Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Screaming to naptime

In one of those rosy after-school moments that you just want to take a snapshot of to cherish forever, everyone was screaming and pouting today. Zoë was ready for a nap but didn't want to take a nap and kept getting into stuff. Miriam was screaming at Zoë and Benjamin about getting into stuff. Rachel was having fits over her math homework and kept snapping at everyone. Benjamin was in good spirits but functioning at full volume.

I couldn't handle it anymore and snapped. I sent everyone to their rooms to chill out, pushed the benches under the table, lifted the baby off the table, and then put her in bed. She started screaming again, of course, but I left her locked in the bedroom while I spoke with my older kids about expectations.

The baby is allowed to scream, on account of she's a baby.

Screaming at the baby for screaming is not appropriate behaviour.

Screaming at your brother for screaming at the baby, who is screaming, is also not appropriate behaviour.

Screaming at your sister for screaming at her brother for screaming at the baby, who is screaming, is definitely not appropriate behaviour.

And if we're being fair, it's probably not appropriate behaviour for the mother to scream at her eldest for screaming at her sister for screaming at her brother for screaming at the screaming baby, either.

But, quite literally, for crying out loud—Everyone! Stop! Screaming!

Monday, August 29, 2016


Zoë loves putting lotion on. We've been going to the pool fairly often which has required frequent application of sunscreen. Zoë loves to help rub it in after we dab it on her arms and legs. 

I've also (re)started giving her nightly massages with lavender-scented lotion to help her relax and go to sleep (haha*sob*hahaha). She will bring the lotion to me throughout the day (or, you know, later in the evening when the first massage inevitably didn't work to put her to sleep) and ask for me to put it on her. Last night she even cajoled Andrew into giving her a(nother) massage.

On Saturday night we had nachos for dinner so we could use up the last of the refried beans I'd made earlier in the week (from scratch, I might add). I gave Zoë a little dish of sour cream to dip her chips in. Do you know what sour cream looks like? 

Lotion. That's what.

Zoë did her best to apply the sour cream evenly on her arms, just as she does with sunscreen or lavender lotion.

I'm not sure what she thought when I told her that particular substance was for eating, not rubbing on your skin. However, I'm sure it was something along the lines of, "Crazy lady!"

(My kids all think that particular line a lot).

Pottermore, LEGO-more, Barber-more

On Saturday morning Miriam and Benjamin were happily immersed in the Pottermore website when it "disappeared." They're both relatively technically savvy, but The Internet is still a little mind-boggling. For example, we can no longer use the Chrome browser on the clunky computer in our living room; it refuses to update and yells at us all the time. Somehow, though, Chrome was mysteriously open every single time we'd turn the computer on. It turns out that a long time ago we'd bookmarked a page for Miriam on Chrome, so she thought the only way to get to that page was through Chrome. She didn't realize she could get to that page using any browser.

We got that all sorted out and now the page is bookmarked on Firefox, but The Internet is still a mysterious place.

So, the kids were on Pottermore—Miriam's super excited that she's finished reading everything there is to read about the Harry Potter world (all seven in the series plus The Cursed Child, Quidditch through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Tales of Beedle the Bard) so that there aren't any spoilers for her online—when they accidentally closed the browser.

Rachel must have helped them get to the website because (a) she understand the internet a bit better than they do, (b) Pottermore isn't bookmarked (yet) so someone had to have typed the URL or searched on google for it, and (c) it obviously wasn't Miriam or Benjamin who'd done that because they were both so unaware of how to get Pottermore back.

"Harry Pottermore just disappeared!" Benjamin wailed.

"We can't get it to come back! But I accidentally ejected this," Miriam said, holding up a DVD of Les Miserables. Evidently they'd been clicking around, trying everything.

"I will make it come back!" Benjamin said, running back to the keyboard. "B-O! I typed B-O!"

"What does B-O spell?" I asked.

"It spells, 'Harry Pottermore! You get back here and stop being disappeared!'"

Very nearly. Very nearly.

After watching those two try everything they could possibly think of to re-appear Pottermore, we did eventually intervene and show them what to do.

This morning, Benjamin wanted to get online again. Not for Pottermore this time, but for the website we once had bookmarked for Miriam (in Chrome): DUPLO building examples.

"Mom, will you help me get to Oggi-more?" he asked, reverting to his baby-word for LEGO in his excitement.

