Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Piper's Graduation (June 29)

"So, how was graduation?" my friend Kaly asked me. 

"It was good," I said. "The weather was perfect. Beautiful, really."

"Huh," she said. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about a graduation. I was expecting you to say long and boring! Good, perfect, and beautiful aren't words someone usually uses to describe a graduation."

Perhaps that's true, but the most recent graduation I attended was Andrew's PhD ceremony and although that was also a good, beautiful, proud day it was also hot, long, and boring. Compared to that Piper's graduation was a walk in the park...literally.

École Secondaire Highwood High School traditionally holds their graduation at George Lane Park and the graduands (not a typo (rather it is the intermediary status of having completed the requirements for your degree but have yet to be awarded the degree (and it's typically only used in the Commonwealth))) marched to the park from downtown. 

The day started out a little chilly, but soon warmed up to a tolerable 16°C/60°F (much nicer than the 33°C/92°F on the day of Andrew's graduation). Here are a few shots of everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin...

Auntie Josie let Zoë play some games on her phone (so Josie's the new favourite):

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Our FHE ledger

I'll admit I scoffed a little when I found out my progenitors kept a ledger of minutes for their family home evenings. How formal of them, I thought, to have kept such a detailed record of such an informal event.

And then I remembered my blog...

Now, I don't keep minutes of family night, per se, but I think I've discussed enough family home evenings in great enough detail to be guilty of the very thing I was scoffing at, and, truthfully, only part of me was laughing about the family night ledger. The other part of me was ecstatic and grateful to have this glimpse into the past.

So without further ado, I will give you a glimpse into our FHE for the past couple of weeks.

Tonight we took things easy. I pulled out the illustrated Book of Mormon Stories book, had all the kids pick a number between 1 and 30, added those numbers up, and opened the book to 53, which was the story of when "The Sons of Mosiah Become Missionaries." That particular story is only one page long, however, so I backtracked a bit and assigned the children the story "Alma the Younger Repents" as well.

Then I shooed them off to the basement, telling them to set the timer for twenty minutes and then to read the story together, assign roles, pick out costumes, rehearse, and come back to perform it for me and Andrew.

It was the quietest family night we've had in quite a while!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Alexander at nine months

At nine months, Alexander is...

  • Ginormous! He had his well-child check today and was 19 lbs. 12 oz! So he's basically huge, though still only at the 50th percentile. At 27.9 inches, he's on the short side of things right now, but I'm sure that he's saving up his girth for future upwards growth spurts.
  • Teething like a maniac. He's had his two bottom teeth for a while and has added his eye teeth on top. They broke through the first week of July (one while we were up in Alberta and the other once we'd gotten back to Utah). His two front teeth have been giving him plenty of grief but have yet to make their appearance, so he's a little vampire baby. A whiny, drooly, chewing-on-everything vampire baby.
I also had fangs when I was nine months old

George Lane Park (June 28)

Communication is a beautiful thing, especially when it saves you a forty minute drive into the city (only to have to turn right back around again). Frustratingly, we made the drive from High River to Calgary to meet up with my niece Amy at Fish Creek Park, but she texted my mom while we were en route to say that she wouldn't be able to make it, which we obviously didn't find out until we had arrived. Fish Creek Park is rather large and I suppose we could have done some hiking, but we were really hoping to let the kids play at a park and the only playground within the park is fenced off and you have to pay to get in (we're all quite positive that it was free when we were living there).

Both Alexander and Zoë had fallen asleep, however, so we decided to just head back to High River to play at George Lane Park (a park is a park is a park), rather than wake them up and have them be grumpy and still have to make the drive back to High River later.

A couple good things came of our pointless trip, however. One was that we finally saw a tow truck. I had made up some travel BINGO sheets for the kids, which only Rachel and I really got into. She and I were racing to see who could get a blackout the fastest. It didn't take us long to see a speed limit sign or a horse or even a limo but we could not find a tow truck. We were on the road for a thousand miles over three days and we hadn't seen a single tow truck!

Finally on the way up to Calgary we saw a tow truck, and not just any tow truck. We saw a tow truck on a tow truck! The tow truck being towed away was burnt to a crisp (there were also firetrucks on the scene). I don't know what happened but it must have been pretty wild. At least we got our blackout.

The second good thing was a drive-by spotting of my...eighth?...childhood home (I'm pretty sure it's #8). 49 Deerpath Road, quite near Fish Creek Provincial Park—a duplex unit just on the other side of the field (only when we lived there they were yellow with brown trim; now they're a gentle blue):

My house is...not actually visible in this picture
Seeing Amy would have made the trip all worth it, but as it was it wasn't entirely a bust,  guess...

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Harriet Jarman Layton's song

I learned today that when my great-great grandparents instituted family home evening in their house (August 3, 1921)  they (1) kept minutes* and (2) gave everyone a calling, such as class leader, organist, chorister, and treasurer. They needed this last position because (3) they charged weekly admission—5 cents (in 1921, which is worth about 66 cents today), to be used "for some good purpose." Granted, by the time this particular notebook of FHE minutes began, the children in the home were mostly grown (my great-grandfather, Russell Layton, the youngest, was 18 years old; his oldest sister Verna (who was the scribe for the minutes) already was married), so this was more of an extended family FHE.

