Monday, March 31, 2014

Not all bad

Today wasn't all bad. Sure, there was a lot of crying and screaming and carrying on. I think Benjamin is working on his two-year-old molars, which might explain the attitude he was packing but I'm not sure what bee was under Miriam's bonnet, nor can I fully explain Rachel's after-school bad-itude.

At one point the girls were fighting quite obnoxiously so I told them that playtime was over and it was now chore time. I sent one inside to clear the table for dinner and the other to make sure the living room was tidy. My mistake here was that I was still outside with Benjamin taking laundry off the line.

When I heard the girls screaming at each other again I went to investigate and found that they had locked me out of the house. I was...not impressed. The girls weren't impressed that I was not impressed.

Anyway, the whole entire day wasn't terrible. Miriam and Benjamin enjoyed picking wildflowers in the backyard.



Not in Toronto: Day Four

When we got home from Trading Tables on Saturday I taught Benjamin that game where you put your feet together and roll balls back and forth. I'm sure it's not the first time he's played it but it's the first time he's been very interested in continuing it.

He kept collecting balls, plopping himself on the floor, and saying, "Ball! Momma! Ball!"


Tadpoles: Day 16 (...I think)

The kids are outside playing in a fort they made on the deck. I am inside doing my best to pretend they don't exist for a minute. Let's just say that we've had a rough morning.

I don't know what I was expecting.

Andrew's home now so, that's nice. I didn't even get up with Rachel this morning. But the other two have just been at each other's throats all morning. There has been so much screaming that I can hardly stand it.

Andrew's home and while that's nice, sometimes his trips are timed rather poorly. He left Thursday morning last week, which is fine, except that Thursdays are basically my favourite day of the week because Thursday's docket is usually quite empty for Andrew. He has no where to be, which means that sometimes he'll actually be at home.

Wednesdays are a late night, Tuesdays are late every other week, Mondays are hectic with Andrew walking in the door ten minutes before Rachel has to leave for soccer practice. And so it's really Thursday that I look forward to. Weekends aren't half bad, either.

But this week Andrew was gone Thursday through the weekend. He got home just in time for his crazy school days which means that I won't see him until Wednesday when he comes home from picking up his mom from the airport (his evening class on Wednesday was cancelled this week).

Anyway, I'm just feeling worn down from running full-steam ahead for a week, I think.

All whining aside, I'm going to talk about frogs now instead of my children because right now these frogs are far less annoying. Far. Less. Annoying. Because in the time it took me to write that the kid have decided to come inside and are now drumming on the washer and dryer, which incidentally is far less annoying than all the screaming they were doing previously.

The tadpoles had begun hanging around the top of the water lately, which means that they're running out of usable oxygen and it's time for a water change so after hanging out a load of laundry to dry we took the frogs outside for some fresh water.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not in Toronto, Day 3

When I planned Trading Tables for the last Saturday in March it was because it was the only Saturday the church was available. I just assumed that Andrew would be around. I completely forgot about his conference!

I sent out an email to our Relief Society begging for assistance. People are usually pretty good at sticking around to help but I wanted to have specific people I could depend on on being there rather than having to recruit while I was there. My volunteers were wonderful!

We set up 10–12 round tables (I can't quite remember) and five rectangle ones, taped signs to the tables, denoting what went where, and were all ready when people started coming to sort out their unwanteds to the designated tables and sift through to find treasures to take home.


Not in Toronto, Day 2

I had to be the tooth fairy last night! Me!

Andrew's way more enthusiastic about this whole tooth business. I think he tried to yank out Rachel's tooth every single night last week. I'm more of an it'll-fall-out-when-it's-ready kind of person, myself. I think Rachel is, too.

We had a movie night last night; we watched Frozen and had leftover pizza from earlier in the week. Rachel took one bite of pizza and started screaming.

"Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!" she screamed.

"What?" I asked.

"My toof jus' feh outta my mouf!" she mumbled.

"Go take care of it," I instructed, noticing blood/saliva starting to dribble down her chin.

