Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monkey Business

When we first found out we was going to have a boy we were gifted a monkey outfit. It was the first outfit we got for him and it changed my mind about boy clothes—you mean, they make cute stuff for boys?!

And then Benjamin, the silly guy, came far too early to fit in that 0-3 month monkey outfit, so the same person who had given us the original outfit ran to the store and found a preemie monkey outfit for Benjamin to wear.

June 24, 2012 (3 weeks old)
Now that Benjamin's wearing cloth diapers he's big enough to fill out at 0-3 month onesie (cloth diapers make your bum look big) so I put him in his monkey outfit for church today but before we left I took some pictures of Benjamin with his old monkey outfit.

Getting ready for church

This Sunday we weren't nearly as popular on Skype as last Sunday so I thought I'd try something new with my "spare" time and actually do my hair before going to church. A novel idea, I know.

I broke out the curling iron Andrew gave me for my birthday over a year ago (and that I've used on my own hair only once or twice before) and got three curls in before Miriam entered the bathroom.

"Mom! You're curling your hair! Will you curl my hair, too?" she exclaimed, plopping herself in front of me expectantly.

So I began curling her hair, leaving my three curls dangling limp and lonely on one side of my head.

No sooner had I put three or four curls in her hair when Rachel wandered into the bathroom. "Oh, wow! Miriam—you look beautiful! And, Mom, one side of your head looks nice, but the other side...well, I'm sorry to say this but you forgot to curl it."

"I didn't forget," I told her. "I was just interrupted."

"Oh. Will you curl my hair, too?"

So I finished curling Miriam's hair and then started on Rachel's. Both of these girls have rather long hair. Miriam's is relatively easy to curl because its still baby fine. Rachel's on the other hand took quite a bit of work and then the curls started falling out right away because I didn't have any product on hand to spray them stiff—so we threw her hair in a ponytail and let the curls play with the tips of her hair. She was pleased with the look (even if you can't see her curls in the picture).


Friday, September 28, 2012

Thank-nouncement

Although our hearts have been bursting with gratitude these past few months, we are just now getting around to sending out our thank you cards...and, um, also Benjamin's birth announcement. He's only like 4 months old so it's not like we're slow or anything. In our defense he took us by surprise.

We still have some personal messages to send out, but here is our general thank you to the world:


The doctors, nurses, and staff at both hospitals were phenomenal.

Our ward and neighours were wonderful.

Our families were amazing.

We feel incredibly blessed to know the kind people we know, that we live in a world with modern medicine, and that we are under our loving Heavenly Father's constant care.

Thank you!

Miriam's recent artwork

We burn through scrap paper at our house. Not literally, of course, but my girls could (and do) spend hours colouring every day! They found some hand turkeys they made last year and having been drawing dozens of hand turkeys since. Here's one of Miriam's, with a sun in each corner:

Visiting Rachel's school

I'm not sure why I'm doing this post the day before Rachel comes home from school on the last day of school in September since it includes several projects that she's worked on at school. Chances are she'll bring home some spectacular project and then I'll have to do a new blog post (which you all know will be a real burden (kidding)). I have some time and both my arms right now, though, so I'm going to write anyway.

Last night we went to "Literacy Night" at Rachel's school. They had someone there promoting our regional branch of Durham's public library—little did they know we had gone to the library earlier that day to get library cards and check out some books. Our regional library is small...but awesome.

We got to meet Rachel's new principal, who is very nice, and have a little dinner with her in the cafeteria. The school supplied Subway sandwiches and were evidently planning on more people attending because there were a ton of leftovers. Our school struggles for support, evidently—they can't even get people to come out for a free meal. We are still in grad school, though, so we never say no to free food (it's free, people)!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

EC, take 3

I've had several people ask me if/when I was going to begin elimination communication with Benjamin.   The answer to that is...yes, now.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pancake Day

Rachel was gorgeous this morning—as in, stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately she banged her knee into the bench on her way to stand by the wall for a picture so instead of a smile she gave me a grimace. Imagine the smile; she's got a beautiful smile. Somehow we've broken into the world of regular pants—this particular pair are cords—and it makes her seem a whole lot more grown up.

