Saturday, August 31, 2013

Apfoowah

Benjamin is always so excited to go outside. He loves watching butterflies and walking on the lawn barefoot, letting the grass tickle his toes. Yesterday when we went out to meet Rachel's bus he started kicking his legs, pointing at something very important and yelling, "Apfoowah! Apfoowah! Apfoowah!"


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monkey Bars

This morning everybody slept in, except for Rachel who woke up with her alarm (or "timer" as she likes to call it (it's her preferential way to wake up)) but then instead of getting up and getting ready for school stayed in bed and read. By the time Andrew woke up Rachel had already missed the bus. He got her started on her morning routine before hopping into the shower. I woke up at 8:30 and kind of panicked but he assured me it was alright.

I did her hair and then crawled back into bed.

Miriam woke up at some point but instead of waking me she put away the clean dishes, coloured some pictures and taped them to the walls, and then built block towers on the kitchen table (so that Benjamin couldn't get them). Benjamin and I didn't wake up until around 10:30 (so imagine how the night went).

We did some yoga to get our morning going. I insisted on doing "grown up" yoga, rather than the kid yoga that we usually do, simply because I wanted a nice yoga routine that wasn't based on the alphabet. The children endured my yoga session and when it was done I popped on on of our kid yoga DVDs.

Benjamin claimed his spot on the mat and started dancing to the music (though you can't tell he's bouncing in the picture). A is for alligator, awesome and strong. B is for butterfly, fly all day long. C is for caterpillar, crawling a long. D is d-d-driving and singing this song. *musical interlude* R is for rocking horse. Rickety-rack. Forward and back. T is for Tarzan yell! Do the thymus tap. I can't tell you how long I've had that song memorized—just know that this DVD has been a huge hit at our house since Rachel was Benjamin's age. It was $10. I think we've gotten our money's worth.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stale Bread for Dessert

"Can we have dessert tonight?" Rachel asked hopefully during dinner.

I don't make desserts very frequently so she was quite surprised when I told her that I did have dessert planned for tonight.

"Really?" she asked.

"Really?" Andrew and Miriam echoed.

"Really," I assured them.

On Monday night in a fit of home-economical frenzy, I made cookies after I put the kids to bed, perhaps mostly because I wanted some cookie dough. It was so easy to make cookies without 2–3 little people underfoot wanting to "help" that I briefly considered doing all my cooking after bedtime.

Andrew and I enjoyed a few cookies while we watched an episode of Star Trek (I'm open to suggestions for other shows on Netflix—anyone?). Yesterday Miriam and I had a cookie after lunch. This morning Andrew grabbed some cookies for breakfast on his rush out the door. Somehow Rachel's missed out on all of this.

"Oh, I know what it is," Andrew said.

"Me, too! It's cookies!" Miriam chirped.

"Let it be a surprise!" Rachel pleaded. "Don't tell me what it is!"

"I already did! It's cookies!" Miriam repeated.

"Okay, but don't tell me what kind."

The girls finished their dinner, changed into their pyjamas, and sluggishly cleaned up the house before meeting back at the kitchen table for dessert.

Andrew got down the bowl of cookies. He made a big show of fishing around, letting the girls hear the baked goods knock into each other, before fishing out a piece of somewhat-stale bread.

"What?!" the girls said.

I'd thrown a piece of bread into the container yesterday when I noticed the cookies were getting a little hard. That happens to my cookies sometimes. Deal with it.

"Mom made hard bread for dessert! Yum, yum!" Andrew teased.

The girls started panicking.

"No, she didn't!" Rachel said. "She wouldn't!"

"There's cookies in there, Dad!" Miriam insisted. "I know it!"

Andrew dropped the bread back in the bowl and fumbled through the cookies again before pulling out the same piece of bread.

"It's just bread," he said sadly, handing the bread to Rachel.

She took the bread, pouted for a second, gave a heavy sigh, and bit off a corner. She swallowed hard, choking down disappointment, tears, and bread.

"Just kidding!" Andrew said. "Here's a cookie!"

Our family hasn't laughed so hard in a long time.

Splash Pad

Yesterday we were invited to a little friend's birthday party but unfortunately that little friend lives quite far out of my driving bubble and I just couldn't summon the courage to drive all the way out there, so instead we stayed home and played the day away.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Carvings

Due to our exciting—and apparently exhausting—afternoon, Miriam fell asleep before Rachel's school bus arrived (at 4:30) and I didn't wake her up until shortly after 5:00 (Rachel was snatched up by Diego, who had a round of chemo today and was looking for a buddy to sit on the couch and play Wii with him). That's terrible timing for a nap.

