Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First day of school for the big girls

We took the kids back-to-school shopping (which is getting mighty pricey with three kids going back to school—new shoes for everyone!) last week but we still hadn't had their back-to-school day yet and had no supply lists for the teachers. 

Our back-to-school day was yesterday and I was a little worried about squeezing in a run to the store for school supplies on the eve before the first day of school, but—you guys!—we've stumbled upon one of those mythical schools that provides supplies for the students!

When we walked into Rachel's classroom, every desk had a stack of notebooks and workbooks, a pencil case full of pens, pencils, and erasers, everything they'd need was right there. It was like Christmas! Miriam's classroom was much the same, except that her supplies were already inside her desk, labeled and everything. All of Benjamin's supplies were tucked into his classroom cubby. 

All we had to do was pull off a "wish star" or two to fulfill for the teacher—things like ziplock bags and pencils and snacks and cleaning wipes (things that were also on our lists at Easley). 

The girls thought it was weird to only be loading their lunch boxes into their backpacks this morning because (a) they're used to being so laden with supplies they're almost falling over on the first day of school and (b) this is the first year we've really packed lunches. 

They were both up and dressed before either Andrew or I got up. They practiced the piano, helped unload the dishwasher, had some reading time, and were chomping at the bit to get out the door well before it was time to go. 


Monday, August 21, 2017

Partial Eclipse

This was our second solar eclipse viewing as a family. The first was on May 20, 2012 in Grover, Utah. That was an annular eclipse, which is when "when the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun's, blocking most of the Sun's light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring)."

All of a sudden May 20th is seeming like it's cutting it pretty close for a camping trip off in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Utah, considering Benjamin was born June 3rd. And that's why I won't be joining the family in Grover over Labour Day weekend this year—it just seems to be cutting it pretty close for a camping trip in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Utah, considering I'm at risk for preterm labour (thanks, Benjamin).

Andrew and I also watched (some of) the transit of Venus a couple of days after Benjamin was born. We were walking around the hospital (UVRMC, up on the third floor) and stumbled across a man using a welding mask to watch the eclipse and he said, "You have to see this!" so we stopped to take a little peek.* 

There wasn't all the hubbub about fake glasses and/or going blind, like there was this time around. We ordered a couple of different varieties of glasses from Amazon. One of them was later "recalled" because they couldn't produce the proper paperwork for Amazon, but the other glasses checked out and were from an official vendor so we were well-supplied. And thank goodness! People were buying flimsy cardboard glasses for upwards of $15.00 (I know this because that was the price a friend found them for a couple of days before the eclipse; she bought 25 pairs (the minimum order) and was able to sell every pair she didn't need)!

We considered driving north to Idaho so we could view the total eclipse (and so we could visit Auntie Em!) but we didn't want to get stuck in traffic coming back because today was the kids' back-to-school afternoon and we didn't want to get stuck in traffic at all because pregnant lady and toddler. So instead we just stuck around home and watched the partial eclipse; it was about 90% totality. 

100% would have been cooler, but it looks like we'll have another shot at that in six years or so.

"Yeah, when I'm sixteen," Rachel pointed out.

I wish she'd stop doing stuff like that.

Anyway, our partial eclipse was pretty neat! We could see it from our front yard just fine but Andrew insisted it would be cooler at the park, so we walked down there.

Rachel checking out the eclipse


Thirty weeks vs. the marble

"Speaking of marbles," I said. "I think there is a marble on the bathroom floor. I just haven't bothered to bend over and investigate the matter..."

"Oh, there is!" Rachel agreed, running to retrieve it.

It's been tucked away in the corner of the bathroom the whole time we've lived here (three weeks now; I'm fairly sure the marble pre-dates our arrival) and no one has bothered to pick it up. Apparently the kids were all aware that there was a marble but none of them could be bothered to bend over to pick it up, either.

In my defence, I'm thirty weeks pregnant.

What's your excuse, everybody else?

Sometimes I am smooth

It's not our anniversary today, but it is Andrew's parents' 35th anniversary. We made tamales (and by "we" I mean that mostly Andrew did it but Karen and I helped stuff them this morning, completely justifying the "we") and Aunt Linda and Uncle Trevor came over to help eat them. Then, after we put the little ones to bed (or, more accurately, while I was putting the little ones to bed), Grandma, Grandpa, Daddy, Rachel and Miriam played a round of Hand and Foot.

Do we know how to party or what?

In spite of it not being our anniversary, I waxed a little mushy during family scripture study. We'd just finished reading the scriptures when Benjamin mentioned something about how the primary does a family spotlight, which reminded me that I still hadn't finished filling our spotlight form out.

I filled out the easy answers, like, "What are the names and ages of the people in your family?" and "Describe your family pets." But there were some difficult questions as well, such as, "What is your family's favourite hymn/primary song?"

You mean, like, as a unit? I have no idea. There are so many conflicting opinions within our brood.

"Let's have a vote," Rachel suggested. "Everyone say their favourite song and whichever song gets the most votes wins."

A funeral and some frisbee

My grandpa's oldest sister, Lois Layton Shay, passed away on August 14. Her funeral was this Saturday and my mom asked if anyone from our brood wanted to tag along with her. Since Rachel already had Saturday plans with Grandpa and I knew I didn't want to take Benjamin or Zoë, that left Miriam. She's never been to a funeral (within her recollection) so she was more than happy to accept the invitation.

I drove (yes, me) to Provo to meet up with my mom, who then drove us all into Salt Lake (because Salt Lake is definitely not within my driving bubble). We made it just in time to attend the family viewing before the funeral (Miriam was morbidly curious about seeing a dead body). 

It was fun to hear about Lois's life during the funeral. I took a few notes, since she shares quite a bit of history with my Grandpa Layton (for example, I learned was that apparently my great-grandfather, Russell Layton, did the plaster for Lucille Ball's swimming pool). Unfortunately, the poor Layton children don't seem to have many childhood memories to share, their lives being so tragically altered at such a tender age. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Rachel's big bike ride

On Saturday while Miriam and I were off adventuring with Naanii, and while Andrew and the little ones went grocery shopping, Grandpa took Rachel on her first real bike ride.

She's been riding around our [old] neighbourhood for a few years now, but we haven't really ventured beyond that. Now that we're here with wide open spaces and a new-to-her mountain bike, as well as a willing adult unencumbered by those too small to ride, however, Rachel ventured well beyond our neighbourhood.

Grandpa put her bike up on the trainer stand so she could learn how to shift gears and so forth without worrying about traffic or falling over or anything. Next they went to the church parking lot where she practiced shifting and braking while moving. And then she said, "I'm ready, let's go!"

"Are you sure?" Grandpa asked her. "Because we can go next week if you don't feel comfortable..."

"I'm ready!" she assured him.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Modest is...

Let's face it: not a whole lot actually rhymes with the word modest. There are plenty of near rhymes but only a handful of true rhymes, none of which are really any better than the cringe-worthy slogan, "Modest is Hottest." The good news is that we don't have to have a cutesy slogan for church activities! Strange, but true. 

