Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Alexander at 12 months

Although I managed to get all the other kids in for their well-child checks at the beginning of this month, Alexander's appointment isn't until next week so I don't have official stats for him yet, though my guess is that he is about 22 lbs. He's catching up to Zoë at an alarming rate.

At one year, Alexander...

Jaker's Pumpkin Patch

This morning we went to Jaker's Pumpkin Patch with our neighbourhood co-op preschool. Part of me always feels a little guilty when I go do fun things while the kids are in school, but it's only fair to the little ones still at home that we do, right? After all, when my big kids were the little ones we would go out and do fun things!

Alexander's cake

For Alexander's birthday cake I made a double recipe of the Incredibly Moist Pumpkin-Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from the Betty Crocker website. The base of the recipe is a boxed cake mix, just as a disclaimer (I'm not culinary goddess), but the mix-ins take things up a notch. Almost everyone seemed to like it, but the birthday boy (and girl) seemed to enjoy it so that's what really matters.

FHE Quidditch Practice

As room mom (x3) I'm suddenly in charge of putting together several Halloween parties. I also volunteered to be on the "safety week" committee at school, thinking that safety week would be, like, in April like it was last year. But, no. This year safety week falls the same week as Halloween because if I'm planning things I may as well be planning things. 

I don't have to do anything for Benjamin's class because my co-room mom is taking the party on since I've been organizing literacy center volunteers. Phew.

For Miriam's class I decided we'd have a Harry Potter theme and I came up with four stations, each representing a different class (or sport, in the case of Quidditch) from Hogwarts. And then when no one was stepping up to plan the 6th grade party (they have a big joint party with all four classes) I suggested we just do more or less the same thing and build our stations around a Harry Potter theme.

I've been floating my ideas to the girls to see if they think they'll be fun or not but I'm always a little unsure about whether my ideas will work the way I think they will. Having taken a handful of pedagogic classes (and having taught in numerous situations), I know that I am an excellent lesson planner. I am much less good at executing my ideas than I am about having them. 

"Fails to command the room..." and so forth.

My lesson plans always got top marks, but my teaching evaluations were never as positive, so I thought that perhaps I should test out an idea or two before the big day (so I could scratch activities that were a complete flop). Tonight for FHE we played Indoor Quidditch (or Quidditch Pong...or Potter Pong...I don't know what to call it). It's definitely a take on beer pong, but instead of putting beer in the cups I put trivia questions because, well, we're teetotalers (and also my target audience is children).

Monday, October 15, 2018

Finders keepers

This morning Benjamin couldn't find his...

  • pants
  • home-reading book
  • socks
  • shoes
  • jacket
  • jacket (again)
And he left his lunchbox at school again so will, yet again, be visiting the lost and found. 

The items he was missing this morning were subsequently found...
  • in his dresser (the issue, specifically, was that he hates wearing jeans and only ever wants to wear sweat pants but only had jeans in his drawer; we should probably get him more sweat pants)
  • by the television (where he also found the Humphrey book he's been reading (in a whole stack of books sitting there))
  • in his drawer (shocker)
  • in his shoe box (the issue, specifically, was that he'd jumped into the river when we went hiking on Saturday and his shoes were still too wet to wear out in this cold weather so we had to find a different pair of shoes but then we could only find one shoe of his back up pair because the other shoe was in Grandma and Grandpa's shoe box)
  • on the couch upstairs (after lamenting, "Why is the couch all full of stuff again?!" because he'd cleaned it off the other day (the answer to that question was, "Because you guys cleaned off the bottom stair yesterday by putting everything on the couch instead of putting anything away!")
  • on his head (he'd put the hood on his head and was walking around with the rest of it flapping behind him like a cape and when I asked him to put it all the way on he ran to the coat rack and panicked because he couldn't find his jacket)
"It is on your head," I seethed as calmly as I could. 