"Pause duh mofie," she said.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not in Toronto, day 1

From 7:00–8:00 AM I had three children.
From 8:00–11:00 AM I had two children.
From 11:00 AM–2:00 PM I had four children.
From 2:00–2:15 PM I had one child.
From 2:15–3:30 PM I had thirty children.
From 3:30–4:00 PM I had three children.
From 4:00–6:30 PM I had four children.
From 6:30–9:00 PM I had three children.

I'm completely worn out! Andrew left for the airport around 5:30 this morning. Benjamin got me up a little before 7:00 and then we got Rachel up. We got her off to the school bus and then it was just Benjamin, Miriam, and me for most of the morning.

Miriam's little friends Alden and Marcella came over to play while my friend Marian took Baby Jay to a doctor appointment. Those three play so nicely together, though they don't like Benjamin to butt in, which makes him a little sad. When Marian came to pick up the kids they were all so happy that we let them keep running around in the backyard while we chatted and Baby Jay napped.

Benjamin was so excited when Baby Jay woke up. He still doesn't say much but he can say, "BABY JAY!" as clear as a bell.

Unfortunately, with Baby Jay once again awake Marian wanted to take off to get things done at home. Marian's kids were terribly upset by this and came up with the plan that Miriam should come home with them, so that's what we did. Benjamin was completely convinced he was going to tag along as well so that he could continue admiring Baby Jay. He climbed into Marian's van and nestled in between Miriam's and Alden's carseats in the very back.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Random Tidbits

Benjamin has found a new favourite book series to read: The Magic School Bus.



"Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus!" is about all he has to say about it. Buses are just about his favourite thing in the entire world.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Soccer Girl

Soccer practice was cancelled last Monday due to the storm system we had. In fact, all practices were cancelled through Thursday—the field was "too muddy" to play on and they didn't want to risk ruining the grass. It's kind of hard for me to wrap my mind around it being "too muddy to play soccer" and also that playing soccer could ruin the grass. I mean, it's a soccer field, right? Plant some hardier grass or whatever.

They're rather protective of their field, really. It's in this secluded neighbourhood surrounded by a chain-link fence with barbed wire curling around the top. When we first saw it I turned to Andrew and said, "What is this—Egypt?"

It wasn't unusual to see playgrounds surrounded by a brick wall with shards of glass imbedded on the top to keep out unwanted patrons in Cairo. I understand that vandalism is a problem but I also think that barbed wire protecting a field of grass and glass shards protecting a swing set is a little over the top. But maybe that's just me.

Anyway, Rachel got to have a make-up practice on Friday, which was good because she had her first game on Saturday and her coach was hoping to at least tell the girls some of the rules of the game before pitting them against a rival team.

Here's Rachel before practice on Friday:


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tadpoles, day 7

On Saturday morning I looked in on our little frog spawn and saw that a couple of the tadpoles had hatched out of their eggs. The most robust-looking one was clinging to the side of the container. The others were pitifully lying on their sides on the bottom. I thought they were dead but apparently they were only resting.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reading comprehension

This afternoon as we were driving home from "The Great Day of Service" Rachel asked us what I consider to be a remarkable question about the Harry Potter series: "If Harry was a horcrux the whole time, why didn't the basalisk venom kill the horcrux inside hime when he got bitten in the second book?"

Neither Andrew or I had ever bothered to think about that but we talked about it for a while and decided that because Harry was saved from the precipice of death by Fawkes that the horcrux was never fully destroyed either.

This is just one example of the questions Rachel asks about books. She's a deep thinker.

I wasn't sure about letting her loose on the Harry Potter series—she is, after all, six years old and that's a tender age—but she was sure about wanting to read them. Some (a lot) of the subject matter gets a bit deep but so does a swimming pool so we decided we could let Rachel jump in.

