Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tales from the carnivorous forest

Here is Miriam's story about her walk through a carnivorous forest:

"SNAP!" a mimbi had landed on a tree, and it had disappeared from sight. It was pretty cold outside. 

"B U R P!"

Out came the bones.

Suddenly, the human-eater was sucking me out of the mud. I grabbed my knife and cut the tongue off my arm. The poison dart rocks were hard to avoid. They were everywhere! I always got them confused with the non-poison dart rocks. Suddenly I sunk into a patch of hungry-earth and grabbed one of the sausage vines. I sung like Tarzan until it was safe. I sung down and landed on the dippopotumas's feathery back. 

"Go! Go! Go!" I cried.

Then the man-throw trees unfurled their roots and slithered towards me. I grabbed the sausage vine and a giant stick bug and jumped onto the tree. It started to swallow and "SNAP! SNAP! Buuuurrrrpp! Beeeelllccchh!"

Out came the bones.

Kennesaw Mountain (family adventure, part 2)

This second part of our little adventure—the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park—was the part we didn't research well. We simply didn't realize that the battlefield was the mountain (though they also have this lovely little field out front):

But Atlanta traffic is such that it's worth it to stop and hike up and down a mountain (even if you're a little underprepared for such an undertaking) rather than be stuck in traffic forever. So we hiked the mountain.

Etowah Indian Mounds (family adventure, part 1)

Andrew suggested we go on a family adventure this weekend. He originally suggested we attend a famous apple festival, but the more we looked into it the more we felt it would be very off brand for our family—milling about booths with hordes of people, looking at things we had no intention of actually buying, trying to keep track of our children, paying for overpriced rides...

It's true we need some apples, but a festival didn't seem like the place for us to get them. 

So with very minimal research (admittedly also a little off brand for us) we struck off on a different sort of adventure on Saturday morning—a "history time" adventure (which sounds much more like us). Benjamin was elated to hear our first stop was the Etowah Indian Mounds, which he'd heard about at school while studying the regions of Georgia. They're not too far from us—about an hour's drive—and it was well worth the visit.

We learned that the mounds were built by prehistoric tribes (that the Muscogee (Creek) would later descend from). The museum had a beautiful timeline featuring various pottery sherds showing the age of the pottery (and thus dating the occupation of Etowah). The oldest pottery is found around the mounds is from around 1000 AD (though older pottery (200 BC to 600 AD) has been found at the site, archeologists believe such pottery pre-dates the mounds themselves) and the newest from the 1500/1600s. A large ditch was built around the village and the earth removed during ditch construction was used to create the center mounds where important buildings would be placed (the chief's house, ceremonial buildings, a mortuary, and things like that). 

Here are the kids in front of a replica of a wattle and daub house:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fall "break," day 1

Rachel is out of school for fall break but Andrew doesn't have any sort of fall break so we decided to keep on homeschooling through fall break to save our vacation days for later. Besides, we enjoy learning because it's fun. What else would we do with our time off if not keep learning?

My friend Julia posted an article about a new monument of sorts going up at the aquarium in Salt Lake (because she can see it from her house and doesn't like it, which I can understand because it's kind of strange (though in the aquarium's defense, the view from the aquarium is much more aesthetically pleasing than the view from my friend's house)) that said their motivation for the monument was to help get people into a state of awe because, "studies show that when people are in a position of awe or wonder, they’re more open to learning."

The study itself says that "Awe experiences are self-transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, and make us more generous toward others."

People who often seem to experience awe also tend to have an "appreciation of beauty, gratitude, religiousness, creativity, and love of learning," though scientists don't quite understand the connection. Personally, I feel like awe is the appreciation of beauty, gratitude, religiousness, creativity, and learning. It's the rush you feel when you finally solve that tricky word problem in math (we worked through some doozies this morning, Miriam and I), it's being filled with wonder at the world around you, it's being dazzled by discovering something previously unknown, it's seeking enlightenment. All of that is awe (so that's the connection (there; I solved it)). 

Anyway, I'm not saying that all school teachers don't strive to create "awe" experiences in their classrooms. I'm just saying that the current focus on test scores doesn't lend itself well to creating "awe" experiences in the classroom. That's hard for teachers and students alike. 

At home I'm hoping we can collect more days full of "awe" to keep our creativity, love of learning, and generosity thriving. 

So, we started our day with a little game I quickly made up for the kids. I saw it somewhere online originally, (though now I'm not sure where) but the idea was for a spring activity, so the game board was a flower. I quickly made up these little ghost boards for the kids and we had fun practicing our addition facts together (Benjamin has been needing to practice these but he's not one for flashcards or rote memorization and needs to be tricked into practicing). 

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

In other news...

Zoë can (more or less) pump on the swing! She's been working (somewhat) diligently on it all year long, it being a goal she set out to accomplish back in January. She's spent a lot of time practicing timing her pumps just right and today she finally nailed it (for a bit).

We're calling this a victory for today, though! She was doing it!

Well child checks, part 2

Even though our doctor's office has a two-child-per-visit policy, the doctor and I agreed that it's just plain silly to have my five children split between three appointments so in the future we can split the children into two groups (a group of 3 and a group of 2) for their well-child checks. Thank goodness! I am getting sick of going to the doctor already and we're not even finished yet!

Today Alexander had his check up.

