Sunday, April 22, 2018

A funny thing happened on the way to the...

Zoë had "quiet time" in the basement after church today. She cried like she was being sent to the executioner when in reality she was only being sent downstairs to play (it's was Benjamin's week to have quiet time in the bedroom and, well, "it's [her] bedroom, too!"). She was doing such a good job at quiet time that I asked Andrew if he had turned on a show for her. He proudly told me that he had not. She was playing

But then he went downstairs to check on her and found her fast asleep (but she only fell asleep after she'd tucked in her t-rex, because that's important). 

"That's crazy!" I said. "Do you think she's starting to need naps again this late in her waning toddlerhood? Cuz..."

Moses supposes our noses are roses*

We have lived here for—what?—eight, nine months now and we still haven't gotten over how dry it is here. Andrew's hands are so dry and cracked it's not even funny and the children have started having bloody noses at random. Rachel was getting them so frequently that we finally thought to get her some nasal spray to help keep things...moist. It seems to have helped her.

One day she was in a particularly sour mood after school and she kind of bit my head off when I asked her to practice the piano. I wanted to just ignore her attitude, but when I heard her sniffling at the piano I decided I had better check on her.

"Rachel, honey," I said. "You know that piano practice is a daily thing. I'm not trying to be mean about it and hope I didn't sound angry when I asked you to practice. I thought I asked you normally but if I raised my voice, I'm sorry."

"It's not that," she quavered.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Trash to Treasure

This part was written on Friday night:

Our ward is having a Trading Tables event tomorrow, which I suppose they're technically calling a Clothing Exchange (or something). I wasn't in charge of it, which was a nice change after heading it up for the last five years! But I've forgotten how nice they are for a cheapskate like me.

Instead of meeting the morning of to sort through things and then "shop" right away, we brought things in this evening to sort...but we also "shopped" a bit as we sorted. Some of us "shopped"...a lot. I always do. But, seriously, I took over five bags of cast-offs and only returned home with two. So, I mean, that's pretty good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Oh, brother(s), where art thou?

David moved up to Prince George in December (I think) and although he's been to Utah several times since then, it's only ever been for a day or two on his way to somewhere else. Last weekend (right when we were getting over the stomach flu) he came down again to move his things from our parents' house up to his place. He braved our germs and spent Saturday playing games at our house.

Alexander at 6 months

Alexander had his six month well-child check yesterday, which went well, and he got his vaccinations which he did not take well (he spent all night feverish and fussy).

He weighed in at a walloping 17 lbs. and 1 ounce and was 26.14 inches long, my biggest baby at six months old (and my smallest (full-term) baby at birth)!

Here are the stats for the other kids at six months (there is no blog post for Zoë because her six-month check was the day after we returned from our visit to Utah for my Grandma Layton's funeral and I just never got to blogging about taking her to the doctor, but I did look up her paperwork (so filing cabinets aren't completely defunct (though I guess I could have just as easily looked up her stats online because Duke's online system is fantastic like that, but I didn't think of that because our clinic here isn't so fancy))):

Alexander: 17 lbs. 1 ounce and 26.14 inches
Zoë: 16 lbs. 13.8 ounces and 26.18 inches
Benjamin: 14 lbs. 13 ounces and 24 inches
Miriam: 16 lbs. even (more or less) and 25 inches
Rachel: 16 lbs. 8 ounces and 27.5 inches

He is certainly growing well (the rolls on his thighs have rolls!) though if he's anything like my other children his growth will start tapering off right about now. And that's fine by me because he's so heavy!

At six months, Alexander is...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Benjamin's kindergarten performance and time with cousin James

Two weeks ago* Benjamin's kindergarten class had their end-of-the-year performance.

It seems odd to me to have all the end-of-year activities so early: the musical and Benjamin's performance in March and the choir concerts the beginning of April. I wondered why for about two seconds before I realized that it's due to end-of-year testing, which has become almost a sacred, silent ritual in elementary schools. As if stressing children out by enforcing strict silence and making them feel like their little lives depend on doing well is healthy for them.

I mean, I understand the reasoning behind testing. It's nice to know the answer to that ever burning question: is our children learning? It's nice to collect data to form policy. It's nice to know who is falling through the cracks and who is getting it. It's nice to try to figure out why.

But stop stressing the children out about it. Stop stressing the teachers out about it.

Just collect your data and move on, without linking scores to wages or other ridiculous stuff like that.

That way we can stop saying "end of year" in March. Because that's just crazy talk.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gamelan Bintang Wahyu

We did it—baby and I—we survived a full semester of gamelan! It certainly wouldn't have been possible without a lot of outside support, mostly child-tenders: Josie and my mom who took turns pacing the halls of the HFAC with Alexander during rehearsals, Grandma and Grandpa for helping with the kids at home, and Andrew, of course, for making his schedule work with mine and getting dinner on the table and the kids into bed every Thursday and Friday, not to mention my kids being on their best behaviour both when they accompanied me to class and when they were left at home.

At lot goes in to getting Mom off to school, so thinking about ever going to graduate school (a dream that's been on the back burner for the last decade or so) has my head spinning. This was just a one credit class and...oh, boy! It was enough!

(Of course, it's a fine arts class, so that one credit hour translated into four hours of rehearsal every week. Silly fine arts credits. I honestly don't understand why they are the way they...)

Tonight we performed at BYU's Evening of Percussion, which was so fun! We had a dress rehearsal in the afternoon so it made for a bit of a long day, but I went back home with my mom for dinner and to let Alexander nap so that broke the day up a bit. The poor little guy had had enough after dress rehearsal and couldn't believe we were going back to campus for more. He screamed for Auntie Josie the entire time we were performing (which was quite a while because Odradek alone was more than twenty minutes long). I could hear his cries echoing through the halls the minute we left the stage area so I sprinted towards them until I found that little stressed-out pair (Alexander because "where's Mom?!?!" and Josie because Alexander wouldn't stop crying). He was quite happy to see me. 

Anyway, Andrew took some pictures from the audience (he brought Rachel, Miriam, and Benjamin to watch; Zoë stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa). Oddly enough, he sat right in front of my dad's cousin Jolene—she was there to watch her son Jordan play with the Panoramic Steel group. She recognized our kids and said hello to them by name, which threw them off because they certainly didn't recognize her (when's the last time we had a Duggar reunion?—let's do one this summer)!