He's been having a grand old time on "LEGOmore" today.

We built this castle together:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Pig Pickin'

Yesterday we attended our fifth Pig Pickin' in this ward, which was the thirtieth consecutive year the ward has put one on.

2012: We didn't even know what a Pig Pickin' even was, but learned that it was a lot of fun.
2013: We had a rash of terrible things happen to our loved ones (our dear friend Dorothy passed away unexpectedly, my dad was hit by a car while riding his scooter to work, Andrew's uncle was paralyzed in a mountain biking accident) and evidently I was still so shaken up about life that I failed to take any pictures at all. In fact, all the Pig Pickin' got was a cursory note in a post on a different topic.
2014: We barely managed to avoid a catastrophic collision on our way to the event.
2015: We went on the space walk for the first time.

It's still strange to me that we've been in the same place long enough to have attended the same event five years in a row. But here we are, so established that I really only have pictures of Zoë because the other kids were off running around in the woods with their friends the whole time.

Rachel didn't even eat with us. She ate with her friend Carolina's family. Andrew missed the Pig Pickin' this year (he decided to stay home to write since he has some big deadlines coming up), so it was just me and Miriam against Zoë and Benjamin. Picnicking with babies is always an adventure. They don't understand the concept of not walking on plates of food set out in the grass...

Zoë kept stealing watermelon rinds from everyone (even though I had other food (including watermelon flesh) for her):

Thursday, August 25, 2016


This evening Andrew was working on the van with our neighbour, which meant that I was in charge of getting the kids to bed. We have great kids (not that I'm biased or anything) but lately I've been feeling like I've been burning the candle at both ends. I'm so exhausted by bedtime that it's difficult to remain patient through each child's individual shenanigans.

Zoë went to bed around 10:00 last night, which was amazing, and she stayed asleep most of the night. Andrew and I went to bed around 1:00 (we're both swamped with projects right now so we're staying up far too late (1:00 was actually early for this week)). Zoë only woke up once to nurse but then she got up at 6:00 this morning...for good. She took a one hour nap this afternoon.

She is still awake. (It's nearly midnight).

Benjamin was his little energetic self, Miriam must be suffering from middle-child syndrome because I can't think of anything to say about her, and I caught Rachel eating spoonfuls of sugar directly out of the sugar bin today. So...

By the time bedtime rolled around a little peace and quiet was sounding awfully nice. After scriptures and prayer and stories, I told the kids it was time to get into bed.

"And by 'get into bed,' I mean get into bed. I want you to go and get into your beds and then I want you to stay there. I don't want you to come out. I want you to get into bed and stay in your bed."

Both Miriam and Benjamin obediently bid me goodnight, hopped off the couch, and...ran to the kitchen where they started fighting over access to the ice machine.

Could I have been more explicit?

"That's not bed, guys," I sighed.

After getting their drinks, they headed off to bed. I helped Benjamin say his prayers but he was still feeling rather silly and while I was singing him his lullaby he suddenly did this flip-dive thing in his bed and smashed into my face. So I growled at him to "LIE DOWN!" before singing a hasty lullaby to Miriam and hurriedly exiting their room before really losing my temper.

No sooner had I sat down to nurse Zoë than I heard a doorknob jiggle.

"Don't do it," I warned. "Stay in bed."

Then I heard the door open.

"Get back in bed," I said.

A little head popped around the corner.

"Benjamin, go to bed."

"Mom," he scoffed and then ran over to me and gave me and Zoë a hug.

"Thanks, sweetie," I said. "I love you. Now get back in bed and stay there."

"But what if I need to give you another hug?" he asked, the saccharine words slipping through his pouty lips with ease as he expertly cocked his head and batted his eyelashes.

"Then you'll just have to save it up for the morning," I said, steeling my rapidly-melting heart against his four-year-old wiles.

Sometimes bedtime has to mean bedtime.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We've started our lasts

This morning when we went outside, Benjamin skipped down the front steps and then froze in his tracks. "Wow! Wow! Wow!" he said, "It's brrrrrrzy out here! I gotta go get my coat!" And he ran back inside to fetch a jacket. 

It was a little chilly. I pulled out my phone to see exactly how so. 

It was 67°F (19.4°C), basically room temperature, and there we were, contemplating sweaters and stuff. 

Granted, we were wearing our swimming suits. But still. 

