Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Bedtime FTW

I finally finished Alexander's baby blanket—the one that he asked me to make for him when he realized I'd made one for all his other siblings, the one that I told myself that I wouldn't start until I had finished my paper for my graduate school application (which was due today) but which I started immediately when I got the yarn because apparently I needed some constructive procrastination in my life.

The pattern for the blanket itself (here) is worked in the round, which always feels fantastic when you first start out—"I've done ten rows and I've only been working on this thing for fifteen minutes! I'm going to finish in no time!"—but which feels much less fantastic when you're on the outer rim—"I've been working on this single row for the past two weeks and I'm never going to finish this thing!"

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Power outage

The power went out this morning and since we're on spring break and it was raining most of the day I was so busy trying to keep the kids busy that I forgot to look at COVID-19 statistics until the evening! They were not a pretty picture when I looked at them. I remember when we first reached 100,000 confirmed cases (Saturday, folks; it was Saturday) and it felt so surreal. We are well prepared to reach 200,000 cases tomorrow. We had 748 confirmed deaths today (tying with Spain and right on Italy's heels) (edited to add: when I checked the statistics in the morning, the day's confirmed deaths numbered 912, beating out both Spain and Italy). Just a week ago we were still dying by the 100s. Soon I fear we'll be dying by the thousands.

But we press on.

Usually in our pyjamas.

Rachel, who is most committed to the cause, calls it "the pyjama challenge." She admitted she's not even sure if that's a real thing (it probably is) but she's doing her best to remain in pyjamas at all times (though I am occasionally successful at coaxing her into actual clothes). She doesn't have many pairs of pyjamas, honestly, so this morning we decided we'd be brave and would make a pair of pyjama pants for her. After all, I've sewn napkins on the sewing machine—and just this week I hemmed a curtain that was too long—and Rachel made a skirt once. So, we're, like, totally qualified to sew a pair of pyjama bottoms, right?


One day more!

We participated in President Nelson's invitation to fast for relief for the physical, emotional, economic, spiritual, and other healing necessary during this pandemic this past Sunday. For our lesson time we watched a 2004 talk by Elder Hales called Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which the little kids didn't find quite as captivating as last week's lesson where we burned stuff.

We're a little behind in our scripture reading and just read the parable of the olive tree this past week (instead of last week) and Alexander was riveted the whole time. We managed to read the entire chapter all in one go (it is 77 verses!) with Alexander interjecting any time the words "bad fruit" or "burn" were uttered.


That's right, buddy. We did.

Our lesson wasn't nearly as entertaining this past Sunday but, that's alright. Sometimes we need to make an impression on the children and sometimes we need someone else to make an impression on us. I think the more mature members of our family appreciated Elder Hales' words. I was particularly struck when he said this:
Isn’t it interesting that the one who is suffering often gains faith through suffering and accepts the Lord’s will, “thy will be done,” while family members and caregivers may have a difficult time accepting the tragic outcome and being able to strengthen their faith from the experience. We cannot measure faith by “an extra day.”

Alexander the artist

We got the kids a huge box of sidewalk chalk for Christmas but all we have left is a box full of nubs. My children love drawing outside with sidewalk chalk and since we're a little homebound right now I thought I should probably replenish our stash of chalk. Unfortunately, going to the store for frivolous purchases isn't exactly wise these days and Amazon has limited their shipping to items deemed essential so it's hard to find decently priced chalk online either. We'll have to eventually add it onto a grocery store purchase when we brave the store again. 

In the meantime, our world has become a billowing cloud of pollen and everything is dusted with a layer of neon green-yellow powder (and making life miserable for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies: Andrew). I joked that we could just collect all the pollen, mix it with some water, pour it into moulds and start turning out our own sidewalk chalk. Andrew shot down that idea because it would be lethal for him to draw with.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVID-19 thoughts

When things really started exploding in Italy (they passed 10,000 deaths yesterday), Rachel reminded us that we had been *this* close to accepting a position in Italy. As much as we would have loved to move to Italy the thought of doing it right then seemed like a hurdle we weren't quite ready for. In the end GSU called up Andrew and begged him not to get on the plane, so he declined the position and we moved to Georgia.

We're just starting our upswing here in the states, but we passed 100,000 cases (and 2000 deaths) the other day so things aren't looking terribly rosy. But we were glad to not be in northern Italy (as weird as it is to type that).


Music Videos for Mom

My mom asked if my kids would record some videos of them playing primary songs on the ukulele, so...we tried a few. A lot of the songs this year revolve around a sequence of chords that my kids aren't entirely comfortable with. For example, it's hard for them to fly into Em for 'Book of Mormon Stories,' so we played it a little slowly, but here it is anyway:

'Dare to Do Right' has become one of my default lullabies for the kids (it's a short song, what can I say?) but I learned that I've been singing it to them wrong! I've always sung "do it so bravely, so boldly, so well..." but the words are actually "do it so bravely, so kindly, so well..." You can probably hear my kids hesitate on that word. I'll have to make an extra effort to sing it correctly—because it is important to do things kindly!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Mispronunciations (and misconceptions)

With 17,000+ new cases confirmed today, the United States has overtaken China and now leads the world with the total number of cases of COVID-19. I'm not sure that's a record we wanted to have, but there it is. So we're continuing to stay at home, with life looking normal (more or less) but feeling strange.