Alliteration is also optional. 

Still, some of modest's rhymes are fun to stick in that blank. Like bodice. "Modest is Bodice" for some reason makes me laugh. Anyway...

That was the title of Rachel's activity at church today: Modest is Hottest.

I sighed just as heavily typing that as I did when I read it because I believe there is so much wrong with teaching our little girls (she's ten years old!) about modesty this way. I believe that modesty is important, sure, but I don't believe modest has anything to do with "hotness" and I certainly don't believe that I should be introducing "hotness" as a goal/standard/ideal when my daughter—who is still a child—is considering what to wear.

So we held a preemptive family night lesson to discuss what modesty means, largely drawing from this, this, and this (we didn't do the Doctor Who paper doll adventure but we did read the talk, look at the pictures, and discussed modesty in dress and behaviour at length). To quote from one of those links, "Phrases like 'Modest is Hottest' introduce ideas about sexuality that are not appropriate for eight year olds," or ten year olds. 

Socializing

It's the last week of school and our social calendar has been booming. Yesterday we went out to the movies with Naanii and Bumpa. We watched Despicable Me 3, which was about as good as any movie with multiple sequels. Afterwards we went out for ice cream, which the kids were rather excited about. Rachel was most excited that she was tasked with making sure Zoë's cone didn't drip (she took her job very seriously and liberally). 

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's always fun for everyone...

On Sunday we had a rather ginormous family gathering, with 34 people in attendance by my count. It was mostly a Heiss affair, since Aunt Stacey was in town and it was her birthday. All of Reid's siblings were there (which was such a momentous occasion that they allowed for a picture) and all of Andrew's siblings were there, along a motley assortment of cousins and second cousins:
  • Grandpa Frank
  • Grandma Pat
    • Matt & Becky
    • Nicki
      • Leah & Greg
        • Jensen
      • Emma & boyfriend whose name escapes me
    • Reid & Karen
      • Andrew & Nancy
        • Rachel
        • Miriam
        • Benjamin
        • Zoë
      • Katharine & Todd
        • Kayl
      • Sarah
        • Riley
      • Emily (left her family up in Idaho for a little pre-baby vacation)
      • Jacob & Shayla
        • Carter
    • Stacey
    • Rod
Because we missed truly celebrating Rachel's birthday last month, we decided it was a good time to finish celebrating her as well (I did promise her a cake and we all know that you can't turn a year older without cake) so we also invited my family as well. My mom and dad came, along with Patrick and Josie, and my nephew Matthew.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Millions of peaches, [but no] peaches for me!

Zoë escaped family scripture study last night and found Grandpa, who took her outside to check on the peach tree. Soon they came back inside and Grandpa announced that we had "a tree emergency" which required all hands on deck. It was rather windy so we all figured a branch had broken or something but instead we found the poor peach tree, so overladen with fruit that its boughs were drooping to the ground. Though not broken yet they soon would be if we didn't act quickly, and so we had our first peach harvest!

The kids were rather excited about this; they've been anxiously waiting for fresh peaches and we've been sharing the few that have ripened before the rest of the crop. 

On Friday when Aunt Stacey stopped by and we were showing her the tree Benjamin grabbed a peach and said, "Can I pick this one?" and accidentally ripped it off the branch.

"Well, it's not ripe but...I guess you've already picked it," Grandpa said.

Benjamin tried to put it back on, to no avail.

But last night we were picking peaches whether sun-ripened or not (mostly not). Reid and Karen were surprised by how quickly the peaches seemed to have swollen and by just how many there were (because they'd already done quite a bit of thinning earlier in the season).

We filled bowl after bowl after bowl!


Friday, August 11, 2017

IKEA and the BYU Creamery

This afternoon we made an IKEA run with the kids for the last few things we need to finally get this place organized (ha—what we actually need is a big dose of motivation for Mommy). They were all thoroughly impressed with the store and loved walking through all the show rooms. Everyone saw a lot of things that they wanted (naturally) but we managed to walk out (more or less) with the things we had intended to buy in the first place (maybe a couple more).

While Andrew was checking out I took all the kids to the restroom and when we caught up with him he invited Benjamin to ride on the shelves we got. Rachel had been carrying Zoë but when Zoë saw Benjamin climb up on the cart she yelled, "Hey! Dad! Wait, Dad! Wait! Me on! Me on, too!" So both the little ones rode to the parking lot on top of our purchases.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Bed switching

Yesterday we went "shopping" for furniture in Grandma Pat's basement—and high time, too! We were supposed to go last week over and over again but Andrew was still so busy with his dissertation that we kept putting it off. And then we were supposed to go on Monday but had to postpone until yesterday due to extenuating family circumstances. Yesterday might not have been the very best day to go; it certainly ended up being more complicated than we had originally planned, but it was also quite fun. Uncle Rod showed up to help move furniture and Aunt Nicki was there as well and because we showed up a little late (okay, by more than an hour) Grandma Pat ordered pizza so we could fill our bellies and avoid the worst of rush hour traffic.

We had a fun little visit, even though Grandma Pat's house is a little like a museum, full of interesting-to-look-at things that are verboten to little fingers (making it somewhat of a trial for the smallest of us (only Benjamin and Zoë came with us; Rachel and Miriam spent the afternoon/evening with Naanii and Bumpa at the movies/dinner). I think the only person to knock anything over, however, was Andrew, so...

Monday, August 07, 2017

Ph Egypt D

Andrew turned in the revised copy of his dissertation today. Judging by how good I feel about this, I think it's safe to say Andrew is feeling pretty darn relieved. That's how Ken Rogerson said he'd feel when he finished, that there wouldn't be any sense of triumph or accomplishment. Rather, it would feel like a burden had been lifted. More of a "Phew! I didn't die!" than a "Look at what I did!"

Of course, I did look at what he did before he submitted it, just to make sure there weren't any glaring errors (which, of course, there were): repeated words, omitted words, superfluous words, poorly formed lists, incorrect declensions. Common errors like that will find their way into anyone's writing.

My favourite mistake, however, was the following. I can't give it precisely in context because I don't have his draft on this computer, but it basically went like this:
In the middle of a well-crafted, erudite, complex and lengthy paragraph I found a beautiful, complete sentence that made perfect sense. Egypt. This was followed by another logical and acceptably written sentence.
I actually burst out laughing when I came to that little mistake. In his defense, he had just discussed an example of something that had happened in Tunisia and the following sentence was an example of the same thing happening in Egypt, so the little "Egypt," that found itself sandwiched between those two sentences was probably a remnant of an early outline or something. But still.

Stuff

Our truck really, truly arrived on Saturday morning—and it even had our stuff on it! A good number of people from the ward came to help as well as our families. Karen went out to get some doughnuts from Cowboy Donuts and my mom brought some Nanaimo bars. Everyone seemed to enjoy coming inside for some refreshments when they were finished unloading the truck.

Although the morning started out cool, things warmed up quickly.

