Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ants! Ants! Ants! Ants! Marching up and down again!

Ants are still invading our kitchen. They seem to really enjoy empty yogurt containers, the dregs of orange juice, and pancake batter and I have to wonder...did the previous owners never eat yogurt or drink orange juice or spill pancake batter and miss wiping up one little droplet? Or did they, too, have ants filing in and out of the windowsill at all hours of the day, hoping to find delectable droppings?

I honestly don't remember seeing any ants when we walked through the house. Nary a one.

And this family had dog and cat food just sitting out on their kitchen floor for the taking!

Surely ants like pet food!

Or perhaps they don't. Ants can be surprising sometimes.

This evening I was putting some green beans in the microwave and when I grabbed the lid for the dish I saw a few stray ants endlessly perambulating the circumference. I blew a couple off, flicked off another one, then shrugged and put the last few in the microwave along with the lid. Because surely they'd just be nuked in a flash, right?

Wrong!

I took the green beans out of the microwave and set them on the table and the ants, who'd seemed to have hunkered down for their merry-go-round ride in the microwave, got back up and started marching around the lid again.

We were all shocked. Apparently ants aren't microwavable.

We're planning on caulking around the window ledges (this helped in our Hummingbird Lane house) but I'm afraid we can only do that when we get a lull in traffic from that spot. It's ridiculously busy, but I suppose since Atlanta is infamous for its terrible traffic we shouldn't be too surprised by this. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Two shiny toilets

The toilet in the hall was leaking when we first toured the house, but "that's an easy fix" our realtor assured us. Besides, the inspector would probably add that to his list of problems (which he didn't), but the previous owners mentioned something about planning on fixing it (just as they had a shower knob that broke between our visits to the house) so we didn't think much of it until it still wasn't fixed when we did our final walk-through.

A leaky toilet isn't really a good reason to not buy a house, however, so we went ahead with the purchase. Plus they left the kit to fix the toilet innards in the bathroom cabinet for us, so clearly they had intended to fix the toilet but had simply run out of time.

Or...

Sunday, July 14, 2019

I spy with my little eye...

We lost our painter's tape the other day and after searching high and low for it we finally gave up and added it to our ever-growing list of things to pick up at the home improvement store. I finally found it when Andrew was already on his way home with another roll. It was sitting on our blue bean bag chair, perfectly camouflaged.



Alexander at...(checks calendar)...21 months

Amidst all the months-long chaos of moving somewhere new, Alexander has continued to grow up. Today I took him to nursery (and stayed with him the entire time, which was his first time staying for the duration of the hour) and another mother brought her little girl over and said, "Here. This little boy looks like he's about your age. Why don't you play with him?"

"How old is she?" I asked.

"Uhhhh...let's see...ummmm..."

"Same," I said. "He was born in October."

"Okay. She was born in November. So they're close."

It's getting tricky remembering how old he is in months, which is a sure sign it's time to start measuring his age in years, which means he's getting altogether too old.

He did okay at nursery today, even playing on his own a little bit, if only he could reach over and pat my foot and say, "Mommy!" whenever he needed to. Eventually I was able to move a few feet away ("Mommy—'tay!" he commanded me to stay) and finally made it all the way across the room where I sat in a chair and reassured him every time he looked up in a panic and squeaked, "Mommy?" that I was still there.



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Gone paintin'

It was my idea—painting the basement.

I spent most of my childhood years in basement bedrooms, as far as I recall (though there were a few golden years on upper floors), and I couldn't stomach the thought of putting my sweet girls down in the dark and dingy basement. At least not as it stood.

As it stood, it was covered in garish purple and pink polka-dotted carpet, walls smeared with turquoise and grey paint (which under other circumstances might have produced a whimsical cloud effect, but which under our particular circumstances looked like a Pinterest Fail), dark brown trim, and various ceiling tiles dripping with spiders.

Oh, the spiders.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Bug filters, hot bubbles, and so forth

We went on a family walk this evening, trying to find a new "loop" (but the "loop" we found was a full mile (and then some), which was a little long for some of our smaller walkers, whereas our old loop was only a half-mile and just about the right distance for a quick post-dinner, pre-bedtime stroll, so we'll have to try something different). We've gone on a number of family walks since moving in and every time we do we can't help but imagine how moving into any given house would be.

"Oh! That driveway is even worse than ours! So steep! So long! I would hate to move in there!"

"That house looks doable."

"Oh, but look how many stairs are leading to the front door!"

"You're right! Never mind. That looks dreadful!"

We're definitely not even shopping for houses anymore, but we can't help doing a little window shopping as we peruse our neighbourhood.

"Why does that balcony have a railing on it?" Rachel asked about one house. "There isn't even a door leading out to it. I guess they could climb out the window, as long as the window doesn't have one of those things. What is it? Do they even have them in the south? I haven't seen any. That's weird because there are so many bugs here. What are they called? ... A bug filter!"

Grandpa's gone

We left the house at 8:38 to head to church this morning (we were aiming for 8:30, so we weren't terribly off schedule). The church building itself is about a ten-minute drive from our house and it looks quite a bit like our old Berini building in Durham, though it's not quite the same.

Walking from our parking stall to the church building, Grandpa joked, was like walking from our house to the church building in Utah. We will miss being so close to the church building but so far we are really enjoying our ward and are happy to be, as they say, "in the mission field" once again.

Zoë's favourite part of church was that they sang all the same songs she already knows (standardized curriculum will do that for you). Benjamin seemed to enjoy goofing off with the boys he was sitting with on the back row of the primary room (though I'm fairly certain they have put him with the wrong class) but he was annoyed that this primary was only now learning the song Gethsemane since our ward went ahead and learned it in January.

We told him that he's now ahead of the curve and can help his friends learn it.

Miriam happily proclaimed after church that she "made no friends."

"Surely you made at least one friend," I said.

"Nope. I met everyone in my class at the party on Thursday so I didn't make any new friends today!"

But she developed a deeper relationship with the friends she made on Thursday, I guess, and that's important as well.

Rachel would have preferred our first Sunday to be a Young Women's week, I think, but she bravely attended her Sunday School class.

In fact, I didn't even have to help her find her class because a woman in the row in front of us offered to escort her to the youth Sunday School (and Miriam, likewise, was carted off by a member of the primary presidency). It was easy to find where Benjamin and Zoë were supposed to be because the junior primary classes typically meet in the primary room before going to classes (while the senior primary attends their classes first and then meet in the primary room).

Alexander joyfully toddled into the nursery room to play with toys but then promptly had a little baby anxiety attack and started screaming his little lungs out. Andrew tried to wait it out but Alexander was unconsolable—shaking and crying and begging for Momma (and then, when that was getting him nowhere, for Grandpa)—so he went in to rescue the poor boy. Alexander wasn't particularly pleased that Daddy had been the one to come to his rescue, but he clung to Andrew's neck, anyway, and sniffled and whimpered and shook until he was sure he had come off as entirely too pathetic to send back to the nursery.

I'm not sure we'll ever get him to stay in nursery.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Camping in our first house

On our way home from dinner this evening (Waffle House—we're definitely back in the south) we saw a deer as we were driving through our neighbourhood, and in a perfect Bambi-and-Thumper moment, we saw that there was a little bunny hopping along beside the deer. So far we've also seen squirrels and chipmunks and have heard rumblings of bear sightings as well.

It's hard to believe we're tucked snuggly in the middle of ninth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States, not camping.

Especially because we're basically camping in our house right now.

The Relief Society president, who we met last night at Berkeley Lake for an evening of pizza, visiting, and playing in the sand (because the lake itself was closed due to unsafe bacteria levels in the water, which they've since cleared up), came by the house to drop off some air mattresses and pillows and things. So we're primitive, but comfortable.

The children could hardly fall asleep tonight, they were so bothered by the sounds of insects singing to the moon (a sound that with time will become comforting enough to lull them off to sleep, I'm sure). Cicadas and crickets and who knows what else, trilling and chirping and making a racket. There are frogs, too, I'm sure.

It sounds familiar to the older members of our family, but foreign to our little ones.