And so I bring you some of my favourite recent mispronunciations from my children:

Benjamin was talking about his Einsteins at dinner a few nights ago and it took us quite a long time to realize that he meant "intestine."

I suppose this only makes sense if you understand that, as a Canadian (4000+ COVID-19 cases there, for the record) I grew up pronouncing intestine as in-TEST-eyen (not in-TEH-stin, the standard American pronunciation (and the British one, too, apparently)). I actually still pronounce it this way and so my children also tend to pronounce it this way, which is how Benjamin came to confuse the word with Einstein's name. Had he been speaking a pure American dialect he never would have confused the two words.

Canadians love their vowels (and Americans love their schwas). What can I say?

Distracting into cars

After listening to some more of Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse I asked the kids to write about what a "verse novel" is (because they didn't seem interested in doing any sort of character analysis today). Miriam wrote a lovely essay about verse novels spanning ancient to modern times—from the Iliad to Brown Girl Dreaming. Benjamin wrote the following:
A verse novel is a book written in poems like Out of the Dust and A Brown Girl Dreaming. If you want to read poems or if you like poems, visit your public library or go to (fake) for more info.
To say I was underwhelmed by his efforts would be...absolutely true. But bonus points for admitting in his paper that he cited a bogus website, I guess.

We also played a vocabulary game with words from the novel called I Have, Who Has? Even Zoë played. They seemed to like it so we'll have to try it again. This game forced Benjamin to utter the phrase, "I have distraction," which made us all giggle because...he often has distraction...or is distracted...or whatever. But it also made me think of Zoë.

Last night after dinner we went on a family walk—a popsicle walk, no less, so it was extra exciting—and Zoë was chatting while she walked. In truth we were all joking around quite a bit. And then I noticed that Zoë was going to walk directly into a parked car if she didn't start paying attention so I yelped, "Zoë!" and she put on her breaks a little bit but still ended up colliding with the car.

"Oh! I distracted right into that car!" she said, laughing about herself.

"You did 'distract' right into that car," I agreed with her, laughing.

I can't find the stories right now, but I know for a fact she is not my first child to walk into a car (here is a story about Benjamin walking into truck, but I know there are others out there (indeed: here's Rachel's tale and while we're on car/people collisions, here's a link to the time I slid under my friend Wendy's car and the time Zoë got hit by a car while riding her tricycle)). I still think there are other times my kids have walked into parked vehicles though...

In which Benjamin is curiously responsible

I know some people are creating strict schedules to maintain a sense of normalcy during this time of quarantine. We are...not those people. We've relaxed bedtimes and have allowed for some sleeping in. We get up when we get up and let the cards fall however they will. It's not like we have any reason to get our schoolwork done by any specific time in the day. We literally have no other obligations. No play dates. No trips to the library. No church activities. No classes to rush to.

To be fair, my children tend to wake up around the same time every morning, so our schedule hasn't gone too far off the rails. Instead of setting an alarm, I just wait for Alexander to start telling me it's time to get up, which he usually does right around 8:00 every morning (Rachel and Miriam are usually the first of the kids to get up, between 7:00 and 7:30).

For those of you saying to yourself, "You're so lucky! He sleeps in until 8:00!" please consider that he has slept through the night maybe 5 times in his entire life and also consider that even though we have our little ones in bed around 8:00 most nights they do not actually fall asleep until much, much later (usually 10:00 or so (and then Alexander's first wake up is usually around 11:00)). So, I mean, lucky...or not. Who can say?

Anyway, last night after getting Alexander back to bed in his own bed after his first nightly waking, and then letting him fall asleep in my bed after his second nightly waking, Andrew moved him back to his own bed just before we turned in for the night. Remarkably, he stayed there until the morning (which almost counts as sleeping in his own bed all night). When he climbed into bed with me this morning, the world was just hinting at daylight so Alexander began hinting about it being time to get up as well.

"Not yet," I told my sweet little alarm clock. "Let's sleep for a little while longer."

Surprisingly, he agreed to this and fell back asleep beside me. I fully expected him to wake me up again by 8:00 but he did not. By the time we stirred again it was 10:00!

Andrew was still asleep, Zoë was still asleep, Miriam was still asleep. Only Benjamin and Rachel were up. Rachel was tending to her "digital learning" assignments and Benjamin was getting his math work out!

"I already had breakfast and did science," he told me when I came down the stairs to help the littlest kids with breakfast. "I read a chapter out of the space book and then built a model rocket out of Lego. Now I'm doing my math work because I saved the review section with area as a treat, remember?"

I did remember, but was shocked that he would get it out without being asked. Nor had I intended to assign him the entire review for one day—it's the last assignment in his workbook and is eight pages long. But he did the whole thing (without me sitting beside him reminding him to do his work every three seconds) and he did it well! So colour me impressed.

We're a little behind on finishing up our schoolwork today, compared to where we'd be on an ordinary Thursday, but we'll still finish early this afternoon and still have plenty of "free time" and we got to sleep in this morning so no complaints from me today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Poop challenge

Have you seen that prank going around called the "poop challenge" where parents ask their child to bring them some toilet paper while they are sitting on the toilet and then they "accidentally" wipe a brown substance on their child to see how they react? 

Spoiler: they react by screaming, gagging, and sometimes even throwing up.

Are we really that surprised?

Anyway, Alexander pulled his own little poop challenge prank on us this afternoon!