Anyway, I am in the very back in the middle (behind those tall guys in the middle) and my mom is on the right sitting on the risers...

Friday, April 13, 2018

Morning has broken, like the first morning...

It was a morning not unlike any other morning—full of teasing and screaming and fighting and yelling. And maybe the kids were doing what they were supposed to be doing...but maybe they weren't.

I don't know. I was upstairs sitting on the couch, pumping.

Tangent time: To be honest, I was ready to start weaning off pumping. I mean, Alexander is six months old (or will be on Saturday) so I've been pumping for about half a year now. I've donated 4232.5 fluid ounces (33 gallons (Rachel is doing a unit on measurement so she should know that's 132.25 quarts, 264.5 pints)) of milk! It can be a bit of a burden, but it's a labour of love. Still, it's simply more of a challenge to do with a (fussy) baby on the cusp of mobility than with a sleepy newborn so I'd been thinking of retiring the pumps. But then my friend Joy sent me a message about her sister, who was desperately trying to get her baby to eat. She hadn't been able to nurse him and he'd been failing to thrive on formula (plummeting off his growth chart). He's doing better on breastmilk but he's not quite out of the woods yet.

So he's my new motivation for sitting on the couch pumping...while my children run amok downstairs in the mornings. It's fine. Usually. I mean, they're generally good children.

This particular morning, however, they were overly good. Or, at least, one of them was.

Benjamin had come upstairs and was being all crazy so I asked him to go downstairs to work on his chore: putting away the clean dishes. He actually complied and thundered down the stairs to get to work.

Everything was fine until all three of his sisters started screaming at him at once.

"Benjamin! Benjamin! Benjamin!" his older sisters chorused (Benjamin is a very common refrain at our house) while his younger sister screeched unintelligibly at him.

"You guys!" I hollered from the couch before...




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Yoo-hoo unto Jesus!

The most recent hymnal for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published in 1985 (a pretty easy year for me to remember). The hymnbook prior to that was published in 1948.

Quite a few changes happened between those two publications, but my favourite is the change to How Firm a Foundation, hymn #66 in the brown 1948 edition:

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
You who unto Jesus, you who unto Jesus,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Feeling Preachy

As he would put it, Benjamin "preached" his first family night lesson today.

For part of his primary lesson yesterday he received a mission call and a name tag and he was ready to head out into the world and share the gospel. He drew a picture of The Book of Mormon and decided he wanted to give it to the bishop, so Grandpa walked him over to the bishop's house to make the delivery. Poor Benjamin froze when the door opened, which is odd considering how talkative he usually is, and eventually, but still saying nothing, held out his drawing to the bishop's daughter.

"It's for your dad," Grandpa explained.

On the walk home Benjamin observed that missionary work is pretty scary but he was going to do his best to overcome his fears, like a good missionary would.

Over dinner he remarked that as soon as he "prepared the gospel" he was going to head out to preach some more. He even planned on wearing his name tag to school.

Not wanting to dampen his spirit, but also not wanting him to think that he really has to go around "tracting" the neighbourhood, we had him give a family night lesson on missionary work today and we talked as a family about how we can share the gospel.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Dying easter eggs (and dying of the stomach flu)

Between sessions of general conference on Saturday we helped Grandpa prune the fruit trees and pile the branches. The kids wanted to make a teepee out of the branches but mostly gave up after tying three of them together, so I did the bulk of the work for them, thinking, of course, that it would provide them with hours of imaginative play over spring break. I would be wrong in this regard, of course, but anyway...

Naanii and Uncle Patrick came over between the second session and priesthood session so they could help me help the children dye Easter eggs (Daddy had gone up to Grandpa Frank's house in Salt Lake to watch priesthood session). It was nice to have some extra hands on...hand.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

2018 Easter Egg Smackdown

Ah, the Easter Egg Smackdown, that beautiful annual tradition of fun, mess, and tears! 

This year we had to squeeze in the smackdown between sessions of General Conference. Andrew wasn't around for dying Easter eggs (again) so I called in my mom and brother for backup (more on that later). I wasn't planning on having all the eggs compete (we made a lot because we were going to have a lot of family over for Easter dinner) but Andrew made up the bracket without me present and included every single egg—all 33 of them (minus a few that were too cracked to compete)!

Here are a few of the contenders...

Miriam's BB-8:

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Easter Baby

Alexander didn't really participate in the Easter Egg hunt. In fact, like Audrey, he wasn't even very interested in the egg that we handed to him. But he certainly was adorable sitting in front of our daffodils!

Egg Hunting

The Easter Bunny visited us on Saturday, just to make sure we knew it wasn't a joke (since, you know, Easter fell on April Fools' Day, which was also General Conference). The kids found their Easter baskets filled with books and candy (except for Alexander, who got a solitary plastic egg in his basket, which I'm honestly not even sure he touched before one of the other kids took it away from him (it's the thought that counts)). Rachel also got a mini first aid kit in hers, which she was most excited about. She's our super-duper-prepare-o-matic, always getting a first aid kit to carry whenever we go out hiking.

Benjamin was most excited about the George Washington biography in his basket:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A few last pictures with Arwyn

Before Auntie Emily (& co.) left (on Saturday), Miriam requested that she get to hold both babies at the same time, so I helped her get situated for double cuddles. I don't know what's so exciting about holding more than one baby at a time but something about it simply is. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Happy birthday to Riley

I can hardly believe that Riley is three years old now, first of all because it means that Riley is three, and second of all because it means that Zoë's third birthday is right around the corner. 

She has been anticipating Riley's birthday party all week long...and wondering about her own birthday. There was a flurry of birthday preparation at our house this afternoon: Miriam made a card for Riley (she drew the most amazing Lightning McQueen on it, which I forgot to take a picture of), Benjamin picked out his Mac truck from his stash of cars to give to Riley ("because [he] doesn't use it that much anymore and Riley will love it so much!"), and, unbeknownst to me, Zoë had picked out a party outfit. She didn't put it on until we announced it was time to get in the car, and then she ran upstairs as fast as she could and returned with a flouncy skirt on over her track pants. 

She looked divine (that's a fancy way of saying beautiful).