One of the benefits of literature is that you only have to dive in as deep as you are ready to go. You can tread water near the surface or you can scuba dive. Now that I'm rereading my childhood favourites as an adult I've found that I was a water-treader when I was younger. Like Rachel and Miriam, I soaked up the storyline of The Little House on the Prairie series as a child and even learned a few life lessons (like that it's okay to have brown hair) but rereading it as an adult is when the story was impactful for me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Museum Day

We met up with Emily and her kids at the Museum of Life and Science today. Her son E. is an ambitious builder and wanted to make a truck with some of the blocks. I don't consider myself a great architect or engineer or anything like that but with all of us working together we managed to cobble together what turned out to be an ice cream truck.



Benjamin's quite funny about the camera and will hardly stand still long enough for me to take a picture because he always wants to see it, sometimes before it's even been taken. "I unna see!" he'll say as he runs to take a look.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Harry Potter Life

The morning after Rachel was born Andrew left us at the hospital so that he could take a shower and change his clothes and things like that. He returned to the hospital carrying a brand-spanking-new copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. He carefully lifted Rachel out of her little bassinet and settled on the couch (where he'd spent the night) with two of his newest loves announcing, "This is happiness." I took a nap.


Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

This afternoon Miriam found instructions to build a rainbow out of LEGO and followed them precisely.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tadpoles: Day 5

It's a relatively warmer though still rather drizzly day. We changed the water for our tadpoles. At first I wasn't sure where we were going to get non-tap water from but then I remembered that we have rain barrels so we have a decent supply of fresh rain water.

After changing the water we noticed little things swimming around inside—mosquito larvae! We spent a decent chunk of time fishing them all out.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2 days until spring!

Here's the accumulation of ice we had this morning:

They cancelled school for this

V-Day, Paddy's Day, Snow Day

Today is St. Patrick's Day so what better day to talk about Valentine's Day, right? I'm only a month (and three days) off. To be fair, Andrew was a little late delivering but that was only because it snowed on Valentine's Day and we were "snowed in." As luck has it we're "snowed in" again today (there's a three hour delay for school tomorrow) so it's even more appropriate to reminisce about Valentine's Day.

Here's all the snow we had this afternoon:

They cancelled soccer practice for this

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A beautiful Saturday

This morning we had the opportunity to attend the baptism of a little boy in our ward. Andrew played the piano. I brought cookies. It was lovely.

Did I say "this morning"? I meant this afternoon! Last night was awful on the Benjamin-front so we kind of wasted our morning away and didn't really get moving until mid-morning and then it was time for the baptism. A quick stop at the grocery store on the way home put us at mid-afternoon by the time we got home. Andrew had a bunch of projects to work on so I took the kids on a hike by myself in order to give him some peace and quiet.

It was a lovely adventure and I took a billion (or 140) pictures, so prepare yourself.

Here's Rachel crossing one of the bridges on the trail. She remarked several times how silly these bridges were because they "didn't even do anything!"


Play time

This morning the kids went visiting teaching with me. The woman I visit teach has a little boy Miriam's age and a baby girl (who Benjamin finds fascinating). Benjamin was in heaven in their toy room, which had more cars than dolls (something he found both unusual and awesome).

Don't get me wrong, Benjamin loves dolls. But he also loves cars. A lot. And they have a lot more cars than we do. Benjamin picked out an armful of cars when we were leaving and though it was quite unreasonable for me to tell him to put them back. He threw himself on the floor and sobbed. He kicked and screamed as I carried him out the door. And then he saw a squirrel and forgot all about wanting those cars.

He's got cars at home, anyway.

This afternoon he was wheeling around the house on his ride-on car ($5 on Craigslist (thank you, Craigslist)) while carrying a little car in his mouth. He needed both hands to steer, evidently.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

We've got sentences

Benjamin's become the king of two-word sentences. Granted, most of his sentences begin with the word "want," which he pronounces "uh!" But still. Two words in a row!

In the middle of the night he was up and fussing about wanting to nurse and I told him that was absolutely not a possibility and that he could have a drink of water. He (a) hit me and (b) said, "Want Dada!" before rolling over and clinging to Andrew. I don't know how long it took for Benjamin's spite-cuddle to help him fall asleep on the other side of the bed but his breathing did eventually slow down and even out (rather that the huffy-puffy angry breathing he was doing before) so I knew he'd travelled once again to the Land of Nod.

