Monday, January 27, 2020

We met a spy today

It was overcast and drizzly so we knew the playground would be all wet but we decided to stop and play on our way home from orchestra, anyway. I used an extra sweater we had in the car to dry off the slides and swings somewhat so the kids wouldn't get soaking wet and they had a great time running around playing pirates. 

"Ahoy! I spy a little dog!" Benjamin called out from the designated crow's nest. 

And, indeed, there was a sweet little puppy running around (and by my using the word "sweet" you must really know that this dog was, indeed, sweet because it's against my natural inclination to consider unknown dogs "sweet"; but this dog looked kind and happy and gentle and sweet). 

"DOGGY!" Alexander gushed, rushing towards it.

As sweet as the dog looked, rushing toward a dog isn't very good etiquette so I stopped Alexander just as the dog's owner came around the corner, his shuffling gait had trouble keeping up with spry little puppy, and he had the leash draped around his own neck instead of the dog's (which is technically against the rules of the park).

"Does he want to pet the dog?" the man asked.

"ME PET A DOGGY!" Alexander agreed. 

So we went over to pet the dog. 

"Do you know what kind of dog this is?" the man asked.

"I don't," I confessed.

"It's a Basenji," he said. "It's an African breed. Very quiet dogs. They can't bark."

"Sounds like my kind of dog," I said. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Ward conference

Today was ward conference, which is an idea that always took me a long time to understand. I guess when I was young I didn't notice that stake leaders were there...so it just felt like an ordinary Sunday. Because it's basically an ordinary Sunday.

Stake Conference and General Conference feel different. They have different venues and involve more people than we typically meet with week to week, but ward conference is just your ward meeting together, like, "I guess we're calling this a conference now."

I understand the purpose of it better now. And today was our ward conference.

We met before church to practice our musical number and then Miriam played prelude and did a wonderful job.

Later the choir sang, bolstered by angels, I'm sure, since we were few in number. Alexander came up with us because he can't be trusted in the pew with his siblings and he was a little stinker up there. He started pushing around the step stool and going for the volume control on the pulpit. So apparently he can't be trusted to come up on the stand with me anymore, either. I'm not sure what we're going to do with him since I'm one of the few sopranos in the choir.

Perhaps we'll have to sit by his favourite nursery leader on Sundays that we sing.

After sacrament meeting the stake music chair ran up to me gushing about Miriam and asking me if I'd be willing to play for stake conference (hard pass, thanks...unless you want to sing the exact three hymns that I can play) and then she asked if Andrew would be willing to play for stake conference. So I roped him into that.

That's what he gets for calling an 8:30 rehearsal (the tyrant).

My mom pointed out that it's not great for me, either, since that means I'll be left to sit by myself with the kids. But, honestly, they're usually pretty good except for Squirmy McSquirmerson.

(Now watch them be terrible (they are, after all, descended from a tyrant).

(And you all get that I'm kidding about the tyrant thing, right? Because although I was sad to have to get up so early on a Sunday morning, no one loves sleeping in more than Andrew so it was a real sacrifice on his part, too).

Anyway, Miriam also had to give a talk in primary and she did a wonderful job.

Here's her talk:

Mind your b's and w's

I woke up from my nap this afternoon and groggily made my way down the stairs carrying the baby (who is, in fact, not really a baby but we'll keep calling him the baby for as long as we want) and found Rachel and Miriam in the kitchen making cookies.

It's Sunday, but they started their laundry late, late, late Saturday night so they ended up leaving a wet load in the washing machine overnight (my children always smell divine and never like slightly-musty clothing). And then they had forgotten about it—even though they'd rifled through their load of clothes that had run through the dryer—this morning. In their defense, we had to be to church super early because our tyrant of a choir director insisted on an 8:30 practice before ward conference.

(Andrew is the choir director).

When I noticed that their wet laundry was still in the washing machine I decided I should gently remind them of the fact so I thought the words, "You still have wet laundry in the washing machine," but apparently the words that came out were "You still have butt laundry in the washing machine."

Andrew was in the kitchen, too, and he was the third witness to what I had said and agreed with what the girls said instead of agreeing with me (the tyrant). So now I'm guilty of coining the phrase "butt laundry."

As it turns out, this is a somewhat useful term.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Zoë's third first haircut

Zoë had her first willing haircut this evening, her third first hair cut!

Her very first haircut was courtesy of Benjamin and she still talks about how naughty that was to this very day! The second first haircut was when I mournfully fixed what Benjamin had done, cutting off her sweet, sweet baby locks.

Luckily, her hair has grown in (ever so slowly) just as fine and feathery as before so it's almost like she grew her sweet, sweet baby locks back. Unluckily, when that fine, feathery baby hair grows as long as hers has grown it tends to get disastrously tangled and just snaps when you try to brush it no matter how gentle you try to be.

She's been enjoying her long hair, though—putting it into braids and curls and ponytails. Here she is last week looking quite a bit like Shirley Temple (though do not tell her that; she does not like when we refer to her as Shirley Temple or Curly Sue or anything like that):


Just some boring stuff

I'm not very good at keeping secrets.

At least, I'm not very good at keeping my own secrets. I can't help it! I just get so excited about things. I'm not very good at surprising people because (a) I'm either really boring or (b) I just get so excited about things that I can't not talk about them. Or (c) all of the above, I suppose.

