Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This past week (on Saturday to be exact) Benjamin figured out how to stand up, from the ground, on his own power. He'd only recently begun experimenting with letting go of whatever he used to pull himself up in order to practice balancing and now he's already doing this:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pioneer Pete

Partly because of our family goal to dedicate twelve family home evening lessons to family history and partly because we're still thinking a lot about our pioneer ancestry, we had another lesson about our pioneer ancestors for family home evening tonight.

I spent a good chunk of the day researching ancestors (Miriam and Benjamin simultaneously went down for naps, which was wonderful (though Miriam is still awake (and cleaning the bathroom as her "get out of bed" activity) because of it)). I wanted to review the ancestors we'd talked about a couple of weeks ago but also introduce a few new ones. Eventually inspiration struck and I decided that I'd just plop all (well, some of) our ancestors down on a single sheet of paper and make a game of it. Thus the game "Don't Eat Pioneer Pete!" was born (the rules are here, in case you've never played).

Making the game board was fairly simple. Finding facts and stories to share about each ancestor was a little more time consuming, though certainly worth while.

I've always loved hearing "the grown ups" talk about my predecessors but now I am one of the "grown ups" (though I'm not quite sure how or when that happened) and it's my responsibility to pass on the stories. I also need to familiarize myself with Andrew's side of the family tree, so I dabbled a bit on his side as well and came up with some pretty interesting stories.

All nine of the ancestors we highlighted this evening were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All nine of them crossed the plains (and sometimes the ocean as well) in order to reach the Salt Lake Valley. All of them led very different lives and we learned a lot from them and had a lot of fun doing so! 

Feel free to read about our ancestors below...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pioneer Day Celebration

We had such a busy day slated for today that we had to wake up the children this morning so we could get started. I hate waking children up but we had to do it anyway. Benjamin had claimed a spot in our bed—horizontally, of course, with his head resting on Daddy's arm (and his feet poised to be kicking my back/head/stomach/whatever).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

School and stuff

Our day started bright and early when Miriam fell out of bed. Andrew put her back to bed and got up for the day since he had to leave the house by 6:30, anyway, to help sort food for the bishop's storehouse. I got up soon after that because I had to have Rachel up and moving by 7:00. Miriam apparently never went back to bed and was eager to get up when I went into the girls' room to wake Rachel. And I guess we made so much noise getting ready that Benjamin decided to begin his day as well.

Thankfully he slept through the night. That was not the case the night before when he joined me and Andrew in bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and instead of having my little boy snuggled comfortably beside me I found, to my horror, that I was clutching his ankle. The rest of his body was dangling over the side of the bed! And he was fast asleep!

I don't know how or when he and I managed to get in that position, but there we were, his head mere inches from the floor. I always put extra pillows on the floor when Benjamin's in bed with us because our floors are hardwood, but Benjamin hadn't even made it that far. I was worried about how long he'd been dangling upside down, but there's no way to know for sure. He seems fine though...

After we dropped Rachel off at the bus we came inside and got some laundry started before going out to do some weeding. Andrew came home while we were weeding and decided he'd mow the lawn. I took the kids inside because Benjamin was acting like a baby who needed a nap. After several failed attempts at getting him to go down, I decided to lie down with him. He takes his best naps that way.

When Andrew came in, Miriam was happily watching Tangled and Benjamin and I were snoozing away together. He showered and then took a little catnap in Miriam's bed while she prepared an elegant meal for him.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eastern Tiger

While we were taking out the garbage and recycling this evening we found some Eastern Tiger Swallowtails fluttering around a butterfly bush, so we went ahead and caught it for further examination. We only kept it for a few minutes because it was rather flustered to find itself in a cage and because it was nearly bedtime.


Last night Andrew and I made pickles because if there's one thing in my garden that's growing well, it's cucumbers. Andrew got me a canning set...for my birthday, I guess...because we've been wanting to learn how to can things like peaches and applesauce and baby boys and such.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Now that his fever (which did seem a little high for teething, reaching around 103 degrees F) is gone and he's woken up with a rash, I'm fairly certain that Benjamin's not actively teething. My new hypothesis is that he has roseola infantum.

Granted, his rash is currently confined to his face, but that's how Miriam's rash started as well when she had roseola

It does explain how he was able to have such a high fever with seemingly no other symptoms (his eyes were a little puffy and he soiled a few more diapers than normal but was mostly active and happy (but only mostly because he's also done a fair amount of squawking this past week)). And now the fever's gone and has been replaced with a rash, but he's still perfectly active and happy. 

So, I'm pretty sure it's roseola

But just in case it's a food allergy and because I can't remember anything unless I write it down, we had a lazy, lazy dinner last night of crackers and cheese and fruit and vegetables. Benjamin had blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers (as well as crackers and cheese) but I think the melons were the only things terribly new for him.

