Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tadpoles: Day 42

Rachel got brave enough to finally touch a froglet today. She noticed that our tadpole population is dwindling and that her opportunity is running out, so she asked me to fish one out for her to hold.

This is the face she made when I put it in her hand:

If I'm not mistaken that's the very same face she makes when she's trying to not throw up.

Rachel's Soccer Game

I finally made it to one of Rachel's soccer games. Andrew's been playing the role of soccer dad. It just makes more sense to send him to games/practices where he can passively watch (sorry Rachel, I mean actively watch) while he reads articles, rather than have me take Rachel and the other kids. So usually I stay home and either get Miriam and Benjamin ready for bed (while Rachel and Dad are at soccer practice) or stay home and get Miriam and Benjamin ready for the day (while Rachel and Dad are at a soccer game). Even Grandma made it to a soccer game before I did!

But today's soccer game was in the afternoon and we were in charge of snacks, so today the whole family went to enjoy Rachel's game. Or at least the first quarter of it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dear Neighbours,

I'm so sorry about this little boy. He can open the storm door by himself, just so you know. I don't purposely let him out dressed like this:

But he saw a puddle across the street and apparently couldn't resist—a street, I should mention, that he was helped across by his sisters because of said puddle. All three of my children—and one neighbour—were jumping with barefooted bliss in that puddle.

And Rachel went to bed with the cleanest feet she's had all week.

The end.

Nancy Newt Needs Naps

When I was in kindergarten we learned an alliterative verse for each letter of the alphabet that we'd chant every single day. There were twenty-six of them (obviously) but I can only remember two.

My name happened to be featured in the verse for the letter N, which was (as you've probably gathered from the title of this post), "Nancy Newt needs naps."

Now that I'm a mother I have come to enjoy both naps and newts (in that order because naps are way better than newts) but as a five-year-old I found this verse rather offending. First of all—Nancy Newt?

Not anything elegant like Nancy Nightingale.

Not anything interesting like Nancy Narwhal.

Not anything exotic like Nancy Numbat.

(Yes, I'm reaching here—Numbat sounds too similar to Dumb-bat so it wouldn't have worked at all. There aren't really many creatures that begin with the letter N. Naked mole rat? I don't think so).

It had to be Nancy Newt—a slimy creature, the pet of witches, lover of dark and scary places.

And then there's the whole nap thing. I'm pretty sure I began shunning those long before kindergarten. I loathed how my babysitter would make me take a nap because I was "so little" while she'd let my brother (who was "only" 2.5 years older than me (as if that even makes a difference when you're 4)) and her son (who was my age only properly proportioned (ie. he maybe didn't look like he was 2)) play outside. I could see their long shadows dancing through the curtains while I sat in bed and seethed at the ceiling. Naps were lamer than lame.

Nancy was not a newt and Nancy certainly didn't take naps!

I came home from school and outraged complained to her mother, who took it up with the kindergarten teacher, who was in her last year before retirement and—although kind enough—was rather set in her ways. When my mom suggested changing the verse in some way—Nicholas Newt, for example, could be the one in need of a nap, or Nancy Nightingale could nibble...nectarines—Mrs. Thornton was aghast.

"Change the words?" gasped Mrs. Thornton. "But I have said it this way for many, many years!"

"But have you ever had a Nancy in your class?" my mom might have asked (because I am totally making this conversation up).

"Well, no, but I simply couldn't change the words now. I have said them the same way since I very first began teaching," likely when dinosaurs were still roaming the planet. "Nancy should be honoured to be in the poem. We say it every day!"

"That's part of the problem," my mom might have sighed before continuing her explanation, because not only was there a vain repetition of my name every single day at school there was also a girl named Allison.

Allison and I did not have an amicable relationship.

Everyday Allison would be sure to sit close to me—not too close but just close enough—and then she would leer in my face and scrunch up her nose as menacingly as a kindergartener can as she chanted, "Nancy Newt needs naps!"

One day—several days into the school year since we didn't get to the letter N until after we did the letters A through Z (with one new verse introduced every day during the first few weeks of school)—I decided to get my revenge and when it came time for everyone to gather on the carpet to recite our alphabet verses I made sure to sit as close to Allison as I could—but not too close, mind you.

My revenge cut fast and cold (as revenge is meant to be served), coming on the very first letter of the alphabet.