Our trailer arrived this afternoon and we've got appliances coming out our ears. They were delivered while we were signing the closing documents for our house and though we begged them to wait—just ten minutes—for us to get back to the house with the key, they ditched our appliances on our driveway and took off.

I wasn't very pleased about this, but with some (great) effort, we managed to get the fridge into the house and connected it to the water line and so forth. The dryer is all set to go as well. The washer is just about hooked up (though the pedestal for the washing machine arrived damaged and we'll have to send it off and wait for a new one (that doesn't really affect how well the washing machine works, however)) and the company should be sending someone out to hook up our dishwasher (because I called to complain because we had someone there to accept the delivery—Grandpa—he just didn't have a key to the house, but we were only ten minutes outside of their "wait window" and they could have started unpackaging things in preparation to move things into the house (the fridge, for example, had to be unboxed and the doors had to be removed completely before it would fit inside the house) but they wouldn't even start doing that; as it turns out they should have called headquarters before leaving anyway, even though the policy is to leave after their "wait window" expires, in which case headquarters might have told them to stick it out for ten minutes). Getting that all sorted out was a bit of a mess, but it's almost through.

So even though things are exhausting and frustrating, they're a normal level of exhausting and frustrating and not "all-your-kids-have-the-stomach-flu-and-your-moving-van-is-lost-somewhere-in-the-continental-united-states" level of frustrating (which was the level we were at when we moved to Spanish Fork (though it was also less stressful because we were moving to a place where we were surrounded by friends and family and now we're here feeling rather alone)).

I'm sure in the coming weeks we'll feel better and better as we get things settled!

Monday, July 01, 2019

Travel notes: Day 3

Well, we did it! I didn't think it could be done, but we did it! We pulled into Atlanta around 11:00 last night after a very long day of driving.

I tried so hard to include interesting stops on this trip, to break of the drive and make some memories, but unfortunately things didn't work out as planned and the trip ended up being rather boring despite my best efforts. We missed the Oz museum on Saturday and then as we were going through St. Louis we got a notification that the roads leading to the arch were closed due to the river flooding (floods have been rather terrible and widespread in that part of the country this year), so we missed that as well. And then because we decided to just power on through the rest of the way to Georgia we drove through Chattanooga (where we were going to stop to see some Civil War things) just as the sun was setting (and the parks were closed). So we really struck out.

But now we know that Chattanooga looks like a very pretty area and that it's less than two hours from our house so we can plan a day trip there sometime, to enjoy the fall colours of the Appalachians, perhaps.

Here are a few stories from our day yesterday:

In the morning before leaving the hotel in Concordia, Rachel was following me around whining while I was trying to get ready to go. She had a bit of a short fuse and after she snipped at Miriam (again), I asked her to cool her jets.

"It's just that she cries about everything!" Rachel...cried.

"Which is exactly what you're doing now!" I pointed out.

"I'm not crying! I'm just whining!" Rachel argued.

"Which is the same thing as crying...only drier!" I said.

Rachel collapsed onto the bed and moaned, "MOOOOOOM!"

Because there's nothing like a good mom joke when you're in the middle of an adolescent rage.

Travel notes: Day 2

I was initially a little worried about staying in Limon because it looked rather rundown, but then I looked up the crime rate for the area and felt much better about, for instance, leaving our luggage tied to the top of the van (it's just sleeping bags and Rachel's dirty laundry from camp, but still).

"Guess how many crimes were reported in the area last year," I said to Andrew, but he didn't have a guess, so I told him. "Seven!"

"Seven...like, right here around the hotel?"

"No. In all of Limon," I said.

"Oh, we're going to be fine then," he said.

And we were. But it really was a little rundown kind of joint. Still, the kids enjoyed playing on the little rundown playground in the morning.

We struck out for Goodland, Kansas to see the world's largest easel...and also a replica of Van Gogh's Three Sunflowers in a Vase painted by the Canadian artist Cameron Cross (he has done two other gigantic sunflower paintings on easels just as large as the one in Goodland, so I'm not sure how it can claim to be the world's largest...but it does). We had to take a picture to send to Uncle Rod, who also made a version of this painting (which will hang in our home, which I'm excited about because of Uncle Rod's paintings it is one of my favourites).

Eventually I will put some pictures up. This blog feels so empty without them. But anyway...

Saturday ended up being another long day of driving. After stopping in Goodland, we stopped in Oakley for lunch at iHop and then tried to decide if we would make it to Wamego (where the Oz museum is) in time to visit it. We decided we would not be able to make it in time (much to our daughters' disappointment) and instead went to a Buffalo Bill museum. It was to mark the birthplace of the idea of Buffalo Bill. I guess there were two Buffalo Bills who held a contest over the use of the name and Buffalo Bill Cody won by killing more buffalo, right there on the plains of Oakley, than the other Buffalo Bill.

After that we drove for hours upon hours upon hours. Alexander and I fell asleep. Zoë busily coloured and chattered away to herself while listening to her shows with her headphones. Benjamin was so plugged in that we hardly heard a peep from him. Andrew just drove.

We finally stopped for the night in Concordia—yes, Missouri—where we were surprised by the humidity. Kansas was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a parching wind. When we stepped out of the car in Missouri it felt as if we had stepped into a sauna. It felt delightful (perhaps because we were so cold from being in the car with the AC blasting (cold air helps car sickness at bay in addition to keeping the driver away) but also because we're not sick of the humidity yet). The children were also pleased to see a few fireflies out and about while they were romping around in the lawn in front of the Pizza Hut we stopped at.

*****

Here are few funny things that happened while we were driving, as recorded on Facebook (which is where I happened to take my notes that day (I guess my phone service was better out on the open prairie than it was while driving through the mountains)):

Andrew: I think we’ll stop for a potty break in Salina.
Me: How far is Salina?
Andrew: I think...67 miles?
Me (looking it up): 70. That was good! You were so close.
Andrew: That’s because I’ve been mentally calculating it in my head...because...that’s where one typically engages mentally...anyway...moving on.

Zoë has been obsessing over the difference between a hotel and a motel and we haven't been able to satisfy her quest for knowledge. As we were driving (shortly after lunch), she asked if we were going to a hotel. So I told her we were.

"Excuse me," she chided. "I'm talking to Daddy, so..."

"Oh, my bad," I said, even though she'd given no indication to which parental unit she'd intended to address.

"Are we going to a hotel?" Zoë repeated.

"Yes," Andrew said.

"Don't you mean motel?" Zoë asked.

"Sure," Andrew shrugged.

Then Zoë, returning to her colouring, muttered to herself, "Probably not. He doesn't even know!" and resumed happily humming.

Later Andrew tried explaining that hotels have hallways on the inside and motels open up to the outdoors, which left Zoë incredibly complexed when we showed up to whatever place we stayed at last night and found that the first floor opened up to the outside while the second floor opened up to the inside of the building. Talk about confusing!

*****

We didn't really hear many are-we-there-yet's due in large part, I'm sure, to the fact that Benjamin was in screen-time heaven. Zoë asked variations of this question several times, but not so many that it got to be annoying. And she doesn't understand time at all so her line of questioning was always very interesting.

Zoë: But when will we get to the hotel?
Andrew: In about two hours.
Zoë: Is that in whole time or half time?
Andrew: Ummm...half time?
Zoë: Yippee!!

Later Andrew answered this same series of questions and told her that it was in "whole time," whatever that is, and she was equally excited. We're not really clear what "whole time" and "half time" mean in her mind.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Travel notes: redacted

Warning: the following content may contain elements that are not suitable for some audiences. Accordingly, reader discretion is advised. In other words: it may border on being inappropriate (but we got a good laugh over it at the time).

*****

Rachel has been in charge of communication in the white car (the white car that is still so new and foreign to us that we never recognize it as our own, even when it's sitting in our own driveway (seriously—I'm always like, "Who's here? Oh. Us.")) since Grandpa is driving and she has nothing but time. Her response time is a little bit slow, however, and at times it's been frustrating because sometimes I'll need to communicate a last-minute change in plans for our caravan and she won't respond.

Today I resorted to using the "find my phone" app to ping her phone because I knew it would override any sort of "do not disturb" barricades. She didn't notice my texts, my phone call, or when I tried to facetime her, but she did finally pick up the phone when it started pinging.

