Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Originality is not his strong point

Benjamin read somewhere (in her little biography at the end of the 4th Harry Potter book) that JK Rowling started writing stories at age six.

"Wait a minute," he said. "I'm six! I'd better start writing!"

"It's never too soon," I told him and off he ran to his bedroom with a paper and pencil.

We didn't hear from him until we called him back out for scriptures and prayer. He came out proudly carrying a freshly written story and asked me to read it.

"Harry Potter is midway through both his training as a wizard and his coming-of-age. He wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the Quidditch World Cup," I read.

"Pernicious!!?" Andrew said, nodding approvingly. "That's my boy!"

"Wait. You think he wrote this?" I asked Andrew. "The fact that our six-year-old used (and spelled) the word 'pernicious' correctly didn't raise any red flags for you? He didn't write this. He copied it from the back of the book!"

"But that's piracy!" Rachel spluttered, but when Andrew and I started laughing she had second thoughts about her word choice. "I mean...that's something that sounds similar to piracy and has a similar definition to piracy but which is not piracy. It'''s...plagiarism!"

"That's the word!" I applauded.

Andrew later said he thought perhaps Benjamin had just been reading some Fancy Nancy books or something. Pernicious, after all, is simply a fancy word for terrible.

But, no. He simply copied JK Rowling's words down verbatim. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery, is it not? He is working on his own writing as well, but it just comes with practice.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Miriam is nine! (She's so nice we celebrated twice)

Miriam turned nine on Thursday. I for one would like to know how she managed that. How did my sweet little baby turn into such a lovely half-grown little lady? I honestly cannot fathom it. Her babyhood is so fresh in my mind that it's sometimes shocking that she's a living, breathing nine-year-old.

I loved all my babies, but her babyhood is much more vivid in my mind than other memories. Perhaps because she was born at such a precious time in our lives. Egypt will never be far from our hearts. We still cherish the friendships forged there and often recall the adventures (and misadventures) we went on and the lessons we learned. We did a lot of growing and stretching in Egypt.

Once you drink from the Nile, the saying goes, you will always return. 

Though we've yet to return physically, we frequently dip into our memories.

Miriam doesn't remember anything about her birthplace at all, but she is rather fascinated with ancient Egypt and requested a pyramid cake for her birthday this year.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Much overwhelm: the pudding that broke the camel's back

Monday is Rachel's day for dishes right now, which is only relevant so that you know that because it was Monday (1) was Rachel's dish day and (2) was family night. It was a particularly rushed evening for family night because things have simply been particularly rushed lately. On Monday morning we had taken the three little kids to apply for their passports, which meant Andrew got to campus late, which meant he felt obligated to stay a little later, which mean we had dinner later, which meant we were scrambling to clean up from dinner and get to our family night activities before bedtime.

We decided that we'd leave the dishes to do for later (our meal wasn't extravagant so honestly there weren't many cooking dishes (and I had already done the dishes from lunch and breakfast so it was really just the plates we'd used for eating on and some containers from leftovers, I think)) and jumped into family night.

After family night we rattled off the same getting-ready-for-bed list that we recite every night (which, for whatever reason, our children cannot seem to get ready for bed without):

  • Get on your pyjamas
  • Brush your teeth
  • Go potty
  • And so forth
If we miss saying an item they will surely forget about doing it and when we say, "Why haven't you brushed your teeth?!" they'll say, "You didn't say to brush your teeth. You just said to get ready for bed." No matter how many times we explain that getting ready for bed means doing all the things they still pull this routine regularly. 

Oh, but then we forgot that Andrew had made a treat for family night: pudding. 

So we said to scratch the teeth-brushing. We'd go from pyjamas to pudding to teeth to scriptures and prayer. Rachel somehow got behind in this process (I think she got hung up making her lunch) so when she came up for scriptures and prayer she was not in her pyjamas and she hadn't brushed her teeth, nor had she done the dishes. 

She managed to get her pyjamas on before we'd corralled the rest of the kids for scriptures and prayer and then as we dismissed them went through their list of things to do.

"Zoë, go potty and hop into bed. Benjamin, put your papers into your backpack, go potty, and hop into bed. Miriam, finish tidying your bedroom and hop into bed. You still have some reading time. Rachel, you need to brush your teeth and wash the dishes."

"But I haven't had any pudding yet!" she objected (because I think pyjamas were requisite to get a dish of pudding).

So Andrew appended his statement. "Rachel: pudding, dishes, teeth. Go!"