"Allison Alligator eats apples!" I hissed at mean ol' Allison.

And do you know what Allison did? She told on me. She went and cried to the teacher about it, about how it hurt her feelings, about how mean it was.

And do you know what happened to me? I got in trouble because "changing the words to the verse was wrong."

The proper verse, in case you were wondering, was "Ally Alligator eats apples."

That wasn't the only time I got unjustly punished in Mrs. Thornton's class, but Mrs. Thornton wasn't all bad. She did knit little stockings (big enough to hold a small candy cane) for every single child in the class for Christmas, so...that's a redeeming quality, right?

Anyway, it took me awhile to get over the whole Nancy Newt thing. And it's possible my family still teases me about it.

Whatever, I'm so over it.

I'm nearly-a-quarter-of-a-century over it.

I'm my-girls-found-a-newt-today-and-I-didn't-even-write-an-800-word-essay-about-it over it.

Ahem. So, perhaps I'm not as over it as I thought. But my girls really did find a newt today.

A Red Eft (juvenile eastern newt)

Leaves of three

We had our first harvest from the garden this week—a handful of yummy radishes!

They were supposed to be ready about a month ago but it was so cold that they just wouldn't grow. They're nice and big now. 

Tadpoles: Day 41

It turns out that froglets suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome a little bit and if not released from their childhood home they forget that they don't have gills anymore and drown trying to continue acting like tadpoles. In the wild I suppose they would simply crawl out of their puddle and find a new one to live by. In captivity I figured that their rocks and sticks and floating islands would be enough to entice them out of the water, but I figured wrong.

After finding a dead frog in the bottom of the tank yesterday (its siblings had kindly chewed off its arms and legs and tails) and another one this morning (with all limbs in tact) I decided that these frogs weren't going to leave on their own. I fished out the remaining four froglets (leaving behind a dozen or so tadpoles) and put them in a separate, shallower dish.

Within minutes they all hopped away into the wild of our front garden, hiding in the mulch, taking cover near the bushes. This one hopped into our butterfly bush but soon disappeared along with its siblings.

Good luck little one

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bike Riding

Now that all our company is gone and things are getting back to normal we're trying to get back into our biking groove. We just passed the 900 mile mark on our exercise bike—we're nearing the half-way point of our goal!—but we still have some serious biking to do before the end of the year (our goal is 2436 miles).

On Monday the kids really wanted to go for a bike ride so after dinner and a quick FHE I took them around the neighbourhood while Andrew took Rachel to soccer practice. I downloaded a GPS app thing that will track my mileage and speed and so forth (though ads pop up every time I swipe the screen because I only downloaded the free version—and I'm still not convinced I like it enough to actually buy it...anyone know of a good app like this?).

My speed graph and elevation graph were mirror images of each other. Whenever the line of my elevation graph went up, the line on my speed graph plummeted. We have a few good hills in our little neighbourhood and hauling ~70% of my body weight behind me didn't help matters either.

Cute Cargo

Tadpoles: Day 39

One of Miriam's frequently asked questions these days is "Can I hold the frogs?" Unfortunately we usually have to put that off until Benjamin is napping or otherwise distracted because he just can't handle the frogs (more like he can't handle the container of water—it's just asking to be splashed in).

She's become a pro at catching the itty-bitty things:

Easter Egg Smackdown 2014

We dove into our annual Smackdown as soon as we finished finding all the plastic eggs. The girls were so excited. Rachel was talking smack all the way to church in the morning.

"I'm going to be the champion this year," she challenged. "You're all going down!"

I'd like to know when she got old enough to put sentences like that together. She was super competitive this year.

We first had to set up the bracket. Andrew put me in charge of that while he cut up potatoes.

"Why do I have to draw the bracket?" I moaned (I'm as bad as my kids sometimes). "I'm so bad at it but it seems like I do it every year!"

"Oh, you're great at drawing brackets," Andrew assured me.

"Okay, fine," I sighed. "Let's see. There are fourteen eggs so we'll needs seven...ah, whatever. I'm going to see what I can find online."

I found a lovely bracket-generating website that would make up a bracket for you with however many competitors you wanted. Perfect.

