Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Soapy heads

Late last night, just before bedtime, I was in the kitchen washing some dishes. I had already loaded the dishwasher and was working on some hand dishes. I popped the top off the dish soap, squirted some on a sponge and started scrubbing a pot that hadn't fit in the dishwasher (with nine people under one roof we can rarely fit an entire day's worth of dishes in one load).

Miriam was at the fridge getting some ice when Rachel grabbed the bottle of dish soap I'd just sat down on the counter, held it over Miriam's head, sang out, "Hey, Miriam..." and squeezed.

Soap came cascading out of the bottle. Miriam started squealing.

"What is going on?" I asked, turning around. "What are you doing?!"

"Whoa," Rachel said, clearly surprised. "I didn't mean to do that!"

"What do you mean?" I snapped. "What did you expect would happen? I mean, come on..."

"I thought the lid was closed. I was just going to pretend to squirt it..." she said sheepishly.

Miriam debated internally whether she should laugh it off or whether she should throw a hissy fit. Thankfully she chose option number one. Rachel apologized (and promised never to do it again), we all laughed about it, and Miriam had a shower before bed so she could rinse out her hair really, really well.

Other than my best disproving glance, I didn't really punish Rachel, so before she went to bed she took it upon herself to inflict a punishment:

I don't think this will be happening again any time soon...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Miriam's birthday party (at long last)

Miriam is now eight-and-a-quarter years old, so it was high time we threw a party for her! We would have done it sooner but...Alexander and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas (and then maybe I'm a little bit overwhelmed with life (I mean...five kids is super easy! Everyone should do it! Don't be frightened!)).

My kids know they get a birthday on their fifth, eighth, twelfth, and sixteenth birthdays (and today they tried to add eighteenth—as if they'd want their old mom throwing them parties when they're eighteen) and they're stubbornly sticking to that rule through hell new babies and high water the stress of living life in limbo, like I'm some kind of super hero. Kids: it's more of a guideline than a rule!

But, honestly, as much as planning a party can stress me out sometimes, I'm always happy to celebrate the wonderful people my children are growing up to be. 

This year Miriam wanted a weather-themed (but not-too themed) party and she wanted to tie fleece blankets for refugees, so that's what we did. She didn't want to invite very many people, which was surprising for me but also alright with me because small parties are more my speed. She invited three girls and two were able to come. And it was just perfect. 

Her friend Hannah is in her class at school (and just moved here this year from Kansas) and her friend Lily is a friend from North Carolina (who just moved to Utah last month). The three girls got along great together, I thought. 

Their first project was making plarn—yarn made out of grocery bags—so her friends brought along used grocery bags for us to use. In theory we'll be able to crochet the plarn into a lovely sleeping mat (but we'll see how that goes). They were getting pretty efficient at plarn-making! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

I'm not [giving] away my [baby]!

Today was a bit crazy. I had gamelan in the afternoon and then Andrew and I had to go his department's post-Christmas party and then we had to pick up some groceries for Miriam's (very timely) post-birthday party (nothing like having your party three months after your birthday, amirite?).

Andrew and I didn't even see the girls after school. Rachel had play practice and Miriam went to a friend's house. We left Benjamin and Zoë with Grandma and Grandpa (thanks for sitting!) and spent the night on the town (with Alexander in tow).

When we came home—at 8:59—the kids were all still up. Grandma was really glad we came back because 9:00 was her cutoff for bedtime (she'd told herself that if we weren't home by 9:00 she was just going to have to tuck all the kids in herself, which she really didn't want to do because, frankly, bedtime is a lot of work). So when we walked in the door she offered to take the baby while we got to work putting the bigger kids to bed (all except Miriam who wasn't even home from her friend's house yet (she'd stayed for dinner and a movie)).

We went upstairs and found Zoë on the couch, watching a show with Grandpa. Rachel was in her room watching some Doctor Who on her Kindle, and Benjamin was in his bedroom wrestling with his footie jammies (those suckers are difficult to put on, apparently).

Zoë only had a minute and a half left of her show, so Andrew said she could finish it, but she didn't want to. She wanted Mommy to hold her, so we turned off the show and headed to the bathroom to find her toothbrush.

"Where's the baby?" Grandpa asked jokingly. "Did you lose him or something?"

