Friday, November 30, 2012

I did it! *phew*

This post officially marks the end of NaBloPoMo. In a way I am relieved not to "have to" write every single day. I feel like I'm generally a pretty good blogger—I write frequently enough throughout the year and used to (in the days before Benjamin) write nearly every single day—but not being able to not write when I'm either "too tired" or "have nothing to say" was a bit of a challenge. I'm happy to have it off my plate so that I can take some time off blogging and focus on a few other things on my to-do list, such as:

1) Writing the Christmas poem
2) Finishing edits to my mom's dissertation
3) Getting Andrew through finals week (which includes a fair amount of editing)
4) Attacking some problem areas in the house
5) Preparing Christmas gifts

I only have so many hours in the day that aren't entirely eaten up by the demands of little ones that I can only get so many things done that require me to not be filling their needs. This month blogging took precedence  Next month I expect that blogging will occasionally take a back seat while I do other things with my precious "my" time.

It's not that blogging is a burden, really, it's just that some nights I really should have just done the dishes and gone to bed instead of writing and then doing the dishes and going to bed. December is an especially busy month, though, which automatically increases the blogging burden.

I'm glad I do it, though.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pathetic Wednesday

We had a super lazy day today, which is probably why I'm doing all these massive picture dumps. Miriam woke up with a kink in her neck and refused to get off the couch all day long (she got up twice to use the potty—that is all). The poor little thing was miserable and I totally empathized with her because I remember getting a few killer kinks in my neck back when I was around her age. They were debilitating, tear-worthy, and horrible. I remember borrowing my dad's neck brace a few times, which I'm sure looked ridiculous (I also do not recall why he had a neck brace), to help hold my head up because the pain was awful.

Smiley guy

Benjamin has a lot of different smiles, here are but a few of them. And, yes, he's usually about that wet—he's really, really drooly.

I've been trying to capture this last one for a while—it's his toothy grin...but without the teeth. It cracks me up!

The Park, in pictures

On Monday I took the kids to the park while Rachel was at school (which is a long way to say that on Monday I took Miriam and Benjamin to the park).

If you shove a blanket and a front carrier in the swing with Benjamin he's big enough to swing by himself!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Never were there such devoted sisters

It's a rare thing for our girls to play nicely together, so today you get some pictures of them playing nicely apart.

First up is Rachel with her Littlest Pet Shop train:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Working is more expensive than not working

Shortly before Benjamin was born I interviewed for a job that I didn't get. It turns out that was a huge blessing in disguise because I couldn't have worked this summer. I just couldn't have. End of story.

I was just offered that very same job today—asking me to let them know my decision as soon as possible so that I could be cleared to start work on Monday. It was tempting—to work from home a couple of hours every day—but in the end we declined and here's why:

  • It requires early morning hours; we're traditionally night owls... And though Benjamin slept through the night (a full eleven hours!) for the first time ever last night I'm pretty sure it was a fluke.
  • It pays less than what I've ever been paid since graduating from college (and only 75 cents more than my last job in college).
  • It would require Andrew keeping the kids out of my hair, which he's totally capable of but...
  • Andrew gets paid twice as much (as what I would be earning if I took this job) at his side job so it would not be cost effective to have him be the parent while I work because do you know what we could do instead? He could work and I could parent and magically we'd earn twice as much money. Ta-da!
In the end it was a no-brainer. My contribution to the family's income will remain being a stay-at-home mother. And I think I'm okay with that, though it's still mystifying that it's possible for me to work and lose money...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today I learned about cigarettes

This was Rachel's journal entry for Saturday, November 24:

"To day I lrnd a baot sigrres."

She proudly displayed it to me while I was in the kitchen. I slowly sounded it out while she attempted to hold her journal steady in mid-air (something she always fails at because she's a fidgety five-year-old). "Today I learned about...cigarettes. Awesome. Ummmm... Do you want to write a little bit more," I prompted. "Maybe say where you learned about cigarettes or what you learned about cigarettes."

Her amendment reads:

"I went to the Duke Hom Sed. Sigrres r bad."

That just about sums up our Saturday. We made it to the Duke Homestead and Tobacco Museum. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it certainly wasn't what I got. The whole museum seemed confused about whether it should laud or lambast the tobacco industry. It was almost awkward.

We got there just in time to watch the introductory film which went on and on about the farming, harvesting, curing, and auction of tobacco and how those things have changed through time. It talked about how cigarettes were "invented" and how they got better and better and better but then...we discovered tobacco causes cancer. So the city quickly changed its name from The City of Tobacco to The City of Medicine. The end.