I think she's since (as in "since I exasperatedly told her to pick up the phone!") changed the settings on her phone (to the "most annoying sound I could find," she told me). We'll see if that helps.

Anyway, yesterday I sent her the following text (because we had sleeping babies and didn't want to wake them but had promised everyone a pit stop): "We are skipping Grand Junction (unless your car says otherwise), aiming for Rifle. About 100 miles. That okay with you?"

I got no response. So I sent another message.

Still no response, so I sent the following message, which I thought was funny:

"Speak now or forever hold your pee(s)."

She didn't even respond to that—or to my next four messages—but I did see that my messages had at least been read so I wrote, "You can at least laugh at my joke!" So she did a little "haha" reaction to my message. "Thank you!" I said.

Because people laugh when things are funny!

Travel notes: Day 1

Today we drove from Spanish Fork, Utah to Limon, Colorado (560 miles, 8 hours and 45 minutes of driving time).

Andrew and I are in the minivan with Benjamin, Zoë and Alexander. Miriam and Rachel are in the car with Grandpa. We're a happy little caravan. At least for today. At least until we told the kids we weren't stopping anywhere for dinner because we had so many snacks for them to munch on (and, like, good snacks—cheese and carrots and celery and nuts, if they should choose such things, which make a very healthy meal (but also many things that might not add up to a sufficient meal)).

Anyway, I took some notes from our car because our children are habitually hilarious.

At one point Zoë called my attention and I looked back and she was feeling her nose and looking very perplexed. "Mom! Mom! Mom!" she said. "I think...I think my nose...is an M!"

And, you know what, noses are M's...in a way. If you are strapped into your car seat long enough you, too, might discover this about yourself.

"See? Boredom is good," Andrew said. "You discover all sorts of things you never realized when you're bored."

Friday, June 28, 2019

Farewells

What a whirlwind of activity we've had this week! I eventually really do need to get all the pictures off my phone and camera and run through everything we've done (bowling, farewell parties, and so forth). On Tuesday we packed up the truck and said goodbye to mostly everything we own (and learned that we own far too much stuff). On Wednesday we met up with my friend Jade and her little girls at Red Ledges.

Jade and I became fast friends when her family moved into our ward in PoCo (from South Africa). I was so excited to have another little girl my age in our ward because for years it had just been me and *grumbly voice* Damen *end grumbly voice*.

I'm sure Damen is fine. But seven-year-old me certainly didn't think he was enough of a playmate.

Lia and Hona (sisters, very close in age (but not twins?), whose names, if you say them together are liahona) were also in my age group for a time, but they stuck together like glue and I think eventually moved to a Chinese-speaking branch or something.

Anyway, I was so happy to have a girl my age in the ward. Jade and I would take turns going home with each other's families on Sundays. That was a very common way for us to have playdates with our church friends because our ward boundaries were so large that it meant we'd only have to be chauffeured once to come home at the end of the playdate instead of twice (to be dropped off and picked up). Her dad would make "flapjacks" quite often and we just loved being together.

Unfortunately, she happened to move in only a few months (6? 9?) before my family moved to Alberta, but her friendship has stuck with me my entire life. I saw her once when I was 13 and I flew out to BC for a visit but haven't seen her since. We really are quite two peas in a pod though.

Before getting back in contact after years of radio silence, we both grew up, graduated from our respective high schools, and ended up at BYU. I taught English in Voronezh, Russia. She taught English in Voronezh, Russia. I did a study abroad in Jordan (as a trailing spouse). She did a study abroad at the Jerusalem Center (the first semester it reopened). I lived in Egypt (as a trailing spouse again) and she was writing to me about a job prospect she had in Egypt years ago (but ultimately decided not to take). It's kind of funny the number of very similar things we've done!

Of course, our lives also have been wildly different.

I got married young and have five kids. She went on a mission and then to law school (and somewhere in the middle got married and started having kids—her first baby was born just a few weeks before she graduated and her second is about nine months old).

It was so fun to reconnect with her, though, and to reassure my girls that friends we only get to be with for a short amount of time (like the two years we spent in Spanish Fork—which really is plenty of time to develop a long-lasting friendship, in my opinion and experience) can be lifelong—and important—friends.

Anyway...I'm sure I'll be back to revisit our last visit to Red Ledges once I get those pictures off my camera.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

So spooky

The other night I walked into the kitchen while Andrew was in the pantry (I have a feeling we're going to miss having a walk-in pantry) and when he turned around and saw me he just about died of fright.

"I wasn't even trying to scare you!" I said while he was trying to catch his breath (we might spend a good chunk of our spare time trying to find new ways to scare each other).

And then he explained that he was so scared because our office chairs had been sitting at the top of the stairs for a while now and he when he'd glance at them quickly he'd think they were people and they'd startle him. "And then you walked into the kitchen dressed like an office chair and I thought that somehow one of the office chairs had followed me into the kitchen and it really scared me!"

"You thought I was dressed..."

"Like...an...office...chair...yeah. Now that I say it out loud again I can see that was maybe not the best..." he tried to excuse himself.

"Like an office chair?!" I asked, feeling a bit like Princess Sneezewort, a character introduced in The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, who is "not afraid of hiding," during hide-and-seek but is "afraid of never being found," because she blends in with the drapes, table lamps, and rug (and pretty much everything else).

"Well, you have a grey shirt on," he tried.

"Like. An. Office. Chair?!" I repeated.

It's possible I need to liven up my wardrobe...

Birthday privileges

Somewhere or other I squirreled away our camera and on it are the pictures from my birthday. But I'm not sure where it is at the moment, and also I needed to install a program to edit pictures (or at least make my pictures the right size) on this old laptop, so for the time being we'll have picture-less posts.

Lucky for you there are plenty of pictures on my mom's blog. She took all five of my kids out—by herself—to Thanksgiving Point for a day of adventure while Andrew and I spent the day furiously packing. And then at the end of the day she had us over for dinner.

I told her that if I had been the one to take all five kids to Thanksgiving Point by myself, it would certainly be a day that I would not want to come home and make dinner! But she had dinner ready for us when we arrived at her house—perogies, yum!—and a lovely carrot cake that she bought at the store (and that had so much frosting on it)!

When it came time to say the blessing on the food, Zoë thought that I should be the one to say the prayer, and said as much, but my dad didn't hear her and asked Miriam to say the prayer. So Miriam said the prayer and Zoë, who did a very good job at controlling her temper, passive-aggressively apologized to me after the prayer (I think deep down inside she wanted to get really angry with my dad for not having me say the prayer, but she also knows that she's not supposed to throw fits about everything, so a passive-aggressive jab it was).

"I'm sorry you didn't get to say the prayer on your birthday, Mommy!" she said. "We should always get to say the prayer on our birthdays but instead Miriam prayed. And that's just too bad because it's your birthday!"

She has apologized to me (less passive-aggressively, since my dad's no longer within earshot to benefit from her derisive tone, I suppose) several times since then. She feels very strongly about this.

We have a longstanding (and, our older girls might add, annoying) tradition of celebrating every last and first thing someone does on their birthday (and also at the New Year and also sometimes when the month changes, just for kicks).

"It's the last prayer we'll hear from three-year-old Zoë," we might say the night before her birthday. "The last time we get to tuck three-year-old Zoë in. The very last hug and kiss for three-year-old Zoë."

And then on her birthday we'd shower her with, "It's four-year-old Zoë! Her first four-year-old breakfast! Her first four-year-old breakfast prayer! Her first time brushing her hair as a four-year-old!"

You get the picture, I'm sure. Zoë is all over this sort of thing. Rachel...is a little bit over it (but lucky for her she gets to continue to endure it for as long as we're her parents).

Even though I didn't get to say the dinner prayer on my very first day of being 34, it was a pretty great birthday, anyway. And Zoë is excited that I'm finally her age again—in fact, right now she is the exact same age as Andrew and I. 34, 34, and 4. The very same!

Loading Day

Our moving truck was dropped off yesterday afternoon. We had three days to fill it but because we went ahead and hired movers—thanks to a rather generous moving package—it's already filled (to the brim!) and has been taken away. And we didn't even lift a finger.