My mom, Uncle Patrick, Andrew and his dad slaved away piecing together furniture for a good part of the afternoon. Karen and I helped between tending the children. Rachel, Benjamin, and Miriam went over to the bishop's house to play with the kids there so in the morning we mostly had Zoë and Riley to contend with...but two two-year-olds is plenty enough trouble for anybody! They were all home in the afternoon.

By bedtime we had beds for everybody and, let me tell you, sleeping has never felt so good.

Also, sitting. Sitting has never felt so good either. I'm so happy to have my rocking chair back. I don't know how much time I've spent rocking babies—both born and yet-to-be born—in that chair (and/or my old rocking chair) but it's been a good chunk of the last decade and it felt good to be able to collapse in it again to rest and cuddle my toddler and read stories and so forth.

We spent a good chunk of this evening furiously unpacking. My feelings about stuff has run the gamut, from "sort through everything" to "forget sorting just pack everything" to "forget packing, just burn it" to "I'm so glad to have this back" to "why in the world did we haul this across the country?" to "where the heck is this specific thing I really want to find?"

I can't wait to be finished with everything so we can relax and get ready for this baby...

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Ridiculous

Our truck was supposed to arrive today between 10 am and 2 pm, and when it didn't show Andrew called the company we booked with to see where, exactly, it was. They called their partner company in Utah to find out and then told Andrew that it would be another 2–3 hours before our truck would be delivered and that the company out here would call us to confirm delivery time.

Two soon passed and the third hour was quickly ticking by with no truck in sight. When Jacob and Shayla showed up to help I decided I should call the company to confirm, once again, that this truck was coming. Unfortunately, the number we have is based in the East Coast and they keep rather strict business hours so no one answered the phone.

Andrew looked up the number for the partner company based in Salt Lake and I called them at about 4:50 (shortly before closing) and confused the poor customer service representative on the phone so badly that she ran out to find her supervisor...who was in the parking lot getting into his car to go home. Because they also keep strict business hours.

He came back inside to help clear things up.

Turns out "our" truck was actually on its way, but after my call (and a quick review of our paperwork) they radioed out to the driver and told them to turn around because for some reason they thought we needed an empty truck delivered this afternoon. The actual truck we need—which is full of our stuff—is apparently parked in their lot, still waiting to be delivered.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Slooooowly settling in

The kids are all registered for school and are, I think, starting to get a little anxious for the school year to start. This is our first time trying to fill an entire summer break because on the year-round schedule we only had five weeks. They're pretty good about playing with each other, but they're also pining for interaction with other children.

Moving into a Utah (county) ward is weird because, whereas practically anywhere else a Mormon moves in the world their ward basically throws a party to welcome them because they're just so excited to have another family (with kids—even better!) in their ward, no one really gets excited when another Mormon family moves in next door.

I'm sure everyone in the ward is very nice. We just don't know that for sure because pretty much 0% of the ward spoke to us on Sunday. I spoke to Zoë's nursery leader for, like, two seconds to tell him her name was Zoë (and I even stayed in there the second hour but I couldn't really seem to edge in to any conversations) and Benjamin's primary teachers introduced themselves after church. Other than that we got a lot of looks sizing us up, but that's all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Stairs

Moving from a single-storey house to a three-level home has meant making some adjustments. Who needs a stair master when you're chasing your children upstairs and downstairs all day long? We are all going to be in great shape in no time (and by "we" I don't mean the children; they're fine).

The kids have been running up and down the stairs like crazy the past few days, hardly seeming to notice they're there (while I have to will myself up or down any given flight). Even Zoë took to the stairs fairly quickly. She went up and down all day Saturday without a problem, but on Sunday morning she took a tumble down the basement steps while holding a toy phone. The antenna part jabbed her pretty good right near her eye (missing her actual eye, thank goodness). She was pretty shaken up but continued to brave the stairs until Sunday afternoon when she took yet another tumble.

This time she was on her way down the stairs from the top floor of the house to the main floor when her kind and sweet older brother sent a sleeping bag rolling down the stairs after her. She went flying like a bowling pin and...that was it. She gave up on stairs. She started crawling up and down or would stand and scream for someone to "Helpo!" her walk up or down, the whole time nattering about, "Push me! Push me, fall! I fall! I fall! No push me!"

Monday, July 31, 2017

We didn't die of dysentery

We made it!

I thoroughly enjoyed the few days I spent at Amy's house relaxing, though I was kept somewhat busier than I anticipated with a farewell party on Wednesday and a Relief Society pool party on Thursday. I still have to write about the exciting week of socialization the kids had with friends and fun, but that will have to wait until I'm prepared to go through the pictures that are scattered on my hard drive, various cell phones, and our camera.

Benjamin, as you know, came down with a stomach bug on Monday evening, which was rather unfortunate. He threw up several times during the night and produced a lot of laundry that we weren't expecting to do, necessarily, so at the last minute I threw in a couple of extra outfits in the children's luggage...just in case...because when I had had them pack, I had them follow a list I'd made that expressly outlined how many pairs of whatever to pack. In an effort to conserve space I really didn't ask them to pack a whole lot of spare clothing.

Poor Benjamin was throwing up again on Tuesday. By Wednesday his issues had moved south, which is almost worse than throwing up because you can hold a throw up bucket in the car but what, exactly, do you do for diarrhea?

On Thursday, however, I got the message that he was "solid" again, which I was rather relieved to learn because I had been feeling rather anxious about his ailments.

At the pool party my friend Annie, knowing that he had been feeling sick, asked how things were going on the drive.

"Good," I said. "I just got word that Benjamin's 100% better, so that's a relief... Wait. No."

Two text messages popped up on the screen of my phone:

1) Rachel just threw up
2) And now it's Zoë's turn

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Happiness Ahead

On Sunday morning I had the kids dress in their reserved Sunday clothes. We'd packed everything else in their closets, except their chosen outfit for their last Sunday in this ward.

Benjamin had been playing in his room—with DUPLO, the one set of toys that we had yet to pack away—and he came out to ask me a question. I looked up at him and gasped in horror. 

He had blood smeared all over his arms and shirt sleeves (and dribbling out of his nose)!

"Benjamin!" I shrieked. "You have a bloody nose!"

"I do?" he said.

"It's all over your shirt..." I nearly cried. 

"It's fine," he sniffed, wiping his nose on his arm again. "It's not that much blood!"

"Oh, Benjamin, please stop!" I said. 

A few glitches...but we're moving!

My friend Laura took the kids on Monday again. Andrew and I worked all day; we took all the beds apart and packed up all (or much of) the miscellany left around the house. It was nice to know the kids were happy and well-cared for while we did all of that.

I picked the kids up shortly before dinnertime (not that we’d end up having dinner until much, much later) and we started scrambling to get things prepared to load the moving truck since the Elder’s Quorum was due to arrive quite soon.

Benjamin mentioned something about his tummy not feeling right, so I gave him a little sympathy but then continued with whatever I had been doing. Unfortunately his complaint had been very, very genuine.

Minutes later I found myself cleaning up a puddle of vomit from the middle of the hallway and drawing a bath for my poor little boy.

