Saturday, May 31, 2014

Temple Activity

We had our primary temple activity this afternoon. It's always wonderful to visit the temple grounds and to feel the spirit of the temple. It was even more special to do it with our primary friends. We had a little devotional on the lawn. We sang a song, had a prayer, and then our Primary President told some stories about the temple.

I especially enjoyed her testimony of eternal families. Her mother died when she was young and she said that going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead when she turned twelve helped her to understand that "family relationships [can be] perpetuated beyond the grave." Going to the temple offered her such peace while she was grieving (and I'm sure it still does when she misses her mom as I imagine that's a grief that never goes away).

The bishop spoke to us about the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father in the temple. They're sacred, which is why we wait to go until we're prepared to make such covenants. But, as I mentioned above, members can start attending the temple as young as twelve to do baptisms for the dead.

We sang some songs while we waited for the temple matron to come out to talk with us. We've been working on a song called "The Family Is of God" in primary this year and they sang it so beautifully that it brought tears to my eyes. It's not even my favourite song (I could really do without the middle 'gender-role' verses not because I don't think it's the father's role to provide or the mother's purpose to care but because I think that mothers can help provide and that fathers certainly care) but I do love the first and last verse and I don't even consider myself a crier, necessarily, but somehow those kids made me tear up. It was so sweet.

The temple matron gave each of the kids a picture of the temple and told them all about what goes on inside: the baptistry, the bridal room, the changing rooms, the endowment rooms, the sealing rooms, and the celestial room. She talked about covenants again and really got the kids involved, asking them to each tell her how old they were and how many years before they'd be able to get a recommend so they could visit the temple.

We closed with a song and a prayer and then we walked around the temple, touched its walls, and took a picture of each child and family before walking over to a park adjacent to the temple for some much needed refreshment (everyone was hot and thirsty)!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Schoolhouse of Wonder

At six o'clock this morning I heard someone tiptoe to our bedroom and close our door, which meant that I had to get out of bed to investigate who was doing the tiptoeing and why they were closing our door. It was Rachel.

"What are you doing?" I asked as she opened the blinds.

"Checking the weather," she said. "I'm not quite sure what to wear but I have to choose my outfit. I can't be late today!"

"Rachel, it's six o'clock in the morning," I pointed out.

"I got up early," she said, "Because I didn't want to be late."

"You're not going to be late," I assured her. "How many times have you been late to school?"

"Like, never?" she guessed.

"Exactly. I'm going back to bed. You can do whatever you want."

By the time I got up Rachel had eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, brushed her hair, packed her backpack, and read a book. And what was the reason behind her pre-school angst? Why, it's field trip day!

She has been stressing out about being late on field trip day for weeks now, probably because every reminder sent home said, "Please make sure your child comes to school on time since we will be leaving soon after announcements." But Rachel is usually on time to school (I think she was marked 'tardy' once and even that was super lame because it was a day when I brought in a bunch of stuff to school for her winter class party, so even though we arrived to the parking lot on time we were barely late when we hobbled in the door laden with two preschoolers, a tub full of ice, three ukuleles, a stroller, a diaper bag, a plastic bag full of toilet paper rolls, and a bunch of other stuff—I'm pretty sure the current secretary would have waved us on but the previous secretary was a little...grumpy) even when we wake up late. 

The real irony, though, is that I was one of the parent chaperones for the trip and yet Rachel was stressing out about missing it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stories of Introverts

Yesterday while Benjamin was napping, Miriam and I made tahini in order to make hummus for dinner. When Andrew came home he fried up falafel (from a mix) cut up some pita bread (from the store) and boiled some water for couscous (which was not a brand we were familiar with and ended up being rather gross). I cut up some cucumbers and tomatoes and opened a can of olives and we were ready to go.

The girls were quite excited about this meal. They have a thing for Middle Eastern cuisine.

"Is this Egyptian food?" Rachel asked. "I remember eating stuff like this..."

