Thursday, November 21, 2019

On the potty train

A good time to decide to actively potty train your toddler is the day your husband goes out of town for the week, right? Sure. We'll go with yes.

I was going to surprise Andrew with it when he came home but then I sent him a video of Alexander doing some wild climbing in the house and ever-observant Andrew noticed Alexander was wearing underwear and asked about it.

It's Spider-Man underwear, to be precise, and in two days we've only soiled one pair. Spider-Man gets sad when he's wet, see, and we don't want to make Spider-Man sad. We (ie. Alexander) love Spider-Man (though to be honest, I'm not sure why; I mean, he's seen Into the Spiderverse, but, like, that was months ago. Can babies even remember months ago? Anyway, that's all that he knows about Spider-Man, as far as I know, but somehow he can sing the theme song and absolutely adores Spider-Man). We just happened to have some 2T Spider-Man underwear tucked away from our adventures in potty training with Benjamin (which I don't care to talk about because it was a rather traumatic, never-ending train wreck and is still too fresh in my mind).

I decided to make the switch because I've been trying to slowly coax Alexander to use the potty but he has no sense of accountability in his diapers. In fact, when I've asked him to not "go" in his diaper he has told me—with a know-it-all mien—"Bam, oo tan doe in oor diaper!"

Translation: Yes, you can go in your diaper!

Once when I asked him if he'd gone in his pants again he said, "Nope. Nope. Not in mine pant. Don't worry, Mom—I dust doed in mine diaper!"

And I thought to myself, "Self, if your child can express himself that clearly—and understand the distinction between going in one's pants and going in one's diaper—then it is time."

So we're doing this (because I hate diapering).

Books and tears

It never goes away, does it—that hole in your heart, that longing, the sadness? Not completely.

We're fine, but I can tell I've changed because I cry so easily lately and, perhaps, I will forever.

I've been reading The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki out loud to the kids and while the entire book deals with difficult subjects, the last couple of chapters were especially difficult to read out loud. I was crying and blowing my nose and struggling to get through things. It was just so beautiful, so tragic, so wonderful.

I checked out Pippin the Christmas Pig (by Jean Little) and I've read it to the kids a few of times and I can't seem to get through the ending of that book without tearing up, either.

And that book isn't even about death! It's about finding the true meaning of Christmas!

Zoë can't understand why I'm always crying while I'm reading and I remember thinking the same thing about grown ups when I was little. What possible reason could they have to cry?! They never had any real problems, like being offered a broken cookie or not being allowed to stay up late! And here they are, breaking down over a pig saying, "All babies are special." I mean, come on!

Grown ups are cry babies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I don't know what to write today

Due to a this afternoon's schedule, I ended up taking Miriam to her organ lesson. I never thought I'd end up being a taxi mom, but here we are. To be fair, Andrew has done more than his share of driving our little family around—but to be fair to me, he knew before we got married that I had/have no desire to drive. Ever. 

But, here we are.

"Doesn't it feel good?" he asked me the other day, after we'd been talking about some of the ridiculous drives I've been making lately. 

"Does what feel good?" I asked.

"That feeling of freedom!" he said. "You can go anywhere."

"Oh, is this what freedom feels like?" I asked. "Freedom is horrible."

Freedom, I guess, is a sweaty, shaky, feeling-like-I'm-going-to-vomit mess. So, to sum up, I still don't like driving. But I have to admit that I'm getting better at it, bit by bit. Even if I hate it. 

Anyway, I took Miriam to organ this afternoon and then the kids and I just hung out in the parking lot of the tennis court in her teacher's neighbourhood, zipping around on our scooters, throwing leaves, and enjoying the afternoon. 

It was fine. But I'm glad Andrew normally is the one to make the trip because I think that parking lot would soon lose its appeal as a waiting place. 


Yesterday we were reviewing Rachel's vocabulary words at the dinner table. One of the words was omit, which got us on a bit of a "word family" kick. We were thinking of all sorts of -mit words (or -mittere, I suppose): commit, remit, submit, admit. 

"Vomit?" Benjamin asked hopefully.

But while vomit does fit the pattern, it actually hails from its own root and is unrelated to other -mit words (so very disappointing we were hoping vo- was some crazy root which when combined with -mit would mean "forcefully expelling," but no). 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

These kids

I know we said we were moving on from WWII and we're trying. We have books about WWI in our house and we've discussed some and watched some PBS films and so forth...but we're also still reading The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki.

Today we read about how Sadako learned about her fate (because she had not known what disease she was battling, only that she was sick). She was curious, however, so when she came across her file and read her test results it confirmed her fears—that she had leukemia. She spent a minute feeling sorry for herself but then her thoughts turned to others. "How can I help my family? What can I do to make the world a better place while I am still alive?"

