Saturday, November 28, 2015

Merry Christmas (but really Thanksgiving and things)

I'm still so far behind. Thanksgiving is over. November is almost over, too.

My entire family has moved onto Christmas. 

Miriam made a Christmas tree out of LEGO yesterday and asked that I take her picture and "put it up on the blog with the title Merry Christmas," so here I go:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Grandma Layton's funeral (November 20 and 21)

My grandma's viewing went well. It was nice to get to mingle with relatives I haven't seen in a while, including my sweet little niece and nephews. See how cute we are?

Andrew, Rosie, me, Josie, Matthew

Utah (November 19 & 20)

I went up to spend some time with Reid and Karen while I was out in Utah visiting. They hosted a little family dinner with Uncle Jacob and Aunt Shayla, Aunt Katharine and Kayl, Grandma Pat and Dave, and Nicki. It was so nice to see everyone!

Here's Zoë getting reacquainted with Uncle Jacob and Aunt Shayla:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Utah, day 1 (November 18)

Well, I was going to say that the massage worked well and that Zoë really was sleeping better but she just woke up screaming bloody murder at 4:30 after sleeping unsoundly for only a few hours (like, seriously, I got her down after eleven and she was up at two). So I dunno. But that reminds me...

...that Zoë didn't sleep our first night in Utah. She screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. My mom got out the walker and Zoë, still screaming, lunged at it with interest, so I plopped her in it and Zoë, still screaming, explored the toys. She screamed and twisted this toy. She screamed and twirled that toy. She screamed and tugged at the other toy. It was ridiculous. It was also two o'clock in the morning.

Eventually we all decided we'd go to bed. Zoë, however, screamed for a few more hours before she was good and ready to call it a night.

She was a lot happier when we got ten...which was like noon for us.

We had breakfast, were reintroduced to people who love us, and started working on things for my grandma's funeral.

Here's Zoë with Auntie Josie:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Benjamin, breakfast, bumps

When we told the kids that I'd be leaving for a week—without them—the girls cheered and said, "Now we can watch Star Wars as loud as we want!" Benjamin took things a little harder.

Breakfast a week ago

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Flight sandwich

When I last left you I'd just arrived in Utah. Yesterday I flew home. Stuff happened in the middle, I promise and I'm sure I'll get to that but in the meantime life keeps happening (we've already been to the doctor this morning, for example).

The night before I left my mom's visiting teacher came over to show me some baby massage techniques, which people have sworn help their non-sleeping children sleep. Zoë did fall asleep after her massage, but only for about 20 minutes, which is an ordinary nap length for her. Then she was up and wired for the rest of the evening.

The lady said Zoë might've been upset because we only did the colic routine once (to learn it) and you're supposed to do it three times. She's not sure why but for some reason numbers are important—counting strokes and repeating sequences the right number of times.

Anyway, our first flight went okay but not great. There were a lot of babies around to look at, so they were all mostly entertained by making faces at each other. Zo hit herself in the head with a toy at one point and started howling but beyond that she was pretty good.

We had a three-hour layover in Houston which meant we had plenty of time to stretch and forget that we'd been sitting on a cramped airplane at all. It also meant that I had time to give Zoë a little massage before we boarded. I gave her the colic massage (all three times) and she slept the whole flight! The guy I was sitting beside said, "That is the best baby I've ever sat by!" He even got my backpack down from the overhead bin for me instead of running away in a dead panic (because babies are terrifying).

Andrew was a little late picking me up because Benjamin fell off the bench just before it was time to go. He hit his noggin pretty hard and quickly sprouted a big goose egg so Andrew was busy fussing over him—getting ice for his head and worrying about concussion. Benjamin still has a big bump on his head but he's acting just fine.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

To Utah we go

After drafting up a mental list of pros and cons, it was Andrew who convinced me that I should fly out for my grandma's funeral. My spontaneity has really taken a hit the past eight years or so but I managed to pack everything Zoë or I could possibly need (and more), putting on my pants straight from the dryer thirty seconds before walking out the door.

