Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving and beyond

On Thanksgiving morning Rachel made a pistachio pudding salad and I started pulling out things to make an actually healthy salad with. Unfortunately when I pulled out the tomatoes they were all moldy so Andrew ran to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Day just to pick up tomatoes.

I suppose it wouldn't have been as big of a deal if it was just our family that we were serving but we were having dinner at a friend/colleague/mentor/ward member's house (it's a multi-faceted relationship; let's just say we had dinner with the Rogersons) and we were only in charge of one thing. We had one job! So off for tomatoes Andrew went.

Benjamin flipped out a little when he saw Andrew getting ready to leave.

"Where mine Daddy go?" he asked.

"I'm going to the store," Andrew answered.

"Daddy miss me?" Benjamin asked.

"Yes, of course I'll miss you while I'm at the store for five whole minutes," Andrew said, rolling his eyes a little. Benjamin's very good at missing people.

Andrew's answer shattered Benjamin's spirits. He started to cry.

"Not mine Daddy miss me! Not me miss mine Daddy! Me miss mine Mommy! Me go wis Daddy. Me miss Mommy. Daddy, me go? Me go! Me go! Me go! Me go!" he pleaded.

Benjamin was clinging to Andrew's leg. Andrew really had no other option.

"Sure, you can come with me. Let's find a jacket for you," he said.

"Yay!" Benjamin cheered. "Me go Daddy! Me miss Mommy!"

They had a lovely adventure at the store together. The cashier offered Benjamin a balloon and came back with a big mylar balloon in the shape of a piece of pumpkin pie that had been on one of their displays (Andrew was expecting a dinky latex balloon). I guess they figured they didn't have any further use for it.

Benjamin sang about his "punky-pie boon" all the way home.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Family Pictures 2014

One year to the day from the last time I dragged my family out into the wild for family pictures...I did it again. We didn't manage to leave the house until 2:30 PM, but this time I double checked to make sure Historic Stagville was open (because it was closed last year (even though I checked to make sure it was open)) so we didn't have to find an alternative location at the last minute.

Things turned out pretty well.



Friday, November 28, 2014

Who does Benjamin love?

Due to the Thanksgiving break Andrew's been home a lot more. Benjamin has really been enjoying this. Just this morning I woke up face-to-face with Benjamin, who said, "Hi, Mommy. Sunny day outside. Me love Daddy."

"Then wake Daddy up," I suggested.

"Okay!" Benjamin said, pouncing on Andrew.

It's pretty rare for Andrew to still be in the house when Benjamin wakes up and those two have been palling around all week. Benjamin wants Andrew first thing in the morning. He wants Daddy to get him breakfast. He wants Daddy to get him dressed, take him potty, and to pick him up when he's sad. When Daddy's trying to work, Benjamin will drag a stool over and sit beside him and just watch (and, you know, to bug him a bit).

I'm not complaining because it's been a really restful couple of days, but it has been quite a change from our normal routine (the one where I do everything for everyone, always). 

Benjamin still needs his nightly lullaby and when he wakes up in the middle of the night it's Mommy he wants to snuggle with, but all day, every day, it's been nothing but Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turning Point?

After two solid weeks of croup-induced sleepless nights, Andrew and I were ready for a change. He'd spent most of those two weeks sleeping on the couch while I'd been sharing the bed with Benjamin, waking up every hour or so to help him through a coughing fit or to find his sippy cup or to go to the bathroom. When I wasn't waking up with him I was being kicked at because he's a fitful sleeper like his sister Rachel.

Co-sleeping with those two was never easy.

Co-sleeping with Miriam was a dream. She doesn't climb in bed with us very often anymore but when she does she lays perfectly still and we hardly even notice she's there.

I'm hoping baby #4 will sleep like Miriam.

I could use another infant who sleeps all day and all night, a toddler who takes at least one nap a day until they turn three, and a preschooler who insists on getting at least twelve hours of sleep per night (and will put themselves to bed and/or sleep in, if necessary, to get those twelve hours). It's bliss compared to how the other two were/are. I mean, I love all my children dearly but when I look back on Miriam's babyhood I can actually remember and smile about it. Most of what I remember from Rachel and Benjamin's babyhoods is being desperately exhausted. And a lot of screaming. Oh, the screaming.

Yeah, let's model baby #4 off Miriam.

In Benjamin and Rachel's defense they both had terrible, terrible reflux (which, frankly, I'd be happy to do without this time around) and Miriam didn't. So perhaps those two were justified to be up and screaming all the time.

