Monday, October 15, 2018

Alexander's party

Well, he did it! Alexander is one! He's survived his siblings for a full 365 days and is still going strong.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Zoë and the Delectable Cupcakes

The children always want to help me decorate birthday cakes, which is great...but also not great. I love that they want to help and I want to cultivate their skills, but at the same time...I have a vision, children! Too many decorators spoils the cake.

Today while the older kids were out with Naanii and Bumpa (to see Jane and Emma and to have lunch at Wendy's (and running into Uncle Jacob, Aunt Shayla, and Carter there)), I let Zoë decorate some cupcakes that I'd baked with some leftover batter. She had so much fun and got all of her cake-decorating jealousy out of her system, leaving me in peace to work on Alexander's cake alone.

Here are a few pictures of Zoë having a blast making her "delectable" cup cakes:


There's a Fancy Nancy book called Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes and Zoë adores that book (adore is fancy for really liking something). She now loves using the word delectable.

Leaf Peeping

On Friday Benjamin's writing prompt during literacy centers was, "What are you looking forward to this weekend?"

This was his answer:


It says: I am going leaf peeping this Saturday! I am going to look at leaves! It is going to be fun! I will see red, orange, and yellow! I jump in the leaves!

After reading that how could we not take the kids on a little foliage tour this weekend? I mean, I had mentioned that we should go leaf-peeping before the leaves all drop but I hadn't necessarily meant this weekend (which turned out to be a little busy—but when is life not busy these days?), but we didn't want to let sweet Benjamin down when he wanted to do such a simple thing.

Speaking of adventures in motherhood...

I called Poison Control today. It's only our second time calling between five children and over eleven years, so I'd say that's not too bad.

Rachel had gone outside with the kids this afternoon because I needed to work on Alexander's birthday cake. He only ever wants me...unless there is outside time to be had and then he'll happily leave me. So outside they went.

She set him in the grass to help Benjamin and Zoë with some bubbles and when she picked him up again she found him chewing on...mushrooms. Our backyard is filled with them (so we tend to keep an eye on Alexander when he's out there but he's got a penchant for mischief making (and he's quick about it)).

Honestly, I wasn't terribly worried about it.

My little brother Patrick once prompted a visit to the ER after my mom found out that he'd been scavenging mushrooms in our yard in PoCo. He was fine.

So I wasn't terribly worried, but worried enough to try to identify the variety of mushrooms growing in our yard, to research what symptoms to look for, and to debate whether we should be calling Poison Control or our pediatrician.

Poison Control won out simply because I know from our previous interaction with them (and from stories from friends) that they are 100% non-judgemental and are 100% helpful (they actually will give you advise over the phone whereas all I've ever gotten from talking to nurses on the phone is, "Well, we can't tell you what to do over the phone...").

They told us to watch him for nausea and vomiting, which should happen within 24 hours if he ingested anything poisonous (which they doubted was the case because they've never had a single case of a child getting sick over lawn mushrooms (now, had we been up in the canyon we might have had more reason to worry, I was told)).

So far he's good. They're going to call me tomorrow to see how he's doing.

I'm sure he'll be fine.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Motherhood: A daily adventure

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
—Matthew 11:9
Yesterday I took Zoë and Alexander to school for the October Birthday Lunch so that we could have lunch with Miriam. We didn't pack actual lunch, however, because I'd just gotten home from volunteering in Benjamin's classroom when it was time to leave again. Instead I grabbed an assortment of snacks from the pantry assured the children (and myself) that we'd have actual lunch when we got home.

Miriam found us in the cafeteria and we found a table together and visited while we ate. Alexander rather vocally kept asking for food so I kept offering him bites of fig bar. He'd only ever take teeny weeny nibbles, however, which is out of character for him. And then I noticed that in spite of the small bites he was taking his cheeks were bulging.

"Are you even swallowing?" I asked him. "What have you got in there?"

Sometimes he keeps food in his mouth for a long time without swallowing, but fig bars dissolve into mush pretty quickly so I couldn't imagine it making such a big lump in his cheek. He also has a habit of sticking his tongue into the side of his cheek and when I ask him what's in his mouth there's nothing in there at all but his tongue, little faker! 

This time, however, he opened his mouth to show me what was inside and a rock popped out—a pretty big one, too!

