Sunday, October 24, 2021

Miriam's birthday cake

Miriam wanted a s'more cake for her birthday, so Rachel did some research and planned out a phenomenal cake that sounded mouthwatering to everyone in the family...except me. I mean, besides the fact that I'm completely off sugar right now...marshmallows + chocolate = a big "no thanks" from me. When Andrew lamented that he wouldn't be around for cake (since Miriam's birthday is on Monday and he's otherwise occupied Monday(s)), Alexander smacked his lips and said, "Goody! More cake for us!"

And so, in an effort to spite Alexander and include their father (because in this house, we're both vindictive and virtuous), the girls made the executive decision to celebrate Miriam's birthday with cake today rather than on Monday. 

Rachel spent practically all day Friday and Saturday in the kitchen. She made a (homemade) chocolate cake with (homemade) marshmallow fluff filling, covered in (homemade) buttercream frosting, topped everything with (homemade) ganache, and bedazzled it with mini s'mores that she made by roasting mini marshmallows over a candle flame.

We teased her for not making her own graham crackers and marshmallows, which she kind of took as a challenge so don't be surprised if you see her whipping up those from scratch in the near future just to prove that she can (as I said earlier: vindictive and virtuous). one say anything about making chocolate to her, okay?

(Although, I have a friend who took a chocolate-making class when she was living down in Mexico. We're talking, like, "Step one: Open cocoa pod. Step two: Roast the beans. Step three: Mash the beans." Except that I have no idea what the actual procedure is, so don't follow those steps I just told you. Let's just say, the class took her through the whole process and what she shared looked very interesting...if you're into that sort of thing (and even if you're not, because I'm not particularly interested in making chocolate from scratch and yet it looked interesting)).

Here's the finished product, fresh from the fridge so it could get warm on the counter while we went on our family walk:

Saturday, October 23, 2021

OOB and fee

We spent some time doing some Halloween crafts this afternoon—namely: getting Miriam's birthday "balloons" ready (she decided to stick with the Halloween tree theme, much to Alexander's delight) and getting some Halloween cards ready to send out.

Now that Alexander can actually pronounce things, he's becoming very interested in reading and writing. For example, went the whole way around the block today running ahead to each mailbox, sitting down primly on the curb to wait for Andrew and me to catch up,* and then proudly "reading" the numbers on the mailbox for us. He still gets 6 and 9 confused, but he does fairly well otherwise. He's also doing reading lessons and has begun sounding out words all on his own as he goes about his day (there's this one superhero book that has been particularly motivating for Alexander; he wants to know every word in that book).

* I've been insisting the past several weeks that I'm walking at the very same speed I always have, but it turns out that my waddle is getting real. Andrew checked his Fitbit to show me just how much I've slowed down as my belly has grown. I've about doubled the time it takes for us to walk around the block! And, really, we have been lagging behind the children more and more recently. But, boy, do I ever feel like I'm moving as fast as I ever have. Getting up our hill takes so much work!

Anyway, Alexander wanted to write his own messages, but he wanted the messages to be meaningful rather than nonsense, so he worked really hard on them!

Organ embroidery

Last week Miriam's organ teacher texted us out of the blue one evening to say that she was moving to Korea to take care of her mother (recently diagnosed with a terminal illness), so this would be her last week of lessons. We're sad to lose such a wonderful teacher, of course, but I'm so happy that her teacher has the flexibility to go! Living far away from family can be difficult. 

She gave us a few leads for replacement teachers, so we're working on filling that gap, but in the meantime, Miriam had her lesson coming up (on Wednesday) and she wanted to get a goodbye gift for her teacher. But what?

If my last post didn't make this clear...I'm not a good shopper. Knowing what to buy other people is...not in my skillset. Luckily, gifts don't always have to be purchased and sometimes something homemade offers that special touch of je ne sais quoi. So Miriam decided she'd "whip up" some embroidery—a set of organ pipes—for her teacher. 

It took most of her spare time between that sad text message and her lesson, but she finished it just in the nick of time. Andrew snapped a picture of her (and it) before taking her to her final lesson.