I suppose it's justice that a large chunk of the Duke Endowment goes toward medicine since many people paid the Duke family money in order to poison their bodies. We, also, can thank the tobacco industry for our education, if nothing else, since Duke University was funded by the Duke family with tobacco money.

The Waltz of the Snowflakes

Andrew is very strict about the window of opportunity for Christmas celebrations. Under his regime we can ring in the Christmas season as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is in our bellies. He's a veritable scrooge about any holiday revelry before the pumpkin pie has been sliced. No Christmas music—no humming, whistling, or singing any song with even the remotest ties to Christmas. No Christmas stories. No Christmas shows. No asking questions about the names of Santa's reindeer. No drawing pictures of elves. Nothing of the sort.

For years he's been chiding me for whistling Jingle Bells a few weeks too early. And for years I have been bringing every bit of pre-Christmas Christmas to his attention just to get his dander up. I even have a song I sing when I spot Christmas lights that are turned on "too early." Do you want to hear it? It goes like this (sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, naturally, in order to add insult to injury):

"Christmas lights! Christmas lights! Christmas, Christmas lights!"

That's about as far as I've written because Andrew inevitably interrupts me screaming, "Stop! Stop! Stop!"

I'm not sure how much the pre-Christmas season actually bothers Andrew, but he's certainly been pigeon-holed into the role of Christmas Season Enforcer and the children and I sure do enjoy flaunting the rules to get him to throw a "fit."

This year he was the first one to break the Christmas rules when he "accidentally" allowed the girls to check out a Christmas story before that was "permissible."

Next, our friend Crystal and her kids sent us a package with Andrew when he came home from Indiana (he stayed at Crystal and Jason's house). The goodies were in a huge stocking that the girls simply couldn't resist climbing into.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Thanksgiving Slide

Last week a friend sent an email announcing she had a little slide that she wanted to get rid of. I happened to be nursing Benjamin in my rocking chair (which doubles as my "office" chair) and heard my email ding. It took maybe a nano second for me to write back to her, claiming the slide.

I thought it would make a great Christmas surprise and my plan was to get it from my friend on the sly and hide it in the shed until the big day.

But on Monday night while the girls and I were eating dinner there was a knock on the door.

"Just keep eating your dinner," I told the girls. "I'll get it."

In child-ese that translates roughly as, "C'mon, guys! Follow me to the door and then push your way outside to see who/what it is!"

I peeked through the peephole and saw a cute pregnant lady standing next to a slide (instead of the masked madman the paranoid side of me sometimes expects) so I opened the door a crack to tell her that I was going to keep the slide a surprise. Somehow my two little girls managed to wedge themselves  outside and started jumping up and down with excitement.

I thanked my friend and then ushered the girls back inside wondering how on earth I was going to salvage the surprise I'd been planning for Christmas.

"Maybe they'll just forget about it..." I wrote in a hopeful IM to Andrew (who currently only has one late night Monday class left this semester (we're not talking about next semester)), but I forgot about object permanence.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Benjamin bubbles

Reflux is only one of the reasons Benjamin can usually be found soaking wet from the waist up. This is another reason:

Benjamin has recently discovered the very wet, fun syllable "bllllgggggggrrrrrb."

His dry shirts don't stand a chance against his gurgling baby talk.

Friday, November 23, 2012

'Tis the season for little Cuties

And boy do my little cuties ever love them! We bought a 5 lbs bag just a couple of days ago and we're halfway through it already. The girls aren't usually orange lovers, but they scarf down Cuties like they're going out of style.

Today we tried (and failed) to go on an adventure to the Duke Homestead and I brought some of the little clementines with us for a snack (that we didn't end up needing because our adventure failed). Benjamin held them for us in the car—he's just that helpful.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dumb ways to light your kitchen on fire...

I'm not sure where I saw this brilliant idea first.

I haven't been on Pintrest in ages—it's like browsing through the internet instead of pointedly researching and I just don't have the time for that so instead I let my friends curate for me and they will occasionally share ideas on their Facebook feeds or whatever. I've seen the idea resurface time and again in multiple places. Suffice it to say that this is an idea that has been floating around in my brain for a while. I was the Sunbeams (3–4 year olds) teacher in our last ward for half a year (and then I taught the ten year olds for a year (and then I taught Sunbeams again for half a year (and then I had Benjamin))) and the children were always frustrated by the ridiculously pitiful scraps of crayons we'd offer them to scribble with. I thought it would be a fulfilling activity for the Young Women to get together, sort the crayons into colours, peel off their papers, and melt them down into new and improved "fun" crayons instead of the decade-old, partially-chewed, snapped-into-fifths Crayola crud they'd been using.