Next we went through the eggs, named them, and listed them on the bracket. Andrew, who'd abandoned his potatoes, would pull an egg out of the carton, ask whose it was, someone would claim it and christen it and then I would write the chosen name on the bracket. I was careful to make sure that no one was competing against themselves. The last two slots were automatically in Round 2. And the last two eggs both belonged to Andrew.

"Hey, wait a minute!" I said. "That's not fair! You get to skip Round 1. That's totally an advantage—your eggs will enter Round 2 untouched!"

Rachel might not be the only one who gets competitive about the Smackdown.

"I didn't mean to," Andrew said sincerely.

"Fine, I believe you. But if you win I will never let you live this down," I promised.

First up were Rachel and Miriam competing with Pinky I and Pinky II—they'd both dyed an egg pink.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Sunday

The girls were so excited to check out their curls in the morning. They looked beautiful.

Easter egg hunt (round 2)

On Saturday morning we got up somewhat early to go to the ward Easter egg hunt. Last year the primary presidency planned it and it was a ton of work—we did the hunt, a meal, and a play—this year we're in the process of planning another activity so we outsourced it to some other primary people and simply showed up to help. It was lovely that way, though we did have a few hiccups. 

The first thing we noticed, as we turned into the parking lot a full fifteen minutes before the party started, was that the parking lot was rather full. 

"Wow!" I said to Andrew. "What a turn out! And can you even believe so many people would be here early?" I mean, there is such thing as Mormon Standard Time (which is several minutes late).

The next thing we noticed was that the church smelled suspiciously of pancakes. 

"Mmmmm...pancakes," Andrew sighed.

We weren't planning on pancakes. We were planning on donuts.

The next thing we noticed was that the partition curtain in the gym was closed and all our people were shut in one third of the gym. And they were completely frazzled.

"What's going on?" I asked.

Turns out: another ward's Easter party had been rained out so they decided to just come to the church. 

Their party started a full hour before our party started so the building was empty when they arrived. If only they had looked at the calendar. They would have seen that we had the building booked. 

They reluctantly gave us back a third of the gym (how generous) and promised they'd be out (or close to out) by the time our party started. However, they were still cooking pancakes long after our start time. And when we were trying to hide the eggs their children were going around and finding them, leaving fewer eggs to go around for our children (we'd planned on ten each but didn't quite make it). 

I stood guarding one of the egg hunt locations so that children wouldn't go in and steal our eggs—and had to turn away several children. Talk about ruining the holidays. 

"Ooh! Look! More eggs!" the kids would squeal excitedly.

"Sorry, kids. No eggs for you. Happy Easter," I'd say, blocking their entrance.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Someday her (frog) prince will come

Did I mention I was obsessed with these frogs? I'm not the only one. Miriam—of all people—caught one and held it today while her self-proclaimed tom-boy sister stood by and watched, too afraid to try.

Miriam, who can't venture outdoors without putting on her "magic bracelet." Miriam, who loves doing her hair and playing princesses. Miriam, who...okay, maybe the whole princess thing works in her favour. Perhaps she thinks she'll find her prince this way.

That was actually the other funny story!

A couple of days ago, Andrew was putting a jacket on Benjamin. He looked at the tag and noted it was size 3–6 months (Benjamin's coming up on his second birthday, just for the record).

"Three to six months!" Andrew exclaimed. "Benjamin! When are you going to outgrow this? Your cousin Gavin could wear this!"

"Benjamin's not his cousin; he's his uncle," Rachel said, matter-of-factly.

"No, Benjamin is his cousin," I corrected. "Benjamin won't be an uncle until you or Miriam have children."

"That will be me! I'll have children first because I'm oldest," Rachel said.

"Not necessarily," I pointed out. "I have children and Uncle David does not, but I'm younger than Uncle David."

"That's because he's not married," Rachel said. "But I'll be getting married before Miriam."

"How can you be so sure?" I asked.

"Because Miriam said she was only going to marry a prince. Do you know how hard it is to find a prince to marry? I'm just going to marry some guy, so I'll be the first one to have kids."

So, here's Miriam searching for a frog prince to marry.

She caught one!

He's kind of cute, too!

But he hopped away!

Better luck next time, Miriam!

(She just read that as I typed it. It's still kind of weird that she can read so well.)

Tadpoles: Day 37

Our sweet little tadpoles are beginning to sprout their forelimbs, which means it's almost time to let them go. Andrew asked me if I was going to cry when the time came. I told him no. But I guess we'll have to see. I might be a little obsessed with these froglets.

