Friday, March 31, 2017

Or maybe you'll need an actual umbrella

In their defense...it was really coming down for a while. So, naturally, my kids decided this would be the perfect day to ride their bikes. They wanted to go on a family bike ride around the neighbourhood but I nixed that idea—since Miriam hasn't quite mastered her bike and I'd end up having to pull around Benjamin and Zoë. Ha!

Instead they rode up and down the street together.


Just let a smile be your umbrella

A bunch of ladies from church were talking about going to the "Farm Animal Days" at North Carolina State University today. Not me, because that would have involved driving somewhere new (not worth the stress, even for free ice cream), but a lot of other people. 

Unfortunately they're not going to make it today because even though the event is advertised as "rain or shine" it was cancelled today, "due to inclement weather."

And I find this rather hilarious...and, oh, so very North Carolinian!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

[Fast] Sunday

We forgot about fasting this past Sunday. By the time Andrew texted me to remind us we'd already had breakfast and were halfway into an early lunch (because church (technically choir practice) is at a weird time for lunch to be had at a regular time). So I told the kids to not worry about it; we'd fast another time.

In our defence, fast Sunday is typically the first Sunday of every month...except in April and October when we have General Conference. Then fast Sunday is held on a different week, sometimes the week after, sometimes the week before. Our ward decided to opt for the week before since we have General Conference, followed by stake conference, followed by Easter Sunday in April, none of which seemed like great times to fast.

And now that I think about it, I distinctly remember this being mentioned over the pulpit last Sunday. But, alas, we didn't move the date on our calendar, so we got no electronic reminder. We're a little dependent on electronic reminders.

So, we were sitting in sacrament meeting and Benjamin kept glancing nervously up at the stand. Finally he leaned over to me and whispered, "Do you think the bishop knows we skipped fasting?"

The funny part is, Benjamin always skips fasting.

He's four!

His older sisters are just learning to fast (we allow them to slowly acclimatize). He probably won't even attempt fasting a single meal for a few more years! But he was quite worried that the bishop could see right through our charade...of attending fast and testimony meeting without having fasted.

If you can call that a charade... 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Moana

We showed the kids Moana a couple of weeks ago and have watched it almost every day since then. Why? Because Zoë loves it. Zoë doesn't nap and up until viewing Moana she had never sat still through a movie, let alone a 20 minute episode of anything else. But she will watch Moana.

I get that screen time isn't necessarily healthy for young children but do you know what else is unhealthy for children? When their mothers get no break from nonsense. That's what.

So we've watched Moana pretty much every day. Sometimes she watches the whole thing. Other times she falls asleep in the middle. Often she pulls out the LEGO and sits and plays while she listens to it—but she sits and plays, so it's still a win.

If you say, "Do you want to watch a show?" Zoë will say, "Moana!"

At bedtime she also requests "Moana!" for music.

Last night she was singing along to the chorus of "How Far I'll Go."

Saturday stuff

Today we had so many good things on the table that we had to pick and choose, which was difficult. A few weeks ago we saw an advertisement for a free children's concert that the city orchestra was putting on. I sent a link to Andrew and said, "We should go to this!"

"Ha!" he wrote back. "That Saturday. Oh, boy!"

"There's nothing on the calendar..." I said.

"Just a sec," he said. "Now check the calendar."

Suddenly the whole day was blocked off. It's a good thing he puts events on the calendar right away so that I know about them! So we didn't get to listen to the orchestra.

Instead we went to a grad parents activity at the Eno River State Park. Andrew's the president of the grad parents association, so I guess it's important that we go. We arrived at the pavilion and people started showing up...but the food kept not showing up. It took a while for us to figure out that we were at the wrong pavilion altogether. Andrew went out in search of the correct pavilion where he found the staff coordinator wondering where everybody was. 

We rerouted everybody, made our way to the correct pavilion, and then waited for the pizza guy, who was also lost.

