Friday, April 28, 2017

Rachel's Field Day

Rachel's field day was much like Miriam's, only with older kids and a few different activities. Our first station was the water tag station. Rachel got a turn being one of the attackers (which made Miriam rather jealous, since Miriam didn't get a turn when she played):

 

Spring Fling: Pobody's Nerfect

After spending the morning at the school and the afternoon at ukulele practice we headed back to the school for the annual Spring Fling, which was made 100% more awesome by the addition of some inflatables. Some friends of ours sponsored the event this year and provided an inflatable slide and a bouncy house and I'm pretty sure the kids (and many adults) thought it was the best thing ever.

We hardly saw the girls; they were off running around with their friends.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Miriam's Field Day

We managed to make it to school on time for Miriam's field day, rolling (pulling for some of us (Benjamin)) out of bed at 8:20 and leaving the house at 8:45. Phew! I forgot the camera, though, so all the pictures are from my cell phone, which means they aren't fabulous. 

This year the kids went to each station class by class (in past years they've split the classes into smaller groups). I really liked it this way. Sometimes finding enough volunteers can be tricky! This way we had the teacher plus whoever showed up to help. I stayed the whole time, another parent was there for about half the time, and someone's grandma showed up to help for a bit the second half. It worked out well, and the kids all had fun together.

Our first station was a pass-the-hoop game where the kids stood in a circle and...passed a hoop around. They had to step through the hoop to pass it on. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sassy pant kids

I was outside weeding the garden sometime last week while we were waiting for the bus to arrive and Benjamin noticed that "the girls across the street" (we've lived here for almost five years and that's still what we call them) were playing in their backyard. He asked if he could see if they were allowed to play, so I told him that he could, and off he ran.

Zoë desperately wanted to follow him, but I kept telling her to wait for her sisters. I do let her go over to play, but only when one of them takes her so they can keep her out of trouble and escort her back home when she decides she's finished playing.

She listened for a minute but then started wandering down the driveway toward the street.

"Not you," I said. "You have to wait for your sisters."

She stuck by me for a few more minutes before inching her way to the street again.

"Uh-uh. You wait until Mimi and Rachel come home."

Soon, despite all my firm, steadfast commandments she was soon standing at the very edge of the driveway.

"Zoë..." I warned.

She turned her head to look first one way, then the other before defiantly declaring, "No car!" and making a mad dash across the street.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rainy walk

We went for a walk through our neighbourhood to see how things were. My camera was on a wonky setting but I couldn't fix it until we were made it to the playground because it was pouring rain (and I didn't want to fiddle with it until I was under the awning). I didn't take an umbrella because, frankly, I don't have enough arms to handle the umbrella, a camera, and two children, so we were just embracing the rain.

Here's the creek behind our house:


Really it's not bad, at least not compared to how things are a little farther downstream.

Rushing, rising riv'lets...

It has been raining steadily for the past three days. I wouldn't say it's pouring—though it certainly has poured at times—but it's been raining heavily. "Heavy bands of rain..." is what the news has been saying. It's hardly let up at all.

The Eno River is breeching its banks. Police have gone house-to-house in the little "sub-neighbourhood" just off of our neighbourhood to evacuate the area and the houses in our neighbourhood that back the river have been warned to be ready.

We're far enough away from the river that I'm not too worried, though I am keeping a close eye on the creek behind our house. It's been fine so far.

Andrew wants me to take the kids on a walk to see if we can see the river (though since houses line the river I'm not sure we'll be able to...)

Apparently the bridge over the creek that the kids have to cross to get to school was nearly flooded this morning when Andrew dropped them off (water was about flush with the road), so I'm not sure how they'll get home if the waters don't start receding...seriously.

Here's a picture of the mill at West Point on the Eno (so if we've taken you there, it'll give you some sort of reference to how high the water is):

From WRAL

Monday, April 24, 2017

Making scripture study count

Last night we were reading D&C 64 as a family (technically only the second half of it because sometimes we can only get through half a chapter in one sitting because when we call the kids for scripture study recently Benjamin and Zoë seem to have heard, "Time for wrestle mania!" and it's just...difficult). When we get to short verses we'll sometimes have Zoë take a turn because (when she's not wrestling Benjamin) she likes to hold her own set of scriptures and babble along.

While Benjamin is capable of repeating whole phrases at a time, and can even sound out some of the words himself, Zoë can only repeat one word at a time.