It was actually a rather rough night, punctuated by little screaming fits. I don't know what his problem was but he woke up happy enough.

When I pulled off his footy-jammies he stuck his little toes in my face and said, "Uh pi'!" Clearly this means, "Want pig!" So I played This Little Piggy on his toes and then announced it was time to go potty because there are certain times in the day when little ones just have to go potty (when they first wake up, before going to sleep, and before leaving the house, just to name a few). This caused a temper tantrum so severe that Andrew ran in to save me from him (Andrew's on spring break).

Andrew was able to calm him down and convince him to go potty. On the way he fulfilled many of Benjamin's morning wants.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Rightful Elephant

For those wondering, Rachel loves her elephant hat. She has reminded me at least a dozen times today that she needs her costume for dress rehearsal on Tuesday morning. I kept assuring her that her costume was finished. I didn't know what else there was left to do—I certainly wasn't going to make anything more elaborate.

"I need to pick out my grey clothes!" she insisted.

So before putting on her pyjamas this evening she picked out her grey clothes. She doesn't actually have a lot of grey but certainly had more than I thought she did. She had to choose between some grey spotted pants a pair of grey pants with an orange-pink stripe on the sides. For the top she had to choose between a ruffled tunic and a grey-on-grey polka dot tunic (both are too short to be dresses but too long to be shirts, in Rachel's opinion).

You can see what she settled on below:


When you assume...

I've been feeling sick of facebook lately, so today I'm going to share an article here (that admittedly I found on facebook (shared by two friends I knew in Cairo: Lindsey and Lydia)) about a "collapsable woven tent" designed by a Jordanian-Canadian (two places close to my heart).

The article my friends shared was written originally for The Green Prophet (a Middle Eastern sustainability news blog thing). Although the concept/design for the tents is certainly impressive, I wasn't entirely a fan of this article because of the following sentence: "Seikaly [the brains behind the operation], now living in Amman, Jordan is well poised to design a dwelling for refugees given that her ancestors in Jordan probably toggled between nomadic and sheltered life in the desert for centuries."

Excuse me?

Do you know what my ancestors did? They drove ox carts across the prairie. They spoke German. They grew sugar beets. A few were midwives.

Do you know what I can't do on account of having never done it? 

I can't drive an ox cart. I'm probably afraid of oxen. I don't know. I've never really been around them. 

I can't speak German. Bitte und danke.

I've never touched a sugar beet and on the whole my garden was a catastrophe last year. 

Although I've successfully delivered my own babies (with the help of various doctors and nurses) I don't feel qualified to deliver other women's babies. 

Obviously the occupation and lifestyle of my ancestors influences where I am today but not directly. Not really. I don't think today's sugar beet farmers would accept my advice on sugar beet farming simply because my grandpa was a sugar beet farmer (and his grandpa was a sugar beet farmer)—and they shouldn't because I would give them terrible advice!

That sentence just bothered me. It smacked of orientalism and I immediately assumed it was a Westerner who wrote it but it was actually written by an Iranian (though one admittedly raised outside of Iran (in South Africa and the US, to be specific)).

After a bit of poking around I found Seikaly's website, which explains the shelter in more detail. No where on her website does she mention whether or not she descends from the Bedouin (nomadic tribes in Jordan (and elsewhere in the Middle East—like, oh, Iran)) and to assume that she does is...completely irrelevant. Unless, of course, as Andrew pointed out it was because of the author's own nomadic heritage that she was able to recognize the nomadic heritage of Seikaly.

Her shelter, though, looks awesome and practical, which is probably why it won an award.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Soccer, Hiking, Bird Songs

Last night was Rachel's first soccer practice of the season—and her life. She was so nervous and excited for it.

Ballet always seemed to be a thing she did so that Miriam could do it and it was an expensive activity for her to not have her heart in it. Miriam loved it (and I kind of want to sign her up again except that it's so darn hard to swallow the cost) but Rachel simply never did.

