Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Found at last

We are the proud new owners of a lousy (beat up, well-read, terribly worn) copy of George Washington's Cows.

Rachel checked it out from her school library at the beginning of the school year—in August, I believe—and then suddenly it was gone. We searched the house over and over again. We checked to see if we'd turned it in at the public library. We rifled through books in her classroom. We emailed the school librarian about it. She was very lenient and didn't charge us for the book until November (I suppose that's lenient though it would have been nice if they had waited a while longer).

When I got the invoice in Rachel's take-home folder I admitted defeat and wrote out a check for $15 to replace the book. That was a hard check for me to write. I don't like losing library books.

Today I scheduled the church for the next Trading Tables and have been organizing a few things around the house that have been driving me crazy (like, for example, the piles of pictures half a foot high). I was reorganizing the puzzle drawer when—at the very bottom—I found the book.

At least it's a cute story, but I don't make a habit of spending $15 for books in poor condition (or even books in good condition). We get most of our books at Trading Tables, thank you very much.

Oh, and just now I thought Benjamin was in his room playing the piano and Miriam was in her room playing with the puzzles but, as it turns out, I had things backwards. So now I probably have to reorganize the puzzles...again.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reasons I love hanging my laundry out to dry

After living without a dryer for so long (2–3 years between three different countries) I never could have imagined choosing not to use one. I think it was one of the things I desired most of all when we lived in Egypt and I was stuck with a bed-wetter and a spitter-upper with no bedding to spare and only a couple of drying racks on a hopelessly dusty balcony. Not to mention the cloth diapers.

Side note: I saw a post today on the "effects of war" and while I think war is a horrible, traumatizing thing, I also thought to myself, "I could do a similar post on mothering a toddler." The "during" pictures would be shocking.

Anyway, now that I have a high-capacity washing machine (or at least higher than my little Egyptian machine (which I was grateful to have, mind you (because scrubbing clothes by hand in the bathtub...))), reliable power to run the washing machine (usually, the exception being the two times the transformer blew in the past week or so), extra sets of sheets floating around, and two generous clotheslines running through my backyard, well...my opinion of hang-drying clothes has changed dramatically.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A day in the life of...

This is motherhood according to Rachel (written on Wednesday when she was home from school, recovering from the stomach flu and playing dolls with Miriam (remember how I made the kids go outside on the deck to enjoy the sunshine even though they were barfing their guts out?)):



Feel free to read between the lines. 

Somehow or another I have the feeling she's left a few things off the list.

Sure it will

"Add crossbeams," they said.



Home Improvements

Last night Andrew and I talked and laughed before going to bed for the first time since Monday night last week, I think. So that was nice.

And I think everybody had breakfast this morning, even. We're making huge strides over here.

Benjamin's face is healing up nicely. He now looks like he has an awkward little mustache rather than some sort of sickening, bulbous beak in place of his lips.



His teeth survived the weekend without any hint of discolouration, so I think the roots are healthy still, though it's probably about time we got into the dentist for a professional cleaning (if he'll let them at it on Thursday). I've never had a child dislike brushing their teeth quite as much as this boy does. He likes the idea of owning a toothbrush just fine. He's simply not a fan of using his toothbrush for its intended purpose.


This shot shows his frenectomy wound healing quite well, in my (very unprofessional) opinion. I hope that little blip of skin on his lip doesn't reattach to his gums.

You can certainly tell he's kid #3 though.

Kid #1 gives herself a labial frenectomy at age four and I flip out, wonder if I should take her to ER, send pictures of her mouth to a dentist friend for reassurance, and cry about as much as she does.

Kid #3 gives himself a labial frenectomy at age one and I wince, wipe up some blood, pray his teeth will remain rooted, give him some ibuprofen, and move on.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Medal Count

I slept right through the Canadians winning their second gold in Olympic hockey this year. I also slept right through church.

Andrew got up with the kids this morning, got them all ready for church, made it through sacrament meeting (though he spent much of it in the hallway because Benjamin pooped his pants and stripped during sacrament meeting and later bashed his lip against the pew which caused an unusual amount of blood spillage, due to his preexisting lip condition), delivered the children to nursery/primary, taught his primary class, taught Elder's Quorum, picked up all the kids, and came home.