But, I'm pretty sure it's roseloa, because of the mysterious fever that no one else got (roseola is highly contagious but comes with the gift of lifelong immunity) and because of the rash on this smiley-guy's face:

You can actually see the rash better in this picture but he's not smiling:

Sorry everyone we may have infected. Enjoy your fever and rash (and, afterward, your lifelong immunity). You're welcome.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Morehead Planetarium at UNC

The girls filled their "Obedience Bean Jars" last night, coinciding beautifully with Rachel's birthday, and were excited to claim their snow cone rewards at Pelican's this morning. Miriam was being such a slow poke about getting her morning jobs done (emptying half of the dishwasher; so taxing, right?) so Andrew threatened to leave without her if she didn't hurry up.

"Uh...I'm not old enough to stay home alone so you're not going to do that," she said, rolling her eyes.

He was kidding anyway, but it was rather humorous how quickly she stripped us of power. We eventually got her to finish her job and loaded all the kids in the van to head to Pelican's. At least, we let them believe that's where we were going the whole time we were driving.

Rachel had brought a book in the car and was completely oblivious to her surroundings. Miriam though kept piping up, asking if we were almost there. Rachel kept shushing her (she was trying to read!). When we pulled up in front of the Morehead Planetarium instead of Pelican's Snow Cones, the girls stumbled out of the car. They dazedly blinked in the sunshine and spun around a couple of times.

"Huh?" Rachel asked. "Where are we?"

"I thought we were going to Pelican's! I want a snow cone!" Miriam shrilly wailed.

"We're going on a surprise adventure first!" Andrew informed the girls. Their faces both lit up in wonder and then excitement as he explained where we were going.

As I've explained before, the girls both are rather fascinated by we went ahead and bought the pass, which is technically just a donation to the planetarium that they thank you for by allowing you to attend shows for free. We're looking at it as an extra-curricular educational activity for all of us. Andrew's a push-over when it comes to spacey stuff.

A giant sundial


We think Benjamin's teething. He's started running random fevers again, but with no other symptoms. No rashes. No cough. No loss of appetite. He's not even particularly grumpy. He's just a little feverish and a little bit clingy.

And that's how Benjamin and I came to have a sleep-in this morning—he was literally sleeping on top of me and his sleep has been so delicate lately that when our alarm went off this morning, Andrew got out of bed to get the day started, leaving me and Benjamin undisturbed. He'd slept so little in the night that my only option was to let the poor boy sleep some more and since I was were he was sleeping I went ahead and took a little nap, too.

Andrew finally woke us up half an hour before we had to leave the house.

"I had the strangest dreams last night," I told Andrew.

My dreams tend to get particularly crazy when I'm extra tired (as I was last night) or am sick or pregnant (which I'm not) or just, you know, when I sleep. I told Andrew about my dream...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Isn't it about...time?

Recently I found out that The Magic Treehouse has a website. I showed it to Rachel and she got all excited and took a bunch of quizzes to earn stamps for her "passport." I might have her sit down this weekend and take the rest of the quizzes just so we can have a definitive list of which books she has and has not read because picking books for her is getting tricky.

She came home from school the other day exclaiming about how she'd finished Dinosaurs Before Dark during reading time at school and that she wanted to get onto the website to take the quiz!

"You finished an entire Magic Treehouse book?" we asked.

"Yes," she said.

"How long is reading time?!" we asked.

"I don't know!" she said in a huff. "We haven't learned time yet!"

"But you had enough time to sit down and read an entire book? That sounds like along time to have silent reading..."

She can read a Magic Treehouse book in about an hour if she's free from distraction.

"Well, I guess it took me two days. I started it yesterday and finished it today."

That sounded a bit more feasible—half an hour here, half an hour there. Fin.

Rachel's beginning to understand the concept of time, but time is a tricky concept. There's so much to remember! Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and on and on! It gets confusing, especially for the little ones for whom time seems so stagnant.

Don't you remember waiting for your birthday when you were five-and-a-half? It felt like you were five-and-a-half forever!

Now fast-forward a couple of decades later. All of a sudden you're like, "Wait a minute. How old am I? Am I turning twenty-nine or thirty this year? Or am I even that old? Or am I older? What year is it?"

At least, that's how it is in our household.

Our girls are always planning for their next birthday—and sometimes even the one after the one that's coming. I think Miriam has her cakes picked out for the next five years!

Miriam was doing her "homeschool" lessons this afternoon. She is so excited to go to kindergarten, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it (I kind of like keeping her home)) she still has two more years at home. We do a few educational activities here and there, but I'm not really formal about it. This week, though, she's been quite regular about asking for "homeschool" because our household is still caught up in the magic of the beginning of a new school year.