Thanks, Pavlov

Last night I went out with some neighbour friends for "coffee." Not unlike owning a "coffee table," going out for "coffee" doesn't mean that you actually have to have coffee. I don't drink coffee but it wasn't awkward at all because my neighbour across the street doesn't drink coffee either—and she's the wife of an evangelical pastor. She and I got the Caramel Apple Spice drink...from the kids' menu. It was divine!

But I digress...

Besides Relief Society meetings I've never had a "girl's night out" before (because I've always gone out with friends, all our children in tow, during the day) but I think it's a fabulous idea. Benjamin tagged along, of course, but he's cute and doesn't interrupt conversations (too badly). We were able to sympathize with each other about the difficult day we'd had with our children while simultaneously giggling that we'd left our husbands in charge of them while we were out having grown up conversations. Of course, our conversations had the same subject matter that they do when we visit on the porch steps while our children play in the front yard, but we were at least able to visit with each other without interjecting commands ("If you found that on the ground don't eat it!") and reprimands ("Next time you pull hair we're going home!") or answering random questions ("No, you can't have any gummy bears. We don't even have gummy bears!").

Because I was planning on going out this evening—after Andrew got home from school but before bedtime—I moved our bedtime routine back a bit so that I could do story time and the whole shebang before I left so that the girls would go to bed nicely for Andrew. He's taking a killer stats class this semester and has been so stressed out about homework that I didn't want him to have to fight them to bed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

While Rachel's at school

Rachel's been in school for about a month now and for some reason I have a hard time leaving the house without her. It's like I feel the need to sit around and wait for her to come home, which is ridiculous since she's gone for eight hours. That's plenty of time for Miriam and Benjamin and I to get out of the house and go on some adventures so today we did just that.

One, two! Wake up the crew!

First we had to get everybody up and ready for the day. Daddy got up first and he woke up Rachel and got her moving. He only woke me up before he left so that I could take Rachel to the bus stop (it was a long night and our longstanding agreement is that since I get up with the kids at night he can get up with them in the morning).

Three, four! Get 'em out the door!

It's kind of cold now that it's fall, but only cold enough for dew—not frost—and it warms up in the afternoon. Still, it's cold while we're waiting for the bus so we all put on sweaters, except for Benjamin. I just slapped a cap on his head and picked him up from bed, blanket and all.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Our weekend

This is how our weekend began:


Rachel came home from school exhausted. All three of us girls are sick but Rachel's still been going to school because I don't think you can stay home with a cough...for a week...so off to school she goes. Friday afternoon was filled with cartoons while Daddy painted the trimming on the shed and I made dinner. Our traditional Friday pizza night was cancelled in favour of soup and crackers. I made crackers for dinner—like, from scratch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Little House

We're currently reading aloud the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Both girls love—and demand—to be whisked away nightly on a literary journey through Laura's life. They both eat up every detail and are always hungry for more. I enjoy using the parables Laura has sprinkled throughout her stories to try to get my girls to behave.

"What?! Are you complaining? Laura doesn't complain. Carrie doesn't complain. It isn't ladylike."

Now that we're reading By the Shores of Silver Lake and the girls have learned that *spoiler alert* poor Mary goes blind and gets her hair cut short Miriam no longer wants to play the part of Mary (mostly because of the hair, I think (and that's mostly because Rachel said that if she wanted to be Mary she would have to cut her hair as short as Daddy's)) and has instead claimed the role of Carrie. Rachel clings to the role of Laura, which is rather apt for her personality, I think.

I sent them outside with a broom a couple of days ago because they were bickering so terribly inside.

"Here," I said, handing Rachel the broom. "Be Laura and Carrie. Go fix up your homestead."

Friday, September 21, 2012

The principle of work

We've been studying The Family: A Proclamation to the World for our FHE, which we're now holding on Thursdays because Andrew's not usually home on Monday evenings (this really bothers Rachel because Monday is Family Night; she can be quite letter-of-the-law at times). I meant to go through it paragraph by paragraph but skipped a couple so that we could talk about the principles our family is founded upon. And kind of so that I could foist chore charts upon our children because I'm going straight crazy trying to keep our house in order by myself.