She got verse 32 last night: "But all things must come to pass in their time."

She's pretty picky about what words she'll attempt saying, so sometimes she'll repeat them and sometimes she'll stare at us like we're crazy. This is how it went down last night:

Me: But
Zoë: But
Me: All
Zoë: ...
Me: Things
Zoë: Sings
Me: Must
Zoë: Must
Me: Come
Zoë: ...
Me: To
Zoë: THREE!!!

We all started laughing. She thought I was trying to get her to count: come, to, three!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

All the conference talks

This morning I had to add a quote to my talk. 

I had promised myself the night before I wasn't going to touch it, but then I had a dream about giving my talk and in my dream I used this quote in my conclusion. It was still in my mind when I woke up. I knew it was an actual quote from one of the talks I had read this past month (there were many); it was only a question of figuring out which one it was from. 

While I was using the search command on talk after talk after talk, Rachel came up to me and said, "Huh. Where do you find those?"

"Find what?" I asked.

"Conference talks," she said.

"Oh, they're all online. You just go to lds.org and search for them."

"Cool, 'cuz I need to read some," she said.

"Which ones?" I asked.

"All of them," she said.

Good luck, I thought because there are a lot of conference talks. 

Royal Children

Zoë (re)discovered our dress-ups and has fallen in love with putting on costumes. Her favourite dress seems to be this pink one, which she would have worn to church today if I had allowed it:

Her Highness, Princess Puppybottom, with the royal puppy resting loyally at her feet

44 Times I've Prayed

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting today and while I may have made Andrew sit with me in the congregation when he gave a talk last week, I definitely sat on the stand, by myself, today. We weren't really sure it was going to work but Andrew suggested we go ahead and try it, so I positioned myself on the stand so that the pulpit was blocking me from Zoë's view. 

It worked great and she didn't even care that I wasn't there...until I was there.

Andrew had to run her out as soon I as I stood up and the two of them spent the duration of my talk wandering the hallway finding distractions. Zoë was not impressed...


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fort Fisher Aquarium (April 5)

After we finished up our hike we went to the Fort Fisher aquarium. Some of Rachel's friends at Voyager Academy (one of the schools in Durham) were on a field trip there. We were surprised to run into several people that we knew from soccer and other activities that far away from home!

It's a fairly small aquarium but we had fun.


More hiking (April 4/5)

I know we got back from camping more than two weeks ago, but in a way this is a timely post because it's all about the Kids in the Parks trail that we did (over and over again) and today we got our Kids in the Parks perk pack in the mail, which the kids were rather excited about. They each got a certificate and a little passport with a sticker for Carolina Beach State Park. They're pretty happy about it.

We ended up doing the hike five times in total. I took the kids on it one-way the first day we camped. After we got back from the beach on the second day I took them on it two-ways (out and back in) while Andrew stayed at the cabin to do some writing (when dissertation deadlines are looming there's really not such thing as a "vacation"). 

Here's a picture of Zoë as we're leaving our campsite:


She picked out that headband herself and was so proud of it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crying it out

With my poor sleepers, I've tried just about every technique there is to get them to sleep. I've never been a fan of the cry-it-out method because the kids I've tried that on would just scream until sunrise if I let them (Zoë included). I can't handle that (going in to comfort a crying baby every ten minutes all night long just isn't fun). We've tried (many) other gentler methods and nothing ever seems to work (at least not for long). It's just the way my kids are wired, I guess.

Zoë's almost two and I'm frankly not sure how many nights she's slept through the night. Somewhere between 0 and 5 would be my guess.

She's still coming into our room in the middle of the night, which is fine....lately. I just pull her into bed and she falls right back to sleep. I can totally handle that because she's recently begun going to bed at a decent hour.

For the past few months we've been putting her to bed and sitting by her—patting her back, and reminding her to lie down—for hours every night in order to get her to go to sleep. She'd been getting progressively difficult at bedtime and started doing really annoying things like pivoting so she could kick me or reaching over to pull my hair or other ridiculous things like that.

On Tuesday night I had finally had enough. I walked out, shut the door, and let her scream and pound on her closed door to her heart's delight. And I didn't feel an ounce of guilt about it (for once) because she had been being so annoying.

Much to my surprise (I was seriously shocked), she calmed down after a good fifteen-minute tantrum and seemed to have retreated farther back in her room. She was still fussing every few minutes, but she wasn't outright screaming so I just let her be. After another half hour or so I peeked in and found her fast asleep in her bed.