I feel like I spent all day Tuesday doing laundry (and, in my spare time, writing an obituary) and I left the house a complete mess, but Andrew's a superstar and is staying home with the kids this week and doing a much better job at keeping up with the housework than I ever do, I'm sure.

Zoë and I flew out of RDU less than 24 hours after deciding we would go. It's kind of been a whirlwind trip and I've hardly slept at all, but I guess it's been worth it.

Our first flight was great. The plane wasn't full and the people sitting around me were appreciative/ambivalent about sitting by a baby. In fact, at the end of the flight someone came up and told me that my baby had behaved better than some of the adults on the flight, which was true.

This guy in the row ahead of me had balanced his laptop/tablet on his tray, leaning it against the back of the seat in front of him. His cup of apple juice was resting on his table in front of his computer. He was watching So I Married An Az Murderer and I was happily watching along, having seen it enough times in years past I knew enough of the lines by heart that it was still entertaining.

But then the guy in front of the guy watching the movie put his seat back, upsetting the precariously balanced computer, which in turn knocked the cup of apple juice into the man's lap. Oh, was he livid! He hopped out of his seat cursing and ran to the back of the plane where I'm assuming he tried to get cleaned up a bit before sheepishly making his way back to his seat, his pants wet with apple juice, to hastily retrieve his things. He sat in an empty seat somewhere else for most of the flight but came back to his seat during landing so that he could tell off the guy in front of him again.

Now, I think he had every right to be upset (no one wants to go around with apple juice stains on their pants and there's some sort of unwritten code of conduct among frequent flyers that you ask (or at least inform) the person behind you before you put your seat back) but I also think he was partially to blame. Airplanes aren't exactly predictable--turbulence can occur at any time--so should one really be balancing their computer like that?

It made for interesting people watching, that's for sure.

We were the spectacle on the second flight. Zoë can be an uncontrollable screamer in the most usual of circumstances and, evidently, also in the most unusual of circumstances. My seat companion was probably the grumpiest lady on the face of the planet and she was not happy about having to sit by a baby (we flew American Airlines this time so we had assigned seats) when Zoë was happy. She was certainly not happy to be sitting by a baby when Zoë lost it halfway through the flight.

I spent the second half of the flight bouncing Zoë in the back of the plane, but we survived.

Our plane touched down at midnight.

My mom and Josie picked us up from the airport. Zoë screamed most of the way home (she accidentally fell asleep but then woke up determined to make up for lost time). Then Zoë screamed until 4:00 in the morning, which--may I point out?--is 6:00 in the morning EST. We slept until around 10:00 but she didn't even sleep soundly.

The poor thing has developed a cold and thinks stuffy noses are the worst. She likes to tell everyone about it. Loudly.

David, Josie, my mom, dad, and I worked like busy bees on Wednesday getting things ready for the funeral. My niece Rosie stopped by to visit and my mom, Josie, and I took a little break to go to the hymn sing in the HBLL, but other than that we just worked, worked worked. Oh, and David baked cookies and I ate them all!

My mom drove me up to Andrew's parents' house this morning and we had a little get-together with Grandma Pat, Dave, Katharine, Kayl, Nicki, Jacob, and Shayla early this evening.

It's been a good but busy couple of days.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gladys Evon Duggar (1932-2015)

My grandma passed away this morning at 7:00 MST so I've spent the morning calling my siblings, chatting with my great-uncle, feeding my children, remembering and writing.

My grandma grew up in Hosford, Florida. Here's a picture of my grandma (the girl in the dark dress) with her four brothers and her parents:

Charlie Wilson Duggar and Mary Gladys O'Neal Duggar with their children: Joseph Wesley (Buck), Willie Leonard Leonard, Edward Glen, Gladys Evon, and Charles Thomas (Tom)
(I think my cousin Shannon looks a lot like our great-grandmother. But anyway...)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Koshari, Chéri

Andrew made a lovely Lebanese dinner tonight: hummus, mana'eesh (topped with za'atar), and falafel. He's already planning on making zeit wa za'atar for dinner on Monday, but if he can find fava beans so he can make ful to go with it, "otherwise I'm making koshari," he said.