Cory had been planning on holding the party at a park but the wind had really picked up, making a park outing a little uncomfortable so instead we met at their house. All the little cousins had a blast running around in the backyard with Abby (the dog), even my not-so-fond-of-dogs kids! Miriam would have you know that she "made friends" with Abby and even threw the ball for her once or twice. I, on the other hand, said, "Sorry, Abby, I don't play with dogs," when she ran up to me with the ball. She didn't seem too heartbroken about it because there were a billion other people seemingly happy to wrangle the slobbery tennis ball from her dangerous-looking jaws and hurl it through the air for her to run after.

We had pizza for dinner, but Riley was most excited about getting to open his presents. He had lots of little helpers (Zoë and Benjamin on our side of the family and twins (right around Benjamin's age) on Cory's side):

Choir concerts

The girls had their final choir concert Monday night (aside from, you know, the one next month, but that's only the show choir and it's at the high school) and it went great. They went with a Disney theme and sang a good mixture of classic Disney songs, as well as songs from newer movies, and even some songs I had never heard before. 

Here's a picture of both choirs singing their opening number together—the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, of course:

Miriam is on the righthand side of the stage in a green shirt and princess crown. Rachel is "somewhere in the back," as she put it. I have no idea where.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Two (very different) babies!

 Zoë was thrilled to have "two babies!" in the house this week. It certainly was fun to see these little ones interact. Arwyn is content and calm, but when she's in the mood can be quite chatty. Alexander is squirmy and demanding and so, so, so messy.

Case in point: We went to watch Rachel's musical together. Arwyn sat in her carseat, perfectly content, the whole time. Alexander, on the other hand, wanted to be bounced around. He ate twice and soaked Auntie Josie, Naanii, and me (and himself) with multiple deluges of regurgitated milk. He fussed, grunted, and moaned about his life (because he desperately wanted to go to bed).

Let's go Duke!

I think Duke is out of the March Madness running as of today, but the kids were sure rooting for them earlier this week. Gavin wore a Duke shirt and track pants on Thursday so when Zoë got dressed she picked out the very same outfit. She was so excited to be twins with Gavin!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Everything's coming out Annie!

After weeks of rehearsals and a handful of performances, Annie is over. Rachel was thrilled on Thursday to not have to wear makeup to school. She started crying on Wednesday morning while I was in the middle of doing her eye makeup; I was like, "Gah! Stop. Why are you crying? Stop!" as makeup started racooning (real term) around her eyes. She really did not want to wear makeup to school (at least not that much makeup). She did, however, have to wear makeup Thursday evening. 

She did her own lipstick and blush because I had to go to gamelan before dinner and she didn't want to put lipstick on before dinner. Here's a picture my friend Kara took of Rachel at Thursday's performance:

Kate the orphan, Rachel the New Yorker, Kenzie the maid (with Annie photobombing)


I skipped gamelan today so that I could go to the dentist because I was sure that one of my teeth was about to rot out of my head. My mouth has been so sore. Talking, eating, yawning—all of it painful. I stuck a little mirror in my mouth so I could look at my molar on the way, way back and I saw what looked like a big, gaping hole, and I kind of freaked out.

Because how do you not notice that your tooth is falling apart, right?

So I went to the dentist—who happens to be in our ward—and he did a bunch of tests (an x-ray, a cold test, a bite test, a knocking test, and a gum measurement) to see how my tooth was doing and from what he could tell my tooth was perfectly healthy. The black spot I'd seen on my tooth was a filling because apparently I already have a filling in that tooth (so maybe not perfectly healthy, but healthy enough). There was 100% nothing wrong with my tooth.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I wanna hold your hand

Yesterday Auntie Emily arrived with her youngest and oldest in tow. Benjamin and Zoë have been so excited to play with Gavin! I think they overwhelm him a little bit (they fight over him, literally tugging him in opposite directions (no matter how much I've tried to convince them to stop)). Zoë always wants to hold Gavin's hand—going up the stairs, going down the stairs, going into the backyard, just because they're both standing there.

We went to Rachel's play last night and Zoë insisted on holding Gavin's hand as we walked to the school (from the parking lot; we drove because I told my mom we'd meet her at the school at 6:20 and we didn't leave the house until, like, 6:17). Things were fine until we made it to the school doors. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

DARE and The First Day of Spring

Here's my confession for the day: I was totally not planning on going to the DARE graduation. Like, I'd heard about it and everything but I didn't put in on my calendar because, well, I didn't. I guess it didn't seem like a huge deal in the big scheme of things. 

Kind of like kindergarten graduation photos. I didn't order those either. So sue me.

But I did get up this morning to bedazzle Rachel, 1930s-style, for her first performance of Annie. She had to be at school at 8:30 this morning, so Andrew stuck around to herd the other children while I played makeup artist and hairdresser for Rachel (I don't know what we're going to do without him tomorrow morning). He drove her to school and then went to work and I finished getting Miriam and Benjamin out the door and then sat down to pump and check my email.

There was a general reminder from Rachel's teacher about the DARE graduation (ha—ignore!) but there was also a second email from her teacher that was just for me (so I read that one):
Just wanted to let you know that Rachel was selected as one of the winners for our D.A.R.E essays. Please do not tell her she will find out this afternoon. Hope to see you there :)
—Miss L
So then I had to go back to the email I'd just ignored to find out the details. Today at 2 PM. Completely doable. So after picking Benjamin up from school, having lunch, and then getting the kids ready to go again, we headed back to the school to watch the DARE graduation assembly. 

We got excellent first row seats and seat-mates. 

Another kindergarten mom sat behind me. She has a baby just a couple of weeks younger than Alexander and those two baby boys chatted and giggled with each other through the whole assembly, which lasted an hour and had me really regretting attending with three little ones in tow. 

But the mom sitting beside me was such a great help. I have no idea who she is but when she noticed me trying to juggle Zoë and Alexander and the camera she said, "Can I hold your baby for a little while so you can take pictures? I don't have any little buddies at my house anymore." Then she turned on her baby voice for Alexander and said, "All my widdle buddies are all grown up, yes they are!"

So she held Alexander and I convinced Zoë to sit on her own (Benjamin, who has had a hankering for some math homework the past few days, was in his own little world, sprawled out on the floor with a math workbook and a pencil) while I snapped a few pictures of Rachel.