He had to be weighed and measured like an infant because he couldn't stand on the scale. Poor dear.

He's growing just fine. He was 33.25 inches long and 24 lbs 11.6 ounces. He's all but grown out his laryngomalacia (we only ever hear it now when he's overexcited about things) and is perfectly healthy...except for that foot of his.

The doctor looked at it and since there was no obvious bruising or swelling and since Alexander didn't seem to react strongly when his leg was probed that it probably wasn't broken, but we have "orders" for an x-ray tomorrow should he still not be walking.

This non-break is starting to get really expensive...

After the doctor left, the nurse came back to check Alexander's hemoglobin levels and administer his flu shot. The kids were all worried that he was going to scream—because that would be a normal reaction—and covered their ears to shield their tender aural canals from his mighty and powerful lungs. Benjamin even stepped into the hallway.

But Alexander hardly even winced.

When the nurse pricked his toe (to collect a blood sample), he grimaced and buried his face into my arms. When the nurse jabbed him with the needle, he winced, but didn't scream or cry at all.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

An extra trip

Because we won't have enough of the doctor this week, with well-child visit sprinkled across three days and dentist and orthodontist appointments as well, we decided that we should squeeze in an extra trip to the urgent care clinic.

Grandma is laughing at us from heaven, I'm sure, because it all came down to our trampoline (an idea she vehemently opposed). I'm aware of the danger, but I also think a little danger in a child's life is good, so I'm not opposed to trampolines. We do, however, have rules and one of the rules is no wild bouncing when the baby is on the trampoline.

This afternoon he was on the trampoline with Zoë, Benjamin, and Miriam, but I'd asked them to not bounce and to just play with him on there because I was going to finally tackle the poison ivy in our yard. Things were going great until I was getting suited up and realized that I'd grabbed two left gloves and had to return to the garage to find a glove for my right hand.

So I left Miriam in charge for the two minutes it would take for me to grab a glove and when I returned Alexander was screaming a scream I've only heard him scream once before—we'll call it his "broken bone" scream—and my heart sunk. He was wild with pain, completely inconsolable.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Well child checks, part 1

Today I finally took two of our children in for a well-child check—you know just approximately three months after I made appointments for them because those were the only appointments available. I had a hard time finding a doctor that would take new patients at all (even insured ones) and the clinic that I did find has a two-kids-per-appointment rule so that means I will be going back to the doctor two more times with other sets of kids. Perhaps one day I'll convince them to bed the two-kid rule to allow me three in one appointment (because two appointments sounds better to me).

Anyway, it was supposed to be Rachel and Zoë today, but Rachel ended up having "interims" (short for interim examinations, or mid-terms, or whatever) this week and didn't want to miss school and have to make up her exams, so I shuffled kids around and took Miriam and Zoë in (with Alexander and Benjamin trailing along, naturally).

The doctor was concerned about Miriam's height and weight. She's small for her age, but just barely within the range of "healthy." All the doctor wanted to know—bless her— was if Miriam had always been small of stature and I said—mostly truthfully—that she had (we'll ignore her 3–9 month stage when she was a roly-poly thing). She checked out with flying colours on everything else.

Zoë was 41 inches (60th percentile) and 33.2 pounds (25th percentile), which is long and lean, but not as long and lean as Miriam, so well within a healthy range.

Zoë was hilarious. The doctor had more questions for her and Zoë was always ready with an answer.

"Can you spell your name?" the doctor asked.

"Yes," said Zoë confidently, fingerspelling in the air. "Z-O-E."

"Very good," the doctor said. "And can you write your name?"

Zoë stared at the doctor.

"Like, on paper with a pencil," I clarified.

Bedtime woes

I've given up trying to get Alexander to fall asleep in his own bed tonight, so now he's falling asleep in my bed and I'm sitting here typing (which is a much better arrangement than what we had going on). And perhaps sometime I'll move him to his own bed (and perhaps I won't). For some reason, though, he'll lie still in my bed (something he absolutely will not do in his own bed).

I remember falling asleep in my parents' bed when I was younger. My mom would turn on music for me and I'd lie in her bed until I fell asleep. I'm certain my parents moved me after I fell asleep and I can't remember why I had to fall asleep this way or how old I was (or how long it happened for). I know it was in the PoCo house.

Anyway, I guess if he'll fall asleep in my bed he can have it since it's 10:00 and he's been going strong all day long.

At our house "bedtime" lasts an average of two hours. And it's torture. 

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The other half of Inspired

Bear with me as I write down the quotes I enjoyed from the second half of Rachel Held Evan's book, Inspired, which brought me to tears. I think it was just knowing that she passed away and hearing her speak of her hopes for her children that did me in.

On page 149 she poses the question, "So what is this good news?" and then she goes on to say what it might possibly mean to the many people who came in contact with Jesus during his ministry (and beyond). On page 150 she says, "The good news is as epic as it gets...and yet the Bible tells it from the perspective of fishermen and farmers, pregnant ladies and squirmy kids. This story about the nature of God and God's relationship to humanity smells like mud and manger hay and tastes like salt and wine.... It is the biggest story and the smallest story all at once—the great quest for the One Ring and the quiet friendship of Frodo and Sam."

That last part is particularly relevant today since Elder Uchtdorf discussed The Lord of the Rings in his conference address.

Evans quotes Flannery O'Connor who said, "A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell as story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell them to read the story."