Anyway, Rachel's fine now but Benjamin's still not a great sleeper. I told Andrew last night that we shouldn't even bother trying to get him back on a schedule until we get back from Utah because our trip is only going to throw him off again. But then he wandered into our bedroom at around midnight last night and I just couldn't even imagine trying to sleep one more night with him in my bed (I'm pretty sure I have bruises from sleeping with that child—and I'm not kidding).

"Oh, Benjamin," I sighed.

"Me seep Mommy bed," he asked, reaching up for me.

"No, Benjamin," Andrew said. "You need to go get into your own bed."

Surprisingly, Benjamin obeyed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mt. Occoneechee

Benjamin's had a hankering to get into the wild lately. Possibly due to the fact that I've taken him outside like three times since my pregnancy symptoms really kicked into gear, but also because he found a boogie board at Trading Tables last week and it's been kicking around the living room until...yesterday, I think, when...I finally put it in the shed with the rest of the boogie boards.

Every day—every meal, every snack—he mentioned that his favourite "part-a-day" was "Go beach—mine boogie board! Swim beach! Boogie board! Beach!" Or some variation of that.

He's dying to go to the beach. But it's a little cold for boogie boarding, in my opinion. So today we took the kids on a hike instead. Andrew had one of those weeks where he'd be gone from the house before anyone woke up (except for Rachel—who he'd put on the bus (so obviously we're not getting up very early)), then he'd come home, go directly to his office, and work until midnight or so. It was an exhausting week and I think the children had almost forgotten what he looks like. But it was also the last week of the semester—hallelujah!

So, today we took the kids on a hike. And it really couldn't have happened any other way because I probably would have collapsed somewhere along the way. I fell asleep on the way home as it was, so...

Anyway, we headed out to explore the highest mountain in Orange County—Mt. Occoneechee. With a staggering 350 ft. prominence (and overall elevation of 867 feet) you really can't miss it tell that it's a mountain, but the sign says it is, so I guess it is.

Andrew and I grew up in the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos. To give you an idea of why Mt. Occoneechee seems like a hill to us you should know that Mt. Timpanogos has an overall elevation of 11,752 feet and a prominence of 5, 270 feet.

The kids wanted their picnic lunch right when we got there, so that's what we did. All the picnic tables were in the shade and it was "so cold" (50°F (we're really going to freeze to death when we go to Utah)) that the kids were quite fussy.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Busy or not busy, that is the question

A few days ago I started a post like this: "Phew! Trading Tables is over! I seem to only be able to manage one..."

But I never finished it because then I got "busy" again.

So today I think I will start my post like this:

Phew! I finally finished my brother's wedding invitation and then it was decided that they'd hold a second reception in Utah County so I had to fiddle around with it again. I seem to only be able to manage one project at a time these days.

It's not even that I'm incredibly busy because I don't think I am. But if you went through every blog post from the past couple of months that uses the word "busy" and replaced it with "exhausted and pregnant" I think that would come pretty close to the actual truth.

I'm pregnant. And anemic. And that is a fabulous combination (just kidding).

So, as you recall, I wrote a post lamenting not being pregnant again in September. The truth was that I had every reason to believe I was not pregnant. And by "every reason" I mean "a whole lot of blood," which is usually a pretty good sign of not being pregnant. So I legitimately thought that I wasn't pregnant; it was a pleasant surprise to find out that I, in fact, was pregnant. It was even more happy when we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound because bleeding in early pregnancy raises risk of miscarriage up to about 50% but if you see a heartbeat via ultrasound early on your pregnancy is considered "viable" and your risk of miscarriage drops to about 5%. I like those odds a lot better.

I'm a heavy bleeder when I'm not pregnant and I've been anemic through two pregnancies so far so it was no shock to have my doctor tell me that I was already anemic with this pregnancy (I was not anemic with Benjamin and when I got the results I was shocked; "Are you sure?" I asked the doctor incredulously).

I've been trying to plan our meals around iron-rich foods and I'm actually starting to feel a bit better now that I'm nearing the second trimester.

Anyway, Trading Tables was a nice thing to check off my list. My kids are always very excited about going "shopping." The night before Trading Tables we were having dinner and Miriam said, "So, have we decided if I'm going to attend Trading Tables?" When I told her that we didn't exactly have any other option she squealed with excitement.

She found a mermaid Barbie doll, which she was thrilled about, and a pair of boots that she loves.

Benjamin was in heaven. I think he found every car in the place. He kept bringing me things and saying, "Me 'ike 'is car. Me 'ike 'is."

"Do you like that?" I'd ask.

"Es. Me 'ike 'is."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fun times with potty time

Benjamin earned his train set today!