All the confusion certainly didn't leave us much time to socialize. We ate and then ran off to Rachel's soccer game. She missed her first soccer game last week (because she woke up in the morning and threw up twice) and missed practice on Tuesday (because she was still recovering from being sick over the weekend), so she was happy to get back out on the field. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Good kids

My children are usually a joy, but they are ten times more enjoyable when I'm not feeling completely worn out. The past several weeks were hard, full of sickness and business trips and...lice...and I've been so tired that my children haven't seemed as charming as they usually do. It was taking all my effort to just get through the day, and the next day, and the next, let alone enjoy my children.

But, no one is sick right now, Andrew really hasn't been away for a full month now (so why am I still complaining about it?), and when I went through Miriam's hair this evening I found a grand total of zero nits. Life is looking up. And, amazingly, my children have been seeming a lot more entertaining, hilarious, and enjoyable the past few days than they have the past few weeks. I have a feeling that has more to do with my outlook than it does with their behaviour.

So without further ado, here is a sequence of funny things my kids have done the past couple of days:

1) I finally have evidence that Benjamin's reading lessons are paying off. Today in the car he said, "Mom, why does the red button say 'syrup'?"

"What red button?" I asked him, completely confused.

"The one on the seatbelt," he said.

I glanced down.


Not the museum

Our pass to the museum expires at the end of this month and we haven't even gone because it's been cold and we've been sick and contaminated with lice and all sorts of good things. With our future up in the air—still!—we're not sure we want to buy an annual pass because we might be moving in the next couple of months. I seriously thought we'd know for sure by now and it's slowly killing me that we don't know. But I'm sure we will eventually know. In the meantime, I'm getting through on deep breaths. 

This morning I told the kids that we could go to the museum if they would play nicely while I was in the shower. And they totally did. They played LEGO (without any screaming, as far as I could tell) and willingly got dressed (unusual for Benjamin) and when I asked if they were ready for breakfast, Benjamin said, "We already had cookies!" Then he quickly added, "But don't worry! That wasn't for breakfast. That was just for fun."

So they did a few things they weren't supposed to while I was in the shower. But overall, they were very well behaved, so off to the museum we went.

It was packed. There was a sign up in the main parking lot saying "This Lot Full" so I turned to go into the overflow parking lot, which an attendant informed me was also full. There were probably 10–15 school busses in the lot (in addition to cars). "You're welcome to park elsewhere and walk to the museum. A lot of people are having luck parking in neighbourhoods. Just make sure not to park in front of driveways or mailboxes," the attendant told me.

"Thanks," I said. And then as I drove away I muttered, "Yeah, right."

Honestly, if the parking lot is that full I don't want to go to the museum anyway (which is why I'm torn about the parking garage they're planning on building (it'll just make it harder to gauge whether or not the museum is overpopulated or not)). Instead we went to the nearby—very empty—playground, had a picnic, and walked the Bronto Trail. It was an enjoyable (and uncrowded) couple of hours.

Zoë went down this slide probably 100 times:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Red 4 Ed

Due to class sizes—and potential limits on said sizes—some schools in North Carolina are facing the choice of eliminating PE/music/art in order to free up money in the budget to hire more core teachers. This has everybody up in arms, and understandably so...I guess. 

I have to admit that when I think about it I wonder if an elementary school needs a dedicated PE teacher. None that I went to ever had one. Though I think Joe Clark Elementary did, I never actually attended that school. When I was in elementary school our teachers taught us PE. Or another teacher at the school taught PE while our teacher was teaching their class something else, for example, in grade four (at Alice M. Curtis) my teacher was the French teacher for all the grade four classes. The teacher next door was the PE teacher for all the grade four classes. And the other teacher taught...something else. I can't remember what.

I do remember that in grade five Mrs. Bienart (my teacher) taught science. Madame Muir taught French. And the other teacher taught PE. We just rotated on through them.

Alice M. Curtis had a dedicated art teacher, which I thought was totally weird because Leigh didn't. 

I think having a dedicated music teacher is pretty standard...I dunno.

