Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pine Knoll Aquarium and Fort Macon

We were lucky to get such a glorious day at the beach on Friday because the rest of our vacation was too cold and blustery to enjoy a good swim. Fortunately we had a lot of other things planned should hanging out on the beach all day long not look tempting.

We bought a membership to the zoo shortly before leaving on our trip because that will also let you into North Carolina aquariums for free. Admission to the zoo for our entire family is $63. Admission to the aquarium is $48.75. But a membership that lets us into both places is only $75. That's what we get for having a large family, I suppose. We're planning on hitting up the zoo later (though I do admit that I'm on the fence about the ethics of zoos and aquariums; I think when done correctly they can help raise people's awareness for the need for conservations and so forth, but who really wants to be stuck in a cage or tank for their entire life).

The Pine Knoll Aquarium was our first stop for the day. Here's a few pictures of the children enjoying the sea turtle statues:

Friday, October 09, 2015

So Much Beach

We drove to Atlantic Beach after Andrew got finished with classes for the day yesterday. When we'd barely pulled out of the driveway Benjamin announced, "I don't like the countryside." So we've been joking about that little bit of proffered information ever since, naturally.

Another gem was from Miriam who said, "How does sound work, again? I forgot."

She literally wanted us to explain how sound waves work. 

Anyway, we drove the whole way without stopping once, which is quite amazing for a 3+ hour trip with four little kids. Zoë gladly took expressed milk from a bottle (second time in her life) and only screamed for about the last half hour or so.

We checked into our hotel and went out for burgers before going to bed. The kids were still awake at around 11:30 last night, which was a little ridiculous. Still, we were up and moving at a fairly decent time in the morning (9:00 am).

Here's Benjamin snuggling "Darf Vader" and "The White Bad-Guy":

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Potty Training; is it FINALLY over?

I was in the kitchen doing something when I heard Benjamin call out, "Mom, can you come here?"

"Just a minute," I called. "I'm..." doing whatever it was I was doing. I have a brain like a sieve lately.

"Okay," he said. "I need you to wipe my bum! I just went poop on the potty!"

I almost fainted. This has been a long time coming.

Usually Benjamin hides when he needs to evacuate his bowels. It drives me crazy. I always have to be on the lookout for pooping signals.

"Why aren't you playing anymore? Why are you just sitting in the corner? Why are you smiling like that? Is that your pooping face? That's your pooping face. You need to go potty. Yes, you do. Now. Let's go. To the potty. Hup, hup. Come, on."

I have to prod and urge and beg him to poop on the potty. We've tried everything—sticker charts, bribery, scolding, punishments. Nothing has worked.

But he finally recognized he needed to go and then instead of hiding actually took himself.

I'm basically over the moon about it. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Colic, children, sidewalk chalk

At this very moment, Zoë has been awake for over five hours. That's not really monumental but let's also point out that she stayed up (screaming) until after 1:00 in the morning, was up at 3 AM and then was up again at 5 AM.

Let's also point out that this is our new normal.

So I'm a bit tired.

The kids have been misbehaving—just putting their own wants before anyone else's, which I'll admit is natural but it also leads to willful disobedience to my directions and a lot of unkindness towards each other. So I've been dealing with that all day as well.

And then I just feel overwhelmed by yard work and housework. I feel like I work so hard to make our home a little neater and then I turn around and everything I've done is completely undone. Probably because that's exactly what's happening.

I tried to start the day off nicely. Benjamin and I made muffins for breakfast while the girls were sleeping in. But did anyone say thank you for the muffins? Not so much. But they did fight over them. So there's that.

And then there are other projects that I've been working really hard at and instead of garnering praise, people are picking it apart, which is fine because I don't do it for praise and, frankly, I'm sure a little criticism (constructive or otherwise) is good for my ego. But I volunteer my time to do it—my precious evening hours that I spend working on projects one-handed while coddling a screaming baby with the other—so it would be nice if people could be a little more lavish with their gratitude.

Bee. Tee. Dubs.

Zoë is suffering from "the colic."

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sometimes boys dig holes...

This afternoon there was a soft knock on the door and I said to Zoë, "I'll bet that's one of the big kids. It sounds like the littlest of the big kids because your sisters would have opened the door themselves. What do you think? Do you think it's Benjamin?"

Zoë didn't tell me what she was thinking.

I opened the door and said, "It is Benjamin!"

"I want to come in," he said.

"I'll just bet you do," I said, thinking back to the talk Elder Haynie gave yesterday afternoon.

Lizard class

Today was Benjamin's second class at Little River Regional Park. It was on lizards and he loved it! Miss Michelle read a book called Where's My Tail? about a little lizard who drops his tail to escape from a predator and then goes on a quest to find it (hint: it slowly grows back while he's hunting around, getting longer with every page turn).

Then we looked at pictures of different lizards we might see in North Carolina. The most common, by far, is the five-lined skink, often mistakenly called a blue-tailed skink because, well, it has a blue tail. It will drop its tail when threatened as well so we often see tailless skinks running around the foundation of our house, as well as many with tails.

Miss Michelle mentioned that she's had skinks drop their tails when she's been trying to catch them.

Benjamin raised his hand and said, "Well, just catch them using a box. Then they don't lose their tails."

She thought that was a very good point. And, yes, we've caught a few that way so Benjamin speaks from experience.

After the story and discussion we headed outside to pretend to be lizards (we met in the office because it's been so wet and chilly). Each child got a lizard tail to tie around their waist—a lamanated piece of cardstock was hole-punched and threaded on the string and the cloth tail was velcroed to the cardstock—and then a few children were designated as predators and the idea was that they'd chase the lizards and steal their tails.