Today she pulled out her alphabet primer and flipped to the back where she found all sorts of fun things to do. The pages on the months of the year kept her busy for a full hour. She talked about each month, traced the letters, copied the words, talked about each month some more, wrote some nonsense words, and even sounded out a few actual words for good measure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When thunder roars...

I hosted our primary meeting this evening and had just gotten the girls into bed and was wrestling Benjamin into his pyjamas when the other ladies in the presidency arrived. I dragged my rocking chair over to the kitchen table and nursed Benjamin while we discussed the needs of our primary (meanwhile Andrew holed himself up in his office/our bedroom).

I hadn't closed the blinds yet since it was still fairly light outside (and because we'd rushed through dinner and bedtime and I hadn't gotten around to it). Eventually it started raining, as I figured it would since rain's been forecasted for every single day this summer, practically. As you can see, we've gotten 19 inches of rain over the past 90 days. And it just keeps coming!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pioneer Family Home Evening

Benjamin had a lovely nap this afternoon. I guess our swim earlier in the day wore him out. He didn't wake up until Rachel came home from school, which was rather late. And he slept all funny on his arm and his hand left a lovely mark on his chest, which was rather funny. He didn't really want to wake up...

We packed some sandwiches for dinner while we talked about the day. Rachel sure has a lot to tell us when she hasn't seen us all day! I'm sure her enthusiasm to tell us every little of her detail will wane as the school year drags on, but it's fun for now. Once our dinner was packed, we headed to the Eno to have family home evening.

In July we celebrate Pioneer Day—the day the Mormon Pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley (July 24, 1847). In Utah it's an official state holiday, with state-sanctioned fireworks and everything, but everywhere else in the world we celebrate on the closest Saturday. This year we're having a pancake breakfast and will be playing some pioneer games. Sometimes various groups go on "trek," where they live, for a time, as the pioneers did, pushing handcarts, wearing bonnets, fording rivers, and basically reenacting the trials the pioneers faced.

We have a family goal to dedicate twelve family home evening lessons this year to family history (Rachel's idea) and I thought the next couple of weeks would be the perfect time to highlight our pioneer ancestry. We had a progressive picnic dinner while we walked through the park, stopping every so often to eat another part of our meal while talking about another ancestor. It was a lot of fun!

At our first stop we skipped over all the "appetizers" we had packed and chowed down on the main course—turkey sandwiches—because we were all starving.

The ancestor we highlighted was Lucinda Haws Holdaway. She's my great-great-great-grandmother (my mother's father's father's mother's mother) and she kept a journal during her trek across the plains, an excerpt of which I found online and read tonight. Technically this story is about the journey back to Salt Lake after traveling from Salt Lake to Iowa to get some machinery. Seriously, traveling to the Salt Lake Valley was bad enough. She travelled there, then back to Iowa, then back to Salt Lake all in the course of three years. And she drove her own team, defeated cholera, and cooked for a group of four men (besides herself).

Lucinda was one tough cookie. 

Here we are enjoying playing in front of the tobacco smoke house:

We walked past the photography museum and stopped at the public garden for a minute. Miriam wanted to pose by the white picket fence until she realized that the white picket fence was put there to keep people from getting too close to the beehives behind it:

Once she realized there were hundreds of bees swarming behind her she scurried back over to us:

Inside the garden we found the old Mangum well:

...and a lovely array of flowers and vegetables.

We went to the picnic shelter for the next part of our dinner—hard-boiled eggs—but apparently the beehive was placed a little too close to the picnic shelter and we were absolutely pestered by bees inside the shelter. We moved outside to sit on some rocks, where Andrew managed to cut his leg. Blood was dribbling down and getting on his sock and it was very perplexing to the girls so I pulled out my first aid kit.

"Alright, you have a choice of Winnie the Pooh," I said, fingering through the bandaids.

Andrew wrinkled his nose.

"...Or Hello Kitty," I finished. 

That was my entire inventory. I had something like ten Winnie the Pooh bandaids, three or four Hello Kitty Bandaids, and a CPR face shield. 

"Okay, I'll go with Winnie the Pooh," Andrew sighed. 

I patched him up and then pulled out the journal entry I'd found from Joseph Stacy Murdock, Andrew's great-great-great-grandfather (his mother's father's mother's, mother's father). 

It took me awhile to read the entry, in part because I kept giggling to myself over his spelling (Masura River instead of Missouri River and his yoake of oxins and so on) and in part because we were still being plauged with bees. Oh, they were everywhere!

In the middle of my retelling of Joseph Stacy Murdock trading his own shirt off his back to sweeten the deal for a new team of oxen, Andrew interrupted.

"You know," he said. "It's rather funny that we're talking about pioneer hardships and..."

I totally thought he was going to remark about the blood trickling down his leg but instead he said, oh, so calmly:

" have a bee crawling in your armpit."