Wonder of wonders!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Egg Smackdown 2017

I dyed eggs with the kids all on my own this year, as I've done a couple other times in memory. Somehow Andrew manages to be gone right around Easter quite a lot. As my eloquent friend Lindsay put so perfectly on Facebook, "...We succeeded in accomplishing the most stressful of the conventional traditions. I'm all for traditions, but anyone else wish we could do away with the small children dunking eggs in cups of dye every year?"

Seriously.

Every year I give myself a pep talk about being the happy, cheerful parent that I know I can be, but then within the first two minutes two or three eggs get smashed and a cup or two of dye nearly tip over and I'm basically hyperventilating through the process. My, but isn't this fun!?

The kids put the dye pellets into the cups and then labeled the papers with their guess of what colour it would turn out to be. They were pretty spot on, except for purple and red.


Easter Bunny

It's possible the Easter Bunny went a little overboard this year. In the Easter Bunny's defence, their baskets were mostly filled with things we would have purchased for the kids (and, in actuality, did purchase for them) between Christmas and now, anyway. We just decided to hold off on giving them any of it until today...


Easter Outfits

Here are a few pictures of us in our Sunday best for Easter. 

Benjamin got a set of bow ties in his Easter basket, which he was rather excited about (because, in all honesty, picking out Sunday clothes is so boring when you're a boy and he needed something to spice up his wardrobe). He and Andrew both wore bow ties to church today:


Expanding vocabulary

Rachel's reading Little Women right now and she came out last night to ask me what a quadroon was. Honestly, I couldn't tell her. Something about...four? I dunno.

"Isn't it a dance?" Andrew asked.

It's not. It's a (relatively offensive (and antiquated) term) for "a person who is one-quarter black by descent." I looked it up.

"But why would a quadroon ruin the school?" Rachel wanted to know.

"Well, we just watched the movie Hidden Figures," I reminded her. "This story took place long before then—during the American Civil War—and even though the Marshes probably sided with the union, that didn't mean that they were pro-civil rights."

Hidden Figures was amazing, by the way.*

Anyway, last night as we were going to bed I recounted to Andrew about how our little girl had come up to ask about the word quadroon, of all things, a word I don't recall ever coming across (although I once read Little Women, so...).

"At least I knew it was a word," Andrew said.

"You thought it was a dance!" I said.

"Quadrille. Quadroon. What's the difference?" he argued. "Actually, it's in that book you're reading now—Religion of a Different Color—I just forgot about it momentarily. What? It's been a stressful week."

Evidently I haven't gotten that far in the book. Or I just ignored the word? I dunno.

We had fun mis-defining the word quadroon for a few minutes, thinking of things it sounds like it could be. A dance (quadrille? quadroon?), a cookie (macaroon? quadroon?), a shape, a four-part cartoon, some kind of animal... I don't remember what all we came up with, but our answers seemed just as likely as the actual definition (probably because it's not really part of our lexicon, like, at all).

PS. Rachel said she thought it meant a person with four legs. Ha. Nope.
* We also recently watched Loving, which was also pretty good.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter egg hunt

I stayed up late last night to make muffins (from a package, thank you very much (we're in survival mode here with Andrew out of town)) so we would have something to contribute to the brunch after our annual ward Easter egg hunt. Though, in all honesty, I don't think you can really call it brunch when you begin at 9 o'clock in the morning. Because clearly that's still breakfast! 

My kids were begging for more food by noon.

A friend's baby shower "brunch" was at this same time just last week. I didn't go because Zoë and I were quite sick (technically we are both still sick but not as sick as we were last week). But I thought the same thing. 9:00 isn't brunch. 

Wikipedia agrees with me: "Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch eaten usually during the late morning to early afternoon, generally served from 11 am up to 3pm," (which means that, technically,  Robert Alan Palmatier's Food: A Dictionary of Literal and Nonliteral Terms agrees with me (he is a professor emeritus of linguistics so I pretty much trust him here)).

It's fine to have an activity at 9 o'clock in the morning, but, friends, let's just go ahead and call it breakfast (or a motley assortment of sugary desserts; I brought muffins so I'm just as guilty as everyone else, but I'm more of a last-night's-leftovers kind of gal in the morning, personally. I want things like...burritos...or something like that, not sugary stuff like cereal and muffins and juice).

