Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Saturday is a special day

Emily came down again this Friday. We're beginning to joke that Fridays are just our day with her—she's been down so much the past couple of months! I'm sure she's getting sick of making the drive, but we do love seeing her. 

This time her sweet family came down to attend her sister-in-law's wedding so they were only at our house overnight, but it was fun to get a little bit of cousin time in. 

On Saturday my sister Kelli stopped by with Christmas presents for my kids. She is such a good gifter (I am not good at giving presents and have to work really hard at it, but it just seems to come naturally to her). 

She got Alexander a car mat and when she laid it out on the floor him and said, "This is for you!" he crawled over as fast as he could and then threw himself down on the carpet where he stayed happily for quite some time. It was pretty funny.

Heiss Holiday Humbug 2018

I mostly finished this poem and then sat and waited, wondering whether or not we'd hear back from Georgia (or Italy, but that's another story) in time to include it in the newsletter. Finally we decided to publish it without knowing (after all, we've ended every other poem with a big ol' question mark about our future) but as soon as we'd decided that we got the call from Georgia offering us a position!

So then I decided to work it into the newsletter after all, which meant I had to wait another week while the offer was finalized. Andrew signed all the paperwork yesterday so it's officially official—we'll be moving to Georgia next year (after we finish up the school year here)! 

Hold onto your hats, folks, because this poem ended up being significantly longer than in years past. It's been a doozy of a year, though, so that's completely justifiable (right?).

You can download the full-size version here, or read the text below the jump:


Several weeks ago, back when we were planning on going to Mexico with Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas (a humanitarian trip), Rachel and Miriam started working on "knifty knitter" hats to take with us so they could give them away. Seeing the girls work on their hats (which I don't think either of them have finished because life got crazy) reminded Grandma of a little set of kitting looms she once was working on. 

She also hadn't finished her project—a scarf—which she started before she got married and then spent the next 3+ decades carting around!

She did, however, know right where her looms were, so she got them out and told the girls they were welcome to try to finish the scarf she'd started and could have the looms. And then she died. 

Continuing her project seemed too daunting to the girls so I decided I would take it up. 

After all, I was the one to finish the baby blanket Grandma Sharon had been working on (for Gavin, I believe) before she passed away. I probably didn't finish it quite like she would have, but I studied it and figured out what pattern I thought she was using and finished it off. 

To finish Grandma's scarf I had to watch a little tutorial and then use a little trial and error (I'd only ever worked a loom in the round before) and by the time I was getting the hang of things I noticed that my stitches didn't match Karen's stitches at all!

My stitches are on the top, Karen's stitches are on the bottom.
You can definitely tell where one woman left off in the 1980s and the other began in 2018!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ice breaker

We hosted dinner this evening for the family that Andrew and Reid minister to (because they're ministering companions now; also Andrew was called to replace his mom as organist today and he's super excited about it) and just as we'd gathered everyone around the table Benjamin thought he'd address the elephant in the room.

He loudly proclaimed, "OUR GRANDMA IS DEAD!!"

"Welcome to our happy home," I apologized with a forced smile.

" Don't worry," Brother O. responded to Benjamin, in an equally jovial manner. "So is mine. In fact, both of my grandmas are dead."

As far as ice breakers go, I guess this wasn't a bad one. At any rate, the only way the conversation could go from there was up, so we'll consider it a win!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Making Christmas

Christmas preparations are in full swing at our house. Whatever that means. It certainly feels more like going through the motions of getting ready for Christmas than anything else. I hope the children are at least feeling some spark of magic and anticipation because the grown ups are all feeling rather...meh.

Alexander at 14 months

Today is my dad's birthday as well as the day Alexander turns 14 months old! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rachel's Orchestra Concert

This evening was Rachel's first orchestra concert. She's really been enjoying orchestra this past semester, was thrilled at the challenge of learning a new clef, and even willingly practices! 

Here she is before her concert with most of her school's orchestra. Her teacher works with more than one elementary school and this was a combined concert. Rachel was a little nervous to play with an entire orchestra she'd never played with before, but they all did just fine.

Rachel is in the second row from the top, third from the right

Miriam's Organ Recital

Miriam's organ recital was on Tuesday and she pulled quite the crowd! Aunt Linda drove up to BYU with us (okay—she drove up to BYU for us, which was so nice of her) and we met Auntie Josie, Naanii, and Uncle Bruce on campus. The kids wanted to sit on the very front row and we ended up filling it more than capacity. With Alexander on my lap and Zoë on Auntie Josie's we just barely fit (the front row was an accessible row, so there were gaps left in the row to accommodate wheelchairs; we didn't take up a whole row, just the whole section of chairs).

And then I remembered that Andrew would be coming, too, so we ended up being very squished in our section.