We let her decide what to make for dinner. She knew she wanted breakfast for dinner but had trouble deciding between pancakes and waffles. In the end we convinced her to do waffles by telling her she could turn the waffle iron. She made a beautiful batch of blueberry waffles (with a little help from Daddy). We were just cleaning up from dinner and getting on our pyjamas and so forth when my cell phone rang.

It was the primary president wondering if I wanted her to swing by and pick me up for our meeting tonight. I had completely forgotten about this meeting and scrambled to get both me and Benjamin ready to go. I would've loved to leave Benjamin behind but the semester has started, which means homework is here again, and Benjamin wasn't nearly ready to go to bed so he got to tag along. The girls were a little distraught about story time being cut short ("No Narnia?!" Rachel wailed) but I left them in the very capable hands of their father, halfway through The Very Clumsy Click Beetle.

Unfortunately/Humorously I neglected to warn him that book was equipped with an electronic "clicker" and when that clumsy click beetle learns to "click and flip" there are sound effects that go along with it.

He said he nearly dropped the book with fright and that both girls jumped. Miriam and I have read through that book a time or two before, so either she forgot that it makes a clicking sound or she was reacting to Andrew.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Park walks

I finally charged the battery to our camera so naturally I took a billion pictures today, which was a perfectly normal day with no new announcements about deaths or horrible accidents or anything.

Benjamin's new favourite activity is pushing around stools, chairs, and other such things, and then climbing on them to add some height to his small stature. He can even pull himself onto the couch.

Sweet and Sour

On Wednesday Rachel didn't have school. It was lovely to be able to spend the day with her (for the most part; she did through a couple of minor fits but overall it was a good day). In the afternoon we went to the pool for a swim—the forecast told us that it would be cloudy for the afternoon, despite rain in the morning. Andrew had left us the van for the day and had taken his scooter to school (during a break in the rain) so we drove to the pool.

Rachel's been begging to walk to the pool lately. I'm all about walking places but, honestly, with three kids, four towels, two floaties, and a swim/diaper bag in tow, not to mention the heat, humidity, and either an obnoxiously long walk on the road (no sidewalks here) or a short walk through long tick-and-maybe-snake-infested grass under overhanging trees dangling with spiders and things, not to mention that everyone will be wet/cold/hungry/tired/whiny on the way home...when I think about it, walking is suddenly not a high priority.

A girl on our street (around the corner), who we've discovered goes to Rachel's school and is in her grade, goes swimming with her dad and we've run into them on occasion when we're out for family walks (because I love going for walks). I think she's part of the reason Rachel wants to walk to the pool so badly. But as I pointed out to Rachel, it's just that girl, her dad, and two towels. That would be a completely different trip. But our family can't seem to leave the house without packing for a week.

Anyway, we got to the pool and had a nice swim but then these scary looking clouds rolled in, so even though I assured the girls they'd just roll right on past us (forecast said so) I changed my mind and ordered everyone out of the pool. No sooner had we gotten home than did the clouds unleash their fury.

It was raining cats and dogs, thundering so loudly that it shook the house, and go so dark that the girls asked if they should get into their pyjamas—and it was only three o'clock in the afternoon. Even though we were all dripping wet we ran from the van to the house covering our heads from the rain.

I texted Andrew to tell him about the storm but he saw no evidence of it from campus. It eventually hit him, though, so he was late coming home since he waited out the storm before attempting the drive.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Right now I am tired

We've been bingeing on our museum pass lately and on Monday arranged to visit there once again. This time it was somewhat of a business matter. I was asked to be the co-room mother for Rachel's class because someone else backed out and so the trained room mother wanted to give me some information and so forth. We had planned to meet at the park after school but it was a bit soggy so we changed the location to the museum, where the kids could play inside.

I sent a note with Rachel in the morning to tell her teacher that she'd be a car rider but after waiting in line to pick her up I learned that she'd mistakenly been put on the bus anyway.

It was a moment of slight panic for me. I already hate driving, as you know, and now my plans were changed which meant that my pre-mapped route would change and it was momentarily rather stressful. In the end I just called Andrew, who thankfully was at home, and told him to pick Rachel up at the bus stop—we'd be continuing on without her.

