Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweening

On Monday night the girls and I played around a bit. I turned on some "spooky" music while we were doing our chores—The Monster Mash and things like that (gotta love Spotify)—but while Rachel was helping me with dinner a ghost story track came on. She listened for a while as she stirred but soon she drifted over to the speakers where she sat, listening intently to the story unfold.

It wasn't a very scary story, just a ten-minute version of The Ghost with a Black Eye (if you're dying to listen to it I'm sure you can find it on Spotify, too, if you search for Halloween + kids), but she was scared stiff. I sat down beside her and finished listening to it with her to make sure she got through it alright. When it was over she said, "I don't get it."

So I walked her through the punch line and she burst out laughing.

Later that night we played "I'm an old woman with a broom and a staff," which the girls caught onto surprisingly quick and enjoyed every minute of it. Our costume consisted of a Micky Mouse Sorcerer's Apprentice hat, a pink shawl, and a broom. The words varied significantly from round to round.

Rachel thought it was silly to say both broom and staff since we only had a broom, so she'd say that she had a broom for a staff. She's very particular about language lately.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy in North Carolina: Merely a blustery day

It's windy today. Cold, and windy, and rainy, and our welcome sign broke. Andrew informed me of this as he opened our front door this evening.

"We have hurricane damage!" he announced excitedly.

"We do?" I asked, surprised. It was windy today but not that windy.

"Yeah, our welcome sign broke. We should take a picture! It's our first hurricane damage."

I told him that I thought it would be in poor taste to take a picture because there are people dying outside, having the walls of their houses ripped off, their cars are being carried away in white water rivers flowing through their streets, and I can fix our sign with a glue gun. Anything that can be fixed with hot glue does not constitute hurricane damage.

He reluctantly agreed with me, although technically the wind, which is technically from the hurricane, did damage our sign. But I think I can live with that.

We live in a sturdy little house (that is admittedly getting a little chilly inside) with a sturdy storm door. Our storm door is solid glass, I just thought I would point that out to anyone who perhaps didn't know that. Solid glass.

Before Hurricane Sandy drummed up this cold weather, we were living it up. Carolina dreamin', baby: flip flops, shorts, popsicles, bug spray. We'd turned our air conditioner off weeks ago and couldn't really bring ourselves to turn it back on (it's almost November, remember?) so instead we went all old-fashioned and opened the windows (even the ones without screens which made our house a mosquito-infested nightmare later on) to let the cool evening breezes in.

On Saturday evening (when it was already dark outside) I came out of the bedroom with Benjamin and saw that the front door was open. I've recently become a little paranoid about people seeing into our house at night so I asked Andrew why the front door was open.

"Oh, just to let some air in," he said, waving his hand to dismiss my concern.

Thoughts of voyeurism aside I was now concerned about his observation skills. I puckered my lips and blinked at him a couple of times, wondering how to break the news gently. Taking a deep breath I asked, "You do know the storm door is solid glass, right?"

This time it was his turn for a pensively pregnant pause.*
*That's afliteration!

"It's...not a screen door?" he cautiously ventured.

I shook my head sympathetically. "No, not a screen door," I answered.

"Fascinating!" he said.

We're going on three months in this house and he just now realized that we don't have a screen door.

He's a brilliant, brilliant man. And I don't say that facetiously at all.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Civic Duty

Yesterday I voted. Today we raked our leaves. How civically minded are we!?



Friday, October 26, 2012

Spelling Bee

My mom informed me today that I misspelled a word in one of my posts, though her grammar told me that I habitually misspelled it so because I at times lean toward perfectionism I did a little search to see how many times I'd spelled it wrong: 10 out of 407 times. That's about 2.5% of the time (which Andrew assures me is not statistically significant (now if it were five percent that'd be different)). I fixed those misspellings in case you were wondering.

I wasn't offended by my mom's message because a) it's my mom and b) she misspelled something in her message. 