He taught a class from 4–4:50 on Tuesdays this semester so he was running a little behind schedule. We even held off starting the concert until he arrived since Miriam was, once again, the first player (because she's the only one short enough to require the pedal extender they had it ready to go for her and then removed it for the rest of the kids to play). 

Here's the very first Organ First class together on the stage (except for Miriam's friend Annaliese who wasn't able to be there and who is also short enough to need the pedal extender (so was slated to play second)).

Miriam is sitting on the bench (green dress, purple leggings, white sweater); TAs Dennis (on the far left) and Skylee (I think that's her name) back row on the right) and teacher Nora Hess (far right in yellow)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Choir concerts

This week shall hereby be known as The Week of Concerts. 

Last night we had our stake Christmas choir concert. My mom and Josie came to watch it with us and—surprise!—participate with us. We sang a beautiful arrangement of What Child is This? by Dave Fackrell and somehow I ended up being one of two altos in the choir which made me feel incredibly nervous. I'm a somewhat timid alto because I always sang soprano when I was younger. But I enjoy the challenge of learning the other parts, and besides...somebody's got to do it. 

Never have I been in a ward choir with such a dearth of altos!

The only other alto wasn't sure she would be able to make and told me that if she could she would definitely be late. You can imagine my horror when I looked at the program and saw that we were the very first number (that's what we get for being in the 1st ward)! So I asked my mom if she'd go up with me and then gave her a quick tutorial on the music, humming it quietly in our pew, before we went up to sing.

The other alto did, in fact, make it. Andrew said she walked in right before we went up. Phew!

So we had three altos to fourteen soporanos and I don't even know how many men (our choir has been oddly heavy in the bass clef recently, which is a wonderful problem to have). Those were much better odds.

I should add that we also had Rachel with us. She's been learning to sing alto as well, though she (self-admittedly) tends to flit back to the melody if she's not careful. It does take some ear training to get used to singing a different part. 

Anyway, it went well and I was grateful for my mom's support (for coming and for singing) and for Josie for watching the little ones on our bench and for Andrew for pacing the halls with a screaming Alexander while our choir was up. 

This evening was Miriam's school choir concert.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Christmas at the Riverwoods

Last night we went out for dinner as a family (the kids all brought home coupons for free kids meals), making it our second annual eat-at-Brick-Oven-and-then-visit-Riverwoods-for-Christmas-lights outing. We're just that good at traditions.*

The kids' meals came out promptly but the food for the grown ups took forever because somehow between filling the order for the kids' meals and finally filling the order for our meals, our "ticket got lost" so they just didn't ever make our food.** We waited for about an hour after the kids ate. 

Alexander was getting so hungry that he started eating crayons.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Old snow

Last year we only got snow a handful of times and although a few of those times were significant snowfalls, I don't recall it sticking around for very long. Not long enough to be old snow, at any rate. This season has been much snowier so far (which is a good thing for our reservoirs, I'm sure). 

It snowed on Sunday and the kids went sledding because they simply couldn't resist the snowy hill calling their name, even on the Sabbath day. Rachel even broke out the phrases, "bonding time" and "wholesome recreational activity," and volunteered to take Benjamin and Zoë to the hill by herself. So, yes, we let them go sledding on a Sunday.

And then we started our busy week and the snow sat and sat and sat, freezing and thawing and freezing and thawing but never quite melting because it didn't get warm enough for that this week. 

On Thursday we decided to go sledding again and the kids were pleasantly surprised at how awesome "old snow" is for sledding. They've never experienced "old snow" before. It's much more slippery than new snow, which makes sledding a much more slippery experience. 

They loved the going down parts of sledding. They did not like trying to climb back up the icy slope. Poor Zoë couldn't even manage it while carrying her sled so Rachel had to carry both their sleds up every time.

I didn't go sledding this time because I had Alexander strapped to my front and I didn't want to risk falling off a sled with him ("old snow" is much less forgiving in a fall than "new snow"). He was happy to watch with me.

Xander and Zo

We have a lot of long, sleepless nights over here (still) so it was so nice one morning this week (was it Thursday?)* when Andrew was able to get the kids off to school so that Alexander and I could sleep for a while. Those two things—Andrew being able to stay late enough to send the kids to school and Alexander sleeping in—happen so rarely together.

He'd settled Zoë in the basement, watching Frozen, so Alexander and I had to go hunting around the house for her when we woke up (shortly before 9:00). When we found her, Alexander squawked out in his baby language that he wanted to snuggle with her, so I put him down and he climbed up onto her lap and she held him. She was excited to "get a turn holding him," a privilege the older children have taken turns vying for since his birth, but which I've more or less loss control of because he has a mind of his own. Still, they always ask me, "Can I hold Alexander?"