Both Rachel and her friend were a little sad that they didn't get their playdate after school but they both handled it maturely. Her friend is having a birthday party on Friday, anyway, and Rachel's going to that (and has been looking forward to it for weeks). Her friend has a little sister who is just Miriam's age so the three of them played nicely together at the museum while I talked with the mom and Rachel sat at home and read.

We had a quick dinner when Miriam, Benjamin, and I got home and talked about the Plan of Salvation
and what it means for us in times of sorrow before heading off to Pelican's for dessert. Even though it's been less-than-hot and more-than-rainy lately (and perhaps because of that) Pelican's was giving away free kiddie cones. They have a freebie every Monday throughout the summer, though some freebies are better than others. Sometimes they'll just have an extra flavour for free (so you can choose three flavours instead of two) or they'll give you an add-on (like gummy worms...or...I don't know what else they have) but it seems like on miserable, drizzly Mondays they just start handing out free cones.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Apple core

This evening I read the most difficult book to the children—Bubble Trouble. I was tripping over my tongue the whole time and that's not only because my mind is numb, or, as I told Andrew yesterday, "My numb is mind." This book would be difficult to read under any circumstances. Let me give you a snippet:

There was such a flum-a-diddle (Mabel huddled in the middle),
Cannon Dapple left the chapel, followed by the chapel choir.

And the treble singer Abel threw an apple core at Mabel,
as the baby in the bubble bobbled up a little higher.

I had to laugh at this verse because of the apple core game Reid and his siblings played as children.

"Apple core!" one would shout.

"All the more!" another would chime in.

"Who's your friend?" the first would shout. Then a different child would be named and *SMACK* they'd be hit with an apple core. This seems to be a game they stole from Donald Applecore (see 2:50), though it seems Donald actually says Baltimore.



I don't know where Disney got the idea from but apparently "Apple core! Baltimore!" is a classic children's game from the 1900s, perhaps in use as early as 1920, though the Wikipedia page about this game has since been deleted because it was an "unnecessary article which has become trivia." Hogwash. I'm pretty sure that if we can have an extensively researched article on Wikipedia about Pat-a-Cake or a collection of skipping rope rhymes we can have a page about Apple Core! Baltimore! especially because it's not exhaustively researched. I saw plenty of people wondering about its origins but the only mention of the game on Wikipedia is on a Chip'n'Dale page. There's a better explanation of the game Yahoo than there is on Wikipedia and that just seems wrong on so many levels (even if the answerer used the deleted page as a reference (I think the full text of the article is quoted here though)).

But who knew it was actually a thing? Not me.

Anyway, the story was rather cute, though quite a challenge to read aloud. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gift of God

We met up with some friends at the museum again this morning and enjoyed wandering through the indoor exhibits, playing on the spaceship, flying paper airplanes, shooting stop motion films, and so forth, until the children started clamoring about going outside. So outside we went, of course, because there is even more to do outside the museum than in.

The children shot off to the playground while I moseyed over to an unclaimed bench and got ready to nurse Benjamin. I pulled out my phone for some reason—I'm not sure why because anyone who knows me knows that my phone is more often than not left neglected in my purse and that's only if I remember to take it with me in the first place. Whatever the reason, I pulled my phone out and saw that I had a new text message from Andrew.

"WHOA!" he wrote. "Sister Gillespie died in Grover. No idea how yet."

Ten words brought my entire world to a screeching halt. Around me children were climbing, jumping, screaming, banging on drums, and ringing bells while parents were scrambling after toddlers and hollering at escaped preschoolers. The world seemed to be spinning a thousand miles an hour (disclaimer: I'm not actually aware of how fast the world spins) but I was frozen in time. All I could do was stare at my phone screen while my mind filled with questions and my eyes filled with tears.

Piece by piece—truncated text by truncated text—the story came to me, while I typed my responses back with shaky hands, begging for more information.

Everyone—Grover, you see, is an annual pilgrimage for the Heisses and Gillespies alike—had gone to Goblin Valley except for Brother and Sister Gillespie. They'd gone hiking somewhere else. Somewhere remote. Sister Gillespie began to exhibit symptoms of heat exhaustion. Brother Gillespie headed out as fast as he could but it was a three hour drive to the nearest town—Boulder, UT (population 180)—to get help. A search and rescue team was organized; they recovered her body around 2:30 this morning.

Frankly, I'm still not sure I've got the story right.

Responsibility—what's that?