"Naw," I answered. "We gave him away."

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Zoë has been exposed to Harry Potter and...loves it. How could she not, having been born into this family? It's like Benjamin whispered to Alexander while he was holding him the other day, "By the time you're three I will teach you everything you need to know about Star Wars." Except, of course, this is about Harry Potter...and I don't believe anyone actually whispered those words to little baby Zoë (but, then again, perhaps they did and I just didn't hear them).

Any long stick-like item she touches becomes a wand. Her favourite spell is stupefy, a stunning spell. But she also knows protego, because no wizard is properly equipped to duel without that spell under their belt, right?

While Benjamin pronounces stupefy almost like "stupid-fy," Zoë tends to elide the initial consonants and says "oopefy!"

Last night during scripture study, she had procured a wand from somewhere and was waving it around like crazy casting imaginary spells (because my children are always perfectly reverent and well-behaved during scripture study...obviously).

The older children had cloaked themselves with a quick, "Protego!" so that Zoë couldn't get to them with her blasts of "Oopefy! Oopefy! Oopefy!"

Because even if you know it's pretend, you still have to protect yourself, right?

Benjamin was stretched out over the couch but he was "too sick" to shield himself with a protego charm so he decided to pick a fight with Zoë instead (he honestly was so, so ill yesterday, but he was feeling better by bedtime (naturally) so while he didn't have the energy to conjure a spell he, of course, had the energy to stir things up a bit).

"It's not oopefy, Zoë," he said sagely, with great annoyance. "It's with an S."

"Oh," Zoë said. "ES-OOPEFY!"

"Still didn't work," he said, cockily, "'Cuz you just can't say stupid-fy right."

She'll just keep working at it until she gets there and we'd all better watch out because the other day I caught her brandishing a broomstick while yelling oopefy. A wand that size probably packs a powerful punch...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In sickness and in health...

Poor Benjamin did not want to get out of bed this morning. He doesn't want to get out of bed a lot of mornings, if we're being honest, but Mondays are the worst. He's always craving a good sleep-in.

For anyone jealous of a kindergartener craving a sleep-in, please see: Benjamin's babyhood.

I woke him up a few times, turned on his light, picked out some clothes, handed them to him, and urged him to get dressed. Eventually he staggered out of his room, draped in a blanket from his bed.

"No, sir!" I said. "You can't take a blanket down to breakfast."

"But I'm cold!" he whined.

"Then put some socks on," I suggested. "But you can't eat breakfast wrapped in a blanket."

So he put on some socks and slowly made his way downstairs. I sat down to pump, hoping that I could finish pumping before either Zoë or Alexander woke up (it's usually easier to pump without them around (no offence, guys)). Soon Miriam came up and tattled that Benjamin was sprawled out on the couch downstairs instead of getting breakfast, so I called down for him to put some food in his belly. A few minutes later when I still hadn't heard any noise that sounded like breakfast I asked Rachel to check on him and report back to me (with explicit instructions not to say anything about what he's doing to him because that would just cause a fight). She reported that he was still moaning and groaning on the couch, not getting breakfast.

This is not unusual behaviour for him in the mornings.

What is unusual is him jumping up from the couch, running to the bathroom, and puking in the toilet.

Miriam was doing her hair at the time, I think, so she had a front row seat to his theatrics and rushed upstairs to tell me all about it (in very vibrant detail). I asked her to help Benjamin get a throw up bucket and tuck him back into bed (older kids are very handy) while I finished pumping.

I ended up calling him in sick, obviously, and he threw up three more times throughout the day. Mostly he rested in bed, but he also watched a Star Wars movie and his sisters read him a lot of stories. Aren't they sweet?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

In January it's so nice...

We've admittedly had a weirdly warm winter so far. It got cold enough for coats a couple of times and it snowed on Christmas Eve, but mostly it's been warm enough to play outside comfortably all season. It finally snowed again yesterday—and I only say finally not because I've been hankering for a good cold snap but because it's supposed to snow here and it hasn't been. We depend on the snow for stuff (like water through the summer).

Durham was hit with a big storm last week—they got twelve inches! Meanwhile, we were playing at the playground with no coats on, which is just weird for January!