Then she asked us if she could play soccer instead. I looked around and found a league that plays for three months (one practice a week plus sporadic games on Saturdays) and costs $75. They even supply a uniform (though we still have to find shin pads and perhaps some cleats (though I'm leaning toward just getting a nice new pair of runners because that's an option (a much more practical option))). Of course, the coaches are volunteer coaches, but I don't think that's a terrible thing.

Andrew and I were both shocked at how inexpensive it was—like manna from heaven after forking out wads of cash for a semester of ballet classes.

Rachel was so cute running around on the field. She kept stealing the ball from her own teammates and heading off into the middle of nowhere with the ball, but she'll get the hang of what she's supposed to do.

It was only her first time playing but she's already dreaming of making the olympic team one of these days. A small city league with a volunteer coach is a good place as any to embark on fulfilling that dream, I think. And if the dream changes along the way I won't be too heartbroken. I'm more in it for the fun (and the ensuing exhaustion running around for an hour causes my little non-sleeper).

While I sat on the bleachers and read A Short Stay in Hell Andrew took Miriam and Benjamin to the nearby playground where they had so much fun they can hardly wait for next Monday.

It made our FHE schedule a little harried but I think we'll manage for the next few months.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Elephant ears

Rachel's got a school performance coming up next week. She was a little bummed out that Naanii was here two weeks before the performance and that Grandma won't arrive until two weeks after it, but she'll get over it.

The entire grade one cohort has been working on the show—Welcome to the Junglesince the beginning of the school year. Each class was assigned an animal to be—monkey, giraffe, hippo, or elephant—and each student is responsible for coming up with their own costume. Rachel's class are all elephants and for months now Rachel's been bugging me about making an elephant hat for/with her. We finally started it on one of our snow days last month.

I thought about crocheting the actual hat part for her but then I realized that I would just have to do that part myself (since I haven't had the patience to teach her to crochet yet) so instead we made it on the knifty knitter. She ended up doing quite a bit of it herself.

A few days ago I finally sat down and made some ears for it and let it sit for a while before picking it up again last night when in a fit of passion (or something) I made a trunk and eyes for it and put the whole thing together.

Rachel was quite pleased with the finished product when she saw it this morning. All the kids were, actually. Here's a picture of Miriam modeling the hat this afternoon (and yes—she wore that outfit all day (and yes—we left the house on more than one occasion)):

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Spring Party

In stark contrast to yesterday's ugly ice storm, today was beautiful! Bright blue skies and balmy temperatures—it looks like the weather's back on track. Winter certainly was tedious this year. Although I'm quite certain I can count the measly number of times it snowed on one hand, each snowstorm shut things down so completely that it made winter seem...long. We're left with nothing to do but sit at home and stare out the windows at the angry grey skies. Or play in the snow. But even that gets old after a while.

When we woke up this morning with sunshine streaming through the windows we could tell spring was on its way. The girls asked if we could have a "Spring Party!" so we planned one.

First we played outside. The kids rode bikes while I hung up some laundry and Andrew surveyed the yard for potential projects. Then we loaded the kids into the van for a surprise outing to a new little museum nestled inside an old train/bus depot downtown. It's called the Durham History Museum Hub (or some combination of those terms).

We got sidetracked by the old railroad before hitting the museum (I'm on board with turning it into either a pedestrian path or for increased mass transit as this website suggests):


Literary reflections

When Benjamin was in the hospital he'd often be swaddled with his hands up by his face. Yesterday he fell asleep with his hands clasped together and I caught a little glimpse of the baby he used to be (and realized what a wonderful boy he's turned into).


Friday, March 07, 2014

Goodbye to Naanii

School was back on schedule on Wednesday morning. My mom, Benjamin, and I drove Rachel to school in the morning so that Naanii could get a VIP tour of Rachel's classroom. Her teacher had mentioned (when I checked her out early on Friday so that we could leave to get my mom in Georgia) that Rachel should bring her grandmother to spend the day in her class and Rachel thought that was a great idea.