People misspell things. Even the most stringent of spellcheckers misspell things. 

Shoot—I edit things all the time and I find mistakes and I fix them. And then someone else will edit what I edit and they find mistakes and fix them and send it back to me and I find more mistakes. It's amazing how many mistakes are overlooked.

Andrew's a typographer. Do you know how many hands a book passes through before it gets published? Sometimes Andrew will go through a book three or four times before it gets sent to the press because nit-picky editors keep finding things to nitpick. And guess what—after the book is printed there is still that typo, that orphan line, that stacked word. 

I used to feel triumphant about finding typos in novels or textbooks or blog posts of people I'd label as grammarians. Since I've done more editing myself and have seen the rigorous process a book goes through before it gets published I've stopped feeling triumphant and instead melancholy because it stinks to make a mistake when that's the last thing you want to make. 

I think all editors have a touch of perfectionism in them. 

Not that I'm a real-life editor or anything but I do edit things. And I'm a bit of a perfectionist...when I do certain things...that don't involve keeping my house clean...

Ironically I got another comment about my spelling today shortly after my mom's email. But I'm sure it's spam because it has spam written all over it. And I'm sure it was troll-y because it made me feel a teensy bit angry. But I also thought it was hilarious because:
naturally like your website however you have to check the spelling on several of your posts.Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth nevertheless I will definitely come again again.
As my children would say, "Whatta? Whatta?"

They felt they could tell me my spelling has issues with grammar like that?!

So I stopped feeling angry and started feeling awesome instead.

Miriam's Three!

Miriam had a rather low-key birthday, which was perfect. She woke up a little disappointed—I suppose she had been expecting some sort of dramatic change to have occurred overnight and was very disappointed that she wasn't notably bigger. She concluded that it couldn't possibly be her birthday, that she couldn't possibly have turned three, because she still couldn't do any of the things that she expected she'd be able to, such as reaching the sink by herself. And her old shoes still fit.

Eventually—mostly when we showed her the beginnings of her birthday cake—she came around to the idea that it really, truly was her birthday, despite all her disappointment in not feeling any different at all.

We spent most of the day doing ordinary things: Daddy did homework. I went visiting teaching. Benjamin napped. Miriam played.

But we also found the time to do this:

Trunk-or-treat

Our ward's trunk-or-treat activity was a couple of nights ago. Miriam's been so confused about the name of this activity that now I'm confused. She keeps saying that we went treat-or-trunking (and I just typed that as the title of this post and then had to delete it when it didn't look right—it's trunk-or-treating). However you say it, it involves candy and costumes and the girls were excited about both those things.

Rachel was Hermione Granger, of course. She came off the bus one day, grinning from ear to ear, and announced that she and her BFF from the bus (Hailey) were both planning on being witches for Halloween. And I was like, "Uhhhh...you're not being a witch. You're being Hermi... Oh. Right; you're being a witch. Sweet—you guys are like twinners!"


Monday, October 22, 2012

A little coughy will keep you awake at night

Benjamin seems to only be able to sleep as long as he does not cough. Unfortunately, he has a cold (his very first one, courtesy of Rachel, courtesy of some other kid in her kindergarten class I'm sure) and this cold comes with a cough. He's not really sure how to handle it...so mostly he just screams which I imagine only makes his throat feel worse. It's lovely.

Needless to say, his cough is keeping him (and me) up all night (and day).

So our day was a little bit rough.

Benjamin woke up before I took Rachel to the bus stop. He fell asleep for ten minutes in the morning, for about half an hour around lunch time, and then again for a half hour before Rachel came home from school. I was ready to curl up in a ball and die because that's about how our night went as well.

Lucky for him, he's a pretty cute baby. Sometimes he reminds me of a porcelain doll. This is one of those times:



His skin is just so perfectly smooth and his eyes so big and glossy and his hair so fine and wispy.