We explained that it's similar to Egyptian food, though not quite the same. In the Levant, both hummus and falafel are traditionally made of chickpeas. In Egypt, we found that ful and tamiya were more popular than hummus and falafel (or at least were easier to find). They're basically the same food but are made of fava beans rather than chickpeas.

"Where did we eat this stuff then?" Rachel asked.

"Mom and I ate this in Jordan," Andrew said, telling her about the little cafe he'd go to for lunch everyday. "But you never did because you've never been to Jordan."

"Why haven't I?" she asked. "I went to Israel. That's close to Jordan. Didn't we go to Jordan? I thought we went to Jordan when we went to Israel."

"You didn't go to Jordan because when we went to Israel I was 33 weeks pregnant with Miriam and didn't feel like hiking around Petra with a two-year-old so we stayed in Eilat and looked at dolphins while Dad and Uncle Patrick went to Jordan without us," I explained.

"I don't understand. Why didn't I just go to Jordan with Dad. I like hiking!" she objected.

"You know how attached Benjamin is to Mom?" Andrew asked her. She nodded. "You were like that when you were two," Andrew told her. "You'd scream and kick and throw huge fits whenever you couldn't have Mommy."

"Benjamin's not that bad," Rachel said.

Sense(less) of Direction

Rachel experienced some gastrointestinal distress while we were camping. I'm not sure what caused it, precisely, but I did hear her muttering to herself on one of her many trips to the bathhouse, "I shouldn't have had that seventh s'more..."

I had my hands too full of keeping Benjamin from diving into the fire pit to enforce dessert limits.

Honestly, I've never really been one to enforce dessert limits at all. Nature is often a better teacher than I am and it beautifully—if painfully—managed to teach Rachel why you should only ever eat six s'mores in one go and never seven without my saying anything.

As often as Rachel went to the bathroom you'd think she'd have been able to remember where it was—proximity to restrooms is one of my top criteria when selecting a campsite so we were pretty close to it—but every single time she got up to go to the bathroom she'd stalk off in completely the wrong direction.

"Where are you going?" I would ask her.

"To the bathroom," she'd say. "Don't you remember? I just said I had to go..."

"It's over there," I'd say, pointing her in the right direction.

Probably around the fifth time this happened I turned to Andrew and said, "I guess she inherited my sense of direction."

He laughed because I am hopeless. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was born without a sense of direction.

He's always quizzing me in the car: "Do you know where we are?"

Usually I don't. I still rely heavily on Ginny, our GPS, to get me anywhere. I don't know what people did before them. I, for one, probably would have spent a lot more time lost and crying than I do in this blessed age. Also, I can't wait for cars that drive themselves. Yes, please!

Anyway, Miriam ate only a manageable number of s'mores and didn't end up with a tummy ache so she should have been less familiar of the whereabouts of the bathroom than Rachel was. She asked if she could go to the bathroom and I told her that she could. We could see the bathhouse from our campsite so I was willing to let her go on her own but Rachel, ever needful of the toilet, quickly volunteered to go with her.

"I'll go with you!" she said eagerly.

"Alright! Let's go!" Miriam agreed.

Then they split up and ran off in opposite directions. Miriam immediately hopped on the path leading to the bathhouse while Rachel dashed off into a grove of trees separating our campsite from our neighbours.

"Looks like Miriam inherited my sense of direction," Andrew laughed with superiority.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Falls Lake

After packing up camp yesterday morning we headed to the lake for some swimming. The beach was still open despite high waters—and, indeed, the water was very high. When we pulled into the parking lot Andrew said, "That's a weird beach—it's a grass beach!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Camping

I had a meeting before church on Sunday (ward council—it was my first time going and it was kind of amazing) which meant, because we only have one car, that I got a ride and left Andrew behind to get all three kids ready (and then to) for church by himself.

When I walked into the chapel I saw my sweet little girls in their Sunday best. Miriam's skirt was on backwards and their hair was thrown into classic "Daddy" ponytails, but other than that they looked spectacular.