"Ask him," I have to remind them because I can't just pass him off to anybody against his wishes (especially not in the middle of sacrament meeting) like I used to be able to do when he was a teeny weeny thing. 

Anyway, the stars aligned for these two yesterday (it was, in fact, just yesterday and apparently stars were aligning all over the place because I got to sleep in) and he wanted her to hold him and she wanted to hold him back.

Here are a few pictures of them snuggling while Frozen was finishing up:


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Lunchtime oomph

"Let's have prayer, shall we?" I said, carrying lunch over to the table.

Alexander quickly folded his arms. He's so good at getting ready for prayer that we've started asking some anonymous sibling of his to follow his example (which is embarrassing for any of them, though I will just let you guess which sibling in particular I'm referring to).

"I'll say it!" Zoë volunteered, because she always volunteers (because she never gets to say the prayer, according to her, even though she probably gets to say the most prayers).

Then she said, "I prayed for Grandma to not die."

"You did," I said.

"But then she did. She died all the way."

"I know," I said, stroking her hair.

"That's sad," she said.

"It is," I agreed. "It is so sad."

"Why did Heavenly Father do that when I prayed for her to not die?"

"Well, because sometimes when we pray the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no. Heavenly Father has a special plan for Grandma and a special plan for you. I guess part of his plan for Grandma was that he needed her home right away, and that's hard for us, but Heavenly Father will help us to be happy even though Grandma is gone because he loves us and he loves her and he knows that she loves us, too."

"But Heavenly Father is not here either!" she objected.

"But his love is," I assured her.

Someone described grief as an ebb and flow and I thought that was a wonderful depiction. I guess today Zoë's is flowing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Lacking senses

Last night we sang Away in a Manger at the beginning of Family Night. Zoë decided that she needed to accompany us so she went over to the (electric) piano, turned it on, put on the headphones, and pounded away while we all sang.

When she was finished she came back to us all looking rather proud of herself.

"That was wonderful, thank you," I said.

Andrew, Rachel, and Miriam also offered their compliments.

"Very nicely done."

"Great playing."

"I loved it!"

Zoë beamed with pride.

Benjamin, however, started to cry.

"I didn't hear her play!" he whined. "I didn't hear anything."

"That's because only little boys who behave can hear the piano," Rachel quickly (and savagely) answered.

The first Monday of December

Trigger warning: This post discusses a recent suicide attempt on BYU campus.

"Thank goodness November is over! That was an awful month. December," Andrew declared, "will be calm and relaxing and normal. We've got this."

And with that he finished scraping off his car (because although he declared December calm, relaxing, and normal he couldn't exactly put a moratorium on the cold) and headed off into the world for the first workday of December.

I was surprised, about twenty minutes later, when I heard the garage door open.

"Forgot this!" he said, picking up his briefcase and waving it in the air. "So much for a good start to December. I'm supposed to meet with a student in ten minutes but I'm definitely going to be late for that appointment!"

And with that he was off again, chuckling to himself about how he had been the one to upset the calm, relaxing, normal beginning to December.

Little did we know, a calm, relaxing, normal December was not at all in the cards.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Miriam plays the organ at the tabernacle (and a not-so-false alarm)

Miriam has loved her organ class this semester. She loves her teacher, her TAs, her classmates. She loves practicing, she loves performing, and she's loved their field trips. It's been a wonderful experience for her. 

On Saturday we schlepped all the kids (and my mom) up to Salt Lake for Miriam's class field trip to the tabernacle. We were asked that no children under the age of eight come, which rather ruined our plans. So we decided that the little kids would wander around Temple Square with Daddy (looking at the nativities, checking out the visitors centers, and so forth) and my mom and I would accompany Miriam (Rachel stayed home with Grandpa so that she would be sure to make it to a birthday party she'd been invited to). 

I didn't understand why Andrew couldn't bring the kids in to listen to their sister play since the tabernacle is typically open to visitors, but we were told no kids so we listened. As it turns out, they totally could have come through the main doors to hear her play; we got to go up through the back entrance into the choir seats (which I'm assuming is particularly where they didn't want children).

It ended up not mattering because there wasn't any way we were going to bring the kids to a concert Saturday morning, anyway.

We woke them up around 6:30 so we could get ready to go. Zoë was out of sorts because she's not used to waking up quite that early. It was still dark out. That meant it was still night. What were we doing dragging her out of bed?! She yelled about her clothes. She yelled about breakfast. She yelled about getting buckled up in the car. Eventually she settled down, but she was still a grumpy little tyrant. 

"Daddy, don't drive too fast!" she ordered from her car seat throne. "Can't Mommy drive? I want Mommy to drive. Mommy never drives too fast."

"We're on the freeway, baby," Andrew told her. "I have to go fast."

"Can you not go so wobbly then? You're driving fast and wobbly and it's making my tummy hurt."