Next (because I was still waiting for Benjamin (we haven't worn sweaters in months so I don't know how we even remembered where to find them)) I decided to check the forecast for one of my home towns: High River. Their high for the day was only supposed to be 65°F. 

I rather value being warm, so it always cheers me up to see that—haha!—I don't live in such a cold place anymore. I mean, look at this chart:


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Animal crackers and van trouble

I took Zoë out of bed this morning and put her directly into the stroller so that we could walk to the pool in time to meet our friends. Knowing that she'd probably think she needed to have breakfast (these kids—they think they need three meals a day or something) I put some animal crackers in a little container for her.

Not exactly a breakfast of champions, but honestly if she expects more than that she's got to got to bed before 2 AM. Last night she went to bed at 2 AM, woke up twice before 6 AM, and we had to meet our friends at the pool at 9:30. Technically 9:30 isn't early, but we had to walk to the pool so we had to leave at 9:00 because it takes us about twenty minutes to walk to the pool (if I make Benjamin walk) and I wanted to be sure to be a little early.

Lucky for us, our first lesson of the day had to cancel or we'd have had to leave the house even earlier.

And why were we walking? Well, because on Sunday morning when I turned on the van there was a terrible shaking and grinding noise. It sounded like the van was a gravel-chewing monster. I quickly turned it off and texted Andrew.

"Uhhhh...I think we're going to be late," I wrote.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Homework, pasta, and a sick baby

Miriam's class is doing take-home reading books this year, which I shouldn't really complain about because conceptually I understand why they're beneficial. Every child in the class always has a book to read at home that's at their level. They're supposed to read it aloud to their parents a few times and the parents are supposed to ask them questions and then we sign a log and it's all hunky-dory...except that signing papers is always the straw that breaks this camel's back. I don't know why.

I can read with my children. I can listen to my children read. I can remind them to record their reading in their reading log. But when it comes signing those papers...I don't know what happens.

My arms are always full of baby or I'm busy fixing dinner or I can't find a working pen or it's bedtime so I put it off so I can keep this factory running smoothly and then I forget about it altogether and then my kids are left making excuses to their teacher like, "Well, yes, I did my reading but then my mom forgot where my paper was so she couldn't sign it."

Seriously, Miriam told her teacher that this week so that she could bring a new book home.

I can imagine her teacher saying, "Your mom couldn't find the paper in your folder, in your backpack?"

Well, yes. That seems to be about the long and short of it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

So many pictures, so little time

Rachel has figured out how to give Zoë piggyback rides. She balances Zoë on the arm of the couch and then lets her cling to her back...and also flip backwards so she's dangling upside-down (which is slightly terrifying for me).

More pool talk

I've been meaning to write for several days in a row, but things have been busy around here. I've had meetings for school stuff on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday mornings; in addition to everything we normally do. This Friday we were actually scheduled for play group in the morning and ukulele in the afternoon, but we're taking the day off and not going anywhere (thanks to Zoë, who is running a fever).

On Monday we had Family Night at the home of Rachel's now-former primary teacher. We're so sad about this shakeup because we love her teacher (Sister N) so much! She hosted a little family night party for the class as a final hurrah. It was fun to get to spend time with some other families in the ward, but it was especially fun for me to see how much the children's swimming has improved over the summer.

We went to Sister N's house at the beginning of summer for a pool party as well. Way back when Miriam was still wearing ear plugs because she'd just gotten over her hard-to-vanquish ear infection and we didn't want to risk getting another one (we've since relaxed); way back when Benjamin was worrisome enough that we kept him in the puddle jumper; way back when Zoë preferred to be held in the water and wouldn't dream getting off the top step of the pool.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Potty training, part the ∞

It's probably no secret that I have been in tears—multiple times—over the difficulties we've had with potty training Benjamin. Sometimes I feel like we're almost over that hurdle and other times I feel like we keep tripping and landing flat on our faces. It's been a long, hard road, but I can honestly say I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon I won't have to stress over it anymore, but for now, although things have been pretty great lately, I will continue to sprout grey hairs, worrying about whether he's going to make it to the toilet or not.

He's only four. I know some kids struggle a lot longer than that.

But at the same time he's four. He is three years older than Zoë, who today communicated quite clearly to me that she wished to do her business on the potty. So I took her to the potty and she did her business and we all sang glory hallelujah. Because I will sing glory hallelujah on practically any day that I don't have to change a poopy diaper.