So while I was loading the dishes I started singing, "Koshari-shari! Whatever will be, will be! The future's not ours to see. Koshari-shari!"

Because I'm a nerd.

The more I sang it—because I consider children shrieking with laughter and saying, "Mom, what are you singing!?" to be calls for an encore (and thus sang it several times because I don't actually know much more of the song...Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?)—the more it started sounding like koshari, chéri.

I guess French—France—Paris—has been on my mind. But not just France.

My mind has been very busy lately.

In December 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball published an article in The Ensign about keeping a journal. In January 1981 my grandpa opened a notebook and at the very top of the very first page he wrote, "Our prophet Spencer W. Kimball asked each of us to keep a daily journal." He kept a record for the next several years—not a daily record but a record nonetheless. This simple action expressed his testimony of the gospel quite clearly to me.

Recently my facebook feed has been ablaze with chatter about the change in church policy regarding the baptism of children living with parents in a same-gender relationship (ie. it shouldn't happen). Based on the clarification of the policy, the original wording wasn't really well-written. Still, it wasn't exactly intended for public consumption—at least, not right away—it was leaked.

(Side note: This afternoon Benjamin came into the house crying, "Miriam leaked my secret!" and I was quite puzzled about his choice of words because he's three and he's talking about "leaked" secrets. What?! But now I'm thinking that perhaps we discussed the word leaked at the dinner table some point in the past two weeks, so maybe it makes sense. The secret, in case you're wondering, is that she's a witch. Not in real life. Just in the game. But she said, "I know I'm a witch!" and now everybody knows and it was Benjamin's secret and the world is over. Clearly.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bouncing Baby Boy

Benjamin, drawing the Winged Fargle from Josh Schneider's Bedtime Monsters
Last night Andrew was out late (helping with a youth temple trip) and I had a headache, brought on by non-stop Benjamin, but it was time for family scripture study. The kids wanted to pull down the scriptures and, you know, actually read, but I've allowed Andrew to be the rememberer of our place for the past several months because I've been juggling Zoë (so sometimes I don't quite finish reading along).

"No; let's do memorized scriptures," I said. "I don't even know where we are."

Benjamin looked at me solemnly and said, "Mom, we're in North Carolina."

Though completely irrelevant (we're in Alma somewhere) his statement is 100% accurate.

Tonight Andrew was saying late on campus to listen to a speaker (Orhan Pamuk) so once again I faced bedtime alone. And once again I had a headache. If only I could record Benjamin all day long; then I could give you a headache, too! I'm constantly reminding him about "inside voices" and begging him to quit screaming. He's not usually upset about things, but he's always passionate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Whatchu feedin' me, Willis?

I pureed our little pie pumpkins today. Poor Harry Potter was quite shocked when, channelling my inner Voldemort, I told him he was next...

Rachel made the Harry Potter pumpkin for a school assignment

One small step for man

You might not believe it from the way things look tonight (Benjamin wet the bed and Zoë is sitting on my lap playing with her toes) but we've made some giant leaps around here lately. I know I've "called it" several times before but I think Benjamin's oh-so-close to being fully potty trained. Like, I just did laundry today (after not doing it all weekend) and there was no pile of stinky underwear in the bathroom, which is pretty miraculous.

And as for Zoë, well, she has started sleeping for hours at a time. Literally hours. She'll go between four and six hours before waking up now and it looks like we're finally leaving colic behind because she doesn't often stay up to just scream for the heck of it anymore. We might just survive her babyhood after all!

She's starting to enjoy her exersaucer:

Zoë at 5 months (November 5, 2015)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

First foods

The other day Zoë was fussing in her exersaucer but I was busy (I occasionally try to do things like laundry and stuff) so I left her there for a few minutes. When I finished what I was doing I went to pick her up crooning, "What's wrong, baby? Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?"

