Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine ground rules

Dear other parents,

Although I still think it slightly cruel, I can tolerate your sending home Fun Dip packs with my eight- and ten-year-olds. I used to enjoy an occasional Fun Dip pack back in the day myself. But can we agree that sending Fun Dip packs home with my kindergartener is just wrong, wrong, wrong?

Fun Dip packs are the kind of candy that you sneak off to the store to buy without your parents' knowledge. They are not the kind of candy that parents purposely give to their children, especially to their five-year-olds.

While we're on the subject—slime. Let's not send my five-year-old home with slime either, okay?

I mean, on the one hand he loved it. It was pink and sparkly and gooey (three of his favourite things).

But on the other hand, he's five years old and his mind is on fire. I haven't met anyone with so many bad ideas in a long time. He has his share of good ideas, it's true, but so many of his ideas leave me wondering, "Whhhhhhaaaaaaat?!"

Alexander at four months

Alexander had his four-month well baby check today, so I know exactly how big he is: 25 inches tall and is 13 lbs. 11 ounces. That's double his birth weight! No wonder he seems huge.

At four months, Alexander is getting to be rather social. He smiles and giggles and coos both when he's given attention and when he wants attention. He initiates play by making eye contact with someone and then cocking his head to one side (repeatedly until they copy him) and grinning. It's super adorable.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A post about depression (don't freak out)

Yesterday wasn't a fabulous momming day for me, or life-ing day, for that matter. Lately I've been feeling like I'm stuck in a hydraulic press or something, like my whole self is being squeezed. I'm positive I'm suffering from a little PPD or PPA, because I've been there before so why not go there again? Depression and anxiety aren't exactly strangers in my life. 

After a week of Zoë being sick, I am ridiculously behind in laundry because I spent the whole week washing sheets and blankets and towels and pyjamas that she threw up on (technically she was only throwing up for three days, but it felt like longer). Andrew was sick over the weekend, which I can't really blame him for but it meant that he wasn't present to co-parent, which felt overwhelming even if it shouldn't have been. Andrew's current contract will be over at the end of the semester and then...who even knows? It feels just a little bit like we're heading full-steam ahead to the edge of a cliff. 

Alexander hasn't been sleeping well lately. He sleeps until I go to bed and then—I don't know if it's because he can smell me or what, but—he wants to smorgasbord all night long, which is fine except, like, I'm the smorgasbord. It's been exhausting. But  then when I can sleep, all I have are nightmares of my children dying. Often it's due to a car accident (which has done wonders for my driving anxiety—ha!) but there are other ways, too. I heard Rachel's bed creaking in the middle of the night; she was probably just switching positions, but I dreamt she had hanged herself from her bed frame (she has a loft bed) and I found her in the morning when she didn't get up for school (she's usually the first one up). Just a reminder that that was a dream. It didn't actually happen. 

Benjamin, though, actual-factually started choking on a piece of meat at dinner the other night, so I went ahead and dreamed that instead of coughing it back up (as he did in real life), he died. And I kept dreaming it over and over again and every time I would try something different to save his life but every time I would end up hovering over his limp, lifeless body on the kitchen floor. 

I can usually chase that kind of thought away during the day (thoughts which I realize aren't entirely normal to be bombarded with), but I can't quite control them in my dreams. 

So sleeping is pretty much...fabulous...right now.

Anyway, yesterday I just felt like far too much was piled on anyway and then...I went to fill out this survey for Alexander's well-child check tomorrow. It's a pretty easy survey and I was flying through it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On Campus

On Saturday I took the kids to BYU to meet up with my mom and sister for the Family Concert Series, which how did I not know about until now?!? I think it's such a great idea—a matinee musical performance geared toward children. 

This month's theme was "Pictures in Sound" and we learned about how composers paint a picture with sounds rather than paint. The first song the orchestra played was the Star Wars theme song and the minute they started playing Benjamin went all slack-jawed (and didn't manage to close his mouth until they had finished playing). The first question of the lecture was something about what the music made us see/imagine/think about. The answer, for most (including Benjamin), was Star Wars.