Way back when I first found out I was pregnant and was experiencing All The Emotions, I decided that if I really was doing this again (which evidently we were), then I at least could be cute and comfortable: I was going to buy maternity clothes.

This was a great plan for me...except that I'm frugal to a fault...and spending money is really hard for me. So I was lucky that my neighbour gifted me a bag of maternity clothes because I still couldn't quite bring myself to buy very much, especially because we're really at our caboose now. For real. 

Still, I convinced myself to buy a couple pairs of maternity leggings, which was important for me even early on because I think I was the absolute sickest with this pregnancy that I've ever been—throwing up and fainting (which I haven't really ever done during pregnancy before)—and feeling elastic around my waist was just unbearable. So I wouldn't have made it through the first several months of this pregnancy in my regular leggings, even though that's mostly what I wore when I was expecting Alexander and Zoë. But maternity leggings really are more comfortable than non-maternity leggings; that's just a fact (that I know now).

Anyway, I also got a couple of tunics to go with the leggings. They aren't technically maternity shirts, but I have this thing against buying clothes I'm only going to wear for a few months (which is why I haven't ever bought a lot of maternity clothes). Tunics are something I can wear after Baby is here as well. When I was looking at tunics, a lovely fall-striped one caught my eye but I was going to be pregnant mostly through the summer, so getting a long-sleeved tunic sounded like a bad idea. I chose a short-sleeved one instead and I think I've worn it once a week since it arrived. It's very comfortable.

Things have been cooling off recently, however, and I've found myself still thinking about that fall-striped tunic. So I went ahead and ordered it. Because if you've wanted something from April to October, maybe you should just go ahead and get it.

It arrived today and I tried it on and when Alexander saw me his mouth fell open.

"We match!" he managed to squeak out in spite of his excitement, and he ran to give me the biggest hug.

I hadn't planned on wearing the shirt the whole evening, but...I couldn't take it off now!

Alexander rifled through his toy box until he found his sunglasses (so he could match me even further because I have glasses) and insisted that we both wear flip-flops on our walk (because then our shoes would match). He held my hand the whole way (he's only recently given up the stroller—completely cold-turkey, as is his way (one day he was too little to walk the full mile, but the next day he was plenty big, thank you very much)) and whenever a car drove by he would squish up against me and robotically announce, "CONNECT! Nobody can see me. We are camouflaged. CONNECT!"

He's a goofball.

Here he is saying hello to Phoebe, who has made it past the 34-week mark (by one day). Every day we count our lucky stars that she's still baking away. Even though I'm so over being pregnant, I know that she's better off on the inside.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A boy called Harbinger

We are reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow together, which has a fairly advanced lexile score, but the kids wanted to do some spooky stories for October so it fits their interest level, if not their reading level. While we read the kids make note of words they don't know (there are a lot) and when we're finished reading they choose some words to explore. 

Zoë, I can see, needs more instruction on how to read definitions of words because she gets very creative with her exercises. She likes to put her vocabulary words into a story, which is fine, but her interpretations of their definitions are comical. 

Here's today's story:

Once there was a spooky anecdote (tale). The boy that was reading it was called Harbinger (Herald). He loved varleting (acting) at the scary parts. When itinerants (travelers) walked and wandered outside searching for shelter he sang and wrote and read: "She had barely practiced (repeated) credulity (willingly). It behooved me at first!"

I was dead after reading the first two sentences. A boy called Harbinger (Herald)?! I had to excuse myself to go laugh (because Zoë does not like to make mistakes and if she knew she had made such an error would have erased the whole page, lickety-split). 

Anyway, we'll be discussing what a herald is (as opposed to a Harold). That word will be coming up again at Christmastime, anyway, I'm sure (Hark! Those herald angels!). 

Google tells us that varlet /ˈvärlət/ is "a man or boy acting as an attendant or servant."

Acting!? Perfect! thought Zoë. I can use that in my story for sure!

She neglected to digest the entire definition, however. It's a person filling the role of an attendant or servant, or, simply, a person who is an attendant or servant (no doubt related to valet). It can also mean rapscallion. 