"Where did you get this?!" I asked him.

He refused to say (on account of: he can't talk yet) and I have only deduced that he either:

A) Found it in the "bib" pocket of his jacket (he sometimes puts things in there)
B) Found it on the seat of his stroller (he sometimes puts things there)
C) Had it in his hand the entire morning (having found it in the house because sometimes we leave rocks lying around (and by "we" I mean Benjamin and Zoë) because he will find something he likes (often a spoon or a car) and will carry it around all day)

That doesn't really narrow it down, but I know it wasn't in his mouth before we left the house because I nursed him (and his mouth was most assuredly empty for that activity).

I'm just glad I found it before he choked on it!

******

Last night Uncle Jacob and Aunt Shayla stayed for dinner. The kids and I are participating in the Beehive Book Club again, where we read a bunch of books and write reviews in order to narrow down the "long list" for the book reward to a "short list."

It's nice to be on this side of the list narrowing for once (job market joke).

Anyway, Shayla loves to read so I invited her to join us and they ended up staying for dinner. Andrew had gotten some cook-at-home pizzas from Costco and we decided to eat on paper plates, which is not very environmentally sound but it sure does cut down on clean up time!

The kids were goofing around as they were setting the table and Zoë started crying when Benjamin threw something at her. I didn't see what happened but Rachel did and she began to berate him.

"Benjamin! Why would you throw a fork at her?!"

"It wasn't a fork!" he retorted. "It was a knife!"

"That makes it worse!" she shrieked.

Fortunately we were using disposable utensils to go with our disposable plates so getting hit by a flimsy plastic knife really didn't hurt Zoë (she was simply being melodramatic, as per her usual).

******

Like all my children, Alexander loves dishes. He loves when it's time to put the clean dishes away because he can help pull them out of the dishwasher and throw them all over the floor or bang on them with spoons and so forth. He also loves that the dishwasher door remains open because he loves to climb on the door.

All my babies have loved this (along with many other babies in the world, I'm sure).

Alexander, however, takes things a step farther and will climb into the bottom rack and onto the utensil holder and, as far as I can tell, is rather intent on getting from there to the top rack (his next goal being the counter top, and then climbing up the light fixtures to the ceiling, probably).

He was standing on the utensil holder, trying to get into the top rack, when I came out from putting something away in the pantry.

"Hey, buddy!" I said, pulling him down. "This is not your personal jungle gym."

Then I started washing a cookie sheet left over from last night (we didn't have cookies, but Andrew did make crostini to go with the pizza) and while I was doing that he starting scaling the dishwasher racks again.

"Mom! Mom! Mom!" Zoë cried. "He's doing it again!"

"Alexander!" I chided. "This is a dishwasher, not Mount Everest! Get down!"

"He's not getting down, Mom!" Zoë said, stating the obvious. "Get him down! Get him down, quick! Mom! Mom! Get him down! Mom!"

"Just a minute," I said, rinsing the cookie sheet and balancing it on top of the other clean dishes stacked on the counter to dry. "I only have so many hands..."

"You don't have so many hands!" she objected. "You only have two!"

"You're right," I said. "I have exactly two hands and that's not very many, which is why I can't do everything at once."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Faster than slow

Zoë came running when she heard the *zthoop*zthoop*zthoop* of the tape dispenser.

"Why are you taping that book?" she demanded.

I rolled my eyes a little and said, "Who are you—the book repair police?"

I know taping books isn't good for them but little fingers, likewise, aren't good for books and we have a lot of little fingers around this place. Taping books makes my book repairing brother shake his head but the last time I asked him what I should do instead of taping a book up he said, "Honestly, I would just buy a new copy. The book isn't worth the cost of the materials or time it would take to repair it."

And so I tape my books. Because I'm not buying new copies of everything that gets destroyed.

I'd rather not have to tape my books up, but we have a book monster living with us. He is faster than fast and is drawn to books like flies to honey. They were the one thing that could convince him to try to crawl. His main method of locomotion was squawking his head off until a big person came to pick him up and I'm not sure why we felt the need to motivate him to be independent but we did. He learned to crawl and now he's constantly attacking books (also he refuses to walk and when he gets bored of crawling with squawk his head off until a big person comes to pick him up; we keep coaxing him to walk on his own (I'm sure we'll come to rue the day he does)).