So that was our writing prompt for the day (it still counts as a gratitude prompt).

Wherein Alexander "beaks"

Yesterday during the face-to-face broadcast with Elder Gong, someone said the phrase "sing a song" and Alexander, who had completely checked out (because who was expecting that broadcast to be nearly two hours?! Not us) snapped to attention and said, "Oooh! Bing bong!"

He loves music and sings a lot.

He likes to sing the kids lullabies while I do. I likes to stand in front of our music stands and wave his arms while crooning out his own little tune. And this evening during Miriam's concert I had to keep reminding him that he can't sing along to the music and instead had to sit quietly and listen.

For some reason we'd never heard him say "sing a song," however, and it was delightfully hilarious (because, you know, he can't (or won't) say /s/).

So the kids have been singing, "Bing bong! Bing bong!" all day (which reminded them of the movie Inside Out, of course).

Another thing Alexander says a lot lately is "Banny tall Naanii!" which means "I wanna call Naanii!"

Whenever he sees my phone he starts repeating, "Banny tall Naanii! Banny tall Naanii!"

Monday, November 18, 2019

Miriam's orchestra concert

We are—very oddly—in our last week of school before Thanksgiving break and we're feeling woefully underprepared for the holiday season. Somehow our internal clocks reacclimatized to northern seasons and so the calendar keeps baffling us. How could we possibly be halfway through November?! The trees have just begun to turn colours and there's no snow in sight!

Anyway, we hit the ground running today and finished most of our schoolwork before heading to the library for the "hands-on homeschool day," where we learned about some indigenous cultures in Georgia. The librarian told us a number of legends and had a couple of crafts for the kids to do. They got to make "turtle-shell shakers" to scare the great spirit dog away from our cornmeal (he left a trail of cornmeal as he fled back to the sky, which became the milky way). They also got to make a strawberry craft to remind them to love their family and forgive quickly (I really enjoyed this story).

Even though the class is supposedly geared toward kids 6+, Miriam was already feeling like it was a little too juvenile for her, but she helped Alexander make the crafts, which he was rather happy about (especially that shaker).

After we got home we did a little writing assignment (I'm having my kids keep a gratitude journal this week based on my mom's post from a couple of days ago) and then started getting ready for our evening.

Ordinarily we can't make it to the homeschool days at the library because it interferes with orchestra rehearsals, but we didn't have a rehearsal earlier in the day because tonight was their first concert so we had a dress rehearsal prior to the performance instead. In order to get there on time we had to pick Rachel up from school, so when we got home from the library I made us a lovely picnic dinner (PB&J sandwiches, strawberries, cheese sticks—super gourmet) and then we headed off to the middle school.

It was about an hour's worth of driving (after taking a round-about way to get there so I could stay on roads I was familiar with, hitting some lovely traffic, and then being diverted around an accident) and I'm not sure I've ever been happier to have gotten anywhere. Rachel made fun of me for "stress-singing," a term she totally made up; she could not stop laughing at me!

Stress singing goes a little something like this:

"I will be so glad when we get there so I can park this car. I hate parking but at least it means I don't have to drive anymore!"

The tune isn't important, really. Just sing it ugly enough to embarrass your preteen, even though the other cars can't hear you.

Anyway, we got there, Miriam had her dress rehearsal, we had our picnic dinner, and then we had the concert, and then a reception after, and then we came home and all in all we were out and about for nearly seven hours for this concert (we didn't walk in the door until after 10:00). So I'm kind of glad the evening is over!

The concert went well. Here's Miriam's ensemble doing their songs:

The scratching noise you hear is Alexander colouring on his magnet-colouring board thing (which he calls an iPad). He is also the reason the camera is a little wibbly-wobbly at times.

Andrew had to teach tonight so I had to juggle all the kids by myself, which was fine. I did that one trick where you choose the family with the most kids and sit behind them. That way no one knows whose kids are acting up at any given time!

The family in front of us had six kids, all about the same age as our kids (plus one older one). The more I looked at them the more I wondered about them. They were putting off a very familiar vibe...

So during the reception I approached them and broke the ice with a homeschooling question, throwing in "we just moved here."

"Oh, where did you move from?" the mom asked.

"Utah," I said.

"Okay. I thought so. We're Mormons, too! And I saw you with your five kids—and you had a quiet bag with you and I just thought they have to be Mormon!"

"We are," I said.

Not that everyone from Utah is, just that if you have a whole handful of kids and are from Utah there's a very high chance you are also Mormon. This family is actually not from Utah (though they did attend BYU); the parents are both from here (and have the accents to prove it). But it was fun to connect with them! And they told us about another homeschooling family from our church in the orchestra.