Last night when we noticed their forelimbs coming in I put a plastic lid in their container, just in case anyone wanted to climb up for a rest on something without having to scale the cliff face of the rock in there. This morning I found that one little froglet was checking out its plastic lily pad.

We're so funny

In synthesizing several potential posts for the sake of "catching up" I realize I neglected to tell several funny stories. So here they are, in no particular order...

Story #1

Last week I decided to mow the front lawn. With the warmer weather things have been perking up around here and parts of our lawn were virulently reclaiming their verdure. Benjamin was nearly getting lost out there! Knowing that Andrew probably wouldn't get around to it until after he was finished with his last paper and final of the semester I decided to attack it myself. I got out the reel mower. I greased the squeaky parts. I hacked at the lawn until it was more or less mowed.

Of course, our mower won't cut everything that grows with our lawn—it won't cut the tall stalks of grass going to seed (though, honestly, we probably want our grass to go to seed so we have half a chance of growing slightly more grass than weeds) and it won't cut through the onion patches (it just flattens them for a few days)—so when I was finished the lawn looked perhaps more disheveled than when I began (though notably shorter).

Exhausted, I put the mower away.

A while later, Andrew zipped up in his scooter. He hopped off and greeted me with this charming sentiment: "I think I'll mow the lawn today. It looks awful!"

He's since found an actual lawn mower for sale on Craigslist. He'll be picking it up today. I expect things to be a lot more manicured around here from now on.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Finery

Last night after bath time I put the girls' hair up in curlers. I did Miriam's up in rag curls and Rachel's up in foam curlers. They were both a little nervous about how things would turn out in the morning but I think they both loved having curly hair for a day (even Rachel, my self-proclaimed tomboy (I'm constantly trying to convince her that it's okay to be rough'n'tumble and also get dolled up every now and then).

Tuesday–Thursday with Grandma

Grandma dropped Grandpa off at the airport in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. We joked that he came like a thief in the night—arriving after the kids went to bed on Thursday and leaving before they got up in the morning on Tuesday. We took it easy the rest of the day. Both Miriam and Grandma were sick with whatever Andrew and Miriam were sick with before. We took a lot of naps, we watched a lot of shows, we did a lot of quiet playing and reading. That was all.

Oh, we had Andrew bring home Cook Out for dinner, too. It was just that lazy of a day.

On Wednesday everyone was feeling much better. We spent the morning playing playdoh. The girls wanted to make a "free samples" section like at Costco. We had free samples of bananas and blueberries, pomegranates and lettuce, lemons and carrots, oranges and mangos, and whatever it is we decided the white stuff was (I can't remember).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Monday at the Museum

On Sunday Miriam started coming down with whatever Daddy had on Saturday, right in the middle of sacrament meeting, of course. When that girl gets hit with a fever she gets hit fast! She didn't want to go home, so she just sat on my lap through sharing time and then sat on Grandma's lap when she was supposed to go to class. Since she was just sitting, sucking her thumb, and pulling her ear, I wasn't too worried about her sharing germs.

Grandma and Grandpa went to an open house a friend threw in their honour and spent the evening visiting with their old North Carolina friends. We chilled at home and put the kids to bed so we could play game when Grandma and Grandpa came home.

Miriam still wasn't feeling all that great in the morning so we decided to stick around town, heading out only to the Museum of Life and Science for a couple of hours. Grandma made the trip memorable by letting us ride the train—so exciting!

Strong genes

Andrew's dad has been scanning pictures and we sat down last Sunday to look at the pictures he put up on a Picasa web album...I just need to get access to that album. But here's one I pulled from Facebook.

On the left is Benjamin (February 2014—about 20 months old) and on the right is Andrew (sometime in 1987 (I guess late summer/early autumn because Katharine is sitting up fairly well, though I cropped her out)—around three years old). Obviously it's not a great comparison since they're still a year apart, but the similarities are easier to see than when they're 27 years apart.

Benjamin's hair is a little more unruly, the little fuzz-head, but perhaps we'll be able to tame it by the time he's three, and Andrew's parents are obviously better at keeping clothes on their children (though, again, by the time Benjamin's three we'll hopefully be able to convince him of the merits of clothing as well—and honestly this is an eating-naked-on-the-back-deck picture juxtaposed with a seating-at-a professional-photographer photo. I'd probably put clothes on my kids for a professional photographer, too. Oh, and Benjamin's not really naked. He's wearing a diaper).

