Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Afternoon

We had a rather busy day at church today. Andrew gave a talk in sacrament meeting which had Rachel rather nervous all morning. She was worried he was going to tell an embarrassing story about her since she'd overheard him mention temper tantrums while telling me about his talk. In the car she asked if I had written his talk for him and when I answered that I hadn't she asked if I had at least read over it to make sure it was okay. I hadn't. It was a surprise for all of us—but he didn't say anything too embarrassing and, much to Rachel's relief, only mentioned temper tantrums in the most general of terms.

He spoke about the Plan of Salvation, and more specifically that we're supposed to depend upon the Lord in this life but that we're active players. We have to do things and can't just sit around being good. He quoted what's somewhat become our family motto: Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power. We have the power to do things and therefore should cheerfully do them—even if it's a job we dislike (for example, unloading the dishwasher (that's where the temper tantrum example came in play)).

It was a good talk.

After sacrament meeting we wrangled all the kids off to the primary room and then Andrew took Benjamin while I fulfilled the bulk of my primary obligations. Then I took the baby while he taught priesthood.

We were both pretty tired when we got home. We had a quick lunch/snack and then I took a quick nap before we skyped with Grandma. We managed to squeeze in a walk before talking to my parents, which was lovely. Rachel brought along a little butterfly she'd made and she and Miriam scouted out different flowers and helped the butterfly drink the nectar. Rachel began composing a spring song, which she finished writing at bedtime. I'm not sure of the tune, but it goes like this:

Spring is coming! Spring is coming!
Easter is coming, too!
Shout hooray! Shout hooray!
There [are] Easter eggs!
You love Easter! I do, too!
Miriam loves it, too! Do you?

We stopped by the park to play for a while. Some might consider that breaking the sabbath but I don't; not today. The girls have been fighting so much this week that I think being out and about and playing nicely together was a far better way for them to keep the sabbath than sitting at home trying to get along would have been. Besides, Rachel served her siblings by pushing them in the swings and helping Benjamin down the slide. Serving others is a great way to keep the sabbath!

(The next time you need to rationalize something, give me a call. I'm a pro!)

Here are my swing-loving children:

Friday, February 22, 2013

A picture dump

This week has been a little crazy but we did manage to have some happy moments. For starters, my mornings often began with this view:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Morning catastrophes

Benjamin was still sleeping soundly when it was time for me to get ready to go visiting teaching. I was braiding Miriam's hair and thinking about having to wake that poor sleeping child up when my phone rang—it was Kim seeing if Miriam could come play with Claire. Miriam was very happy about this prospect so she finished getting ready to go while I woke Benjamin up and... Wow!—did he ever stink!

He had pooped sometime in his sleep and it was smeared/caked all over little bum. This is the first time that's ever happened in his life (post-NICU). He never wakes up poopy. Of course, he never sleeps that could explain why he never poops in his sleep.

So, I started scrubbing his bum. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. It was really messy.

Then I sat him on his potty so he could go pee. He did. And then he dropped the mirror he was playing with and lunged for it, falling off his potty and tipping the contents all over himself and the floor because I had chosen that exact moment to let go of him and put the stinky diaper into the pail (that is within arm's reach from where his potty is). He's usually okay sitting on the potty by himself. But not today.

I finished cleaning up that mess and, with some help from Andrew, got the kids all loaded into the van.

I dropped Miriam off at Claire's house but couldn't get the GPS to work. I tried everything but ended up calling Andrew in tears. So he drove me. It's not that getting there is even complicated—but I'm so tired and I hadn't nursed the baby yet so I was in serious amounts of pain and I was running late and I was too stressed out to drive myself. I just like having that friendly electronic voice remind me to put my blinker on—it's my security blanket for driving.

Andrew sat in the driveway reading while I did my visiting teaching.

I returned to the van with Benjamin and Andrew tried to turn it on wouldn't start. He had run down the battery because he'd flipped on the air conditioning when he got too warm (I told him that next time he should maybe take off his coat, which he was still wearing...with the air conditioning on. He agreed). So Kathleen had to come out, back her van out around us (because we'd parked behind her) and onto her neighbour's lawn so that we could jumpstart our car.

Fortunately it started.