That was the last straw. We moved our party over to a sand sculpture we saw in the distance (it must've been put up for the Festival On the Eno (which we didn't attend because we didn't know it was going on until it was too late)).

I've been stung by bees before while just standing there, minding my business. What if I'd accidentally bothered the bee (that was in my armpit (so who is really bothering who?)) while acting out this charming little dialogue:
I set down on the ground and a man rode up to me and said, "Boy, take this horse, and sadle and goo over the river and trade them for what you can get."
I said, "Maby you need that your self."
He said, "That is non of your bisnes."
I said, "All wright."
(Punctuation, mine. Spelling, sic.)
As sad as Joseph Stacy Murdock's prose was, his poetry was spectacular. There's even a hymn in our hymnal, with words penned by Joseph Stacy Murdock, himself. Part of me wonders if this journal entry was attributed to the correct person...

We discussed our final ancestor (of the evening) while eating grapes on this bridge:

Technically, I suppose she's not our ancestor at all, not directly, anyway. Her name was Phoebe Adams, wife of Solomon Hancock (my great-great-great-great-grandfather), and niece of our direct ancestor, Alta Adams (my fourth-great grandmother). Alta died in 1835. Solomon married her niece, Phoebe, in 1836 (but that's a story in and of itself).

By 1844, Phoebe was pregnant with her fourth child and she and Solomon were on their way into town to buy some new things for the baby (as well as provisions). Solomon had promised Phoebe $5 to spend on their baby but along the way kept feeling prompted that they needed to save that money for something else, so he explained this to her, telling her that she could use the money from selling butter and eggs to get some things for the baby. She was livid, but did just that. 

On the way home she was still upset and could hardly turn to look at her husband, when they came upon the prophet Joseph Smith being led off to jail. He asked if they had $5 to spare so that he, and the company being jailed with him, could get something to eat (in those days you had to supply your own food in prison). Solomon and Phoebe were able to give the prophet the $5 they had saved, which was a wonderful blessing all around (see here).

We enjoyed the view of the river for a minute (on our first summery day of the summer (and only sunny day we'll see this week)) before heading home for bedtime.

On our way back to the van, Rachel found a cicada that was buzzing its last buzz. It kept twitching and making half-hearted attempts at calling to a mate while she was holding it.

It was a wonderful addition to the cicada shell we found discarded on our crepe myrtle out front.

These bugs are crazy! They live underground for 2 to 5 years (since these are annual cicadas—not the crazy 13 or 17 year periodical or "magic" cicadas) before emerging to molt, finishing up their transformation into fully-fledged adult cicadas.

You can see the hole where the cicada just ripped out of its old skin. I think it would be both terrifying and amazing to watch. We've only ever found empty shells though:

The actual cicadas are much less fierce looking than their adolescent counterparts. For starters, they're a prettier colour. And then there's the fact that they lose their crazy jaw/claw things in favour of a proboscis.

They're big and dumb—they just mate and die and the cycle starts all over again and they have terrible aim and are always flying into things, which can be terrifying because they're huge and loud. Obnoxiously loud.

We have some woods behind our house and they're so loud back there, all night long! I could hardly sleep last night. Our room was one whirring den of cicada madness. The front half of our house, where our children sleep, seems almost eerily quiet when I wander over there in the middle of the night. The back half of our house sounds like we live next to some sort of jungle/train station.

The best part is that because they emerge solely to mate and die they're super attracted to anything that mimics their mating call. So Andrew gets pelted with love-sick cicadas while mowing the lawn. 

They're big. And dumb. And fascinating.

(Sorry for anyone who doesn't like pictures of bugs. My sister asked for them. Also, Rosie, our wolf spider, she died. So you won't see any more pictures of her (you're welcome, Crystal).)

We came home hot, sweaty, and exhausted. We sure do appreciate our pioneer ancestors who taught us so much about perseverance and faith (and also about the importance of keeping a journal).

Rachel: First day of grade one

On the eve of the first day of school we had all of our kids in bed and asleep by 9:55. Not too shabby, right? Miriam was the first one to fall asleep and I'm not really sure whether Benjamin or Rachel fell asleep next. They both spent some time crying in their beds about the injustice of being sent to bed. But before that Rachel stayed up and read and Benjamin had some baby time with Mommy and Daddy.

He's recently begun standing on his own...kind of. He's not actually all that into standing but will do it occasionally when he's not thinking about it. We were trying to get him to stand for a picture and he wasn't having it—he kept sitting down for safety. Here he is right before landing on his little bum:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Keeping Appointments

And that's it.

Just like that our summer break—or "intercession," as we'll now be calling it—is over.

I feel like we've been running around like mad the past couple of weeks; we've had a lot of appointments, for both professional reasons and pleasure. I think I've written about most of the pleasure appointments so all that I'm left with are the professional ones. Mostly, we've been to the doctor.