I don't know if this is a boring thing or not. Maybe it is.

It's not boring to me, so to that particular end...it's not boring. But I'm afraid it might be boring for other people, so then perhaps it's just boring.

But sometimes the boring work is the important work. Hear me out.

I'm doing some boring research right now for a different boring project, not the one I'm excited about (even though this research could be classified as boring as well, even though it's not necessarily boring to me) and I've recently been reading a paper by Thomas Röhlinger, who joined the democratic party in Germany (more on his history later) and teaches students that "democracy needs democrats that work for and defend it," though he doesn't use the party name in his lectures. I'm not sure how he manages that, but whatever.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Musical beds

I put Alexander to bed tonight and, for the first time in a long time, just...walked away. Like a free person! I don't even know how long I've been held hostage on Alexander's floor every evening but it's been a long, long time.

He's been spreading his wings and developing his language skills and, in general, growing up far too fast lately. It's been a hard but good process (for both of us). With his new language skills he has started to express his desires and fears in very understandable ways.

His room is dark and scary and lonely. He doesn't like that his closet door won't close. He doesn't like the curtains above his bed. He doesn't like being in there alone.

Everyone else shares a room and he'd like to share, too! Maybe with Zoë. He likes Zoë. She's his buddy!

Also, while we're at it, everyone else has a special blanket that they say Mommy made for them. Rachel has a blanket. And Mimi has a blanket. And Benny has a blanket. And BoBo has a blanket. These blankets remind him quite a bit of his owl-birdie hat but they are not hats; they are blankets. Where is his blanket?

And now for Benjamin's tale...

He needed a little more help with his rewriting because he doesn't love writing. I was impressed he was able to squeeze out an entire draft at all (he rarely finishes his stories) but he was not keen on changing anything when I told him he'd need to rework parts of his story. So I typed up his manuscript for him and let him explain parts of his story to me orally until he'd filled in enough details that we were both satisfied.

The Three Animals of Ireland (and a Knight)

One hundred years in the past, dragons and trolls roamed Ireland.

GOAT: Can we go to the castle to graze?

KNIGHT: Yes, let me see if it is safe.

NARRATOR: So the knight got out his horn and blew. When he blew there was a thud as a rope bridge was unfurled across the sea.

GOAT: Yay!

NARRATOR: So the goat went across the bridge.

DRAGON: Who is that stomping on my bridge?

GOAT: It is me.

DRAGON: Well, I’m coming to eat you up!

GOAT: Wait for sheep. She’s much, much bigger.

DRAGON: Well, go on then.

GOAT: Yay!

DRAGON: Go!

GOAT: Okay.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Only good rewriting

Right now the children are preparing scripts/stories and puppets to retell a fairytale with our shadow box puppet theater. Their final projects should be fun, so stay tuned for that.

Today, with permission, I wanted to share Miriam's first draft as well as the final copy of her story. She originally wrote a rather bland retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, so I challenged her to think of a spin to put on it. We've been talking about Iran a lot, so she decided to move Little Red from the forest of western Europe to the mountains of Iran. She was rather excited to do her first rewrite, but felt a little possessive of it when I edited that version. There were some tears when I gave her my feedback but I reassured her that it was good and because it was good I wanted more of the goodness, so we were trimming away the parts that weren't great and were making great what was already good.

With that knowledge under her belt she went ahead and made some wonderful rewrites.

Here is her first draft:

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Picture perfect

Phone cameras have come a long way the past few years. Mine is good enough now that I've finally started leaving the house without my trusty camera in tow. It's nice not lugging it around and I can still capture the moments I want to capture while I'm out and about. Still, I'm never satisfied with the quality of my phone pictures. Usually this doesn't matter much but sometimes...

Sometimes I capture a shot that's just about perfect.


The lighting is perfect, the composition is great, there's movement yet the image is fairly crisp...but the darn thing was taken on my phone so it's a grainy and gross.

And then I find myself wishing I had brought my camera along.

But I also know that as "bad" as it is to have your phone out while your kids are playing, it's much easier to snap a picture with my phone and shove it into my back pocket and return to playing with my kids than it is to take a picture with my big(ger) camera(s), store said camera properly in its case, and then either put the case some place safe (in the stroller or back into the car) or have it slapping around on its strap (which makes playing cumbersome).

I suppose there are pros and cons to both, but this shot was definitely a win.

Language and libraries

I'm certainly glad I decided to order The Secret World of Og because Zoë has found it absolutely riveting so far. She begs for it every night, she sits transfixed while I read (unless she's too wound up from explaining all her theories about the people of Og), and she's fully convinced she can speak Og fluently (which isn't terribly difficult considering their entire language consists of a single word: og). At any rate, she's absolutely loving it.

During reading lessons today, we came across the word "bag," and Zoë was very bothered because in the system she's learning, each vowel sound is written a different way and she felt they used the wrong vowel symbol on the word.

/ā/ is a long a, as in the word bake (and which is technically a dipthong //eɪ//), whereas /a/ is a short a, as in the word back. This way the child can see visually which sound to put in any given word.

The issue Zoë had was that the book had /bag/ and she passionately disagreed with this.

"That's not how you say the word!" she said. "I want to say it the way you say it, so they need to put the line on top of the a—/bāg/!"