There are exceptions to that rule. For example, if the lack of poopage is due to extreme constipation or if the poopage happens outside of the diaper and outside of the toilet (like on the carpet). I probably wouldn't be singing glory hallelujah then. But otherwise, I probably would be.

My babies have always been excellent poopers. I'm not going to lie. Like, I seriously have friends who tell such outlandish tales as, "My baby doesn't spit up and only poops once a week." Meanwhile, I was always dripping with spit up or runny, golden newborn poop. My kids would poop upwards of five eight times a day, when they were brand new. And before I switched to cloth it would always go straight up the back (or would start dripping through their leg holes).

Every. Single. Time.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


This evening Benjamin settled down on a stool and opened his little set of scriptures to participate in family scripture study.

"Is this it?" Benjamin asked, wanting to know if he was at the right spot.

"Yup," Andrew said.

Benjamin closed his book and opened it again, to a different spot.

"Is this it?" Benjamin asked.

"Yup," Andrew said again.

Benjamin closed his book and opened it, yet again to different spot.

"Is this it?" he asked.

"Yup," Andrew said.

"What?! Why is it always it?" Benjamin wondered.

I suppose we've figured that since he can't follow along it isn't necessary for him to be open to the right spot, but now that he's realized every spot is always it he knows that he's never in the right spot. All part of the learning-to-read process, I guess.

We had him say family prayer tonight as well, giving him special instructions to think about what he's saying, to say thank you for three things and then ask for three things. He's in a terrible habit of offering a rote prayer of bless-the-food for everything. So tonight he said, "Thank you for this good day that we could have. Thank you for this nice day. Thank you know..."

Evidently we have a little bit of work to do in that department as well.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Meetings of all sorts

Today we met with one of Andrew's advisors. We brought along Zoë and Benjamin to spend some time on campus as well (because what else was I going to do with them?) so when we went to meet this professor the kids were in tow.

"And how old are you?" she asked Benjamin.

"I'm four," he said. "But I'm almost ten."

"Not for a few years, buddy," I whispered.

"That's okay, that's okay," she said. "Because do you know what? I'm almost 100 years old. It's true. Very soon I will turn 100. Yes, in about fifty-one years."

"Whoa!" gasped Benjamin.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rocks vs. Clouds

"What one do you like the best?" Miriam asked when she came home from school. "Rocks or clouds?"

"I don't know," I said. "How was your day? Do you have homework?"


"Which is better?" she asked while she ate her after school snack. "Rocks or clouds?"

"I really don't know," I said. "They're both so different."


"If you had to choose one," she asked as she put away her ukulele, "Would you choose a rock or a cloud?"

"It depends what for," I said. "If I wanted to break a window I'd probably choose a rock, but if I was hoping for rain I'd probably choose a cloud."


This went on the entire afternoon and I really couldn't figure out her fascination with rating these two seemingly arbitrary items. After dinner, however, we went on a family walk and it all became clear.

Toilet Shenanigans

This little girl and toilets! She lives to climb into her own personal whirlpool. She lies in wait outside the bathroom door, waiting for someone to slip up and let her slide in behind them or—even better!—forget to close the door. She's fast—faster than you'd probably believe—and by the time the words "Where's the baby?" have left your lips she's already managed to take the plunge.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

First trip to Pelican's, first pig tails, first bee sting

On Saturday morning the three oldest kids woke up around 7:00 and then, after quietly having breakfast together, played school in Rachel's room for three hours. Andrew and I were quite shocked when we woke up and looked at the clock. To reward the children for their kindness (a sleep-in like that is a rare gift, indeed), we decided to head to Pelican's for a snow cone. 

We hadn't been to Pelican's yet this summer, though I think we went when Andrew's parents were out visiting (in March). Or maybe Grandma only took the kids and I stayed home to sleep with Zoë (that sounds highly plausible). At any rate, with some of us not having been in about a year and a few of us not having been at least for a couple of months, we hadn't been to Pelican's in a long while so we decided to go. 