I suggested it to the Young Women presidency but so far as I know my suggestion was politely cast aside and now I know why....

Melting crayons is a terribly dangerous, fear-inducing, fire-filled activity!

I figured this would be an excellent way to get rid of all our broken crayons, which is mostly what our crayon box is filled with. I thought the girls would enjoy them, both to have and to give away as gifts. It's like recycling, big time. Besides, it looked like fun!

So I went ahead and ordered a mould from Amazon. It arrived this morning and we went ahead and made up our first batch of crayons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve at the Life and Science Museum

Wednesday afternoon, no school—where do you think we headed? To "free day" at the Life and Science Museum, of course. Or, as Rachel says, the Life and Science Muserium! This was Rachel's second time going and she was thrilled.

Unbeknownst to me, Andrew had made a deal with the girls that if they were kind to Mommy and went to bed nicely every night while he was in Indiana that when he came home they'd watch Star Wars together. He made good on that promise this morning. Rachel was excited to get to go to the space exhibit so soon after watching Star Wars.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ramblings of an overtired housewife

I just wrote an entire blog post and then deleted it. It was too melancholy. I think I'm just worn out today. Probably because my children rarely let me sleep—I was up every two hours last night, switching off between Benjamin (who is usually up every four hours) and Miriam (who was apparently also having a rough night). It didn't help matters that the kids were barely going to bed at 10:00 last night. They just would not stay put!

Rachel and Miriam were fighting about everything so eventually I took Miriam out and told her she could colour at the kitchen table while Rachel fell asleep. This was clearly an injustice to Rachel and so she pouted in her room, forcing herself to stay awake until Andrew came home so that she could complain about it to him. He explained the same thing that I had explained: Miriam took a long nap and wasn't tired enough to fall asleep so we were giving Rachel the opportunity to fall asleep alone before putting Miriam to bed. That way they wouldn't bug each other and everyone would live happily ever after.

I'm not sure Rachel was ever entirely convinced this was true, but fifteen minutes later she was out like a light. I spent those fifteen minutes colouring with Miriam in the Rudolph colouring book (we've been sneaking Christmas in where we can, right from under Andrew's nose).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Corner the market

When I moved to Alberta, my cousins introduced me to the game Pit! I remember playing it in my grandparents' basement, all crowded around the ping-pong table and yelling our guts out. My grandpa, who was a sugar beet farmer back in the day, and my uncle, who has grown wheat and canola and other things throughout his farming career, played with us. My grandpa didn't play many games by the time I came along—but he still had enough umph left in him to swing a trade with the shrewdest trader in a game of Pit!

My grandma would come downstairs to flutter around him every so often, putting blanket on his lap, wiping the Grandpa Glue off his chin, and telling us all to be quiet.

She preferred quiet, thoughtful games like Boggle and Scrabble—I like those games, too, but my grandpa didn't often play them with us because he was too shaky to manage a pen and paper or tiny alphabet tiles. Pit! is thoughtful in its own right, I suppose, because it's strategic, but that exclamation mark at the end of its name is no mistake—it's also rather frenetic.

When you've won the game by collecting enough of any good to "corner the market" you have to yell above the melee, "CORNER ON WHEAT!" or "CORNER ON FLAX!" or whatever.

It's best to corner on wheat because wheat was worth the most points (100, I believe). That said, it was probably wiser to corner on flax quickly and end the round before anyone else collected enough wheat (or anything else) to beat you (I think flax was worth the least; I don't remember). Andrew would probably say that's like the prisoner's dilemma...kinda...or some sort of game theory. I dunno. I'm editing an important paper for him right now; obviously.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

She's a dancing star! She loves to twirl all day!

Yesterday morning the girls got all decked out to play Angelina Ballerina; it was Rachel's idea and I was thrilled about that because this one time I praised Miriam as being "a natural" dancer and Rachel overheard me. She assumed that I meant that Miriam was a good dancer and Rachel was not. For the past few months whenever anyone's mentioned dancing Rachel has answered with something like, "Oh, I'm not a very good dancer, but Miriam is!"

It hasn't seemed to matter how many times I've told her since then that she's a fine dancer, she's refused to dance. So you can imagine my relief when it was she who suggested that they play Angelina Ballerina.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jacob and Shayla

We were a little bummed when Jacob asked Shayla to marry him—in August after Andrew and the girls left for North Carolina but before Benjamin and I had headed out—but only because we knew we wouldn't be able to go to the wedding. Not three months after moving all the way out here. Still, we were thrilled for them because we were on Team Jacob/Shayla from the very beginning.