I had just gotten out of the shower.

His day was much rougher than mine was. Three hours at church is exhausting when you're tending children and teaching lessons the whole time.

As Karen said when we skyped this afternoon, Andrew deserves a gold medal.

The Olympics are over now. Hopefully the stomach flu is as well!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Labial Frenectomy II

Two years ago (almost to the day) Rachel managed to give herself a labial frenectomy.

This afternoon Benjamin fell down the deck stairs and gave himself a fat lip. Blood was dribbling out of his mouth, splattering on his shirt, pooling on the ground (or so I'm told—I was in a gastroenteritis-induced stupor). Andrew cleaned him off and then brought him to me. We cuddled on the couch to watch some Daniel Tiger while I attempted to hold ice on his lip.

Benjamin wasn't very interested in having that happen.

"Col'! Col'!" he ket telling me and shoving my hand away.

"How does your lip feel?" we'd ask and he'd put his hand up to feel it before whimpering, "Goo[d]."

"Can I look at it?"

"Nooooo!"

It didn't look too terrible this afternoon.

Benjamin's lip this afternoon

Sick days continue

So much for my stomach of steel.

I really thought I'd avoided contracting this illness but when Benjamin climbed into bed with me just prior to 5:00 AM I knew I'd been wrong. I was so queasy and he kept tossing and turning and making it worse. I was eventually able to coax him back to sleep in his own bed before losing my dinner in the toilet.

Andrew was amazing and watched the kids all day. He fed them breakfast and lunch, took them grocery shopping, and sent them all outside to play. I didn't even see a child until I texted Andrew to bring Benjamin to me so I could feed him. I believe this was after Benjamin's afternoon nap.

Today was one long nap for me, punctuated by sprints to the bathroom.

In the late afternoon things got a little difficult. Benjamin fell down the deck stairs and gave himself a fat, bloody lip. It was one of the few times he even asked for me (the other being when he first got up in the morning).

Miriam fell off some part of the deck (she was sobbing and it was really hard to understand what she was saying—I'm still not clear what happened) and landed on the boat and then fell "with [her] head on the rocks." She needed a few cuddles for that, too.

Rachel came inside for dinner and found me on the couch (I'd been hiding in the bedroom all day), asked me if I was alright, and then broke down in tears. "I hate it when you're sick!" she wailed, curling up beside me.

Me, too, Rachel. Me, too.

I am starting to feel better, though I did set up a substitute for church tomorrow (something tells me I shouldn't be in charge of passing out snacks).

Hopefully we'll all have a clean bill of health soon. My mom's coming for a visit and I need to get our house in order!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Outside work

It's possible that February—at least in North Carolina—is my favourite month. It's when the sun starts to be bright again. It's when the birds start chirping again. It's when the grass starts growing again.

Okay—you got me. The sun always shines, the birds always chirp, and the grass always grows here. But February is different from January. It's just less gloomy somehow.

But February happens before the bugs make their spring foray so we can garden without fear and eat on the deck without being attacked and leave the windows wide open without having anything sneak inside. It's beautiful.

We spent much of today outside. But first we had to clean up the living room so we could relax on the couch and read books:


Bit by bit we're getting better

Welcome to the land of the living! We seem to have kicked this bug and are on the mend (and I didn't even ever throw up (famous last words, right?))! I'm no longer surrounded by zombies—I can tell because of the messes made today (toys and food were being pulled out left and right), the noise level (which increased by several decibels), and the overall lack of vomit I had to deal with.

Rachel stayed home from school just to make sure she was 100% well. I think she'll be going to school tomorrow. She read Harry Potters 1 & 2 today and started the third.

Miriam played with lego and coloured pictures for the majority of the day.

Benjamin got into everything and did some pretend play. He's watched Cars once (technically it was Cars 2) and he's already identified Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from our collection of matchbox cars (which are technically all Rachel's). For some reason he also singled out Chick Hicks—perhaps because that's the only other car we have with eyes. They're all sitting on my desk right now.