As bad as I felt for him, I also felt bad for us—having a child come down with a stomach bug on moving day is simply not ideal.

Car jobs

Growing up, I was no stranger to long car rides. We seemed to travel between BC and Alberta and Utah quite a lot. My children, who are on their fourth drive across the country (once when we moved out, once to visit Utah, once driving back from Utah, and…now), probably feel the same way.

They are well conditioned.

This, however, is Zoë’s inaugural long-distance car ride. She and I flew to Utah and back the summer everyone else drove (and I flew out with Benjamin when we moved out here and I’m flying out to Utah this time around—I’m just always hugely pregnant or have a brand-new baby when we make these trips, what can I say?). She needs to be trained in the art of sitting in the car all the livelong day.

And who better to teach this art than a big sister?

Fortune telling

I last wrote during a 1:00 AM packing break on Saturday morning. It is only Tuesday and yet I just made a list of things I need to write about an it’s about a mile long! So much has happened the past few days it’s making my head spin. But here it is the middle of the afternoon and I’m showered, relaxing with my feet up, watching bluebirds out the window, and blogging like the chaos is over because mostly…it is.

I will try to organize my posts in some fashion going forward, but for now, here’s a funny story that I honestly cannot fit into the timeline whatsoever. It happened…sometime…

We’ve been eating a lot of mismatched meals lately—anything we could pull out of the cupboards or freezer was up for grabs breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

One day, Andrew pulled out a box of fortune cookies that we’d  had in our cupboard since our Chinese New Year celebration at the beginning of the year. Everyone was very excited to read their fortunes.

Benjamin’s fortune was, “You will soon be involved in many gatherings and parties.”

“That’s true!” Andrew said. “Everyone is so excited to see you when we get to Utah.”

Rachel’s fortune was, “A pleasant surprise is in store for you tonight.”

“That’s true!” Andrew said. I can’t remember his reasoning, but there are many pleasant surprises in store for her in the future, I’m sure.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Packing with and without "helpers"

Yesterday I managed to farm off all my children and tackled Rachel's room on my own. This afternoon I managed to farm off all my children except one (Zoë) and Andrew and I tackled Benjamin and Miriam's bedroom together.

"Working without the kids here is pretty amazing," I told Andrew. "I think I've done more the last couple of afternoons than I have the entire summer. The kids are always fighting and getting into things and unpacking as I'm packing..."

"Really?" he asked. "They do that?"

And then we heard a *CRASH*

"Zoë," I groaned.

I found her in Miriam and Benjamin's room surrounded by toys. She'd knocked over a box that I'd just packed up (and had left unattended while I went to find tape). It was pretty good timing for her to knock it over, I guess—a perfect illustration of what I've been up against all summer.

(I also had a container in the room that I'd been using as a trash receptacle (Dear children: if you can't find any of the dinky little fair toys you've collected over the past five years I have no idea what happened to them. Love, Mom) and she purposely grabbed that and emptied it all over the floor while I was helping Andrew wrangle some stretch wrap over a piece of furniture. Oi.)


Friday, July 21, 2017

Andrew's a DOCTOR!

There won't be a ceremony until next spring and he still has a list of required revisions to complete but (more or less) he's done! And I don't think I've seen him this at ease with life since 2012.

Danielle, one of the candidates in Andrew's cohort, decorated his door for him and made him cookies (she defended in May)

Rachel is TEN!

My friend Laura took all of my kids yesterday and kept them all afternoon. She picked them up around 11:15 and then Andrew went to get them after work. It was amazing! I got so much accomplished!

All three girls had pigtails in the morning (and I didn't do any of them)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Benjamin's Pool Party

Benjamin turned five at the beginning of June and with Andrew scrambling to finish his dissertation and the end of the school year and everything else, it was just kind of a crazy time for us to try to throw a party for him...so we didn't. We celebrated as a family at the pool but we didn't do anything with friends because I wanted to choose a date when Andrew would be around to help. 

Time kept slipping by and all of a sudden we we're moving in six days and Rachel's birthday is tomorrow...so we picked today!

The girls pointed out that this would be when his birthday party would have been held had he had the decency to wait until his due date. Rachel very graciously and maturely has been allowing him to be the center of attention today (even though it's her birthday-eve), though she did breathe a sigh of relief when I came out of my bedroom with a pile of freshly wrapped birthday presents labeled "To Rachel."

We, uh, didn't get anything for Benjamin this time around because we gave him presents on his actual birthday. This was hard for him to process. He though we should do the whole thing over again from start to finish. He wanted birthday cereal and presents and a cake. 

"No, no," I said. "We did cake and presents and cereal on your birthday, remember?"

"That was when I turned five," he pointed out. 

"Right," I said. "And this is your five-year-old party. But it's just a party, not your birthday..."

"But how come Rachel gets to choose birthday cereal?"

"Because it really is Rachel's birthday."

"But she doesn't get a party?"

"Right."

She's not even getting cake tomorrow. (I told you she was being gracious and mature!) 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No brainer

While we were playing UNO we were treated to a terrific storm this evening, which was ushered in with a percussion prelude before the rains began. Benjamin wondered how there could even be thunder and lightning without rain, so I explained a bit about dry thunderstorms and then said, "Dry thunderstorms have been happening quite a lot in British Columbia recently, which has started hundreds of forest fires, and that's no bueno."

Now, I realize that "no bueno" is an Anglicized slaughtering of the Spanish language, but we fairly regularly throw in phrases from other languages at our house while we speak English. "Shall we turn or go ʿala ṭool?" while we're out walking, for example. Or "Ostorozhno, don't walk in front of the swings." Or "Ciao, bellissima! Have a nice day!"

I don't know why....just whatever comes out comes out. So, anyway, I've been saying "no bueno" for years.

Tonight, Rachel—who will be ten years old on Thursday—paused and very carefully repeated, "Wait. No bueno?"

"Yup."

"What?! I have always thought you were just saying 'no brainer' in a goofy voice! What does bueno even mean?!"

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Every Relationship

spoke in church at the end of April so I was pretty sure I was off the hook until we got to our new ward, but no. But apparently you're never safe because I was asked to give a talk this week (Andrew is speaking next week). Fortunately, I was the middle speaker so I didn't have to worry about ending the meeting on time, which made the whole ordeal a lot less stressful. I wasn't given a topic, however, which made things a little more stressful. I was told to give my "parting remarks," whatever that means, but also talk about the gospel, obviously. So this is what I ended up with (my only regret is that I didn't manage to squeeze in a lesson from Wicked—"Because I knew you/I have been changed for good"; but there's only so much one can say in 10–15 minutes):

Every Relationship

As many of you know, our time in D2 has come to an end and we’ll be heading off on a new adventure, so these are, essentially, my valedictory remarks. Taking time to introduce our family seems almost trivial at this point since next week is our last Sunday here. Those of you who know us do and those of you who don’t, unfortunately, won’t. We’ve been in Durham for about five years while my husband Andrew has been working towards a PhD in Public Policy. We moved here with our two little girls, Rachel and Miriam—then only five and two—and a brand new baby Benjamin. We’re leaving with two relatively big girls—now ten and seven—and a five-year-old Benjamin (along with a two-year-old Zoë and a half-baked baby boy)!