"No! Don't feed her again!" Benjamin commanded.

"What do you mean 'again?'" I asked. "It's been a few hours since she last ate. She's probably hungry again."

"She's not!" he insisted. "I already fed her!"

"What?!" I asked. "What did you feed her?"

"Paper!" he beamed. "She loves it!"

So the list of random first (non-)foods continues: leaves, wild onion, paper...

Then last night I was eating dinner with Zoë on my lap when she hijacked my fork, quickly diverting it to her mouth rather than mine. She sucked that piece of cantaloupe dry and enjoyed every second of it; she was rather furious when I took it away.

She had a death grip on this fork and did not part with it willingly

Saturday, November 07, 2015


My grandma is dying, my very last grandparent. She has cancer throughout her body and doctors have given her weeks (potentially months) to live. On the whole, I'm rather excited for her. She's been ready to die for a long time. She went downhill fast after my grandpa died. Her memory has gotten so bad and she doesn't seem to enjoy much of anything. Death will be a sweet release. For her, I mean. Not necessarily for us, but for her.

So, I gave this lecture about family history at Relief Society meeting on Thursday.

Look at me using the word "lecture." Really I put some slides up and blathered on and on and on about nothing in particular. Well, family history, specifically personal history, specifically on journalling. Anyway, I spoke briefly about an article in the New York Times about a study done on the relationship between knowing your family history and your overall psychological well-being called The Stories that Bind Us.

On my slide I used the final quote, "The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones." I told about my Hancock side of the family—about how they are really good at creating, refining, and retelling their stories and how it's easy for me to identify as a Hancock even though I never carried that name and my mom never carried that name. It's my grandma's maiden name and hasn't been in the family for three generations now; my children never met my grandma, yet my children know her name. They know they are Hancocks. The Hancocks recorded their narrative so well that it's easy to tell and retell and retell again.

Now that my other grandma is dying, I'm realizing what a big hole there is in family history work. There are few memories posted on my dad's side of the family tree. My mom's side of the tree, on the other hand, has so many "memories" shared by various relatives that it's not even funny.

I suppose it's my job to strengthen that narrative.

Friendly Bloke

Benjamin'd been playing on the playground while I was working the water table and the girls were running, as I mentioned. There were other children playing there, siblings of other children running, and since the fun run lasted a full hour (times two, but some children were only there for one hour or another (though some; like us, were there for the full hour plus time before, between, and after each round of the fun run)) he felt like he got to know these new little friends quite well.

I was cleaning up at the end of the run—picking up discarded cups, taking pictures of classes for teachers, things like that—and he was still playing at the playground with another family that was still sticking around.

When that family started getting packed up to go, the mom was sitting down to put shoes back on her own little boy and Benjamin came up, put his head in her lap, and said, "My mom left. Can I come home with you?"

She pointed to me and told him, "Your mom's right there!"

I didn't see this exchange go down; the mom told me about it before she left. I thought it was hilarious because that's so Benjamin! He probably would have been perfectly happy to go home without me (for a while) but he was also perfectly happy to go home with me, though on the way to our car he fussed about not being allowed to play on the kindergarten playground. I was like, "You just played at the playground for three hours."

"But not that playground," he said.

I rolled my eyes, hefted him into his carseat, and drove home.

We had leftover waffles for lunch and I made the mistake of leaving him at the table with his food while I went to the bathroom. He helped himself to the syrup. All of it.

At least he didn't make too much of a mess.

Fun Run

The girls had their school fun(draiser) run today. I volunteered to work the water table since I knew the girls wanted me to be there to watch them run, anyway. Benjamin had a blast playing on the playground with the other little siblings for three glorious (and mostly unsupervised) hours. Zoë was more than happy to snuggle in the front carrier. And I literally poured water for three hours.

Running children consume a lot of water, or as our super pumped-up fun run hosts called it—H2...O yeah!