So now I'm home, Andrew's off to school, Benjamin's sleeping, and I just got word from Kim that she wants to keep Miriam for a while longer (we'd originally said she could play until 1:00) so it looks like I'm due for a nap...hallelujah!


Somewhere, somehow, Benjamin picked up on the idea of lent. And what did he decide to give up this year? Sleeping. He went completely cold turkey.

The problem with fasting or giving something up is that we, as humans, feel a little emptiness—be that in our schedule, our heart, or whatever—and want to fill that void with something else. Ideally, fasting should allow our souls greater communion with God. Sometimes, however, it only brings about an increased desire for a Sunday afternoon nap.

Benjamin is no different from you or I and so he also needed to counterbalance his act of penance. He did this by bingeing on screaming.

We've been having a slightly-less-than-awesome week.

My sweet mannered little boy has refused to be out of my arms and when I've managed to hand him off or put him down he's howled incessantly...unless gazing directly into my eyes. Naps, if they happened at all, were short milk-induced trances. Bedtime was midnight (or later, whenever he'd stop screaming and pass out from sheer exhaustion) and our nights were interrupted by fussing and screaming and crying. Benjamin and I got our best sleep late in the mornings when we had the bed all to ourselves, cuddled up together, and completely worn out by not sleeping a wink the whole night long. We were surviving on a couple hours of sleep each night at best.

It's been an exhausting week.

Factor in Rachel and it's been a horrifying week.

I don't know what it is about Rachel but she's an energy-leech. She can't help it; she was born that way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just cleaning off my desk

I had a stack of school papers on my desk a mile high but sifting through them and getting rid of the worksheets and colouring pages and so forth trimmed the pile down nicely and I found there was only a couple week's worth of school work. I really have to keep on top of these things or we start drowning in paper (think of the trees!).

They've been studying weather at school, which has meant checking the weather forecast daily with Rachel. She's very quick to point out when the weathermen/meteorologists are wrong, so perhaps she needs to read this article about how complicated weather forecasting is before she casts any more stones. Here's a picture she drew of a rainbow.

Rainbows come after storms.

A boy and his tie

My friend Lindsay recently had a baby—third boy in a row (though the oldest is a girl). Rachel treated this as some sort of travesty when she found out the gender.

"Is the baby home?" she asked while we were on our way to deliver dinner.

"Yes, but we won't ask to see it. It was a preemie-born like Benjamin so we have to keep it extra safe from germs."

"I know," she sighed. "What's its name?"


"Timothy!?" she repeated in disgust. "It's a boy?! They already have two boys. They should have had another girl."

My friend Kim just had a baby—third girl in a row (though the oldest is a boy). Rachel treated this as if it was just as it should be.

Kim's getting ready to move so she's offloading a lot of stuff. She brought over five garbage bags of little boy clothes that had just been sitting around in her attic for the past, oh, eight years, waiting for another little boy to come along and need them (but no little boy ever came, though three girls did). I dug through them and found a few treasures, like this lovely Sunday shirt:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't Eat Peed

So, Valentine's Day ended up being a little lame. Andrew had some big papers due this week so he spent a lot of time writing and I spent a lot of time editing and we both spent a lot of time asking the girls to go play. On Wednesday night Andrew said, "Phew. Twenty-five pages of writing—finished! I have a ten page paper due tomorrow but I'm not going to worry about that right now."

"Wow. Things have changed since we were lowly undergrads, haven't they?" I sighed. "It used to be that a ten page paper would stress you out for the whole semester and now there's a ten page paper due tomorrow that you haven't even started and you're not even sweating bullets."

Why? Because ten pages is the new "one paragraph."

We did a little Valentine's Day fun on Monday for FHE and again on Wednesday night while Andrew was at class. On Thursday Miriam and I had some Valentine fun and made what I'd hoped would be a yummy Valentine's Day meal. She and I slaved over perogies—we even made them heart shaped!

A sunny snow day

This morning fat, fluffy snowflakes were streaking down to the ground—they didn't stick, though, because the ground was far too warm to allow for that. Yesterday was beautiful! It was our first snow day, which is a sign that winter is coming to an end (was it ever here?). The year-round schools used up one of their snow days earlier in the season but as luck would have it the traditional-calendar schools already had that day off so when Friday rolled around (a "teacher workday" or "PD day" as I grew up calling them) we were free to enjoy the glorious sunshine.