In January we should be doing things like trudging over to the sledding hill:

Friday, January 19, 2018


Easing back into academia, I attended my first (though unofficial) university class in over ten years this evening. 

I thought that I had arrived a good ten minutes early, but in actuality I had arrived fifty minutes late. 

So, basically, I'm off to a great start. 

Good thing it's a two-hour class!

When we found out that Andrew was officially going to be working at BYU this year I excitedly hinted to my mom that I would love to finally get to play with the Gamelan ensemble. Unfortunately, Alexander kind of threw things off for me last semester.

But now that Alexander is three months old and we have a handy pair of noise-cancelling headphones, we're ready to jump in with both feet:

Alexander at 3 months

At three months, Alexander has begun developing hobbies other than eating, sleeping, pooping, and spitting up. Hurrah! It's about time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It's what's for dinner!

I took the kids to the dentist this afternoon—all of them, by myself—and it actually wasn't terrible, which only testifies how awful our previous dentist office was. I never left that office not hopping mad (and I'm not really a hopping mad kind of person, usually, so...); I was pretty satisfied with this office.

I called a dentist this morning because on Friday night Rachel said her tooth hurt so I asked her to show me and...let's just say she had a pretty obvious issue with one of her teeth (a baby tooth, thank goodness). I don't spend a lot of time looking into her mouth these days (though I still do brush checks for the older girls I don't help either of them brush their teeth anymore because (a) they're old enough to brush their own teeth and (b) I have enough other mouths to worry about) but apparently I should be!

It was time for a check up anyway. I was surprised when they said they could fit all four of our toothy children in at the exact same time that very afternoon.

So after we picked Benjamin up from kindergarten and had a lovely lunch (Zoë hardly touched hers; she ate half a banana and then threw a big fit) and a little play time, we got ready to pick up our big sisters and head to the dentist.

Even though I'd scoped out the office online and knew it was rather child-friendly, I packed some books to keep the kids entertained and we headed out.

Packing books was a waste, though, because we didn't need them. There were bins of books in every room, a train table in the waiting room, and the kids got to play Mario Kart while their teeth were worked on.

We all got to go back together for x-rays and cleanings and check-ups (our old office always made me stay in the waiting room, which I thought was weird) and everyone was super nice.

They didn't even wrestle Zoë down for a cleaning. Instead the hygienist gave her rides up and down in the chair and let her spray water into a cup with the water pick and then slurp it back up again with "Mr. Thirsty," the suction tool, all in the hopes that she'll remember it as a happy place the next time she comes and will let "the tickle brush tickle the sugar bugs out of her teeth."

So it was a positive experience overall, even though all three girls have to go back for a little work in the next couple of weeks (Benjamin's mouth was just fine).

Once home, I gave Miriam a piano lesson (she's on the very last song in her book and is excited to "level up") and then I started on dinner.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Alexander in the bath

Alexander hasn't taken very many baths in his life, but that's okay because three-month-old babies don't tend to get very messy (aside from covering themselves with sour milk a dozen times a day, if they're anything like the majority of my babies). He's taken way more showers. In fact, I think his first "bath" was a shower. 

But we've moved to a 9:00 schedule for church, which means that I've been showering Saturday evenings rather than on Sunday mornings (because there's simply too much to do on Sunday morning), which means that by the time I get around to showering Alexander has already clocked out for the night.

Can I take a minute to marvel again at how weirdly wonderful it is to have a baby do things like that?

This means, however, that Alexander has to bathe earlier in the evening when the tub is occupied by his older siblings. And they can be a little overwhelming because Zoë is exactly as intense as she looks in this picture:

Playground pictures

The kids were busy putting together a puppet show most of the day yesterday, though they did take a break for President Monson's funeral (we watched the broadcast from home) and lunch. Much too late in the afternoon, when the sun was dropping low in the sky, we finally made it outside and to the park so the kids (Benjamin, specifically) could run off some energy. It was a beautiful day (but it would have been warmer had we gotten out earlier in the afternoon).

I took our "big" camera so that I could practice taking pictures because having a nice camera does us no good if it's just sitting at home the majority of the time. But, oh, it's complicated. I have no idea what (more than) half the buttons do.

