Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Open [school] house

This morning Miriam went to her preschool's open house. She kept calling it the "open schoolhouse" because even though her preschool is in a house it's not just a house. It's a schoolhouse and a house.

The kids have already spent some time at this house, playing with the little boys who live there, so Miriam was already familiar with the preschool room. Rachel was impressed by the idea of having a preschool in a home, run by a friend, though I'm not sure why because her preschool a home, run by a friend. Anyway, the girls had both asked when Miriam would be able to attend preschool and our answer was that we didn't know because paying preschool tuition was a little out of our budget. When the girls came home from playing at this house, Rachel said, "Mom! You can just send Miriam to Sister Lewis's preschool! I'm sure she'll take Miriam as a student and I already checked out the classroom and it's awesome!"

She was a little crushed when I told her that even Sister Lewis charges tuition so Miriam would be just fine learning at home.

But then I found out that Sister Lewis trades preschool tuition for swimming lessons and babysitting and hair cuts.

That is a currency I can work with!

And thus began our summer of basically living at the pool. Seriously. Andrew and I are doing this "bike across America" challenge this year, only we're doing it on a stationary bike in our living room. He's done more than his share of the biking this summer (and he's been doing great because we're still on track to finish by the end of the year) which I almost felt guilty about until I realized that I took the kids swimming a bazillion times this summer. Then I decided that it was perfectly fair.

Today was my first time in the preschool room, though I've been to Sister Lewis's house for book club and playgroup and other get-togethers like that. I have to agree with Rachel. It's a pretty neat school room (though it's probably not quite as neat as the school room that Rachel had for preschool—that

Miriam had to write her name on a strip of paper, and the numbers 1–10 on another. She also had to do a self portrait. These, I know, will go in her end-of-year book (along with the same snippets from around the middle of the year and at the end of the year). I know this because my friend Laura's son showed me his book at the end of last school year.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quiet Sunday

Choir was cancelled today, which we were probably more excited about than we should have been, but it meant that we could have a normal Sunday afternoon. After learning that my family is heading up to Canada again to take my nephew back home and Andrew's parents don't have internet at their new house yet so neither set of grandparents would be available to skype we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. But don't worry. We figured it out.

For the first time in many weeks the girls went into their room to have quiet time while Benjamin and I went down for a Sunday afternoon nap. 

Daddy was going to work on a paper but he ended up snoozing on the couch instead. 

When nap time was over we played Ticket to Ride, which was fun (even though I lost). Team Andrew-Miriam won by a long shot and Rachel came in second place. Benjamin played with spare parts and only jostled the board a couple of times. 

We pulled a meal out of the freezer—Cafe Rio Pork that Andrew made earlier this month—so that meant no one really had to cook, which was wonderful, and then we went on a family walk after dinner.

It made for a very relaxing Sunday afternoon, an experience that won't be repeated for a long time, I'm sure. We're looking forward to our regularly scheduled program next week because although one Sunday free from choir and visits was nice I think we'd begin to miss it after a while.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kiwi bird

I finished reading Jesus the Christ yesterday and today I started reading Authoring the Old Testament:Genesis–Deuteronomy by David Bokovoy (a friend from high school's brother-in-law) and it was like a breath of fresh air. Jesus the Christ was great, but it was just so long...and erudite...and published 100 years ago. I'm only partway into chapter one of Authoring the Old Testament and already I can tell it's going to be a more enjoyable read (and not only because the footnotes and endnotes won't drive me crazy the entire time). Bokovoy wanted his book to read like a detective novel, and it's been captivating thus far. And I've already been able to relate to it quite a bit.

In fact, I was relating to it on the acknowledgements page. Seriously—I was on page xiii and already I was nodding my head in agreement while my soul simultaneously shrank at the very thought of what we're about to embark on in the coming years. This is the part that spoke to me: "In my mind, however, I wasn't convinced that now was the right time to undertake such a project [writing this book]. I had a very heavy teaching load and my family was still recovering from my dissertation."