The atmosphere was electric with energy. Elementary schools typically are. But then, oh, but then there were the hyperactive hosts calling cheers into their microphones and music blasting over speakers and parents cheering and so forth.

Zoë typically gets sleepy when she's in the front carrier but this morning she was ridiculously sleepy. People kept commenting on what a good sleeper she is and I was thinking, "Dudes—she's totally stress sleeping." She was trying to tune the whole world out; poor dear was completely overstimulated, as was I. We all went home for an afternoon nap when we were finished—including Benjamin.

But anyway...the fun run

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Crickets come and crickets go

It wasn't raining and nobody was throwing up so we decided to go to the park this morning and on the way home Benjamin begged to "stop by the izzer bank." The river isn't exactly on our way home; in fact, it's a little out of the way. But there's a little stream on the way to the river and in Benjamin's mind this little stream totally counts as a river, lucky for me.

The rest of the trail was extremely muddy and I wasn't really wearing appropriate footwear for a muddy hike. Benjamin wasn't either, really, but I'm boring and old and care about things like that. Benjamin on the other hand, was happy to be wading through the "izzer" wearing his crocs...and socks...

In all honesty we could have skipped the park in favour of throwing rocks into the water all day long because it made this little boy so happy (and a little bit muddy, but mostly just happy).

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Grade Three: Just fine

I was putting some finishing touches on my presentation for Relief Society Meeting on Thursday, which included taking some pictures of my old journals. It also included me reading entries to Andrew from my very first journals and laughing until I couldn't talk anymore. And hyperventilating because I'm supposed to talk for fifteen minutes and how am I supposed to do that?!

In my journal from grade two I was blathering on about something and mentioned that I was writing a whole lot and even went so far to accuse myself of being a chatterbox. "You're not," my teacher (Mrs. Matsumoto) had written back. Man, I spent half that year counting down how many pages I had left until I filled the book. It made reading consecutive entries rather humorous.

But then I found my journal from grade three and it's a little less funny. There was a lot of serious stuff that happened this year. I suppose there was some serious stuff that happened the previous years, but I was oblivious to a lot of it.

Mon. Sept. 27th

On Sunday my sister left for albrta. Yesterday she got to my grandma's and grandpa's house. And she gave me her room until she comes back, wich is in December. My brother David said that I got the biggest good-bye present. On Sunday morning she left at five o-clak, so my mom got me up at five o-clak to say good-bye. And now I have three choses to sleep. In my (both) brother's room because they have a bunk bed and they both sleep on the botom bunk. And my sister Abbi's room because she has a bunk bed and in my other sisters room because she gone unil Dec.

And then I talk about big life problems like conflicting birthday parties and football games (I guess we went to one of my cousin's football games?! I have no recollection of this) and how tragic it was that Halloween fell on a Sunday and we couldn't go trick-or-treating because my mom said "thier is getting to much vilins." But, phew, it was okay because we ended up having a ward party at the church where we had supper at 5:00 and stayed up until 8:00 playing games and watching movies.

Mon. Nov. 15th

On Thursday I got a wiggly tooth. And I backed cookies. My big sister had her baby but she gave it up. And the poeple who adopted the baby told my sister a story. She said, "When I found out I could not have a baby I cryed. I said a prayre and asked that sombody might come and vist me and your baby was that girl, only she was a grown up. The frist time I went to go adpet a baby it was not her. The secondt time it was your baby and it was her."

In response my teacher, Mrs. Robertson, wrote, "It must have been hard for your big sister."

I must say, Rachel has better handwriting and spelling than I did when I was her age. Seriously. I was a terrible speller. But I think my teacher let it slide because she thought my family was crazy because wait until you hear this next entry...

(click bait)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Throwing up

Around 5:59 AM, Miriam wandered into our room and whispered, "I just threw up all over my bed!"

She has this nasty habit of keeping a pile of books on the foot of her bed (a habit I scorned just last night as I was tucking her in), so I groaned and said, "On the books?" picturing the worst.