We feel like our family has done a lot of growing up here and it’s rather difficult to say goodbye, especially for our children since this is the only home they remember.

A few months ago, long after the children had been put to bed, I heard a sniffling sound coming from one of their rooms. After a little investigation I found the culprit—our oldest daughter, Rachel—crying in bed. She was worried about having to say goodbye to all the wonderful people she knows here and was fretting about how she’d make friends at our new place. She wondered if making new friends would even be worth the effort since, as of right now, we only have a one-year contract where we’re going and have no idea yet where we will be after that.

I assured her that of course making new friends—even short term friends—would be worth it.

People are always worth it. “Remember,” we’re told in D&C 18:10, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” As “Latter-day Saints [we] see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; [we] consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential.” In Psalms 82:6, the Lord says, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches, “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” And 2 Nephi 26:33 states that “all are alike unto God.”

All people. All souls. All of you in this room. All human beings. Everyone, everywhere.

We are all children of Heavenly Parents who love us.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Benjamin's prayers

With the promise of being able to watch an episode of How to Train Your Dragon before bed, Benjamin's behaviour after dinner was on point. He cleared his dishes, he picked up the books in his room, he played dominoes and trains with Zoë while the rest of us played "Ticket to Ride," he ate his ice cream and then ran himself a bath. He got dressed and hung up his towel.

Perhaps most miraculously of all, he managed to sit still through scriptures!

"We'll have Benjamin say the prayer," Andrew said when we'd put the scriptures away. "Because he sat so nicely. But it's going to be a nice prayer, slow enough for everyone to understand."

"Okay," said Benjamin.

"And only one 'good day,'" Rachel added.

"No!" Benjamin wailed. "Seven!"

"Just one will do," Andrew said.

"Okay, okay," Benjamin agreed, and he started to pray.

"Dear Heavenly Father," he said. "We're thankful for this day. We're thankful for the good day that we could have today..."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Our last beach trip

Our little run to the beach yesterday was far too short of a trip to give the coast a proper goodbye (so we'll pretend that we haven't said our goodbyes). We went to one of our favourite beaches: North Topsail Island. It was the perfect day. It wasn't terribly windy, the water was nice and warm, and it was actually quite a lot cooler than it was in Durham so it was a great way to escape the dog days of summer that we're suffering through.

We applied sunscreen in the parking lot before hitting the sand because we're finally getting smart about these kinds of things (putting sunscreen on sandy children is...exfoliating). Even Andrew put sunscreen on willingly. He, himself, spread it on his arms and legs. I only had to do his face—and he stood still for that part. We've been married for 11.5 years and that has never happened.

"Aw, you're growing up," I teased.

"I am not," he said. "I just don't want to get burned this time."

"Aw, you're growing up," I repeated.

Last time he got burned and then had to fly out to BYU for interviews and was flaking dead skin everywhere, which I guess he felt was unprofessional or something. He's getting weirdly excited about dressing professionally for someone who loves flip-flops so passionately. I guess it's all part of growing up (which he's not doing; don't worry). 

Because we'd already sunscreened-up, the kids were free to run to the water when we found to our spot and they wasted no time in doing so. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Things Zoë screamed at the beach

1) More la-lo! [Lots of water!]
2) Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!
3) Shoes—off!
4) Hat—on!
5) Come!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Moving on

I spent the afternoon erasing...
Errant pencil marks
Something sticky
Tiny, grimy finger prints
Crusted-on boogers
Too many scuff marks
...off my empty walls.

They said that I would miss this,
The wise ones who came before.
They said that I would miss this:
The messes
The handprints
The toys on the floor.

Not your everyday chores

Within four hours of listing Andrew's scooter for sale it was gone. We were shocked because selling his last scooter took weeks. Of course, that one needed quite a bit of work by the time we sold it and no mechanic for miles around would agree to work on it and we were having a terrible time even finding parts for it online. 

This one, however, we've kept in pretty good shape and it has served us well. 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

First call to poison control

A two-year-old, I think, should be able to play outside in the company of a group of seven children spanning the ages of two and eleven (specifically: 11, 10, 9 (but almost 10), 7, 7, 5, and 2) without me being there to supervise every moment.

I had just chastised the children about coming in and out of the house and never closing the door, not only because I don't want to have to close the door every thirty seconds but because our house was rapidly filling with insects.

The kids were in the yard (the front yard because these particular friends aren't allowed in our backyard for whatever reason) working on some corn husk dolls. Andrew made tamales yesterday and we had way too many corn husks for the amount of tamales he made, so we let the kids have at 'em.

Rachel had pulled up the instructions online (unsupervised!) but we couldn't get them to print so she was coming in and out of the house for every single step until I finally lost it and said, "You have got to stop coming in and out of the house because every time you do I have to get up to close the door because you guys can't seem to manage to do that yourselves!"

"I'm just reading the instructions," she objected.

"Surely you can read through them and remember how to do it. This isn't your first time making them. Or you can just invent a way. But you have to stop coming in and out."

"FINE!" Rachel snapped back and stormed out of the house.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Final Ukulele Choir Performance

This morning we had our final ukulele performance for family and friends at the local library. I'm not sure whether to wipe my brow and feel relieved that it's over (No more practices! We can pack up our ukuleles!) or if I should be mourning the end of an era (we've been with this little ukulele choir for 4 or 5 years now; I can't remember). Perhaps, as we explained to the girls a few weeks ago, it's perfectly legitimate to feel both feelings at the same time.

Rachel was sure she was feeling "confused" about the move but we decided to call it "conflicted." And it isn't so much that we're not sure how to feel, rather that multiple emotions—all valid—are vying for control (as in the movie Inside Out).

So our final performance was relieving and sad...and just a wee bit chaotic.

We weren't able to get a room at our usual library branch, so instead we had to head all the way out to the East Regional Library. We got there in plenty of time to set up and tune our instruments, which was good because as I was tuning up Rachel's ukulele her g-string popped off. It didn't break; it just popped off. I've never restrung an instrument before so I wasn't quite sure what to do. Fortunately, Benjamin hasn't taken to the ukulele quite yet (I've tried) but we brought his along just in case (which, honestly, Zoë plays (with) way more often than he does) so we had a backup.

Rachel wasn't thrilled about using this ukulele, however, because it doesn't stay in tune very well, on account of the hours Zoë has spent fiddling with the tuners (handing her a ukulele is one of the only ways to keep her happy during ukulele practice, but she's not a very dedicated student and more often than not simply lets her curiosity get the better of her. What can I say? She's two.).

Just then, Brother Brown, our ukulele-benefactor and amateur-luthier walked in the door.

"If only we knew someone who knows how to string an instrument," I said, winking at Brother Brown. "Oh, wait! We do!"