Responsible: Taking your children on an outing to the museum.
Irresponsible: Telling your child, "Oh, you're fine!" without realizing they sliced their toe open with a shovel.

Seriously.

We were at the dinosaur dig yesterday and Miriam, ultra fashionably sporting red ladybug socks underneath her princess sandals, ran over to me complaining that her toe hurt "really, really bad."

"What happened?" I asked her.

"I dropped the shovel on it," she explained. "Like I was trying to dig but I missed the dirt and hurt my toe."

"Oh, you're fine!" I said. "Go play."

There were no tears and appeared to be no blood...but that's only because she was wearing red socks. But it's totally true: she's fine.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Museum day

This morning we got a text from my friend Emily (we taught English in Russia together) asking if we'd like to meet her at The Museum of Life and Science. At that moment, Benjamin was naked in his high chair and Miriam was still sporting her pyjamas so I asked her how long they'd be there. She said that she'd packed a lunch so would still be there for a few more hours. I hurried the kids along and got out the door in record time.

The museum was fairly busy but I managed to find a parking spot in the overflow parking lot and get this: I parked the car, by myself, beside another car. Miriam told me I did a good job.

We had a fun time playing with Emily's kids—at the butterfly house and the dinosaur dig—and stayed a little longer after they left (since we'd arrived quite a bit after they did). Emily and I counted up all the kids our "Russia girls" have brought into this world since we were there ten years ago: Staci (5), Me (3), Esther (2), Emily (2), Tiffany (2), Stephanie (2), Natalie (1), Michelle (0). Esther and Natalie are both expecting as well. That'll be nineteen kids in ten years between eight of us. Pretty crazy!

Miriam wanted to see the lemurs, which meant we had to walk through the entire "Into the Wild" exhibit. I love that walk though—with winding boardwalks over a somewhat natural wetland (it used to be a quarry but has since gone feral, which most things out here will do if you turn your back on them). It's beautiful!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Melancholy

So here I sit, just waiting for my husband to be finished working on his program. He was so stressed out about it yesterday. He'd gotten stuck and was brooding about it the entire day. I could feel the stress emanating from him. It was downright miserable.

I was exhausted and could tell he was, too, so suggested we turn in early. He agreed, brushed his teeth, and collapsed into bed. Melancholy. Morose. Distant. Depressed.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," he sighed. "I just can't get my stupid code to work. No matter what I do every article turns up neutral when I know that's not true, but I just can't figure out how to sort them other than by hand and there are thousands of articles and I just can't do it..."

That, of course, is just my interpretation of what he said. He actually included a lot of computer gibberish that went right over my head.

"I have no idea how to help you with that," I said. "But keep telling me about it and maybe it will help you feel better."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All about swimming

Miriam's been surprisingly timid about the water this summer but today we made a huge breakthrough and Miriam—outfitted with a floaty and goggles—can now paddle around the pool like a pro. It was rather a shock to everyone, including herself, when she finally pushed away from the ledge and went for an actual swim.



This and That

We had a lot of fun at the pool this evening but unfortunately it doesn't seem like a good time to upload the pictures I took. The internet is being ridiculously slow. So instead, I'll share some random pictures from the yesterday and today with a little bit of dribble about them, of course.

Here's Rachel all ready for school on trapezoid day—the last of the colour/shape days for this school year.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Good books

In the very last chapter of The Magician's Nephew, when all the loose ends of the story are resolved and good has triumphed over evil (for the time being), C.S. Lewis remarks, "When things go wrong, you'll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better." This resonated with my soul today and brought to mind a number of scriptures:

  • D&C 122: If thou art called to pass through tribulation...above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou...that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
  • 2 Nephi 2: ...thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow.... Nevertheless..., thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
  • Job 13: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.... He also shall be my salvation...
  • D&C 121: ...peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
There are others, I'm sure, but that list will do. The point is that mortality is full of trials and tribulation, but also bounteous blessings and joy. We need to experience the pain to appreciate being healed. Reading this today was a good reminder that sometimes the toiling may seem to last indefinitely, but that eventually it will be over and it will be worth it and it will all be okay.

This is my second time reading The Chronicles of Narnia. My cousin Craig introduced them to me on a drive down to Utah from his family's farm in Grassylake, Alberta. He had them as book-on-tape (which is an antiquated term since even "back then" they were technically book-on-CD and of course nowadays they'd just be on some sort of iDevice) and was somehow shocked that I was not familiar with the story. With my mother being who she is, I now find myself wondering how this series slipped under the radar. At any rate, he put on The Last Battle and tried to explain the backstory to me whenever I'd get confused. 