The weekend, in pictures...mostly of Benjamin

I left Benjamin on the floor while I was off doing something and when I came back, Rachel gave me a big, guilty grin. "He's big enough for me to pick up now, Mommy," she said. Picking him up has been strictly taboo...until now, I guess, because there he was, sitting on her lap. "He was fussing so I picked him up. He likes it when I rock him like this!"


M is for...

Last year in preschool Rachel learned an alphabet song. It's rather long and involved, as it has a word for every letter and the kids learned the sign language to go along with each letter and word, but we sing it all the time now. I can't remember all the words all the time but that's okay because we just make them up as we go along—it's not difficult...it's the alphabet. Rachel ended up scoring very high on her beginning of the year evaluation when she was asked to name the first letter of various words and I like to think it's in part because of this song because now Miriam's quite interested in singing this song for every word she comes across.


Rachel's original performance is in this video (at 1:33) but the song we sing varies greatly because, like I said, you can throw any word into the song:




Miriam was trying to read an alphabet book the other day and it went a little like this:

"Q is for duck. Quah! Quah! Duck! R is for bunny! Rrr! Rrr! Bunny! S is for sun! Sss! Sss! Sun! T is for tree! Trr! Trr! Tree!"

We were all laughing up a storm but she couldn't quite figure out why so she just kept on singing.

On the way home from church on Sunday Miriam, who had been sitting quietly in her seat, suddenly announced, "Mom! We have the same letter! Mmm! Mmm! Miriam! Mmm! Mmm! Mom!"

She's been thrilled about that discovery all day today. At lunch she found out that monkey and marshmallow and milk and mango all "have" the very same letter, too.

We made up a song together at lunch to help her remember how to spell her name. There isn't actually a tune so I suppose it's more of a chant. This is how it goes:

M-I-R-
I-A-M!
That's how you spell Miriam!
She's so smart!
She's so fun!
That's why we love Miriam!

M-I-R
I-A-M!
That's how you spell Miriam!
She's so cute!
She's so fun!
That's why we love Miriam!

She tried to make up a song for me and this is kind of how it went:

M-O-M
M-O-M
That's how you spell Mommy!
She's smart and cute because I love her!
That's why we love Mommy!

I was happy to learn that the reason I'm smart and cute is because she loves me. Where would I be without my little letter-sharer? In a less wise and less beautiful place than I am now, that's for sure!

It's the weekend?

As a follow-up to the last post (where I kind of whined about Rachel not having an early release date even though it was on the school calendar), Rachel came home with a new school calendar on Friday. It was a nice gesture on behalf of the school, but a little late to count for much, considering the only change to the calendar had already happened—the rest of the holidays match up with the old calendar.

Anyway...

Was it just me or did this weekend go by way too quickly?

On Saturday morning Andrew had a primary training meeting at the stake center—he's a cub scout leader—so he got all dressed up in his Sunday best and then went out in the kitchen to have breakfast with the girls.

"Why are you wearing church clothes? Is today Sunday?" Rachel asked him.

"Of course it's Sunday," Andrew said, not wanting to pass up the opportunity to tease her.

"But it should only be Saturday," she said and then broke into song while ticking the days of the week off on her fingers: "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday...then we start again! See? Yesterday was Friday so today has to be Saturday."

"Yesterday was Saturday, don't you remember?"

"No."

"Oh, come on! We did so many fun things! We went to the park and played and we mowed the lawn together and you watched some cartoons. It was such a fun day! How could you not remember?"

Rachel started to look a little less confused and a little more worried.

"Hurry up and finish your breakfast," Andrew urged her. "You need to pick out a dress to wear today."

"Okay," Rachel said hesitantly.

We only revealed it was Saturday after we'd had family prayer and Andrew said goodbye.

"Wait, where are you going?" Rachel asked.

"To a meeting at the church," Daddy answered.

"So...today is not Sunday? Today is Saturday?"