Not only did he fill up his sticker chart, he also finally told someone that he needed to go potty and then managed to hold it until we made it to the bathroom. I was practically bursting with pride...or relief. One or the other.

Andrew and I were in choir practice in the chapel and Benjamin was playing with his sisters in the cultural hall. The curtain was open a crack so that totally counts as supervising them. We were in the middle of rehearsing a song when Miriam rushed through the chapel doors and onto the choir stand.

"Mom!" she whispered. "Benjamin says he needs to go potty!"

I jumped up, ran for the diaper bag (because if he says he has to go that usually means he's already gone), and then rushed out to find him. He wasn't in the cultural hall anymore so I embarrassingly ran around the church calling, "Ben! Benji! Benjamin!" until I ran into my friend's husband, whose name, of course, is Ben.

"Oh, hey, Ben," I said awkwardly. "Have you seen my Ben?"

Friday, November 14, 2014

Telling Siblings

Do you want to know what my idea of torture is?

Calling every single family member to inform them of my pregnancy. Or anything.

I'm simply not a phone talker.

My cousin Elizabeth called me to announce her pregnancy for Bridget. She said she was calling everyone. Everyone?! Do you know how huge our family is?

I don't have that kind of stamina, so we've never announced that way.

For Rachel we made a video of a Santa turning into a pregnant lady. But the video link is broken, so...we'll have to find it. I'm sure it's somewhere? We also wrapped up bibs for our parents as a Christmas gift. We were 10 weeks along.

For Miriam we made a crossword puzzle and posted it on April Fool's day because there's really no better way to announce. I think we emailed it to our families the day before we posted it to the blog. We were 10 weeks along.

For Benjamin we wrote a little riddle. We were 9 weeks along.

For this baby we posted a series of YouTube videos for the public, along with a note saying "3.275 kids and counting" on Facebook. We're 11 weeks along (so it looks like we're getting better at keeping secrets).

We also did up a little something extra for our families since we accidentally offended a few members by not telling them before we told the world at large (we'd already told our parents so we figured our bases were covered). So, this is what we made up and sent out to our families (divided up into Heiss side and Layton side—this is them all jumbled together):


Telling Rachel

It was the night of November 2nd and all through the house
Only two creatures were stirring—me and my spouse.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
Trying to sleep, counting sheep in their heads...

But not all of the children were asleep yet, of course, because my children are notoriously bad at sleeping. I had been working on our Christmas newsletter for this year, which is in poem format, as usual, when I felt the need for a potty break (something I feel the need for quite frequently nowadays). I had been working on a couplet announcing this coming babe and just left my draft sitting on my screen when I went to the bathroom—because the kids were in bed, so...

When I came out of the bathroom, Rachel was staring at the computer with her mouth hanging open.

"Is it true?" she asked.

"Is what true?" I asked.

She pointed at my screen.

"What?" I asked again.

"Are you really having a baby next year?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

And her mouth fell open again. She looked really excited.

Telling Miriam

If there's one thing I will regret in my life it's not having the camera ready to record Miriam's reaction when we told her we were having another baby.

We went public yesterday and so we decided it was probably time to tell the rest of the children. Rachel, sneaky girl that she is, had already found out (read about that in the next post). We were casually, secretively, talking about this at the dinner table when Andrew said, "Huh. I guess we can tell the other kids now since we've told everybody else."

"Rachel," I offered. "Why don't you tell them?"

"Are you...are you sure?" Rachel stammered.

The poor girl has been bursting at the seams with this news and has been dropping hints left and right (read about that in the next post) but has somehow managed to hold it in.

"Sure," Andrew said. "It's public knowledge now so you can tell people. Go ahead and tell your sister, tell your friends, tell whoever."

"Oh, I've already told some friends," Rachel said.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shoot for the stars

Miriam's bridge (in gymnastics) or wheel (in yoga) is coming right along. Her form isn't quite right but she's only recently figured out how to lift her head off the ground, so I'm sure her form will improve. But look at how flexible she is! I don't think I've ever been that flexible (even when I was five).


Tonight at the dinner table Miriam asked if she could be a pop star when she grew up. I told her that she might if she practiced singing and ukulele and piano a lot. A pop star needs to know how to read music and how to play chords and how to dance and how to write nice poems for song lyrics. It's a lot of work.

"And can I have a microphone?" she asked.

"We'll see," I said.

I don't know that she'll ever become a pop star (or a world-famous gymnast) but if these dreams can get her to practice music now and if it can get her to work on her flexibility now then perhaps she'll grow up to not be an untalented adult.

That's basically my goal as a parent.

Becoming world famous? Not so much. Not being talentless? Definitely.