I didn't read through the series, though, until I married Andrew. We read them on our honeymoon while we trained and planed around Europe. I finished the series before we got back to the States. He must've been working on something else before starting because he didn't finish them until we were escaping the heat in our hotel room in Dubai eight months later (he had to take a break from C.S. Lewis in order to complete a semester of school and a study abroad in Jordan, which was a little time consuming).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The day we get ready for Sunday

We slept in a bit this morning but were still able to make it to the planetarium in time to see the Sesame Street show: One World, One Sky. Miriam was a little nervous about going back to the planetarium last night until Andrew assured her there would be no black holes.

"Thank you, Daddy!" she said, giving him a big hug. "Thank you for not taking me to a show with black holes in it!"

It was a pretty fun show. Benjamin and Miriam seemed to enjoy it a lot more than the Magic Treehouse show (which was a tad scary for them, I guess). Benjamin even followed a few cues—he would point at the "sky" when we were asked to point to any shapes we saw in the sky and so forth. We also learned the Chinese word for star: xīng (星).

The show was originally made for the Beijing Planetarium and so Elmo introduced us to a friend from China who showed us that the night sky is the same there as it is here. We also got to visit the moon.

We stopped by the library on our way home for the end-of-summer-reading party. Unfortunately, we arrived just in time to catch the tail end of the party. They were already busy throwing pie at the librarians, which did look like fun, but we spent our time making fairy wings at the ravaged craft table. We were fortunate to snag two of the last three wire frames (though there was still a box of hangers so I suppose we could've made our own) and the girls each chose a pair of nylons to stretch over the frames. Then we eked out enough glue to get the wings a little damp before I flipped them over and rubbed them on the table, which was covered in glitter though all the bottles were empty.

We found two bits of elastic, which we used on Rachel's wings. For Miriam's wings I used some discarded bits of nylons that I found in the garbage can (that was full of fairy-making refuse, not anything gross) to tie her wings on. Both girls were pleased with the result.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Just an ordinary day

I had a nice long list of things to do today but all my plans were thrown awry when Andrew put his puppy dog eyes on and begged me to cut his hair. Suddenly my kitchen was transformed into a cheap barbershop and both my boys ended up with second-rate haircuts (because even with seven years of haircutting experience I'm not too skilled with the clippers). After haircuts I had time to do some laundry and pack a lunch before Benjamin, Miriam, and I headed off to Rachel's school.

They eat lunch at 11:00 in the morning, which seems so early to me! Rachel eats breakfast by 7:30, has lunch by 11:00, and then has to wait for six (or, more conceivably seven) hours to get her dinner. I make up for it by packing a somewhat large snack. 

Rachel loves it when we visit her school and her classroom has an open door policy. Her teacher is so welcoming to parents and younger siblings alike. Not that we go all that often. She's been in school for four weeks now and we've visited twice. Today we only intended to stay for lunch, but her teacher was like, "Why don't you just come on down to the classroom for a while?" So we did. 

The kids get their lunch recess before lunch, which seems so backwards to me (but as long as they get it, I don't mind). After lunch they have some quiet time in the classroom—the lights are off and they're free to read, write, or rest. Some kids put their heads down on their desks (I assume they were resting), while other students quietly busied themselves with paper, pencils, crayons, and books. Miriam pulled a chair up to Rachel's desk and tucked into some earlier readers while Rachel buried her nose in Ninjas in the Night (a Magic Treehouse book, in case you couldn't tell). 

I wandered around with Benjamin helping kids sound out words and oohing and ahhing over various works of art. Everywhere we go, everyone seems smitten with Benjamin—he's quite the charmer.

When rest time was over, I rounded up the little ones and we said goodbye to Rachel and headed home for our own rest time.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Step in time!

Benjamin and Miriam were happily playing together in the living room. They were building towers and knocking them over. Benjamin can build a tower a whole two blocks high (not city blocks, mind you—that might actually be impressive—just two block-blocks). A two-block tower is far less exciting to knock over than an elaborately constructed castle so Benjamin was always drawn to her towers like a magnet. 

This made building frustrating for Miriam. She kept moving her building location—from the floor to the stool to the couch, and so forth. This made knocking the tower over frustrating for Benjamin because he kept having to get to wherever Miriam was building.