Breakfasting (or brunching, I guess (....but not really because 9 AM)) aside, the kids had a good time at the egg hunt. This year they only split the kids into two groups: the babies and the big kids. This meant I was able to send all three of the older ones off together (with the littlest of the big ones feeling so proud at being included in the 'big kid' group) so I could focus on Zoë (and cross my fingers that the girls could/would keep their brother in line):

Friday, April 14, 2017

Driving. Me. Crazy.

This afternoon we went to the park with some friends. We did a lot of other things this week as well, which I'm sure I'll attempt to catch up on. Somehow having all four kids at home all day long is keeping me busier than usual. You'd think, since the girls are older, that they wouldn't make as much mess...but somehow...I dunno. Our house is a disaster.

There's a fort in my living room, a train set is crawling over the kids' bedroom floor, and their closet is full of LEGO creations they don't have the heart to part with (which means the contents of their closet is elsewhere).

Anyway, every time we've gone anywhere in the van this week, the kids have fought nonstop.

Today before we left we even had a chat about it. Like, if there was any fighting, we weren't going to even go because it just stresses me out too much. Benjamin, you see, has discovered that when he hums it drives his sisters up the wall. And then they start growling and snarling, "Stop it, Benjamin! You're giving me a headache, Benjamin! I asked you to stop, Benjamin!" And they'll flop around in their seats and flail their arms and kick their legs and moan and groan and...

I can't even.

So then I'm like, "Everybody stop!"

And, ugh.

It happens in the house, too.

Like, it's happening right now.

(For the love, children, make it stop!)

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Suffer the children, suffering through children, suffering with children...

We had stake conference today, which means we had to leave for church a couple hours earlier than we're used to. Benjamin, surprisingly, was the first one dressed this morning. He had an interesting outfit on: one of Miriam's blouses (plain white, in his defence, but definitely a girlish cut), pants on backwards, and a pair of his old socks that had long-since been passed down to Zoë (size 12–24 months) squeezed onto his feet.

I let it slide because (a) he got dressed without anyone nagging him and (b) we'd mostly be sitting in the dark so what did it matter?

Stake conference, like general conference, can be hard for children. Who am I kidding? It can be hard for adults. At least, it was hard for me, especially this time. Our ward meets in an auxiliary building (which is just our regular building) and there was so much feedback in the broadcast that I could hardly focus what was being said. It was a good thing there was also an echo so everything got said at least twice.

Andrew had to leave to participate in a multi-denominational prayer service for genocide victims at Duke campus (for Passover/Palm Sunday). He got to give one of the opening prayers, along with a rabbi, an imam, and a couple of pastors from different churches. It was a great experience for him, but it meant that I was left to tough out the rest of stake conference on my own with all four kids.

Zoë was in a particular mood today. She found everything particularly annoying and wasn't shy about voicing her displeasure. I had to drag her out of the meeting, literally kicking and screaming, multiple times. It was great.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Fort Fisher

After we'd had our fill and were tired and cold and sandy, we decided to head to Fort Fisher, so I looked it up and found—and remembered—that they had a beautiful beach with lifeguards and a picnic area and foot showers and clean restrooms...ha!

That's where we swam the last time we stayed at Carolina Beach. How could we have forgotten?
So instead of awkwardly getting dressed in our van behind a tent of towels, we drove over to Fort Fisher and used the facilities there, which was rather nice because our children were in woeful need of a good rinse-off.

Feeling much more clean and fresh (but still terribly worried about all the sand in our hair (that's what you get for lying in the sand, Rachel)) we took a little self-guided tour around the fort (which mostly involved following the toddler wherever she wanted to go).

Miriam was most excited to climb onto the parapet.

Benjamin was simply excited to not be at the beach anymore because "the sand gave [him] a rash and so [he] didn't have fun at the beach" and he was glad that we were finally someplace he could have fun (if he hadn't have gotten a rash the beach would have been his favourite part of the day but, alas, it was relegated to second place and visiting the fort became his favourite part).

Rachel kept talking about wishing she could take a shower the whole time (you can't really rinse your hair well at a foot-rinsing station, which is all the Fort Fisher beach has, though we were very grateful for it).

We had a fun time walking around the fort, though, and maybe even gleaned a little historical knowledge from the signs along the path.

This particular sign mentioned a Benjamin Butler, which we thought was funny (because 'butler' is one of Benjamin's little insults).


This boy.

You know that poem about the little girl, who had a curl right down the middle of her forehead? (When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid).