Having moved how many times without the help of professional movers (answer: many times), I can testify that using professional movers is definitely the way to go. It took three men five hours to load at 28-foot trailer for us and all we did (besides move a couple of things out of the house at the very end to hasten the project) was sit around and fret that we wouldn't be able to squeeze everything we wanted to in there. But we did, more or less, manage to get our entire house into one trailer!

We've been selling things off and giving things away for several weeks now. Some things we knew we wouldn't have room for and other things we simply didn't want anymore. Other things we wish we could have held on to, but knew doing so was impractical.

Both Miriam and I are mourning the loss of our chairs. For me, it's my rocking chair—too big and bulky to justify moving across the country (again) when my nursing days are numbered. For Miriam it's her big red office chair, which we decided at the last moment to jettison when we started getting really nervous about not having room for everything else we needed to put on the truck.

She's sad, but has decided that if she had to choose between the organ and the red chair, she'd choose the organ every time. And the organ definitely made it on the truck, so she's happy.

And Karen's big comfy recliner will be taking the place of my rocking chair and Alexander and I will live out the rest of our nursing days in that chair, I suppose, so we can be happy, too.

It was weird sitting back and watching while the truck was being loaded, but it's certainly nice to not be completely exhausted at the end of our loading day! And our nerves feel a lot better now that everything is on its way to Georgia.

Now all that's ahead of us is packing our vehicles for our cross-country road trip...but for now we have a couple of days to breathe and enjoy Utah while we wait for Rachel to get back from Young Women's Camp!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Utter Chaos

Our moving truck arrives on Monday—ironically 23 months to the day we left Durham—but our moving crew isn't scheduled until Tuesday. In a way this is an act of grace because it allows us one more day to get our act together. Really we're pretty close to being done.

I think we have one or two more things to disassemble.

We like to joke that in our house we only ever disassemble (and never dissemble).

The sad part about disassembling furniture, though, is knowing that we're going to have to reassemble it all over again. It's kind of like making a fancy cake in that regard. You put all this effort into a project only to destroy/undo all your work. Oh, well. We're looking forward to getting settled even if it means putting all the furniture we just took apart back together again.

Moving always seems to breed chaos, at least for us (but surely for everybody).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The 7th floor

We took a break from our furious packing/cleaning/sorting routine this morning to visit Uncle Trevor in the hospital. He's having some rather typical quadriplegic complications and has been in the hospital since Monday. 

Yesterday we had a farewell party, which we awkwardly ended up throwing for ourselves (even though it didn't start out that way) and which I will write about in the near future, I'm sure. Right now I'm just trying to do a speed-write while Andrew is doing the final copy edits for an article of his that will be published soon. Anyway, we ended the evening playing hand-and-foot until late and we were cracking some pretty terrible jokes, which we knew we had to go share with Uncle Trevor. 

He seemed to enjoy having us there, though he was also pretty tired. 

The kids were mostly fascinated by the view from his window on the 7th floor. The hospital (Utah Valley Hospital, where Benjamin stayed in the NICU as a newborn and where Alexander was born (and where Andrew was born as well)) is undergoing some extensive renovations, so the kids were watching the construction workers demolish the tower opposite us piece by piece.


They can't take the tower down all at once because it's too near the rest of the hospital, so I don't know how long it's going to take to raze it but I imagine it will take a very long time.

We're hopeful Uncle Trevor will be home from the hospital soon, or at least out of the hospital. He may have to go into a care facility for a while since he has quite an extensive recovery in front of him, but he's doing okay, all things considered (some very scary, stomach-knotting words were tossed around (like, sepsis; he has sepsis (among other issues)) but he seems to be doing well). 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Lost his marbles

For weeks we've been hearing an odd sound in our car every time we rounded a corner—a rolling, a scraping, a gentle clinking as it came to rest on the opposite side of where it once was. We soon recognized it as the sound of a marble rolling around and we figured we'd better find it before it drove us crazy while making our four-day drive across the country.

We checked every cup holder (our van has a generous number of cup holders), every cubby hole, every secret compartment, every last nook and cranny we could think of. The rogue marble was no where to be found.

We continued to voice our consternation over the marble issue until Benjamin came forward to confess that he had "accidentally" stuffed a marble between the lining of the door and the window in—of all places—the back hatch.

How that could have possibly been an accident, we'll never know (because, honestly, he shouldn't "accidentally" have access to the back hatch), but a little investigation revealed that this was indeed the location of the missing marble.

It is stuck deep inside the recesses of our back hatch.

We began brainstorming on how to fix the issue: we would need to take off the lining of the door in order to fish around or perhaps we could just stuff something down there to keep it from moving or perhaps...

"Is it a metal marble?" I asked Benjamin. "Or a glass one?"

Benjamin started shrinking before my eyes; he pulled his head down and raised his shoulders until they were level with his ears. Appearing very turtle-like he asked with a trembling voice, "Which answer is the bad one?"

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ten

I am the world's best and most catastrophic rounder, according to Andrew. He told me this after he suggested we take a packing break and I said, "We only have ten more days!!"*

"Eleven," he calmly corrected.

"Today is almost over," I said.

"But today is not over yet so we still have eleven days. You are the world's best and most catastrophic rounder. You make everything sound like impending doom!"

So, there are eleven days until our truck arrives. But by the time we wake up tomorrow there will only be ten days until our truck arrives (and two weeks until we really take off) so in honour of eleven (almost ten) days until we once again cram all of our belongings into the back of a truck, I give you our ten highs and lows from life in Spanish Fork.*

* Now there really are only ten days until our truck arrives, which honestly feels more like nine...

I feel like we did something like this before leaving a few other homes (though I'm not sure we did one for Durham, but I could probably do one retrospectively). So without further ado, I give you a few lists of things that "we" think we'll miss/look forward to, and by "we" I mean "I":

Ten highs we experienced in Spanish Fork:

  1. Alexander's birth
  2. Miriam's baptism 
  3. Benjamin started kindergarten
  4. Rachel's spectacular last year of elementary school
  5. Andrew graduated from Duke
  6. Nancy got to play with gamelan and take a writing class
  7. Zoë went from baby to big kid—from potty training to preschool
  8. We got to go to Grover again (and visit Alberta, for that matter)
  9. Rachel got to go to the temple for the first time at the Payson temple
  10. We always had family to invite to everything
Ten lows we experienced in Spanish Fork:
  1. Karen's death
  2. Alexander's broken arm
  3. We frequently felt smothered by family drama
  4. Some of us have struggled to find friends here
  5. Sometimes the train wakes up the baby at 2 AM
  6. There are no bo-berry biscuits here
  7. It's so far from the ocean
  8. This last winter was so long and we were sick the entire time
  9. The library was just so small, guys
  10. We were perpetually stressed out over our impending unemployment

Ups and Downs

I started another post this evening, but then the baby started crying and I didn't finish it. I will try to get to it in the morning. In the meantime, Miriam has been trying to compose a piece of music every day this summer, which is simply not something I have ever thought of doing. I mean, I've always been a bit of a writer—constantly journaling and even trying my hand at poetry and lyrics since I was barely able to hold a pencil. But composing music isn't really something that I ever thought of just...doing...for fun...

Here's the song she wrote today (it's a duet, written for four hands):



I hope she keeps going because, frankly, that's pretty neat.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Zoë's first talk

Zoë gave her first talk in primary this past Sunday. She helped write her talk and I stood beside her and whispered prompts in her ear while she very bravely talked into the microphone. I loved that every time I prompted her to say Benjamin she instead said "Benny." She sure loves her big brother (and I sure love when he's a good example for her).

Here's the transcript of her talk:

Before the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. When they asked him why, Jesus said that it was, “an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” He wanted his disciples to follow his example by serving others. He wants us to follow his example, too, and gives us the promise that “if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” This means that if we serve others we will feel happy. 

Serving others means being nice, loving them, and taking care of them.

My brother Benjamin set a good example of service yesterday. My mom asked him to empty the dishwasher, so he put away all the clean dishes, and then he loaded the dirty dishes into the dishwasher without being asked. It made my mom happy, it made Benjamin happy, and I’m sure it made Jesus happy as well because Benjamin followed his example!