Benjamin had his official 12-month check up, one month late. He's just packing on the pounds—they say he's 18 lbs and 12 oz. now but I'm not sure that's entirely correct because that's considerably larger than he was just a month ago. He's still short—27.5 inches (which, again, is like an inch taller than he was last month so I'm not sure which appointment he was measured incorrectly at).

He got a round of vaccinations, which he was not happy about at all.

I'm glad that I remembered that for the MMR shot the side-effect fever can show up much later than the actual shot (7 to 12 days later, according to our handout) because Benjamin developed a random fever yesterday. I'm pretty sure it's because of that shot.

Rachel also had an appointment last week. She's still on the same curve she was plotted on at birth—smack dab in the middle of everything. She's nearly perfectly average: 3 ft. 10.26 inches and 42 lbs 12.3 oz. (that's 72nd percentile for height and 40th for weight).

She did a vision and hearing test right in the clinic, which she passed with flying colours. The only thing her doctor wasn't happy about is that we haven't found a dentist yet. They sent home a list of dentists...again. I think they do that every time we go in. My goal is to find a dentist before the next time one of our children has a well-child visit. That gives me until October!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Land I Love

We were a little too tired from all our vacationing to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, but here's a flag that Rachel coloured in school for me when her class was learning about continents/countries. She's a real sweetie.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

North Topsail Beach

Yesterday we went to North Topsail Island on a relatively spur of the moment spree. I was surprised how many friends said they'd join us considering it's nearly a three hour drive away and we only decided to go on Saturday. We were joined by the Hennessees, Greens, and Tessems, though all their husbands stayed behind to work so Andrew was our lone male—with four women and fifteen children.

We caravanned out, splitting our four families between three minivans. We joked that Andrew looked a bit like a polygamist (but what can you do?).

Locks of Love

I love long hair. I love long hair on me. I love long hair on my girls. But here's the thing about long hair: it's a huge pain.

Rachel's hair was just about to her waist. It was luxurious. It was beautiful. It was so fun to braid and put into buns and things...when she would let me touch it. But it wasn't often that she would let me touch it. Even putting in a simple ponytail would cause fits and tears. We had a fight about hair practically every morning last school year (unless I let her "do it herself" and sent her to school with a tangled mass of hair "held back" by a poorly placed barrette).

"If we cut your hair short we wouldn't have to worry about this," I told her a countless number of times, but ultimately it was Andrew who convinced her to take the plunge. I'm not even sure how he did it but once he did and Rachel had chosen her length (which was right around her shoulders) I suggested we just measure off 10 inches and chop off her pony tail to send to Locks of Love.

She was super enthusiastic about the idea, so that's what we did.

No sooner had I chopped off her ponytail than she had jumped up to look in the mirror.

"I LOVE IT!" she squealed.

It took a little convincing to get her to sit back down so I could straighten it out and give it a we-did-this-on-purpose look rather than a we-accidentally-hacked-off-her-ponytail look.

It's still long enough to fit into a ponytail, Rachel is excited to try two little piggy tails, but most of all she's thrilled that brushing her hair isn't the chore it once was. She's also excited to send her ponytail off in the mail.

I miss her long hair already, but I also like it short.

Friday, June 28 (Grandpa's Birthday)

Andrew's already noted that my Florida posts are becoming more and more picture-heavy. That's because life is still happening and I'm still behind in posting about Florida, but this is the last day that we spent enjoying the condo, so soon Florida will be behind us. And Rachel goes back to school on Monday so maybe then I'll have more time to blog (haha).

We woke up in the morning and had a lovely breakfast that Grandma and Grandpa got up and cooked before heading to the pool to spend the day. Grandpa had to leave for the airport at 3:00 so we had a good chunk of time at the pool.

Here's Rachel belly-flopping into the pool.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Thursday, June 27 (Disney World, Day 2)

Benjamin apparently has a habit of showing up to Disney World completely wiped out. On this fine morning we rode the Disney Railroad to Fantasyland Station, where we disembarked to enjoy some time at Casey Jr.'s splash pad (while Benjamin continued his nap).

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Wednesday, June 26 (Disney World, day 1)

Before entering any of the parks we took security pictures of the kids so that we'd know exactly what they were wearing if they happened to get lost. Here's Rachel's security picture of the day:

She's standing in front of a tree draped in Spanish moss so that we could show it to Bumpa Bruce.

We were directed to park out in the boonies, in keeping with our tradition of parking as far away from the entrance as possible. Fortunately, Disney's goal is simply to make every body happy so they provided trams to shuttle patrons to and from the ticket booths. That was a great perk! It didn't matter if we parked near or far; everyone took the same shuttle to the parking lot. Sitting on a shuttle for an extra stop or two isn't nearly as difficult as hiking two miles to your car after you're bone-weary from walking around all day. It was also nice to not have to walk all the way there first thing in the morning!