I think she about grasped the meaning of itinerants. But I don't think practiced was even one of the words we pulled from the I'm not sure why she picked that word.

Merriam-Webster informs us that credulity /krəˈd(y)o͞olədē/ is "readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence." Again she stopped reading after "willingness" and ran with that idea, and while I suppose one can practice credulity...this does not show she understands the meaning of the word.

Which, again, is fine because she's six. 

And here's her description Ichabod Crane:

Ichabod Crane was tall and helpful. He was envied by the women because he taught their children and rocked their babies and fed their cattle and wattered [sic] their horses. He looked like a scare-crow and he was a teacher. He is not annoying (Ben said that he was). 

I think she's enjoying the story, even if she doesn't quite understand every little detail. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Zoë's well-child check

Zoë's been nervous about her well-child check ever since Alexander and Rachel came home moaning and groaning about their vaccinations. This morning, however, Alexander tried to convince her that going to the doctor wasn't all bad!

"You don't have to worry about going to the doctor," he told her over breakfast, "Because guess what! If you are brave and get your shots, Mom will take you to the park after even if you haven't done any of your work for the day. Like, yesterday I didn't do any of my work and Mom still took me to the park. So...that might happen for you today, too!"

That did not happen for Zoë. 

Her appointment wasn't until this afternoon so she had plenty of time to get her morning work done before we left. But we did swing by the park on the way home, just me and her. Which was like actual one-on-one time. And she loved it. 

Anyway, her appointment went well. It was with a different doctor than the one we saw yesterday, which is fine. Technically we can see anyone at the practice. The doctor was a little concerned about Zoë's size because she's tall (3 ft. 9 inches) and lean (40.5 lbs), putting her between the 1st and 2nd percentile for her BMI. So we talked a lot about nutrition.

The funny thing is that I warned Zoë that she should eat her vegetables because the doctor would ask her about it. And what am I supposed to tell the doctor when the doctor asks about it if she never eats her vegetables?! Well, I told the doctor that she is offered vegetables multiple times a day, but whether or not she eats them is a different story. 

Unlike Alexander, Zoë's favourite food is not mixed vegetables.

"Do you eat any vegetables?" the doctor asked.

"I eat uncooked carrots," Zoë said. "And cucumbers and..."

"So some vegetables at least, that's good," the doctor said. 

When the doctor stepped out of the room, Zoë said to me, "I did not know they were really going to check on how much vegetables I eat!"

You'd better believe she ate her vegetables (cucumber slices) this evening. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Well child visits for Rachel and Alexander

I took Rachel and Alexander to the doctor this morning; they're both healthy, happy kids, though Rachel's blood pressure was a little high. I pulled out her records from last time and her blood pressure was a little high then, as well. But that's just her anxiety kicking in. She hates needles and knew she had shots coming up. 

At 4 years old, Alexander is 39 inches tall (3 feet, 3 inches) and is 31 lbs. 

Long and lean, a little on the small side but following the pattern of his growth curve (which is all that we ask for). He was so brave for his shots (he got three today: chicken pox, MMR, and influenza). When the first shot went in his eyes got really wide, when the second shot went in tears sprang to his eyes and he started his nervous giggling, when the third shot went in he continued his nervous giggles and added a little, "OKAY!" 

He was so done with that!

The nurse could hardly get his last bandaid on; he was scrambling away from her trying to get into my arms.

"All done!" I said. "You were so brave! And—just think!—you won't have to get another shot until next..."

I was all geared up to say "year" but then I realized that...I sincerely hope...he'll be getting another shot within the year so I finished up with "time" instead. 

That sounded far less comforting than I intended it to, but he has no concept of time, anyway.

Rachel actually got her shot first and she did so well. Last night (when she was already nervous about today), she said, "Last time wasn't so bad. And I do so much better than I used to. I haven't bitten a nurse in a long time!"

And it's true. She didn't abuse her nurse one single bit. She just sat on the table and took a deep breath and then it was all over. 