But then she only had a half day of school on Monday and no school on Tuesday and my mom flew out Wednesday afternoon, so a quick romp around the room it was.



Thursday, March 06, 2014

A snow day with Naanii

There's a saying down here that when it thunders in winter it will snow ten days later (at least, I'm assuming it's a southern thing—I'd never heard it before moving here and to a certain extent it does seem to be true). I can't remember if we had a thunder storm ten days before Monday—but we did have a little thunderstorm on the morning of February 19th, twelve days before the snow.

With school being cancelled, Rachel was free to spend the day with us, which was a rather nice surprise—especially since the school district voted to waive the three snow days (including Tuesday) that we were supposed to make up. Apparently we're on track for educational hours per school year without those days, though we're in for another storm tonight/tomorrow and I imagine schools will be closed on Friday. At least we're due to receive more snow/ice than we got on Tuesday.

Our dusting of snow was pretty pathetic and hardly warranted a full day off school (though like I said, we were happy to have Rachel home to spend some time with my mom).

Here's Rachel and Naanii posing in the snow we got:


Monday: Duke and FHE

A couple of weeks before my mom came out I was complaining about snow days (brace yourself; more complaints are coming) and she commented the following on one of my pictures:

How jealous am I? 0%. Two weeks from now...none of the white stuff, okay?

And I told her not to worry. She'd coming out in March. It doesn't snow in March. Snow in March would be ridiculous.

Famous. Last. Words.

We had a grim forecast this week, starting with sleet, freezing rain, and snow—something dubbed a "wintery mix"—on Monday. We headed to Duke campus on Monday morning, anyway, determined to see the chapel, the library, the gardens, and so forth. Unfortunately, when the forecast said rain it meant rain and it poured on us.

We sought refuge in the chapel where we were lucky enough to meet up with a high school choir that was touring from Delaware. They'd made it to the chapel a little early so left to tour some other places before returning to the chapel to sing so we followed their lead and left to visit the library.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cumming, Georgia

We stayed overnight at the Bestor's house on Saturday. They're another family we met in Cairo (they're members of our church) and we haven't seen them for about four years so it was fun to visit with Sister Bestor and Megan, who is the only child still at home.

The past couple of years have been so fraught with tragedy for so many people close to us. Brother Bestor passed away last September (2012) and we were very tempted to go to the funeral (after all it's only a six hour drive) but weren't in a financial position to make a trip like that at the time (when I say we had no money when we first moved here that is not an over-exaggeration—we spent all our money moving out here and didn't see a penny of a paycheck until the last day of September). It was so good to see Sister Bestor, though my mom says she looks happy on top with a layer of sadness underneath (which is probably true).

About eighteen months ago, Brother Bestor persuaded Sister Bestor to get a dog "for Megan," who has been asking for a dog for years and years. I think, though, that he knew things were going to get rather lonely in the house for Sister Bestor, though, and that he knew the dog would serve as a loyal friend for her. The dog seems to love her to pieces, she sleeps in her bedroom, she gets so excited when she gets home.

Unfortunately for my girls, they don't like dogs. Fortunately for the dog, her name is Sadie and my girls have a soft spot in their hearts for Sadie-dogs (Auntie Emily and Uncle Morgan have a dog named Sadie). Unfortunately, Sadie is still very much a hyper little puppy and when she stands on her back legs she's as tall as Benjamin. Fortunately, Benjamin loved her the minute he saw her and he's much shorter than his sisters anyway so the dog didn't seem so tall.


Puppet Museum and Centennial Olympic Park

My mom was staying at the Embassy Suites, across the street from the Hyatt where her conference was held (the Music Library Association, in case you're wondering). We weren't sure where to park so we parked in the strip mall next door and called my mom. She walked out to meet us with a whole entourage of fans: Janet, Amanda, Doug, and Janice. It was fun to see everybody, even if it was only for a little while.

We loaded up my mom's things, as well as Amanda's, and headed off to see some sites before leaving Atlanta. Naanii managed to squeeze in the back seat between Rachel and Miriam's car seats. They were happy to both get to sit beside her.