He and Miriam played puppies today (a lovely game where they crawl around the house and pant at things (because our puppies don't bark (I didn't even come up with that but I can't tell you how much I love it))). He also put every baby doll in the house to bed in his bed and then went around the house shushing everyone. It was hilarious. He was running from room to room, putting his little finger to his pink lips, and hissing, "Shhhhhhh!" He repeated his shushing rounds several times.

We hung another load of laundry out to dry and swung on the swing set for a while. I took Miriam and Benjamin to the store where we bought gatorade and bananas and applesauce and oyster crackers and ginger ale. Oh, and several boxes of valentine cards 50% off. I always wonder what the cashier thinks when people come through the line with gatorade, bananas, apple sauce, and saltines. Probably something along the lines of "Don't breathe on me."

Benjamin and I took a 2.5 hour nap together (it was a rough night—he wanted to nurse all night and technically I'm trying to convince him that it's time to wean but he wouldn't drink anything yesterday except when he nursed and at the moment it seemed that becoming dehydrated was a bigger problem than worrying about whether he's going to nurse until he's seventeen). Miriam assembled and disassembled lego creation after lego creation (she loves following directions as well as creating her own) and Rachel read on the back deck. No one asked for a show to be put on once today (they must've gotten enough screen time in yesterday to last them for a year).

I was absolutely shocked to find that it was 5:00 when I woke up.

Andrew worked from home today (he sent emails out to his teachers and one of the teachers he TAs for wrote back and said, "Yes, please don't come to campus today!") so he clocked out and made dinner (chicken broth and noodle soup) while I tidied up and convinced Benjamin that waking up from his nap wasn't the worst thing that could possibly happen to him.

After dinner Andrew and I had temple recommend interviews at the church, which meant we had to bring our newly-recovered family out in public. Rachel wore her pyjamas, with her hair in a wild rat's nest, Harry Potter 3 stuck under her arm. Miriam wore the same outfit she wore yesterday, including the braids, which were by this time quite frizzy. Benjamin put on pants for possibly the first time for the day. He wore a pair of Miriam's pink socks (I don't know what it is with that boy and coveting Miriam's socks).

Andrew, who seemed to have the worst time recovering from this bug, showered (thank goodness!) and put on his Sunday clothes. I slipped out of my jeans and into a plain black skirt. I even brushed my hair.

We were a good looking crew!

Wednesdays is our ward's night with the building—there are four units in our building and we take turns using it for weekday activities (such as youth activities, cub scouts, basketball practice, and so forth)—so we got stopped a few times by friends checking in on us (at a safe distance), wanting to know if the Heiss family had recovered. I'm sure we probably looked a little worse for wear but we're certainly on the mend.

We're starting to play a little harder, to eat a little heartier and in time I trust we'll be in full heath again.

...Just in time for the next illness to roll around, I'm sure!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carry on! Carry on! Carry on!

Given the past couple of days I spent with Benjamin, I was easy on myself when I wrote up my to-do list last night. I had to get the garbage and recycling to the curb. I had to do some laundry. Those were the only two things I was going to make myself do . I added "keep calm, carry on" just to remind myself to not freak out when things got frustrating. Go big or go home, right?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Everyday life

Where do I even begin? I feel like I haven't written for days but it hasn't been that long at all, really. That just goes to show how frustrating things have been lately.

Nothing out of the ordinary has happened, really, unless you count Benjamin's unusual level of grumpiness. He's been yelling about stuff all day long. For a quick example, we were reading a bedtime story this evening (just one because my patience was running thin) and he noticed some cars in the very first picture that he really liked.

He was perfectly happy while I was reading that page but when it came time to turn the page he quickly became very upset.

"Car! Car!" he shrieked in my ear, throwing his body against the back of the couch, slamming his body into my shoulder, jumping up and down—you get the picture.

"Do you want to look at the cars a little while longer?" I asked. "There are so many of them! Let's count them: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven! Seven cars! What colours are they? There's a red one, and a blue one, and a green one, and a black one..." and you get the picture.

When we were finished discussing every detail about the cars, when we'd finished admiring their wheels and talking about which house each car belonged to, when we'd stroked them all and made vrooming noises, then I said, "Alright, let's see what's on the next page!" The girls were getting antsy to hear what happened next (it was a ghost story!).