Tickets are linked to your fingerprints now—at both parks. I thought that was a little...over zealous. I mean, I suppose that one could buy a two (or more) day pass at either park and then go for a day (or more) before swapping cards with a friend, but seriously, who does that? That's like worrying about voter fraud. I mean, I'm sure it happens...but not often. Either way, both Disney World and Universal Studios have a a copy of my finger prints. And for some reason weren't concerned what kids we were taking through because we didn't have to link the kids' cards to their prints. Whatever. 

After getting tickets you have to board either the ferry or the monorail to take you to the gates of Disney World itself. It's like a mile and a half away from the ticket booths or something, like a magical island. 

We took the ferry. Andrew was pretty sure if was a "fairy" ferry. It wasn't.

While we were in line for the ferry I discovered that Benjamin was poopy. Not only was he poopy but he was poopy-poopy. I changed his diaper and clothes, laying him down on the ferry deck to do it. He'd continue to poop like that throughout the day and ended up coming home in poopy clothes because I hadn't packed enough changes to deal with all the poopiness.

Here is a picture of me and Rachel on Main Street when we first arrived (Benjamin is nurse-napping under there):

Rachel caught her hair in her fan first thing in the morning the previous two days; it was very inconvenient and probably painful. She still didn't want me to do anything extravagant with her hair so I badgered her until she let me put it up in a bun. She topped it off with a hat.

She was really strutting her stuff through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house while Miriam whined about needing to go potty and how "this isn't even a ride." Rachel thought it would be pretty cool to have a treehouse, except that she's a little bit afraid of heights and it wouldn't really keep out jaguars and stuff. Also, both girls know much more about Tarzan than about Swiss Family Robinson.

We took a flight on some magic carpets before hitting Pirates of the Caribbean. I love that ride, but I think I might've loved it more before it was modified to fit the movie. It was still good...just too Jack Sparrow. Miriam covered her eyes through most of it—she didn't like the guns or swords or "any of the weapons." Rachel thought it was "mostly cool but a little bit scary." Anything that was dark and underground scared her—so the dungeon, the cannonball fight, the entire ride.

After that we used our fast passes for the Jungle Cruise. We love fast passes—they wait in line for you while you wait in line somewhere else; and they're free! At Universal you have to pay for "Universal Express" privileges, which we thought was lame.

The Jungle Cruise wasn't lame though, except for the jokes (but we knew it would be that way going into it). Rachel just about died of a panic attack when we went through the ancient Mayan temple that had been destroyed by an earthquake. It was dark. And undergroundish. But she liked the rest of the ride. Poor Grandpa was just about done-in by it though. Benjamin spent the ride pooping. (Did I say "ride?" I meant day.)

After that we sent Andrew off to collect more fast passes while we waited in line for the Tiki Room. The kids loved the birds and were spooked by the tikis. Miriam was especially charmed by the "girls" and couldn't decide which one she wanted to be. She also thought the thunderstorm was real.

They had real water at this Tiki Room. The first time I went to the Tiki Room was at Disneyland thirteen years ago and I think that the thunderstorm didn't actually use real water. I think they had plastic streamer things that shimmered with the light and just looked like rain. I kind of miss that kind of creativity from Disney.

Their new rides are too flashy, too perfect, too real. The Ariel ride is literally like riding through the movie—everything looks perfectly like the animation. All the "puppets" are just plastic bits waving around on mechanical arms. Ursula's tentacles wiggled but you couldn't see the mechanics behind it; it looked just like she was animated only it was 3-D in front of your face. It was a fine ride, but it wasn't charming (except maybe for the part where you drop under the sea; that was pretty neat).

The Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World, though, are simply darling. The dolls in It's a Small World might not be entirely hand-crafted but you can see that their hair is made of yarn and pipe-cleaners. In the Haunted Mansion when a head pops out of a grave you can see the spring it's on. I suppose those rides (Pirates and E.T. and so forth) are a little hokier but I love them.

The girls hated the Haunted Mansion and never want to go on it ever again. Rachel said it was "mostly scary but a little bit cool." Miriam covered her eyes for most of the ride.

Benjamin wasn't bothered by it at all; rather, he was lulled to sleep.

The poor boy slept through most of It's A Small World, too. Andrew had never been on that ride—can you believe it? My Auntie Arlene basically forced David and I to go on it the first time we went to Disneyland with her. She sat down to save us a spot for the parade and sent us to get in line, ignoring our protests.

"I always make everyone go on It's A Small World every time we come to Disneyland. You can't come to Disneyland and not go on it. It's a classic!" she told us.