He also whined this morning about how he's not allowed to take books from home to school (his sisters, on the other hand, get to do it all the time). I pointed out that he's also not allowed to take school library books home (first graders (or grade oners)) have to keep them in their desks at school. I then pointed out that we'd spent the entire morning searching for things that he'd misplaced (or simply didn't look for long enough to find) so having him cart books around from three different sources would be a disaster. 

Taking his home-reading book back and forth between school and home is plenty responsibility for him!

Alexander's party

Well, he did it! Alexander is one! He's survived his siblings for a full 365 days and is still going strong.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Zoë and the Delectable Cupcakes

The children always want to help me decorate birthday cakes, which is great...but also not great. I love that they want to help and I want to cultivate their skills, but at the same time...I have a vision, children! Too many decorators spoils the cake.

Today while the older kids were out with Naanii and Bumpa (to see Jane and Emma and to have lunch at Wendy's (and running into Uncle Jacob, Aunt Shayla, and Carter there)), I let Zoë decorate some cupcakes that I'd baked with some leftover batter. She had so much fun and got all of her cake-decorating jealousy out of her system, leaving me in peace to work on Alexander's cake alone.

Here are a few pictures of Zoë having a blast making her "delectable" cup cakes:

There's a Fancy Nancy book called Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes and Zoë adores that book (adore is fancy for really liking something). She now loves using the word delectable.

Leaf Peeping

On Friday Benjamin's writing prompt during literacy centers was, "What are you looking forward to this weekend?"

This was his answer:

It says: I am going leaf peeping this Saturday! I am going to look at leaves! It is going to be fun! I will see red, orange, and yellow! I jump in the leaves!

After reading that how could we not take the kids on a little foliage tour this weekend? I mean, I had mentioned that we should go leaf-peeping before the leaves all drop but I hadn't necessarily meant this weekend (which turned out to be a little busy—but when is life not busy these days?), but we didn't want to let sweet Benjamin down when he wanted to do such a simple thing.

Speaking of adventures in motherhood...

I called Poison Control today. It's only our second time calling between five children and over eleven years, so I'd say that's not too bad.

Rachel had gone outside with the kids this afternoon because I needed to work on Alexander's birthday cake. He only ever wants me...unless there is outside time to be had and then he'll happily leave me. So outside they went.

She set him in the grass to help Benjamin and Zoë with some bubbles and when she picked him up again she found him chewing on...mushrooms. Our backyard is filled with them (so we tend to keep an eye on Alexander when he's out there but he's got a penchant for mischief making (and he's quick about it)).

Honestly, I wasn't terribly worried about it.

My little brother Patrick once prompted a visit to the ER after my mom found out that he'd been scavenging mushrooms in our yard in PoCo. He was fine.

So I wasn't terribly worried, but worried enough to try to identify the variety of mushrooms growing in our yard, to research what symptoms to look for, and to debate whether we should be calling Poison Control or our pediatrician.

Poison Control won out simply because I know from our previous interaction with them (and from stories from friends) that they are 100% non-judgemental and are 100% helpful (they actually will give you advise over the phone whereas all I've ever gotten from talking to nurses on the phone is, "Well, we can't tell you what to do over the phone...").

They told us to watch him for nausea and vomiting, which should happen within 24 hours if he ingested anything poisonous (which they doubted was the case because they've never had a single case of a child getting sick over lawn mushrooms (now, had we been up in the canyon we might have had more reason to worry, I was told)).

So far he's good. They're going to call me tomorrow to see how he's doing.

I'm sure he'll be fine.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Motherhood: A daily adventure

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
—Matthew 11:9
Yesterday I took Zoë and Alexander to school for the October Birthday Lunch so that we could have lunch with Miriam. We didn't pack actual lunch, however, because I'd just gotten home from volunteering in Benjamin's classroom when it was time to leave again. Instead I grabbed an assortment of snacks from the pantry assured the children (and myself) that we'd have actual lunch when we got home.