So I turned the page and, "Car! Car! Car!" Benjamin fussed about those cars for several pages until I finally let him turn back to look at the cars again while I went to his room to dig up a board book we have featuring all sorts of trucks: bulldozers, forklifts, dump trucks, etc.

He flipped through that for a few minutes and sometimes paid attention to the story I was reading and sometimes still fussed about turning back to the first page to admire those cars parked up and down the street.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Barbies and Bonkers

Two and a half snow days preceding a weekend has been a little tough on my sanity. We've done a lot of playing outside and a lot of playing inside and every now and then I've rallied the troops and we've done some chores together. But honestly, we were starting to go a little crazy by today. Or at least I was.

Snow days are different from ordinary days off of school because there's nothing to do. The city literally shuts down so the only thing to do is play in the snow and that's all fine and dandy except that it's cold and it's wet and it generates a ton of laundry and muddy footprints. And then the snow melts and you're left with mud and, if it's today, a ridiculously cold wind. It was too windy to enjoy playing outside and Daddy took the car to school today (a make up day for one of Duke's snow days) so we were stuck inside with each other all day. Again. And things got intense.

So I pulled out a box of Barbies from my childhood that I've kept tucked away for however many years (but first I made the girls clean up their entire room, including their closet). They were so excited to explore the contents of that box. Inside are the Barbies I had as a child as well as the Barbies my mom played with as a child, a lovely collection spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s. The girls have a few Barbies of their own, of course, so today they were playing with 50+ years of Barbies.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Toothless

I sent the girls off to brush their teeth and Rachel returned much sooner than expected. She hadn't brushed her teeth yet but she'd wiggled her loose tooth a bit and had to come show me how loose it was now. It was incredibly loose, hanging-on-by-a-thread loose.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Thawmageddon!*

This afternoon Andrew posted a link to some geeky valentines so I followed the link and then sent him the "I love you more than free wifi" one with a special note telling him that I was happy to be "snowed in" with him again today and playfully joked that our relationship would probably survive even if we had to live without internet for the day.

A few short hours later we heard a tremendous BOOM. Our friendly neighbourhood transformer had blown. The power was out, essentially forcing us to live without internet for the afternoon.

We survived. But just barely.

It was actually a lovely day—high fifties; clear, blue skies; brilliant sunshine—we headed outside to splash in the puddles since that's basically all that's left of "the worst snowstorm to hit the area since 2002." Just to remind you, that storm was raging through Wednesday and Thursday. It is now Friday.

Behold the terrible aftermath:


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Igloo

After the freezing rain we got last night, the snow was perfect for building an igloo today! It had a lovely crunchy layer on top that we cut through with a butter knife to make bricks. The northerner in me would like to point out that I used to walk around on top of snow banks that had a crisp enough layer to keep me from falling through. The crispy layer we got down here only held Benjamin's weight—and only until it warmed up and things got a little slushier.

We had great success with our igloo walls though we couldn't ever get our ceiling to hold.


Not ranting about snow

The kids were all so excited for the snow. We had to pretend that it wasn't snowing and that we weren't going outside to play in order to get Benjamin to go down for his nap. He's gone from being terrified of the snow to being quite in love with the stuff. He's invented a sign for it and everything.

After he was asleep the girls hurried into their snow gear and trotted off to the backyard where they happily played Olympics for the duration of Benjamin's nap.

The most popular event was the luge/skeleton down the slide:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow ranting

School let out early today due to the impending snow storm. This time, however, their predictions were correct. Instead of waiting 6–8 hours for the first flake to drop after Rachel got off the bus the flurries began within a half hour. And they weren't lying about how quickly it would accumulate, either. We got about an inch an hour for five hours. It's been pelting us with ice pellets for the past couple of hours and we're supposed to have a "wintery mix" all night long and all day tomorrow.

Andrew left campus as soon as he heard his classes were cancelled—he didn't want to get stuck in the traffic! We had friends stuck for hours in their cars—some up to five, even seven hours. It's nuts!

Now, I'm not sure this is necessarily due to the weather. A lot of it has to do with the general panic that ensues whenever it storms here. Granted, this is a big storm for these parts. However, it was seriously not that bad when we were out walking. I know the north has snowplows and other goodies like that but honestly, it's not like it snows and then snow plows magically take it all away.