We set up a visiting teaching playdate at the Museum of Life and Science. I drove there all by myself and parked (in approximately the farthest parking spot) on the first try. While we waited for our friends to show up the kids ran around this planter. We waited for a full half hour before everyone got there. The kids ran around the planter the entire time. I do not know why they aren't that easily entertained at home.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Week

We used to have a container of toys under our "tv" stand but the lid didn't stay on tight and the toy sets (Littlest Pet Shops) were full of choking hazards so we moved that box of toys into the girls' bedroom. That left under the television completely open—which meant Benja-boy could roll under it and get at the cords—so when we saw these little boxes on sale for 50 cents each we picked up a couple to stick under the tv stand, hoping to keep Benjamin from going under there.

Now one of his favourite past times is pulling them out so he can play with them.

Valentine's Eve

After dinner and homework and chores I turned on some Valentine's Day tunes (not really because I don't think those actually exist...but it was some random "CD" on Spotify called A Kid's Valentine's Day Party or something like that and had a bunch of old love songs sung by kids) and we had an impromptu dance party in the living room. I will never be able to listen to Hooked on a Feeling with a straight face, thanks to a mime routine my friend Leslie did in one of our theatre classes in high school.

When we were finished dancing around like lunatics, we settled down to play Don't Eat Pete! The girls caught onto the rules of the game quickly and loved it. The first couple of rounds were a little crazy because Rachel cleared the board twice in a row without getting Pete while Miriam picked Pete on her first guess twice in a row. It was a crazy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yesterday was sunny

Miriam enjoys lounging about in the mornings. She'll get up and eat breakfast with her sister at seven and will still be in her jammies at noon if I don't put any pressure on her. She loves to snuggle in bed—or in the rocking chair...or on the couch—and tends to migrate toward the warmest/softest body available.

Yesterday morning Benjamin won out over me as softest. Miriam lay down on the floor next to him and stroked his cheek and twiddled his ear while he more or less ignored her and chewed on his toy.

The Woman in the Walker made my daughter wet her pants

In the middle of the closing hymn during sacrament meeting, Miriam stood on the bench and whispered in my ear that she needed to go potty.

"Can you hold it for a minute?" I asked. "After this song is the closing prayer and then we'll go, okay?"

She agreed. I don't know why I didn't just take her when she asked. Perhaps it was because I was holding the baby. Perhaps it was because I had to gather up a few things to take to primary. Perhaps it was because I'd already been up and down more than once during the meeting and wanted to pretend that my children didn't have the attention span of fruit flies. Whatever my reasoning I thought it would be better to wait at the time.

Here's the thing about kids and potty breaks though: it's never better to wait.

I know that. Deep down inside I know that. But I forgot.

I forgot that I usually have to beg my children to go potty. "Did everyone go potty before putting on their shoes?" I'll say before we leave the house. "Miriam—did you go potty? Rachel—did you go potty? Why don't we all go potty one more time? I don't care if you just went. You can go again! I have to take Benjamin potty, anyway."

I forgot that the reason I have to beg my children to go potty is because they never think of going on their own until it's an emergency. By the time the words "I need to go potty" escape their lips they're usually already dancing around and I have approximately 2 minutes to locate a toilet before things get...warm and wet. This is easy to do at home.

"I need to go potty!"

"Great—go do it then."

The toilet's at the end of the hall. Always.

Out in public things are a little more troublesome, which is why I should know to never (ever) ask my kids to "hold it for a minute," but I did anyway, and that was my first mistake.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Passive-Aggressive Notes

The girls came home from church today with several Valentines from their primary classmates. If I was a little more on the ball I might've sent them to church with Valentines as well. But since I snickered as I wrote "on the ball" in reference to myself...we'll just leave it at that.

I'm not the only mother to have dropped that ball. My friend Kathleen seems to have neglected to arm her children with Valentines today as well, and so Rachel ended up receiving a half sheet of paper from her friend Grace.

On one side was a beautiful picture of a person holding an umbrella (or it might be a balloon) in a rainstorm (or a crazy snowball fight).