Our first stop was the Center for Puppetry Arts museum. Andrew found it while looking for relatively inexpensive activities at relatively nearby locations. Atlanta boasts the largest indoor marine habitat in the world—the Atlanta Aquarium—but with a sticker price of over $100 for our family to visit it didn't feel worth it with our limited time. And...I also watched Blackfish recently and I'm not sure I could have stomached seeing all these marine animals so far from their natural environment so soon after watching that film. Anyway, the puppet museum only cost $30 for our family and the kids probably had as much fun (and experienced just as much fright) as they would have had at the aquarium.


The Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library

On Saturday morning the girls were very excited to find that Jennifer, our hostess, had supplied sugary cereal for breakfast. Her boys have been enjoying trying all sorts of American things since this is their first time living stateside and she knew that our girls only get sugary cereal on their birthdays so she though this would be a fun treat for everyone—that's what vacations are for!

After breakfast we headed out to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum where we learned all sorts of things about President Carter. He wasn't very popular during his presidency for whatever reason ("completely ineffectual," according to some) but he's certainly done some amazing things throughout his lifetime. Andrew and I are kind of fans of his. We read his books and things like that.

I don't remember if it was me or Jennifer who suggested going there (we'd chatted about several ideas) but when I asked Andrew what he thought about going to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library he got a gleamy look in his eye and I knew that's where we'd be going.

It was fun to learn more about President Carter because I actually didn't know much about him. And I've actually only read one of his books (but it was a good one). Andrew's read more of his writing and has studied some of the efforts of the Jimmy Carter Center so he was a bit more knowledgeable about things. Andrew has also had US History drummed into his head for his entire growing up years and I...missed out on that...so he usually knows a bit more about presidents than I do.

So apparently Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer. There is a lot of peanut paraphernalia in the museum. Like a lot a lot. I actually really like that he's not a professional politician—and perhaps that explains his "ineffectualness"—but honestly I think he was a problem solver and a kind and determined man. I could tell he felt badly about how his presidential years went (he called it his "forced retirement" in the little video they showed (which, incidentally, Martin Sheen narrated)) and I wish he could have had another shot at it because perhaps he could have done more. But I also admire what he's done with his post-presidential affluence and influence—far better than painting selfies in the shower (and I say that with a chuckle because Bush has done some good things and will do more good things with the power that comes with his title and experience, I'm sure (and because there's nothing wrong with painting)).

Anyway, I think the little kids—Miriam, Benjamin, and Abraham—enjoyed the little submarine model the best. The older kids enjoyed playing there as well but I think they liked the computer-based welfare "missions" at the end of the museum the best. Here they are playing in the submarine:


Monday, March 03, 2014

To Atlanta

We just arrived home from a whirlwind trip down to Georgia to pick up my mom from a conference she was attending there so we could bring her to our house for a few days. Although we had second thoughts about going (we found a plane ticket for less than $150 the night before and it was really tempting) it ended up being a good trip. The kids were so excited to go and were fantastic travelers.

I checked Rachel out from school early on Friday (something she's been dying to experience) so we could leave as soon as Andrew got out of class. We drove straight through the afternoon—stopping only to refill the gas tank and for many, many potty breaks. Benjamin conceded on Thursday that potty training was a good idea (something I've been trying to convince him for months now) and stayed dry the entire day. I was worried about potty training on a road trip but Benjamin really proved his bladder control and didn't have a single accident (though we did put him in diapers just in case).

Benjamin read book after book after book in the car (and by read I mean he flipped through the pages and looked at the pictures), we watched 1.5 movies, Rachel did a lot of reading, Miriam did a lot of drawing. We also packed some magnetic "paper" dolls, some favourite stuffed animals, and lots of snacks.

Oddly enough both Benjamin and Rachel took naps while Miriam did not. That was a little backward from an ordinary day.

Along the way we saw some interesting sites, namely a sign for a place called Grover (in North/South Carolina). There's a place called Grover in Utah that is very close to our heart, which is why we were so excited to see this sign on a road trip: