Monday, June 30, 2014

More adventurous than she seems

Andrew recently picked up a tagline (Andrew Heiss: Missionary for the Adversary) so it was only a matter of time before I got one for myself. We're always trying to one-up each other. Because that's what healthy relationships are built on.

Before I get too far into my story I should perhaps explain that I have little to no patriotic feelings for the United States. I'm sure that sentence will get us into trouble when Andrew (Missionary for the Adversary) runs for president or tries for that job with the NSA but I can't help it because it's true. The Star-Spangled Banner has never made me emotional. Sorry—not sorry, because I have had a box of Maple Leaf Cream Cookies hiding in my cupboard since April and those are making me emotional.

Real. Maple. Syrup.

Did I mention they have been in my cupboard since April? Talk about self control.

Talk about how much I should stop talking about them because now I want one even worse than ever but I can't have one yet because I'm saving them for tomorrow. Spoiler Alert: It's Canada Day!

Now, back to our story...

My friend's father-in-law is in town. He's great. He came to the church with us this past week and played with (all six of) our children in the gym while she and I worked on cleaning out some closets and at the end of the day he said, "Your eldest daughter is a gem," and my heart melted into a puddle right on the spot because that's true—she is a gem. I'm sure my other children are great, too. They just happen to be four and two which are rather unsavoury ages.

When you are watching a five-, four-, three-, and two-year-old, as well as a baby, that almost-seven-year-old gives you hope that one day all those other children will also become rational individuals. And she can actually kick a soccer ball without falling over. So...

And it's like a fog has lifted

Last week when things were still pretty bad—like, when I couldn't open my eyes without feeling like I was going to fall over, and when I was wearing a sun hat indoors because LIGHT, and when everything was blurry, and when all I did was nap because I couldn't see to do anything anyway—I made a doctor's appointment.

Things have gotten better since then (thank goodness) and while things are still a little blurry I can at least open my eyes without pain and I can look at the computer screen for longer than five seconds at a time.

I still kept my appointment because it was also my "become an established patient" appointment (because it's possible that I haven't been to an actual doctor since my six-week appointment after Benjamin was born).

The diagnosis for my current ailment: drug reaction.

Apparently that antibiotic was not a good fit for me, though I have to admit that it got rid of The Pink Eye quite effectively.

After two full weeks of eye discomfort (and counting) I am really looking forward to getting back to normal. I'm also incredibly grateful for the gift of sight.

Seeing things makes me so happy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Trains, trains, trains!

When Rachel was a baby I picked up a discarded copy of I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges from our local public library for the low, low price of 50 cents. That book has been read and reread so many times it is not even funny. It was one of Rachel's favourites, one of Miriam's favourites, and is now one of Benjamin's favourites.

I've had it memorized for years. I think everyone else has it memorized, too.

Benjamin's recently begun to say it along with us, which is fun. Even when he wakes up at 11:30 PM demanding breakfast and playtime, begging to wake up his sisters so that everyone can go outside to play, and asking to go swimming. (And to think I was so happy that he was asleep by 8:30 last night.)

I just can't win.

But at least he's cute—and there's a video to prove it!

The best part is at the beginning when he says 'roar' and 'strong.' (Also the first line is 'Trains, trains, trains! I like trains," not "I love trains," but it was 12:30 AM (and Benjamin stayed crazy until he conked out at 2 AM) so I'll excuse myself).



Friday, June 27, 2014

Sleepiness

It's okay. We broke his cycle.

He got four shots at his well-baby visit today and was out like a light well before 8:30. He didn't even get out of bed once.

He's healthy. But small.

I have to try to fatten him up and then bring him in again in another 6 months to see if I'm succeeding. I'm nervous about this because it's not like we have ever attempted to control his caloric intake. The doctor was suggesting things like "loading on sour cream" and butter and other extras at mealtime.

Has she not met my children?

My children eat sour cream by the spoonful. They would eat butter if I let them (and have done it when I haven't).

But I guess I'll just keep trying to fatten him up (even though I'm 100% certain he's healthy). He goes from breakfast to snacking as soon as he gets down from the high chair. He is always eating.

The doctor is concerned because he's not "following his trend" on the growth chart. Because around 4 months he chunked up mightily and got into the 20th percentile for weight and has been dropping ever since.

Let's not even mention that Miriam was 15 lbs at 4 months and is barely 30 lbs now.

I'm fairly convinced that my milk just gets super creamy at about that point in my children's lives. I'm also fairly positive that Benjamin eats more than Miriam does now. So perhaps I should be nervous about her appointment come October. *sigh*

Anyway, Benjamin is small.

He's 31.77 inches tall and weighs 22 lbs. 11.3 oz.

When I look at the girls' numbers (Miriam was 33.5 inches and 23 lbs. at 2 years and Rachel, who's always been my most robust child, was 34 inches and 26 lbs.) he doesn't seem terribly tiny. But I guess I'll try to fatten him up anyway since I have to prove to the doctor that he can gain weight, which he might not be able to do very easily if he inherited my genes.

Eating is seriously such a burden when you have to do it ALL THE TIME.

But at least he's sleeping. So I can spend more time planning fattening meals.

Funeral potatoes, anyone?

Sleeplessness

There are a few rather strange places in our house. I'm not even sure what to call them really. Alcoves? Crevices? Nooks? Crannies? Design flaws? Whatever they are, we have them.

We also have a little boy who has been pressing bedtime back by about half an hour every night and waking up half an hour earlier every morning. This morning he was up by 6:30 and he didn't go to bed until after 10:00 tonight. I'm completely expecting him to dump cereal on my head at 6:00 tomorrow morning.

Anyway, he simply wouldn't stay in bed tonight. He kept coming out to beg for more songs, more stories, more hugs. And it was driving me crazy.

I told him if he came out of his room again I'd have to *gasp* close the door on him. Next thing I know I hear his little voice drifting from the hallway.

"Are you in bed?" I asked.

"No. No way!" he said.

"Well, where are you?" I asked.

Here—he was here:


Just smashed right into that little corner thing we've got going on there.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shimming with sharks

We've been doing a lot of swimming again now that we're all mostly back to health. Our neighbourhood had the "opening social" for the pool (only a month after it opened) so suddenly there were a lot more toys to enjoy, including this orca (that Benjamin insists is a shark).

Here's Rachel and her friend Ashley enjoying a ride after swimming lessons one morning:


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Writing Interview

Boy, Bridget's pretty confident (and rightly so) that I'm still quietly creeping on her blog (even if I rarely comment these days). She tagged me in a "How I Write" game without even telling me (though she did email me about it today), so here we go!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Father's Day and My Birthday

Andrew and I aren't very good at giving gifts to each other. It started the very first Christmas we were married. We got married nine days before Christmas and by the time the holiday was here we were in a hostel in Rome (yes, in a hostel—not in a hotel—you read that right).

"I don't have anything for you," Andrew said.

"I don't have anything for you, either," I admitted.

It was the start of a glorious tradition of never getting presents for any occasion ever. But every now and then we break from tradition and surprise each other, especially now that the kids are old enough to notice things like "Hey! Your stockings are completely empty!" Presents equal love, right?

On Father's Day the kids and I gave Andrew a calendar we'd worked on together.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two not-so-scary stories

At the beginning of this sickness I knew things were going downhill fast when I lost Benjamin at the pool. Now, I'm a fairly scatterbrained individual.

My twenty-year-old self is laughing at me right now for admitting that because I used to be able to function without having to write everything down...multiple places...and still wind up forgetting about things. My twenty-nine-year-old self is laughing at me then for thinking I'd be one to emerge from motherhood with my mind intact.

However, I was also a lifeguard for a few years (back when my brain worked) and I know that losing track of children at a pool is a huge no-no. I'm a little more paranoid, a little less chat-at-the-table-with-a-friend-while-my-three-year-old-with-water-wings-does-his-or-her-best-to-survive than a lot of parents that frequent our neighbourhood pool.

I find myself scanning, counting children, checking the bottom for lifeless bodies, making sure kids come up for breath, noting when children leave, making sure "that thing" isn't fecal matter, clearing the pool for thunder. I can't even help it.

So, we'd arrived at the pool. I had Benjamin sitting on my left hip with my left arm around him. I had both pool bags slung on my right shoulder. I think I was carrying a towel or two. And maybe a kick board. And probably something else. Because I'm an octopus. Or so my kids think—and they always wonder why I never want to walk to the pool. Silly kids; octopuses can't walk.

I had to sign in at the front so I set down the two pool bags. Then I noted where the three children (Rachel and two friends—Miriam was at a doctor appointment for not-strep) of various swimming abilities scattered (one swimmer hopped in the deep end while one drowner hopped on the deck by the stairs in the shallow end begging to get in, and the other swimmer walked in circles around me). I talked with my friend for a minute about swimming lessons (that's why we were there) and then in the middle of a sentence I realized I had no idea where Benjamin was.

"Oh, no! Where's Benjamin?!" I gasped, scanning the deck for my precious little boy and not seeing his little (but proportionally huge) towhead anywhere..

"Ummmm...." my friend said. She pointed to the left of me. I spun around.

"Where'd he go?" I asked. He wasn't behind me.

This month is such a special one...

That awkward moment when you receive a birthday message from your first-cousin-once-removed and you think to yourself, "It's not my birthday!" and then you look at the calendar and realize that today really isn't your birthday but tomorrow is.


(Phew—that was close! I almost forgot my own birthday! Not that we've had anything else (like a wicked, wicked virus) going on or anything...)

P.S. I got your card in the mail yesterday, Mom, but I haven't opened it yet. Instead I thought, "I'll save this to open on my birthday," which is probably why it didn't clue me in that it's my birthday.

How does your garden grow?

It's possible I haven't looked at my garden for a week. I haven't touched it for at least three weeks. But don't worry—the deer have really got my back and are trying to keep the growth under control. Sadly they are really bad at distinguishing between plants I don't want in there from plants that I do. They ate every single top of my poor little sunflowers. Every single one. There's like twenty sad little sunflower stalks in my garden. That's apparently what I get for so cleverly covering the strawberries. But the deer stayed out of the strawberries this year, so...yay.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't shoot me, but...

You can totally see the whites of my eyes!

I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever be normal again. When the doctor called to see how I was doing (and to tell me that whatever I'm getting over still wasn't strep) she also asked me about my eyes and I said that they were kind of doing better but they still weren't great. She asked if I was putting in one drop or two and I said one (because that's what the directions said) and she said, "Let's do two."

That seems to have done the trick (though I still have a couple of days before I'm finished with the antibiotics).

Oh, and I can also open my eyes wide without my lower lids unsuctioning from my eyeballs (or however it is eyelids usually stay in place). They were a little bit swollen there, but that's much better now. The instructions for my eye drops said to pull my lower lid down to create a pocket for the drops to collect. The reality was more like open my eyes wide and—*shlup*—instant eye pocket!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get well soon art/books from my kids

The children spent the early afternoon colouring pictures for me and when Benjamin could no longer stand being away from me Andrew let them into the bedroom (I've been quarantined) to give me their gifts. 

Miriam plastered my wall with pictures so that I can look at them while I get better (some of which are pretty fantastic):


Monday, June 16, 2014

Love and Respect

Last night Andrew decided to check his "other" messages folder in Facebook—the one where all the junk mail goes to (or where messages from unknown contacts goes to)—and he found a 900+ word diatribe from someone whose profile is quite anonymous (just a picture of a girl wearing—of all things—a tank top (as Andrew said, "Um, shouldn't she be all Molly-Mormon? She's wearing a tank top!")). I realize that this person is just trolling, but it was still a troubling letter to receive.

The full text of the letter is at the end of this post and I don't even really know what to say about it other than:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Pink Eye

Last night after her evening bath, Miriam ran out of the bathroom, gulped, and said, "Mommy, do I have...The Pink Eye? Because I was just looking in the mirror and I think one of my eyes is pink!"

She'd been swimming at the pool for a couple of hours, so while her eyes were certainly pink, it was hard to tell if her conjunctivitis was mild irritation from chlorinated water or if it was because she had the beginnings of bacterial/viral/whatever-we-have pink eye coming on. We put her to bed to play the wait-and-see game. She was quite miserable about it—"it itches!"

Well after any pharmacy had closed I realized there might be something that might help relieve symptoms, which would help my children stop rubbing their eyes, which would help mitigate further spreading of The (Dread) Pink Eye.

We don't ordinarily go shopping on Sunday (part of how we try to keep the Sabbath holy) but there situations that typify "an ox in the mire," which basically means it's an unavoidable situation where you can justify doing something you ordinarily wouldn't. Sickness is one of the most common reasons (see here; also, why don't we have articles in the Ensign like this anymore—the title Will the Real Ox in the Mire Please Stand Up is killing me. If I don't die of pink eye I will surely die from stifling my laughter at that title. The Ensign just isn't as funny as it used to be).

After looking up eye drops for conjunctivitis I defined my "ox in the mire" for Andrew. Yes, we should have just gotten drops earlier in the day, but I was doing fine with warm compresses and saline rinses. Benjamin's eyes seem to be improving so there was no need for medication for him. I hadn't even thought of eye drops before it was too late to get any. However, if we woke up in the morning and Miriam had full blown pink eye I'd send him to get some eye drops so we could make it through the day.

In the morning I couldn't even open my eyes until I'd soaked them with a warm compress and even then my left eye was nearly swollen shut.

"Forget Miriam!" I said to Andrew. "Get me some eye drops!"

(Oh, and Happy Father's Day. Now rescue me!)

When Miriam woke up Andrew checked on her and reported back to me. "Miriam has...The Pink Eye!" he said, "So I'm going to go get some drops for you guys."

Bless that man! And bless those eye drops!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Then again, things aren't so bad

So, while I'm sitting over here sniffling about my pink eye, that friend Becky I was telling you about (who said we'd won the lottery for getting Mr. A. last school year) is having a much worse time. Her family is in the middle of making a cross-country move (having just finished up their medical residency).

On May 29th she went out to run some errands and was rear-ended, I'm assuming, by someone texting on their phone (but I'm only assuming that because she also shared a "pledge not to text and drive" on Facebook, but that could just be a coincidence). She was a little upset about having to deal with all of that mess right before moving.

And then I didn't even go help her clean her house or anything because Benjamin (and I figured she didn't want me to share our nasty germs with her family right before they set out to drive for days on end).

So, Monday was packing day. Tuesday was loading day. Wednesday was cleaning day. Thursday was closing day. Friday was leaving day—that's yesterday.

They have two vehicles. She was leading the way in the car with one of their daughters. Her husband was following behind in the van with their four other kids. Somehow or another a drunk driver smashed right into her car, sending her whirling into first a semi-truck and then a moving van (so her husband and van full of kids got to watch that).

The car was so mangled that they had to cut it open to get Becky and her daughter out. She spent the night in the hospital but miraculously only has minor bruising and a few cuts (they were thinking her injuries would be much more severe when they were initially assessing her) and her daughter is in even better condition (which is completely explained when you look at the wreckage—the driver's side is completely smashed while the rest of the car is pretty okay (still banged up but not completely mangled)).

I'm so glad they're alright and we'll keep praying for them as they eventually somehow continue their journey. Her husband chalked up their lack of injury to divine protection and I must say, I completely agree with him. Sometimes when we pray for a safe journey we expect our trip to be completely free of mishap, but sometimes the real miracle is not avoiding an accident but instead is pulling through it. And sometimes the miracle isn't even pulling through the accident but somehow making it through the death of a loved one.

Last Day of First Grade

On Thursday we went in to help with the end-of-year party. We stayed nearly the whole day because we just couldn't get away. Miriam loves going to school and when it's pizza party to recess to popsicles on the playground, well, she loves it even more. I was exhausted by the afternoon and happily bid Rachel's teachers a good summer.

"But you're coming back tomorrow, aren't you?" asked Mrs. M.

"Hooray!" Miriam exclaimed.

I just smiled. "We'll see," I said. "How the day goes."

Yesterday we showed up for the last hour of school. The kids weren't doing much other than cleaning out their desks and enjoying their "centers" for one last time, but we also got some story time and chick time in—lots of chick time (which meant lots of hand washing so I'm a little surprised by this pink eye—what?!). Catching Rachel without one chick or another in her hands was a rare thing.



You've got to be kidding me

Last night Andrew took the girls shopping after dinner. Benjamin and I went to bed. At seven o'clock.

That boy has been sick since Rachel was sick, but with much milder symptoms. He's just been a bit fussy and sneezy, runs a nightly fever of up to 103°F (but only at night), rubs his ears a lot, oh, and he's got a runny nose that rivals Niagara Falls.

We stayed home sick the first few days because his mucous was thick and a nasty yellow-green colour. However, when his symptoms started to improve—when he was up and running wild around the house all day and his snot was crystal clear (those admittedly still a copious, never-ending flow)—we started to leave the house again.

Mostly we went to Rachel's school for end-of-year stuff. Benjamin's rather an introvert (I'm not really sure our children have any hope of being anything but—if anyone does, it's Miriam) and prefers the safety of my arms (or at least the back folds of my pant leg) to socializing (we even had to leave the classroom to go have a little cry in the hall during the party because the chaos of all the students plus the parents and siblings that showed up was too much him to handle). Still, you can imagine my horror when a little boy said to me yesterday, "Hey—why is one of Benjamin's eyes pink?"

"You have got to be kidding me!" I thought to myself but, sure enough, one of his eyes was a little pink and watery. Foreign object? Pink eye? Who knows?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Friends IRL: In Real Life

Today my long(ish)-time internet friend Susanne stopped by with some hand-me-down clothes for Benjamin, as well as a package of fun surprises. It was our first time meeting Susanne in real life—and her smile is even more charming that way than it is in her pictures.

She didn't stay long (because Benjamin was due for a nap (which he's taking in new truck-themed pyjamas) and because I kept coughing (I got the cold that Benjamin and Andrew got (not at all what Rachel had)) but it was sure nice to meet her!

After she left we went outside to blow bubbles (Susanne's gift) on the porch while we waited for Daddy to come home. He decided to try to beat the mega-storm home (and did, luckily). As you can see from the pictures, the kids were still hoping to go to the pool, but the weather's a little wild so we're holding off. Perhaps things will calm down and we'll make it there a little later...

"How many seconds do we have to wait after the thunder stops?" Miriam asked me.

"Fifteen minutes," I told her. "At least. That's a whole lot of seconds!"

Anyway, here are some pictures of the kids enjoying their bubbles before Daddy got home and before the storm hit (it's getting sun-shiny outside again so Miriam's busily getting her hopes up about swimming):


Happenings

I finally used up the remainder of our stash of baby food by turning into fruit leather (or fruit weather, as Miriam keeps calling it (much to her chagrin)) which meant we have an empty crate kicking around the house now. Benjamin found it and climbed inside with a story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Movie Marathon

This afternoon while I had the washing machine going, the dishwasher going, and the food dehydrator going, I thought to myself, "Thank you, Twenty-First Century," because I'm really not sure how I would have managed to be a housewife a hundred years ago.

Andrew and I had a bit of a movie marathon this past week. We watched Saving Mr. Banks first, which was amazingly insightful considering I'm reading Mary Poppins out loud with the girls and we were all very confused by the character of Mary Poppins is in the book versus how she is in the 1964 Disney film. She's very hard-nosed in the book, perhaps even a little cold, and my girls both took a disliking to her from the very beginning (though I think they've warmed up to her now that we have a few good adventures under our belt).

Though she's still a bit of a killjoy in the movie, she's a much warmer and loving character than she is in the book.

Saving Mr. Banks explained this beautifully (and made me cry like a baby). Much of P. L. Travers' life story is fictionalized (though the basic facts of her childhood, exact conversations and other details were obviously made up) the record of her behavior in the studio is very well documented (since she insisted on having all conversations recorded). The actress who played her, Emma Thompson, did an incredible job. Because of how particular P.L. Travers was, Thompson had a lot of information available for her character study and she certainly used that to her advantage.

We didn't even recognize her...from Harry Potter! She's Professor Trelawny, for crying out loud!

I actually always appreciate it when I'm not able to recognize an actor. This movie was filled with actors that I knew and every time a new person popped up on screen I was like, "BJ Novak. Whoa. Bradley Whitford. Whoa. Paul Giamatti. Whoa. Tom Hanks?! Whoa!"