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Benjamin bit into his dinner tonight and his tooth popped out of his mouth. 

"Wow!" he said, and then put his hand up to feel his freshly barren gum. He was quite shocked to see his fingers come away bloody and cried, "Whoa! Blood. Blood. Did not expect blood!"

Soon, though, the bleeding stopped and he was left to revel in the joy of having lost his very first tooth. 

I wanted to take a picture of him with Rachel, who lost a tooth yesterday. They insisted that Alexander be in the picture with them because he is also quite toothless.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Stories from this week

This evening we were watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics while chowing down on pizza when I noticed that something was wrong with Benjamin's mouth. He was chewing funny and his teeth looked all wonky. It took a minute of staring at him to realize that he must have a wriggly tooth.

"Benjamin!" I said excitedly, "Do you have a wriggly tooth?"

"I wish I did," he sighed forlornly. "Everybody else has had a wriggly tooth."

"Come here, let me see," I said.

He came over and obligingly opened his mouth for me. He has a wriggly tooth, alright! It's so wriggly it's almost ready to pop out of his mouth. He showed it off to everyone. Grandma teasingly offered to pull it out and then Daddy genuinely offered to pull it out (what is it with Daddies and wanting to pull teeth out?). He let Andrew give it a few good yanks before I convinced Andrew to let it fall out organically, or at least give Benjamin a little while to enjoy wriggling it now that he's aware of it. How that boy managed to go this long without realizing his tooth was wriggly is beyond me!

(Side note: Rachel just lost a tooth (on a piece of popcorn, no less), though it's her...ninth (I believe)...which is much less exciting than a first.)

It does explain his lack of appetite. I've been a little worried about him because Zoë has been so sick this week, but he hasn't acted remotely ill. He's just been refusing to eat quite a bit of what we've been offering him at mealtimes in favour of things like yogurt and applesauce. So his appetite isn't suffering, per se. He simply is having a hard time biting and chewing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Every day I'm....

Every morning and every evening, I sit down to express milk for a friend's baby. It's actually kind of fun to do a direct transfer because I get to see her sweet baby every couple of weeks when she comes to pick up milk. A baby can change a lot in just a couple of weeks! Seeing her baby reminds me that I'm not just growing my own baby at this point; I'm helping hers grow, too. That's two babies that I'm feeding (and two babies is a whole lot of babies to feed and feeding babies is work and sometimes I just need to be reminded of that). 

I pump off 12 ounces in the morning and 12 ounces again in the evening (which totals approximately how much milk a baby consumes any given day). It can be tiresome and time consuming, but it's worth it for me (because, as I've explained before, I tended to get mastitis (or was constantly battling clogged ducts and was a cantankerous old milk cow because I was always overflowing with milk) when I didn't pump (I didn't pump with either Rachel or Miriam)). 

The mornings can be difficult, especially if I have to leave the house very early (I won't say how early is too early; I'll just say that getting the whole family out the door for 9:00 church is a challenge). But even if I don't have to leave the house early it can still be a challenge. Sometimes I end up nursing Alexander on one side, pumping on the other side, all while snuggling Miriam, who is likely demanding that I read her a story ("Okay, now turn the page," I'll prompt her every few sentences). 

Now that Alexander is getting bigger and older and more interactive, pumping in the mornings can sometimes go swimmingly well (when he is happy to kick around on the floor or takes a nicely timed nap in his bed) or he can fuss and demand to be held, which is cumbersome. Or he'll do a big poop in the middle of pumping and I'll have to stop and change him, and so on. Really pumping doesn't take that long, but when you factor in all the interruptions...time adds up.

Here he is, snoozing across my lap while I finish up pumping:

That one time we went to the museum...

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day we went to the Bean Museum with my mom, brother, and sister. And then I didn't ever write about it because I'm so far behind in life that it's not even funny. But Josie wanted to see the pictures I took with her and Alexander. Unfortunately, none of them turned out great, but that's alright because they're both cute anyway!