I serve when I play nicely with my baby brother, when I do my chores without crying, and when I deliver cookies to people who are sad. There are lots of ways to serve others and when we do that’s following Jesus’s example. And that makes everybody happy!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

*****

She had trouble thinking of times that she's served others, but when we were walking home from church she reminded me about the primary's service activity a few weeks ago where her class got to go back into the nursery and wash the toys for all the babies (now that they're great big Sunbeams). That would have been a good example to include, I suppose, but the things she thought of were just fine.

The Hogle Zoo

If my memory serves me correctly, I haven't been to the Hogle Zoo since February 2008, when Rachel was just seven months old! We took a commemorative photo by the elephant statue to mark the occasion. Rachel is just a tad bit bigger than she was back in 2008 (and I look a tad bit tired-er) but we're still both pretty cute!

Alexander was very unhappy that I chose to hold someone other than...him
One of my mom's students works at the zoo and told her that she was able to get a spectacular deal on admission, so my mom's been meaning to treat us on an outing and realized that we're running out of time—fast! So today was the day!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Helping hands

After dinner I asked Benjamin to unload the dishwasher so that I could do the dishes that had accumulated in the sink today. He complained for a bit, but I told him I would work along side him—he could do the low stuff (kid dishes and pots, pans, and tupperware) and I could do the high stuff (glass and sharps, mostly). He thought that was a pretty good deal but was still being a bit of a stinker.

And then I turned on some music—OK Go—and suddenly he didn't want to leave the kitchen.

I completely expected him to run away the minute the dishwasher was empty but instead he turned around and started rinsing dishes and loading them into the dishwasher! He did the dishes entirely by himself! Without being asked!

(Don't mind the shocked look on his face; I was rather shocked myself.)


It was such a lovely gift (that I hope keeps on giving).

Part of the magic may have been that he couldn't get enough of OK Go, so when we're settling into our new routine in Georgia, perhaps we'll have the child whose dish night it is choose the clean up music (because—brace yourselves—you're all getting a dish night).

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Leave it to beavers

Last Saturday my parents took the kids (all save Alexander) to see the new live-action Aladdin and Andrew and I worked ourselves to death (just about) packing stuff up. It was wonderfully helpful (and the kids had a good time, which is nice because we have absolutely abysmally boring plans for this entire summer, I fear).

We repeated last weekend's plan this weekend, but on steroids.

Aunt Linda took the kids (save Alexander) out to lunch on Friday and then kept Benjamin and Zoë the entire afternoon. Andrew and I worked while they were gone and got Rachel and Miriam's bedrooms just about emptied. After Linda dropped off the girls we finished up their bedrooms (and now they're camped out in the guest room downstairs for the time being).

This morning my mom picked up the kids (save Alexander) to go to her ward's primary fair, where they had a blast eating more cotton candy than sounded appetizing to me (ie. any). She then kept them for the entire afternoon. They watched cartoons with my dad, did some art project with Auntie Josie, played with the cat, and came home happy.

Andrew and I worked like beavers, disassembling bookshelves to take with us, selling furniture we decided didn't make the cut, backing boxes, rearranging spaces.

The fact that we're moving is really starting to sink in—empty walls and echoey bedrooms tend to have that effect.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Black and blue

This poor baby can't catch a break. Alexander's poor little noggin is so pathetically covered in bruises that I feel sad every time I look at him. And then yesterday he and Zoë had a fight over whether the bathroom door should be open or closed and...Alexander lost.

Or won.

I'm not sure. It's kind of hard to adjudicate this mess.

This picture was taken after he shed many, many tears
Zoë was team "close the door," but she was having a hard time because Alexander—team "keep the door open"—had his hand through the hinge-side of the door. So Zoë kept slamming the door, trying to get it to shut, while Alexander was holding onto the door screaming wildly because he was acting as a door stop.

So, like, he won—technically—because the door stayed open.

But did he really win? Because two days later he still has a bruise on his hand.

If you ask him what happened to his hand he will put on a pouty face and point toward the bathroom door and, will say accusatorially, "Bwo-Bwo!" which is how he says Zo-Zo.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Bustling

Yesterday Andrew promised the children that if they were good we could watch Captain Marvel as a family. And they were rather well-behaved. But then Karolla invited Benjamin to go to the baseball game with her and Grandpa.

"No, thanks," Benjamin said when Grandpa asked him if he wanted to go.

"What?" I asked, truly shocked.

Benjamin adores Karolla and is always asking to do things with her.

"I want to watch Captain Marvel," he explained.

"We can do that anytime," I told him. "This is a one-time offer. They only have baseball tickets tonight. And besides, we're moving in three weeks and then you won't be around to invite to a baseball game."

"Yeah. I still want to watch Captain Marvel."

"I'm not sure you're making the right choice here," I said. "When you're given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity versus an any-old-day opportunity you take the once-in-a-lifetime thing!"

"Yeah. I still want to watch Captain Marvel."

I'm clear, you're clear, we're all clear

Seven years ago I had a hard day.

I can say that with quite a lot of confidence because even though I don't precisely recall what happened on June 5, 2012, most of my days seven years ago this month were difficult. June 2012 was an exhausting, scary, overwhelming month.

When Benjamin was getting ready to turn one, I had a hard time being happy. I had a healthy baby boy (now), it was true, but reflecting on his birth was not remotely a fun thing to do.

I had spent the past year experiencing mini panic attacks whenever he nursed (I had heart palpitations the entire time (25 months!) I nursed him; thanks, anxiety), always afraid he was going to choke or that he wasn't getting enough nourishment. He was small for his age. He had severe reflux. He was behind in his milestones. He had not had an easy entry into life, and I didn't find much joy in reflecting on his first year.

I remember wondering if I would ever feel at peace on his birthday. Would I ever "get over" this?!

I'm happy to report that the answer to both those questions is yes.

I don't know when it happened, or how, but this year I noticed that I was...fine. I didn't feel like crying once. There were no hospital alarms ringing in my ears, no thoughts of how things might have been different had he not jumped the gun.

He's fine. He's happy. He's thriving.

I'm fine. I'm happy. I'm thriving.

The ol' noggin

So, on Monday, as I mentioned, Alexander fell out of his high chair and landed on his face, giving himself a nice little goose egg. Well, today, Zoë was carrying him across the cement pad in the backyard (even though she's not supposed to, for reasons which will be made clear) when she tripped and dropped him flat on his face...and then landed on top of him (← this is why she's not supposed to carry him; she's just too little to really manage it).

So now he has another goose egg, this time right in the middle of his forehead.


A nice pink/purple one in the middle, and a green one to the side.

He's a very colourful boy right now.

Benjamin's 7th birthday

I have been making cakes for several years, with ever increasing frequency. It has been both fun—a creative outlet and labour of love—and frustrating. I have hated crumb coats. So much. 

While necessary for keeping the cake glued together, it's just such a frustrating process to get the crumb coat on. My cakes have always torn apart, no matter what I've done to keep them together. I always end up close to tears, with thick, thick icing covering up a multitude of mistakes. And I've never understood why because I have been through dozens of tutorials on cake decorating. 

"I have here a batch of Wilton buttercream," the host of the tutorial will say. "It's such a perfect recipe for icing cakes—light and fluffy. We're just going to put on a quick crumb coat...*spin, spin, spin*...and done!"

And that's literally how long it takes for them to ice their cake and I've always been like HOW?!?!

Because I have made up dozens of batches of Wilton buttercream and it's always been thick and glue-like and then I've taken hours sometimes to get a decent crumb coat on. And then I have to make another batch of icing to do the actual design and then I end up with far too much icing on the cake.

I've researched how to make this process easier for myself (with poor results).

Freezing your cake layers can apparently help keep them from crumbling, but that's never helped me very much. In fact, the last time I froze my cake layers (for Zoë's cake), my icing seemed to freeze on the cake. I could not spread it at all! It was horrible! It was spreading more like play dough than like fluffy frosting. 

I was not looking forward to having to make another cake so soon after that particular disaster. But, alas, Benjamin's birthday falls soon after Zoë's and so I found myself making another cake anyway.