My most willing victim subject was Alexander, but that's only because he was stuck in the baby swing most of the time. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Benjamin writings

Benjamin filled his writing journal at school (again) so he brought it home to share with us and it was most enjoyable. It's fun to see these little snippets of how his mind works. Here are some of our favourite excerpts:

I had cherch musik on last nihgt
Lats hwo I go to sleepbe and it gos on
evwe nghit.

I had church music on last night
That's how I go to sleep and it goes on
every night.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Mealtime issues

There was no school today, which I suppose makes up for the fact that there was school on January 2nd. I even remembered to not send my kids to school (even though this day was not marked as a day off of school on the official calendar magnet they sent home at the beginning of the school year), which I'll mark down as a win in my book (even though all we had to do was remember to sleep in and not get ready in the morning).

Yesterday after I picked Benjamin up from kindergarten we decided we'd head over to he playground for a little while because it was such a beautiful day.

While we were playing my phone rang. The number was local, so I answered it but heard nothing, aside from what sounded like heavy breathing. I get a lot of junk calls (who doesn't? (I want to know your secret)) and was about to ignore this call as a just that, but on account of the heavy breathing (and previous experience will cell phone stalkers) I decided to do a little research on the phone number, just in case.

Turns out the call was from the school.

I called back the office and told them that I'd just missed a call, though I didn't know who had called or why.

"Oh, yes," the secretary said, somewhat absently. "Your daughter asked to use the phone."

"Which one?" I asked.

"Which one?" the secretary repeated.

"Yes, I have three children at your school..."

"Oh, I'm not sure."

"Well, was she blonde or brunette?" I asked.

"Hmmmm...I really wasn't paying that close of attention."


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sleeping Babies and the Bean Museum

This evening my mom texted me to say that my sister told her about a reptile exhibit at the Bean Museum on campus that Benjamin would probably like, which reminded me that I totally (sporatically) took them there already. I just hadn't blogged about it yet because for whatever reason I'm behind on most—if not all—facets of my life. 

I seriously feel like I'm running after a bus that I've missed.

Fun fact: I have run after busses that I've missed. Often, when I lived in Voronezh, I was able to actually catch up to the bus on the next stop when I did this. Not that I did it terribly often. But there were those mornings, you know, where you just miss the bus and rather than risk waiting for the next bus you book it to the next and just barely make it on. Except in my life, currently, I never barely make the bus. I just keep chasing it stop after stop after stop.

I would blame it on the baby, but, honestly, he's one of those ridiculously easy babies (for now (please, please don't let saying that out loud jinx things)). 

Back when I had my first baby, who never slept, I sought out all sorts of advice about how to get her to sleep and nothing really worked. And then I had my second baby and she was a pretty spectacular sleeper. And then I had my third baby and, behold, grey hairs did begin to spring forth from my scalp because he was not a spectacular sleeper. And then I had my fourth baby and she never slept (and that's hardly hyperbole at all—getting her to sleep was honestly a nightmare for 2.5 years). And then in a moment of temporary insanity I went ahead and had another baby and...he's pretty great so far.

One piece of advice that stuck out in my mind tonight was that to teach a baby to sleep you just put them down when they're drowsy so they get used to going to sleep on their own. 

For about the past decade of my life (aside from Miriam, whose love of sleep has always seemed more like the exception than the rule to me) I have been convinced that there's no way that could possibly be a thing. 

But guess what: it's a thing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My boys

Benjamin can be quite the handful. Yesterday morning I was practically screaming (definitely yelling, but only practically screaming) for him to get out the door. "Just go!" I said. "Get out of my house! I don't care if you have to walk to school in bare feet without a coat on, it's time to go! It's time to go five minutes ago!"

He had pushed every button, had slugged his way through every task he did do (while expertly avoiding the ones he didn't want to do), and had me at the very end of my rope. 

All in the course of an hour. 

"Please, Mom, no!" he begged. "I don't want to walk to school with bare feet! Please!"

I wrestled his feet into his shoes while he sobbed (when I felt like doing a little sobbing myself) and then I sent the kids on their way and sat down for a few deep breaths while I wondered how one little person can be full of so much personality.

"You have 2.5 hours to pull yourself back together," I reminded myself. 

Ahh, half-day kindergarten, I can't tell if I love thee or loathe thee.