I won't reveal her statistics, since I suppose she's entering that age where she gets to choose what information to reveal. Let's just say that when we were discussing her growth curve the doctor said, "As you can see she grew a lot last year and then this past year she grew even more!

Like Alexander, she's also long and lean. Just about as long and lean as I am! But not quite. 

I have a few inches on her yet!


Monday, October 18, 2021

Should have done this 15 years ago...

I survived midterms and now we're flying toward the end of the semester. Only one of my classes has been transparent about assignments—with readings and projects listed out for the entire semester (though there are weekly quizzes)—and I really appreciate it because my other classes release each module week by week. All I want to do is get ahead of the game a little bit so I can be prepared for whenever this baby shows up, but noooooo!

Anyway, yesterday I was talking to my mom and she mentioned that she wished I had done my master's in library science way back in the day. When I was working at BYU they would have paid for it and then it would be over with. But the thing is that I was working and pregnant and the prospect of going to graduate school felt like too much. And it would have been a lot, it's true. 

But also, it would have been much easier than it is to be in graduate school now (while pregnant and working and homeschooling five children)!

That's the beauty of hindsight, though, isn't it? And I suppose my mom could have pushed me more toward that, but in the end kids (even adult kids...especially adult kids) are just going to make the decision they're going to make. And my mom did sympathize with me that it would have been a lot. Being pregnant is hard work and it feels extra hard the first time. Though I also might argue that it feels extra hard the last time, too! Haha! It's not like it's really something you ever get used to. It's kind of just always not quite easy, always a little complicated and fraught and exhausting and...everything.

My mom cheered me on, though, saying that she knows I can do it. Because she also did it—graduate school, with six kids in tow, working, living life in all its...complexity. It wasn't easy, but she did it.

And I was just thinking today about a concert I accompanied my mom to (she had to attend various performances for various classes) and she was dutifully taking notes in her notebook when she fell asleep, mid-stroke, her pen rushing across the page with a whoosh. She jerked awake and we had a quiet little giggle about it (concert etiquette!), but the memory made me feel so sad for my tired mommy, who I'm sure I didn't help as much as I could have, and so grateful for her dedication to her education, and proud of her for working so hard.

Maybe it's the fact that Hamilton is playing in one of the kids' bedrooms, but I kind of just want to sing, "Look at where you are! Look at where you started!"

I'll always be thankful for her example.

Welcome Fall!

We held our autumnal "opening ceremonies" last Monday—on Canadian Thanksgiving—as we usually do. Sometimes we do a fuller Thanksgiving, but other times life seems too hectic for that (like when Daddy has to work and Mommy's diet is so limited) so we did a simple fall meal instead. We had pumpkin soup with some Thanksgiving sides. Now that I think about it, we have instant stuffing in the basement that we probably should have used. Oh, well.

I was in charge of the soup and put Miriam in charge of the cranberry sauce. She decided the recipe on the bag was ridiculous because our family really enjoys cranberry sauce. Surely the yield wasn't enough for our appetites! I did manage to convince her to follow the recipe in the end, which was probably a good thing because the recipe yielded plenty

"I think you'll be surprised by how much three cups of berries really is," I warned her. "How many berries are in a package?"

"I don't know..." she said. 

" says 25!" Alexander informed us.

And, indeed, the bag did say 25, though there were a lot more berries in there than 25! 

Verbal nesting

Andrew has pointed out that whenever I open my mouth lately, 99% of the time it's to announce something that I need to do. Or that we need to do. Both of which roughly translate into things I often wish he would do (but I say "we" or "I" out of politeness).

I need to organize these baby clothes.

We need to get the front yard landscaped.

We need to plan Christmas presents.

I need to return books to the library.

I need to go through those boxes.

We need to finish painting the back deck.

We need to trim the ivy off the trees.

I need to... We need to... I need to... We need to...

This list of mine is especially active in the evenings when I'm too tired to actually do anything.

"Calm down," he tells me. "You need to calm down. None of that stuff needs to happen immediately."

"I can't help it!" I told him. "I'm verbally nesting! I don't have the time or the energy to actually nest so I'm just expressing my desire to nest in words."