And with that she flew into a tizzy. She yanked the baby gate open and stormed down the stairs, angry words flying, feet pounding. 

"Rachel!" I gasped, shocked by her outburst (though this is probably mere foreshadowing of those dreaded teenage years, I'm sure someone will point out). 

I followed her downstairs and asked what was the matter. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

One year stats

Alexander had his one-year well-baby visit this morning. The nurse warned me that it would be a tough appointment because he needed shots and labs done today but it ended up being extra tough because his labs didn't go well, which meant she had to repeat them three times.

So the poor boy ended up with four shots (two in each leg) and two finger pricks. The first time his iron level was 9.4, which is too low, so the nurse came back and squeezed his poor little thumb again. This time his iron level was 9.7, which is still too low, so the doctor poked his head in and said we could either try another finger prick, but in a different location, or we could do a complete blood count (which is a lot more involved than a quick jab to the thumb). This third finger prick worked like a charm and he passed his iron test. The doctor seemed to think that third test was the most accurate because Alexander is growing so well.

He is 21 lbs. 1 oz. and 29 inches tall and is the picture of health.

We just have to wait around for him to walk and talk now. And when I mentioned that he still insists on being swaddled in order to sleep soundly the doctor assured me that wasn't a problem because if he really wanted to break out of the swaddle, he could. He assured me that eventually Alexander would give up swaddling (but that if it comes down to it we can always give his roommates a tutorial when we send him off to college—"just wrap him up real tight").

I'm sure he'll eventually decide that walking is a necessary thing as well, but so far he's perfectly content to crawl, climb, and be carried.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

So soapy it hurts

Last night before Andrew washed his hands he opened the soap container and added more water to it. It's one of those foaming soap bottles. We've been reusing the same bottle for a long time; we just add regular liquid soap to it (about a quarter of the way full) and then fill the rest with water, shake it up, and—presto!

It's not an exact science, however, and sometimes the mixture ends up too watery. Other times it ends up too soapy. This time it was a little soapier than it should have been, which is why Andrew had added more water.

"Too soapy for you?" I asked with feigned indignation (I had been the last one to refill it).

"Yeah," said Andrew. "It's too soapy for my shirt."

"So soapy it hurts?" I asked him.

"Uhhhhh...sure," he said, obviously confused by my remark. Shaking off his confusion he said, "But did you get my reference?"

"I did," I said patronizingly. "Did you get mine?"

"I did not," he said.

"It's the second line of the song you referenced."

"Oh. I don't really know that song."

"I could tell."

I know that song from Encino Man, which I remember watching several times as a child. From my memories this is a very funny movie and I still quote it every now and then ("Shoo, fly, don't bother me...'cuz you belong to my friend Link!"). Andrew doesn't think he's ever watched that movie (probably because he didn't have older siblings because I doubt I would have watched it in the 90s if I hadn't have had older siblings).

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


The other day when Riley was over, they (along with Benjamin) were in the backyard playing with the sidewalk chalk. I heard some funny scraping noises on the side of the house and looked out of the window to see those two three-year-olds had abandoned the sidewalk and were drawing on the side of the house, which isn't a terrible thing to do because it will wash off but it's best to be in the habit of drawing where one ought so I decided to intervene. 

I opened the back door and Riley and Zoë leapt away from their graffiti. 

"Who's been drawing on my house?" I asked in a silly storybook villain voice (like the troll from The Three Billy Goats Gruff or the witch from Hansel and Gretel).

"Not me!" they both said, each accusing the other with their little pointer fingers.

Unfortunately for Zoë, she's reached the age of self-incrimination because I'm pretty sure Riley didn't put that Z-O-E on the wall (though the series of vertical lines belong to him (if you look closely you can see that Zoë is written in green chalk and the lines are done in a turquoise colour (blue and green are actually rather difficult for me to tell apart and I always call things green that others think are blue or think things are blue when others swear that they're green so I dunno—those two colours are distinct in that picture, right? One of them is green-ish and the other is more blue (at least in my opinion))).

The three smalls

This little man was probably the most frustrating one to take pictures of. By the time we got home his pants, which were woefully caked with mud and salt, had dried and he wasn't even able to bend them. It's a good thing he's a cute, funny kid.

We did quiet a bit of snacking on the way out to the salt flats (a two-hour drive from our house), having left right around lunch time without much lunch in our bellies. When we were very nearly there, Benjamin asked if he could have a packet of applesauce.