Oh, and pictures

Before we left the park (after lunch and playing) I made the kids sit still for a picture.

They smiled beautifully.


Especially that one kid in the middle...


Potty training (literally)

Before Benjamin was even born we made a trip to IKEA and picked up a wooden train set. I don't think that's what we went to IKEA for but I saw it and I loved it and we knew we wouldn't have an IKEA close by out here so we got it. And it's been sitting in my closet ever since, waiting for the perfect moment.

Holidays have ticked by and my little baby has finally grown into a little boy and like many little boys he loves all things that go. Planes, cars, trucks, buses, boats, trains...doll strollers (there's definitely an older-sister influence at our house, so, yes, he also loves pushing dolls around in strollers). Still, we haven't yet given him that train set. 

I decided around his second birthday that we'd wait until Christmas. I wasn't sure he had the fine motor skills needed for putting the tracks together at that point and thought it would be better to hold off until he did. That way I wouldn't be stuck putting together train tracks all day every day for the next however long. So we've been working on puzzles and things and his fine motor skills have improved and he still loves trains and it was going to be the perfect Christmas gift.

But now we're not going to be home for Christmas. We're going to be in Utah. And I don't want to cart all our gifts out there so we'll either be doing Christmas before we go or after we get back. Either way we won't be doing Christmas on Christmas...

So when I needed a really good bribe I went ahead and brought the train out. I showed it to Benjamin and that boy went berserk. He was crazy excited about it. He wanted to play with it right then

And then I dropped the bomb on him.

"This is only for little boys who go potty on the potty," I said. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

That one time we lost the van

This morning Andrew opened the front door—with car keys in hand—while instructing the children to get into the van, get into their own seats, and buckle up. He stopped mid-sentence, the remote poised in the air, mouth hanging wide open.

"What...?" he sputtered. "Where's...? Whaaa? The van is gone!"

For a minute our calm household dissolved into chaos, confusion, and panic.

"The van's gone! The van's gone!" the children chanted.

My heart also leapt to my throat when I glanced out the door and saw the empty driveway.

But then...

"Oh, there it is!" someone pointed out (I can't remember who).

There it was, parked right across the street. Andrew had moved it yesterday afternoon so the birthday party kids could draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. We just forgot to move it back when we were finished, that's all. Phew!

It's the little things that keeps life interesting.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Falling Leaves

My friend/cousin Heidi just emailed me to catch up on life. She saw my story in The Friend and though she'd write to me (which is probably the best benefit of being published in The Friend—I've been contacted by more than one friend I haven't heard from in a while because of it). She asked about our leaves and whether I'd taken any pictures of the pretty colours.

I must admit that I'm mostly failing on that front this year. We really ought to get a hike under our belt but things have just felt so busy lately. Maybe we can do something on Tuesday since it's a holiday.

What falling leaves mean to us regardless of busyness, however, is yard work and yesterday afternoon we all worked together to clean up the yard (except for Rachel who was still at school). Miriam and Benjamin had a blast helping rake up piles so they could jump into them.


Miriam's Princess Party

This morning Benjamin and Miriam were the first two up. They closed our bedroom door and put on Wild Kratts (I was just informed that it was Miriam and Rachel who woke up first; Benjamin joined them only after they turned on the show; and apparently it was still dark when Rachel woke up—the sun rose at 6:46 AM). I was 100% okay with that but eventually we had to get up anyway. We had many party preparations on our docket. We had to clean the house and bake cupcakes and finish getting all our games ready.

Here's Miriam dressed up as Rapunzel, playing in her balloon-filled castle. Andrew helped me make it last night after we put the kids to bed. At first he felt daunted by the task until I showed him what I had in mind (this, not this).


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Halloween

This evening at Relief Society some friends were RSVPing for Miriam's birthday party, which is this Saturday. I sent out this invitations this morning. We're going for low-key fun this year. I figure that since we ask friends to not bring presents they don't need a lot of notice about the party—they just come, play, eat a cupcake, and go home. Easy, peasy.

Mickie was the first to RSVP—a no. They're going out of town this weekend—spur of the moment birthday party for her niece—but if they had been around they would have totally been in.

"Wasn't her birthday a while ago?" Heidi asked (she didn't get the email but I think her daughter will be coming now that she knows about it).

"Well, yeah," I admitted. "But it's right before Halloween and that was busy and then all of a sudden it's November and everything's crazy. There are too many holidays this time of year. I'm falling behind already!"

"Speaking of Halloween," Mickie said. "Miriam's costume was darling. She was so beautiful in that dress!"