Friday, July 07, 2017

Swimming and talking

Surprise—I took the kids to the pool after dinner! One of our neighbours brought a little ride-on chameleon floatie, which their kids didn't seem terribly interested in. My children, however, were terribly interested in it, so the neighbours kindly allowed them to play with it. 

Benjamin had a blast with it.


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Reading

Just as I was herding the children off to bed, Andrew texted me with part of his dissertation introduction. I told him that I'd get to it as soon as I had all the kids tucked in but then I walked into the hall and saw this:


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Breakfast isn't breakfast (and practicing isn't practicing)...

This morning while I was in the shower there was a big fight over the brownies leftover from yesterday, apparently. I know because multiple children came in to ask about them while I was in the shower (and I could hear the distant sounds of screaming between visits from my children). There was other evidence, which I'd find later.

I had the girls make brownies yesterday to take to our friends' house because (a) we had a brownie mix in our pantry and we're trying to empty our pantry and (b) I'm diabetic right now and brownies aren't something I would sit around wanting because chocolate isn't remotely tempting for me. Following with our Independence Day theme, they did everything from start to finish, including putting the pan in the oven and pulling it out again. It was awesome!

Anyway, we had some leftover, which they wanted to take home to consume later. Benjamin thought they'd make a good breakfast this morning but the girls insisted that brownies didn't qualify as a "decent" breakfast (which is one of their "chores") so they put them out of his reach and they all sat down for a "decent" breakfast together.

When I got out of the shower the piano was turned on, so I praised Rachel for jumping in and getting her practicing done like I'd asked her to.

"Oh, I haven't practiced yet. I started but I was too hungry so I decided to have breakfast first."

"Well, why don't you go ahead and practice now that you've had breakfast?" I suggested.

"Actually, I'm still a little hungry," she said. "I think I'll have a yogurt, too."

Independence Day

Yesterday afternoon when I got up from my nap (simply can't seem to make it through the day without one of those lately; especially since I've been staying up until the wee hours of the morning editing sections of Andrew's dissertation while he writes and writes and writes), Zoë pounced on the bed and squealed, "Pool?!"

Going to the pool in the afternoon has pretty much become routine (and we're sure going to miss having access to a pool like this when we move).

I told the kids that, yes, we could go to the pool, but because we had to walk we wouldn't be able to stay for very long since we still had to have dinner before going to our friends' house for fireworks. They agreed to this and quickly started getting ready to head to the pool—all except Rachel, who still had to practice the piano. Technically piano practicing is supposed to happen in the morning but the morning had been rushed and busy and it didn't ever happen. So while the rest of us got ready to go to the pool, Rachel practiced the piano, with the understanding that she'd start getting ready after we left and then would catch up to us (and surpass us) on her bike.

The kids all have a swim shirt to wear in the pool, not so much for modesty's sake as for skin cancer's sake. Making sure everyone gets sunscreen on their arms, legs, faces, and necks is plenty enough to worry about without having to bother with backs and tummies, too! Everyone seems to like them because no one (except, perhaps, Zoë) really likes putting on sunscreen. The only problem with them is that the tight neck holes can make them difficult for little kids to take on and off, especially if they have ginormous noggins (like, for example, Benjamin).

We were pleased to see that the line of swim shirt our local Costco sells had added snaps to the toddler sizes of their shirts. Putting Zoë's shirt on is a breeze; when Benjamin was that size the shirts didn't have snaps so we had to wrangle him in and out of his shirt. The manufacturer seems to think that by the time children are five they should be able to get in and out of shirts on their own, however, and nothing above 4T had snaps at the neck. So we're still wrangling Benjamin in and out of that shirt.

When we pull it off of him, it flips inside-out. And he hasn't yet seemed to figure out how to get it the right way out again, so he always asks for help. Yesterday was no different and when he retrieved his swim shirt from his hook in the bathroom it was inside out.

"Mom! Can you help me un-inside-out my shirt?" he asked me while I was busy getting Zoë and myself ready.

"It's Independence Day so you need to try doing it yourself," I told him (because I'm hilarious).

"WHAT?" he shrieked, quite offended that I didn't immediately jump in and fix it for him.

"Hey, I don't make the rules..." I said (that the holiday is what it is, do not blame me).

"How?" he whined.

Firework tales

We were the first to arrive for fireworks, so while we waited we kicked off the evening with some sparklers. The children were warned that this was probably the most dangerous thing they'd do today—that we were letting them play with very hot, very real fire. 

After detailing the many kinds of fireworks that are illegal in North Carolina (anything that gets air or spins on the ground, basically), sergeant Dale Gunter listed the kinds of things that are legal, which is a lot of things, including, "a thin sharp piece of wire burning at 2,000 degrees that gets hot enough to cut a ’57 Chevy in half and the No. 1 cause of injuries related to fireworks in America … TOTALLY LEGAL!"

Hoping that the children understood, we instructed them to hold their sparklers at the very end of the wire and to put them in the bucket of cold water as soon as they burned out.

Here are the girls, exercising the utmost care to not get too close to those flames while trying to pass the spark:

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

True patriot love

This morning we bustled out the door to attend the annual neighbourhood bicycle parade, which we forgot about until 9:45 (and which begins at 10:00). Andrew took the car this morning because there's rain in the forecast, but it was certainly hot and sunny this morning (we'll see what the afternoon brings) so that meant we had to get down to the park by foot in order to join in the parade.

Obviously that wasn't going to happen in time, so I sent the big girls off on their bikes so they could ride in the parade. I walked the little kids to the corner so we could watch the parade and join in at the end (Benjamin rode his tricycle). I wasn't sure we would make it in time, but we did! We found a nice shady spot by some neighbours and chatted while we waited for the parade to come by.

It was led by a firetruck again this year, which Zoë found rather impressive.


Monday, July 03, 2017

(Not) Sleeping

Sticking to a daily routine makes it easier to manage your blood sugar levels. This means waking up, going to bed, eating, and exercising at approximately the same time every single day, every single meal.

For the most part, I've managed to do this since I began monitoring my blood sugar levels this pregnancy. Some days I've been forced to wake up earlier than "normal" in order to get out of the house on time for appointments and things—and on those days I've noticed that my blood sugar levels really are higher than usual (like 10 mg/dL higher).

Sticking to a daily routine with a routine-averse toddler is...tricky...especially when that child is sick enough to be running a fever (but not sick enough to not run laps around the house between bites of breakfast).

I stayed home from church with Zoë yesterday. It was a pretty big Sunday for us; Andrew was released as executive secretary and I was released as a nursery leader. Because Andrew was still the executive secretary in the morning, his morning was full of meetings. He didn't have time to come home between meetings and the start of church to pick up the kids and while I could have driven the kids to church myself, and then driven home, and then gone to pick up the kids, and then come home...that sounded like a miserable idea with a sick baby in tow. (It made me look forward to living right across the street from the church building instead of right across town as we are now).

A friend of mine said she'd be happy to drive them, though, which was so nice!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Interesting Oatmeal

Had I waited just a little longer to write about Andrew's oatmeal experience it would have been ten times funnier because yesterday Benjamin and Zoë wanted oatmeal for lunch and we had a few oatmeal adventures, ourselves.