And then, when I was looking up the recipe for Wilton buttercream—which to my credit touts itself as being, "softer and more spreadable than most icings, making it perfect for icing cakes and cupcakes," and also mentions that it can be stiffened " if your goal is to decorate your cookies or cakes with pretty flowers or piped messages"—I saw a link for "icing consistency" under "tips and techniques."* So I clicked on that and watched the tutorial. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

That one time Zoë got hit by a car

There's been some joking around on the Twitterverse about this vlogging couple being melodramatic about the wife of the couple falling off a cliff. Because they're vloggers they have footage of the accident and it really wasn't that terrible (and they were a little melodramatic about it after the fact, crying and carrying on, and "you’re-whole-world-can-change-in-a-matter-of-seconds.-mine-almost-did.-a-good-reminder-to-be-grateful-for-every-moment-of-it.-the-good-and-the-bad.-the-happy-and-the-sad.-because-you’re-here"-ing [sic] and so forth).

However, I also believe that it was a really scary moment for them, so I don't really like seeing everyone making fun of them.

Having watched my husband fall off a ledge with my baby—and having them emerge from the waterfall wet, bruised, but mostly unscathed—I know it can be terrifying (even if it ends up being no big deal). In the moment it is terrifying because, frankly, a fall doesn't have to be that far to cause a tragedy.

My friend's husband fell off a 100-foot cliff. He's still—miraculously—walking around today.

My husband's uncle fell off a bike. He's a quadriplegic.

Not to sound trite but...life is fragile.

And wildly unpredictable.

We went on a family walk today, as we so often do. Zoë decided she wanted to ride her tricycle, which I told her was fine if she promised to stay ahead of us (because she runs into us when she's behind us).

"And you need to put on your helmet," I reminded her.

"Mom, I have my hood on, see?"

"A hood is not a helmet. That won't protect your head."

"But I don't want to wear a helmet!" she objected. "I won't go fast and I won't crash, I promise!"

"Does your tricycle have wheels?" I asked.

"Yes..." she mumbled.

"Wheels on, helmet on," I said firmly, placing her helmet on her head, buckling it up, and adjusting the straps just so.

And she was off, chasing after Benjamin (who never complains about his helmet, one of his better qualities) on his scooter.

Zoom! went Benjamin.

Zoom! went Zoë.

"Phew!" went their parents as we strolled along behind them, pushing the baby in the stroller.

The children were intense today.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The case of the missing medieval blueprint

I can't find where I wrote about it, if I did, but last month (April 24) Rachel had a crazy busy day. She had school all day and came home in tears because when she went to pull out her medieval castle blueprint (which she'd been working on for weeks and which was due the following day) to show her friends she couldn't find it anywhere.

Together with her friends, Rachel turned the classroom upside down looking for it, but it was no where to be found.

She came home in tears.

Her little Beehive group was planning on going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and they had to meet at the church at 4:00. And then she had committed to going to the wedding reception for her teacher's son with Naanii (Naanii knows her teacher's family fairly well from gamelan).

She didn't want to miss out on anything but she also knew that she'd have to redo her entire project from scratch in one evening and she was very stressed out about it.

But I assured her that, having done a rough draft, it would be easier for her to get it down on paper a second time, even with nothing to look at.

"It wasn't a rough draft!" she retorted. "It was my finished copy! And I can't find it anywhere! And I don't want to have to redo it!"

Alas, she had no other option.

Head over heels

Today was a day of mishaps:

  • Grandpa cut the power cord of the hedge trimmer.
  • Miriam dropped a wagon on her foot.
  • Alexander climbed into a box, tipped it over, fell out, and conked his head on the piano bench.
  • Daddy knocked an open bottle of water onto his laptop. 
  • I got a sliver carrying a shelf out of Rachel's room. 
Benjamin was following me from the house to the garage in his usual haphazard fashion, eager to find some work gloves so he could help in the garden. Instead he tripped on the threshold and went sailing down the stairs face first. 

When he yelled I turned to look and saw his body twisting grotesquely in the air.

He landed on the cement floor, right on his sweet little face, but his momentum lifted him back up and over again, bending his neck in a nearly impossible fashion, and then slamming him back on the ground. 

"Benjamin!" I wailed and ran to kneel down beside his poor crumpled, bleeding body. "Take a breath, buddy! Take a breath!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The stuff of summer

The kids left the house at 11:00 this morning and I didn't see them again* until dinner.

* (at the house)

They had a picnic at the park, which they took Alexander to and he got anxious for Momma, so they texted me to ask if I'd come pick him up. I did and also hung out the park with them for a while. But then I took Zoë and Alexander home and left the big kids there and they stayed and stayed and stayed until I was begging them to come home for dinner.

Then we had dinner and went swimming and came home and went to bed.

And that's just how summer should be.

I know an old lady who...

After a dreadful night of Alexander intermittently screaming for milk, kicking my back, chirping, "Mom? Mom? Mommy?" (and other general non-sleeping behaviours), I woke up on Sunday morning feeling tired and sore. So sore.

So sore I could hardly move.

So sore I thought, perhaps, I was going to vomit from the pain.

I had fallen asleep in the most awkward side-lying position so that I could nurse Alexander (but not cuddle him too much because sometimes he gets in these strange moods where he wants me to hold him and feed him but also not touch him too much, and that's, like, really difficult to do due to the nature of nursing) and it had apparently not been a good position to fall asleep in. Not that I'd even remained asleep in that position for very long (but however long I slept like that was long enough to do me in).

I took some ibuprofen and a hot shower and felt better, but still spent the whole day rotating my whole body instead of turning my head. Andrew rubbed my shoulders several times throughout the day and let me take a long nap to "reset," Rachel and Miriam rubbed my back (and feet) in the evening. Before bed I used some IcyHot and took some more medicine and I woke up on Monday morning finally feeling like I could move again.

And move I did—I moved couches from upstairs to the garage, couches from the basement to upstairs, helped load Uncle Jacob's truck, and packed several boxes. I think all that worked helped my muscles limber up...but I still couldn't help feel like I was hobbling around like an old lady!

I'm still a bit sore today, but hopefully I'll be back to normal soon, though I may have gained a permanent reputation as the grumpy old lady in our neighbourhood.

Last night I spent about 2.5 hours trying to get Alexander to go to bed. He nursed while I was reading By the Shores of Silver Lake to Benjamin and Zoë, and fell fast asleep. But when I tried to put him down he woke up howling and put up such a fight about going back to bed.

He screamed, he cried, he kicked and squirmed.

But it's been a particularly rough several nights in a row (rougher than the usual, which isn't great to begin with) and I wasn't going to give in because I knew that it could take 2–3 hours to get him to sleep now or it could take 2–3 hours to get him to sleep later. It's not like if I let him stay up late he'd gently retreat to his bed later. No, no. He'd still put up the fight and then I'd be doing bedtime until 11:00 or midnight (only to then wake up at 1 and/or 2 and/or 3 in the morning). So I fought him.

And at 9:47 he finally surrendered and I tiptoed out of his room.

At 9:52 a bunch of giggling hooligans slapped their hands all over our front door, rang the doorbell, and ran away.

And I was livid.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Zoë's Preschool Graduation

The week before the other children got out of school, Zoë had her preschool graduation.

I can be a bit of a stick in the mud when it comes to pomp and circumstance. I suppose it's...neat...that we finished an entire year of preschool, but I honestly believe all these children would have learned their letters and numbers and colours and such anyway. Because that's what children are ready to learn at this age and because they all live in generally stimulating environments (as evidence, I offer the fact that all of their mothers took turns teaching this preschool).

Also, all these children have another year of waiting before they get to start kindergarten so they aren't technically advancing from anything. So what's there to celebrate? 

This is probably why I wasn't put on the graduation committee (which was a volunteer position (and I didn't volunteer for it because I know well my lack of enthusiasm for such things)).

However, I'm grateful for people who can get excited about things like preschool graduation. The moms in charge had hats and certificates and crafts and cotton candy and little popcorn graduation jars. It was a fun little party!

