Thursday, November 30, 2023

Two stories

There are a couple of funny stories that I wrote down on Facebook, which I neglected to record here, so I will put them here as well. The first is from two weeks ago when Alexander couldn't live without his emergency paperclip supply. He took a paperclip to co-op. He took a paperclip to church. He had to have paperclips on him at all times!

Alexander: See this paperclip? I can use it to unlock the bathroom door! So if it ever gets locked with nobody inside, I can be the one to let people in!

Me: Well, hopefully that won't happen *too* often.

Alexander: Yeah. 


Me: *knock, knock* Hey, who's in the bathroom? 

Bathroom: ...

Me: Nobody. Okay. 

Alexander, brandishing paperclip: I can fix that.

Me: Thanks, buddy. Hey, are *all* the bathroom doors locked?

Alexander: *looks sheepish*

Me: Okay, how about we unlock all the bathroom doors and use the paperclip only in case of actual emergencies. We don't need to fabricate emergencies, okay?


Alexander: *walking around wearing a necklace of paperclips*

Me: Huh. Nice necklace.

Alexander, patting his necklace: For emergencies.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas Trees

Andrew took Miriam to a musical rehearsal on Sunday evening, so while I was home with the rest of the kids I pulled out our new little Christmas tree (another Buy Nothing Group score) and set it up in the basement. Rachel and I also lugged the parts for the big Christmas tree upstairs (but we didn't put it all together until Monday) because I wanted to get to a box of Christmas books that was behind the Christmas tree. 

Phoebe was so excited about the Christmas tree. Zoë taught her how to be a "present" under the tree. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


We put up our big Christmas tree yesterday (and a small Christmas tree on Sunday evening), so I thought it was only fair that I post about carving pumpkins on the afternoon of Halloween. Because we did that.

Andrew got three big pumpkins for the kids to carve. We paired up and made plans together: Rachel and Miriam, Benjamin and Zoë, and Alexander and me. Andrew focused on taking care of the seeds while Phoebe busied herself by getting into everyone's business. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Freak Streeze

Last night Benjamin told us that his Duolingo streak was in the 300s. Perhaps it was even in the 330s or thereabouts. And it should be because several of the children made a goal to keep a DuoLingo streak all year long and they have been working hard at remembering to practice their language skills (and Andrew and I have been working hard at reminding them to remember to practice). 

Last night Benjamin also told us that it was too bad Rachel had lost her Duolingo streak because she should be right up there in the 300s with him, but now she's back at 1.

I questioned him about this because we've had children lose their Duolingo streaks before. Sometimes there are epic meltdowns over such a loss. A little over four years ago, Miriam lost her Duolingo streak over some technicality (like she wasn't connected to the internet when she did her lesson, or something) and she threw an incredible tantrum and vowed she'd never skip a day ever again. So now she's right up by me in the rankings. I think I'm at 1665 (or something like that), which translates into about 4.5 years. 

Miriam didn't used to be that close to me (re: the length of her streak versus mine). I used to be hundreds of days ahead of her...but I have had to use many a streak freeze in my time because no one nags me about whether or not I've remembered to do Duolingo and sometimes (about once a week or so) I forget to do a lesson. Miriam, on the other hand, very rarely has to use a streak freeze (these are things you can "purchase" in the "store" using gems you've earned doing other lessons). The girl is a machine!

Rachel is not prone to such tantrums...anymore. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Hiking at Sweetwater State Park

Georgia is a beautiful place, so we thought it would be nice for Katherine and Emily to see some of that beauty. We discussed many, many places, but settled on Sweetwater State Park since scenes of The Hunger Games series were filmed there (and that's of interest to Katherine and Emily, both). Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the trail to the New Manchester Mill was closed, which is really quite a shame because the hike to the mill is relatively easy (though the trail gets hard after the mill).

Instead we hiked the blue trail, which was the next shortest hike on the map. The terrain wasn't quite as...gentle...however.

But we made the best of it. We hiked the yellow trail to the bridge just before the blue trail, and then Emily and Katherine waited patiently while the rest of us speed-hiked the loop. At least, I assume we must have hiked it at a decent clip since my Fitbit says our entire hike was only 1.5 hours long (and we had to hike 0.7 miles from the ranger station to the trailhead (and then 0.7 miles back)). 

We're not really regular hikers, though I would love to do more hiking on these beautiful trails (especially through the autumn, winter, and spring when the weather is nice), but for some reason it's been difficult for us to get out of the house. But we did it! And it was lovely! And I think Andrew's sisters appreciated the beauty, even if the hike was a little out of their comfort zone. It was nice to get out into nature for a bit.