Monday, June 09, 2014

Where's my pants?

Andrew got a new calling today, which was kind of a shock in sacrament meeting because I completely forgot about learning about it on Thursday. Miriam was so proud when he stood up to be sustained.

"That's our daddy," she whispered to me.

Indeed he is. He's our daddy and he's also the new pianist for the ward choir. (And a primary teacher, and an instructor for Elder's quorum, and the coordinator for babysitting for Relief Society activities, but that's all.)

Currently we have our three hour block of church and then a three hour break and then choir practice but we successfully petitioned to have choir moved to directly after church (since the Mebane ward moved out we have the building all to ourselves after church). When you factor in a twenty minute ride home from church and a twenty minute ride back to the church that leaves only two hours and twenty minutes at home.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that that's basically how long it takes to ensure our family is ready to leave the house.

Today we skyped with Andrew's parents, had some lunch, put Benjamin down for a quick nap while the girls finished watching Mary Poppins (they started it last night—but that movie is long), and then we started hustling the kids back out the door.

We pulled into the parking lot just in time to run in before we'd be called late. When I opened the door to let the kids out I also let out a gasp because that's when I discovered that Miriam was not wearing pants, folks.

She had changed out of her dress after church and went through an impressive number of dress-up outfits before finally agreeing to put on a regular outfit so we could go to choir practice. But somehow—somehow—she had neglected to put pants on and no one noticed until she was standing in the door of the van in all her pant-less glory.

I suppose we're lucky, in a way, that this happened—she was our supreme bargaining chip. When the choir director explained that she chose 5:00 because she thought families with young children would appreciate being able to go home, feed their kids, and get in a little nap before coming to choir practice, I was able to point out Miriam and say, "I would rather pack a snack for my children to eat after church and let Benjamin nap in the car than have to go home and get ready to leave the house all over again. I'm apparently incapable of getting my children ready to leave the house twice in once day. Miriam isn't even wearing pants."

And Benjamin didn't have shoes on, either. But that's beside the point.

Everyone agreed that 5:00 is a lousy time for choir practice. It's dinner time. And it's a good 20 to 30 minute drive for some people (like us), which is a big reason I think our numbers are dwindling. Not that I've gone to choir at all this year (but the last director held it at her house and asked that we not bring children and so...).

So now we'll be staying after church for choir practice which will still be a little chaotic, and Miriam still won't be wearing pants...but at least she'll have a skirt on.

(Miriam, by the way, had a tunic-style top on this afternoon, so it's a little longer than a regular t-shirt which is why no one noticed she neglected to clothe her bottom half. So, at least there's that.)

Friday, June 06, 2014

Goodbye to friends (and fevers)

For the past school year there's been a yellow paper stuck to Rachel and Miriam's door that says:
Eliza
Rachel
A6
They put it up the day they founded their preschool for underprivileged children (Miriam and Benjamin, who are deemed unfortunate because they are not enrolled in an actual preschool or even a co-op for that matter, while Eliza's little brother was).

This was their go-to game when they'd get together to play (which admittedly wasn't as often as they'd have liked).

Rachel didn't go to school on Thursday (because no one woke up until around...noon) but she was feeling well enough to set up the schoolroom to do her part to further Miriam's education.


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Fevers, Ticks, and Swimming

This morning we went to the pool for swimming lessons. Rachel seemed to be feeling better (she even had a full-on fight with Miriam this morning—they haven't had a fight in days). She tagged along planning on just sitting on the deck, but she ended up wading in the baby pool with the little ones (and my friend Annie) while I taught the older ones.

After my pupil had gone home, I spent a few minutes working with Miriam while Benjamin played on the stairs and Rachel sat nearby. I felt a tickle in my ear just as I was helping Miriam into a back float so I kind of dropped her so I could get at the tickle. I felt a little guilty when she got some water on her face (she hates getting water on her face) but I was glad when I saw that I flicked out a big, ugly tick!

It was an adult female lone-star tick (they're pretty easy to identify) but it was unengorged (thank goodness) and obviously hadn't found a good place to bite, considering how easily it came out of my ear. Still. Ew.