Miriam found us in the cafeteria and we found a table together and visited while we ate. Alexander rather vocally kept asking for food so I kept offering him bites of fig bar. He'd only ever take teeny weeny nibbles, however, which is out of character for him. And then I noticed that in spite of the small bites he was taking his cheeks were bulging.

"Are you even swallowing?" I asked him. "What have you got in there?"

Sometimes he keeps food in his mouth for a long time without swallowing, but fig bars dissolve into mush pretty quickly so I couldn't imagine it making such a big lump in his cheek. He also has a habit of sticking his tongue into the side of his cheek and when I ask him what's in his mouth there's nothing in there at all but his tongue, little faker! 

This time, however, he opened his mouth to show me what was inside and a rock popped out—a pretty big one, too!

"Where did you get this?!" I asked him.

He refused to say (on account of: he can't talk yet) and I have only deduced that he either:

A) Found it in the "bib" pocket of his jacket (he sometimes puts things in there)
B) Found it on the seat of his stroller (he sometimes puts things there)
C) Had it in his hand the entire morning (having found it in the house because sometimes we leave rocks lying around (and by "we" I mean Benjamin and Zoë) because he will find something he likes (often a spoon or a car) and will carry it around all day)

That doesn't really narrow it down, but I know it wasn't in his mouth before we left the house because I nursed him (and his mouth was most assuredly empty for that activity).

I'm just glad I found it before he choked on it!


Last night Uncle Jacob and Aunt Shayla stayed for dinner. The kids and I are participating in the Beehive Book Club again, where we read a bunch of books and write reviews in order to narrow down the "long list" for the book reward to a "short list."

It's nice to be on this side of the list narrowing for once (job market joke).

Anyway, Shayla loves to read so I invited her to join us and they ended up staying for dinner. Andrew had gotten some cook-at-home pizzas from Costco and we decided to eat on paper plates, which is not very environmentally sound but it sure does cut down on clean up time!

The kids were goofing around as they were setting the table and Zoë started crying when Benjamin threw something at her. I didn't see what happened but Rachel did and she began to berate him.

"Benjamin! Why would you throw a fork at her?!"

"It wasn't a fork!" he retorted. "It was a knife!"

"That makes it worse!" she shrieked.

Fortunately we were using disposable utensils to go with our disposable plates so getting hit by a flimsy plastic knife really didn't hurt Zoë (she was simply being melodramatic, as per her usual).


Like all my children, Alexander loves dishes. He loves when it's time to put the clean dishes away because he can help pull them out of the dishwasher and throw them all over the floor or bang on them with spoons and so forth. He also loves that the dishwasher door remains open because he loves to climb on the door.

All my babies have loved this (along with many other babies in the world, I'm sure).

Alexander, however, takes things a step farther and will climb into the bottom rack and onto the utensil holder and, as far as I can tell, is rather intent on getting from there to the top rack (his next goal being the counter top, and then climbing up the light fixtures to the ceiling, probably).

He was standing on the utensil holder, trying to get into the top rack, when I came out from putting something away in the pantry.

"Hey, buddy!" I said, pulling him down. "This is not your personal jungle gym."

Then I started washing a cookie sheet left over from last night (we didn't have cookies, but Andrew did make crostini to go with the pizza) and while I was doing that he starting scaling the dishwasher racks again.

"Mom! Mom! Mom!" Zoë cried. "He's doing it again!"

"Alexander!" I chided. "This is a dishwasher, not Mount Everest! Get down!"

"He's not getting down, Mom!" Zoë said, stating the obvious. "Get him down! Get him down, quick! Mom! Mom! Get him down! Mom!"

"Just a minute," I said, rinsing the cookie sheet and balancing it on top of the other clean dishes stacked on the counter to dry. "I only have so many hands..."

"You don't have so many hands!" she objected. "You only have two!"

"You're right," I said. "I have exactly two hands and that's not very many, which is why I can't do everything at once."