She was quite surprised when her name was called, but she bravely stood up, retrieved her paper from her teacher, and read it in front of everyone with a clear, unwavering voice. Like a boss.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Leprechaun gold

Years ago, I a leprechaun decided to hide some (paper) gold coins in the backyard on St. Patrick's Day and since it occurred when my children were old enough to form memories it's become somewhat of a tradition. So this morning before my kids got up I made some gold coins and hid them around the house. And by me, I mean "the leprechaun."

When they got up they went downstairs for breakfast and spotted leprechaun gold peeking out from various places. Rachel and Miriam were less than impressed with how the gold was hidden and Rachel came upstairs to file a formal complaint.

"Is all of the leprechaun gold this easy to find?" she asked, holding up a handful of paper coins and looking severely disappointed.

"What do you mean?" Andrew asked (he'd just woken up and didn't know that any gold had been hidden).

"The leprechaun gold," Rachel repeated. "Is it all easy to find?"

"Leprechaun gold...?" Andrew repeated.

"Yes, Dad! Ugh! Mom?"


"Is all the leprechaun gold easy to find or are there some harder hiding spots? Because none of the coins are hidden very well."

"How should I know?" I asked innocently, "I'm not a leprechaun."

"Mom! I know it was you!"

"All the gold is hidden exactly as it is," I answered mystically.


DST has us all like...ugh

It's a one hour time change. One. Hour.

And yet it has us all feeling so tired!

This past week no one has been waking up for school by themselves (thank goodness for alarms (for the parents) and parents (for the children who have been consistently sleeping through their alarms)). Early morning choir practices have been a joke, but on the plus side we now know that the girls can complete their morning routine (aside from piano practicing) and be out the door in less than five minutes.

On Thursday, as mentioned, Andrew and I went to a banquet and the kids (save Alexander) went to Auntie Josie's house. Zoë was particularly excited about this and kept checking with me throughout the day that she was going to be included in this adventure. "Am I going to Auntie Josie's house, too? I'm going to Auntie Josie's house, too, right?"

Rachel had the option to go to a friend's "late night" instead, but she surprised me by choosing to go to Auntie Josie's house. Miriam was thrilled because when I told her that Rachel might go elsewhere she threw herself on the couch and lamented about how Rachel is "always choosing to spend time with her friends and when she has friends come over she never wants to play anything fun like dress ups or dollhouse anymore..."

So I had to tell her that that's because those things seem like less fun as you get older.

"But I'm getting older, too, and they're still fun for me!" Miriam objected.

Yes, but you're just-turned-eight and Rachel is going-on-elevensies. She's a budding preteen.

But in this case she chose to hang out with her family instead of her friends and Miriam was elated.

Friday, March 16, 2018

MPA Awards Banquet 2018

This evening we dropped the four big kids off at my sister Josie's house and enjoyed an evening out—with the baby in tow—at the MPA awards banquet. In complete contrast with our last MPA banquet (in 2012), Andrew only had to get out of his seat once. And that was to bounce the baby, not to accept any (or all) awards. But it was fine that way.

It's still rather surreal being "on the other side" of things.

Dr. Heiss sometimes doesn't respond to that title because, well, he's not very used to it. Some students clearly adore him, others not so much, but that's the way it is with teaching. We sat at a table with one of his TAs and a handful of students from Andrew's classes, who all seemed to like him, so that was nice. I was a little jealous that they all knew exactly what they would be doing next year (two will be starting PhD programs and three will be finishing up their MPA degrees and one will be a trailing spouse for one of the PhD students) while we're still flapping around in the breeze.

Dinner was a little awkward. We haven't been to any formal banquets recently and have apparently been out of Mormondom so long (living, as we were, in "the mission field") that when we were invited into the banquet hall and found our seats and salads, we dug in. Our entire table did. I mean, first we talked about etiquette (wait for your entire party to be seated and served) and found our salad forks (work your way outwards in, right?), and then we figured we could just go for it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day

It's Pi Day and I hardly took any pictures because sometimes I forget to. My family (Naanii, Bumpa, Auntie Josie, and Uncle Patrick) came over for dinner; I made some meat pies for the main course and they brought dessert. Once again I didn't take as many pictures as I should have...anyway...

Last week we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Andrew made a whole Harry Potter themed meal with Cornish pasties and beans and butterbeer. He had quite a bit of filling leftover from making the Cornish pasties, so that went into a "beef and barley" pie that I cobbled together. I also made a chicken a la king pie, which was a fun adventure. 

Umbrella Lady

According to the forecast it wasn't supposed to rain. Not yet anyway.

I thought about grabbing an umbrella as I headed out the door, but there were no umbrellas hanging there, all of them having been moved upstairs when fall gave way to winter. Now that winter is giving way to spring we'll have to move them back downstairs. But not today, not now. I'm in a hurry. (Zoë problems). Besides, it's not supposed to rain quite yet.

Speed walking being insufficient today, we sprinted a good distance to the school before I grew too tired of pushing x-number of pounds in the stroller. You go, Ashlee Eskelsen! How you managed to push three children for 13.1 miles (and that quickly) is beyond me. Obviously. I needed to take a walking break after one block.

I would say it's because I just had a baby but her youngest is a couple of weeks younger than mine (also, my baby is patient enough about being strapped in the stroller on the way to the school but he usually loses it on the way home from school, so how do you keep your little ones occupied for two-ish hours of running?). Anyway....

It started to pour on us. Of course. Even though it wasn't supposed to rain...yet.

That's cute. That's not cute.

Today my friend Gulnaz and her children stayed to play after kindergarten. Our children's ages line up quite nicely so everyone has a playmate (except Rachel and Miriam who are at school). 

Today we sat the babies in the grass wearing their cozy bodysuits and they were so cute together, little ducky and bear:

Cook out

When we went hiking on Saturday, Benjamin asked if we could sleep outside.

"Not tonight," Andrew told him.

"Why not?" he asked.

"There's still snow on the ground, friend."

"Oh," he said, rather disappointed. "But when it's Unofficial Sleep Outside Day can we?"

"Sure?" Andrew answered after a moment's hesitation because...who ever heard of Unofficial Sleep Outside Day? 