Orem, for example, has fifteen snow plows for 529 lane-miles of road to maintain. It takes constant vigilance for 15 snow plows to keep the roads clear—and even then driving on unplowed roads isn't exactly unheard of.

During the last snow storm I search high and low for any other such document for any southern city—just for comparison's sake—but I gave up after a few futile searches. Tonight, however, I honed my search terms and found the "Snow Removal and Ice Control Policy" booklet for Burlington, North Carolina.

Melt my heart

You should have seen Miriam's face light up when Rachel presented her with this valentine she made at school today:


It says:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
We are t[w]o sisters,
and I love you.

There's a picture of a rose and a violet, and of Miriam and Rachel holding hands. Miriam's reaction was beyond adorable. She gave Rachel the sweetest hug.

I live for moments like this.

Fast forward to a good hour after the kids had been put to bed and this is what you'd see:


Benjamin wandered out of his room—carrying his favourite dolly—to let me know that he was feeling lonesome in his bedroom.

That doll he's holding has gained VIP privileges in this house. We need to know where it is at all times.

I neglected to retrieve it from the doll stroller when I put Benjamin down for his nap this afternoon but I didn't think he'd mind. Little did I know how attached he'd become to this doll.

"Baby," he requested as I tucked him in.

"Here you go," I said, grabbing the Cinderella baby doll from the floor and handing it to him.

"No baby," he said, pushing Cinderella away. "Baby! Pease? Baby? Pease?" he begged.

"This is a baby," I insisted.

"No!" he cried. "Baby! Pease Baby! Pease! Pease!"

"Is this not the right baby?" I asked. "Is that the problem?"

It was the problem. The right baby is the one he's holding in the picture. We had to wander around the house to find it before he could go down for his nap. His little pleading "please, please!" was impossible to say no to.

He's just too cute for his own good.

Твоё достоянье на все времена!

The semester I spent in Russia wasn't an easy one for me—culture shock is never kind—but it was wonderful. I'll admit I felt a little out of place at first amongst the girls who ended up being my co-teachers. Michelle and Natalie had chosen to go to Russia together. They knew Staci and Emily, who'd chosen to go to Russia together. Esther and Stephanie also chose to go to Russia together. That left me and Tiffany, who was wonderful but was on a different teaching schedule, so it took a little while to get to know her.

Me and Tiffany on one of our first days at the school

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Monday, Monday

So, it's ten to ten and I just remembered that I forgot to tell Rachel to go to bed. It's not like she's six years old and has to catch the bus at eight o'clock in the morning or anything like that. Oops.

She's just so quiet now. It used to be that we'd put her to bed and she'd be obnoxious until she'd finally fall asleep. Now she does what we'd call USSR in my grade three classroom (that stands for Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading—and it's funny because USSR (even though I started grade 3 in 1993 so the USSR was no longer the USSR but the Russian Federation)). Rachel, if left uninterrupted, could probably sustain reading silently all night long (and that's no exaggeration).

Miriam likes to read in bed as well—she even set up a "reading center" at the foot of her bed with a special pillow, some reading buddies, and a "library" of books to choose from—but she has self control (and a killer need for sleep) and will turn off her lamp and be fast asleep long before her sister.

Benjamin, I'm proud to say, has taken to sleeping quite well as of late (I hope I didn't just jinx myself). Last night I was having a hard time getting him to believe it was bedtime. I must have tucked him five or six times before Andrew took over. He helped Benjamin lie down, tucked him in, kissed him on the forehead, said, "Good night, Little Monkey!" and walked out of the room.

Within a minute Benjamin was sound asleep.

Tonight bedtime went a little better for me. I tucked Benjamin in and told him I was "going to go get my book" but really I was going to see how long he'd stay in bed by himself. He lasted for quite some time but eventually I heard him get out of bed, muck around in his room, and make his way to the door.

I met him at the doorway with my book in hand.

"Back to bed," I said, ushering him along.

I smiled when I saw he'd stopped to tuck in three baby dolls before coming out to see what was taking me so long. I moved the dolls out of the way, tucked him back in and settled down on the floor next to his bed with my book. I don't think I'd even turned the page before he was softly snoring (I finished the chapter anyway).