Inside this book is a song that my great-great-grandmother wrote in March of 1936 (after immigrating to Utah in 1882 as a 12-year-old girl):

The Lord a work he has commenced, its greatness none can tell. 
To gather up the righteous in Zion for to dwell. 
We are his sheep and know his voice. We'll follow none but him. 
To Zion he will gather us, his praises for to sing. 

To Zion we will go, will go. To Zion we will go. 
We'll leave this old sectarian world. To Zion we will go. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A laundry confession

Way back in January I put up a post on Facebook about sorting laundry with Zoë. She was helping me decide whether items were light or dark and did just fine until we came across Andrew's black and white checked shirt, which just about broke her brain because it was light and dark.

It got 33 comments, people. 33! Who knew people were so passionate about laundry?

My cousin Sara said, "I think the whole sorting-lights-and-darks thing is a big conspiracy. I wash all my clothes together all the time, and no one seems the wiser."

My friend Aubrey said, "I also wash all my clothes together on a cold cycle. Done."

My friend Crystal said, "I sort....but sometimes when I'm feeling super lazy I just throw them all together."

My cousin Wendy said, "I wash everything on cold delicate, so... I never sort mine either. Not a problem."

My cousin Michelle said, "I only wash whites and jeans separately (well, and towels and bedding of course). Everything else together, unless it's a dark color that's brand new. But once I know it's done bleeding it goes in with everything else. Anything to make it easier! (We have way too many clothes!!)"

My cousin ArLene said, "I wash towels and whites separate from everything else with warm and hot water. Everything else just goes in together and I wash with cold water."

There were a few die-hard sorters—my mom, my cousin Jenna, my friend Tamsin—but by far the majority of commenters were set on convincing me that sorting my laundry was a huge waste of time. Hallelujah, we live in the age of colourfast fabrics, right?!

I have remained a dedicated sorter these past six months or so but today... Well, today I had the privilege of going to the temple to support my niece Rosie, who took out her endowment. It was my first time going to the temple since Alexander was born and it was a doozy of a day to attempt such a feat. He stayed up screaming his head off until the wee hours of the morning and then we had to leave the house before 8:00 in the morning (ugh). I was so tired (Andrew probably was, too) but Andrew and I survived the session and were so happy to be there for Rosie!

The kids survived without us (and I think Reid and Karen survived the children), but we were anxious to get home, where I knew I had a pile of wet, stinky laundry (and a fussy baby) waiting for me.

Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump (June 28)

On the morning of June 28 we headed to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to meet up with my parents and visit the interpretive center there. Andrew was rather excited to go when he learned that it's a UNESO World Heritage site, due to it being "one of the oldest, most extensive, and best preserved sites that illustrate communal hunting techniques and the way of life of Plains people." Other buffalo jump sites were, to put it politely, prematurely "excavated" (read: raided) by settlers who didn't care about preserving a record for history (or about allowing the aboriginal people access to their hunting lands). Often railroads would run along cliff sides, which is where the jumps occurred. Head-Smashed-In, however, was a more remote location so it remained untouched—and in use—until about 200 years ago.

I didn't take many pictures, but that's alright because Benjamin thoroughly enjoyed the experience and has obsessively been drawing pictures of it ever since. Here we are getting our wrist bands at the entrance to the museum:

heDsmahst ni bafulo jump

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Across the 49th parallel (June 27)

Crossing the border for us was relatively easy. I think we were the second car in line or something. My poor parents, however, were stuck in line for quite some time when they reached the border hours later. There was a long line of cars and they were stopped both while exiting the United States and when entering Canada, so I'm glad we crossed the border when we did.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chip Pizza

We'd had a rather big lunch on Sunday afternoon—some very tasty fajitas, before Richard and Diana hit the road—so dinner only needed to be a small supper. We had plenty of leftover rice and beans (I think Andrew thought he was feeding a small army) so Andrew decided he'd make some bean dip that we could have with nachos, which Zoë helped him make.

They spread the chips out on a cookie sheet, topped the chips with cheese, and broiled them in the oven.

It was quick, it was simple, and Zoë was so proud to have been chef's helper, even though she evidently had no idea what she had been helping to make.

On Monday when I was floating around ideas for dinner, Zoë said, "How about chip pizza?"

"Chip pizza?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "I'm very good at making chip pizza."

"What is chip pizza?" I asked.

"Oh, you know," she said.

"I really don't."

"I made chip pizza with Daddy last night!" she said, affronted.

I thought back to Sunday evening. What had we eaten...?

Oh. Nachos. Chip pizza.

It's almost poetically descriptive, really.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (June 27)

We stopped by the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls before driving up to Alberta and were immediately greeted by an enormous Newfoundland dog, which is the same breed of dog Captain Lewis purchased to accompany their Discovery Corps on their expedition. This particular dog, I was told, weighed 204 lbs and was as gentle as could be. He seemed to love the attention he got from Benjamin (who loves dogs) and Zoë (who loves to do everything Benjamin does). 

Don't you love the way his jowls are melting all over the floor?