I kind of need a poem like that but for a little boy.

Boy, oh, boy!

He can be naughty—like when he throws a rock at his sister's face and gives her a black eye.

He can be sweet—like when he cries because we're safe and warm in a cabin but knows there are people in tents all around us, enduring the same awfully frightening storm.

Yes, when he's good he's very, very good.

And when he's bad...

Well, Rachel discovered that on the drive out to the coast, though he was mostly well-behaved and read stories and drew pictures on paper with crayons and other wholesome things like that...he also drew all over the side panel of the van with a veritable rainbow of crayons.

So that's fun.

(grumble, grumble).

Kure Beach

This morning we gave the kids the choice of either heading to the beach right away or...

They chose heading to the beach right away, without really listening to the other options (which were visiting either the aquarium or the fort). Obviously they were quite excited about going to the beach.

When we were looking for a beach to play at we had a few criteria on our list:
  • free parking
  • public washrooms
  • public showers
All the beaches at Carolina Beach, it seems, were pay-to-park (all 44 beach accesses in the city). We didn't want to pay to freeze on the beach, so although some of the accesses boasted restrooms and showers, we pressed on. All the beaches at Kure Beach, it seems, were free-to-park. But we couldn't find one with restrooms or showers. So eventually we just parked and called it good.



Numma-numma my nut!

I will write more about the beach later, but I have 530 pictures to sift through (I might have a real problem) in order to do that, so this post will have to suffice for now. 

One of our (mine and Andrew's) favourite parts of the beach was when the older kids were out jumping in the waves and Zoë, who wasn't a huge fan of the ocean this trip, was playing at the sand by our feet when she decided she was hungry and needed a snack.

She chose trail mix.

Andrew was helping her eat it and she thought it was delicious. She really likes nuts but soon discovered that M&Ms are pretty great, too, and began picking those out to eat first. But she was more than happy to eat the raisins and nuts as well. He was dumping out a small handful for her at a time, and she'd pick at it, happily munching away while seagulls enviously circled around her, as if they instinctively knew that toddlers are the most likely kind of human to drop food.



And then, just as they'd been expecting, she dropped a nut.

Ice cream

Feeling a bit lazy, we went to Wendy's for dinner this evening. We promised the kids that we could get Frostys before heading back to the campground, so that's what we did.

And then, feeling antsy from sitting in the restaurant so long (particularly considering Zoë's doneness with the whole affair), we decided the kids could eat them in the car. So that's what we did.

The restaurant had run out of small cups so they gave the kids a "small portion" in a "medium cup." But really they gave them a medium portion in a medium cup so we ended up with far too much ice cream.

"Dad, do you want to finish my Frosty?" Rachel asked.

"I don't know," Andrew answered. "I kind of have a body brain."

"You...what?" I asked.

"I have a body...brain..." Andrew repeated and then started laughing so hard it was hard for him to keep driving.

"I have a brain freeze in my whole body. You see what I was going for, right?"

Oh, man, it was funny.

And he did finish her ice cream, by the way.

We need an amphibious vehicle

A while ago we watched a YouTube video about how to escape your car if you happen to drive into a body of water accidentally.

This video freaked Benjamin out.

Honestly, I can't blame him since this has been a big fear of mine for...ever.

Growing up by the coast we often had to cross bridges or drive beside water to get where we needed to go and I always wondered what would happen if we ever happened to fall over the edge.

As I got older I began to hear stories of people whose vehicles went off the road and into the river or the reservoir or what have you.

My friend's mom once accidentally "parked" her car in the pond in front of their house. I'm not sure she was in it at the time. I think she forgot to put the parking break on and it rolled in or something. Anyway, my friend's dad made a sign to put up by the pond that said, "Here lies Kim's car." Or something like that...

Monday, April 03, 2017

A thunderstorm and a black eye

When we were deciding where and how to take the kids camping over spring break, I remembered that a few cabins had recently been built at Carolina Beach State Park. Some friends of ours had stayed in them last summer and said they were great—air conditioning, electricity, real beds, and really not that much more expensive than booking a tent site.

Camping with small children in tow can be...taxing...so we decided to give the cabins a try and I'm so glad we did! It has be pouring for hours and hours now—thundering and lightning(ing), too—and though our tent is decent I'm not sure how it would have held up (or how we would have held up inside it).