So, this weekend, while Andrew went to a conference in Indiana (and stayed with our friends the Slades—thanks, guys!) the rest of our family gathered in Utah for Jacob and Shayla's wedding and I...sat at home with three whiny children all by myself.

I jest. We actually had a pretty fun day and we even got to pop in (with a little help from Grandma and her iPhone) at the family lunch and later at the wedding reception.

The first evidence we saw of the happy couple was a picture that Shayla's mom posted on facebook:

Friday, November 16, 2012

An Afternoon Off

Today Rachel's school had an award ceremony to celebrate their first nine-weeks of school so after lunch, Benjamin, Miriam, and I drove over to the school to watch Rachel get her awards. She said she was pretty sure we should come because she was pretty sure she was going to get an award because she always does her best work.

"Do you know what Ms. Reeves said to me the other day when I showed her my work?" she asked me.

"What did she say?" I asked.

"She said, 'Are you going to college next week?' So, you'd really better come to my award ceremony because I'm not even sure I'm going to be in kindergarten anymore after this."

Don't worry; I (gently) set her straight. "Ms. Reeves just meant that you did well," I told her, "Not that she'd be sending you to college; you're not quite ready for college yet."

"When will I be ready for college?"

"Oh, sometime after you get your b's and d's straight," I remarked casually.

The Hostess with the mostest

Dear Americans,

Relax—junk food will prevail. Hostess may have gone out of business—you might Wonder where you'll find your next loaf of bread (that was a real Zinger, wasn't it?) or if you'll ever eat another Twinkie but I assure you the world has not ended. How do I know this? Because Hostess has gone out of business before...and the world didn't end then. Why should it end now?

I'm about to tell you some lame facts that I read on Wikipedia so sit right back, grab some munchies and your favourite doll (which is, perhaps, also a munchy) and relax.

'Cuz when you've got the munchies, nothing else will do!

Bath time for Benjamin

Look at how chubby my baby is! Who'd have thunk he'd ever get all roly-poly on us—because remember when his arm was as skinny as Andrew's finger? But here he is, in the flesh, in more pictures than you ever hoped to see of him sitting in a sink.

He's taken baths in the sink before but I'm not sure we've ever had the tap running while he was in there. You can see he's a little unsure about that.

Some things

Look at me, blogging all first(ish) thing in the morning! The truth is that my visiting teachers are coming and I should be tidying the living room (which desperately needs to be tidied) but why do that when I can sit here and avoid it, right? Besides, I have an obligation to the grandparents—they must see pictures!

Here are the kids ready for bed on Wednesday night, which happens to be the same night Miriam munched on Benjamin's hand, which is still so surprising because she adores Benjamin. She told me later that he was pulling her hair (so I told her, once again, that if she was in hair-pulling range (and she usually is because she snuggles this boy al the time) that she's just as much to blame for the hair-pulling as Benjamin is).

More often than not I have to tell her to give that boy some room to breathe.

Here's Rachel writing in her journal. Her writing is really blossoming; I couldn't be more proud. I love journals!

Seriously folks, Miriam can most often be found loving on her brother.

For the most part he seems to enjoy it.

Thing One:

Thing Two:

Thing Three:

Three Things together:

Three Things together again:

What a sweet Thing:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Pilgrim Ancestry

Since we habitually neglect to do FHE on Monday night (Andrew has a late class that night) we did it tonight (as we habitually do on Thursday evenings). Rachel came home from school gushing about Thanksgiving and Indians/Native American/First Nations/Aboriginal Canadians/Indigenous Americans and turkeys and pilgrims and such so I built up a lesson around her passion.

We talked about pilgrims and "Indians" during dinner and I told Rachel that she has several ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. She was stunned. She asked if we could meet them. I said we could not since they are her ancestors—which means they're related to her but long-since dead. She then asked if we could meet an Indian. I told her that she was staring at one right now because we also have Native American ancestry. She just about died of happiness right on the spot.

"We're not really Indians though," she said, "Not anymore. Look at us. We're not Indian."

That's true. Our blood's a little diluted.

"You know Sister K. at church? She's an Indian."


"Yes, ma'am."

"Does she live in a teepee?"


"Does she live in a wigwam?"


"Well, what does she live in?"

"A house..."

"Hmmm... Well, I kind of wanted to meet an Indian that lived in a teepee."

They have a teepee set up outside their classroom and are planning on having a pow-wow at the end of the month. Rachel is all over this, thanks to orientalism in the classroom and Little House on the Prairie.

Do you hear what I hear?

My friend Amy wrote a post about the sounds of silence in her house. I thought it was intriguing so I'm going to do it, too.

