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Thursday, August 05, 2021

All about Alexander

Alexander has been pining after my attention the past little while. It's true that I've been a little busier than usual, especially this past week, but it's not like I never do anything with him! I've often found that if I take a break from what I'm doing and spend a little time playing with him, that he'll be satisfied and leave me alone for a little while (which makes for a much better chunk of working time than if he's sitting beside me whining the whole time I'm trying to work). This past week he's been insatiable though!

Yesterday before dinner he was hounding me about playing with him and I kept telling him that I was almost finished with the section I was working on and that he had to be patient...and then Andrew announced it was time for dinner. 

So we were going around the table asking everyone what their favourite part of the day was and Alexander said, "Almost getting to play with Mommy."

It about broke my heart.

Tonight at dinner when I said that my favourite part of the day was, first of all, that when I asked Alexander to do his job, he rushed to the dishwasher and said, "I'll get all the plates first!" and quickly gathered them up, put them away, and ran back to do more! He's been such a sulky, fussy boy this week that I think he's cried about putting dishes away every other day, so it was nice to have him do his job nicely. 

Side story: the other day Rachel casually reminded him that dishes were his job and he, feeling lonely and neglected (while in a house, constantly surrounded by siblings) picked up an old phone and recorded his feelings about his life. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

✓ Finish Summer Semester

I just turned in my final project for my first (and potentially ever) "summer short session," which is essentially a full semester condensed into 19 days (25 days, including weekends). I've been a little stressed out about the next couple of semesters, what with taking a full load of classes and doing an assistantship and homeschooling all the kids and having a new baby.

But completing this class—in the midst of everything else that has happened over the past three weeks*—has given me confidence that I can complete three classes spread over 111 days (including weekends), no problem. Technically I have to take four classes, but the fourth is more of a "filler" class, which I had thought meant it was an independent study class, but my advisor explained it's more of an "use these hours if your assistantship ends up taking more time than you're being paid for" class. So that's kind of a huge relief. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

No debate

I'm just popping by real quick (because...did I mention I'm taking a summer course that smashes an entire semester into a mere 19 days of work? All I have left to do now is my final project but...it's going to be an intense couple of days getting that done) to say that today we finished up eight weeks of our school year. 

Of course, we don't always do schoolwork on Fridays, so I've only counted 35 instructional days, but still. We're pretty happy to be this far "ahead" before the public schools have even started (they go back next week). 

One of my primary concerns about homeschooling is that I'm not doing enough (but that also might simply be a personality flaw of mine (shhhh...it's fine)) but today Zoë finished with the first half of her math curriculum for this year, so I think we're probably doing enough in that department. She's done really well, too, except today she announced that she doesn't really need to learn any more math because she's going to be a ballet teacher when she grows up and the only math you need to learn to do that job is just counting...to keep time with the music...and she already knows all about that so she's all set!

Everyone in the family quickly intervened, telling her that she'd need to learn more math to know how much tuition to charge, how much to pay her co-teachers, how to pay her studio rental and utility fees, how to design a safe stage set, how to...etc.

So she's convinced she can start on the second half of her curriculum (though I might let her spend more time playing Prodigy) and I'm convinced that we probably are moving through our curriculum at a decent (if not accelerated) clip.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Happy Pioneer Day!

Our ward is back to meeting 100% in person, with masks optional, and no real option for zooming into meetings. Fortunately, I've been so firm about refusing to attend in-person activities with my little people (who are not vaccinated because...they can't be yet!) that the bishop gave us special permission to surreptitiously stream sacrament meeting for the time being. Honestly, I'm a little annoyed that the reason given for this change (at the stake level) is that "everyone who wants to be vaccinated should have had time to be vaccinated by now" because that simply isn't true in the case of children. But I'm not sure everyone is aware of this. 

As a nation, we really have been neglecting children in this whole equation.

For example, my "ministering sister" stopped Andrew in the hallway to ask about my whereabouts. He said that I'm staying home with the kids.

"Are they sick?" she asked. 