Zoë insisted that she wanted hers uncooked. She screamed at me when I put water in her bowl and when I put it into the microwave she had a complete meltdown. "NO! NO HOT! NO HOT!"

She was fine once her oatmeal was in front of her but, man, was she ever grumpy! (The grumpiness was explained when she wilted a little later in the afternoon with a fever of 102.)

Benjamin prepared his oatmeal, put his bowl in the microwave, and said, "How long do I cook it for? 30 seconds?"

That's his go-to time for the microwave. I think we made it a rule when he first started using the microwave (usually to make quesadillas): no more than thirty seconds at a time. Oatmeal, however, needs to cook for about a minute so I gave him permission to be fancy and set the timer for one minute.

Soon, however, we started hearing a crackling noise coming from the microwave and when we opened it we were met with a billowing cloud of smoke. He'd forgotten to add water and things were just "a little bit flamey." We doused his oatmeal with water and said goodbye to our purple IKEA bowl (I have a feeling we'll be hitting IKEA for a new set of kid dishes after we move).

On Facebook, our friend Susanne joked, "Andrew, thankfully, just eats it straight from the package and saves bowls' lives, right?" to which Andrew replied, "SAVE THE BOWLS!"

Who knew instant oatmeal could be so...interesting?

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Tickle Bush

We stopped to take a picture by "The Tickle Bush" on our after-dinner walk today. The kids like to walk right next to the bush and let it brush against them, which tickles (hence the name). Zoë requests "Bush! Please! Bush!" every time we go walking, so I have to push her stroller in the gutter so the bush can tickle her, too. We all chant, "Tickle bush, tickle bush, tickle bush!" in a goofy voice as we pass by/through it.

 

Friday, June 30, 2017

I see what you did there

Yesterday I saw an advertisement that included this line:

"Become a Mentor Today!"

Today I got a "let's not have another preterm baby, mmmmkay?" packet in the mail and the header for their newsletter is this:

"Learning Moments"

Emphasis, in both cases, is original to the content.

As an amateur graphic designer and linguist with the utmost appreciation of a good pun, I'm begging you:

Stop!

(As in I want you to stop, get it? Haha. (Not funny, I know.))

A name for baby

When we told the kids that this baby was a boy, I presented a list of names that Andrew and I had compiled, just to test the waters (because naming a child when your other children have opinions is a little more difficult than when you just get to choose).

Daniel...meh.
Oliver...meh.
Jonathan...nothing.
Stephen...well...
Theodore...sure.
Samuel...well...
Alexander...THE CROWD GOES WILD!
Lucas...nothing.
Nicholas...meh.
Philip...well...
Timothy...nothing.
Jeremy...nothing.

"Yahoo!!" the children whooped, dancing around the room excitedly. "Alexander! His name is Alexander! His name is Alexander!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," I said. "This was a poll, not a vote."

"She'll come around," Andrew said with a smirk.

Miriam's maternity misconceptions

When we told the kids we were having a new baby, one of the very first things they requested was to feel it kick. Although I had felt a few flutterings, I explained to the children that the baby wasn't quite strong enough to feel his kicks from the outside quite yet. A few weeks later, however, there was one morning when the baby was kicking up a storm, so I called the kids in to feel him moving.

I thought they'd be more excited about it, but they honestly weren't that excited at all.

Rachel gave a little, "Huh."

Benjamin put his hand on my belly declared, "Yup! I felt 'im!" when I knew full well that he hadn't felt anything (because if I didn't feel anything from the inside there's no way he felt anything from the outside).

Miriam was the most animated, yanking her hand away from my stomach and squealing, "Ew! It feels like milking a cow!"

"Like milking a cow?!" I sputtered.

"Yup."

"Feeling your little brother move feels like milking a cow?"

"Yup."

"I don't think you're entirely qualified to make that comparison," I sniffed, "Having never milked a cow."

No one has asked to feel the baby move since then (it's been weeks), but perhaps they'll be more interested in feeling the baby when he starts to really wobble around in there.

Choice and accountability

This evening, after I had all the kids in bed, I sat down for my traditional "dark lunch" (six (small) square meals a day, baby), and Andrew actually sat down at the table with me (!) to have his second quasi-meal of the day.

"Ahhh," he sighed as he stuffed a big bite of quesadilla (totally gourmet meal) in his mouth. "A hot meal with a little flavour to it."

I must've given him a funny face because he got a little defensive and said, "Hey, I've been living off of, like, oatmeal on campus. I was in such a groove today that I didn't even cook it."

"What?! Why?! You know that stuff takes, like, a minute to make..."

"Not when you have to get up and walk from your office to the kitchen," he pointed out. "I was just in a really good place in my writing but I was also hungry so I just opened the packet and sprinkled it in my mouth."

I grimaced at him.

"It was kind of gross," he admitted.

"That's it," I said. "I'm never getting a PhD."

"Yeah, don't," he said. "PhDs are the worst."

You'd think this might stir up some empathy within me and encourage me to, like, pack him a lunch or something domestic like that. But, you'd think wrong.

I'm pulling off three meals a day for five people at home (plus, I'm trying to eat for two), so he can pack his own lunch. He's a smart man, he'll be fine. Plus, there's plenty around the house ready to grab: granola bars, yogurt, fruit, nuts.

Sometimes suffering is a choice.

Like when you choose to eat a raw oatmeal packet.

Or when you choose to pursue a PhD. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oh, poop.

Yesterday I took the kids swimming and Zoë decided, once again, to take a little nap while we were cuddling in the deep end. Soon after she fell asleep, Benjamin bolted out of the pool to the bathrooms.

I've spent the past few weeks training him to use the men's bathroom. He's spent his whole life trailing after me in the women's bathroom so that is where he feels at home but we had an unfortunate run in with some overprotective parents who got really upset with me for allowing my then-four-year-old boy to use the women's restroom.

The problem was that he needed to go potty so he ran off to do so and I didn't follow him quite fast enough because I was coaxing Zoë out of the pool. Apparently—and I totally believe this—he pulled his pants down "early." But then their rant went on to say that he had "exposed" himself "indecently" to an impressionable young girl of eight, who ran to tell her father about "the boy in the girl's bathroom showing his private parts to me."

"He is four years old," I tried explaining. "I'm sure he pulled his pants down before he was in the stall but I'm equally sure it wasn't for the pleasure of exposing himself to anybody. It was because he's recently potty trained and was trying to make it to the toilet in time."

I was told he should be sent to the men's bathroom to take care of his needs if he can't "wait" until he's in the stall to drop his shorts.

"He still needs help pulling up his pants when he's finished," I objected. "Sending him into the men's bathroom alone won't solve his exposure issues since he'll probably end up waddling out to have me help him fix his swim shorts. He's just a little boy."