I have a feeling Unofficial Sleep Outside Day will be celebrated soon because (even though we're due for another snowstorm this weekend) it's been rather lovely out. In spite of not getting to sleep in a tent, Benjamin did get to go for a hike and then we had a little cookout on Grandma's new fire pit!

Do not be fooled by their facial expressions; they were all thrilled to be grilling their own hot dogs. I'm not sure why they all look so grumpy here:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Zoë goes to kindergarten

Yesterday was a very exciting day for Zoë because we got to visit Benjamin's class. She worried about getting ready the entire morning, primping and preening and fussing over her outfit and hair. 

Here she is brushing her hair (my favourite parts are "Fink le kids will like it?" with that proud look at the end and the way she keeps looking up to check her part):

She wore a too-small dress with a skort underneath and some "bloomers" for one of her church dresses underneath that. And she was very proud of her outfit (she was pretty sure the kids would like it).

She walked the whole way to school, pushing her baby in a little stroller:

Stage Makeup

We had crepes for dinner tonight. I made the batter and Andrew cooked them when he got home. As I was blending the flour into my mixture of eggs and milk I thought to myself, "I am making colloidal crepe batter." Now that I know what that is and all.

Rachel came home from school about the same time Andrew arrived home from work. He walked in the door and said, "Look who I found hanging around outside," and I panicked because we had sent Miriam's friend Hannah home a few minutes before—through the front door—and trying to round the kids back inside (to the backyard) was somewhat of a triumphant feat. So I was like, "Oh, no! Who?!"

We live on a busy street, by the way.

"Uh, just Rachel," he said.

"Oh! Her! Okay. Hi, Rachel. How was play practice?" I asked (because I never remember to ask her how school is anymore; her life is the play (which is totally normal, I get it)).

"Good," she said, handing me a paper detailing instructions on hair and make up and so forth.

"I have to wear make up to school," she lamented before I put her to work sweeping the floor (she owed me from last night because she (accidentally) flung a spoonful of rice across the kitchen).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Don't drink the colloid

Last night Andrew put on some special lotion with colloidal oatmeal in it to help soothe his raw, cracked hands (it's so dry here).

"Mmmm...I have oatmeal on my hands," he said, as if to rub it in (whoa—no pun intended).

"So, you used the regular lotion?" I asked.

"No. I used the special stuff."

"The regular stuff is made with oatmeal, too."

"No!" he said, shocked. "Really?!"

"I think so," I said. "Aveeno—it's made from oats."

"Well, that would explain the picture of oats on the bottle," he said.

We looked at the ingredients and found that, yes, Aveeno is made from oats (and, in fact, is named for oats: Avena sativa). So that's fun. Aveeno contains "avena sativa (oat) kernel flour" while our special lotion (Neosporin's eczema essentials) contains "colloidal oatmeal."

As soft scientists, and hobby chefs (Andrew basically worships Kenji), we're pretty confident about what flour is. But, uh, colloidal oatmeal? What is that?

Not about cheese

I wore flip flops today for the first time this year, just thought that was noteworthy. It's been deliciously springy lately, probably because spring is on its way. Yesterday we put our clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings—like little lemmings—and it was about as exciting as daylight savings could be expected to be (we could just stop, you know). Everyone was walking around like they were suffering from mini jet-lag. Wake time, nap time, bedtime—all thrown off.

Before dinner some of the children (I'm not naming any names) were absolutely bouncing off the walls with anticipation (Uncle Jacob's family was coming for dinner!!) so I decided to take the kids on a pre-dinner walk, which they all enjoyed.

While we were out walking, we stopped to play in some green space and when it was time to go (ie. when I got a text from Andrew saying that Jacob and Shayla had arrived early so that Carter could play with his cousins) I said, quoting a well-known cartoon figure, "Come on, vamonos! Everybody let's go!"

And Miriam said, "Mom, what does asiago mean?"

Okay, random child.

"It's cheese..." I began to explain.

She looked at me with a very confused look.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Toes and Thumbs

Alexander has discovered his toes and watching him play with them is the most darling thing! He's also been experimenting with his thumb, which is cute as well. I don't know if he'll be a habitual thumb-sucker (but there's always hope). 

Not much to say are a billion pictures of my adorable baby (you're welcome):

South Fork Canyon

A little over 10.5 years ago, we went on a family outing up South Fork Canyon. You currently can't see any pictures of that outing because once upon a time Facebook had external links for its photos that I could use on Blogger but those links are all dead now (maybe I will fix that later). I still have the pictures on my hard drive, * however, so I pulled them up so you could see how much has changed in the past ten years and how much has stayed the same.

Here's Rachel enjoying the grass on the field, ten years apart (she's a good sport):

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Zoë has recently discovered Frozen and she loves it, which means we're back to listening to the Frozen soundtrack 24/7 (that was so 2013). The upside, I suppose, is that I already know pretty much every word to pretty much every song, which makes me pretty much the coolest mom in the world.

Today we got a big box of bandaids in the mail—huge, really—because when we were signing up for insurance this summer the insurance people made it sound like a Flex Spending Account was a great idea and that with the pregnancy/delivery/prescriptions/so many kids we'd definitely spend it all.

Alas, we ended up buying like $500 of assorted bandaids and other first aid equipment just so we wouldn't "lose" the rest of the money in our FSA because we didn't end up using it at all.

So we're probably not doing that again.

I mean, on the plus side this means that our insurance is pretty good and didn't leave us with a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. The downside, however, is that we have a lot of bandaids. When Andrew ordered the bandaids he got a bunch of Star Wars ones and a bunch of Frozen ones.

Zoë grabbed the Frozen bandaids when I took them out of the box.

"Frozen bandaids?!" she squealed before frantically searching her body for some previously ignored owie, only to come up with nothing. "Aw, dang it!" she said, which is currently her go-to phrase of disappointment for some reason (do any of us say that often enough for her to have picked up on? I haven't noticed). "I have no owies, Mom."

I assured her there would be plenty of Frozen bandaids left for her to use the next time she gets hurt because (a) she gets hurt frequently enough and (b) she's got a corner on the market because we have three boxes of Frozen bandaids but her siblings only want to use the Star Wars ones.