At one point she'd just been squawking about him knocking over her tower again and I explained that that was the danger of playing blocks in the living room with the baby on the loose (rather than in her bedroom with the door closed) and told her to move her tower-building to another location. She decided she'd move from the stool to the floor. This left Benjamin standing at the stool when where he really wanted to be was on the other side of the living room with Miriam.

He let go of the stool and, with his arms reaching in front of him, he lifted up his little foot and took his very first step. His face took on a panicked expression—walking is wholly unsafe!—and he quickly dropped onto all fours and made his way across the floor to knock over Miriam's tower again.

Eventually their fights about blocks were ended by the introduction of a new toy: the train Grandpa Frank made. Benjamin happily loaded it with blocks and pushed it around, which left Miriam free to build towers as tall as her heart desired.

My beautiful children

How peppy I feel in the morning is directly tied with how well I was able to sleep the night before. Last night left me feeling relatively unpeppy this morning so we had a bit of a quiet day, which was fine because Benjamin and Miriam weren't feeling too alert either. We're all trying to finish off this cold we have.

We did a lot of reading and a little bit of playing while we waited for Rachel to come home from school. We checked out several Eric Carle books from the library. Miriam requested that we read "The Hungry Little Patter-killer" because that one's her favourite, but we also read The Very Busy Spider, which involves several slovenly farm animals tempting a spider to abandon her work. Benjamin thinks animal noises are hilarious right now and loves when we read stories with a lot of animals for that very reason. He seemed to attempt to mimic a few of the animal sounds, specifically the dog and duck.

Later, when we were having lunch, Miriam tried to quiz him on his animal sounds.

"What does a dog say?" she asked him.

He stared at her without making a peep.

"No!" she said. "That's what a giraffe says, silly boy!"

She's a silly (though clever) girl, herself. She was nattering on and on all day today.

"Did you know that giants can eat people? Yeah, they can. Because you know that in Mickey and the Beanstalk there were giants in that world. But I think they're only in Mickey's World. They're not in this world, so we'll be okay. This world is...Heiss World. And there's lots of things in Heiss World. Like, Mary Pope Osborne is in Heiss World, I think. She lives in New York and that's close to Florida so, know what? I'm going to write her a letter. I'm going to write Mary Pope Osborne a letter right now!"

And she did. And she drew a beautiful picture of a tree with a treehouse and a cardinal.

"Does Mary Pope Osborne know what cardinals are? Does she know that they're red? Does she know what red is? What about blue? Does she know brown? Orange? Purple?"

I assured Miriam that Mary Pope Osborne was a very well-educated woman who knew much about many things, including all the colours of the rainbow.

Today was an early-out day which meant Rachel got home a couple hours earlier than she normally does. Benjamin went down for a nap right before we were due to meet her bus and she and Miriam disappeared into their bedroom moments after walking through the door. They had big plans to make the best bit of fan mail Mary Pope Osborne had ever received.

"Benjamin's sleeping and the girls are playing together so nicely. I think I'm going to take a nap. You can just keep working," I informed Andrew. I had a wicked headache and just wanted to sleep. Sometimes Andrew will clear out of the bedroom for me so that he doesn't disturb me but I was so tired that that wasn't really a risk today.

When I woke up my head felt better but the house was just as quiet as it had been when I had lain down an hour previously. I got up to check on my unusually silent house. Andrew was busily working away on his computer, which is where he usually is during the day since he's been working at home this summer. Rachel was reading on her bed. Miriam had been having all sorts of fun but had fallen asleep in a fort she'd built under the desk (her walls had fallen down by the time I found her), and Benjamin as still snoozing in his crib.



Monday, August 05, 2013

Tell me again how awesome I am

For family night we went to the PTA kickoff at Rachel's new school. We had a hot dog dinner, gave the girls each a quarter so they could buy ice cream for their dessert, and played so hard that our evening got cut short due to blood gushing out of Rachel's mouth. It was (basically) a good evening (even if we did put Rachel to bed with an icepack).

Here are a few quick pictures of Benjamin trying out the big-kid playground for those of you who visit the blog solely to look at pictures of my cute kids.

Benjamin was a huge hit at the playground. Random girls kept picking him up and taking him places while he was crawling around. I met a kid in grade five on the top of the play structure while I was following Benjamin up and he said, "Aw, he's so cute! I can't believe he's playing on this playground!. It's for the biggest kids in the school. He probably won't see it ever again until he's in grade five like me and then he won't even remember that he played here as a baby!"

