Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Fungus experiments

We've been learning about fungus (among other things) in our classification unit in science and today's science experiment was that one where you use yeast to inflate a balloon. Only I didn't have a balloon because even though  the creator of our textbook so kindly compiled a list of supplies we'd need for each upcoming experiment, I don't often remember to look at that list and find myself scrambling at the last minute. So instead of having our yeast inflate a balloon, we just covered glass jars with saran wrap and got basically the same results.

The kids enjoyed watching the yeast activate (even without a dramatic balloon climax) and our saran wrap did inflate a bit (though it looks wonky in the picture from so many fingers poking it).

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

My silly guys

Not to make us seem totally accident-prone over here, but...

Alexander touched a hot pan this evening. I had just taken it out of the oven and put it in the center of the table (which Alexander cannot reach without climbing on top of the table itself), and cautioned Alexander not to touch it (which, again, would require him to climb on the table to do). Then I went about finishing up dinner and called everyone to the table and sat down.

"Hi, Mommy," Alexander, who was sitting serenely on his chair, said.

"Hi, buddy."

Then he stuck out his lip, held out his hand, and whispered, "I touched it."

The poor boy had a lovely little blister swelling up on his hand! But he hadn't yelled or cried or panicked at all. He just calmly informed me that he had burned his hand.

"Well, quick!" I said, pulling the pitcher of water over to him. "Put your hand on this. It's cold."

"Ooh!" he agreed. "That is cold!"

He and that pitcher became fast friends.

Christlike Service

Tonight for family night, Rachel suggested that she introduce the Light the World initiative to the family (over dinner because that's often how we've been doing family night this semester since Andrew's been teaching on Mondays (hey, everybody's sitting down)).

Today's challenge was to think of someone who is an example of Christlike service (and to then highlight that person on social media, which blogs are totally very much still in vogue (at least that's what I'm telling myself). The girls both though Sister Moody in our Spanish Fork ward was a good example of Christlike love because she's always looking for ways to serve others, and they're not wrong. Sister Moody is a wonderful person.

For me, though, the people who kept coming to mind (aside from perhaps the obvious answers within my family) were the Gillespie clan and my dear friend Crystal. When Karen passed away, all the Gillespies showed up for her funeral. They really walked us through that grieving process and let us cry and laugh and feel whatever we were feeling (and cried and laughed and felt things with us).

It made me feel terrible about not getting Andrew out to Utah for Dorothy's funeral (guys, we were so broke). The Gillespies came from Washington, Idaho, and Arizona (and Utah). The only one we were missing was Phillip (he was stuck in Wyoming (probably being so broke, guys). They gave us this beautiful little angel that has been sitting on our mantel since we moved in, and which I haven't sent a thank you card for because I'm still not a very reliable thank you card person...but every time I look at it I think about how that angel was meant to represent Karen but how it also represents those dear, dear friends.

And then Crystal!

She drove for six hours just to give me a hug after Karen died (and, I guess, to give my kids presents as well). And I was surprised, but I don't know why because she's always doing wonderful things like that (and not just for me; she does nice things for everybody). I'm so lucky her little family was brave enough to be flatmates with Andrew and me all those (13!) years ago. Somehow she never gets tired of my whining (and—totally not an example of Christlike love but just a strange thing that always makes my head spin—I had a baby about six months after she had a baby for her last four babies (Zoë was off-schedule, but that's alright), including (randomly) having a premature baby after she had a premature baby (I suppose this ends up being another example of Christlike love because she walked me through that whole NICU experience as well)).

Lastly, I have to call out my friend Susanne. She is so open-minded, so willing to listen, and so thoughtful. I wish we had been able to get together in person a few more time than we managed (but we're not so far; so perhaps one day we'll get to pay her a visit). I don't even remember how she found our blog, but she did (through Bridget somehow) and when she found out we'd be moving to North Carolina she swept in and took care of us, telling us fun places to visit, dropping off bags of hand-me-downs and fun things for the kids to do (beadwork and bubbles and so forth). Once she brought by a beautiful yellow chrysanthemum. And she came to support Rachel at her baptism.

I suppose when I think of Christlike service, then, I think of the times he mourned with those in mourning and how he's able to cater to us so individually. And I hope that I can learn to emulate that behaviour as well as my friends have!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Benjamin's talk

The primary here has been absurdly on top of sending reminders about the children's assignments in primary...until this weekend! Usually I get a text message earlier in the week as well as the day before, in addition to an email. I'm often also caught in the hallway by one of the presidency members and the kids have come home with little bracelets detailing their assignment.

Benjamin was supposed to give a talk in primary today and I got no reminders at all! Luckily I read the church bulletin that was emailed out last night because Benjamin's assignment was listed there.

We worked together this morning to come up with a talk.

You'll find the transcript below. He read the full text of Janice Kapp Perry's poem/song I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus. It fit well with his talk and she's been on my mind quite a bit lately (years and years ago I took a Spanish class with her (and my mom), which was fun, but she's more a friend of my mom's than of mine). She's a wonderful, talented woman and I wish her the best with whichever path she's to take (recovering from her illness or meeting up with her husband in heaven).

Be my mommy

Today I got to help serve a post-funeral luncheon. Benjamin's nursery leader's mom passed away. I suppose her mom should have been in our ward—or would have been in our ward as of this week—but she's been in a home due to her various illnesses (Alzheimer's, among other things). They knew she was doing poorly, so had made the decision to bring her home this week—on Thursday—so she could spend some time surrounded by family before passing away...but instead she passed away on Sunday last week.