I could get used to having everyone in the house go to bed (more or less) when they're told and even when they're all crazy on sugar and/or Olympics.

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Pew

Things were shaken up at church yesterday when both the Relief Society presidency and the Young Women presidency were reorganized. Our church organizations are run with volunteer steam—from the bishop (the leader of our congregation) to the Primary presidency (that's me—the secretare-extraordinare) to the Valiant 9 teacher (that's Andrew) to the higher up officials (like the apostles) to the 80,000 missionaries worldwide—everyone donates their time.

Sometimes the callings are rather taxing—like that of the Relief Society Presidency—and other times they're pretty low-key—like that of the Sunday School Presidency (what do they even do?). It was quite obvious the Relief Society President was relieved to be excused from her position (while our newly called president looked a little nervous).

On a side note, one of the tasks the Relief Society is charged with is assisting new mothers. It seems like half the women in our ward are pregnant right now. Three women have had babies in the past month and we still have about a dozen to go before summer hits. This means that those of us in child-bearing years who are not pregnant are having to walk around being as blatantly asymptomatic as possible so as not to arouse suspicion of any underlying condition.

Seriously—on Tuesday night I got an innocent drink of water and was asked (and I quote), "Are you just thirsty or do you have an announcement to make?"

Just thirsty. Honest!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Oh, what do you do in the wintertime when it's rainy, wet, and cold?

This week, as I mentioned, has been mostly cold and rainy, which means Andrew's been taking the van to school, which means that we've been trapped at home. For the most part this has been okay because Benjamin has a nasty cold—his nose has been replaced by a mucus faucet—so we probably would have skipped playgroup anyway.

Just because we would have been staying home anyway, had we had the van, it doesn't mean that we didn't have any stir-crazy moments. Fortunately Benjamin and Miriam are both pretty good at creating long-lasting games and we can usually entertain each other until Rachel's bus finally pulls up.

Today Benjamin spent some time pushing babies around (and around and around) in strollers:


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Oh, Russia

The 2014 Olympics began in Sochi, Russia, today and it's also my ten-year anniversary of teaching English in Voronezh, so I'm in the mood to celebrate.

On Tuesday I dug out the "shawl" I made in Russia when I was learning to crochet. It's a beautiful bubble-gum pink and the yarn is so incredibly soft. I wanted to make a blanket but after I eventually bought all the pink yarn at the market (a chaotic square filled with stalls and tents, merchants hawking their wares over shoddy wooden counters, children running around with cabbage leaves on their heads) they never restocked, so this is as far as I got:


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rainy Monday

We're in for a rainy week. Today rain started early this morning and didn't let up until late in the afternoon. Miriam insisted she wanted to go for a walk.

"A walk?" I asked. "But it's pouring!"

"Oh, well!" she chirped. "I'll wear boots!"

She grew too small for her sassy pink rain boots, however, so all she's left with are her winter boots. They're waterproof, though, so I thought they'd do.

Benjamin recently inherited a pair of rubber boots but they are far too big (they're barely too small for Miriam) so he also wore his winter boots (because they're only moderately too big for him). They're waterproof, so I thought they'd do.

Little did I know how much splashing the children intended to do.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Stand up!

Benjamin's method of standing up has caused more face-planting than he'd care to admit.



Sometimes he'll pop into that semi-handstand position several times before deciding to finally stand up. I'll admit that it's fun, but when your head's the size his is things can get a little unsteady.

He also has no idea how to lie down on his back and it's hilarious to watch him try. It's also something that I thought he'd have figured out by now, but I guess not. I mean, he usually sleeps on his back and he's been able to roll over in either direction basically since coming home from the hospital (so still two weeks before his due date). It's not like being on his back is foreign. It's not like he's never gotten onto his back on his own. But ask him to lie down on his back and he just can't figure it out.

Buses

I'm a huge fan of public transportation. This probably doesn't come as a surprise considering I only got my license a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, due to the makeup of our communities in North America many—if not most—have inadequate public transportation systems. I've griped about this before.

Basically, I think buses should be more plentiful and cars should be...less plentiful.