But Benjamin, for sure, I know that I always, always love him, but yesterday morning made me question just how much I liked him. By the mid-afternoon he'd managed to make me fall back in like with him again so I'm glad it went a little smoother. 

I suppose part of the reason it went smoother was because Bob was over working on the basement and he let Benjamin "help" him carry bits of broken cement out to his big trash trailer. Benjamin really did help—he was hauling big pieces of concrete outside and filling buckets with smaller pieces—but I'm sure he also got in the way quite a bit. 

He was so excited to be put to work. I can't get him to pick up his LEGO, but Bob says, "Fill this bucket with the little pieces," and Benjamin went right to it. He shadowed Bob up and down the stairs, carrying with him bits of our old basement floor (Bob is putting in a basement and had to move some pipes, so he had to cut out some of the floor). He talked the whole way about what hard work it was and how fun it was and how when he grows up he wants to be a builder.

"I don't really want to build anything," he explained. "I just want be the kind of build that carries the big pieces of cement. Not the little ones like I carry. The big ones!"

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Alexander update

I just went to check on Alexander because I thought I could hear him beginning to fuss, but he was still sound asleep. He was just, you know, breathing and we could hear him, through the closed door.

He's (mostly) totally fine though.

I made an appointment with the ENT specialist after all and when we got there, the first thing he noted was Alexander's stridor because, well, it's pretty apparent aurally obvious. We talked for awhile about his breathing, eating, and sleeping habits. The doctor looked in Alexander's ears and nose with his little light thing (I'm feeling very smart right about now) and then suggested that we do a scope, just to solidify a diagnosis.

Oh, and during this process Alexander spat up all over creation and I calmly wiped it up, as one does (unless that person is Miriam, in which case they scream and cry and take a shower (and this wasn't even a bad spit because, as you can see, her shirt is still dry)):

This picture was taken after we'd calmed her down, obviously
(picture from December 1)

Saturday, January 06, 2018

These days

I didn't do anything special, yet Alexander decided to treat me well going into the new year. He slept from 9:30 pm on New Year's Eve to 6:30 am on New Year's Day. It was amazing. And then he went back to sleep and we slept until around 9:00. Here he is, still sleeping, after I woke up in the morning:

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Calendaring issues

I checked my phone as I was leaving the house to head to the school this afternoon and saw that I had a voicemail, so I listened to it as I walked.

"Hi, Mom," the voice message said. "There's a parent meeting at 4:30 for the Annie play and I was just wondering if you you come?"

I decided not to call her back since I currently was coming and because I had no reliable way to get ahold of her since the school office was technically closed and that's where she'd used the phone. Instead I made a note of the time and quickened my pace but was interrupted by a series of buzzes in my pocket, alerting me that I had some incoming text messages.

It was Rachel's friend Kenzie's mom.

"Hi Nancy! I'm here at he school for the parent meeting about the play. Rachel is nervous wondering if you're coming and asked me to text you."

"On my way," I texted back, and Kenzie's mom promised to set Rachel's mind at ease.

I don't know why she'd think I would forget something as important as the parent meeting for the school musical. I mean, come on...It's not as if I completely forgot what day the kids were supposed to return to school after their Christmas break or anything.

Oh, wait...I did.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

NYE family mixer

We skipped out after sacrament meeting so that we could attend a family gathering at my Aunt Judy's house. I suppose that will be one nice thing about having church at 9:00 this year—it will be easier to get away to afternoon activities than it has been with church from 1–4:00. I'm kind of loathing the idea of having all seven of us—pressed and polished in our Sunday best—out the door by 9:00, though. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, my Aunt Judy held a little gathering at her house so that my cousin Elizabeth could have the chance to visit with everyone. I haven't seen Elizabeth since Zoë was Alexander's size, so it's been a few years. Her little girl Bridget loves babies. I could tell that about her the minute she let us into the house and her mouth kind of dropped open in awe and she breathed, "Baby."

"Would you like to hold him?" I asked her.

She nodded.

"Let's go find a couch to sit on and you can hold him there," I told her.

She led me down to the basement and I placed Alexander on her lap and she instantly let down her guard and started chatting to me. When I took her picture she said, "Can you send that picture to my mom's iPad? I just love babies!"