We knew a storm was coming—we had seen it rolling in while we were out hiking—but we didn't expect it to be quite this stormy! It sprinkled a bit while we were doing dinner and s'mores, but had mostly stopped when the kids and I trekked up to the bathhouse to brush our teeth.

That's one of the downsides of staying in the cabin. You can't choose a cabin close to the bathhouse because they're all equally far from the bathhouse. The last time we camped here we stayed in a tent right next to the water spigot and the path leading up to the bathhouse, which was very convenient.
The walk to the bathhouse from the cabins isn't terrible, but it takes a few minutes—350 steps or so, depending on how far your little legs can carry you (so approximately a 3.5 minute walk, according to this chart).

It was getting rather dark and we'd just had to chase off a racoon, so the kids were skittish already. It was difficult to walk to the bathhouse with them all clinging to me, while I was trying to aim the flashlight so we wouldn't trip on any roots or what have you.



Flytrap trail (and another hike)

I completely forgot, when planning our itinerary, that all state parks are closed on Monday. We were due to arrive at Carolina Beach a little earlier than our check-in time, so I suggested that we just head straight to Fort Fisher and do some exploring there before heading to the campground.

But when I searched for the address, Google informed me that it was closed today.

So instead we went straight to the campground and managed to check in a little early (even if we hadn't we still could have gone hiking, but it was nice to get to unload half the van before hiking).

We decided on the Flytrap Trail. "A pleasant, wheelchair-accessible, half-mile loop through pocosin wetlands and drier longleaf pine and wiregrass savanna communities" sounded about perfect for our two-year-old.


Electrical prequel

We were planning on doing at least some of the packing for our trip last night after we put the kids to bed. But then the power went out so our plans were stymied.

A car crashed into—and downed—a power pole and the power company didn't think they'd have us (and, you know, 2000 other homes) up and running until around 1:30 or so in the morning.

I showered, by flashlight light, (because you have to get one last good shower in before a camping trip) and then we went to bed.

Around midnight (full disclosure: soon after we'd gone to bed (in our defence, Zoë didn't fall asleep until 11:00)) I heard someone get up and stumble around.

"Sounds like we're about to have company," Andrew noted.

"I should go help them," I said, grabbing a flashlight. "It's really dark. I'm surprised they're not crying."

I went out into the living room, expecting to find a terrified, disoriented child, but I saw no one. The door to Rachel and Zoë's room was still (nearly) closed. Benjamin and Miriam's door was open, however. I shone my flashlight into their room and noticed, much to my surprise, that Benjamin was still sprawled out on the bottom bunk. The top bunk was empty.

"Miriam?" I called out in as loud a whisper as I dared.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Conference traditions

Traditions surrounding General Conference abound in LDS families. I'm not sure that we necessarily had many while I was growing up, but that was in the days when we lived off "in the mission field" and before the internet, so usually we went to the church building to watch conference.

It was dark and crowded and boring. 

My traditions probably involved kneeling on the hard gym floor and colouring too loudly on the metal folding chairs (on a paper, of course, not the actual chair, but it made an awful noise, I'm sure), whining for snacks, and complaining of being bored. 

And though there were times in my adult(ish) life where we waited for weeks and weeks to get VHS tapes of conference to watch at church later (hello, Russia) and other times where we'd stay up until 2:00 AM watching conference live, flickering in and out over a shoddy internet connection (hello, Egypt), conference has overall become a home-based activity, as well as a catalyst for creating new family traditions. 

I don't know if that's what the church was going for when they decided to put the sessions up live on the internet, but that's what's happened, and I think it's neat (though I'm sure my mom will say she misses the pot-luck lunch between sessions that she enjoyed years ago). 

A lot of traditions involve food. I've tried to involve food, ever since my friend Sara invited us over for a session and served homemade orange rolls. I have many other friends whose conference staple is cinnamon buns. 

I'm just not good at food traditions, guys. Especially not right around conference. 

This conference when I said to Andrew, "Can we please just be the family that gets a fruit and veggie tray to snack on and have that be our conference tradition? Because I just can't..."

We've made cinnamon buns in the past (and I think we even attempted orange rolls a few times) but I've just felt so busy around conference the past few years. Why?

Because another little conference tradition of mine is editing and laying out our family newsletter. It's quite a lot of fun...but it's also quite a bit of work. My great-grandparents had twelve children, so by this point in time their progeny numbers in the hundreds. Not everyone submits news every time (thank goodness), but I usually get a good 20 pages or so, including a short family history section. The issue I put together this weekend was 22 pages.