I've been diligently working away at planning that garden of ours. Mostly I've decided not to be very adventurous and have been researching easy-going plants that are almost guaranteed to thrive in our area. Growing anything at all is ambitious, right? I mean, I haven't done this before. I don't want to overdo it.

On the other hand, if I set up something super easy and still's that going to make me feel?

On the other, other hand, the poinsettia I adopted at the ward Christmas party is still alive (and thriving) two months later so I don't kill everything* I try to grow (see, Andrew?).

On the other, other, other hand, it's possible it's fake. I's still alive so obviously something fishy's going on here.

While I was researching difficult-to-kill plants the other day I came across a bulleted list of plants. I can't find the list I was looking at before (I'll have to re-research it...nuts) but it went something like this:

  • beans
  • zucchini
  • cilantro/coriander
  • sunflowers
My eye was immediately drawn to the cilantro/coriander bullet because that's two things, not one. Duh. Someone obviously missed hitting the 'enter' key. 

Besides, we'd already ordered a "Culinary Herb Set" that included cilantro in it. Andrew forbade me to plant it. He hates cilantro. But, I reasoned, we have the seeds...and they grow (the internet said so). We don't have to eat it. We can leave it to flower, further justifying my claim that it's a legitimate flower garden, not a flower garden disguised as a vegetable garden (or a vegetable garden disguised as a flower garden).

Andrew just bought coriander so that he could make falafel, so I looked that up and...

Coriander is cilantro!?

I told Andrew this and he had a major "Luke, I am your father"** moment.

Yep, it turns out "coriander" and "cilantro" come from the very same plant—Coriandrum sativum. But coriander is a spice (because it's the seed of the plant) and cilantro is an herb (because it's the leaves). I learned that this past fall, actually, at an herb garden class that I attended (which ignited enough ambition to order packets of seeds...which have yet to be planted). I didn't learn that coriander and cilantro were the same thing, necessarily, just that spices and herbs aren't interchangeable terms.

"Ugh! Why do people even plant the seeds then? I already have the seeds. Why not just use them and avoid cilantro altogether?" Andrew asked, repulsed at the very idea of cultivating such a vile plant.

"That's an idea," I said sympathetically. "But if everyone did that, then we'd run out of coriander pretty fast, wouldn't we?"

"Oh, yeah," Andrew conceded, lowering his emotional 'Down with Cilantro!' picket sign.

"It would be The Lorax all over again," I soothed. 

We need th-ilantro. 

We need its th-eeds, for cilantro seeds are a fine thing that all people need.

*I can't find a record of this...but I managed to kill that sago palm before Rachel was even born. That's...less than three months from the time we got the plant.

*Misquoted. Because Star Wars isn't my favourite (it's too pew-pew-pew).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Peak-End Rule

Just over eight months ago Benjamin was given a t-shirt by his Life Flight crew when they packed him up and carted him away—to another hospital in another city, leaving me all alone in my small, depressing recovery room. I remember looking at that t-shirt and wondering how he'd ever fit in it. He was so scrawny!

He's now three times the size he was then so I pulled out the shirt. It fits him quite nicely.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Just an ordinary day

Despite this head cold I've got going on, yesterday was a fairly pleasant day. Andrew took Rachel to the bus and popped in a movie for Miriam to watch before he left for school so Benjamin and I had a lovely sleep in (and did the same again today), something we deserved since he's been up crying until midnight most nights this week (and still getting up to nurse several times after falling asleep).

Miriam and I spent some time outside drawing with chalk on the driveway. She wanted to go to the park but I just couldn't see myself walking there and back with both kids and still having energy left to do anything else (besides which, the last time we went to the park she decided she had to go potty just as we arrived so we ended up walking there and home and there again before actually playing (so I think I was remembering the walk being much more exhausting than it really is, considering I have to carry a big, heavy boy, and drag a big, heavy three-year-old by the hand)). So, chalk it was. Miriam decided that it was so bright outside that she needed sunglasses. She can be quite the fashionista.

Monday, February 04, 2013

...That it was good.

We were pressed to find time for FHE this evening. Ordinarily we don't have any sort of churchy commitments on Mondays because Family Home Evening is our commitment, but the primary president and I are supposed to deliver a CD of primary songs to some children who haven't been able to attend primary in a while and we've been having trouble getting our schedules to line up in the evenings.