So today we focused on this one sentence:
Successful marriages and families are established and maintained of principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
After saying that a few times we focused specifically on this one word—work—and how that one word   can help us become closer as a family unit.

Fortunately we'd just done a family project this weekend—we primed the shed—and Rachel was super pumped about that and provided textbook answers for the questions I asked her (but only after I set up the context because before I did she had no answers for me at all).

We decided that painting the shed was hard work but it was fun to be working alongside each other and we feel a sense of ownership of our work. When we look out the window and see it we remember how much fun we had spending time together and how much effort we put in to make it look nice. We think, "Wow, we painted that! And it was hard! But it sure looks amazing!"

(Not that we're vain or anything.)

I said that the same thing applies to housework. And my kids definitely looked at me like I was crazy.

(And perhaps I am.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

This year Andrew and I held a competition to see whose birthday celebration could be the lamest. There are no winners in a contest like this but I think we both tied for second place (which as we all know is just a fancy way of saying first loser).

Let's recap my birthday first, shall we? We spent the day at the hospital. Andrew packed some stuff and let me nap. And then we ate cupcakes that someone dropped off with dinner the day before. Except for me, that is, I got a fancy cupcake from the Sweet Tooth Fairy, courtesy of Karen. I think we might have had a more jovial celebration at my parents' house later...

Andrew's birthday went like this: Andrew got up and went to class. I found out that our good friend had died the day before and spent the morning crying because I still cry at the drop of a hat. Miriam and I made fig newtons while Benjamin screamed. I forgot to put the last 3/4 cup of flour into the dough. Miriam stirred the fig jam into the bottom layer of dough. It was a bit of a fiasco but we did end up with newtons of sorts to have as an after school snack...complete with birthday candles and song. We had tacos for dinner; Andrew did most of the work. Andrew went to cub scouts. He came home and revolutionized our world with Bojangles. We watched an episode of The West Wing. This morning I let him sleep in for a while since he wasn't able to on his birthday.

That about sums it up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Benjamin at 2 months (-ish)


Sweet relief! Benjamin finally let me put him down! He's been such a terribly fussy boy lately—and I just realized that we took his prevacid away to see how he'd do without it. It's been a couple of dreadful, dreadful days so maybe we should put him back on it.... Heartburn's no fun for anyone.

In honour of his two-month due-date-aversary (or his 3.5 month mark, in actual age) I thought I'd take some pictures of him. Unfortunately our snazzy camera's battery was dead so I had to use the point-and-shoot camera instead. I'll have to do a better photo shoot later. I've been so stressed out that I don't feel I've given Benjamin the same attention my girls got as babies so I figured I should just take some pictures today so that we have some because "later" is a dangerous word. So I took lots pictures. And Benjamin kind of cooperated. And sometimes Miriam pushed the button for me because she's "a big girl now and big girls can feed their brothers from their tummies and take pictures with the camera." She was a little heartbroken when I told her that she couldn't nurse Benjamin (even though she's almost three (which is really big)). I couldn't say no to being allowed to use the camera.

Here's his serious face:

Rainy days

A few interesting thing things I've noticed about North Carolina so far:

1) You can buy 12 oz. cans of tuna at the regular grocery store—that's a big can of tuna!
2) Manners are important. Rachel has to say "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am" at school. I know this because once she said "Yes, ma'am" to me. She acted all embarrassed like she'd just called her teacher Mom or something.
3) When the weather forecast says 20% chance of rain, you'd better bring your umbrella because they actually have weather here.

Weather like so:



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yard Work

Last night around 1 o'clock, Andrew sneaked outside and sprayed the living daylights out of our garbage can. An unfortunate band of angry wasps had built their nest in a little crevice of our can and it made taking the garbage out quite tricky.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

House Tour, Part 1

We weren't the only ones to move this summer. In fact, my sister-in-law Emily also moved in August. Emily promised pictures of her house (as we did) and promptly posted pictures of her bathroom, stating "it's the only room put together enough to take pictures of." I looked around at my house and thought, "I will never have any room put together enough to take pictures of."

