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!