One of his more annoying habits (aside from ripping full pages out of books) is taking a board book, opening it to the middle of the book, and then trying to close it against the spine, inside out. He has snapped a handful of board books completely in half this way and it drives. me. nuts.

Zoë was still waiting for a proper answer so I sighed and said, "I'm taping this book because Alexander destroys books faster than..."

"Slow?" she asked.

Yes, my dear. Alexander destroys books faster than slow. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Little ones

We've had Riley over the past couple of days and he'll be over tomorrow as well. He and Zoë have actually been getting along fairly well. At any rate they're much better at getting along than they were a year ago (and they're much better at following the rules in the basement when they're left alone together (they've only flooded the bathroom sink or torn apart Grandma's craft room or gone wild in the Lego area occasionally)). They constantly fight about ownership, but are two peas in a pod:



Rachel helped me take all the kids over to the church parking lot to ride bikes/scooters. It was rather chilly and lightly drizzling but they kids seemed to have fun. I put real shoes on Alexander for the first time (more to keep his socks on than anything because he's not walking yet). He was pretty cute in them:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Canadian Thanksgiving (or: Why isn't our InstantPot instant-ing?!)

Due to Rachel's Monday evening soccer awards ceremony we had to postpone our annual Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. Tuesdays are usually somewhat crazy, so we planned on having Thanksgiving dinner today (because Thursday is far too crazy). Unfortunately, I forgot that Rachel had a doctor appointment this afternoon after school (and then we sat and waited for the doctor for over an hour before we were finally seen) so today ended up being a little crazy as well!

Plus they were out of the flu shot so we have to go back again.

All four of the older kids have had their annual check ups now, though. I was going to do them all on the same day but Rachel had a field trip the day of our appointment so I had to cancel her slot and reschedule her for today. Alexander's well-check is scheduled later this month.

Rather generally, they're healthy kids.

They're all tall and thin for their age (even Benjamin; I never thought I'd hear a medical professional tell me, "He's rather tall for his age!" but here we are) except for Miriam, who is short and thin for her age. On the way home from the doctor she said, "I've just decided that I'm going to be the shortest person in the family. That way I won't be disappointed when I am."

Anyway, Rachel's doctor appointment took forever and then we rushed home to whip up a Thanksgiving feast. I don't know if you've ever tried to whip up a Thanksgiving feast but there is a reason people take all day (week?) to prepare for Thanksgiving. Doing it in one afternoon is tough, but I threw the potatoes (both sweet and regular) into the InstantPot so they were ready to mash by the time we got home. 

So all that was left was the turkey (we just got some turkey breast), cranberry sauce, stuffing, and green beans. No big deal.

Miriam made the cranberry sauce more or less on her own. I guided her while I made some topping for the sweet potatoes and put the turkey in the InstantPot (which really lives up to its name). I set the turkey to cook for a half hour after looking at various recipes online and hoped for the best. 

By the time we had everything prepared the turkey timer was just about over so we waited those last few moments, released the pressure, and stuck in the thermometer. "89 degrees!" Andrew exclaimed."That's not even near done! We know from West Wing that it's supposed to be 165!"

Considering we had put raw (not frozen) turkey breasts into the InstantPot this was rather odd to hear. I can cook frozen chicken breasts in a half hour. Why was our InstantPot not instant-ing?!

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Cherubs

We were reading this evening from Alma, chapter 12.

Verse 21 says: What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever.

Rachel raised her hand and waved it around in the air, which is one of our rules during scripture study (to help cut down on noise, which is no easy task because rarely does anyone remember to raise their hand; they just call out (or sing random songs while playing with toys or scream while fighting with a sibling or whatever)).

Andrew, anticipating her question, said, "A cherub is a fat baby angel. Like Cupid. Cupid is a cherub. Cherubim is plural."

I disagree with his brief explanation but, moving on!

Verse 22 says: Now Alma said unto him: This is the thing which I was about to explain. 

"Ha!" Rachel said, without raising her hand. "Our teachers at school say that all the time."

"You're getting ahead of the class, Rachel," I chided (in jest). "I'm not finished explaining so if you'd hold your questions I might end up answering them."