"Oh, that was all my mom," I said. "When Miriam said she wanted to be Mary Poppins I was fine with the idea until she said she wanted to be the white and red Mary Poppins and then I was like, 'Oh, no!' But my mom found that dress at Savers and mailed it to us—she was so excited for Miriam. She said she just must miss having little girls around to spoil. Most of my nieces and nephews are in high school already...and then there's my kids."

"But David just got engaged!" Mickie squealed. "I'm so excited for him!"

And then Mickie and I both squealed and talked about how excited we were (Mickie and her husband both served in David's mission so they're tight) because we're seriously really, really happy about this.

Anyway, the point is that I'm about a week behind and still need to post about Halloween. So, without further ado, I give you the Day Before Halloween...

Miriam had her Halloween party at preschool. Benjamin and I went for the last half hour or so. They had a costume parade and then recited some poems and songs they'd learned.


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Fall Festival 2014

I'm officially not doing NaBloPoMo this year. I have too many projects going on to commit to blogging every day this month. I already feel like the holidays are upon us and it's only November 2nd. So much to do, so little time to do it.

It got cold here quick this year. We sat down to dinner last night and I was trying to put my finger on why it felt so...wintery...all of a sudden. And then it dawned on me.

"Silence!" I said. "Listen! That's why it feels like winter all of a sudden."

No crickets were chirping. No frogs were croaking. No birds were chattering. Outside, everything was deathly quiet.

Like the trees—that start dropping leaves the second the thermometer drops below 80°F (Oh, no! It's fall!)—the animals here sure get into hibernation mode fast and it was their silence that made the turn of the seasons so obvious.

Part of me is sad we'll be going to Utah for much of Christmas break because I love me a nice, mild North Carolina winter. Utah winters means icy roads all the time, shoveling drive ways, and frozen feet. But it could always be worse—we could be going to Canada (except that Andrew vowed to never go to Canada during the winter ever again after that one time I dragged him up to Alberta in November—it was the coldest he'd ever been and he does not wish to repeat that ever (and I don't blame him)).

I suppose I should share a few thing about Halloween before I start talking about Christmas too much.

On Wednesday last week we went to the ward Trunk-or-Treat (after dropping Grandma off at the airport and then racing back home to eat dinner and change into our costumes).

Benjamin and Miriam's costumes took the longest to make (I crocheted the hat for Benjamin; hemmed Miriam's dress, attached the outer-dress to the under-dress, sewed some ribbons on it, crocheted the parrot head for the umbrella handle, tied ribbons on the umbrella, and fashioned her hat) but Rachel's —by far—took the longest to put on.



I felt like I was winding that child up forever and then by the time we made it to the church she was already coming undone all over the place.

There are reasons I never became an ancient Egyptian embalmer. Just sayin'...



Saturday, November 01, 2014

Finally Published

When we lived in Egypt I wrote a story and submitted it to The Friend Magazine.

It just came out in this month's issue, heavily edited (mostly "dumbing down" the vocabulary, I suppose) (which I might have cared about if I had any emotional attachment to the story left at all—but when they contacted me about it earlier this year (nearly five years after I wrote it) I just said, "I wrote a story? Oh, yeah. Uhhh, go ahead and make whatever changes you want.").

They kept the original song she learned through the door (not the wall) in place—I Know That My Savior Loves Me—which just happens to be the song we'll be learning next year in primary so I suspect they kept it on the back burner for so long in part because they knew they'd be revisiting this song. Maybe. They didn't exactly tell me why it took so long for them to publish it. I was rather surprised to be contacted after so much time had gone by.

I even forgot to look for it this month, but Andrew just sent me the link to it.

So now I'm practically famous. 

You can find the story here. Because I know you're dying to read it.

Hymn-spiration

So, there's this song we sang in primary this year and I'll admit I'm kind of torn over it. On the one hand the chorus makes me cry almost every time and verses 1 and 4 are beautiful. On the other hand, verses 2 and 3 are a little difficult for me to swallow—especially with the gender-role stereotype sharing time lessons we had while we were learning them. Not that the sharing time lessons in the manual were explicitly stereotyped; but our teacher's interpretations of them were.

It made me uncomfortable to hear about Daddies going to work and holding the priesthood while Mommies did all the cooking and cleaning and kissing of boo-boos.

I'm a stay at home mom but my husband spent the entire afternoon cleaning the house today and when I tried to help with dinner he shooed me out of the kitchen and told me to take a nap. So be it. Because once I was a stay at home mom and I worked in the evenings to earn just barely enough money to pay for his (second) master's degree.

Not that I'm keeping score. I'm just saying that those lines between gender roles are a little more fuzzy than we make them out to be sometimes.