We pointed out that she wouldn't be going on the ride but she said that didn't matter because she's gone to Disneyland so many times before. So my brother and I went on It's A Small World. But we were cool enough to think it was lame.

I went on it when I went to Disneyland for drama tour as well. But I can't remember if I went on it when I went to Disneyland with my mom and Josie and my friend Annik. Most of what I remember is Josie walking behind me and punching me in the back the entire day. So I try not to think about that trip too often because as much as I love Josie, just thinking about that day makes me want to punch her in the back or something.

So out of three trips to Disneyland (within a five year time span—seriously. I go my whole childhood moaning about never being able to go to Disneyland and then I go three times within five years?!) I went on It's a Small World at least two (but probably three) times.

Andrew, however, was so cool as a teenager that he managed to skip it altogether however many times he'd been to Disneyland (twice with family and twice with high school, he tells me). This was his first time on that ride ever!

He thought it was pretty cool, now that he's a mature adult instead of a too-cool teenager. And I'm super glad he got to go on the one at Disney World because apparently the one at Disneyland has been revamped to include Disney characters in their respective countries. I'm kind of torn over this. I like the old, slightly creepy puppets. How dare they replace them with fancy plastic replicas of cartoon characgters?!

Miriam loved It's a Small World. She kept pointing at dolls, trying to decide who she wanted to be (which is totally how I spent my childhood as well). By the end of the ride both girls were singing along and Benjamin had woken up and was pointing and "boofing" at everything.

When the ride was over, we tried to have lunch at Belle's castle (or Beast's castle; whichever it is) but they wouldn't even let us back there because lunch was "over" and we didn't have a reservation for dinner. So we went to Pinocchio's instead; it sits overlooking It's a Small World and has stained glass windows between booths. Benjamin was playing a game with a little boy on the other side of this glass while we waited for our food. It was pretty funny.

Just outside the doors of Pinocchio's was the most beautiful sight Miriam had ever seen in her life: the carousel.

This girl adores carousels. And so does this boy, who also adores being squirted in the face with Grandma's mist fan:

We all had fun on the carousel, except for Andrew, who apparently had no fun at all...

Just kidding! He had fun, too. I don't know why he looks so surly in that first picture. 

Here are a few pictures of Benjamin enjoying his spin:

And my sweet girls:

And Andrew having so much fun:

The night before Miriam had prayed that we would find a carousel at Disney World. Kids pray for the funniest things sometimes. But look how happy the carousel makes her!

Here she is trying to pull out the sword in the..anvil. There's got to be a trick to pulling it out because we saw a kid do it and then Andrew did it once, but we couldn't figure out what the trick is!

After the carousel we went on the Ariel ride. Rachel was once again nervous to be underground but she made it through it and enjoyed the ride. We split up after that and while Benjamin, Miriam, and Grandma and Grandpa did who knows what, Andrew and I took Rachel on Splash Mountain.

She knew about the splash on the end and was reluctant to go on it because of the splashing rides she went on at Universal Studios but we were able to convince her that Splash Mountain was tame compared to Jurassic Park or Dudley Do-Right. She spent a lot of time anticipating the drop and got really worried when we went into the darkest part, where the ride happened to be momentarily delayed (of course), but in the end she loved it and even wanted to do it again (though we weren't able to fit it in due to line length (and because the ride broke down the next day)).

Here we all are, being so brave...

We stopped at a "kodak moment" place (they have them throughout the park—just ideas of where to get a good shot...I think) to take some pictures with Cinderella's castle behind us (even though we thought it was Sleeping Beauty's castle (but it's not because her castle is at Disneyland)).

As luck would have it, a show was starting in front of the castle right at that moment. It had been playing at various times throughout the day but we didn't ever stop to watch it because our timing had always been off. But this time our timing was perfect and Rachel was so anxious to watch it, so she and I found a great spot, right up close, and settled in to watch the show (with her riding piggyback so that she could see; it was totally comfortable (not)) while Andrew ran off to find his parents and tell them where we were and what we were doing (because your parents should always know where you are, what you're doing (and also who you're with (but they already knew that part))).

Grandma found a different spot to watch the show with Miriam while the boys hung out on a nearby bridge.

Both of our girls loved the show. They'd both been dying to meet some characters but I don't have the patience to stand in line for over an hour to do stuff like that, so I told them that this show counted as meeting the princesses and Minnie and Mickey. And they were cool with that. Thank goodness.

They were thrilled when Peter Pan and Wendy came on stage. Ever since doing that show for ballet they've had an increased interest in that story.

See those thick, fluffy, lovely clouds in the sky? Those were our saving grace every afternoon. We were actually quite lucky weatherwise. It only sprinkled on us a couple of times on our park days (though it did pour on us at the Space Center) which served only to cool things off while not making us completely wet and miserable.

We enjoyed going through Winnie the Pooh's ride. I loved the words in the book that were melting off the page. That was probably my favourite part of the entire ride. 

We also hit up the tea cups. I don't like spinning, so Andrew, Benjamin, and I went in one cup and didn't spin (other than the big spinning).

The girls rode with Grandma and they spun a lot:

The tea cups turned Benjamin into a monster...but I think he liked the ride.

After that we went to Dumbo (which is where Miriam went with Grandma and Grandpa while the rest of us did Splash Mountain). They're trying out a new "line" where they hand you a buzzer when you get to a certain place in line and then you enter a playhouse with benches for the grown ups and a little "circus" for the kids to run around in while you wait. Then when your buzzer buzzes (because what else is a buzzer going to do? Ring? Vibrate?) it's your turn to get back in line for the ride.

It made the wait much pleasanter and not like waiting at all.

They even have the play area divided, with an area for bigger kids and an area for little kids (3 and under). We told the girls to stick together and go off to play but when Miriam went into the little kid arena, Rachel came over to us and told us she had a dilemma. She didn't know which rule to follow, you see?

"You told us to stick together, but Miriam went into the middle and it says only kids three and under can go in there and I'm older than three and I just don't know what to do!" she wailed.

We told her she could just go play because whoever designed that play space was a genius. We could see the entire thing from our bench so the rule of "sticking together" was less necessary than, say, at Curious George's splash pad (where our children't didn't stick together and where we often lost sight of them).

The kids were so excited to ride the Dumbo ride. I'm not sure why it's so popular—there are actually two Dumbo rides right beside each other. It's just the same as the magic carpet ride, which isn't as popular. I guess elephants are cuter than carpets. Maybe? I know some people who would probably disagree with that statement.

Disney World allows lap-riding, which is wonderful, even though Benjamin ended up sitting between me and Miriam (at her request) he was more than welcome to sit on my lap. He did a lot of lap-riding at Disney World, actually, and went on almost all the rides (unlike at Universal Studios where there is no lap riding and he only went on a couple of rides).

We went on the Barnstormer after Dumbo and decided that would be our last right for the day. The girls loved it, except that Miriam bonked her head and Rachel bonked her back. I understand how Miriam bonks her head because she's just at the right height to do that, but I don't understand how Rachel keeps bonking her back; she must not be sitting properly or something.

After the roller coaster the girls enjoyed playing around Casey Jr's play zone while Benjamin nursed. They found some elephant tracks and tried them out for size and showed impeccable restraint when I asked them not to play in the fountains.

On our way back to the van, we took a sneak peek at the new ride being constructed. I think it's going to have something to do with Snow White but mostly it just looked like a construction site. Also, you have no idea how brave Rachel was to stand by this mine.

I can't remember what ride it was for...but we were definitely with Grandma and Rachel was getting nervous because we were underground in a cave-like area. Oh! It was on E.T. And as we were leaving the forest we came to a mine area, complete with mine shafts and so forth and I said, "Uh-oh! Looks like we'll be going into a mine."

And Rachel said, "What mine? There's a mine?!" She completely flipped out.

"No. Not a mine. Just mine. Mine. Mine. Mine," I said, mimicking the seagulls from Finding Nemo and holding up my little card (the one programed with my name that E.T. would later say).

She fell for it and calmed down, only to get nervous again when she realized all on her own that we were in a mine...

Anyway, where were we? On our way back to the car, right? And we were seeing things? Right.

We walked through Cinderella's castle and that's how we learned it was Cinderella's castle.

"Do you want to walk through Sleeping Beauty's castle?" we asked the girls, and they, of course, said that they did, so we did.

"Oh, look at the pretty mosaics," we said, so they did and we did and then we realized that every single pannel of the mosaic featured Cinderella, which seemed odd since we were in Sleeping Beauty's castle. It was about at that moment when we realized the castle belonged to Cinderella.

We stopped at the main entrance to get the obligatory "picture in front of the flower Mickey head" before boarding the monorail to catch the tram to the parking lot.

In the parking lot we walked down three different aisles to get to our car, not because we forgot where it was but because we were playing the license plate game and we had everything east of the Mississippi except for Vermont. Andrew found a Vermont license plate on his aisle and we totally counted it because that was the only Vermont plate we saw our entire trip.

Once home, we got all jammed off and tucked into bed for snuggles and reading time.

Rachel is a reading machine.

And one last picture just because I love it so much...

Benjamin somehow managed to get one of his two front teeth isolated between his lips. The other one is tucked away. I think it's hilarious.

I also think I'm about as tired now as I was last Wednesday night at approximately this time, only tomorrow instead of waking up and spending the day at Disney World (which is such a burden) it's a national holiday and so I should be allowed to sleep in and be lazy...right? Or is that dream dead now that Grandma's gone home and the girls have no one else to wake up in the morning?