You can clearly see they've got the same nose, the same eyes, the same goofy grin, the same little cheeks. Benjamin is certainly Andrew's mini-me. And aren't they just adorable?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Goodbye to Grandma

We sent Grandma home today—after spending the day with her first, of course. We were pretty boring. We went grocery shopping and then Grandma took the girls on a lunch date to McDonald's. When they came home it was time to say goodbye.

Benjamin gave Grandma the sweetest hug and kiss.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tadpoles: Day 33

After a bit of online research (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, but especially here, here, and here) we've determined with some degree of certainty that we're raising spring peepers.

They have lateral eyes (meaning they're on the sides of the head, not the top), they have translucent bellies so we can see their internal organs, the rest of their bodies are light brown with flecks of gold, they have a clear tail fin, and they're all about the right size. (They also look virtually identical to the ones on this website, which was kind of the tipping point for identifying ours as spring peepers).

Our water's been getting pretty gunky in spite of changing it out every so often. It probably doesn't help that we're using rain barrel water so it's starting out a little nasty as it is. Anyway, that same helpful website suggested using a turkey baster to suck out all the gunk—you know, the poop and the...dead bodies. Yeah, our tadpoles went a little cannibalistic and ate the tails off several of their siblings, leaving their heads to roll around the bottom of the tank. It's been lovely to look at. But I think I managed to suck most of them out.

We never use the turkey baster, anyway.

I've been trying to match their mouth shape to pictures in this pamphlet but I'm pretty sure I just don't know what I'm looking at.

Benjamin: Day 682

I figured since I've been updating on our frogs so frequently I should at least dedicate a post to Benjamin, who is also rapidly developing. He's 1 year, 10 months, and 13 days old today.

We're currently working on both weaning and potty training and are about equally successful with both. Benjamin is fully potty trained—with only an accident or two every day. He's also fully weaned—with only an accident or two every day. In other words, he's neither weaned or potty trained but, by golly, we're getting there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Saturday's Surprise

Several weeks ago Rachel was texting with Grandma and Grandma asked her to ask me if she could plan a special surprise for April 12th. We told her to go ahead and plan her surprise. Deep down inside part of me was hoping for a grand adventure sometime within these few weeks of spring break like anything to break up the monotony of the semester (which is over tomorrow—alhamdulillah).

Unfortunately, Andrew's schedule didn't allow for any out of town trips. Fortunately, part of that reason was because he agreed to teach statistics to some Kazakh government officials and was paid (what we consider) a healthy sum of money to do so. So, though we were stuck in town we had a good reason for it. And we did get to have Grandma and Grandpa come to explore our own little neighbourhood a little closer.

Camping and beach trips will have to wait until later, I suppose.

Anyway, Grandma built up a lot of hype around her surprise and had us all anxiously guessing. Every now and then she'd let a clue slip—it's a place we've never been! It's going to be a bit of a drive away. It's something we'll do in rain or shine! The girls were guessed just about everything under the sun but they didn't ever guess what it was—a trip to the New Hope Valley Railway: The Triangle's Train.

"Are we here?" the girls asked as we pulled into a gravel parking lot.

"What is this place? There's not even anything here. It's just empty. It doesn't look very fun," Rachel sniffed as she got out of the van. But just then a train came roaring past.

"A train!" she said. "We're going to ride a train!"

"Not that train," Grandma said, since the train that was roaring past was a freight train and was not stopping. "But, yes, we'll be riding on a train!"

The kids were super excited. We got there a little early, so before riding the train we went through the train museum, which was made up of old rail cars. The inside of each was set up with how things really would have been inside—they even had a coffin with a "dead body" inside the baggage car as well as a safe (made me think of The Great Train Robbery).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday in Hillsborough

Grandpa is someone who always likes to have a plan—in fact, he was asking about "the plan" before they'd even left the airport parking lot—so while much of this first week with Grandma was spent working around the house, going to the park on a whim, or just sitting around playing and reading, this weekend was full of Plans.

Friday's Plan was to explore Historic Hillsborough. Our first stop was at the visitor's center to get some information. The kids enjoyed exploring a few of the trees that are finally in bloom. Spring is out in full force now, everything is covered with a fine dusting of pollen and, although my family is suffering with allergies, it's beautiful!