We had a wonderful, if not busy, Saturday doing chores around the house and Saturday was over all too soon. Before we went to bed, we threw in a load of darks to wash because Andrew's Sunday pants were covered in spit up and needed a little refresher before church the next day. He couldn't put them on first thing in the morning because he had to throw them into the dryer so instead he put on some shorts and a t-shirt. I, however, put on a Sunday dress.

Andrew was already out eating breakfast with the girls (in his shorts and t-shirt) by the time I came out of the bedroom (in my Sunday attire).

Miriam looked from me to Andrew several times.

"Uhhhh? Uhhhh?" she grunted, slapping her face with her hands (à la Dobby). "Is it Saturday? Or is it Sunday?"

Apparently our wardrobe is the most reliable calendar in the house.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

West Point on the Eno

Sometimes having no choice is easier than having to make a choice—and not only because I'm indecisive. Initially making choices is difficult, of course, but no one tells you about retrospect. You know: buyer's remorse (or what I think should be called "the pillar of salt principle"). We've been relatively immune to this principle for much of our married lives.

When we went to Egypt we had no plan B. It was stay and do nothing or go and do something.

Two years later when we came back to BYU it was only because all our other plans had fallen through. BYU was our backup plan. There was no where else to go.

This time, though, it was different; this time we chose between two very attractive choices.

Now and again, I catch myself glancing back at that moment in time when we were making this choice, wondering if we made the right choice—the best choice. I wonder how our lives would be different. I wonder if Andrew would be less busy, more busy, or as busy as he is now. I wonder if Rachel's schools would be better. I wonder a lot of things, but usually I just tell myself to stop it...because we've made our decision and it was a good decision and there's no way of knowing if was the best decision, but it was ours. We don't need to live in the "what if" moment; we need to live in the now...or we'll turn into a pillar of salt.

Once you're on the log...you're better off walking across it, right?

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's a twister! It's a twister!

After our adventure at Little River, we came home and found our Halloween decorations. I remember having a lot more than what we actually have. We actually have hardly anything, but we put our sign on the door (Autumn Welcome), hung up our wall hanging (three dangly pumpkins), set the needlepoint basket Karen made us on a shelf, left the plastic pumpkin buckets kicking around the floor (classy), and put our plug-in Jack-o-lantern on the mantle.

"I remember having more," I said to Andrew. "Don't we have more?"

"I don't think so," he said. "How many Halloweens have we had on our own, in America, with children?"

2006: No children, we bought candy but no one came to our door.
2007: Rachel was 3 months old. We got the Halloween decorations then. The twins downstairs came to our door; that was all.
2008: We lived in Egypt and made paper decorations.
2009: We lived in Egypt and made paper decorations.
2010: We lived in Reid and Karen's house and Karen has her own decorations.
2011: We lived in Reid and Karen's house and Karen has her own decorations.
2012: This is really our first Halloween on our own, in America, with children.

So that's why we have diddly squat! But for some reason I remember having more...

Anyway, in our "box of Halloween stuff" (that was mostly full of Easter baskets and a nativity set Andrew got in Ghana) we found a little treasure: a Twister-esque game I bought in 2007 for a super cheap date night.

The girls were very curious about it and wanted to know what it was.

"A game!? How do you play it?! Can we play it?!"

We set it up after bath time (and during the football game) and had a great time.


Little River Regional Park

About a month ago we went to the Little River Regional Park for the annual ward Pig Pickin'. We'd never heard of a Pig Pickin' before but from looking at the potluck signup sheet it was obviously a southern tradition: deviled eggs, baked beans, cole slaw, dessert. We were fortunate that ours wasn't a very traditional pig pickin'—our pig was pre-barbequed and pre-picked by some men in the ward with strong stomachs. Traditionally the pig is roasted whole and guests take what they want from the pig but they thought some of the outsiders (and especially the piglet-loving youngsters) wouldn't enjoy that as much as if we just had "pork."