On a whim, I put Zoë's hair up in her first little pig tails:

Friday, August 05, 2016

Rain, plantain, my baby's insane

The skies unleashed a torrential downpour as we were unloading the car this afternoon—backpacks and diaper bags, ukuleles and babies—and by the time we were finished we were pretty well soaked through to our skin. As an added treat, this was not an electrical storm so when the kids asked if they could stay out to play I had no reason to say no. They were already drenched, there was no immediate danger, and so we enjoyed a lovely pre-dinner romp in the warm summer rain.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Harry Potter

In full disclosure, I didn't read Harry Potter until I was expecting Rachel and the seventh book was coming out and Andrew was so incredibly excited about it that he preordered it. So I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The only problem was that I thought the first book was a little bit...boring. I simply hadn't been able to get into it no matter how many times I picked it up. Andrew instructed me to start with the third book, which is one of his favourites: it's much shorter (and less intimidating) than the later books but is a little more captivating than the first book.

So that's what I did. And then I read 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 in rapid succession and was all ready for book 7 when it came out. Or at least, I would have been ready had I not been busy doing other having a baby.

Rachel was born on July 20, 2007. Harry Potter 7 was released on July 21, 2007. 

Andrew and I disagree a little about when the book came, precisely. He claims it came a day early, that the package was delivered to our doorstep, quite literally while I was birthing Rachel, that he went home to get it, and that he read it that first night at the hospital (and that all the nurses were reading it, too). 

I'm pretty sure, however, that he didn't go back to our apartment the night Rachel was born. I think he camped out in the hospital room feeling too shell-shocked to do anything else until the morning, when he decided to run home for a shower, shave, and fresh set of clothes. As evidence, he was wearing his (favourite) orange shirt on the day she was born, and is clearly not wearing it in the picture below. 

Whatever the case, he returned to the hospital with a brand new copy of The Deathly Hallows as giddy as a school boy, snatched Rachel from her bassinet, and settled on the couch in my hospital room, declaring, "This is the best day of my life!"

And all the nurses were reading the book as well.

Grapefruit, buttons, toilets (or: three (more) things I have no control over)

We picked up a bag of gigantic grapefruit at Costco on Saturday. This morning Benjamin, Zoë and I ate two of them, but not before comparing them to the size of our heads. These grapefruit were seriously as big as Zoë's head!

Fixing this, fixing that...

We've been busy around here, which has led to some silence on the blog front. One big change was a new calling for me. Andrew hinted a change was in the works for me a few weeks ago, which I was glad to hear because as much as I enjoyed my compassionate service calling, asking people to do things was starting to feel burdensome.

So not this past Sunday but the Sunday before, Andrew (apparently) texted me at 9:45 AM, asking me to be at church fifteen minutes early. First off, that's an interesting time to text me to ask me to be fifteen minutes early because by that time in the morning I am fully in the throes of getting everyone ready to go. There's breakfast to be eaten, zippers to be zipped, fights about hair to be had!

Second, I didn't even get the text, so it was a bit of a surprise when I arrived to church seven whole minutes early (slow clap!) only to have Brother Wood grab my elbow and escort me right out of the chapel declaring, "There you are!"

I'm in the nursery now! And it's perfect timing because Zoë's to that age where sitting through three hours of grown-up meetings is torture, but where she's still technically too young for nursery. But if Momma's working the nursery where's a baby to go but to nursery with Momma? Huzzah!

This was our second week in there. Zoë seems to love it, though I think it will take her awhile to fully adjust to the culture of nursery (sharing toys and not climbing on the table...what?). I've been enjoying it as well, though probably not quite as much as Zoë.

I was supposed to go to a baby shower last Saturday, but when I woke up in the morning the van was all torn apart. The sliding door broke when we were coming home from the beach; we could only get it to open a few inches and had to do some weird maneuvering to get it to close at all. When we got home we ordered the parts we figured we needed and then they came in the mail and sat in the entry way and, finally, a Saturday rolled around when Andrew had time to work on the car. So when Benjamin came in to wake him up bright and early, that's what Andrew decided to do.

I hurried up to help him as soon as I was up. We watched YouTube videos and figured out how to take the door of the van off...only to have all the bearings crumble and fall off the roller. Evidently those were due to be replaced as well, but unfortunately we didn't have any on hand. So, we reassembled the door and went inside to order more car parts. We figured we'd replace the rollers on both doors, just to be on the safe side.

Those came in the mail this week so we spent about ten (yes, ten) hours fixing our van doors on Saturday. We would never make it as mechanics, but we finally figured things out and even used a soldering iron (first time for both of us)!