Gah! I thought.

Graduate school is hard. I'm not even in graduate school and it's hard.

It's one o'clock in the morning and I'm authoring my third blog post for the day (night? morning?).

Why? Because my husband, who took an entire 50 minutes off to eat dinner with us and to have family scripture study before bed, is busy working away in our bedroom his office. Still.

This is not unusual for us/him.

Swimming updates

Miriam has been growing like a weed this summer! In May when we first pulled out the swim stuff we tried on all sorts of bathing suits to see what fit who. Rachel had outgrown hers from last summer but Miriam's still fit. Soon she stopped wearing that one in favour of others. "It's getting too small," she explained.

This afternoon she was tugging and tugging at a bathing suit, trying to squash herself inside it.

"Why don't you try this one on?" I asked, digging out the swimsuit Grandma had sent for Rachel last summer (but which was too small for Rachel then).

Miriam had tried it on in May and it hadn't fit her then so she wasn't too sure about trying it on now. I convinced her to though and she found, much to her delight, that it fit quite well. She was excited to wear it to the pool this afternoon.

Here she is showing it off (with Benjamin because he saw me pull the camera out):

Sweet Benjamin

Yesterday I got up and showered before my little ones were awake and when I came out into the living room I found Benjamin at the table getting breakfast for himself. He got a bowl out (thank goodness because it drives me crazy when he empties packages directly onto the table/bench/floor) and was digging out handfuls of cereal for himself. All he needed help with was pouring the "mik" and getting a "shoom" from the silverware drawer.

As my friend Sara Lewis pointed out, he's just about ready for college!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not quite a triathlon (but I swam, biked, and ran)

I'm trying to teach swim lessons to this sweet family in our ward but so far...

Day 1: Little Brother broke his arm at the park
Day 2: Pool was closed because someone threw up in it
Day 3: We completely missed each other

Sounds like it's going well, doesn't it?

Today was day three and, like I said, we completely missed each other.

Rachel's been riding home with our neighbour because it's convenient that way. Rachel hates the bus. Our neighbour is making the trip anyway. Win, I win, too, because Rachel gets home earlier and I don't have to pick her up myself.

Today, however, our neighbour got sick so his mom picked him up much earlier than usual, leaving Rachel to ride the bus, which meant that we had to wait for the bus before we could head to the pool.

We're supposed to meet at the pool at 4:00. Rachel's bus pulled up right around 3:50.

I already had the little ones and all our swimming stuff in the van. Rachel threw her backpack in the van (because I told her she had to do her homework before she could get in the pool) and ran into the house to get a snack and her swimsuit. Then she hopped into the car and buckled in.

I got in the driver's seat, put the key in the ignition, turned the key and...nothing happened.

I tried again. Nothing happened.

I tried again. Nothing happened.

"Are you serious?!" I whined to the steering wheel.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Towering LEGO towers

We had the Snells over for dinner a few weeks ago—my brother served with Brother Snell in Brazil many years ago and now he (and his wife and kids) are in our ward in North Carolina (small world)—and they told us about the old dinosaur trail by the Museum of Life and Science. The old brontosaurus still stands—a derelict sentinel—along what was once the dinosaur trail but is now just part of a park. We haven't ever found it, but the Snells have. And we need to because...

...I believe—though I'm not certain—that it's this dinosaur.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Super Reader

Miriam went into Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons knowing her letters and their coordinating sounds, thanks in large part to a song that Rachel learned in preschool and that we now sing all the time in our house. 

My girls know this song forwards and backwards and in sign language as well. Benjamin knows it a little less well but loves it. I think he alone accounts for at least a thousand of the 250,000,000 views. When we sing it—and we're not trying to do the sign language for it—we throw in whatever words we can think of that start with any given letter (we don't do the sign language when we do it this way because our vocabulary isn't big enough to sign whatever our hearts desire). 