It was a lot of fun—we came prepared for a raggedy trail over roots and mud puddles since we'd just hiked at the Eno but the park at Little River has a nice paved trail—a little loop—around a section of the woods (it also has cruder trails but we didn't take those).

Here we are a month ago (September 14) walking the trail. We didn't know anybody and our kids were too shy to go play with any of the other kids:


Budding artists

We have had drawings coming out of our ears around here! I just cleared off every bit of uncommissioned artwork from my desk. Some I took pictures of and then put in a binder, some I took pictures of before ditching, others wound up unceremoniously shoved to the bottom of the recycling bin.

Here's a picture of our family that Rachel drew at school. She ran out of time before she could draw Benjamin, at least that's what she told me. It doesn't really look like she left room on the paper for him:

I luv Dad, Me, Mrm, Mom

Friday, October 12, 2012

Apex: Pumpkin Patch, Temple Trip, Waffle House

The girls have been diligently slaving away at their chore charts for about three weeks now. We set up a simply complicated reward system, based on the one at Rachel's school (which seemed to motivate her so we figured we'd give it a try at home).

The girls each have their own chart with three set chores a day: their morning routine, their chore, and their evening routine. Morning and evening routines have chores in them—such as making beds, putting laundry in the hamper, tidying their bedroom, etc. They can mark those things off on their chart as they do them.

At the end of the day we rank their attitude on a scale of good-okay-bad.

If they get a happy face, they can mark off four squares on the reward chart (one for the happy face, three for their chores). If they get an okay face they get to mark off three squares (for their three chores). If they get a sad face they don't get to mark off any squares but still have to do all their chores (this hasn't happened yet).

They can earn extra squares by going the extra mile (so if you ever hear my kids ask if I have any extra jobs for them to do, this is why) or by cooperating really well or if they earn a full week of happy faces or pretty much whenever we want to reward them. This gives Andrew and I plenty of opportunity to recognize their good behavior. They can also earn their squares in retrospect—say if we ran out of time to do chores (like we did today) then they can still earn that square the next day if they do both days' chores.

It sounds more complicated than it actually is, I promise, and so far it's been working well.

Last night the girls finished earning their first prize: pumpkins!

We promised we'd take them to pick out pumpkins the next day and they went to bed with vision of jack-o-lanterns dancing in their heads.

Thursday was actually slated to be a relatively busy day—I had visiting teaching in the morning and Benjamin had a doctor appointment in the afternoon, among other things—but Andrew said, shortly before midnight, "Hey—weren't you going to look up pumpkin patches or something? We should make this fun—I'm ready for an adventure. Aren't you?"

I remember when we'd settled on pumpkins as a prize a couple of weeks ago that I had said something to Andrew along those lines. But I'd totally forgotten about it and was completely geared up to run the girls to Kroger and let them riffle through the box of pumpkins inside...but the girls had worked so hard and, frankly, I was ready for a family adventure, too!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Benjamin at four months

I never did write about Benjamin's two-month appointment (probably because it was on August 9th, the day we loaded the moving van, two days before Andrew and the girls left). Turns out the poor boy suffered from ankyloglossia—which sounds like it should be the name of a dinosaur-themed dictionary—which just means that he was tongue-tied. My mom pointed it out one day when he was screaming so I brought it up with the doctor, who, after asking a few questions, snipped his tongue right there and then.

One of the questions was how Benjamin was feeding. The answer was that he was obviously getting milk but he wasn't latching very well. I don't know how we didn't notice it in the NICU with lactation consultants buzzing around the place, but because Benjamin was tongue-tied he clicked when he ate. I'm not even sure he was clicking in the hospital or if it started soon after coming home but it certainly was a bit of a challenge because not only was he a ridiculously noisy eater but clicking tongues cause milk blisters which are kind of annoying to chronically have.

The doctor peeped in Benjamin's mouth, said, "Yup. Definitely tongue-tied," and got out this spoon-type mechanism with a slit in the middle to hold Benjamin's tongue in the right place. Then he just took his scissors out and snipped his lingual frenulum, just like that.