"Dad took Benjamin out," Rachel informed me when I sat down. "He's throwing a fit. Daddy told him you'd be here waiting and you weren't and then Benjamin started screaming 'AAAH! MAMA! AAAH! MAMA! AAAH! MAMA!' and wouldn't stop. He was being so bad. He was kicking his legs and..."

"Alright, I'll go find them," I said.

After doing a quick lap around the building and coming up with nothing I eventually did find them—sitting with the girls in the chapel. Benjamin was no longer screaming, but he certainly wasn't calm either. When he saw me he took a shuddering breath, lunged into my arms, and nestled his face into my neck.

When he was quite comforted I took a good look at his outfit. To Andrew's credit Benjamin had on Sunday shoes and a tie. He also had on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks, pants with holes in both knees, and a wrinkled red plaid shirt.

"He wanted to wear it," Andrew shrugged.

Pick your battles, folks.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Topsail Beach

We went to the beach today and had way too much fun and took way too many pictures. Only a few valiant readers will make it to the end. Shoot—even I might not make it to the end and I'm the one writing this, so don't be surprised when I write something like, "And then we played in the water more. Pictures."

Seriously, though, I think I could live here. And I guess I kind of do, though the three-hour drive kind of puts a damper on calling the beach our backyard. Still, it's nice to live to the ocean again.

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I planned this beach trip for Memorial Day weekend, which is usually a crazy weekend for trying to go out of town. After we decided to go I started having flashbacks to the Memorial Day weekend fail we had before Benjamin was born—when we tried to go to the copper mines with my parents and ended up sitting on the freeway in backed up traffic unable to go anywhere.

Fortunately, traffic was fine this morning and the beach wasn't even crowded!

We went to North Topsail, which I guess is a less popular beach for whatever reason. We happen to think it's awesome, even if it is a little more rustic. Probably because there's free parking.

Anyway, we left our house around 8:20 (aiming to leave by 7:30 so only 50 minutes behind schedule—not bad) and got to the beach around 11:30. Rachel got a little worried when we turned down a street with a dead end sign and I said, "Yeah, because we've reached the end of the continent."

"What do you mean 'the end of the continent'?" Rachel asked nervously.

"I mean we're at the beach," I said. "There's no more land."

I suppose that's not technically true because there are water rights and blah, blah, blah, but it was funny that Rachel was so concerned. Within minutes of arriving at the beach we all hopped off the continent and into the ocean. And it was glorious.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Busy Wednesday

The Museum of Life and Science has a "Build it Bamboo" exhibit and they had a special "Bamboo for Bambinos" time this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. We didn't make it on Tuesday because we were at the pool nearly the entire day and I was worried we wouldn't make it on Wednesday either because I was summoned for jury duty that day—but when I called the number to see if I would be needed I was told that I was not and I literally did a happy dance in the living room.

So we were able to make it to "Bamboo for Bambinos" after all, and even had some friends join us.

It was fairly busy with field trips when we arrived—the overflow parking lot was about half-full of busses but we were able to find a spot. Benjamin was, of course, in heaven with all those busses around, though he wouldn't get out of the stroller for a picture because he's always afraid Miriam will take his spot (and that's a valid fear so I don't blame him).

Holy Moley

Shortly after closing the door on his way to school yesterday, Andrew burst back into the house.

"There's a dead animal in the garden," he said with disgust.

"Really?" I asked. "What is it?"

"I don't know what it is. It's either a really big mouse or a really small rat. Whatever it is it has huge hands!"

"That," I said, "Is a mole."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Swimming lessons, meat-eater showers, and other tales

We have been to the pool five times since it opened on Saturday (twice today, twice yesterday, once on Saturday). Already the pool monitor has asked us if this is going to be a daily occurrence.

She must have met our NICU nurses who would say things like "Once he's consistently taking one oral feeding a day we can try two feedings a day!" and then would be like, "Great! He ate once. Time for two feedings!" and I would think to myself, "You keep using the word 'consistently.' I do not think it means what you think it means."

But on the other hand, Benjamin now takes 100% of his meals orally. So maybe we will end up going swimming every day this summer after all. Only time will tell.