But then while Andrew was at school one day I tackled the master bath. It didn't have anything to do with Emily posting pictures of her bathroom. Rather, I think it's because bathrooms are usually the smallest rooms in the house and organizing the smallest room in the house felt doable. So I did it.

Without further ado, here's our bathroom:

Two sinks: be jealous

Friday, September 14, 2012

I've got nothing to say but it's OK. Good morning...

On Wednesday Andrew and I stayed up far too late. He was studying. I was writing. We lost track of time. It happens. And when it happens it's usually very difficult to get up in the morning so I was bugging Andrew about setting the alarm.

"Are you sure you set it?" I asked him.

"Yes," he assured me.

"For AM not PM, right?"

"Of course. My clock is in 24-hour time, remember?"

"And you're sure your volume is turned up?"

"Yes."

"Let me see."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life and Science

Rachel had an "early release day" today, which means she got let out of school two hours early. She has several early release days scattered throughout the school year and they're always on Wednesdays which is awesome because that's the day when admission is free for Durham residents at the Museum of Life and Science.

We went, of course. And were blown away with how amazing it was (as well as how uncrowded it was). Anything that is hands-on is obviously hands-on. Anything that is hands-off is impossible to touch. I really couldn't ask for more as a parent in a museum.

Today we wanted to see everything the museum had to offer so we breezed through the whole thing in two hours. We missed a ton but we saw a lot. We'll definitely be going back (but probably not until the next time Rachel has an early release Wednesday).

I had to tear Andrew away from the weather exhibit. I won't tell you how many different weather apps he has on his phone because I think it's generally understood that he's a little bit of a nerd. He kept calling the girls over to each station while I was standing there with the baby going, "Two hours. Whole museum. Get moving."

The girls were terrified of the little tornado machine. It was rather hilarious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

He's definitely the third child

We are still unearthing toys. They're stashed everywhere—in boxes of books, in boxes of dishes, in boxes of books, in boxes of clothes, in boxes of books...and, well, we mostly brought books. And toys. But mostly books. "The tools of my trade," Andrew calls them. "You wouldn't ask a carpenter to work without his tools," he tells me. I credit blame Patrick Mason for teaching Andrew this argument. On the one hand this has made unpacking a snap. On the other hand all our bookcases are full and we still have a few boxes of books left. *sigh*

Fortunately, I was a librarian in a former life (you know, the one before I had kids) and I can keep books on the shelf. The toys, though, are another story. They were packed everywhere and now they just are everywhere. I'm working on it (but organization is not my strong suit, especially with a bunch of littles running around).

Today I pulled out a box to unpack and found that it was mostly full of too-small clothes and toys, which was perfect. I worked on it for a minute before sitting down to compose an email to Rachel's teacher (she had a difficult day at school yesterday (Rachel, that is...not the teacher (though she may have had a difficult day, too...I don't know))) and I left the box on the living room floor beside Benjamin who, for once in his life, was kicking around happily.

Miriam noticed some toys inside the box—toys that had been "missing" for several weeks now—and she excitedly asked if she could get them out. I told her that she could and went on typing my email. I looked over my shoulder after a few minutes and saw this:

Uhhhhh...guys...a little help here? Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Boring Benjamin

I'm pretty sure Miriam thinks Benjamin is either bored or boring because she is constantly inventing ways to get him to play with her. He can't even get away from her when he's fast asleep—when she often will get right in his face and 'ooga-booga' at him. So far he hasn't accepted a single invitation to play, though he will smile for her occasionally.

Ladies' Man

The biggest caterpillar I've ever seen!

While Andrew was mowing the lawn this morning he came face to face with the biggest caterpillar he'd ever seen. It was dangling from whatever kind of tree is in our backyard (some kind of pine), munching on its succulent leaves. He finished mowing the lawn and then called the rest of us out to see it.

It was the biggest caterpillar any of us had ever seen! It was ginormous! And hairy! And a little lethal-looking...