"Not right now," Andrew said. "We're nearly there—only eleven minutes to go."

"I can eat an applesauce in ten!" Benjamin quickly countered.

"Well, that's not really the poi..." Andrew started to say before Benjamin cut him off with...

"I can eat an applesauce in one!"

He did not get his applesauce, but that was quickly forgotten because...water. My kids cannot resist water. (Oddly enough, last weekend I found a paper about Benjamin wanting to go leaf peeping and then we did; this weekend he brought home a paper about going to the beach and I was like, "Oh, buddy! The beach is too far away!" but then we ended up splashing around in salt water anyway, though we weren't really expecting to find as much water as we did (and that particular rest stop isn't always a lake, either, that lucky little boy)).


At first we were going to take family pictures on Saturday but then we decided we wouldn't because we hadn't decided on a location or a wardrobe or anything and we were running out of time to make such suggestions. But then Rachel suggested that we take family photos at the salt flats and this Saturday was the only date available for such an outing for quite some time so we decided we'd go for it. 

The idea was one part brilliant and one part messy, messy, messy

It was quite the adventure, that's for sure!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Glen Ray's Pumpkin Patch

We've been watching Riley more frequently than usual recently due to a change in his daycare situation. Knowing that my children were all going to be home today and tomorrow, I suggested to Karen that we take them all to a pumpkin patch place so they didn't go stir crazy but then she got sick so instead Reid and I ended up taking the kids out. 

I had found a place called Bert's online but other than an address I couldn't find much information, so we drove to the address, which was out in the middle of nowhere, and found nothing. So we decided we'd head over to Jaker's. On our way to the highway, however, we stumbled upon Glen Ray's Corn Maze and Grandpa pulled into the parking lot, declaring, "Let's just go here!"

So that's what we did and it was a pretty fun place, though I think I enjoyed Jaker's more (but that could be my attitude's fault than the place's fault). 

The first con would be the price. It's $4 for general admission and $4 for the corn maze, which of course the kids (Rachel and Miriam specifically) were super excited about doing. Plus there were other add-ons, like I believe it was $15 for the spooky corn maze and $2 for each additional train ride. It felt like things could get pricey real fast (and we all know how I feel about that). Agrotourism is great, but, like...shouldn't be as outrageous as Disneyland (which I also believe shouldn't be outrageously priced).

Jaker's is $3 for everything, but they don't have a maze through actual corn stalks (they do, however, have a hay bale maze, which I didn't do because I only had Zoë and Alexander with me, but that's just as much fun (or not fun, depending on how you feel about mazes)). 

The first pro of Glen Ray's would be that it wasn't nearly as crowded as Jaker's was. We got to ride the little tractor train right away, which Benjamin and Riley were both terribly excited about. Rachel volunteered to take Alexander, who wasn't thrilled about the idea, and Zoë cried and screamed and said she'd only go on if she could sit on Miriam's lap (so Miriam let her). They all had varying levels of fun...

The con for Jaker's would be that it's a super popular place so it's quite busy (but that's really only a con because I don't like crowds)...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pokemon and crushes

I found my sweet little Benjamin taking care of his cousin Riley in the kitchen this morning. I had been wondering who he had been talking to—counting backwards with the microwave timer and prattling on about all sorts of things—and it was sweet to see that he'd made oatmeal for the two of them (complete with a sprinkle of chocolate chips to make it "special").

"Oh, hi, Mom!" he said when I popped into the kitchen where he was on a stool, wiping out the microwave. "I put too much water in this bowl and it kind of exploded all over the place, so I'm just cleaning it up!"

I helped him finish cleaning it up so he could get down to business (our mornings are rushed sometimes and he needed to be eating, not cleaning) and he sat down by Riley to eat his breakfast.

"Oh, you do have to take me to school today," Benjamin said (I'd told him this last night but he didn't believe me). "Rachel is at orchestra and Miriam is at choir—on a Wednesday!"

Due to fall break their extracurricular schedules collided; ordinarily orchestra and choir don't fall on the same day.

"But don't check my pockets, Mom. Never check my pockets," he added.

"Why not?" I asked. "What have you got in there?"

"Nothing," he said. "Maybe some acorns. I am an acorn collector, you know."

"Oh, I know that about you. I do," I said. "But you wouldn't happen to have any Pokemon cards in there as well, would you?"