At bedtime she was thrilled to discover a spot on her ankle that had been rubbed raw (from refusing to wear socks with her boots, I'm sure), so I slapped an Olaf bandaid on her and she went to bed a very satisfied customer!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Last year's science fair

Is it possible that I never wrote about the science fair from last year (March 9, 2017)? It's suddenly seeming entirely possible because I can't find anything about it. We had seen a viral post about the amazing anti-bacterial properties in human milk and decided to duplicate the study, as best we could, at home. In short, we were unable to obtain the same results as the original study. Our breastmilk didn't seem to inhibit the growth of bacteria, at least not topically.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Children and emotional intelligence

Since learning how to read and moving into the top bunk, Benjamin has been using a little clip on lamp that—in his defense—his sisters had been using before him. Somehow it managed to survive the girls but (for whatever reason) it was unable to withstand the whirlwind known as Benjamin (or perhaps it was just getting old). Whatever the case, the lamp started falling apart with reckless abandon.

A loose screw here, a lost cover there, and all of a sudden the entire circuitry of the thing was exposed.

Last night I decided I'd tie part of it together as a stop-gap measure until we could think of a more permanent solution. Mostly I just wanted the circuit board out of sight (out of mind (out of little fingers)), so I got some yarn and I tied the little light panel onto the the head of the lamp (it's an LED light board, obviously, not incandescent) before sending the kids to bed.

A few minutes later I walked into Benjamin's room and he was fiddling with the lamp.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Oh, just there was a rope tied on my lamp for some reason. But don't worry! I untied it!"

And he had! Gah! So, with a hint of frustration, I removed the lamp from his bed. He picked up on my frustration and started sobbing because he didn't know he wasn't supposed to remove the string (and that's true...) but I wasn't really frustrated about the lamp and the string. I was more frustrated that Benjamin had, once again, outsmarted me.

It's like he sits around concocting ways to get around the very solid rules I set (or attempt to set).


Monday, March 05, 2018

Passport Pictures

This was a weird Monday. The AM kindergarten (which Benjamin attends) was released at their standard early-out time (the PM kindergarten had the day off) and Rachel and Miriam only had a half day so they got out of school at noon. I forgot about ukulele practice because Miriam had a make-up piano lesson scheduled and when she left the house (Aunt Linda teaches her now) I sat down to have a piano lesson with Rachel because Rachel's rehearsal schedule is crazy next week (musicals are fun, but...a lot of work) and I knew we wouldn't have time to squeeze a lesson in any other day. But then I got a text asking if ukulele was still on, so I told the texter to go ahead and come on over and we had our little ukulele practice half an hour late.

It was just an off day. I couldn't get nap times right and almost forgot to pick up Benjamin from school because no one got out at their normal time and everything seemed just a little bit harder to do today.

But I managed to take passport photos of the kids. My mom is hoping to take Rachel and Miriam up to Canada in the not-too-distant, whenever-their-passports-arrive future, so we'll be applying for their passports tomorrow. Benjamin and Zoë technically didn't need passport pictures taken but they wanted them anyway. They're always feeling a little left out (though I keep promising them that they will grow up and get to do neat things, too). 

Benjamin even told me that he needed his passport picture taken "in case [he] learn[s] to listen well enough that Naanii wants to take [him] with her, too." He tries really hard to listen, I think. The problem is that he just has so many...interesting...ideas. Ideas that should probably not be acted on but so often are. *sigh*

Zoë just wanted her picture taken because everyone else was doing it. And—oh, boy!—you should see the outtakes. She was in quite the mood today and kept yelling at everyone to leave her alone.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Bouncing Baby Boy

This summer, my friend Geneen had the audacity to move out of the area just as my family was making our way to the area. I was a little bothered by her timing (come on, Geneen!) but she left behind a bunch of baby stuff for Alexander, so I guess her moving wasn't all bad. Among the treasures she left behind was a doorway jumper, which has been sitting in our closet ever since. 

But then this girl that I know who had twins around the same time I had Alexander asked on Facebook if anyone had a doorway jumper she could borrow for the next several months (she had one jumper but didn't want to buy a second one) and I thought to myself, "Huh. I wonder if Alexander is ready for something like that, too..."

It's funny the things you forget about babies even as you're in the midst of having babies. I mean, he's my fifth child and I've been having babies pretty regularly. It's not like I took a ten year break and then had him. Nope. He came right on the tail end of Zoë's babyhood. Still, I feel a little clueless. So I looked up how old a baby should be before you plop them in a chair suspended from the doorway by a spring (that doesn't sound perilous at all, does it?) and the internet told me between 4 and 5 months, assuming the baby has good head control. 

Alexander finds his little bouncy chair a tad bit boring of late, so we decided (on Saturday morning) to give the doorway jumper a try and he...thought it was interesting:

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Since it last snowed on us (last Friday) the weather had been warm enough to melt off nearly everything we got (and we got quite a bit). Yesterday afternoon we went to the park with Naanii and Zoë ran around barefoot (avoid patches of snow), Benjamin wore shorts, and Rachel and Miriam kept taking their sweaters on and off. And when we got home we made Benjamin go into the backyard to collect all the flotsam the melting snow had been hiding: an orange bowl, a frisbee, some boards for the porch swing, and several other things.

And then last night it snowed once again—and quite a bit, too!

We knew it was coming. The winter storm advisory had been in the forecast for about a week. Still, it was hard to believe that a storm actually was coming because yesterday had been so balmy. But we woke up to a good eight inches of snow—and then it kept on snowing for four or five more hours!

Some wards in our area met for sacrament meeting only and then went home to help shovel out the neighbourhood. Other wards in the area cancelled church altogether (areas closer to the mountain really got pounded). Our ward met for all three hours (and then went home to shovel, although some of us shovelled before church (some of us had 5 AM skype meetings so had plenty of time on our hands before church (ahem, Andrew)).

After choir practice, I took the kids outside to play in the snow. It was perfect snow for building a snowman, which I was happy about because the last time we had snow good enough for a snowman was at Christmas (and Andrew took the kids out to build a snowman because Alexander was still so new and I was still so just-had-a-baby, and we forgot to take a picture of it)! We haven't managed to build a snowman since then. Until today.

Andrew had been napping (see above for the reason why) but he joined us when we had reached a crucial part in our snowman building process. We'd rolled two ginormous snowballs but had no idea how we were going to get them on top of each other (they were just that big).

Little House on the...