Here are some of the, uh, graduates (?):

Zoë is in the stripes

School's out for summer!

I can hardly believe it, but somehow we made it through the entire school year. We outgrew our shoes, gained a few inches, put on a few pounds, lost a few teeth, and we have a few more holes in our knees (and a few more holes in our hearts), but we're really none the worse for wear. 


The last week of school was busy, but full of fun. Rachel had a hike and a dance and a barbecue, which I'll maybe post about some day. It's hard to believe that she'll be headed to middle school next year (but it's even harder to believe that next year will be Miriam's last year of elementary school—their elementary school here is K–6, but their elementary school in Georgia is only K–5 (I think I prefer keeping them in elementary school that extra year, honestly)). 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ever the scientist

To celebrate the end of the school year we went out to dinner at Brick Oven. They give out "free kids' meals" coupons to lure us in, but, oh boy, did our meal end up costing a lot anyway! I suppose that's one reason we only ever go out once in a blue moon.

The other reason we hardly ever go out is because kids can be embarrassing!

Benjamin can read so learned our waitress's name pretty quick. Soon Zoë caught on as well. Then they were both loudly asking things like, "Where's HANNAH? When will HANNAH come back? HANNAH, where are you? Why is HANNAH hiding behind that stand? When is HANNAH going to bring us our food?!"

I suppose the upside of this is that Hannah certainly didn't neglect our table!

Once when she stopped by she asked if we were all doing fine, sipping our waters while waiting for our dinner, and those of us around the table who are somewhat versed in out-to-dinner etiquette smiled and nodded and said, "Yes, thank you."

Benjamin, however, bellowed, "I WANT MY PIZZA!"

"I will bring it as soon as it comes out of the oven," she assured him.

Like I said, she didn't have much opportunity to neglect our table.

The kids' meals came with a root beer, so Benjamin and Zoë had both a cup of root beer and a cup of water to drink while we were waiting. Zoë drank hers at the same time—with two straws in her mouth—and both she and Benjamin drained their cups before our food arrived. This led to a field trip to the washroom with Daddy (as well as a quick jaunt over to the brick oven).

Benjamin came back beaming about the brick oven.

Zoë came back feeling relieved.

Andrew came back red as a tomato.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Zoë is four!

Zoë must not be a morning person because she woke up this morning and everything was going her way (from what I could tell) and she was grumpy as all get out!

The birthday banner was up, she had special blueberry birthday cereal, and we had big plans for finishing her cake up together later in the morning, and still she sat fuming at the table because I was unable to tell her what the fourth letter of her name was.

"Z-O-Ë that's three," she said. "So what's the next letter of my name?"

"There isn't one," I told her. "Just Z-O-Ë. That's it."

"But what about the fourth letter?" she asked.

"Fourth letter?" I asked. "Your name only has three letters in it."

She must have thought I was playing stupid because she turned to me exasperatedly and said, "Mom. Stop. I'm four years old now. Just tell me what the fourth letter is."

"Right, so...you are four years old now..." I agreed. "But the length of your name doesn't always correlate with your age. Like...my name only has five letters and I'm thirty-three...so..."


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mixed bag

If you ever want to eat cereal at our house, I hope you like it mixed because this afternoon Alexander premixed all our cereal.

Petsitting for Auntie Josie has helped Alexander develop a bit of autonomy, which I've been enjoying because instead of following me around all day long he follows the cat around all day long. This means that I can do so many things without tripping over him (laundry! clean the kids' room! pack boxes! disassemble a shelf! do the dishes! twice!), but it also means that he's been getting into mischief that he otherwise might not.

I can't really say what I prefer: that he never give me a moment's peace ever or that he make a little mischief.

Honestly—probably—I prefer the mischief.

As I told Andrew tonight, it's not that I don't want to spend time with my kids (because I do). It's that I think I would want to spend time with them more if they would ever leave me alone ever (to be fair, at the time I was lamenting Alexander waking up to cry for me for the second time this evening (which isn't so terrible (last night was a complete joke of a night))).

It's cute that he can't stand to be apart from me. But it's also tiring.

Like, he could probably play with blocks while I do laundry or go to the bathroom or whatever, but no. He has to follow me around, begging me to pick him up and hold him. With how neglected he acts, you'd think I never picked that child up, but I actually hold him all the time.

And so I feel a little bit proud of him for exerting enough independence to raid the pantry and mix the cereal.


Monday, May 20, 2019

I survived the GRE

After months of preparation, I finally took the plunge and sat for the GRE today. The results were unsurprising: I performed excellently (95th percentile) on the verbal reasoning portion and only mediocrely (50th percentile) on the quantitative section. This was a little disappointing given how long and hard I studied, however, I'm confident my studying paid off and that I wouldn't have known a gosh darn thing if I had attempted the test without studying. Plus, I wasn't planning on entering a math-heavy program anyway so that score isn't quite as important.

While I only have my preliminary scores, I'm sure my official scores will be high enough to get into the graduate program of my choice...whenever I officially make that choice (that particular matter is still up in the air).

I was surprised that the writing section came first because in my prep book (I used Kaplan for both verbal and quantitative and, I suppose, for writing (but that was in the verbal book)) the information came last. Or maybe I just looked at it last? Either way, I expected it to come last.

I didn't prepare for that part very much other than reading through the prompts and thinking, "I have literally nothing to say on this subject." And reading through the sample essays and thinking, "Yes, I can see how that would get the score it got."

Luckily I felt like I had some good things to say for the two prompts I was given, so hopefully I will score proficiently there (though I won't get those scores for a couple of weeks yet since they are graded by humans).

The quantitative reasoning sections had me sweating and shaking. I ran out of time on both sections and quickly went through to guess on any unanswered questions before the timer ran out. Some of them I know that I knew how to answer but that I didn't have time to come up with the answer. I much prefer a more relaxed mathematical environment (studying for the test was actually kind of fun (in a way); I enjoyed tackling new-to-me concepts (hello, quadratics) and the feeling of (eventually, kind of) understanding things). But the actual GRE quantitative reasoning test? That was no fun.

The verbal reasoning sections were marvelous. I didn't take the ten-minute break in the middle of the examination because the vocabulary sections were like a break for me. I finished each section in fifteen minutes, then had about that long to go over my answers and stretch and take a few deep breaths before skipping on to the next section at my leisure.

After completing the essays, two quantitative sections, and two vocabulary sections there's a "bonus" sixth section, which I was literally praying would be a verbal reasoning test and not a quantitative test...and it was. I was so happy.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Benjamin's reader's theatre

Thursday was quite a busy day on the end-of-school home front: Zoë had her preschool graduation, Benjamin had his reader's theatre performance, Rachel had a 10-mile hike and both Rachel and Miriam had an after school pizza party for the CLIMBers club (the gifted program). It was exhausting but we made it through!

Benjamin's reader's theatre was surprisingly well done. There are four first grade classrooms and they all did the same few stories, so the teachers worked together to collect some spectacular props and costumes (we didn't even recognize Benjamin when he walked in with his class). All of the children had their lines memorized—which was particularly shocking for me because Benjamin's line was lengthy and complicated and he delivered it spectacularly. 

He was even called on to fill in for "the king" in another class's performance when their king came down with a serious case of stage fright and was unable to perform. The teacher came jogging down to Benjamin's classroom to ask if they had a king they could borrow and his teacher said, "I have a wonderful king!"

So Benjamin got to do his king part twice!

Here's a video of Slurping Beauty (his big line starts at 1:07 and that evil fairy wouldn't stop waving her wand in front of his face (not that the little girl is evil...she just literally plays the role of the evil fairy and won't put her stinking wand down)):


Here are a few pictures that I nabbed as well:


Feline feces and word aversion

We're babysitting Auntie Josie's cat, Cleo.

Technically, Rachel is, so that she can earn money for girl's camp and so that she can prove to me that she can take care of an animal so that I might possibly consider ever allowing the children to have a pet.

Alexander is obsessed with the cat. He wants to play with cat all the time.

The first thing he said this morning was, "More!" while he signed milk, but after a few minutes of nursing he popped off and squealed, "KITTY!"

And then we had to go see the kitty.