Tadpoles: Day 30

I finally managed to entice a tadpole to stay horizontally enough long enough to measure it. It's amazing how much better developed their legs are after just a couple of days!

This one is about 2.5 cm long from tail to snout; he's enjoying some freshly microwaved lettuce.

I actually fed the frogs before my children this morning, getting their breakfast ready with a baby on my hip. I must be losing it...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt (round one)

The annual neighbourhood Easter egg hunt was this morning so even though we woke up a bit late we got ready to go in a rush and were able to make it on time. I forgot to get the Easter baskets down from the attic when I was up there last night (to get out the double air mattress that we didn't know we'd need until Grandpa suddenly showed up) so I made some up for the kids while they ate breakfast. I was worried they'd be a little small—because I made them out of lunch bags—but they ended up being a wonderful, generous size (in my opinion). Some kids had huge bags which they filled with eggs. I can't even imagine having that many eggs in my house. I think my kids got at least ten eggs each which was plenty enough.

I was happy to have Reid and Karen come with me (Andrew was running a fever all through the night so he was home in bed) because my kids were split up into three different groups. Two and under. Three through five. Six and above.

I had friends around who could have helped supervise my six year old on the hills next to the 45 MPH road but grandparents are a little more attentive (since they didn't have their own children to worry about). I think the six year olds were pulled back into the playground at the last minute, anyway, because there weren't many 3–5 year olds there. 

The baby egg hunt was over by the parking lot so Benjamin and I headed over there, leaving Grandma and Grandpa to watch Rachel and Miriam. Grandma said that Miriam was hilarious—she was stepping over eggs trying to find other eggs, not even realizing she was passing eggs up. 

Benjamin was also pretty hilarious. I told him he could pick up an egg and he was all, "Now what?":

Tadpoles: Day 28

Sometime in this busy week our tadpoles sprouted legs! We just noticed them this evening. I'm not sure the littler ones have them yet but the bigger ones certainly do. For some reason I thought the legs would be bigger but they're just little tiny things sticking out behind them.

Bits and pieces from the week

On Tuesday I planted the flower gardens in the front and side of the house. We still have to fill the planters we got for our herb garden. Andrew is looking forward to a bountiful harvest of basil.

While we were out in the yard one of the neighbour boys came over to play with the kids.

"Do you want me to find a four-leaf clover for you, Miriam?" he asked. Then he swooped down, ran his fingers over a patch of clover and pulled out this:

Thursday was exciting

Andrew rode his scooter to school on Thursday morning and posted this message on Facebook when he got to school:

So, I was riding my scooter to school this morning when some sort of bug crashed into my neck. It didn't make a mess, so I didn't worry about it.

After I sat down at my desk, I started to hear a buzzing, like there was a fly around my head or something. I kept looking around, but couldn't find anything. Meh. Stupid flies. I kept working.

10 minutes later, the buzzing hasn't stopped. Then I feel something crawling in my shirt. I panic, run to the bathroom as steadily as possible, and discover that there was a bee in my shirt. AN ACTUAL BEE WITH A STINGER. A stinger that it fortunately decided not to use (I don't know why it showed such restraint).

So now there's an angry bee flying around the men's bathroom. Sorry everyone!

Monday, April 07, 2014

An interview with Grandma

I often think about family history around General Conference, probably because the family newsletter I make up is due to be sent out the first weekend in April and October, which happens to be when conference occurs. I imagine this was by design rather than by accident, though the design was not mine. I merely inherited the system from my Auntie Colleen when I took over for her in October 2011 (she begged someone to take over for her in a message with the last issue she sent out saying, "I've done it for quite a few years now and am getting old and cranky! Haha.").

It's funny to think that I've been doing it for "so long" already. Because two-and-a-half years is long...compared to however long my aunt did it for. I rather enjoy it even if it is a headache.

Anyway, with every issue I include an article about an ancestor (as well as the news everyone sends in) so every six months, at least, I'm reminded of my family history.

In conference yesterday I enjoyed hearing Elder William R. Walker's talk about family history. He said, "the more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices." I totally agree with that statement (it made me think of this article from The New York Times); it is so important to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers," as it says in Malachi 4:6.