"That's exactly what our teachers sound like!"

We continued reading and then Rachel slapped her hand down and said, "Why did they have the baby angels do the guarding?! Shouldn't they have gotten bigger angels to do it? I just can't stop picturing fat baby angels wielding big swords..."

We had a good laugh about that.

But seriously, though, cherubs are a little more intimidating than a fat baby, historically speaking...what with four heads and what not.


My little polyglot

Zoë has been "speaking" foreign languages all day today.

"This is how they shake a pillow out of the case in Spanish," she told me as we were stripping the beds (because every now and then I wash the sheets, hassle though it is).

"This is how they carry books in Arabic," she told me as we tidied up the living room.

"This is how they sit on their chairs in French," she told me at lunch.

And you know what? She's not wrong. 

School schedules

I'm just up with a baby who can't sleep, thinking about school schedules.

Bridget mentioned that schedules in Finland aren't as cut and dry as they tend to be here. You don't necessarily have the same class at the same time every day, whereas here, my kids can look at the clock on the way from the doctor's office to the school and tell me, "Oh, drat! I'm missing [insert subject here] but I'll be right on time for [this other subject]."

No time for losers

This evening the kids and I went to Rachel's award ceremony for soccer. Her team (aptly named Team Burn*) won the championship title with 7 wins, 2 loses, and 1 tie (the championship game).

Here they are in their championship t-shirts:

Rachel is third from the left (her friend Tayah is giving her bunny ears)
Everyone got cookies at the end and there was a raffle in the beginning. Rachel's team had their moment of glory and that was exciting but otherwise the event was a complete snooze-fest (so boring (no offense, Rachel (in fact, I was glad I got to come see you get awarded since every single one of your games overlapped with Benjamin's so I farmed you off on Tayah's family))).

Monday, October 08, 2018

Ukuleles ltd.

I am finally starting up our little ukulele group again, slowly. Today it was just me and the kids but hopefully we'll find others to join us in the coming weeks. It was nice (and chaotic) getting them all settled in with their ukuleles after our long summer hiatus. 

Alexander was jealous that everyone else had a ukulele so he went and got a hairbrush from the bathroom to strum on (which was hilarious and adorable). It's definitely monkey-see-monkey-do with this little guy!


That Mothering Instinct

Miriam has never been one to play with dolls. I mean, she has dolls and she will play with them. She enjoys dressing them up and so forth (especially when Naanii was sending matching outfits for her and her American Girl Doll). She just never attached to a doll. She had no real desire to carry a doll around all day or sleep with a doll or anything like that. She had her thumb and her (billion) blankets (that had to be layered on top of her in a specific order) and she was good to go.

Rachel has slept with Baby Norah every night since she opened her on her first birthday. 

Zoë has adopted a doll Miriam got for her second Christmas as her favourite doll (because Miriam never cared very much for it (or any doll)). She carries it around everywhere and must have it before going to sleep (which means we often turn the house upside down looking for it because it's been everywhere any given day). It has no name; it's just Baby Doll (she looks at us like we're crazy every time we ask her if she's given her doll a name). She often will sit on the couch beside me to nurse her baby while I nurse Alexander. It's always near.

Miriam was never into dolls like that, but that doesn't mean she's not nurturing!

Look who she made a little bed for and tucked in for a good night's rest:

Hint: It's the book Little Women
I'm glad to see Miriam's got that mothering instinct after all...

However (or, Sometimes We Are Slightly Irreverent)

Emily came down for her ten-year high school reunion, which doesn't seem remotely possible but is also an irrefutable fact. When Emily's here we play hand-and-foot in the evenings—she loves that game—and this trip was no different.

Last night while we were playing we all got a little loopy. Emily was talking about how she calls her mom for everything. When she's at the grocery store, for example, she'll call her mom to ask what cut of meat she needs for a certain recipe.

Andrew and I are less like that. We're more study-it-out-in-your-mind (or at least google it) before you ask about it people.

Neither way is right; they're simply two ways of being.

Talking about cuts of meat, however, reminded Andrew and me of the time Andrew agreed to make tamales for Uncle Trevor's family reunion. Aunt Linda found us at church the Sunday before she needed them, just to check in with Andrew about what groceries he needed.

