radio show to read while working out, especially once a week when he has Hillsdale College president Dr. Larry Arnn on the show to talk history and how it relates to our time. The past few weeks they've been looking at former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and I admit that I've been surprised just how awesome Churchill was before he was awesome in his leadership during WWII.

In the Sept. 23 show they looked at Churchill's early days and a story that deserves to be known. Here's how Dr. Arnn put it:

LA: Well, so I’ll just tell you a story. By the time he was 25 years old, Winston Churchill distinguished himself in three wars and wrote three bestselling books about the wars, by the end of his 25th year. And he was a heck of a soldier, and he was a force of nature. And so once there was in South Africa an armored train, and Winston Churchill was a journalist at the time. And the reason he was a journalist was they kept passing rules. They got tired of this second lieutenant, in American terms, being the foremost expositor of these three wars. And he would be critical of generals, and he was the one everybody was reading, and more than anybody else. And so they got tired of it, and they passed a rule that you couldn’t be writing for the press if you were a serving officer. And so he would resign his commission and go be a journalist for a while, and write a bunch of articles, and then he’d go back and serve for a while. And he was unstoppable. And he’s on this armored train as a journalist, and an armored train is a very stupid idea, because you can make them feel very strong, but the tracks are vulnerable. And the Boers in South Africa piled a bunch of rocks on the track, and they derailed it, and then they started artillery fire going through a valley with rocks on either side. And they opened artillery and small arms fire, and the train’s going backwards at the time. And the railway engineer, the engineer, hit these rocks and derailed the train. And so now they’re all stuck there, and they’re under fire. And eventually, more than a dozen of them were killed. And the fire was heavy. And Churchill went to the captain, Haldane was his name, and volunteered to help. And Haldane knew him, and said he’s the one who persuaded him to come along anyway. And he said oh, yeah. And so Churchill gets out of the train, and walks a semicircle with bullets coming all around him, and walks back and opens the door, and says I need volunteers, we can get this thing moving. And then for an hour, exposed to gunfire, he led an effort, and they got it free. And people were agape. They couldn’t believe what they had seen. And people put him up for the Victorian Cross, and he wasn’t an officer. He couldn’t win it. It’s like the Congressional Medal of Honor for them. So then the train gets going, they put the wounded on it. At one point, the engineer, did I tell you this story already to your listeners?

HH: No.

LA: Because it’s a fantastic story. It’s one of the great stories about Churchill. And the engineer said at one point, he said, you know, he got wounded. He got hit a little bit. And he was bleeding. And he was going to run. And Churchill said buck up, man, nobody’s ever wounded twice in the battle. You’re safe. And then he said anyway, you’re going to win a medal. He stayed. Churchill eventually is home secretary years later. He couldn’t get him a medal. He tried. So Churchill gave him a medal, years later. So then the thing gets going. Churchill’s on the locomotive, and the wounded are on, and the engineer is on, and the idea is the men are going to run along the side and be shielded and get away, but he can’t keep the train going slow enough. And it leaves them behind, and Churchill sees them all being captured. And so he jumps off and goes to help them, and he gets captured, almost gets shot in the time that he’s captured. And then he surrenders. He hated that. Then he’s under guard on a train for several hours, no, sorry, first, they walk. It starts raining. And they walk for hours in the rain. And then they get on a train, and he’s got a gun pointed at him all the way, and he goes to Pretoria, that’s the capital of this rebel part of South Africa, rebel, I guess they call them, the Boer part. And along the way, he has a great talk with his guards, and he finds out a bunch of stuff. They get out of the train, and somebody takes a photograph, and it’s, if you email me, I’ll send you a link to the photograph, it’s one of the most telling documents in the whole Churchill story, because everybody is standing, and the townspeople of Pretoria, they’re right in the center of town, the train is behind them, and everybody’s gaping at them. And all of the soldiers, British soldiers, are in ranks. And they’re looking bedraggled and down. Nobody’s looking up except one other guy. Off to the side, Winston Churchill is standing with his weight on one leg, and cocked a little bit to the right, his hands are behind him, and he’s staring directly at the crowd. And it looks to me like he’s holding them in contempt.

HH: I’m looking at the photo as you speak. He is holding them in contempt, isn’t he?

LA: It’s just wonderful, right?

HH: Yeah.

LA: And then he gets to the, so, he gets, and by the way, he wrote several newspaper articles on the train, sent them off, got them published, and we have copies of them now. Also, he fires off a bunch of letters protesting that he’d been arrested. He’s a non-combatant. He gets to the prison for the officers. It’s a place called the State Model Schools in Pretoria, and he’s learned that the men, the enlisted men, are being held in the stadium. And so he arrives with a plan that he put to the British commanders of the captured men. He says we can overpower our guards, take their weapons, go to the stadium, free the enlisted men, seize the capital, and end the war. And he’s just devastated and angry that they won’t do it. And so instead, he escapes. When he escapes, he gets to, at one point, he’s desperate. He stumbles into a village, a mining village, and there’s a whole bunch of houses there. Only one of the houses is occupied by a British person. That’s the door he happens to knock on. The guy hides him, gets him on a train, gets him out of the country. He becomes a national hero, and is elected to Parliament.

HH: And his book, London To Ladysmith Via Pretoria?

LA: Yeah, well, that’s right. The book, but My Early Life is a later book, he wrote that in the 30s, is the book that really tells that story. But he doesn’t tell it as well as I just told it, and the reason is, here’s another thing about Churchill. He wrote fifty books, and he wrote his own speeches, and they are brilliant. And they are not generally about himself. And they are not in a bragging tone, though they’re fun to read.

HH: And how old was he, how old was he when this adventure in the Boer war occurred?

LA: Well, this adventure was in 1898, ’99, sorry, I’m forgetting. He was born in 1874, so he was 24 or 25. He was 25, I think, by this time.