We started on swimming lessons today—both for my kids and for other kids. Yes, I've taken on more pupils. A friend and I are trading services. I'm teaching her boys how to swim (and basically letting them use our pool whenever they want to—we're there all the time, anyway) and she's giving me a friendly discount for the preschool she runs (which Miriam has been dying to attend).

I figure the HOA can't really get upset with that since no money will be changing hands.

It made me think back to when we lived in Egypt as poor grad students and literally worked in exchange for food. Ah, the good old days—when we were poor...and in school...and...oh, wait...

Here we are. Still. No pressure, Honey.

I mean, at least this time we're working in exchange for a service. That's got to be a step up from working for food, right?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Soccer's over

Rachel had her last soccer game of the season today—and, boy, was it ever an exciting one! The girls have all gotten so much better over the past couple of months. They went from standing around cluelessly at the beginning of the season to strategizing on their feet by the end of the season. Today's game was tied 4–4. Everyone was so happy.

Here are the girls doing their cheer at the end of the game: "Go Flying Cheetahs!"

Pool's Open!

Today's high was twenty-one measly degrees (that's 21°C or 70°F) but our HOA had arbitrarily predetermined that today would be "warm enough" to open the pool, so open the pool was (we won't talk about how it was 90°F earlier in the week or how I think the pool should open the very beginning of May because I think I griped about that recently already). Frankly, the water was fine. I may have been the last person into the pool, but the kids weren't lying—once you got in it was fine.

Miriam has decided that she wants to learn to swim this summer, specifically so she can play mermaids and go in the deep end. We found a little "puddle jumper" for her, which is a PDF of sorts. She wouldn't swim with one on last year but was willing to try one this year (of course, last year she hadn't met the minimum weight requirement yet and this year she has).

Friday, May 16, 2014

Eventful evening

Last night I was putting a diaper on Benjamin before bed (he still wears diapers to bed) when I noticed a little speck in his diaper zone. Was it a scab? Was it a grain of sand? Was it a tick?

For size reference, that's my (middle) fingernail in the picture 

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

It poured yesterday. My phone was going off all day with weather alerts. Tornado warning this. Flood warning that. Severe thunder storm here. High wind warning there. It was a blustery, wet, wet, wet day.

We had thunder storms during the school day, but that seems to have passed by the time Rachel came home from school. We're rather strict about lightning in these parts (because this) but we hadn't heard any rumblings for at least an hour when the kids decided to go enjoy the rain (with our neighbour). They were out there for a long time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


After refusing a nap for the past several days in a row, Benjamin stayed up until nearly 11:00 last night. Then he tried to wake up at 7:00 this morning after waking up at around 1:30 AM needing a snuggle before he could go back to bed and then eventually joining us in bed around 3:00 AM.

He spent the morning flip-flopping from a frenzy of activity one moment, falling into a nearly catatonic state the next. Let's play! Let's play! Let's play! Let's just sit here and unblinkingly stare at nothing. Let's play! Let's play! Sit and stare at nothing, mouth wide open.

He's tired. And when he's tired he forgets that he's potty trained. So he pooped his pants and I dealt with it alright. I took him potty. He finished up his business. We talked about the appropriate way to tell Mommy when you need help going potty. We returned to our interrupted activity (reading lessons with Miriam) and just a few minutes later he pooped his pants again.

This time I got angry. And that might be a potty-training no-no but, honestly, I'm tired, too!

"Benjamin!" I chided. "You just went to the bathroom. You said you were finished. If you weren't finished you should have told me. We just talked about this! You're supposed to tell me when you need to go. You do not just sit there and go in your pants. That's disgusting."

I continued to lecture him while cleaning him off.

"When I'm finished you're going down for a nap. I don't even care if you take a nap—you're going down for one."

I put him in his bed, leaving him to scream "No! No! No!" at the top of his lungs in solitude.

His cries quieted down while Miriam finished reading her story to me.

I sneaked into his room to check on him. He was still awake—but also still in bed—sniffling quiet tears while feeling awfully sorry for himself.