Eno River State Park

Weekends have been resurrected! For the past five years my weekdays and weekends have been identical but with Rachel in school now the weekends are different—Rachel's home all day! We celebrated our survival of the first full week of school (minus Monday, which was a holiday for everyone in the entire country but Andrew) by going on a picnic. In the car Rachel said that the only thing that made her sad about going to school was that she has to be away from her family all day long (which is a great compliment to our family, don't you think?) but as Andrew pointed out it means that we get more quality time together this way—time when everyone is making an effort to be kind and have fun rather than screaming, crying, and whining.

We've heard a lot of talk about Eno River State Park so we decided we should check it out. I spent the afternoon making pita bread and hummus so that we could leave as soon as Rachel got home (which means we left 45 minutes after she walked through the door) to have our picnic at the park, which we hoped had ample picnic areas. It did. We were the only ones there (besides a few overly agressive friendly squirrels).

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Duke

Rachel didn't have school on Friday and Andrew doesn't have class on Friday afternoons so we decided to go on a tour of Duke's campus (for my sake, since I hadn't been there yet). The campus is beautifully Gothic—even the newer buildings on campus tweak their modernity to have a Gothic feel by adding arches or crenellations or other cool things.

Both girls are fairly convinced that Duke is Hogwarts.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

You say goodbye. I say hello.

Saying goodbye for a long time is easier for me to do in rounds. Benjamin and I stayed behind in Utah for a week and a half before coming out to North Carolina and we got to say a lot of goodbyes. It was super easy to say goodbye without crying because I could easily convince myself that I wasn't leaving yet...because I wasn't.

When Sarah stopped by with lunch—Costa Vida, yum—we had a lovely chat. And then she cried when she said goodbye. I didn't. Because I wasn't leaving yet.

Later I said goodbye to my nephews—like a half hour after they met Benjamin for the first time—but I didn't cry because I wasn't leaving yet.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Rub-a-dub-dub...


Three kids in the tub! 
And what do you think they be?
A schoolgirl, a toddler,
Their premature brother—
All as clean as could be!

Rachel's in swimmingarten

Not too far from our house is a community pool. And it's completely at our disposal. We've only gone a couple of times though because I don't have enough hands to take three non-swimming children swimming, especially since one can't even sit up yet. Taking two children was a piece of cake—you plop the toddler into a floaty and hold the baby, one arm still devoted to controlling the tot's floaty. How, though, do you safely manage two children in floaties while holding an infant? You can't possibly keep an arm on all three children at once. So you have to let one of them float solo—but what if that floaty flips over? How do you grab the now-drowning child without risking the safety of the other two?

Maybe I'm over-thinking this. But having worn the lifeguard hat I know how quickly a happy time at the pool can turn tragic. I've seen floaties flip over with babies inside them. It's scary.

So I took the girls swimming while Grandma was still here (leaving her at home with the baby). We went again on Thursday after school. This time Andrew sat on the deck with the baby while I went in the water with both of the girls. In theory he was supposed to study but in reality he dealt with a wee blow out, waded with Miriam in the kiddie pool (or cat pool, as she likes to call it), and got bit by mosquitoes.

To make the best use of the pool, though, what we really need is another swimmer in our family. Rachel was voted the most-likely candidate so while Benjamin and Miriam were napping this afternoon and Daddy was studying, Rachel and I headed to the pool for swimming lessons (courtesy of moi).

An hour later she was doing this:



She's making excellent progress. I'd really like her to be able to swim the width of the pool without stopping before I brave the water with her and two non-swimming babes. I don't think it will take her long, though, because she is absolutely determined to learn how to swim. She didn't want to leave when our hour was up and probably would have stayed until the pool closed.

As it is, we swam through sun and rain and while being bombarded by huge bumble bees (no joke).

Rachel's in kindergarten!

Rachel had her first full day of school on Thursday. She has to be at her bus stop at 8:15 and doesn't get home from school until 4:15. That's a long day! I was so worried about how we'd each handle that kind of separation but I think we did alright.

Getting ready for school in the morning was quick and easy because she was so anxious the night before that she laid out her clothes and packed her backpack and lunch. I have a feeling doing those things will seem like more of a chore later on in the year...