Right now the house is about as quiet as it gets. The girls are in bed and (miraculously) aren't fighting; perhaps they're already asleep. All I hear is their bedtime music (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat currently) drifting softly down the hall.

The furnace just clicked off. Our thermostat is set to 69 degrees which is fine during the day when the sun is streaming through the windows and at night when I'm snug in my bed but right now my toes are cold.

My sweet baby boy is guzzling down his milk, gulping greedily and gasping for air. Soon all I will hear from him is the deep, rhythmic breathing of sleep...I hope.

I hear the clicking of a keyboard, the whirring a computer (and monitor and modem and whatnot), two ticking clocks, and the occasional car passing by. The humming fridge creaks, rattles and moans every so often and the timer on our stove is absolutely possessed and sporadically buzzes like an angry hornet (though it hasn't blared its full alarm recently (it has in the past)). And if I walk too close to the window I can hear crickets softly chirping in the chilly night air.

Other than that all is calm; it's a silent night.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Looking back at Rachel's journal I can already see vast improvement in her handwriting and her confidence in expressing herself. It's fun to watch. She didn't know what to write today but I told her there is always something to write; she managed to come up with four sentences. Right now I seem to be having the same dilemma myself—not knowing what to write—but look, I have managed to eke out four sentences already.

We had a fairly enjoyable evening together. I folded laundry and made dinner. The girls played with play dough together. Benjamin played on the floor (and screamed quite a bit, too). Everyone got along so well until just before they were sent to bed. 

We'd already finished story time and scriptures and for some reason I had decided to change Benjamin's diaper before having family prayer. Probably because the girls were finishing up with their bedtime preparations after we had scriptures. I changed his diaper, put some nice warm jammies on him, and then went to put his dirty diaper in the diaper pail. No sooner had I left the room than he was screaming bloody murder. 

I ran back into the living room and he was lying on the floor right where I left him. Rachel was sitting innocently on the couch. Miriam was lurking guiltily behind the rocking chair. I picked up Benjamin and quieted him down. I don't remember how I discovered it exactly, but I found two sets of bite marks on his hand—one set right in the middle of his hand and the other on his poor little pinkie finger. No wonder he was so sad!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Check ups

We took the girls to the doctor for well-child visits last week, even though we did well-child visits before Benjamin was born so that we could get Rachel's kindergarten shots done because we didn't know how long it would get us to get insurance sorted out when we got here (apparently it took us until November). I suppose Miriam was due for her three-year-old well-child visit, anyway, so it was actually good timing to take her in but they gave Rachel an appointment as well so that she could be an "established" patient in the clinic, which makes getting a sick-child appointment easier, I guess.

Our clinic is amazing. We walked into the lobby and just stood there, staring at the walls. The whole clinic was covered in a mural of animals—camels at the pyramids, penguins in Antarctica, monkeys swinging from trees, butterflies chasing each other through the sky. It was beautiful.

We felt pretty lucky to end up with such a great clinic since I basically chose blindly. The clinic some of my friends recommended wasn't receiving new patients so this was the other close one so I chose it. When the receptionist asked if I had a doctor I'd prefer to make an appointment with I just said, "A nice one?"

We got one!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The poppies...

It's Remembrance Day! Or Veteran's Day! Or Armistice Day! Or Poppy Day! least...yesterday was!

Whatever you happen to call it, Rachel had the day off school today because of it, but we began celebrating it yesterday. I don't know why it's not a huge deal here like it is in Canada—where we learn about it in school, have bulletin boards decorated with poppies and white crosses, have assemblies devoted to remembering fallen soldiers and promoting peace, have a moment of silence, have city-wide devotionals...

I suppose Americans spend too much time fighting about whether November should be filled with butterball turkeys or jolly old elves to devote much time to remembering war (and hoping for peace).

I happen to rather like Remembrance Day! Yesterday the girls and I wore poppies to church.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Only a precisionist would understand

The bus pulled up at our corner on Monday afternoon and instead of bounding down the stairs of the bus with a smile on her face and her hair flapping wildly behind her, Rachel shuffled slowly out of her seat, down the aisle, and out the door. Her lips were trembling and tears were welling up in her eyes but she was trying very hard to remain poised.

"Are you alright, sweetie?" I asked the inevitable ice-breaking question.

"No!" she wailed. "I have to show you something. Something terrible!"

She dropped her backpack on the ground and sank to her knees. Fumbling with the zipper for a few seconds she eventually managed to calm her nerves and open her backpack. She pulled out her daily folder and thrust it at me.

"I lost an eagle!" she sobbed.

I looked at "today's" date. "A little too chatty," it read. "Lost 1 eagle."

"Oh, baby. It's okay..." I started.

"No, Mom! It's not!" she interrupted.