Lately I have been thinking about the various backdrops I've enjoyed through different chapters of my life. A friend of mine recently wrote about how someone wise once told her that not having one true childhood home will stunt a child's ability to connect with their environment. This particular friend's lifestyle requires rather big moves every few years, so she protested that her child would grow to love many environments, on a general level, and would be come a "global steward," of sorts, to which the Wise Person replied, "Ah, but the power of nature lies in its particularities."

This Wise Person had my friend promise that she would strive to at least teach her child(ren) about local birds, "as a start," which she's done, and which I heartily approve of. However, I think living in multiple places is like having multiple children. You always worry about how you can love a second (third, fourth, fifth...) child as much as the first (second, third, fourth...) but soon learn that, as cliché as it sounds, love for your children can only be multiplied, not divided. So too with the concept of home. It is possible to love multiple places fiercely. 

I also believe that a change in scenery provides a necessary component of embracing particularities. A new environment arouses a childlike curiosity in an otherwise dull and jaded adult. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Farewell, February! Hello, March!

What a downer of a month February is. It can't do anything right. It isn't even a normal length. 

We have a March 1 deadline that I've been thinking about this week, but all week I've been thinking, "We still have a few more days left to decide..." 

(Are we going to fly out for Andrew's graduation ceremony or not?)

BUT it's February! So we don't have a few more days left to decide because February is over!

I'm glad about this because even though this winter was mild, the snow and cold we've gotten recently has been enough for me. Too bad for me, though, because there's another winter storm a-brewin'. Still, snow storms in March aren't quite as depressing as snow storms earlier in the season because even if it's snowing it feels like spring, like the world is rejuvenating (which it is). February, as the tail end of winter dreariness, is the absolute worst.

My question today, though, is this: I've been alive for several Februaries (32, to be exact) so how did I not realize the end of February was already upon us?

What a weird month, February. I mean, come on...

Oh, so about the picture! I had to force Zoë to come with me to pick up Benjamin today, which is great because I've been reading this book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids that my mom got for me. And, like, I'm all about helping children work through their emotions until I'm not. And today when we had to leave and Zoë was still throwing a fit I just picked her up, put her down in the garage and said, "We're going now. Do you want to wear shoes and a coat, or not?"

"Yes," she sniffed.

Sometimes I just don't have time to deal with her emotions because we have to go (but it's something we'll work on together, I guess).

She cheered up while we were on our walk and I started pointing out all the things she would have missed seeing if she hadn't come with me. These flowers were one of those things. And I always love when I see the first little blossoms poking out from the snowy ground.

ALSO...I just tried to type "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" to Andrew but instead I typed, "rabbit, rabbit, rabbi" and now I can't stop laughing. Happy March!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

All the birthdays

There are a lot of birthdays in our family this week: my brother David, my nephew Andrew, my Grandma, and Grandpa Frank. Did I miss anyone? I probably missed someone. It's a busy week for birthdays!

David's birthday was on Monday. He was always such a good big brother. He's been there for me from the very beginning...

My dad, my brother, and me

Play and dough

Every morning after the kids leave for school, Zoë requests play-doh time (at least, that's her activity of choice this week). Her specialty creations are pizza and bouncy balls, but she makes other things, too.

She was using some of the little cookie cutters in her dough and announcing what she was cutting out in the moment. "I'm making a pineapple!" she said. "I'm making a flower!"

Then she grabbed a little cookie cutter shaped like an "old fashioned" telephone—one with a receiver that sits on top of the base, with a rotary dial, and...I'm pretty sure we had one in my house growing up (the kind that sits on a table), at least for a while (if not, I know my aunt had (and perhaps still has) one that was mounted to the wall). Those phones don't seem so old to me, but to Zoë they are ancient history.

"I'm making a..." she paused and then exclaimed, "I don't even know what this is!"

A mixed bag day

I gave Benjamin a haircut yesterday because he was one shaggy boy. He tends to get that way in between haircuts because, well, he hates haircuts. He hates when I use scissors to cut his hair because that takes way too long. He hates when I use the clippers to cut his hair because the buzzing and vibrating makes him nervous. He basically just hates having his hair cut.

But, like his daddy, Benjamin also hates doing his hair. He hates getting it wet and combing it down. He especially hates putting gel in his hair. A good day for him is a day that he can roll out of bed and not bother with his hair at all.

Unfortunately—and perplexingly—this means that in order for him to have a run of good days he needs a haircut and haircut days are very bad days. Or, as I tried to impress upon Miriam this evening, bad moments. Most days are really a mixed bag: some good, some bad. And that's fine; you enjoy the good moments and work through the bad moments.

Anyway, I cut Benjamin's hair yesterday and it was certainly a difficult moment for him.

He cried, he screamed, he scrunched his shoulders up to "protect" his ears, he wiggled, he squirmed...

It was difficult for everybody involved. Alexander started crying because he doesn't like it when his siblings are loud (so he went into the front carrier). Zoë was be-bopping around trying to cheer Benjamin up. Benjamin just kept on carrying on no matter what we did to reassure him (I even rubbed the clippers on the palm of my hand (and his) to show him that he was in no danger of having his head chopped off by mistake—all it is is a tickle).

His haircut took probably twice as long as it should have and it's a little crookedy, but it's done.

Until the next time.

Monday, February 26, 2018


Today Rachel finished building the Lego set we gave to her for her eighth birthday, I believe, which Grandma had purchased to harvest mini-figures from when she made Rachel's Hogwarts birthday cake for her fifth birthday. That thing had been kicking around (half-opened) for a long time and though we'd encouraged her to put it together multiple times, she'd never gotten around to it.

Because reading is the only activity that exists in Rachel's world, probably.

On Saturday Andrew threatened to incorporate all the pieces into the big bin of Lego but I insisted that she build it first. So yesterday she started putting it together.

We had to find the instructions online because those had been lost and we had to dig through the big bin of Lego to find a few odd pieces that had somehow been misplaced, but she made some good headway before bed last night and after school today she put the finishing touches on Hagrid's Hut.

She was so proud, and, honestly, so was I!

I don't believe I've ever put a Lego set together, either (I was the main helper in this endeavour) and it was a pretty cool process. I've never been much of a "master builder," if you will. Everything I make is incredibly boring. But Andrew insists, and I've come to agree, that building from a set of instructions can help foster your creativity (especially for those of us who are creatively challenged when it comes to engineering).