"No. Just on my bed."

Andrew's feeling a little sensitive about his mornings lately (I wonder why...) so he actually beat me out of bed (also I was snuggled up against a sad, sick baby, so I had to untangle myself from her grasp) and immediately started stripping Miriam's bed, which meant I got stuck with the much more favourable task of settling our newest invalid on the couch (and gathering up the last batch of stuff used to clean up Zoë's throw-up).

It seems this stomach bug is going to slowly creep through our household. It's already been a week and a day since Benjamin first got sick. Usually these things spread like wildfire and we're all sick on top of each other.

I'm really not sure which way is better...

 At the rate things are going we could be sick in this house for a month or longer.

That's okay; throw-up laundry is my favourite activity, second only to mopping up puddles of throw up from various household surfaces. 

Blowing out

So, the reason we got up so early this morning was that Zoë threw up all over me and herself and the bed. But did I mention the part where I gasped and swatted at Andrew until he was awake enough to turn on the bedside lamp for me? 

"What's wrong?" he slurred. "Did the baby spit up?"

"Yes," I sighed.

"Do you have a burp cloth?"

"No," I said. "I never have a burp cloth. She doesn't spit up, like ever."

"Huh," he grunted, turning over to go back to sleep. "You should get one then."

Although we have a long-standing pact that nothing he says before he showers counts (because he is a slow waker-upper (and approximately 9 years, 10 months, and 2 weeks ago he called me stupid one morning while I was waking him up (as in "Go away, stupid!"))) I'll admit to feeling a little angry about this response. My excuse will be that my cumulative "forced awakenings" the past few months/years have caused an overall "reduction in positive mood," as well as decreased "feelings of sympathy and friendliness."*

I left the baby screaming beside him and, grumbling a bit (and with baby vomit dripping down my front), made my way to Benjamin's room to grab a wad of burp cloths. I tried to mop up the mess on the bed but it was really messy and Zoë was screaming uncontrollably, so I went out to the living room, closing the bedroom door not-so-softly behind me. Because maturity.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Bowing out

It's November second and already I'm bowing out of NaNoWriMo. Technically, I bowed out yesterday when I realized it was 10:00 PM, I had just put the baby down for the first time that day, the children had been in bed for less than an hour, I could hardly keep my eyes open, and I hadn't written a single word.

Now is not the time.

Andrew made a program to calculate how much I've written on the blog the past 9.5 years to prove to me that I have the ability to write a book. I've written over 2.5 million words (not particularly well-written words, but words nonetheless). To put that in perspective, the entire Harry Potter series is approximately 1 million words. Obviously, if I wanted to, I could sit down to write a book.

And I do want to. But now is not the time.

I got up with the baby a 5:00 this morning (Benjamin got up, too; it was a party). Granted, we're still suffering the shock that is the end of daylight savings, but 5:00 is pretty early, especially when the baby was still getting up every couple of hours. Like, come on, children.

I did some laundry, because Zoë did a tremendous spit-up, completely drenching me, herself, and the bed. I made muffins for breakfast. I folded some laundry that sat in the dryer over the weekend (oops). But I didn't write one word towards my novel.

So it's pretty clear that now is not the time to write a novel in one month.

I'm simply more passionate about food and sleep than I am about writing right now.

Is it so terrible that we're coming on six months with our newest addition and I'm still in survival mode? When I get everyone fed and clothed for the day I feel pretty successful, so who needs to write a book?

If there's one thing I learned from Maslow it's that self-acctualization is not that important.

Eat. Sleep. Breathe.

In other news, evidence from Zoë's diaper this morning suggests that her first solid foods were wild onion and old leaves. I'll tell her paediatrician it was rice cereal or applesauce or something (once I get around to feeding her any of that stuff). But really it was wild onion and old leaves.

That might have contributed to her fussiness through the night. Pooping out solids is hard work.

Even I don't know why I'm putting this stuff in my mouth...