We had a quieter, saner discussion about going potty and about maybe still needing naps. He protested a bit but stayed in his bed and now he's fast asleep—thank goodness! I don't know if it's because it's so terribly stormy outside that his room is dark enough for him to fall asleep without feeling like he's burning daylight (maybe we need darker curtains for his room) or if he's just gone some many days in a row without sleeping that he honestly can't fight it anymore. Whatever the reason, I'm happy to see him sleeping and I think I'll join him in a minute.

Miriam's happily finished her chores. Yesterday she was so funny while she was cleaning. She finished unloading the dishwasher and then volunteered to clean the bathroom. While she was helping me fold the laundry she said, "So, do we have someone coming over today?"

"No," I said.

"Is it Saturday?" she asked.

"Then why are we cleaning?" she asked.

I explained that there is housework to be done everyday (how she failed to notice this before is a mystery) and told her that I was very grateful for her help.

"You're welcome," she said. "But, like, I'm earning something with this, right? Like, I've done a lot of work... I deserve to watch a show or something, right?"

Well, today she definitely does. While she's happily watching Dinosaur Train and Benjamin's actually sleeping in his own bed, I'm going to go sleep in my bed. Without anyone's feet in my face.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Hobbit

I just finished reading The Hobbit for the first time.

I avoided reading it for several years (like my entire life up to this point) because I cannot think of The Hobbit without thinking of this:

I don't recall ever watching this movie (though it's possible that I did) but I think we had a record of this when I was growing up. I don't know how often we listened to it but Glenn Yarbrough's strong vibrato has been reverberating through my brain for, literally, decades.

"The greatest adventure is what lies ahead!"

It's not a terrible song but I it always creeped me out as a child. I think it was the combination of the vibrato and the grotesque-looking characters on the trippy album cover that did it (my apologies to the artist).

Bilbo and the dwarves just didn't seem to be the kind of guy I wanted to read a story about. They were too different from the friendly seven dwarves of Snow White for me.

Night games

Sometimes when I check on the kids at night it's a bit like playing hide-and-seek.

Here's Miriam having some reading time in her "fort" last night:

And here's Benjamin hanging out under his crib:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Park days

The weather's been so wonderful lately and we've been itching to go to the beach but have been tied down by other commitments at home. It's times like this when I wish the closest beach was less than an hour away instead of more than two hours away. Anyway, we've still gotten a bit of play time in, despite school and work and soccer and things.

Here are Miriam and Benjamin playing at the playground while Rachel played soccer:

Good lesson, bad presentation

When I was fifteen my family moved from High River, Alberta, Canada to Orem, Utah, USA. I had a relatively lonely summer until the school year began and I had the opportunity to meet some people, not the least of whom was a charming (and slightly awkward) young man named Andrew.

I was in a drama class that year that was fairly miserable. I made at least one friend in that class (thanks, Kristin (and Tammy, who moved in later in the year)) but everyone else seemed determined to torment me.

People would steal my homework from the inbox, copy it down on a fresh sheet of paper with their name on it, and throw my copy away (and once when they were really dumb they just erased my name and wrote theirs in my place, which is when the teacher finally believed me that it was happening because it was finally so obvious of a problem it could no longer be ignored).

They teased me about everything from being Canadian to having glasses to being skinny to getting good grades to "losing" my homework to...crying in class.

That was a cold, hard day in November, though our story actually begins in Canada, years ago, when my family moved to High River and became friends with another family at church. They had a boy a year older than my brother David, a boy my age, and a girl around my brother Patrick's age. Their parents got along well with our parents and so it was that we became family friends.

A couple of times we had the oldest boy overnight when his parents went out of town (the other kids would stay at other friends' houses). He actually came with my mom to check on me that one night I was babysitting and heard a banging sound in the house because he just happened to be staying at our house that night.

The girl would eventually join me in the Young Women's program at church, but was a few years younger than me.

The boy my age—Craig—was in my Sunday School class as well as some classes at school. I don't think we were ever close friends (because cooties) but we certainly spent time together and saw each other several times a week for nearly five years. He was pretty good friends with Patrick, though.