Here's Rachel, who was a little less thrilled about being out in nature when she looked down and saw (arachnophobia warning...)


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wave your little hand and whisper, "So long, dearie!"

This morning Grandpa picked up our "youth" (Rachel and Miriam easily qualify in this category, but Benjamin will be joining the young men in January, so he's close enough) to go clean the church. Ordinarily we all go but, uh, when our team leader put forth 7:00 am as a non-negotiable start time, I blanched a little. 

I'm tired, okay? 

Phoebe has slept "through" the night perhaps five times in her life. Phoebe doesn't nap anymore (not typically). Once Phoebe gets up, my day lasts until she goes to bed (and then I have to stay up and take care of other things). 

Waking her (and the rest of the kids) up at 6:00 (or so) in the morning so that we could get all the kids fed and dressed and out the door sounded like a terrible idea. 

And Andrew's been burning the candle at both ends to play Thanksgiving host and attempt to keep up with his work projects, so he's beyond tired...and...

Anyway, we just didn't go. We may have gone if a compromise on the time could have been found. But we sent our kids to represent, so that's got to count for something, right?


In the mid-morning, Grandpa showed up with Emily and Katherine so that we could all say our goodbyes before he (and Zoë and Alexander) took them to the airport. 

Here is everybody except for me:

Friday, November 24, 2023

The clubhouse

This morning we headed to the neighbour's house to start dismantling the clubhouse. The wood seems to be in rather good condition, given that it's at least a couple decades old, but—man!—that thing is hard to pry apart! 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

It was wonderful to have a full house for Thanksgiving. We stayed up late baking pies and prepping food for dinner, then had our plan of sleeping in interrupted by Phoebe. Benjamin and I ran a 5k, we played some group games together (like Poetry for Neanderthals and Really Loud Librarians) so that everyone could play at once. It's actually a little difficult to find games suitable for 10 players. 

Our neighbours are giving away a little clubhouse that has been sitting unused in their backyard for the past 20+ years. They offered it to Benjamin, who was pretty excited about the idea. His real dream is to build himself a tiny house so he can have his own personal space, but he and his friend Reed recently decided they'd build a shed in the backyard. They searched on Amazon and figured they could order a shed for around $40. 

"You can't buy a shed for $40," I told them.

I was accused of hating adventure and killing dreams. 

On the contrary, I support their dreams. They're simply not plausible because there is no such thing as a $40 shed. They need to come up with a better plan. 

"Show me this $40 shed," I challenged Benjamin.

"Well, they can be like $40 on average," he told me.

We went searching on Amazon together. We found this:

A $20 shed...floor mat. Not a shed. A floor mat.

MLK sites

By the time we got to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, everyone was ready for lunch. Technically, I suppose we were hungry before we even left the state capitol building (since the MLK area is only about a mile away). The first thing we did, then, was eat our picnic lunch.

Here's Benjamin, his mouth stuffed with sandwich, pretending to be Chewie (Cheese-bacca, if you will). If you can't tell, he's draped a package of string cheese across his chest.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Georgia State Capitol

I still need to bake some pies tonight, so we'll see how far I get in this post before I call it quits for the day. 

Today was our Downtown Atlanta day! Our first stop was a visit to the capitol building, which turned into a big long adventure to find a women's washroom for Zoë. When she mentioned she needed to use the facilities, Phoebe also started chirping about needing to go "Pee! Pee! Pee! Pee!" but she wasn't as much of a problem as Zoë was because Phoebe has no qualms whatsoever about using the toilet in the men's restroom. Zoë, on the other hand, was not as keen on entering the men's room. 

She and I went all over the place and found multiple men's rooms and only one women's washroom...that was closed for renovations...before we caved and asked the nice workers setting up Christmas decorations where we could find the women's washroom.

The man we asked stared at me for a minute in complete confusion.

"Oh! You want the bathroom!" he said. 

"Yes..." I said.

Look, I don't leave my house a lot, so I just call things what I want to call them without fully realizing it might not be what it's called here. Further, when I'm nervous or formal or hanging around my Canadian friends and family, more Canadianisms slip in. This was a case of nervous formality. 

"Excuse me," I'd said. "We're on a bit of a wild goose chase for the women's washroom. Do you happen to know where one is?"

Was that an awkward way to ask? Maybe.