Anyway, part of me thinks it would make sense to eliminate these specialty positions and have the core teachers cover the subjects. Because it's elementary school and finding art projects to do is pretty easy. Making kids run laps isn't terribly difficult either (though I don't think they run laps these days—which is so sad because that was one of the few things I excelled at in PE. Putting a ball through a hoop or hitting a ball with a stick? Not so much. Running around in circles? Totally had that down. My nickname in class was The Energizer Bunny (she keeps going and going and going), this explains my off-again-on-again relationship with long-distance running). 

The other part of me completely understands why these "specials" teachers are worried about losing their positions and why the "core" teachers are worried about having to fill more time during the day. 

Every part of me thinks that public education is important and needs better funding from the government because if we don't invest in our children—the future—then...just...what are we thinking?! Come on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Music and Bugs and Teeth

The annual second-grade sound parade is this Friday, which means we've been busily brainstorming ideas for musical instruments. Since we're basically veterans at our school, we knew it was coming up for Miriam (we were completely blind-sided when it was Rachel's turn (she made a ukulele...that I can't find any pictures of)) and months ago Andrew brought home some Italian soda in glass bottles. We collected them as we finished them and thought it would be fun to make a flute of sorts, but Miriam couldn't figure out how to blow across the top well enough to produce a sound.

I completely sympathized because I've never been able to do it either...until this year. I made Andrew teach me how one night after we got the kids in bed. I'm basically a pro now. 

But it was just too tricky for Miriam at this stage in her life, so when we finished off a tin of potato pearls we decided she could make a drum instead. Here's our finished product:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday that one day

Rachel has been sick this weekend, which I suppose is a blessing in disguise. We left her home while we all went to sacrament meeting, tucked in on the couch, with her favourite show on, with snacks galore and a cell phone so we could communicate at will. The law in North Carolina is that no one under the age of eight can be left alone because of fire hazards. But she's almost ten. Plus I told our neighbour that I was leaving her. This neighbour has a child Rachel's age and we've done the same for her (been on call in case of dire emergency).

The emergency wasn't with Rachel, however. 

The emergency was with Miriam.

We were in a bit of a rush as we were leaving the house because obviously playing Barbies is more important than finding shoes or brushing hair. I instructed Miriam to grab a brush and a headband—she could do her hair in the van. So that's what she did. 

Choir practice is before church, so although we're typically a few minutes late for choir we are wildly early for sacrament meeting. Still, I wasn't really going over my children's appearance because I was singing in the choir and then trying to make Zoë behave for the few minutes of prelude.

Soon Zoë spotted a nursing cover in the diaper bag, which reminded her that nursing is fun. Daddy told her that she wasn't going to nurse during sacrament meeting and she started throwing a hissy fit, so the two of them spent most of sacrament meeting wandering the halls. 

I was sitting with Miriam and Benjamin, trying to convince them—Benjamin, in particular—to behave reverently. I happened to glance at Miriam's head as I was reaching for the water tray and noticed a little wriggling insect dancing about on the crown of her head. My heart sank and I pulled out my phone (yes, in the middle of sacrament), opened my browser and searched for "head lice" because, honestly, I haven't spent a large quantity of time dealing with head lice and had no idea what to look for. But that thing on her head did seem to match the picture on the screen. 

It was a Big. Fat. Louse.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Laundry

Yesterday Benjamin wanted to wear his footie-jammies but they weren't in his drawer (or on his floor) so he decided to paw through the dryer, and then he decided that perhaps he should just empty the dryer since it's difficult to search through the dryer when it's full. So he started carting armfuls of laundry to the couch, piling them on top of the two loads that were already sitting there (it's fine; don't judge).

"I'm doing something to make you happy, Mom!" he cheerfully chirped while making a trip through the living room. "I'm making your laundry pile higher and higher!"

Thanks, buddy! Just what I wanted: an ever-growing pile of laundry.

I guess I already had that, only before it had always been the dirty piles self-propagating around the house and yesterday it was the clean pile self-propagating (and surely that's a treat).