Miriam "helping" Grandma with some needlepoint while watching conference
Since we have Grandma staying with us we decided to do a repeat of the FHE lesson we did with Naanii—we interviewed Grandma and played Don't Eat Pete. Having the girls ask whatever question pops into their head might not be the best format for an interview but it works for our purposes.

It is wet and the sun is not sunny

Instead of staining the deck or going to soccer practice today we did rainy-day stuff. It was really coming down for a while and the kids wanted to go outside to splash in the puddles. All three of them were out there for about thirty seconds before Miriam got water inside her boots so retreated back into the house to hang out with Grandma.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Tadpoles: Day 22 (or something like that)

Yesterday Rachel remarked on how much algae the tadpoles had eaten, and indeed they seemed to have basically cleared out their tank. So it seems they finally hit the algae-eating stage. Rachel and I went on a walk to collect some more algae for them to eat.

It seems like they've nearly doubled in size once again. Their tails seem to be about 1 cm long and are plumping up nicely. They're getting rather difficult to measure since they no longer cling to the side of the tank vertically. Instead they swim around hunting algae and hiding under leaves. I had to measure this one by holding the ruler above the surface of the water—it seemed to be eating some algae-like substance that's growing on the side of the tank.

The museum and the weekend

Grandma arrived on Wednesday evening. We spent Thursday doing projects (we had a friend install a new stove, installed a couple of new light fixtures, and replaced an outlet). On Friday we were ready for some fun and took the kids to the Museum of Life and Science for the afternoon.

We went outside because it was a super busy day and outside usually feels less crowded. Besides, the weather is perfect right now. We hit the dinosaur trail first. Benjamin was so ready for a nap but got out of his stroller to walk, anyway.


Just another quick story before I jump back into the swing of things (because I finally finished that newsletter but I can't blog now because I'm tired and want to go to bed):

The kids took a bath together this evening and then Rachel cut her toenails because they were disgustingly long and now that it's barefoot/sandal weather they've been getting encrusted with dirt. She came out of the bathroom and showed me her feet.

"I cut part of my skin," she said, showing me where.

"It's fine," I said. "There's no blood."

Benjamin, however, did not think it was fine. He ran off to the bathroom as quickly as he could. I jumped up to follow him. He was on his way back out of the bathroom, carrying a box of bandaids, when I intercepted him.

He was quite upset when I took the box away from him. It took both me and Rachel together to calm him down and assure him that no bandaid was necessary.

He's such a sweet little man.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Grandma's here!

Rest assured that we're having a blast with Grandma here. We've been busy playing (we went to the Museum of Life Science today) and working (we've replaced a light fixture (took us forever) and have been sanding the deck) and in my spare time I've been feverishly working on the Hancock Hummer (a family newsletter for my great-grandparents (who had twelve children who've all done their part to continue the family line—there are many, many cousins so our little publication can be rather lengthy)).

Once I finish that up (hopefully tomorrow) I'll have some time to get some post up about what's going on here because life never seems to slow down!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Potty mouth

I forgot to write yesterday that Benjamin said a four-word sentence—his biggest one to date. He still only says half-words but he said four half-words in a row!

I asked him if he wanted another push on the swing and he said, "No—wan' ge' dow'!"

So I got him down.

Our biggest hurdle to communication (besides his unwillingness to vocalize almost anything) is that when asked a question he will answer by shaking his head no and saying "Uh-uh," a good chunk of the time. 50% of the time this means no. 50% of the time this means yes. It's terrible.

Just this morning he was sitting at the table looking like he was...working I asked him if he needed to go potty.

"Uh-uh," he said, shaking his head.

"Alright," I said. "You let me know if you need to go potty."

He refuses to say the word potty and his potty sign is so fleeting, so nonchalant—he thinks I can pick up on a gentle flick of the wrist while his hand's curled into a fist...on his way to grab a car or punch his sister. I can never tell if he's signing potty or not. He's just not obvious about it.

"Pah-pah" was one of the first words either of the girls picked up on and they both used the sign beautifully.

Benjamin refuses to use actual potty words. No amelioration for him. He wants to get down to the nitty-gritty of things and prefers the terms 'pee' and 'poo.'

So it was that he announced at the breakfast table that all his hard work had paid off.

"Mom! Go poop!" he yelled to me in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, this was past tense. He didn't need to go. He already went. But he talked about that's good, right?