"No," he said. "They're not vaccinated."

"Oh!" she said with shock (because we're the well-known liberals in the ward). "I didn't think your family would be against vaccinations!"

"We're not..." he said. "But there is no vaccination for children under age 12."

"Really?" she gasped. "I had no idea! I thought everybody could be vaccinated!"

Her kids are all young adults. The youngest just graduated from high school. The oldest just graduated from college. None of them are married (there are no grandbabies) and all of them are vaccinated. She had no reason to be fully aware of the vaccination details for younger kids.

So, here we are...still at home (and simply dreading orchestra (even though, again, the little kids and I will be outside the whole time...just waiting for big sisters to be done)) having church all on our own.

Andrew (and sometimes Rachel) have been baking bread for sacrament every week, which has been lovely. Andrew now does a small sacrament service just for us before he and Rachel leave for church. And then later Rachel does a video call with us so we can listen to the speakers (and hear Andrew play the organ). Then we're on our own for classes since those aren't being streamed anymore.

This week was particularly fun because it was Pioneer Day on July 24! 

Here's Benjamin with his pretend beard:

Orchestra audition

Even as the Delta variant is taking over the southern United States and as we're stubbornly refusing to socialize in groups (especially indoors), we're preparing to send the girls to orchestra next month. I'm really hoping that things will clear up by then...

But we already took a year off of orchestra and I just am not musically talented enough to give the girls the instruction that they need. Rachel is fully vaccinated and Miriam will soon be able to be vaccinated as well. The rest of us have to stay outside, anyway, and the orchestra meets in small groups, so hopefully it will be alright.

Anyway, the girls had to send in an audition video (not to get in to the orchestra, but so that their teacher/conductor can put them into an appropriate level) and we finally got around to making those videos yesterday. 

Rachel recorded hers by herself while I helped Miriam put together a few songs. We've been working on a duet that she really wanted to record (though I daresay it's not her very best playing, but she recently sized up her cello and got glasses so she was working with a lot of things she wasn't quite used to), so we did that one and then Miriam recorded a couple of songs from her methods book.

Here we are playing Vivaldi's Spring:


While I was helping Miriam with her videos, Rachel sent me a couple of videos and said that she'd redo them if she had to (for example, she knew she messed up the second video) but that she didn't really want to (and was willing to just live with the mistakes). I suggested that she simply re-record the second video to see if she does any better but she just about died at that suggestion, so I let it go. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lifeguards, frogs, finding goodness, diabetes, and garbage humans

I took the kids to the pool for nearly four hours today! We went "early" and had a picnic lunch because Alexander doesn't like it when the lifeguard is at the pool because the lifeguard calls for "adult swim" the last fifteen minutes of every hour and he doesn't like to be forced out of the pool. But really the lifeguards are all really nice. We especially like Teaghan, who just happened to be working today.

It was hot out and instead of just chilling on her break like she usually does, Teaghan decided to delight the children (my four (Rachel didn't come) and three from another family (the only other family) there) by lining them up on the side of the pool and doing spectacularly splashy cannonballs and can-openers off the diving board, soaking all the kids over and over again. They thought it was the best thing ever!

I hope if they remember anything from this summer years from now, it's Teaghan the Lifeguard splashing them all during adult swim. (It would be cool if they remember other things, too, but I think this is a memory that needs to be locked away in their brains). 

And then when adult swim was over and Teaghan was climbing back onto her lifeguard chair, a bunch of little kids climbed up on the diving blocks, ready for her to whistle and call for "kid swim," so she teased them by raising the whistle to her lips and lowering it several times. Benjamin had a little "false start" and fell into the pool before she blew her whistle (and climbed back out as quickly as he could, because he's no rule-breaker!). When she finally blew her whistle the kids all screamed for joy and leaped into the pool together and it was utterly adorable.

So, again, I really hope they've all committed Teaghan the Lifeguard to memory. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Baby #6 is a...