Sunday, February 04, 2018


Lately the kids have been asking questions about cognizance, like, "When did you tell me my name was Rachel?" and "When did you tell me my birthday was June 3?" And it's been driving us all a little crazy because there is no satisfactory answer to these questions. I don't know when my children first became aware of their name or birthday or whatever, and they don't consider the answer, "It's just kind of something you grow up knowing," satisfactory.

At dinner tonight (a lovely NC BBQ, per Benjamin's request, accompanied with roasted green beans and banana puddin') Rachel asked me when I "found out" about WWII.

"Okay, so," I began, "This is another thing that I just kind of know. It is so much a part of our culture that I can't really separate it out as a memory. It's entrenched in movies and literature, we learn about it at school, it was always mentioned at Remembrance Day, we have relatives who served during WWII. I feel like I've just always known about it."

"Just like there was no moment I told you what your name is or when your birthday is," I continued. "Unless, like, maybe at your birth I was like, 'Hello, Rachel! Today's your birthday! Welcome to the world..."

"...Germany invaded Poland in 1939..." Andrew added, using the same singsong baby voice I had been using.

That is exactly the fourth thing we say to our kids when they're born. Like, verbatim.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Groundhog Day

This morning Benjamin participated in the Kindy 500 (like the Indy 500, only for kindergarten). Each student made a car out of a box, which they "drove" around the school for all the parents and classes, and then they spent the day (or 2 hours, as it were) driving around the school to various American landmarks/symbols and having a mini lesson about them. There was the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, an eagle, a flag...that kind of thing.

They had fun. And I have a few pictures of the initial parade, which I will eventually get off of the camera (but our card reader is no longer reading cards so that will have to wait), but that's not really what this post is about, anyway.

This post is about how I walked home from the school this morning with my friend Gulnaz, who is from Russia. She remarked how beautiful the weather was, and that it was more like spring than like winter, which is totally true.

So then I told her that today was Groundhog Day and that the principal had joked during morning announcements (she missed those) that Punxsatawney Phil had seen his shadow, dooming us with six weeks of winter, though if the six more weeks of winter we're in for are anything like the weather we've had so far this winter we'll be quite comfortable until spring.

She was like, "Groundhog...Day...?"

So I tried to explain Groundhog Day to her, which was...difficult.

Have you ever wanted to sound like a crazy person?

Explain Groundhog Day to a foreigner unfamiliar with the concept.

Gamelan with Benjamin

My mom is in Oregon at a conference this week (for the Music Library Association, I think) and Andrew's mom is in Arizona at a funeral (for a family friend), so with my two most dependable babysitters absent I ended up taking multiple children to gamelan this week.

Yesterday I took Rachel and Alexander, specifically so that Rachel could help watch Alexander during class. She also got to play a bit on the jublag for a bit during our break, though I didn't take her picture or anything (so she'll have to come another time).

Tonight I took Benjamin and Alexander, specifically to remove Benjamin from the equation at home. The kids had given Andrew a pretty rough time on Thursday evening, so I thought an outing would do Benjamin some good, and it did. The only fit Andrew had to deal with was the one Zoë threw when we told her (yet again) that she wouldn't be coming with us.

I put Alexander in the front carrier during class, where he had a lovely little snooze out of Benjamin's reach. Benjamin read books and drew on a whiteboard and ate a few snacks. During the break Dr. Grimshaw invited him to test out the gongs and Benjamin, though a little shy about it at first, really quite enjoyed striking the gongs (what five-year-old wouldn't?).

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Getting a handle on things

It's been so warm out that instead of putting Alexander in the front carrier and zipping him inside my big winter coat, I broke out our two-kid capacity stroller. Zoë has been dying to try this out since we got it (used) but at first Alexander was too tiny and then the weather was too frightful (and it should still be frightful; I can't get over how mild this winter has been!) so Alexander has been bundled up next to me since he was born, basically.

But for the past few days he's been riding in the stroller and he seems to enjoy it (or at least not hate it). He's a pretty clingy guy. He already holds onto people when they hold him and he has his favourite little handhold in his car seat, so I wasn't at all surprised when I saw his little hand squeezing the life out of the side of the stroller. I texted this picture to show Andrew that Alexander had found a handle.

"He's all set," Andrew wrote back.

You could say he's really getting a handle on life...