Between this song and Letter Factory, my kids have phonics down pat by the time they want to learn how to read, so I have to admit that the first few lessons are rather boring. Rachel refused to do them at all. We'd fight and fight and fight our way through them until I decided the fight wasn't worth it. No more reading lessons for Rachel. 

I still read to her everyday. I simply stopped trying to make her read, which is weird because she wanted to learn. She wanted to learn but refused to be taught. So, we just read every day. 

Rachel has always been a lover of stories. She requested stories all day long. "Tell me a story. Tell me another story. What else about this? What else about that?" In fact, she's hardly ever played with toys because all she wants is a good story. Playing with toys has never been something she's found very fulfilling. She once had to write a story (in kindergarten) about her favourite toy. She wrote about her pink blanket. "My favourite toy is my pink blanket..." she wrote. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Literary Children

Rachel walked out of her bedroom a couple of days ago with a list of all the volcanoes in Mongolia. There are five: Bus-Obo, Dariganga, Khanuy Gol, Middle Gobi, Taryatu-Chulutu.

"I just had to write these down," she said. "So I wouldn't forget. I just have one question."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Where's Mongolia?"

I pulled up a map and we found Mongolia, snuggly nestled between Russia and China. Then she ran back to her room to pick her book up again. She's been reading the Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr and she's been loving it.

Tonight she walked out of her bedroom with tears in her eyes.

"Mom?" she squeaked.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

She pointed to the very last words on the page and blubbered, "It says 'the end,' Mom! Why did you make me finish it tonight? I could have finished it tomorrow!"

She had seven pages left in the book and wanted to start reading Ella Enchanted again but I told her to just finish with The Grave Robbers of Genghis Khan first because it's a library book and has to go back soon. And apparently that makes me a meanie because the series is over.

"It's the end of the book," I pointed out. "Of course it says 'the end.'"

"No," Rachel lamented. "None of the other books said 'the end.' This is it. There aren't any more Children of the Lamp books. I want more Children of the Lamp books! It isn't fair!"

It's kind of not.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Adventures in potty training (and swimming and arm breaking)

I think I'm going to call it: Benjamin is officially potty trained.

Lest I be accused of gloating, I think now's as good at time as any to mention that although he's officially potty trained he also peed on me during scripture study tonight.

Benjamin has been (mostly) accident-free for several days in a row. Maybe even weeks. We can even send him to nursery in underwear and he does just fine (though when Andrew picked him up on Sunday he had clearly been waiting to go for far too long and started crying, "Potty! Potty! Potty!" the minute he saw Daddy). We're working on staying dry through the night, though I'm not sure that's going terribly well.

I wake him up to go potty every night before we go to bed and about 50% of the time he'll have already wet the bed.

But, on the whole, I'd say he's potty trained and I'm quite happy about that because changing diapers is not my favourite thing to do.

All my cloth diapers have been packed away in a box, along with my nursing covers and baby carriers. While I'm happy to retire them for a season, deep down inside (and rather close to the surface as well) I'm hoping to pull them out again sooner rather than later.

We've been working on sleep training again as well. I've enjoyed all the reading time I've gotten while waiting for Benjamin to fall asleep but I sure am glad that I was able to put him to bed easily tonight. I just put him into his bed, and then put him into his bed again, and then put him into his bed again, and then he fell asleep. Third time's the charm!

It might have helped that he didn't take a nap today because it was an early release day and Rachel came home from school around the same time Benjamin usually goes down for his afternoon nap. And then, of course, everyone wanted to go to the pool.

Saying no to the pool is very hard to do when it's as gloriously sunny outside as it was today (the clouds decided to give us a break). Rachel's in school all day long while everyone else is still on summer break so when she has an afternoon free I can't really say no. I just can't. So off to the pool we went, nap time be...forgotten.

We stayed at the pool for three hours. A fun time was had by all.