To catch the bus here, I'd have to walk over a mile (along a busy road with no sidewalk). It is impossible to take public transportation to Rachel's school (at least via google maps—it says walking is the fastest option and gives no bus route options). Any bus that I can catch on the main road runs every hour. When the girls see a "city bus" they get excited...because it's unusual.

I'm grateful for our van and I'm also grateful that I can drive (even if I don't love it). I'm even more grateful for our scooter and for the weather we have here that allows Andrew to ride it so often (because gassing up the scooter is much cheaper than gassing up the van and if he rides the scooter often enough we can go three week to a month before we have to fill up the van). I just wish that public transportation is more of a priority to our society. But it's not.

I think this author hit the nail right on the head. He's discussing the need for better public transportation in Salt Lake City. A bus route through his neighbourhood was proposed by the city but his neighbourhood has been fighting against it:
One neighbor stated at a recent city council meeting that he found the very idea of rapid transit distasteful, simply because “families and children don’t ride buses.” I know he doesn’t represent the majority of people in the neighborhood, but I would have hoped such a view would have been widely criticized and shamed as wrong for the 21st century. This attitude denigrates public transportation users as a ‘certain kind’ of undesirable for two reasons: one is clearly based in class prejudice and the other based in custom. If poor people are the only ones riding public transportation, we as a culture have completely misunderstood the importance and need for public transportation. Its greatest benefits accrue when we value public transportation for everyone—families and singles, elderly and young, rich and poor. This requires a cultural transformation, and the reality is, it also requires making public transportation more convenient and accessible.
Public transportation needs to be convenient and accessible (in respect to location, travel time, and cost per ride). I'm sure there's some sort of bussing initiative someone could think up to encourage people to ride the bus...if a city would make a leap to make buses more available.

With the recent snow storm (the forecast says we're due for several inches this coming weekend—I sure hope not) I heard several people talking about how unsafe buses are. I'm not going to say that buses are always safe (because they're not) or that they never slip on ice (because they do). However, I will say that buses are generally safer than cars. They're designed to be safer than most cars and eliminate a lot of traffic (which means fewer accidents).

Anyway, I don't know what the solution is, really. I just wish we had more walking/biking/busing/metro-ing than individual automobiles. Maybe if we all talk about it and wish for it long enough it will happen...

Football vs. Eight is Great

This evening we had a baptism preview (called "Eight is Great") for the seven-year-old class. Each of them will be turning eight this year, "the time when a person begins to become accountable" for their choices (they've been taught the difference between right and wrong and have learned to recognize the spirit, etc.) "and can be baptized."

We had several speakers. The primary president spoke about baptism and read an entry from her journal about her baptismal day. She admitted to feeling scared because she wasn't entirely sure what to expect but that it ended up being a wonderful experience and she never wanted to forget how clean and pure she felt.

The children came up to sing a song.

The cub scout master spoke to the boys about their imminent initiation into the cub scout program. He also gave a brief introduction to the Faith in God program.

The activity days leader spoke to the girls about their imminent initiation into the activity days program. She also mentioned the Faith in God program.

The bishop got down to the nitty-gritty details of organizing a baptism program, date, interview, and so forth. He took the kids on a tour of the font and gave them some words of advice, which will hopefully help them feel more comfortable on their own baptism day.

We sang a closing song, blessed the refreshments, and ate. We gave the kids a white towel with a poem and a picture in a frame.

It took about a half hour to get through the program (which was just about perfect for a seven-year-old attention span), we ate every last crumb of food, and the men broke down our set-up in record time.

Seriously. It took three women nearly an hour to get everything set up perfectly—tables, chairs, table clothes, podium, piano, food—and about ten minutes for the fathers of the children to put everything away (including wheeling the piano back down the hall). I was impressed.

And then I realized that it's Super Bowl Sunday! Obviously there are no men in the primary presidency. We planned a church event smack dab in the middle of Super Bowl Sunday!

Although our attendance rate was high (seven of eight children attended the program with one or two parents in tow, along with some grandparents and siblings) it was obvious some of the men were ready to bust out of there (especially when it came time to clean up—never have I ever seen a group of men volunteer so quickly to get things put away).

(Next year Rachel will be attending Eight is Great. That's just crazy.)