Benjamin's got a death grip on those chains, don't worry. I had to pry his fingers open one by one to get him to let go:


My own personal mechanic

Yesterday we drove to church and everything was fine and dandy but when we got into our car to come home, things were a lot different...and hotter. In fact, our car was blazing hot, having just sat in the sun for three hours. Andrew turned on the A/C to help cool things down a bit but that only served to fan the flames, so to speak. Hot air was blasting in our faces because the air would only blow if it was on full force.

"Turn it off!" I pleaded with Andrew. "It's so hot!"

"No," he said. "Moving air feels better than stagnant air."

"But it's blowing hot air," I pointed out.

"It'll cool off," he insisted.

Five minutes later, when the air was still as hot as ever is when he finally turned off (and left off) the air and unrolled his window instead. And it was so much better. It was quite obvious our air conditioner had encountered a problem.

Within minutes of arriving home, Andrew had diagnosed the problem, figured out which part to buy, where to get it, and how to install it. He also figured out what's wrong with our clock—it's never had a backlight and we always found this to be irrationally irritating. "Who designed this dashboard?!" we wondered—everything else glowed at night, just not the clock. Sheesh.

And this has been a problem since we first got the van (when the engine of the black car exploded all over the highway). We've been feeling angry about that clock for two and a half years!

Turns out, there's simply a tiny little ($1) lightbulb back there that had burned out.

(Heartfelt apologies to the designer(s) of our dashboard who we may have cursed aloud during late night excursions (like this, "Curse you, dashboard designer!").

This morning Andrew loaded the girls into the van (leaving me and Benjamin sleeping because Benjamin screamed until 5 AM for no apparent reason and didn't sleep soundly after that), dropped Rachel off at school, and then took Miriam to RadioShack (for the lightbulbs) and to AutoZone for the A/C part.

Half an hour and $80 later and we had ourselves a working van!


Sunday, August 04, 2013

More of this week

Benjamin's been discovering more and more secrets about our house. All the cupboards are full of things?! We keep food in the fridge?! All these boxes are full of toys?! Why didn't anyone ever tell him this!?


Around our garden

I've been so slow to post things lately so these pictures span about a week.

On July 25, we were happy to find an intact Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Most of the others we've seen fluttering about our garden have been missing their tails.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Gratitude

You know you are a dancer in your heart when you hear there's going to be a "salsa demonstration" at the monthly Relief Society meeting and you're shocked when you walk into the cultural hall (late, of course) and find yourself in the middle of a cooking class.

Seriously. I had to do a double take before I sat down.

It was a good class though. The sister who taught it made guacamole, and four different kinds of salsa. And my visiting teaching companion also brought guacamole and some salsa that she'd made. Magie, my visiting teaching companion, is from Mexico and the other sister is also well qualified to comment on authentic Mexican cuisine (though I don't know her very well so I'm not sure entirely where exactly she's from—that's what you get when you're in primary).

The dancing came after we'd finished sampling the salsas. Magie and her husband did that salsa demonstration and then taught everyone the basic steps of salsa dancing. I've never actually gone salsa dancing, so it was fun to learn. I was glad there was dancing because I had been feeling a little silly while sitting through that cooking class.

And I'm glad I had Benjamin there with me to be my partner. He had fun, too.

It's always fun to get together with these women. We have such a great ward; I love all the women from the still-in-high-school girls to the young mothers in my stage of life who sit on the floor with me to eat chips and salsa because Benjamin couldn't handle life any other way to the grandmas who volunteer to babysit my children so that Andrew and I can go to the temple (a sweet sister came right up to me and told me that she makes an excellent babysitter because her grandchildren live too far away to spoil and that she gets off work at 5:00 so I'd better keep her busy because her husband works out of state and she gets lonely (and she doesn't know this but she was a real answer to prayer because babysitting is something Andrew and I still haven't got figured out yet).

Today (and every day) I'm grateful to be a part of The Relief Society. This month's visiting teaching message is about recognizing our blessings and giving thanks for them. "It is easy for us to become mechanical in our prayers of gratitude, often repeating the same words but without the intent to give our thanks as a gift of the heart to God. We are to 'give thanks...in the Spirit' (D&C 46:32) so we can fell real gratitude for what God has given us," counsels President Eyring.