Still, the family had all been planning to be here for Thursday, so this sweet sister in my ward cooked a ginormous Thanksgiving dinner—all on her own—and that's what we served to her family this afternoon.

She must be one of those people who can do things like plan and cook a huge meal while under huge amounts of stress (like planning a funeral and so forth). But also this was a thing they've known has been coming for several years now.


I had to go off and leave my children (with their hobbled father) while I went to help with the luncheon (their hobbled father having not been in the cards when I volunteered to help; and with it being Thanksgiving weekend, finding a replacement volunteer would've been difficult, so I decided to go anyway). Alexander, my sweet, clingy baby, didn't want me to go and would hardly leave my side—not when he noticed I was getting ready to leave the house.

"Pick me up!" he demanded.

"I can't hold you right now. I've got to get ready to go!" I told him.

"Don't go!" he begged. "Stay here! Be my mommy!"

And I just about melted into a puddle right then and there, but I persevered and went to the funeral luncheon, and we all (ie: Alexander) survived the ordeal.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Trees and knees (and things)

Yesterday Andrew lugged our tree upstairs and we set it up, which the kids were rather excited about. One of these years we'll unpack our beautiful blown-glass ornaments from Egypt, but this year was not the year (those poor things have been in storage forever). We got out our non-perishable ornaments and let the kids decorate the tree however they wanted. A few breakable ornaments were carefully tucked into the highest boughs, but other than that things are just helter-skelter everywhere. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

Here are Alexander and Zoë working on the bottom of the tree:

Friday, November 29, 2019

All he wants for Christmas...

Last night Benjamin proudly came to us holding a tooth in his hand, so he's now missing his two front teeth just in time for Christmas!

Somehow all my children so far have managed to have their two front teeth missing at the same time. Am I the only one in the world who didn't have that happen? I distinctly remember losing one front tooth, and having my new tooth well on its way in by the time the other one fell out. So I completely missed out on that super-gap.


I was about brought to tears by another children's book this evening. This time it was The Lighthouse Santa by Sara Hoagland Hunter and I started choking back tears while reading the author's note at the very beginning of the story (of all ridiculous places to start crying).

It's a true story based on an experience of a man—Edward Rowe Snow—who flew around delivering Christmas surprises to lighthouse keepers and their families (who lived very secluded lives) for forty years. And that's just so nice (cue tears).

The rest of the story was rather easy to read (and I didn't actually end up crying). Benjamin announced that it was a very "calming" story. And it truly was. Simply beautiful.

Zoë keeps asking whether Santa is real. I keep telling her that he's alive in our culture, an answer she finds rather unsatisfying, but which is also true.

When she saw an illustration of Edward Rowe Snow dressed up in a Santa suit she pointed and said, "There, see!? Santa is real." And I thought to myself, "She's not wrong."

In this story Mr. Snow was very much the embodiment of Santa.

Now that Thanksgiving is over with (we ended up going to a friend's house for dinner; they posted they were eating alone and we were eating alone and we just figured if we ate alone together we'd be that much less alone, so even though it was a last-minute coordination it ended up being a lot of fun) we're officially ready to get this Christmas holiday season underway.

I've been sneaking in Christmas stories for quite some time now (of course), but Andrew is still pretty strictly a no-Christmas-until-after-Thanksgiving kind of guy. He's softened up a little over the past decade (and a half?!) that we've been married. In fact we might now be to the point that he's stopped caring about it altogether but the rest of us have gotten so used to him not liking Christmas creep that he pretends to be annoyed just to validate our Christmas pining.

For example, he was out of town all week last week (so we were listening to Christmas music with reckless abandon over here) and on Saturday when we were out for a sunset stroll, the kids hatched a plan to put Christmas lights up on the house before he came home (that very evening). Since it was already getting dark, putting up all our Christmas lights was out of the question but we did wrap some around one of our trees in the front:

Thursday, November 28, 2019

With thanksgiving

Last night Andrew wanted to clean a cast iron pan but he couldn't find his chainmail scrubber (it's perfect for washing cast iron pans and, yes, it's made out of chainmail). He looked in all the drawers (because things never quite end up being put away where they should in our house) and didn't find it.

He didn't check inside the garbage disposal.

But he did wash the pan and then run the garbage disposal.

So now we know where the chainmail is, but it's thoroughly ensnared inside the garbage disposal, which is now leaking out the bottom, which we've learned is kind of the death knell for garburators (thanks to the marble of '14 and the seashell of '17).

Yes, this is the third garbage disposal we've mangled beyond repair.

Guess. What. We're. Getting. For. Christmas.

(Being a grown-up is so fun.)

I suppose with today being Thanksgiving we can be grateful that when the garburator started leaking icky dishwater there was a pack of opened sponges sitting directly below the leak, and with their collective absorption powers were able to soak up all the water the garburator threw drizzled at them. This was a much happier discovery than finding icky dishwater had run all over our cabinets, as we've had happen in the past.

Now there's a bowl sitting under the sink, which should hold us over until we can get this puppy fixed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Falling for fall

I never expected to love autumn as much as I've found myself loving it. 

Where I grew up, autumn was a mere blip of a transition between a lukewarm summer and a frigid winter. The trees seemed to be in a hurry to be ready for their long hibernation, as if they were gearing up for battle—no time to dilly-dally!

Here the trees treat autumn as if they're getting ready for a big first date with a mild-mannered, gentle winter. They spend weeks (and weeks) preening in front of the mirror, trying on this colour and that, and...

I'm not mad about it.

You're gorgeous, autumn!