We rationalized that it would be alright to do it on a Monday if we could each manage to fit in dinner and FHE before we left to fulfill the scary task of visiting with complete strangers.

As I was thinking today about how to get both dinner and FHE out of the way between 4:15 (when Rachel gets home from school) and 6:00 (when I committed to deliver CDs with Marian) I decided that the only way to do that would be to have FHE while having dinner.

Lately I've been taking our FHE topics straight from the sharing time manual since that's what I'm thinking about by Monday and it's still relatively fresh in the girls' minds. This week's lesson was on the creation and I came up with the perfect idea with my own little creative juices—without even googling or pinteresting or anything.

I decided we'd make personal pizzas for dinner and we'd discuss the seven periods of the creation in stages as we dressed up our pizzas. It took a little preparation—Andrew made the dough while Miriam and I got all the toppings ready. Then I made little signs for each day and labeled our ingredients and, on a whim, hid them around the backyard for the girls to hunt for (except for the dough). We started making our pizzas just about as soon as Rachel walked in the door.

Benjamin was most helpful, happily sitting in his little rocking chair. I took off the toy bar which made it so that he could sit up instead of leaning back. He likes his chair a lot better now and was enjoying the challenge of trying to balance while the chair was rocking. I think that sitting on the floor is enough of a challenge for him but apparently he's a bit of a dare devil.

The Great Pastel Fiasco of 2013

After we'd finished skyping with our parents yesterday afternoon, Benjamin and I went down for a nap together. Andrew read a book, took copious notes, and supervised the girls in their artistic endeavors. One of Miriam's Sunbeams teachers is getting ready to leave on a mission in just a few weeks and has been cleaning out her bedroom. She found a bunch of crafty things that she hadn't used in years and didn't see herself using in the near future and asked if anyone wanted them. I gladly claimed them and we brought them home from church with us.

Paper, crayons, ribbons, stencils, boondoggle!* The girls were lifted higher and higher onto cloud nine as they pulled each treasure out of the bag. 

When they came across some unknown art medium that looked particularly messy I cautioned them to not use them until I could help them with it. They looked like pastels (but it turns out they were color slicks). 

Unfortunately, the fact the items were expressly contraband was quickly forgotten once I was in bed, asleep and Daddy's supervisory skills are markedly unreliable when his nose is in an interesting book (one he started reading for his first master's program years ago but never finished and which turned out to be required reading for one of classes this semester (it's like a free text book!)). By the time he checked on them there were flakes of colour all over the table and benches and floor. The girls had been up and down and all around the house and had spread the bits of colour with their feet until it looked like someone had taken a crayon and scribbled all over the hardwood floor. 

I imagine Andrew was furious but he managed to keep his cool and helped the girls clean up the big mess and make dinner before I woke up. 

While they were cleaning Rachel was rather contrite.

"I'm so sorry!" she said. "This is such a pain! It's so hard to clean! It's all over the place! Kids can be so difficult! I'm sorry! I shouldn't have even used them! It's just all over the place!"

It really was—I just mopped the floor this morning and I think I got the rest of it up (but probably didn't). I mopped up streaks of colour in the kitchen, under the table, in my bedroom closet (!), and in the bathroom. I can only imagine how much they cleaned up on their own. 

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Biking and Playing and Sleeping

Today after the girls were finished with their ballet marathon we went to the park—a new one!—so that Rachel could practice riding her bike (a new one!) because we finally have one for her!

The poor girl has been asking for a bike for such a long time and has been such a good sport about going out to ride bikes with the neighbours while squishing herself onto a tiny baby bike. I've been hunting through Craigslist ads for months, trying to scrounge up a bicycle for Rachel and yesterday the stars finally aligned and I found a gently-used, much-loved, decently-priced bike for her. Andrew picked it up in the afternoon (along with some "curbside alerts" for a baby basketball hoop and a push toy) and brought it home. Rachel was thrilled to pieces and even though it's freezing cold here (barely freezing but freezing nonetheless) she begged and begged Andrew to take her out bike riding.

It's so freezing cold that we "need" coats—Miriam put hers on upside down accidentally