"Yes," he sheepishly admitted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Alexander at 12 months

Although I managed to get all the other kids in for their well-child checks at the beginning of this month, Alexander's appointment isn't until next week so I don't have official stats for him yet, though my guess is that he is about 22 lbs. He's catching up to Zoë at an alarming rate.

At one year, Alexander...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jaker's Pumpkin Patch

This morning we went to Jaker's Pumpkin Patch with our neighbourhood co-op preschool. Part of me always feels a little guilty when I go do fun things while the kids are in school, but it's only fair to the little ones still at home that we do, right? After all, when my big kids were the little ones we would go out and do fun things!

Alexander's cake

For Alexander's birthday cake I made a double recipe of the Incredibly Moist Pumpkin-Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from the Betty Crocker website. The base of the recipe is a boxed cake mix, just as a disclaimer (I'm not culinary goddess), but the mix-ins take things up a notch. Almost everyone seemed to like it, but the birthday boy (and girl) seemed to enjoy it so that's what really matters.

FHE Quidditch Practice

As room mom (x3) I'm suddenly in charge of putting together several Halloween parties. I also volunteered to be on the "safety week" committee at school, thinking that safety week would be, like, in April like it was last year. But, no. This year safety week falls the same week as Halloween because if I'm planning things I may as well be planning things. 

I don't have to do anything for Benjamin's class because my co-room mom is taking the party on since I've been organizing literacy center volunteers. Phew.

For Miriam's class I decided we'd have a Harry Potter theme and I came up with four stations, each representing a different class (or sport, in the case of Quidditch) from Hogwarts. And then when no one was stepping up to plan the 6th grade party (they have a big joint party with all four classes) I suggested we just do more or less the same thing and build our stations around a Harry Potter theme.

I've been floating my ideas to the girls to see if they think they'll be fun or not but I'm always a little unsure about whether my ideas will work the way I think they will. Having taken a handful of pedagogic classes (and having taught in numerous situations), I know that I am an excellent lesson planner. I am much less good at executing my ideas than I am about having them. 

"Fails to command the room..." and so forth.

My lesson plans always got top marks, but my teaching evaluations were never as positive, so I thought that perhaps I should test out an idea or two before the big day (so I could scratch activities that were a complete flop). Tonight for FHE we played Indoor Quidditch (or Quidditch Pong...or Potter Pong...I don't know what to call it). It's definitely a take on beer pong, but instead of putting beer in the cups I put trivia questions because, well, we're teetotalers (and also my target audience is children).

Monday, October 15, 2018

Finders keepers

This morning Benjamin couldn't find his...

  • pants
  • home-reading book
  • socks
  • shoes
  • jacket
  • jacket (again)
And he left his lunchbox at school again so will, yet again, be visiting the lost and found. 

The items he was missing this morning were subsequently found...
  • in his dresser (the issue, specifically, was that he hates wearing jeans and only ever wants to wear sweat pants but only had jeans in his drawer; we should probably get him more sweat pants)
  • by the television (where he also found the Humphrey book he's been reading (in a whole stack of books sitting there))
  • in his drawer (shocker)
  • in his shoe box (the issue, specifically, was that he'd jumped into the river when we went hiking on Saturday and his shoes were still too wet to wear out in this cold weather so we had to find a different pair of shoes but then we could only find one shoe of his back up pair because the other shoe was in Grandma and Grandpa's shoe box)
  • on the couch upstairs (after lamenting, "Why is the couch all full of stuff again?!" because he'd cleaned it off the other day (the answer to that question was, "Because you guys cleaned off the bottom stair yesterday by putting everything on the couch instead of putting anything away!")
  • on his head (he'd put the hood on his head and was walking around with the rest of it flapping behind him like a cape and when I asked him to put it all the way on he ran to the coat rack and panicked because he couldn't find his jacket)
"It is on your head," I seethed as calmly as I could. 

He also whined this morning about how he's not allowed to take books from home to school (his sisters, on the other hand, get to do it all the time). I pointed out that he's also not allowed to take school library books home (first graders (or grade oners)) have to keep them in their desks at school. I then pointed out that we'd spent the entire morning searching for things that he'd misplaced (or simply didn't look for long enough to find) so having him cart books around from three different sources would be a disaster. 

Taking his home-reading book back and forth between school and home is plenty responsibility for him!

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. 

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:

Thursday, October 11, 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?!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


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.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

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.

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 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. 

Sunday, October 07, 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. 

Tuesday, October 02, 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.

Monday, October 01, 2018

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.