"...and I thought I'd get a pork shoulder or two for the carnitas," she said.

"Okay," Andrew said. "I've only ever used pork butt for this recipe but I can try a shoulder."

"Really?" Aunt Linda said, giving us some serious side-eye.

Andrew and I looked at each other.

"What?" Andrew asked.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Conrad gathering

A short disclaimer: For my purposes, regarding the 10-day fast from social media, I've decided that blogging isn't really social media these days. My readership is mainly family (because I'm really not that interesting and didn't think to ever hire an SEO, my blog traffic is mostly made up of crickets chirping in the night which actually makes this blog highly unsocial media). But I've deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone and so far haven't logged on my desktop computer. So we're doing this.

Also, I promised myself I wasn't going to be one of those people who made a big, public announcement about starting their 10-day social media fast. Yet, here I am, making an announcement. It's just...my girls know that I'm participating in the fast and have been chastising me every time I touch a phone ("Mom turned on the white noise app on my phone last night," Miriam tattled to Andrew. "She's supposed to be off social media!" He had to tell her that a white noise app isn't social media and, as far as I'm concerned, neither is this blog (which very technically could also be called white noise)).

This evening we got together at my Uncle Bruce's SLC house for a family dinner since my Auntie Colleen and Uncle LeRon are in town for general conference and a mission reunion and all sorts of things. They're really quite busy so we were glad we could snag them for the evening.

Aunt Sara made a beautiful dinner for everyone, of course, and we gathered around the table to visit and eat. Josie joked to Austin that when Albertans get together they always talk about two things: the weather and death. And it's kind of true. They're unavoidable subjects. And it's not like we even are bored when we bring up the weather. It's simply a universally appealing subject in Alberta. Also...death and dying. We're an odd breed. 


Saturday, October 06, 2018

This weekend, boy...I dunno.

So many earth shattering things have happened in the past two days that I'm not even sure where to begin or even how many details I'm supposed to divulge (a few of these events were purely spectatorial) so I will be brief for now. 

The first, for me, was that my big brother got married on Friday afternoon! We met Ruth when we went up to Canada in June and the children (specifically Zoë and Benjamin) immediately fell in love with her (we thought she was pretty cool, too). They got engaged at the end of August and set the date for late December but then the weather has been so dreadful already (Calgary got 9 inches of snow on Tuesday, for example) that they decided making the nine-hour drive to see each other every other weekend was too perilous to continue for the next three months so...on Friday David booked it from Prince George to Calgary so he could pick up his bride, get a marriage license and head to the temple. 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Adjectives that describe me...

Benjamin brought home a paper from school yesterday listing adjectives that he thought of to describe himself:


He says that his is nice, playful, helping, and loving. His spelling of "play foul" made me laugh, along with his explanation of why he's loving (he has a crush on a girl named Charlotte, so basically he's pretty loving). My favourite part, though, is that he so honestly (and accurately) described himself. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Follow the Prophet FHE

Last Sunday Aunt Linda assigned the song Follow the Prophet for Miriam to learn on the piano, so Miriam practiced it until she had it memorized and could play it up to speed (sometimes practicing for an hour a day). She really wanted to sing it for family night tonight and that worked out just fine because with General Conference coming up I wanted to do a lesson about following the prophet, anyway.

Here's our opening song, take two (because I forgot to record it the first time; Miriam played it a little slower this time around because she found it tricky to play while we were all singing):



Calendaring is a lengthy process at our house these days, even with the end of soccer (hallelujah). The kids were quite excited to move onto the lesson because I'd prepared two mystery bags (inspired by this post) and they were sitting there at the front of the room being all mysterious and stuff. There was Mystery Bag A, which I'd decorated with stars, and there was Mystery Bag B, which I'd decorated with butterflies. Their job was to choose a bag to open without knowing what was inside.

Before the closing prayer

Last night I went to the adult session of stake conference with Grandpa, leaving Andrew and Grandma home with all the kids (plus Riley). Alexander screamed almost the whole time, so Andrew was super excited when I told him that the stake choir had been invited to sing at a missionary fireside this evening. I promised that we'd leave as soon as our number was over, so that's what we did even though I felt a little guilty skipping out on the mission president and leaving before the closing prayer.