Kudos for talking with your daughter about these issues and kudos to her going to you when she felt there was an issue. You're doing something right and have an open channel of communication. That's great. We've had these conversations with our children also. But, let me remind you, again, that he is four years old. Not fourteen. Not forty. Four. He left babyhood, like, yesterday. He wasn't showing his private parts off; they were just there. No ill intent. He doesn't know any better. He is four. I don't know what else to tell you but please keep yelling at me in front of all these people.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Li'l prankster

Yesterday while Rachel was in the shower, Andrew taught Zoë a few hilarious pranks.

Now, Zoë isn't one to take to new things very quickly—not even birthday cake or water (two things she loves now, after multiple exposures). She has turned up her nose at pretty much everything ever presented to her since birth. But pranks? She took to those immediately (at least as the one on the dishing out end of things).

First they filled a cup with cold water and dumped it on her.

While Rachel was shrieking in the shower, Zoë ran shrieking out of the bathroom.

"Throw! Aich-o! La-lo!" she managed to say between her laughs. "More! More! More throw!"

Next they turned off all the bathroom lights and the same thing happened—Rachel started shrieking out of consternation while Zoë was shrieking with glee.

"Dark! Aich-o! More dark! More!"

She was clapping her hands and absolutely begging to get Rachel again.

"Are you a prankster?" I asked her.

"Dup," she said.

I'm sure eventually Andrew will regret teaching her these little tricks...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lost time accidents

Today I was making dinner and Zoë was watching. She loves to "see!" while we work in the kitchen, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because observing and doing is how children learn about the world. She loves to fetch spoons and hot pads or whatever we might need while we cook. The downside, of course, is that she's a limit-pushing toddler.

When I took the pan off the stove to take to the table, I reminded her it was time to climb down from her stool and cautioned, "The stove is still very hot. Don't touch!"

She looked at me with defiance, stuck out one little finger, and touched the stove—just to ensure I wasn't making stuff up.

I wasn't.

She crashed to the floor from her perch, wailing about "HUUURRRRT!"

Well, duh. 

We ran her finger under cold water until her "ow-me" felt "kay" again. She hopped down and went to play with her siblings (who were busy in the living room creating a masterpiece out of DUPLO), only to run back to me minutes later screaming, "HUUURRRT!!! More la-lo! More la-lo!"

So I helped her hop back onto her stool so she could run some more cold water over her finger. 

Here's a sad little Zoë:


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday to me

The children spent the morning fighting until I lost it with them and cried, "It is my birthday! I have no presents. I have no cake. It's raining and Dad took the car so we can't even go anywhere. The least you can do is get along for a little while!"

They tried a bit harder after that, but it was still a little bit of a letdown of a birthday. 

We tried to turn things around in the afternoon by walking to the pool (in the rain), swimming (in the rain), and walking home from the pool (in the rain). We were lucky it was just drizzling instead of the downpours we've had the past few days. 

When I was on swim team we'd occasionally (at least once every summer) have what was called "Hell Week." You can probably imagine what that entails—a whole lot of sets and drills that no one really wants to do. I think it was meant to push us to our limits. Or to help us appreciate the next week when the coach went back to normal instead of the crazed coach of fury from Hell Week. 

It's not my favourite phrase, but it is what it is.

Andrew is in Dissertation Hell Week(s) right now. He's writing and writing like he's running out of time because, quite literally, he is. He has everything planned out and outlined and is just picking off sections and pounding them out. He's gone before we wake up (unless someone has a doctor appointment), he doesn't get home until bedtime, and then once the kids are in bed he's back to the old grinding stone until well past midnight. 

Zoë at 2 years

This morning Zoë had her two-year check-up. She's tallish (34.5 inches; 69th percentile) but rather thin (24 lbs; 16th percentile), which the doctor said was fine compared to how chubby she was at 6 months because breastfed babies tend to do that (chunk out before petering out).

Zoë was so excited to get to go to the doctor—really she was just excited that she was going to get to leave the house with Mommy while everyone else had to stay at home with Daddy. But she also loves stethoscopes and was excited that the doctor was going to listen to her heart. She happily put on her shoes and marched out of the house. She happily strode across the parking lot and bravely announced that she wanted to be the one to set off the sensor for the automatic door.

But once we were inside and she started to remember what goes on in a place like this she wasn't so happy about being there anymore. She did not want to go back there when the nurse called her name, but she followed anyway and cooperated for all of her measurements. Then she sat on my lap and cried until the doctor came in. Even though I explained that she wasn't going to have any shots she just couldn't relax.

Right now she negates a lot of things by shaking her head. So she'll say exactly the thing that she doesn't want but will shake her head while saying it.

Whenever Andrew gets her into her pyjamas she always reminds him, "Tickle!" but with a head shake, so, don't tickle!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Afternoon adventure

We went to the museum after lunch for some much needed time away from our half-packed house. Today was a perfect day for it because the rain is taking a break (it's a rainy, rainy week 'round these parts) and yesterday's storm cooled things off nicely so it wasn't too hot. The museum wasn't too crowded, either, because half of it is closed. 

One of the exhibits houses some endangered red wolves as part of a breeding program. They finally saw some success and a litter of pups was born a couple of months ago. Puppies sound a lot like children because—wouldn't you know it?—those little wolf pups managed to sneak out of their enclosure!

While they pose no threat to people (yet), they closed off the wilderness area while they searched for them. They found a couple on the outside of the fenced area on Tuesday evening. Their dad was trying to feed them regurgitated meat through the fence when they were spotted.

The last little pup had to weather yesterday's storm all on her own—the torrential downpour and lightning-filled sky must have been frightening for such a little thing! She, too, found her way back to the enclosure on her own this morning (though she had to be helped back inside). 

I think they spent the rest of the day looking for pesky puppy escape routes and sealing them up.

Anyway, because half the museum was closed off to visitors a lot of people chose not to visit the museum. But we did! Even though we didn't get to see the baby wolves we still had a fun time. 

We visited the farm:


A Benjamin blunder

Last night we were on a walk and Benjamin was his usual uncontainable self, running ahead to "beat" everybody, running back to "find" everybody, suddenly stopping to look at this or that, "flying" around like a dragon, yanking on his little sister's arm, yelling at the top of his lungs. You know, that kind of thing.

I saw a t-shirt awhile ago that mused "I'm a mom. I work from son up to son down."

There's little I can do to wear this child out. Today we went for a walk after breakfast, then we walked to the pool, swam for three hours, and walked home. Then he played outside in the heat. And he still didn't go to bed easily.

But I digress.

We were out walking yesterday and he was being boisterous and wild. We were coming up to a big van parked on the side of the road (which he managed to avoid running into; no small feat for him) and he loudly proclaimed, "I'M GOING TO KICK MY BUTT!" meaning, of course, that he was going to run with such vim that his heels would be making contact with his rear end.

So, anyway, he hollered these words and then took off running goofily past the van, only to come to a screeching halt when a couple of rather amused-looking neighbours stepped out from the other side of the van.

Benjamin was mortified. The rest of us burst out laughing.

Andrew pointed out that his mortification proves that although we rarely see evidence of it within our own four walls, the boy is picking up social cues (and recognized that he just pulled a nice faux pas). So he is learning...