We'd been down in The States for about five months—putting us squarely in November—and were in the middle of dinner when the phone rang. I'm not sure who answered, but they informed my dad that "it was for [him]."

"Hello?" my dad said. "Oh, hi, Glen! How are things?"

Monday, May 12, 2014


Tonight I nursed Benjamin to sleep for hopefully the last time. He honestly very rarely nurses to sleep anymore (tonight he was in quite a bad mood). He is, after all, 1 year, 11 months, and 9 days old.

I obviously don't know how to wean this child but we're slowly, slowly getting there.

Thanks to the crazy mixed-up schedule at church lately, we've cut out his sacrament meeting nursing session. That was the one day-time nurse that he just couldn't kick. He'd get bored during sacrament meeting and demand (and I mean demand) to nurse. Any other day of the week and he simply wouldn't have time for such things. But sacrament meeting meant an hour-long open-buffet in his mind.

And now it isn't, thankfully.

So we're down to one or two nursing sessions per day: morning and night.

Some days we only nurse in the morning and I'm able to get him to go to sleep without nursing at night (the new fridge has been helpful here because sometimes if he asks to nurse and I offer him a cup of ice water instead he'll be satisfied with the latter option). Some days—if our morning is terribly rushed or exciting—we're able to skip the morning nurse.

We've never successfully skipped both (meaning we've never gone a full day without nursing at least once) but hopefully we'll start to because I'm hoping to have him weaned by his second birthday (that gives us just a few weeks).

The problem is he's terribly dependent on nursing to control his mood.

He will wake up a grumpy, bleary-eyed toddler. But nurse him and he transforms into a happy, giggling boy.

If he's fussing and whining about going to bed (which will turn into a full-on tantrum), all I have to do is nurse him and he'll agree to go down quietly.

How do I take that away when he show no inclination of dropping the habit himself?

Rachel nursed until she was 19 months old. I tried to wean her by 18 months but we missed our mark. She gave it up fairly easily but I was still making too much milk when I initially tried weaning her. I had to reintroduce her to nursing in order for her to wean off more gradually than I thought we'd have to.

Miriam nursed until she was 22 months old. I missed the 18-month mark with her as well, but it was the middle-of-the-night feed that she wouldn't give up. I finally told her that I was no longer going to nurse her at 4 AM so she just shouldn't bother waking me up. She stopped nursing cold-turkey; I never nursed her again after that discussion.

And then there's Benjamin—23 months old and quite content to nurse until he's ready for college.

I don't really know what I'm going to do about him.

Mother's Day

There's this 10,000-hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell claims will help you become an expert in any given field. 10,000 hours of practice will grant you expertise. It's simple—only not simple because...10,000 hours.

Well, I've been a mother for approximately 59,712 hours and I'm no where near an expert.

Maybe I'm not practicing hard enough. But then again, maybe motherhood is simply on a different scale. Maybe I haven't managed to get 10,000 hours in because the game keeps changing on me.

First I had to learn to be Rachel's mother. And that was hard.

Then I had to learn to be Miriam's mother. And—no offense to any of my children—that was basically a walk in the park because I honestly didn't know that babies did things content when left their own...not crawl at five months old.

But by then I had to learn how to be the mother to toddler-Rachel. And that was hard.

And then toddler-Rachel turned into preschool-Rachel and things got better but Miriam turned into a toddler and things got harder and then? Well, then I had to learn to be Benjamin's mother.

Learning to be Benjamin's mother was hard. I had to learn about breast pumps and feeding tubes and oxygen tanks and apnea-bradycardia and GERD and all sorts of things that I had never worried about with the girls, who were decent enough to arrive on schedule. I also had to relearn how to change diapers, which is a bit different with boys than with girls. Apparently.

And now we've started the school-girl phase with Rachel, the preschool stage with Miriam, and the toddler stage with Benjamin, and I'm fairly certain I'm never going to get my 10,000 in anywhere.

But that's okay, I guess, because my children love me for me just as much as I love them for them. We'll just keep learning together.