This wasn't the best game for toddlers. They all cried when their tails got stolen. But it was a cute concept! Miss Michelle ended up switching things up so that she was a lizard and all the other little lizards would chase her to try to steal her tail. This version of the game was much better received (but not by Benjamin who still didn't want to participate and hid behind me most of the time).

Shoelaces and Strollers

Miriam got a new-to-her pair of boots from a friend. They're pink, so she loves them and wants to wear them all the time, including to school. I told her I was totally down with that...if she'd learn how to tie them herself.

"You have two weeks until school starts up again," I said. "That gives you plenty of time to learn how to tie."

I figured she'd ask for some help or something, but no. A few hours later she comes up to me and announced, "Well, I can wear my boots to school now!"

"You tied them by yourself?" I asked.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Veiled Threats

The kids were outside playing in the afternoon drizzle—we'd even embraced our Scandinavian roots and left the baby sitting on the front porch in her stroller to enjoy the fresh air while watching her siblings play—when the mail truck pulled up. I'm sure that we'll eventually get used to mail being delivered on Sunday (though I really don't think it's necessary) but for now it's just confusing. Why is the mail truck here? Isn't it Sunday? Oh, a package! Right. They do that now.

The mailman handed the package to the children, who ran it into the house.

"It's a package! It's a package!" they chanted excitedly. "Who's it for?"

"The Heisses," Andrew read, when he managed to get the mystery package out of their clutching grasp. "But who is it from?"

"Maybe from Josie. She was sending something, but I think she was ordering from Amazon. That's not an Amazon package, so maybe it's something else."

"It doesn't say," Andrew said, tearing open the envelope.

He turned the envelope over and let the contents fall into his other hand.

"It's a book," he said, staring at the cover in alarm.

"What?" I asked.

He showed me the cover.

"Oh!" I gasped.

The cover read I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

Conference Mashup

Not going to lie: Saturday was a bit of a blur. 

The "morning" session for us falls over lunchtime. I fed the kids deceivingly nutritious snacks while we waited for the cinnamon buns Andrew made to finish cooking. I suppose the snacks truly were nutritious (cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, grapes, apple slices, and a peanut-butter/yogurt dip); the deception was that they were the appetizers for the cinnamon buns (which were fabulous, for the record).

Benjamin was completely obnoxious. Andrew and I took turns holding him down to keep him from tormenting his sisters. When we weren't trying reign in all his energy then we were holding Zoë who chose to scream the whole entire day. 

Was it cruel of us to try to force Benjamin to behave? Perhaps. But not really because he had a choice. He could have gone into his room to play and we would not have complained (believe me). He wanted to be where the action was, however, which meant that he couldn't just yell and throw things and punch babies and things like that. 

We're completely unreasonable as parents. I get that.

Zoë screamed the entire two-hour break between conference sessions. I was like, "Will you please do something?! Eat. Sleep. Poop. Just do something to explain the screaming!"

I snapped during Elder Holland's talk, which was beautiful in its own right, but I had just gotten Zoë settled and then Benjamin started acting like a clown again (he pinched her or yelled in her face or something) and she started screaming again and I snapped.

"Yeah, behold your mother!" I said, storming out of the living room.  "Behold your mother walk out of the room!"

Zoë and I took a little time out in the quiet (Benjamin-free) zone behind the locked bedroom door. After a few more minutes of screaming I managed to quiet Zoë down and get her to eat and then to sleep. But I was so upset that I was crying softly to myself while I coaxed her to sleep (keep in mind that Zoë had been screaming for hours by this point). It was comforting to hear Elder Holland's voice drifting through the doorway, "You're doing better than you think you are..."

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Tunak, Tunak, Tun!

As we sit, Hurricane Joaquin is knocking on our door. After waiting for it the whole day long, we're finally hearing the first splatters of rain. Our neighbours across the street said we're welcome over there, up on their hill, if the creek gets too feisty in our backyard. I'm sure everything will be fine, though we already sustained some water damage this week.

I was watching a two-year-old boy for a friend this week—Baby Jay—and he opened our new kitchen cabinet (the one that Andrew bought when Zoë was one week old, the day Uncle David arrived to help out (and swore he could put together in the half hour before he had to leave for the airport to pick David up, but he was way wrong and everything was in shambles when David arrived)) and started pulling things out.

He'd spent the whole morning pulling things out, actually. And not just from the kitchen cabinets.

It made me (momentarily) grateful that Benjamin's three and is (mostly) beyond pulling things off shelves for no good reason. Don't get me wrong. He still pulls things down, but usually he'll at least do stuff with what he pulls down. For example, he'll pull books off the shelf to "read." And then he won't put them back, of course, but at least he's reading them and not just tossing them over his shoulder because pulling things off the shelf is such great fun!

Anyway, I was nursing Zoë while Jay was getting into the particular cabinet he was getting into so I sent Rachel over to stop him (hallelujah for having older kids around). She led him away from the cabinet and then started putting stuff—mostly food storage—back in.

"I don't really know what to do with this jug of water," she said.

"Well, it goes back in the cabinet with the other jugs of water," I said.

"Yeah, but, like, it's leaking..." she said.

"Oh, no!" I groaned. "Well, put it in the sink and find a towel. I'll look at it in a minute."

When Zoë was finished I went to see what damage had been done and was sad to learn that the jug had sprung a slow leak awhile ago. The gallon jug was half empty (or half full?) but there really wasn't very much water to mop up. The particleboard shelf—of our beautiful brand new cabinet!—had been thirstily soaking it up and it was now warped...and slightly mouldy.

I was at once frustrated and grateful.