"It really is though. Look, do we have to do this on the side of the road or can we move this conversation inside—maybe calm down, get a snack, talk it over?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Cameron Craze

"You'll never get in," Reid told us when we first declared our intention to attend Duke. He wasn't talking about academics, though. He was talking about sports, specifically basketball.

Andrew had boasted that we were going to go to a Duke basketball game, but going to a Duke basketball game is nearly impossible. People camp out for tickets to the formidably famous yet ridiculously tiny (let's call it...cozy) Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tickets are like gold and the fans are so intense that they have their own Wikipedia page.

This week Andrew got an email announcing that the first game of the season would be a "family night" and that their graduate student association had purchased a number of tickets and all we had to do was get in line early enough to beat the crowd and we'd get in the game for free, so we picked Rachel up from school instead of letting her bus home and headed off to campus.

We had to be in line by 4:30, as per the emails instructions, and we got there around 4:15. The line was virtually nonexistent but it did get long as we were waiting. I think everyone who was in line got into the game, though.

Once we got our wrist bands and knew we'd be getting into the game, the first thing Andrew did was call his father to gloat.


When we went to the girls' doctor appointments on Thursday Benjamin tagged along.

"And how old is this little guy?" the doctor cooed in Benjamin's direction.

"Five months," we answered.

"And teething," she observed.

I wonder how she came to that conclusion.

Perhaps it was because Benjamin's entire fist was wedged into his mouth. It often is.

We've got *mmmm* ants in our pants!

Few people reading this blog will recognize that theme song. Sometimes being a not-too-foreign foreigner makes life awkward. For example, there are times when I will hum a tune of a television show (that was on the air for eleven years, mind you) and no one around me will have the foggiest idea what I'm referencing (because I'm surrounded by Americans who grew up watching American television). I imagine it's similar to how growing old feels, only I made it to that special place before my prime.

Anyway, we fortunately do not have ants in our pants, but we do have ants in our pantry! We have been battling them for many moons now and I'm really not sure whose side is winning.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Life and Science

Yesterday Miriam, Benjamin, and I went visiting teaching. Ordinarily this is a solemn affair, a sit-quietly-and-don't-interrupt affair, a don't-touch-that-it's-not-yours affair, a yes-yes-we're-almost-finished affair. Not that the ladies I visit teach are grumpy or hoity-toity at all; it's simply that visiting teaching is an adult thing to do (which means that children find it very boring).

I've been lucky here, truthfully, and have only gone visiting teaching while Andrew's been home during the day so he's kept Miriam. I don't know if that's really luck since the only time I get the car (ie. am forced to drive it on my own) is when Andrew is home and if he's home then what's the point of taking all the kids with me when I go out? There hasn't been one...until yesterday.

One of the ladies I visit teach suggested that we meet at the Life and Science Museum this month instead of meeting at her home. She has a pass that's good for six people—we filled the quota with me and Miriam, my visiting teaching companion and her daughter Gwendolyn, and the two ladies we visit teach...and a baby for each of us (but babies don't count against the pass). It was a rather relaxing visit.

We just wandered around the museum, following Miriam and Gwendolyn around while we visited.

Miriam was especially excited about the space ship and, oddly enough, the sunscreen exhibit upstairs. The spaceship is understandable because you can actually climb inside and play around.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

One Hundred

A few weeks ago Rachel rushed off the school bus absolutely beaming.

"Something exciting happened at school today!" she gushed.

"What?" I asked.

"I made the hundred club!" she managed to squeak out. "And I'm the only one in it! I'm the first one! I did it! I have got to tell Dad!"

Being the member of such an elite club is no easy feat—and, no, this isn't some club she invented to inflate her ego. The "hundred club" is a classroom club invented by Rachel's teacher. To get in said club you have to write the numbers one through one hundred in order after finishing up your worksheet at the math table during "centres."

I watched this in action when I helped out in her class a while back. That day the kids had each been given a little container of tiddlywinks that they had to count out and then draw on their paper. Rachel finished the task quickly and easily and then got to work on the back of her paper—that day she wrote all the way up to fifty (following a hundred chart). But she was bound and determined to get all the way to one hundred and was so proud when she did it.

We've been working on counting by tens at home, which had Rachel confused for a while due to a little speech quirk of hers. I'd call it a disorder but she's only five; I have a hard time saying that five years olds have speech disorders unless it's rather severe (like the case of my cousins' children who suffer from apraxia) because five year olds are simply five years old—they're still babies! We're required to send in an extra change of clothes to school, including underwear, because kids are still wetting their pants. If you suck your thumb, wet your pants, and can't say your own name correctly you're on the caboose of babyhood, the cusp of childhood. That's a completely different thing from having a speech disorder.