"You'll want to nurse him until it stops bleeding. I'll be back in five minutes to check on you," he said, handing me my squalling son.

Five minutes later and he was just fine, though the clicking would take a few weeks to disappear.

Benjamin also got his vaccinations but they were out of the combined shot so he ended up getting five separate injections. He was not a happy camper, but he survived and we walked out of the office with a cute little card bearing his latest statistics:

Length: 21 inches (0%)
Weight: 8 lbs. 15 oz. (2%)
Head Circumference: 37 cm (3%)

We just had his four month check up today. I am kind of in love with North Carolina's medical system so far. All their records are on the computer so when I called to register the kids at the clinic they already had some of Andrew's information from when he lived here as a boy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

General Conference, day 2

I was so, so happy to have Andrew home on Sunday! He was gone all day on Saturday—came home in the middle of dinner, ate a few bites, changed into his Sunday clothes, and was off for priesthood session. He bought a bag of lifesavers for refreshment throughout the session.

He and his dad have this tradition of eating one lifesaver per talk. Andrew's determined to carry the tradition on—solo—until Benjamin turns twelve and they can do it together.

When we were skyping with my parents, my dad mentioned that he saw Andrew's dad and Jacob at priesthood session. I asked if they were eating lifesavers.

"You mean light sabers, Mom," Rachel corrected me.

We might just call them light sabers forever.

Anyway, Andrew and I made orange rolls together. Andrew started the dough on Saturday night and was a little shocked about the quantities of flour, butter, and yeast he put in. Six cups of flour!? Three tablespoons of yeast?! How much butter?!

"It's a good thing we don't make these very often," I said. "How much butter does the filling call for again?"

"14 tablespoons."

"Wow, that's a lot of butter!"

We put the dough in the fridge to sit overnight and got up in the morning to finish making them. I consulted the recipe for instructions on what to do next and noticed, for the first time, the yield was four dozen rolls!

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving so of course we had to celebrate. Things were a little dicey after school so I was completely frazzled by dinnertime, and thus we had boxed stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, and green beans. If I could have put down the screaming baby for a minute or convinced the other two children to do anything other than pleasing themselves I might have thought to cook up some chicken breasts too. That would have turned this meal into a feast. 

(Note the mouse tail on Miriam; ignore the mess in the background)

Andrew's never home for dinner on Mondays so I don't ever expend much energy on cooking dinner on Mondays. Even if it's Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Fairy tails and mirrors

On November 1st, 2011, Rachel informed me that she was going to be Hermione Granger for Halloween the following year. Actually, I think it was November 2nd because on November 1st she told me she was going to be Little Red Riding Hood. So when she told me on November 2nd that she was going to be Hermione Granger, I scoffed. There was no way she was going to still want to be Hermione Granger by Halloween—it was a year away.

Guess who still wants to be Hermione and is totally stoked about it?

Rachel.

She never wavered. Not once.

And she'd better not change her mind before Halloween because I don't have any other plan for her.

What's interesting is Miriam. For a full year, she and Rachel have been planning a pumpkin costume for Miriam. She'd wear the pumpkin hat I made for Rachel back in 2009 and would borrow an orange shirt that Rachel has and we'd just have to come up with orange pants. Perfect plan...except that it was kind of a lame pumpin look—not nearly round enough. Rachel's continued to fill Miriam's head with this plan, though, and so when fall rolled around Miriam was still determined to be a pumpkin. Kind of. So I started brainstorming cheap and easy ways to turn her into a pumpkin but wasn't coming up with anything.

And then one day we were waiting for Rachel at the bus stop and Miriam was twirling around on the grass—showing off the pirouettes and arabesques she's taught herself from watching episodes of Angelina Ballerina (I kid you not; she's a prodigy). Mid twirl she ran up to me and gave my leg a great big hug while she poured out the yearnings of her soul.

"I wish I was Angelina Ballerina!" she sighed dramatically.