I had my 20 week (and 6 day) appointment today, which included an ultrasound and a glucose test. I managed to keep the glucola drink down, so that was a bonus, but my blood draw went a little horribly. There's this one nurse that I'm never sure about...and I got her today. And when she looked at my veins and said, "This will be a tough one," I thought to myself, "Maybe we should wait for someone else..." because I've often been told my veins are like plump little juice boxes. 

Let's just say she did not do a great job and forty minutes later I was still bleeding. She ended up slicing my vein a little bit? It's fine now; it just hurts and is bruising. 

The ultrasound took quite a long time because baby was in a tricky position. The ultrasound technician found everything she needed measurements for except for the head. Baby is already solidly "presenting vertex" and no amount of prodding was going to make it budge (although it was certainly flip-flopping all over the place). I had to get up to empty my bladder in the middle of the ultrasound so we could keep trying to measure baby's brain (because that darn bladder was in the way). 

But we finally got a clear shot. Everything's looking great.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Rachel is 14!!

Today was mostly a regular school day for us, which is really fine because Rachel's pretty used to having school on her birthday (from her year-round years at Easley), but we had some fun today as well. We've been watching a lot of interviews with authors lately. Today we watched a talk Minh Lê gave at BYU's Book for Young Reader's Conference and we also got to tune in to a Zoom lecture he gave with Dan Santat (who has illustrated a few of his books) at some public library in Milwaukee. 

I...just happen...to have to write a paper about one of Minh Lê's books this week...

But, I mean, the kids learned plenty from these book talks as well, so we're totally counting it as their ELA time for today. And when we do this sort of thing it makes for a good break from our ordinary routine. 

Our bathroom downstairs has a plain drywall ceiling up now, which is rather exciting. It still needs to be taped and painted, but we're just happy for the drywall! The upstairs bathroom is coming along nicely as well. The new door has been framed (we're putting in a pocket door since the door is in a bad location (right at the top of the stairs) and made the doorway itself a bit bigger because the old doorway was too narrow to be considered "to code") and the subfloor and shower pan are in and the walls are coming along. We might just survive this process!

Friday, July 16, 2021

My birthday balloons (and a pretty lousy week)

With Rachel's birthday right around the corner, I thought it was probably time to take my birthday balloons down so we can get ready to put hers up. Miriam was the one who spear-headed the birthday balloon tradition for me (which I appreciate because soliciting kind remarks for someone else makes me a whole lot more comfortable than soliciting kind remarks for myself). She sat Zoë and Alexander down one afternoon when the kids were all finished with their homework and helped them cut out and write on some balloons. 

Alexander's balloons, of course are all full of scribbles, but one of his scribbles turned into a beautiful butterfly, so that was nice. Miriam also took some dictation from him: "I am so happy you play with me. I love you, Mommy!"

Zoë's balloons say, "Happy birthday! I love Mom because she is having a baby. And she's nice!"

She also wrote me an acrostic:

Nice
Awesome
Natuory [nature-y]
Creative
Ya, she's the best!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

20 weeks

We've officially reached the half-way point—I'm twenty weeks today! Our anatomy scan is scheduled for next week and everyone's very anxious to learn the gender of this next baby. 

Benjamin is firmly on team boy because he would like our family to be equal

Zoë is firmly on team girl because she feels sandwiched between boys and because she's so much younger than her older sisters they never spend a lot of time playing with her, which leaves her with only boys to play with, which is sometimes unfair because the boys don't always want to play the games she wants to play or tell her that she can't play with them.

"Oh, if this baby is a boy, I will play with him all the time," Benjamin said to her. 

"THAT'S MY POINT!" Zoë wailed.

I didn't point out to Zoë that there will be a bigger age gap between this baby and herself than there is between Miriam and herself. I think she'll have fun playing "little mommy" no matter the outcome, but she very much wants a girl. And Benjamin very much wants a boy. 

And there's really only one way to solve this argument and get everyone excited and on the same page by the time the baby arrives...so we'll be revealing the gender next week (assuming baby cooperates).