Field Day

Last Thursday we managed to get out of the house in time to get Rachel to school before the bell. This was a monumental accomplishment celebrated by finishing breakfast and doing Miriam's hair in the school parking lot before heading into Rachel's school ourselves. I may have looked a bit frazzled when I walked into the classroom.

"Is everything alright?" Mrs. M., the assistant teacher asked. "Is Benjamin okay? You look...harried."

"Oh, Benjamin's fine," I said, brushing my hand across his forehead. "He tripped on the driveway yesterday and bumped his head, but he's fine. And I'm...well...what time is it? 9:15? I'm already ready for a nap."

Seriously. Guys. Remember how we'd just sleep-trained and then we got the stomach flu and then my mom visited and then Andrew's mom visited and so Benjamin got un-sleep-trained. And then we started sleep-training him again. And then we got the stomach flu again. So now Benjamin's fully un-sleep-trained again.

On top of that, the girls have been having nightmares. Miriam's come running into our room every night for the past several nights (sometimes more than once) and the past couple of days Rachel's been up with nightmares as well.

Our children must really, really think our family is big enough.

I know that this, too, shall pass. And eventually we'll all start sleeping again. But yesterday morning at 9:15 I was exhausted. And I had three hours of Field Day in front of me.

Tadpoles: Day 56

This will be my last tadpole update (hallelujah!) because on Saturday (after 56 days of caring for these tadpoles (though probably only 30 days of caring for them and 30 days of neglecting them)) I fished out the very last living creature from our little aquarium (aside from some mosquito larvae and other such things). Its tail had already been mostly absorbed, so it's a mystery how and how long it managed to keep itself alive in the tank before I released it when so many of its siblings managed to drown. Survival of the fittest, I suppose.

This was a fun project but I was certainly glad to see the last one go. It took no time to hop away into the wild. And it rained that afternoon so hopefully that upped its chances of survival a bit.

Rachel's looking forward to writing up what she's learned in preparation for next year's science fair (we missed this year because she wanted to go to soccer practice instead but hopefully next year soccer will be on a different day). Maybe we'll even have some new frog eggs to raise by then (the science fair seems to always happen in the spring). We'll see.

Until then I'm going to have to find something else to do with our wilted lettuce...

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Just enough chairs

When we moved out here we didn't ever think we'd host a mini-family reunion in our living room. That was before this afternoon when, due to many different circumstances (a graduation, a move, medical issues, and a vacation), we ended up with six relatives in our living room! Using two folding chairs and our horribly worn (but wonderfully comfortable) rocking chair we were able to come up with a place for everyone.

Here's a picture of Andrew (right) with his cousins Daniel (middle) and Scott (left):


Remember last year when I was so worried about the garden? I was seriously afraid nothing would grow or that I'd do it all wrong or...I don't even know what all I was worried about. But I was certainly worried about it.

Andrew can tell you about how worked up I get over stuff.

This year, though, I didn't spend a lot of time stressing about the garden. I planted stuff. I waited for it to grow. We've already harvested some radishes. It looks like we'll be able to try some lettuce soon.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Tadpoles: Days 44 and 50

April 28 (day 44): Benjamin has held a tadpole/froglet a time or two before but we'd never taken pictures because I've been a little afraid that he'll squish/drop/eat it while I'm distracted. This particular day I pulled out the camera and then he decided that he didn't want to hold the frog at all. In fact he hardly wanted to look at it (there were cars driving by) so Miriam held his head in place for him. He wasn't entirely impressed.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Catching Fire

The kids are finally feeling better. I suppose Miriam never really got sick, but she's at least feeling better that people are playing with her again. Rachel hasn't thrown up since yesterday morning (when she took one bite of toast and then ran to the bathroom) and Benjamin hasn't thrown up since the night before that (when he lost his dinner, once more, all over the table).

Last night I asked Andrew whether we should plan on attending church or not. Usually it's not a question but we've had an average of 5.4 pukes per day the past five days and we really didn't know what Sunday morning would bring. Would Miriam suddenly find herself ill? Would Rachel not be able to hold down breakfast again?