Sunday, February 25, 2018

This post is 233 words long*

School Activities: 830 words
Little look a-likes: 124 words
In which I fail to meet my quota: 534 words
So much writing: 1326 words

That's a grand total of 2814 words* within a 24-hour period!

It's highly unlikely it will ever become my average but I did it. So that's something.

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said, "Anything is better than stagnation."

My life is, at times, fairly mundane. I am not a queen, it's true. Quite the opposite, in fact. I do my own laundry, catch my own mice, and sometimes I even have to do the dishes (among other things). Lately I've been so caught up with feeling distraught about the future that I've forgotten that the adventure is now. So in an effort to appreciate the now, I'm going to try to write more (although I do have a few things children vying for my time as well so I'm not sure how much more I'll write because I also have to remember that they are my now; but I don't want to forget our nows then so I still resolve to write more).

After all, "the world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings" (Robert Louis Stevenson).

* Including this footnote and post, my actual grand total of words for the day is now 3048! Eat it, Victoria!

School activities

As I mentioned, like, three weeks ago, Benjamin's kindergarten class had their "Kindy 500" on Groundhog's Day. I already feel a little bit like I'm drowning in life so I didn't feel like making a big fancy car for Benjamin and, frankly, he wasn't terribly into the idea of making a big fancy car, either. 

Evidently I scarred him for life when he decided he wanted to be Thomas the Train for Halloween. How did that scar him for life? Well, I said sure and made him a train costume to wear, like a monster! 

He absolutely didn't want to be stuck carrying around a cardboard vehicle with suspender straps again and made his opinion very clear on several occasions. So we kept putting off the construction of his car until one day I walked into the pantry and saw that one of the snack boxes (from the trip to Grover back in September, I believe) was already a school bus.

Benjamin loves school buses and was kind of crushed when we moved here because practically no one rides the bus, including him. Riding the bus was something he was very much looking forward to after spending the first five years of his life (that's his entire life, by the way) waiting for the bus to bring his sisters home from school every day. 

I showed him the box and asked him if he'd like to personalize the bus a bit for his Kindy 500 car (by putting people in the windows instead of pictures of chip bags) and he said yes. So that's what we did. And he had a blast. And even if his car wasn't as fancy as some (because some families went all out) and even if he was wishing for shoulder straps by the end of the day (I told him we could put some on but it wasn't until the walk home that he agreed they would have been nice), he loved his bus. 

Here he is during their little parade:

Maybe those shoulder straps aren't all they're cracked up to be because he's the only one smiling in this parade...

Little look-alikes

My mom sent me some pictures of my dad as a baby so that I could compare their looks—and they do certainly look to be related, don't they? Alexander's face is a little rounder, but their eyes and noses (and even their smiles) are very similar, I think.

Here they are sitting up:


In which I fail to meet my quota

Just to show Queen Victoria that I can do it (not that it's a contest or anything), I'm going to write a little bit more. Not that I know what I'm going to write about. My life is drastically less interesting than hers, I'm sure. Plus she had nine children to write about while I only have five (ha, only).

Still, five children should provide plenty of story fodder (especially since I'm with them all day and night (nursing right now as a matter of fact) and never employed a governess or anything (not that it's a contest, Queen Victoria, but, uhhh...yeah; it's on)). And so I will do what I usually do and fall back on my charming, witty, and attractive children to meet my writing quota:

So much writing

An average of 2,500 words!

That's how many words Queen Victoria* wrote daily. Her journals span nearly 70 years (from age 13 to 81) and total 43,000 pages in 121 volumes!

That's simply amazing to me (especially since I feel I've been slacking in the writing department lately). Journaling is something I've always been rather passionate about.

It's something church leaders have encouraged us to do:
I urge all of the people of this church to give serious attention to their family histories, to encourage their parents and grandparents to write their journals, and let no family go into eternity without having left their memoirs for their children, their grandchildren, and their posterity. This is a duty and a responsibility, and I urge every person to start the children out writing a personal history and journal.
President Spencer W. Kimball, April 1978 
President Kimball was an avid daily journaler, though he himself admitted that he only had "thirty-three large, well-filled journal books" in his library by the time he was 85, so it would appear that the queen out-wrote him!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Under the weather

All five of the kids are sick with a cold right now. It's Alexander's first full-blown cold and he's a little perplexed by the way his body has seemingly turned on him. His nose is stuffy so eating, his one true joy in life, is considerably more difficult than it's been in a long time. I imagine that, like the more verbal children have been complaining about, his head aches and his throat is sore. While his siblings have been, for the most part, carrying on with life, Alexander has never been in pain like this before and has been acting like he's dying.

Nearly every time I put him down he curls up in a little ball and starts screaming as if to say, "Don't leave me alone to die!"

I keep telling him that he's going to be fine but he doesn't seem to believe me. So we're just nursing every half-hour like it's going to be his last meal (or maybe he just feels thirsty because his throat hurts (probably that)).

Hopefully they'll all be back to themselves in the next couple of days (just a little bit fatter in Alexander's case (oink, oink)).

The other day Zoë was sneezing all over creation, including Alexander.

"See, this is why your brother is sick," I chided.

"He's not sick!" she denied.

"He is," I insisted.

"Why?" she asked. "I always just 'choo on my arms! I never 'choo the baby!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Snow Business

Before Andrew left for work this morning he shovelled the driveway, but it kept on snowing so by the time I was sending the kids to school we had to wade through a couple more inches (Grandpa ended up shovelling again later in the morning). I sent Benjamin waddling along with his sisters, dressed in his entire snowsuit. 

I'm pretty sure I was the only mom in the whole school that made her kids walk to school today (in the snow, both ways). 

When we were walking home from school, Benjamin asked me if I'd help him build a snowman, so I said that I would...after lunch, if I could get Alexander to go down for a nap and squeeze in a nap myself then, yes, we could build a snowman.

Unfortunately, although we had both lunchtime and nap time, by the time we got outside the conditions just weren't right for a snowman. While I could pack a good initial ball of snow, rolling it around did nothing to increase the size of the ball. It just wouldn't pack. So a snowman was out. 

Instead we started building a snow fort. Benjamin, Zoë and I worked together until Miriam came home from school (and then Miriam joined us). It was tough work!