"You know, you could be," I offered.

"I could?!" she asked.

She likes folding things...

For months now, Miriam has been balling up her artwork and calling it "folding." She finds it very offensive if anyone suggests that she is "crinkling it up" or "ruining it." It's just folding—she likes folding things. Her words, I believe, were, "It's just yat I like folding fings!" (Yat and fings being that and things, respectively.)

Brilliant sunset one minute, wadded up purple paper the next

House Tour, Part III

So, here's our kitchen—where everything finally has a place (more or less). It's galley-style, so it opens up from our dining room and then pops out by our front door.

Here's the view from the dining area:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Conference, day one

We're coming into midterms here and Andrew is incredibly busy. By extension I am also incredibly busy, pull 12-14 hour shifts of full-time parenting during the day and always on call at night. This week was awfully tiring so I was looking forward to having Andrew home this weekend but, alas, he had a big study group thing and was gone all afternoon. At least we had him home for the morning.

He left shortly after President Monson announced the new ages for missionaries, which was a pretty exciting announcement. He then set up his phone to play conference while he drove to campus (since General Conference isn't on any local radio channels here), leaving me with the girls and the baby and a huge pile of clean laundry to fold.



I saved the laundry specifically for the morning session of General Conference because I can simultaneously listen and fold superbly well.

Relief Society vs. Priesthood

On Thursday night I had Homemaking Family, Home and Personal Enrichment Night a Relief Society activity (I love the simplicity of that, I really do). Andrew was hoping to keep the girls at home and send me to the church by myself but that would mean driving in the dark and, well, I'm still not very fond of driving. I might be the only person in the world who relishes every red light they hit. I'm finally able to let the steering wheel slide through my hands to correct my trajectory after a turn, but it squeaks as it does because my hands are so sweaty from being so nervous. I've driven by myself before but that was during the day and I didn't think I was up for a twenty minute drive, alone, at night.

There's one other Mormon in our neighbourhood so I sent her a message to see if I could just catch a ride with her, but she didn't get back to me in time so I ended up driving to the church...but I made Andrew and the girls come with me so that Andrew could drive home afterwards, or at least coach me while I drove home.

The girls went to the nursery to play with the babysitters. Andrew went into a classroom to read this book he's supposed to have read by tomorrow. I went into the cultural hall with Benjamin.

We had a lovely dinner—Hawaiian haystacks with pumpkin rolls for dessert—and then our first class of the evening was a crock pot cooking class and the instructor had four different dishes for us to try. We were all laughing about that at our table.

My friend Magi said, "My husband's going to be like, 'So, how was your evening? Did you have a good time?' and I'm going to be like, 'Yeah, it was really...fulfilling.'"

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Laundry and Lawn Mowing

For the first time in our married lives we have a lawn to mow—granted it's about 50% wild onion, 25% clover, 15% other stuff, and 10% grass, but that's just kind of how it grows out here—and until today Andrew'd been the only one to mow it. He was rather excited to mow it at first, declaring he'd do it Saturday, which I'm sure he fully intended to do.

Two weekendss, ago, however, I was sick so he spent his Saturday painting the shed and watching the kids and he ran out of time to mow the lawn. He'd do it the following weekend, he promised.

Last weekend, Andrew was sick and I was still coughing so neither of us mowed the lawn.

This weekend isn't quite here yet but it's going to be a busy one. Want to know how I know?

It's General Conference weekend—that's a four hour commitment on Saturday (six for Andrew) and four more hours on Sunday; throw in homework and the weekend is pretty much booked—that's how I know. And because I want Andrew to be able to enjoy conference as much as the rest of us, without sacrificing too much of his homework time, I mowed the lawn for him.