He bangs on Rachel's door, wiggles the doorknobs, and gets right down on his belly to reach under the threshold, all the while yelling, "KITTY! KITTY! KITTY!"

When he starts to speak lazily it comes out more like, "KEE! KEE! KEE!"

He loves that cat so much he can hardly stand it.

Rachel's been doing a decent job taking care of the cat. She feeds her, gives her fresh water, plays with her, and has twice cleaned out the litter box (a decent track record considering she's been in our house for three nights).

Last night her friend Ava was helping her take care of the cat. They emerged from the bedroom with a bag full of cat feces.

"I scooped it out with my bare hands!" Rachel announced.

"Wait...what?" Andrew and I asked.

On not knowing everything

Zoë talked the entire drive home from Layton on Tuesday evening. I think that mostly she was trying to keep herself awake because she was determined to have her own personal "late night," which we assured her she very much was since it was already hours past her bedtime.

"No!" she insisted. "This isn't just any late night! I'm going to stay up all night long!"

"Oh, then that's called an all-nighter," Uncle Bruce said, "Which is considerably more difficult to pull off than a late night."

"I know!" Zoë said. "That's why I'm going to do it!"

And so she talked the whole drive home. I'm not even sure she had time to breathe she was talking so much. When she ran out of things to say, she started asking me where things came from.

"Where do fences come from?" she asked.

"People build them," I said.

"Where do trucks come from?" she asked.

"People build them, too," I said.

"But then where do they come from? Like how do you get a truck?"

"From the truck store," I said.

This answer satisfied her so I started using "from the __________ store" to answer anything that I didn't feel like thinking up a genuine answer to.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Life, Death, and Pets

One of these days I will upload pictures from my phone. But I've just been too tired to go through such a hassle by the time I have time to sit down and write.

My mom's cousin Margaret passed away last week (May 8). Her viewing was yesterday (and her funeral today) so before the kids even got home from school Alexander, Zoë, and I headed up to Salt Lake with my mom, my sister Josie, and my Uncle Bruce, so we could swing by the airport to pick up my Auntie Arlene, so we could all head up to Layton for the viewing.

I wasn't sure how Zoë would handle a viewing—we didn't have one for Karen when she died and my kids tend to be very open about death. Shockingly open at times. Like, they say things about death that make people squirm. It's all part of processing the death of a close loved one, I'm sure.

My kids are perfectly normal. It's fine.

Anyway...

I decided that I should prepare Zoë a little bit so that I could perhaps temper whatever outrageous comment she was going to make. So I explained that Naanii's cousin had passed away and that we were going to a viewing, which meant that her body would be displayed in a casket so that family members and friends could say goodbye, and that there would be a lot of sad people there who loved Margaret very much and who would miss her a lot.

"So, she's going to be there," Zoë clarified. "But she's already dead?"

"Yes."

"And people will just say goodbye to her?"

"Yes."

"Okay, that's interesting," Zoë said. "Because we did the same thing for Grandma but she was still alive."

"That's true. Grandma was still alive when we said goodbye to her."

"So, how do you say goodbye when she's already dead?"

"Well, her body is there and you can just look at it and see that it's different from when she was alive, that her spirit has moved on. But you can talk to her still if you want to. There aren't really any rules to this; it's just something we do."

She seemed to be okay with this. Death bothers her immensely at times, but other times not at all.

We got to the funeral home and walked in and Zoë was immediately impressed.

"Nice!" she said. "Maybe we should move here. It's very clean."

Stress

Yesterday I was talking about how the process of buying a house was just a teensy bit stressful for me and my Uncle Bruce said, "It doesn't have to be."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It doesn't have to be stressful," he repeated. "Just decide that it's not."

I laughed about this because it couldn't possibly be that simple.

If there's one thing I'm good at it is stressing out about things. Like—for real, though—if you want to consider the worst case scenario on any given situation, just run it by me and I will think up some terrible things for you. I don't consider myself a pessimist—because I don't believe these worst-case things scenarios will (necessarily) happen—but I'm certainly no optimist.

I'm more of a realist.

I hope.

Monday, May 13, 2019

TMI

Last night at the dinner table, Benjamin wanted to announce that he'd like to be excused to go to the restroom.

"I need to, let's see..." he said. "I don't want to use any swear words, but I just might have to. Nope. I can do it without swearing. I need to go make some violent waters with my penis!"

I almost spat out my dinner.

"Violent waters?" I sputtered, suppressing as much giggling as possible.

"Yeah, I didn't want to say..." he lowered his voice to a whisper, "Pee."

Obviously we need to have a discussion about what words constitute swear words and which words are simply rude. It's a complicated subject because it's more of a spectrum than a black-and-white principle. He's always saying things like, "That person ran a red light so they are definitely driving like the s-word." But when he says that, see, he means *whispers* stupid, which isn't a swear word. It's just a rude word that we don't use at our house.

"So, pee isn't a swear word," I told Benjamin. "But it is a potty word, which isn't exactly polite at the dinner table, but you know what? It's probably more polite to say pee at the dinner table than it is to say the word penis because talking about private parts at the dinner table is also kind of rude."

"Urine is what you would say if you wanted to avoid using the word pee," Andrew said. "Not...violent waters."

This was, naturally, followed by Zoë clarifying the anatomy of boys versus girls and then morphed into what the polite word for 'poop' was, followed by many jokes about 'stools.'

And then we told the children that they could simply ask to be excused to use the bathroom without giving a lengthy explanation of what they planned to accomplish in the bathroom and that would be perfectly acceptable.

Oddly enough, earlier in the day Rachel was asking me about when it was acceptable to excuse herself. She knew to excuse herself for toots. But what about burps? What about sneezes? Coughs? Hiccups? Tummy grumbles? Involuntary screaming?

I told her that it is always acceptable to excuse ones self for involuntary body noises.

So it was a wonderful Mother's Day.

(How do my children not know these things yet?)

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Thursday

I'm sure I'll do a post with some pictures later, but for now they're all stuck on my phone.

This morning we went to the temple and walked around a bit. Temple grounds are always so nicely manicured that I didn't have to worry about Alexander tripping on uneven pavement or brushing up against poison ivy so we could just let him bumble about. The Atlanta Temple grounds are no different. They are beautiful, but...and I don't know why, but...they included mustard in the flowerbeds.

Mustard!

After spending a summer yanking out wild mustard from canola crops (on my uncle's farm; he was raising seed canola and so we couldn't have any mustard in the crops because the bees would cross-pollinate the canola with the mustard, which would essentially genetically modify the seeds and they would thus not be "pure" anymore...or something), I can't see mustard as anything but weed-like.

To be honest, it probably was only a couple of weeks on the farm at best (and it was probably twenty years ago), but it was still long enough to develop an aversion to mustard plants. I see one and I just want to give it a good solid yank!

So the flower beds made me shudder a little bit because, to me, they seemed to have unsightly weeds taking over. But I honestly think they were planned and planted because our hotel has mustard growing in pots outside the lobby. For aesthetic reasons, I guess. I don't get it, but...I guess.

Maybe it just grows well here?

Watch me plant some one day, just so that I'll have to eat my words.

Wednesday

With little left to do but wait for things to fall into place, we decided to head downtown yesterday morning so that we could check out campus. Feeling somewhat tired of the congested highways, we decided to take the metro in and I'm so glad we did. It reinforced what a good decision it was to live as near as possible to the metro line as possible. Andrew will still have a commute to the metro station, but then he can hop onto the metro and bypass all the downtown craziness, which will at least make me feel better about the (what I would consider white-knuckle) commute.

At Five Point Station the doors to the train car whooshed open and we were slammed with the pungent aroma of downtown Atlanta—an unpleasant concoction of French fries, urine, tobacco and exhaust. The short walk to Andrew's building had me feeling a little bit nervous, but the building itself seems to have good security.

We had to sign in at the front desk and have the department chair vouch for us. It was nice to get to meet some of his future coworkers and see potential office space. I think it's going to be a really great, supportive environment.

We didn't stay downtown long and instead headed back to the metro—where Alexander had a blast chasing pigeons on the plaza—and then back to the hotel where we all took a long nap.

Apparently this week has been exhausting.