I squished it to smithereens on the pool deck with a shoe. Miriam's shoe, to be exact. She said, "I don't care if you use my shoe. It's getting too small for me, anyway." And she hasn't touched it since.

But, seriously, how did I get a tick on me?! I haven't been out of the house in days! (Well, I went to a primary meeting last night but other than that I haven't set foot outside until today). I literally walked from the house to the van, from the van to the pool, and then was swimming around in the pool. It's not like I was, as my friend Stephanie said, "rolling in the grass and petting deer" all day.

Apparently ticks are especially plentiful this year because of the long and cold winter we had (by southern standards) so the ticks had more time to breed underground before emerging in plentiful herds. I don't know that that's the best source for information regarding ticks. But I also don't care because (a) we've found three ticks on various family members this year (and by various I mean me (2) and Benjamin (1—attached)) which is three times as many as we found last year. And it's early in the season! And (b) my sweet Rachel-girl is in the hospital with a raging fever which I, and various medical professionals, suspect might be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is a tick-borne illness.

And I'm just sitting around at home.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Benjamin's second birthday

This morning Andrew was trying to train Benjamin to answer the question "How old are you?" He has no concept of age, not that the girls are much better. Yesterday when they were discussing how old Benjamin was going to be Miriam asked why he was going to be two years old.

"Two years is not old. Two years is young," she reasoned. "So he will be two years young."

Ironically that make him sound rather old to my ears because I remember several of my great-aunts and uncles saying things like, "I'm 84 years young."

Anyway, Andrew said to him, "Whose birthday is it today?"

"ME!" Benjamin squealed.

"And how old are you now?" Andrew asked.

"I WANT CAKE!" Benjamin bellowed.

Bus! Bus!

If there's one thing Benjamin loves it's a good bus. He rushes to the window whenever he hears a bus come down our street, which is fairly often since school buses frequent our street between the hours of 6 and 8 AM and 2 and 5 PM.

We do a lot of bus watching over here. And it's always terribly, terribly exciting.

Benjamin always squeals with joy at the sight (or sound) of an approaching bus. "Bus! Bus!" he'll call out. "Bus! Bus!"

What better "theme" for his birthday than a big yellow school bus?

I use the word theme lightly, but I did make a bus cake for him. And I didn't even make a mess.



Oh, wait. I did. I made a terrific mess.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Birthday Eve, part II

This afternoon I was in the living room with the girls when I heard Benjamin in the kitchen.

"Mmmmm...mmmmm...'anks!" he said. "Mmmm...mmmm...yummy!"

'Anks, in case you're wondering, is how he says thanks. Mmmm...mmmm...yummy is what he says when he's eating something delicious and because I'd left his birthday cake on the counter to cool I rushed into the kitchen to see what he was up to.

He'd grabbed a cupcake and was ravenously stuffing it into his mouth, praising its goodness between mouthfuls, "Mmmmm...mmmmm..mmmm!"


I'm in the middle of trying to make a bus cake for him. The cupcakes are going to be the wheels but because I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work out (I'll let you know how it goes) I made six cupcakes so I'd have two backup cupcakes should anything happen to go horribly wrong.

I suppose I can only mess up once now!

Pet du jour

When we went to get into the van to leave for church yesterday Andrew noticed a lizard had fallen into our old frog container (that I haven't cleaned out yet) and was stuck so—lucky creature—it became our pet for the day.


Birthday Eve

I thought that Benjamin's birthday wouldn't be emotionally difficult for me this year because I hadn't begun to feel anxious about it until quite recently (last year the beginning of May set me off), which actually gives me hope that eventually I'll be able to face Benjamin's birthday without any feeling of dread at all.

It's not so much that I'm worried about his health anymore. He's a pretty healthy kid. A little on the small side, perhaps, but overall quite healthy.

It's not so much that I'm sad he's giving up his babyhood, though I'm always a little sad about that (I think he's officially weaned (finally) and I'm a little sad about that). He's hilarious as a toddler. So cute. So cheerful. And he's just about sleeping through the night again (and that always helps children seem cuter).

It's a little more selfish than that.