Be that as it may, we've been working on correcting Rachel's quirks, specifically when it comes to numbers. As I said, we've been working on skip counting by tens to one hundred. Last week we turned on the macarena and I taught the girls the dance while we counted by tens. It took Rachel about thirty seconds to understand the concept of skip counting to one hundred (we're still working on the dance part). The problem, though, is that she says thirty and forty completely the same and this confuses her.

"Ten, twenty, forty, fifty..." she'll say. Or, "Ten, twenty, forty, forty, forty, fifty..."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Alive and Laughing

I have a few topics for posts kicking around in my brain but unfortunately I'm so exhausted right now that my tongue keeps tripping over simple words like "lingonberry" and "empanada" no matter how often I've been forced to repeat them in conversations—and today that was a lot! So instead of blogging about something different I'll select a topic from my regular blogging fodder: my daily life.

Our story begins with this little one, who opens his mouth like this every time he sees me. I used to think it was the camera but, no, it's just me. He thinks that every part of mom is edible and if he just opens his mouth wide enough something yummy will drop inside.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Happy Everything Day!

It's 11:45 PM on election night and guess what we were doing? If you thought we watched the election results, you're probably right...but only kind of because we don't actually have, like, television. Instead I mixed up some pumpkin bread, Andrew pulled up a website (NPR, maybe) that was tracking the election, and we streamed some more of the West Wing. To prove how irresponsible we are, or perhaps merely to help cool our nerves, we watched three episodes right in a row—up to the episode where President Bartlett is reelected president.

We turned off the show and checked the election results just in time to watch the president win Wisconson, passing the 270 votes he needed to be reelected president.

It was kind of wild to watch two great wins right in a row!

But you didn't come here to hear about politics, I'm sure, and as luck has it I have a very non-political and very happy story to share with you all: we fixed our van!

Andrew was pretty frustrated after he tried to take the door apart on Saturday. Of course we arrived home with only an hour to spare before nightfall so his time was limited. We didn't have the part we needed to fix the van, anyway, but he was feeling like van-fixing was a little out of his realm. I didn't blame him because even van-driving is out of mine.

He tried desperately to fix the van on Sunday—he took it into a shop so they could look at it but they told us that they didn't have time and to come back in a couple hours later. He returned a couple hours later only to be told that they didn't have the part either. He came home feeling morose.

"Thwarted!" he said, "In all my attempts to break the sabbath!"

So we did the only thing we could do: we bundled up in coats and hats and blankets and drove to church with arctic winds blowing through our window.

That might be a bit of an over-exaggeration. I have to admit that of all places to have your window break, North Carolina in November isn't a bad place. It's chilly but not freezing and though it rained while our window was out of commission it didn't storm hard enough to rip off the garbage bag that we taped over our window.

I asked a few of my friends around here for recommendations on car shops since the place we went to quoted us $300 to fix the window regulator. That was going to be a hard bill to swallow.

Did I ever mention that we spent every penny we had moving out here? That we didn't buy any groceries for the whole month of September because Andrew only gets paid once a month...on the last day of the month...and he didn't get paid in August? I don't know if you've ever tried to move and then not stock your refrigerator; it was an interesting experience, that's for sure.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Party

I have a hunch that tomorrow after the kids are in bed and Andrew's home from class we'll be having an election party. I don't know how I got so wound up in politics. I remember watching the results for one Canadian election. And I think I remember my parents going out to vote once. My family's simply not that political—my parents have opinions, I know, but we never really talked politics at my house growing up.

Andrew's getting a PhD in Public Policy. We talk politics all the time. We snuggled up together to watch the presidential debates. I did a lot of yawning and eyeball rolling. Andrew, though, was riveted.

Rachel doesn't have school tomorrow. All the public schools in Durham county are closed for election day. I'm not exactly sure why but as far as my friends and I figured at book club it was because some elementary schools are polling locations and since they're super strict about visitors at schools here (you have to have a photograph taken every time you come to the school to do anything) we guessed they didn't want hordes of strange adults wandering around elementary school campuses while the children were in school. It was easier to tack an extra day on at the end of the year than it would be to patrol everyone coming to vote.

We only figured that because having a day off from school certainly doesn't make it easier for parents to vote...

So, the girls and I had an election party tonight. We stayed up late playing games and eating cookies while Benjamin hung out with his turtle, a fork, and a burp cloth.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

As testimony fills my heart

Last week the girls wrote down their testimonies while I was at choir practice. I didn't make it to choir practice this week because of our blasted van but hopefully I'll make it next week!