Leprechaun's Day

St. Patrick's Day was a little underwhelming at our house this year. Benjamin wouldn't even wear green; it was like he was boycotting tradition. It isn't even that he doesn't have anything green. He does. In fact, he's wearing green today. He's just not a conformist.

Everyone else wore green, but that's about all we did to celebrate.

Our milk and toilet water stayed their regular colour. No leprechaun came to mess up our house. We didn't even set a trap because we're lame leprechaun protectionists. No rainbows spontaneously sprouted anywhere in our house. We found no gold. We ate no green food (unless lettuce counts).

Some years I can get into the spirit of the holiday. But this year...not so much.

"I don't remember St. Patrick's Day ever being this big of a deal when we were growing up," I said to Andrew last night.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Underwear and weaning

This morning I gave Zoë the choice of wearing a diaper or wearing underwear. Knowing that underwear means she's required to sit on the potty—something she's a little too impatient/stubborn for—she confidently selected a diaper. So I put a diaper on her and then helped her into her pants. 

A little while later she walked up to me all smug and announced, "Un-nuur."

She'd managed to (mostly) pull a pair of underwear on over her pants. She insisted on wearing them all day long. Here she is proudly showing them off:


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Everything is purple, but some things are more purple than others

Zoë recently fell in love with the concept of colour. Unfortunately, until yesterday her only word for any colour was "purple." Everything is purple, but if something is actually purple it gets a more emphatic pronunciation. 

If you ask her to, for example, pick up the green crayon, she can do that. But when you ask her what colour that crayon is she will answer "Purple!" Blue is purple, red is purple, black is purple. Purple is PURPLE!

Yesterday, however, she repeated the word yellow. So that's progress.

Muppets follow a similar rule. Every muppet is Elmo, but some things are more Elmo than others.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grumpy dinner

Like I mentioned, we've all been a little under the weather over here. Mostly Benjamin and Zoë have been acting normal (despite high temperatures and coughing fits), though they've each had a sluggish day. They've both been so terribly grumpy though!

Two days this week I have sent Benjamin to his room to calm down, only to find him fast asleep in his bed (which is basically unheard of for him). One day Zoë was so grumpy that the only thing I could do was hide out in my bedroom with her. She kept screaming at everyone else.

When dinner time rolled around, Rachel offered to make something for herself and her poor, starving siblings. Our conversation went something like this...

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Flowers and coughing

Zoë went for a little walk with Rachel after school and they found some grape hyacinth, which Zoë quickly grabbed a handful of to bring home to me (it grows like weeds around here so I don't doubt that this is considered a bit of a pest in whoever's yard they picked it from (at least I hope they didn't snatch it out of an on-purpose flowerbed)). 


While she was telling me about her flowers she fell into a coughing fit, poor thing. She always draws her mouth into a little 'o' when she's coughing.

I think we're just about healthy over here, but this cough's going to linger for a while, if these little ones are going to follow Miriam's timeline for this illness.

A family portrait (x3)

This morning when I woke up, Benjamin was quietly colouring at the table. He was drawing a picture of our family and had already managed to label everyone but Rachel, whose name is terribly complicated compared to everyone else's.


He still gets his Ms and Ns mixed up so we have "MINI" instead of "MIMI" and "NOM" instead of "MOM," but for once he's actually "BEN" (not BEM or BEW) so perhaps we're getting somewhere.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In sickness and in health

We watched the live-action Cinderella while Miriam was home from school last week and Benjamin decided that he was "Kit," the "apprentice" to the king (ie: the prince). He created several costumes throughout the day and built a sword and ran around the house like a crazy monkey knight in shining armour.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Morning terror

If you've ever woken up to someone staring at you, inches from your face, you're probably familiar with the jolt of fear that accompanies such a surprise. You also probably have children, so waking up with a face inches away from yours probably shouldn't come as such a surprise anymore. Still, it can be rather terrifying.