Not that we only need friends who are also members of our church, but it is nice to have that connection as well. This orchestra is filled with wonderful families!

Here are some pictures Rachel took in the few minutes before the concert that we spent waiting in our seats (we did most of our waiting not in our seats):

Andrew had to teach tonight so he missed the first half of the concert, but the church we meet in is very close to the metro so instead of going home he joined us for the last half of the concert (and the reception) and it was so nice to have a second pair of hands!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Some funny stories from the first half of an exhausting Sabbath

Some days I know have been filled with terribly funny things—I know because I write them down throughout the day (on Facebook for the most part)—but by the end of the day I don't have enough of a sense of humour left to do them justice.

Right now, for example, it's 10:30 PM.

I got the last of my children to bed at 9:20, which, all things considered, is really pretty good. But, Alexander just wandered in (which means he was asleep for all of 1 hour and 10 minutes) and is now trying to go back to sleep in my bed and Zoë just wandered in as well (she hasn't fallen asleep yet).

So I'm just...tired. Like, reliving even the funny moments sounds too exhausting because the kids But I suppose I can try anyway.

This morning we asked Rachel to help the kids get into the van so we could go to church. As she was heaving Alexander into his seat she accidentally bonked his head on the roof.

"Oh, oops!" she said. "Are you okay?"

Alexander grabbed a fistful of her hair, yanked on it, and said, "Oh, oops! Are you okay?"

I mean, I didn't know a toddler could channel vindictive sarcasm but apparently they can.

On the way to church, Rachel was asking about Superman and his powers and wondering how his people could live on Krypton when kryptonite has such an adverse effect on them. So we discussed Superman mythology the whole way to church (very reverent of us) as well as different versions of shows and their merits.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Gender roles

While Andrew was out doing the grocery shopping with Zoë, I pried Rachel away from the game the kids were playing ("We're making our own economy!" Okay, kids) so that she could hold the ladder for me while I climbed up to clean out our gutters (which are full of acorns).

"We are good at gender roles," Andrew joked when he got home.

"Well, which job would you rather do?" I asked him.

"Mmmmm..." he hedged.

"Same!" I said.

So we both got the job we prefer: him—walking down aisles, and me—climbing up ladders.

It works out.


Friday, November 15, 2019


We played Bananagrams this afternoon, which is a game I haven't played in ages. The kids were able to come up with some pretty good words (sometimes by cheating—Miriam spent one round "fishing" in the draw pile and because every time you return one letter you have to take three she ended the game will a billion tiles still to play so that was kind of a lame round, but she learned her lesson (and she spelled doctorate, which is one of those pretty good words I was talking about, but still)).

One round Miriam spelled the word repetition. At the end of the round when we were proudly reading our words out loud (guys, I managed to spell penitentiary in one round (I should note: there is no benefit to creating the longest word, aside from bragging rights)) and Miriam said, "Okay! I got repetition, surf, boas, moat..." she continued through her list of words and then said, "And repetition! Did I say that word already?"

"Uhhh..." I said, waiting for her to figure out her unintended pun.

"Oh!" she said, and we both started laughing because that's funny.

Though Alexander isn't in the picture, you can see what he was doing in the background (ie. playing with everything)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Red pens

Today I don't really know what to write, which I suppose is alright because sometimes days are just drizzly and dull. It was actually a pretty good homeschooling day, with Benjamin finally buckling down to do his research project. Getting him to write a rough draft of anything has been difficult (to be fair this is only our second report); he seems to think it's a waste of time and wants to dive directly into the good copy.

I can't say I blame him because drafting isn't very appealing—getting dirty and making mistakes? Carefully choosing your words only to later abandon them, striking them out with a red pen? Yuck.

It's really not a thrilling activity.

The good copy is where he—surprisingly—shines. He loves writing out his words on the lined paper I designed especially for him (because somehow he ended up with a college-ruled notebook, which hasn't been ideal for guiding his developing penmanship, so for his good copy I print out paper with dotted lines to help him make uniform letters). Somehow he's able to write neat and tidy letters when he does his good copy, which he's unable to do during any other writing activity (which is why it's surprising to me that he can).

Yesterday I printed out a manuscript of my own to edit while the kids worked on their projects. I read it to them first and they gasped in all the right places (which, really, is just one because it's a very short story). They loved it.

And then I brought out my red pen and marked it up—noted a few inconsistencies, some missing words, thought of some better words to replace mediocre words, fixed some punctuation.

"What are you doing?" the kids asked.

"I'm editing my story," I said.

"You wrote that?!" Miriam said with a note of surprise in her voice.

"Yes, I wrote it," I said.

"But it was good," Benjamin said. "Why are you changing it?"