Here's Rachel's sweet testimony:

It says: I know the Book of Mormon is true because I know Joseph Smith is the living prophet.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Life is what happens when you're making other plans

Last year we didn't take portraits of our children. This year it's already November (for real!?) and we haven't taken portraits of our children (Emily Pilmer did, but we're greedy and need four shots for a specific frame we have). And so, I decided that this weekend was the weekend. We were going to get all fancied up, we were going to head out to some place pretty, and we were going to take decent pictures of our children, or so help me!

I told the children of our plans while they were still in their pyjamas.

"...and then in the afternoon we're going to go take pictures at the Duke Gardens!"

The girls rushed off to their bedroom to pick out their outfits:

Interesting choices.

Tummy Time

The other day Miriam informed me that her tummy was big because she was going to have a baby. That poor girl was so pregnant that the baby's feet were not only in her ribs...they were all the way to her chin!

More about Benjamin (5 months)

There's always more to say about Benjamin. He's  had a pretty busy life, and just this week he's made some major changes around here.

Last Sunday Andrew took away the little infant headrest from Benjamin's car seat. *sniffle*

Artwork Extravaganza

We'll begin today's artwork extravaganza by paying tribute to Disney's acquisition of the rights to Star Wars. In truth most of these picture were taken before Disney's announcement but rest assured that our girls are always excited about Star Wars so they were certainly excited to hear there will be more.

Rachel drew this picture for Andrew while he was at a scout leader training meeting one Saturday last month:

She brought it to me and apologized for not writing my name on the paper—it just wasn't something she thought I'd enjoy.

"I just can't remember what it's called. It's like a bunch of planets up in space and...oh, why am I asking you? You wouldn't understand; it's a Star Wars thing. Trust me, you don't know this word."

Galaxy. The word she was looking for was galaxy. I might not get all hopped up on Star Wars but I do know what a galaxy is.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Benjamin at five months

I suppose I'll hop on the bandwagon and formally declare myself as a participant of NaBloPoMo 2012. After my world fell apart in June I've been having trouble keeping up with the blog. The kids keep doing funny things that go unrecorded and we've done so many things that have gone unmentioned. We're certainly keeping busy; the record's just shoddy. As Andrew said, this will get me "back on the horse." While there's always something to write about everyday the challenge is in finding the time to write everyday, but here we go! My friends Bridget and Crystal, and my mom are all doing it—are you?

Tomorrow Benjamin will be five months old. I won't even tell you how difficult that is for me to believe because you can probably guess. I remember time just dragging when Rachel was a baby. Now time is rushing by. I can hardly keep up with the days of the week, let alone remember how old my children are.

I remember asking a friend once how many weeks her baby was, back when I had one sweet baby who was around seven weeks old. My friend looked at me and said, "I have no clue!"

Not knowing was not something I could fathom until I was talking to a friend at book club (last week? or the week before that? who knows?). She has a sweet little girl right around Benjamin's age and she asked me, "So, wait—how many weeks is he now?" I looked at her and smiled.

"I have no clue!" I laughed.

Hair pulling

Benjamin loves hair. He's constantly catching fistfuls of it.

Part of this might be happenstance because (Hair + Hand = Hair Pulling). But he also seems to enjoy it (though I can't tell if it's because of the tactile sensation or because of the screams he elicits from his sisters).

Here is our little hair-puller in action:

Miriam was hugging him and he was rebuffing her advances (he was obviously much more interested in the cute photographer).

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Christmas Creep

Our jack-o-lantern is well on its way to being made into pumpkin pie; the seeds have been roasted; Andrew's already anxious to get (all three of) our Halloween decorations put away; we're cruising toward Thanksgiving break; is it possible that we've had a bit of Christmas creep in our house?

It's no secret that Andrew is not in favour of Christmas creep—you know, when Christmas creeps into Thanksgiving's territory. This is a thing I didn't know existed until moving down to the States because in Canada Thanksgiving is in October and coexists peacefully with Halloween. Singing Christmas songs at the beginning of November was never a crime in my household until I married Andrew. He frowns upon such activities, which means he's usually frowning at me about them because I am the most common perpetrator.

But last week we went to the library so that I could vote and so that we could check some books out. We figured the most productive/less insanity-inducing way to get both of those errands done would be to have me take Benjamin to the polls while Andrew and the girls hit the stacks. We split up at the parking lot after making plans to reunite in the children's section.

So off to the polling booths I went with Benjamin while Andrew herded the girls into the library.

Voting was fairly easy. I stood in line, got my form, filled out a few bubbles, fed my form into the scantron machine, got my sticker and was out of there before you could say "democracy."