"I'm leaning toward no," Andrew said, "Because the alternative is yes."

A very academic answer, indeed. We decided to take a day of recuperation. It's surprise-stake conference today, anyway (we had one in March...and have another scheduled for October...this one came as a completely surprise) so we didn't even have to find substitutes.

We spent the morning sleeping in. Everyone managed to keep their breakfasts in their tummies and when I asked the kids if they wanted lunch, Rachel said, "Yay! Two meals in one day!"

That's our big accomplishment for this week.

Our house basically smells like a swimming pool so I'm pretty sure everything is mostly sterilized. I even had the house cleaned up fairly well yesterday—we vacuumed the floor and everything—but now it's quite messy again. Because the kids are playing again.

This afternoon Rachel helped Miriam turn into a beautiful butterfly.

She led Miriam—in the chrysalis stage—out of the bedroom:

Saturday, May 03, 2014


Last month was national poetry month, which was news to me. Rachel brought home a letter from the media center (aka library) this week about celebrating national poetry month in May because we were out of school for intercession for most of April.

They're making a poetry museum to display. The children can bring in a little diorama-in-a-jar about a poem they either like or have written themselves. Rachel's busy working on that, now that I told her that she has no more screen time (despite her illness).

She's also written a poem for the Poet Tree. This is her cute little poem:

Bees like to work in trees.
Sweet, sweet honeybees.
Monkeys like to swing and play.  
Each and every single day.
I am not a monkey.
I am not a bee.

But I have a little of both in me.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Sick news

By 2 AM Benjamin had thrown up sixteen times in 5.5 hours, which seemed a bit excessive. He also showed no sign of slowing down. We'd called the nurse hotline and she said to come in if we started seeing bile mixed in with his vomit—not that we really knew what to look for. He had gone from throwing up food to throwing up clear liquid (since that's all we'd been giving him) to throwing up yellow liquid (where was that coming from) that was increasingly greenish (which was worrisome).

Andrew had a final the next day—his last final ever!—and Rachel had to get up and ready for school and I had a baby (he's still a baby, okay?) on my lap, throwing up every 15–20 minutes.

"You're going to have to take him into the ER," Andrew said. "I don't know who we'd call to stay with the kids and Benjamin won't agree to going without you. I don't know how long you'll be there but I have a final to be at. I can get Rachel off to school and then find a place for Miriam in the morning."

Can I just say how much I hate driving in the dark? I don't like driving during the day. Driving in the dark is terrible—especially in areas that don't have street lights (which are plentiful around here).

But Benjamin was seeming really sick, so I agreed to do it. And I got us there without too much trouble.

Of course, I had the roads mostly to myself, which I suppose is one benefit of driving in the middle of the night.

Benjamin threw up once in the car.

He threw up again as I was navigating my way through security (you have to put all your stuff through an x-ray machine and walk through a metal detector—it's almost as bad as an airport) while holding a puking child, which was awesome.

I was taken to a room as soon as Benjamin had his bracelet on. I talked to a nurse, I talked to a resident, another nurse came in with some zofran. She was a nice nurse. The other nurse was all "Why are you even here—this isn't life threatening!" And I was all, " tell me: how many times have you been puked on this shift? Because I've been puked on more than a dozen times. And I still have other children to take care of at home. All I want is for my 20 lbs. baby—who has vomited now eighteen times in six hours—to stop vomiting. That's all."

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle!

Rachel's mini-musical came *this close* to being postponed again due to inclement weather on Tuesday night (this time for a severe storm system, not a snow storm) but we were fortunate and the weather cooperated and the show was able to go on.

Arriving twenty minutes early was apparently too late. The gym was packed and the only reason we got seats was because Becky—a friend from church—had saved some seats up front but then decided she'd probably end up bouncing the baby in the back of the gym anyway (and she'd already seen the afternoon performance) so she let us take them.

We got a good view of Rachel as she walked in...but that was all we saw of her.

Oh. Hello, family. I will totally acknowledge your existence with the palm of my hand.