After all, when my little brother-in-law had a laundry mishap (he washed a pen with his clothes; bad mistake) and a friend on Facebook quipped, "Good thing you're getting married so you won't have to do laundry ever again!" my mom pointed out that Andrew helps me do laundry all the time so Jacob will likely end up helping Shayla with the laundry, too—because my mother-in-law raises good men. Andrew will start a load (like he did tonight (sometime I think he starts the laundry simply to light a fire under me so that I'll finish it)) or he'll switch it over or help fold. He's even been known to do the whole process from start to finish without me ever lifting a finger.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Happy October!

"I can't believe it's a new year!" Rachel proclaimed excitedly after getting home from school.

Since beginning kindergarten she's been acutely aware of the calendar. She was wondering aloud all weekend what the calendar board was going to look like when she arrived at school on Monday morning. And she was not disappointed—"Even the cafeteria looked different!" she squealed.

"We should start some new year traditions," Rachel suggested at dinner. "Like, Miriam and I can always wear the same shirt on the new year and we can make tuna fish sandwiches for dinner and then maybe we can carve pumpkins. Do people always have pumpkins for the new year?"

I explained the difference between a new month and a new year but it didn't deaden her excitement about the day at all. Mostly she was simply excited about the things she was already doing (like wearing the same shirt as her sister and eating tuna fish sandwiches) but threw in a couple of hopeful ideas (like getting pumpkins) in case I got caught up in her excitement. I didn't.

Instead of carving the pumpkins that we didn't have we went for a walk. It wasn't a big excursion—just up and down our street—but the girls were jumping with joy the whole way. It's a new year month after all. What could be more exciting than that?

I'll tell you—pumpkins have started slowly springing up in our neighbours' yards.

It began a few days ago (Thursday, I think it was). We were loading the kids up in the van when Miriam bailed out of her car seat, jumped out of the van, and began bouncing up and down while screaming for joy: "Yay! Yay! Yay! It's my birthday! I can't believe it—I'm three now!"

Benjamin is not excited about this as his sisters are
She was confused and disappointed when we informed her that it was not, in fact, her birthday.

She pointed to a pile of pumpkins in the yard next door as if they explained everything and said, "But Mom...pumpkins!"

She knows her birthdate; she'll tell people, "My birthday's name is October 25th" (she says the same thing about our house, "My address's name is 36 Buzzing Bee Drive" (disclaimer: not our actual address)) but she doesn't have any concept of time or dates, aside from that her birthday happens when there are pumpkins and on Sundays she gets to wear a pretty dress and go to church.

Story time for Benjamin

Benjamin is easily overstimulated. He loves books, for example, but if he sits on my lap while I read picture books he gets hyper (jerky movements/fast breathing) and spitty. He's fine for longer books when he can look at the same page for a minute but if we're reading a little board book and I'm flipping the page every few seconds he wigs out and starts throwing up everywhere.

We read The Bear Went Over the Mountain today, for example, and that was far too much for him since I was singing the words and had to turn the pages to keep in time with the music. He was fussing and puking by the time we finished.

So usually he gets to lie in my lap and look up at the cover of the book while we read and he seems to enjoy that quite a bit.

We read a book called Colors (by Charles Harper) next. I'm a little torn over his illustrations. Some of them I like a lot. Others I don't. Others I like but wonder why he included them in a board book for babies (the tan page, for instance). Benjamin was completely transfixed by the cover so when Miriam and I had finished reading it and looking at the pictures we decided to let Benjamin have a turn.

We put him on the floor for tummy time and propped the book up in front of him (something both my girls enjoyed as babies as well).


We let him soak up each picture...spending as much time on each page as he needed. This part was difficult for Miriam because she felt he should "read" faster. He's just a slow reader, what can I say?


He was really quite enamoured with this book, though.

House Tour, Part II

Today I'll show off our bedroom/office/nursery, where we keep our bed, our books, and our baby. I went to an interior design class last weekend and picked up a few tips (it was only an hour long) and have been trying to apply them around the house. I'm still not very good at it but I think I like this wall a whole lot:

Don't worry; the baby's fine—Miriam's just playing doctor