On Friday night, Zoë ultimately ended up going to bed in our bed. Andrew went to bed on the couch. Sometimes that's just how these things work out. And if they've never worked out that way for you, consider yourself lucky. Zoë has only recently (like this week) started sleeping in 5-hour chunks (she's done it two whole times now!) and she has never taken a nap without being nursed to sleep (or lulled to sleep in the car) since leaving behind newborn-hood. She'll be two in a couple of months, so let's just say the past couple of years have been brutal in the sleep deprivation department and we'll do pretty much anything to get that child to sleep.

Well, about 6:00 in the morning, when the birds and the sun were up but when I wasn't close to wanting to be up, I woke up anyway. Despite having the whole rest of the bed to herself, Zoë's face was on my pillow, inches away from my nose.

"Mama," she whispered, patting my cheek. "Nurse. Nurse. Nurse."

I opened my eyes and almost screamed.

Zoë was covered in blood. It was pouring out of her nose and she'd been rubbing her nose with her hands, smearing blood all over her face and arms. There was blood on my pillow, blood on the sheets, blood on the baby, blood on me.

Freezing

We've been having a bit of a cold spell lately, which I guess is entirely normal for March. My friend Kathleen shared a picture of the snow they're getting in Utah, along with the forecast for next week. She said, "I know it's snowing, but look what's coming!" What's coming is 50°F weather.

I'm only a little bit ashamed that our cold spell is bringing highs in the mid-sixties (uhhh...brrrrr). The lows, though, have been in the thirties—below freezing—so I feel fully justified in saying that it's freezing.

And I cower at the thought of ever moving north again, which sometimes feels like an inevitable thing.

Anyway, last night I beat Andrew getting ready for bed and I was freezing, so I got into bed, snuggled into my pillow and pulled the covers up to my chin. Then Andrew got into bed and I said, "The bedroom light is still on."

"It is," he sighed, "And it looks like I'm turning it off..."

I nodded.

"...because you're thoroughly ensconced."

"Ensconced?!" I laughed, half at him, half at myself. "Is that really the word?! I have always thought it was ensconed, like you're all wrapped up in warm, yummy dough, sprinkled with powdered sugar while you're still warm, and..."

"I'm pretty sure there's another /s/ in there," he assured me (and then looked it up to prove it).

"Well, good thing I don't think I've ever used that word out loud," I said.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Thunder bolts and lightning

Last night we had a rather terrific thunderstorm, the first one in Zoë's memory. It started out relatively gentle, yet exciting. The house had been hot so I had the back door open and the children were watching the sky light up, then counting strokes until the thunder rolled.

As the evening wore on, the storm worsened—the wind strengthened, lightning flashed with vigour and thunder boomed more and more ferociously—rendering it even more exciting.

While we were reading scriptures (D&C 43), Benjamin started laughing when we got to verse 25:
How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests...
"Thunderings and lightnings!" he whooped while bouncing on the trampoline (because sometimes he listens to scriptures while bouncing on the trampoline).

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A short visit with Naanii

In an amazing feat, my mom managed to see all six of her children—in person—inside the month of February! Seeing Josie, Patrick, and Kelli wasn't too difficult, but seeing me, Abra, David required some doing. At the beginning of February my mom and Patrick drove up to Alberta to see my niece Piper (Abra's daughter) in her school play (I heard she was phenomenal), in the middle of February David flew in to Utah (from England) for a business trip, and at the end of February my mom had a conference in Florida and decided to "stop by" North Carolina on her way home. 

We're so glad she did, even though she wasn't able to stay long.

She arrived on Sunday, mere hours after Andrew himself arrived home. The bishop picked him up from the airport and took him directly to church where he grabbed the van to head back to the airport to get my mom. It was a long, crazy day for him!

My mom helped out in the nursery for the last two hours of church; she felt silly because she was wearing pants but I told her that (a) I didn't care and (b) there are usually a few women who regularly wear pants to church so she was in good company. I don't think anyone even noticed.

Here's Zoë looking a little wary about being in Naanii's arms: