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.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Jones Brig Partch

After waking up at 3:00 in the morning to catch our flight out here, I was pretty exhausted by the time we went to bed at 11:00 last night (which, granted, is only 9:00 MST). We had a pretty good night's rest but I was still awfully tired when we headed out in the morning. We wanted to check out some of the schools we were interested in before meeting up with our real estate agent to look at more houses.

As we were leaving one elementary school we made a wrong turn or something (we have made an astounding number of wrong turns the past couple of days) and headed into a lovely wooded park area: Jones Bridge Park. 

"Oooh, there's a park nearby. That's nice to know," I said, then read the sign: "Jones Brig Partch."

I hoped Andrew wouldn't notice my pronunciation, but he did and immediately started teasing me.

"Jones Brig Partch?! How did you even come up with that?" he chuckled.

"Easy!" I retorted. "I kept the voicing but switched the phonemes. It's a perfectly logical spoonerism, okay?!"

Instead of the consonant cluster /dʒ/ in bridge, I used the simple /k/ from park, but with the original voicing that /k/ turned to a /g/. Then instead of the simple /k/ in park, I took the /dʒ/ from bridge but devoiced it so it ended up as /tʃ/.

Cross multiply and divide, carry the one and...

/'brɪdʒ/ to /'brɪg/

/'pɑrk/ to /'pɑrtʃ/

Perfectly logical, see?

We spent the rest of the day purposely swapping syllables when reading any sign with the word "bridge" on it (there are a lot of bridge names around here (and we did a lot of driving)). 

House hunting

House-hunting. Boy, I dunno.

We arrived in Atlanta around noon on Monday and (after a long wait) picked up our rental car and headed straight to our real estate agent's office to formulate a game plan. Or, I suppose (since our agent had already made up a list of houses to visit based on our email discussions), be let in on the game plan. Only one of the houses on our list was occupied so we headed over to look at it right away (since we had to wait so long to get our rental car we almost used up our visiting window for that home).

That house was really rather...blah.

The next house on our list was one that we weren't sure we wanted to see, but our agent convinced us to swing by. It was a little on the small side and a little more expensive than we were hoping, but it was recently redone and looked beautiful, had a big yard (that would certainly require a ride-on lawn mower), a neighbourhood pool, and so forth. But it was a nice home with good schools, so we tucked it away in our minds as an option and went to see a few more houses.

They. Were. Awful.

Nightmarish.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Present!

For the past twenty months we've been going to church in phases. I suppose, if we count the time in Durham that Andrew spent as the executive secretary and had to be to church earlier than the children and I had to be there that we've been going to church in phases for longer than that, but since moving here—a stone's throw away from the chapel—our phases have become a lot more flexible.

Grandpa is always in Phase One and any number of children will go with him when he leaves. Alexander is also often anxious to go with Grandpa, though he often ends up going in Phase Two with Mom and Dad. Depending on Zoë's mood (ie. who she's the least angry with any given Sabbath morning) she can also wind up in either Phase One or Phase Two. Andrew plays the organ every other week and has to go even earlier than usual. Rachel and Miriam will walk over to the church whenever they feel like it—in Phase One, Phase One-Point-Five, Phase Two. Benjamin is often raring to go in the mornings and will head to church with Phase One, but other mornings he'd rather spend those few extra minutes playing.

Barring sickness, we've all made it to church somehow or other (and usually on time, too).

Miriam has been experimenting with leaving some hair out of her up-dos in order to frame her face and this morning she asked me to curl the bits of hair she left out (which is a whole lot easier than curling all of her hair because this child's hair is thick). After I curled her hair Zoë wanted me to curl her hair as well, so she wasn't ready to go when Phase One left the building (and nor, for that matter, was I because I'd been curling hair all morning).

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Quotes

I can tell that slowly, slowly things are getting better inside my brain. Alexander is a year and a half and my mind is clearing up (even though he's still not sleeping through the night). I can tell because we're reading By the Shores of Silver Lake right now and I don't have a bookmark in place, but I can tell you that we're on chapter 9, "Horse Thieves," and also I remembered the page numbers for a couple of passages that I wanted to make note of from days ago (the first from chapter five and the second from chapter seven and we're only reading a chapter per day, so that means I've remembered random page numbers for days in a row).

The first quote is this:
"One little jolt is nothing at all. They had hardly noticed two miles and a half of little jolts when they rode to town from Plum Creek. But all the little jolts from sunrise to noon, and then all the little jolts from noon to sunset, are tiring" (p. 39).
This quote is very much my mood lately. I feel like I've been putting up with a lot of jolts lately and while I largely try to be a brush-it-off person, I feel somewhat tired from all the brushing and jolting. Life has thrown a lot at us the past couple of years and...I'm exhausted.

But, like, obviously it's getting better because I can remember page numbers again (certainly a litmus test for sanity).

The second passage is a short exchange between Mary and Laura. Laura is breathlessly describing the seemingly infinite nature of the prairie and how the road just ends beyond the hill and there's nothing more to see; Mary counters that the road can't possibly end since it leads all the way to their destination, which Laura admits she agrees with. Then Mary chastises her:
"Well, then I don't think you ought to say things like that," Mary told her gently. "We should always be careful to say exactly what we mean." 
"I was saying what I meant," Laura protested. But she could not explain. There were so many ways of seeing things and so many ways of saying them (p. 58).
In the light of the writing class I recently finished, I loved that line about there being so many ways of seeing things and so many ways of saying them. Very often when people complain about my writing, that's the issue they bring up: "that's not the way it happened!" or "I don't remember it that way!"

And that's the beauty of life, the beauty of being an individual. We all see things differently, we all recall different details, we all interpret situations through the scope of our own experience. And that's why there will always be an infinite number of stories to tell in an infinite number of ways.

And that's a beautiful thing.

Not to brag, but...

I did it again.

This time I discovered that Alexander can—very quickly—pull himself into a standing position in the baby swings at the park. Naturally, he fell out of the swing the moment he managed to stand up because he was swinging full tilt. But I swooped in and snatched him right out of the air.

And I really don't know how many chances this baby has left before gravity gets him a good one!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Leaps tall buildings...in a single bound

I pulled the laundry basket out of the children's closet and started going through pockets, removing things that shouldn't go in the wash: a half-eaten granola bar, a chewed up piece of gum spat into a wrapper, a bowtie, a kleenex, a bouncy ball... 

I suppose I'm lucky there were no living creatures in those pockets.

Alexander followed me into the room. He climbed up the foot of the bottom bunk and flipped over the rail onto the mattress, one of his favourite things to do. And then he noticed that there was no chair stuck in the staircase leading to the top bunk. Grandma thought that stairs would be safer than a ladder, which I suppose might be true for the child on the upper bunk. For the baby of the family, however, the stairs have been somewhat of a nuisance. 

Huh. Stairs not pictured. They're just to the left of the frame
That's not true. For the baby of the family the stairs have been a boon. Every baby has loved climbing those stairs, an easy way to the forbidden danger of the top bunk. 

Those stairs have been somewhat of a nuisance for the parents of those adrenaline-seeking babies.

Putting Miriam in a box

Every month Miriam has a family project due at school, which I sometimes love and sometimes don't. I rather enjoyed helping her make a timeline of her life, for example. But designing a cereal box for a book report was...meh. This month she had to decorate a shoebox about herself and it was pretty fun to work on together (though not as fun as her timeline, in my opinion).

Here she is with her finished project:


Monday, April 29, 2019

Books, books, books

It's National Children's Book Week.

Our library chose to celebrate by quizzically cancelling their regularly scheduled story time in favour of "special" story times, which meant that when we went to the library for story time this morning I had some rather disappointed children on my hands because there was no story time.

Weird flex, public library, but...okay.

They're going to have a special "Princess Story Time" on Wednesday (and later in the week they will have "Dinosaur Story Time") but that's during preschool and I'm teaching this week so we're going to have our own special story time. In fact, I went through the trouble to find a whole lot of call numbers for stories around a certain theme (spoiler: we're on the letter Z and Zoë has been dying to have a pyjama party with her friends (after seeing her siblings have pyjama day at school) so we're going to read books about sleeping and snoring because ZZZZZZZZ).

When flattery falls flat

Last night we stayed up way too late packing.

Andrew put his hands on my head and smoothed my hair out.

"Yup," he said. "I would still love you if you were bald."

"Why...thank you," I said. "That really means a lot since there's a decent chance I'll wind up with cancer some day and will have to do chemo and lose all my hair."

Then he pushed my hair forward so that, unbeknownst to me, it made a little poofy wave of hair.

"I would still love you polygamistly as well," he said.

"Wait...WHAT?!" I asked.

"I would still love you polygam...oh. Oh. OH! Okay. Yup. Now that I say it again I can hear that was not the best thing to say. But I made your hair all poofy like polygamist hair, see? I would still love you even if you did your hair like that. No intentions of polygamy."

We laughed until we cried. This man is so bad at compliments.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Promontory Point

We took the kids out to Promontory Point this morning so they could see where the east rails (the Union Pacific) met the west rails (Pacific Railway) in 1869 (with the 150th anniversary being held next month). It's a two-hour drive and the kids were golden. Rachel sat beside Alexander and kept him happy, the other kids read and looked out their windows, and there was hardly a harsh word spoken (though tempers flared every now and then).

I don't remember why Rachel is sitting on top of the van:


In the back of my mind I think I see Andrew hoisting her up there, but I'm really not sure. I was busy corralling the other kids.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Meetings and partings

We got a very exciting text message from Uncle Jacob this morning: Baby Dean was on his way!

He was born at a quarter to noon via an emergency cesarian section. His heart rate kept dropping with each contraction, never rising back up to where it should be in between, and then he went into complete distress so they performed an emergency c-section and dislodged him from the birth canal and did a little neonatal resuscitation to get him pinked up and squalling. It was an intense and traumatic few minutes, but both mom and baby are doing fine now.

6 pounds, 2 ounces, so just a teeny little thing—and cute as a button! And just one day shy of being born on his brother's half birthday!

We can't wait to meet him!

My time at the hospital today was a little less thrilling. I joined my mom in Ogden to visit with her best cousins/friends growing up: Marie and Margaret. Marie is here from Ohio because Margaret is dying, rather quickly.



Alexander at 18 months (part II)

We're slowly checking off our "final things" in Utah and Friday was another one: Alexander's last well-child check. I made a mental note to ask for his updated immunization record so that I could have it handy when we find a new doctor in Georgia. I forgot the development questionnaire on my desk. But one can't be expect to remember everything, right? So we went over those questions orally at the doctor's office instead.

Things like, "When your child wants something, does he tell you by pointing to it?" Yes.

"When you ask [him] to, does your child go into another room to find a familiar toy our object?" Yes.

"Does your child imitate a two-word sentence?" No.

And, frankly, if he's like Zoë he very well may never directly imitate speech. When we first moved out here, cousin Riley was such a little parrot and would repeat anything you asked him to, but if you asked Zoë to repeat something she would give an icy stare and say, "No."

And then she'd say whatever was on her mind.

I don't think (fingers crossed) that Alexander is quite as stubborn.

He will parrot anything Benjamin says, for example, but only single words so far. He will also repeat anything that sounds remotely exciting. For example, we went for a drive today and the kids saw cows out their window and Alexander was chanting "Cow! Cow! Cow!" right along with them because, as we all know, seeing cows out your window is one of the top ten exciting things on a car ride.

Of course, Alexander has a bit of a "fronting" issue (which we're absolutely not worried about at this point since he's only 18 months old), so he was yelling, "Tow! Tow! Tow!" as he pointed out his window.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Popular like me

Miriam came home from school absolutely crushed due to some friend problems at school (which are now "fixed" because her friend said she was only "joking" and I honestly don't understand how some people can be so cruel, but Miriam is a very forgiving person and is willing to go back to how things were, which I might take issue with (forgive, yes, but have an honest dialogue about how incredibly hurtful the behaviour was) but we're moving in a few weeks so I don't have to worry about this behaviour turning into an abusive pattern in their friendship).

So Benjamin asks, "Why don't you just be popular?"

Calling on her knowledge of internet memes, our Meme retorted, "It's not that easy, Ben! One does not simply be popular."



"It's pretty easy for me," Benjamin said. "I'm the most popular kid in my class!"

"You are not," Miriam sniffed.

"I am!" he insisted. "I'm the most popular for being off-task by reading when I should be listening."

"That's...not...what popular means," Miriam said, suddenly starting to cheer up.

By this measure, Benjamin is rather popular in our house as well...

Sticks and carrots

Alexander calls Andrew "Daddy," which, as a multisyllabic word, is a rather high honour considering nine short long (very long, very exhausting) months ago Alexander decided he didn't like anyone but Mommy. He now will (sometimes) choose to go to Andrew and will allow him to do things like change his diaper and get him ready for bed (without screaming through the entire process).

Thinking about how nice it is to be able to pass Alexander off sometimes almost makes me choke up, which means the last several months of being The Most Loved Person in Alexander's world hasn't been entirely easy.

He's still incredibly clingy and hardly lets me get anything done with his constant desire to be held. But, I think we'll make it through this season of life.

My current worry is how we're going to get Benjamin through his phase. It's a doozy.

Whenever he gets caught doing anything naughty he just shrugs and says, "I was tempted," a classic the-devil-made-me-do-it-move. The problem is that he is tempted a lot and I just can't keep my cool through all of it.

Today he was wild after school, as he usually is, and he ended up spilling pretzels all over the kitchen. And I mean all over the kitchen. So just imagine the few pretzels you're imagining because you're sure I'm over-exaggerating, and then multiply that several times and spread it all over the kitchen and there you'll have it.

I heard the mess happen and could tell it was an extensive one, but I was upstairs nursing Alexander (who—have I mentioned?—is one clingy, demanding baby) so I decided I'd sit this one out. Benjamin is nearly seven years old. That's plenty old enough to know how to tidy up a kitchen mess of their own creation.

"What happened?" I called down the stairs.

"Spilled some pretzels!" Benjamin called up to me.

Some? SOME? Sure.

"Pick them up," I called back down.

"I will!" he assured me.

But when I went downstairs to check I found pretzels all over creation.

Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter baskets and egg hunting

The kids were excited to find their baskets on Easter morning, though they were good little children and waited to get into them until I came downstairs (the very last person of all). 

Here's Zoë, thrilled with her little chocolate bunny:


Benjamin with his America-approved (ie. meh compared to the original) Kinder Surprise Egg:


Pretty Easter Pictures

Andrew came home from church after sacrament meeting since Alexander wasn't well enough to go to nursery (no symptoms other than the fact that he's running a fever—of 104°F, so, a pretty obvious fever) so while the rest of us were in Sunday School discussing Easter, Andrew was at home taking care of baby, doing dinner prep, and hiding Easter eggs in the backyard.

I was hoping for a beautiful spring day for our Easter dinner so that we could eat outside and play yard games, but instead we were due for a big rainstorm. We quickly had our Easter egg hunt before the deluge, and then we tried to round the kids up to take a pretty Easter picture.

But the baby was dressed down to his diaper (because Andrew gave him a banana for a snack) and the kids' mouths were all full of candy and they were much more interested in checking out their eggs than they were smiling at the camera, and Zoë had had a chocolate cupcake in Sunbeams and we forgot to wash off her mouth before taking pictures. But I still think they're beautiful people because they're my people. 

Here are our attempts at a cute Easter picture:


Easter Egg Smackdown 2019

We dyed about a million eggs (okay, only sixty) in preparation for this year's Easter Egg Smackdown. As Andrew pointed out, everyone quite enjoys deviled eggs, so eating that many hard boiled eggs shouldn't be terribly difficult for a family our size. Plus, we all had so many ideas for decorating eggs this year! We could hardly contain ourselves.

Any idea someone thought of was immediately countered by another, usually involving a pun. I decided to make a Pokeball, for example, and the next thing I know, Rachel's drawing spikes on an egg to make a "poky ball."


Then she decorated an egg as Eleven (from Stranger Things) so I decorated an egg with an eleven. 


And then Miriam made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle egg and Rachel made a crass joke about making a turd-le egg (which is a word we don't ordinarily use in this household, but for the sake of a good pun we're willing to look past a whole slew of things) and so...I made a rainbow poop emoji egg.

me and Miriam showing off our, uh, turtle eggs

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Hjinks in Heissatopia

April Fools' jokes are still alive and well here so we basically can't wait for this month to end. On Thursday night, Rachel graffitied all over the milk jug in order to trick her dear ol' grandpa into believing it had gone bad:



"The milk has gone BAD!" she wrote, with an angry alien face roaring with...dismay...or...rage. But at the bottom she wrote, "Just kidding. It's fine."

And then she put it back into the fridge.

Sleepy sickies

Now that my class is just about over, I'll hopefully be writing here more regularly again. But, then again, perhaps not because I still have a house to buy and a cross-country move to make (which isn't remotely preoccupying, uh-uh, not at all).

This week we've been dealing with sick kids. Zoë and Miriam were both down on Thursday/Friday with fevers. Though Miriam has a slight cough, Zoë has no other symptoms. They were both better on Saturday (or at least well enough for Miriam to go out to the movies with Naanii and Bumpa (they took the three oldest kids to see Shazam).

Zoë napped for about six hours on Thursday. She took a morning nap and she took an afternoon nap and she went to bed early. It would have been wonderful if it hadn't been so sad.

Alexander was rather the opposite. He woke up with a high fever around 10:30 last night and I didn't get him back in bed until well past midnight. Then he was up and cranky several times before morning.

I struggled to get him down for an afternoon nap.

And I just now got him to sleep.

That poor boy nursed so long he was sloshing when I put him into his crib. And then he spat up, which has hasn't done for a long time. Clearly he overate. But also he wouldn't stop eating!

Getting him to bed was rather frustrating today because he (obviously) wouldn't nurse to sleep so then he wanted me to stay with him while he fell asleep, which is fine. I have things to read and I don't mind lying on his floor to read while he falls asleep unless he's going to be doing gymnastics in his crib.

My patience wears thin really fast when I'm sitting there, waiting in good faith for that sweet child (whoever they may be) to fall asleep and they're just goofing off. I mean, if they want to play around in their bed, fine. But don't hold me hostage to it!

You want to play in your bed? Great. Fall asleep when you're good and ready and let me move on with my evening. Or... Lie still and quiet while you force me to watch you fall asleep.

You can't have both.

Hopefully we'll all be healthy soon (I'm sure we will be because this seems to be a fast moving virus).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Taking Wednesday head on

It's the last Wednesday of the semester. Our children are tucked into their beds (with three of the five suffering from mild head trauma; it's fine) and Andrew is on his way home. And I'm just so relieved that the end of the semester is here.

I suppose I should explain that head trauma before we go much farther.

Grandpa and I tag-teamed a buttermilk pancake dinner (I made the batter, he cooked them up), then sent Miriam off to Activity Days. The remaining kids and I walked down to the train park to toss around a frisbee. It was rather windy, as it often is here, and the wind kept grabbing our hot pink disc and whirling it up ridiculously high into the air (which was fine because our playing "field" is a little bowl—with hills on all sides—so the frisbee couldn't get too far away).

I spotted Alexander heading for a discarded juice box that I didn't want him to play with, so I picked it up and jogged it down to the trashcan (PSA, fellow Americans: you, too, can put trash into the trashcan!). While I was doing that, Rachel tossed the frisbee and Benjamin and Zoë both went for it and collided head-on. They both sat down, howling and holding their heads, and blaming each other for not letting the other have any turns.

They both have a little goose egg but were able to calm down fairly quickly and we worked out a turn-taking system and all was well.

Soon it was time to head home so that Rachel could head over to the church where the youth were playing flag football for mutual. I assumed Rachel was having fun because she's into that sort of thing.

I never was, not really. I was always a...delicate...child.

I wasn't prone to illness, I don't think, but I was just...small. Wafer-thin. Gangly. Awkward. Whatever.

I didn't excel at team sports.



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Good Berry, and other bunny tales

Zoë's Sunbeams teachers told her that Easter was next Sunday, which she passed along to us at the dinner table. "Easter is next week and I'm so excited!" she squealed, squirming in her seat, and bouncing her hands in the air for emphasis. 

We went to story time at the library on Monday and it was all about bunnies, which I thought Zoë would love—and indeed she seemed to have had a wonderful time! We read bunny stories, we learned a bunny poem, we did some bunny dances, and wrapped everything up by making a little bunny craft—a cute bunny-ear headband!

She happily wore it all around the library as we checked out books and visited the play room and took a turn at the iPad station. She kept it on her head all the way home and into the house. 

And then she said, "Why did we learn about bunnies today? It's not Easter yet. Easter is next week!"

"Oh, just to get you excited about Easter, I suppose," I said casually because I thought we were having a casual conversation but apparently we were not. Apparently this was more of an existential matter because the next thing I knew, Zoë had ripped off her bunny-ear headband and had thrown it to the ground.

"Well, I was already excited about Easter before any of this stuff happened!" she screamed, stomping on her headband. "Why did she do this to me?!! I don't need bunny ears to tell me I'm excited about Easter!"

Talk about evil librarians! What was our sweet story time lady even thinking?!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Spring Organ Recital (plus a duet with dad)

I'm at once relieved and sad to be finished with organ for the semester, which is how I feel about many things in life. I'm relieved because two hours of class each week (plus commute time) was an awfully big commitment for a 9-year-old. We're very lucky Miriam enjoys practicing because otherwise I don't know how she would have made it through this year (I suppose if she didn't enjoy practicing we wouldn't have signed her up)! I suppose I'm the one who is commitment-averse. I always sign my kids up for things and then wince at how much I've committed to (teaching preschool, soccer practice, play practice, organ lessons, etc). I love that they are learning new things but...I'm also tired...so I'm glad that she has her Tuesdays and Thursdays to just come home from school and play in the backyard, rather than rushing right back out the door.

Miriam with her teacher, Nora Hess (my mom took this picture a few Tuesdays ago, I believe)
But I'm also sad it's over because it's been such a fabulous experience for Miriam! She has loved her teachers and classmates, which is such a blessing because this has been such a difficult year for her at school. And in the face of that, organ has brought her so much joy! All the kids are just so sweet and they have this shared interest of everything organ, which has helped them be friendly with each other. And it's been so wonderful to have this class not only as a musical outlet for Miriam but as an emotional one as well.

So I really hate to say goodbye. But, here we are...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Alexander at 18 months

While Andrew was teaching Elder's Quorum and I was teaching Relief Society this morning, Alexander had his first day of nursery! Good thing we had Grandpa on hand to go with him, otherwise I don't know what we would have done. Grandpa said he did very well—he loved the bubbles, enjoyed playing with the toys, and was thrilled someone was giving him snacks. Next week Grandpa will try to step out (we'll see how that goes—ha!). 

"This is my life."
It's hard to believe that Alexander is already 18 months old already!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sunday with my mom's family

How is it Thursday night and I'm only now getting around to writing about Sunday?

I wish I didn't feel so frazzled all the time, but I do. My aunt said the funniest thing on Sunday. She said my children were well-behaved. She said that my cousin's children were exhausting and wild but mine were wonderfully well-behaved. I suppose that was a fair observation from the couple of hours she saw them because they were all remarkably well-behaved. But I think she would change her tune if she ever agreed to babysit them for ten days (it just so happens she recently returned from babysitting for my cousin for ten days).

My children are wonderful (as are my cousin's) but...they can also be exhausting.

I have been so frustrated by the dynamic Benjamin and Zoë have going on this week (both collectively and individually) that I'm just at my wit's end. They have been awful. Off the wall—off the charts—awful.

But they were well-behaved on Sunday, so that's good, I guess.

Anyway, we got together with my Auntie Colleen and Uncle Bruce (and Uncle LeRon and Aunt Sara) after conference on Sunday. We had a potluck dinner up at Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sara's clubhouse. My mom brought potato salad and chips and salsa. Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sara brought a bucket of fried chicken. We brought a fruit pizza (in honour of Josie's birthday, though she wouldn't let us sing to her), a cheeseball and crackers (and cheese slices for those of us who are afraid of cheeseballs (Andrew)), and a vegetable tray.

"You brought enough food to feed an army!" Sara said when we filed into the clubhouse with all those trays of food.

"Well," I shrugged, "I also brought an army!"

Five kids can eat a lot.

We had a lovely time visiting together. Zoë and Benjamin spent quite a bit of time playing with their magtastix set. We discovered how to make tops during general conference and the kids had a blast making and spinning tops during the afternoon session and we decided to take the fun with us to the clubhouse.

L to R: My mom, Aunt Sara, Auntie Colleen, Uncle Bruce, Uncle LeRon

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night

On Saturday evening we attended a BCC Press dinner prior to going to a book launch reading for AshMae Hoiland and Rachel Hunt Steenblik. Andrew does most of the typesetting for these books (there are a couple he hasn't done), which is a nice little hobby for him. 


Rachel Hunt Steenblik just released her second book of poetry about Heavenly Mother (Mother's Milk was first, and this one is called I Gave Her A Name). Ashley Mae Hoiland did the artwork for the book, a smattering of which can be seen below:


She also released her memoir about being diagnosed with MS, A New Constellation. 

Monday, April 08, 2019

Like a spring of water

We went on a field trip to Dripping Rock for family night. After sitting for eight hours listening to church talks this weekend I figured doing something more physically active was called for. Plus we've been following the Come Follow Me manual and due to General Conference the same little section of scriptures was stretched over two weeks, so we've already covered a lot. I wanted to make sure to cover things in a different way. So we went to Dripping Rock, which is a short little hike that the kids all enjoy.

Technically I guess the trail is closed but every single time we go it seems the trail is closed in some capacity or another! So we decided we'd hike it anyway (and we had plenty of company on the trail).

Friday, April 05, 2019

BYU Last Week (Rachel at the Science Fair)

Last week we also spent a day at BYU! 

Rachel won her school science fair project and then won the district science fair again, so she got to compete at the regional level! I had to teach preschool that morning (I only have to teach one more time!) so she rode into campus with her friend Kenzie (whose dad also works at BYU but he doesn't have an early morning class on Wednesdays so he was able to take the girls in when they needed to be there and not hours before). Alexander, Zoë and I went to pick her up.

My mom met us at the MOA and we walked up to the Harmon building together so that we could find her. She was stuck in some raffle meeting (Zoë was super excited Cosmo was there):


My mom had to leave before seeing Rachel, but Rachel says that she saw us from the audience and waved (though we didn't catch her wave).

Thursday, April 04, 2019

BYU this week

To really switch things up for spring break, we decided not to go to the pool today and instead hung out at BYU. How is spring break going, you ask? Well, we went swimming on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 

Andrew was out of town Thursday through Sunday last week—so our friends April and James invited us to hang out at the pool with them and it was the best idea ever and I'm so glad they got us out of the house. The kids enjoyed it so much that we've just been...going and going and going...even though it's super crowded because it's spring break. 

The worst part about Andrew's trip out of town was that it covered the days that we ordinarily see him the most. Monday through Thursday it's kind of non-stop business over here. So last week we dealt with our ordinary Monday through Thursday horribleness and then Andrew was gone until Sunday night and then we jumped right back into our Monday through Thursday horribleness again. 

So really spring break has been a bit of a dud.

Yesterday was so ridiculous that I didn't even see Andrew at all (at least not technically). He left the house before anyone was up because he teaches an early morning class on Wednesdays. He also teaches an evening class on Wednesdays up in Salt Lake, which he commutes to on the train because we're forward-thinking environmentalists. Last night his train broke down and was stalled for an hour on the tracks so he didn't get home until after midnight (which is technically Thursday, not Wednesday). It was a long day. 

And then he left this morning before anyone got up. 

Miriam had to get to campus for her organ class, so we decided that we'd all just go have a museum day and then leave her there for her class. We met up with Naanii and Auntie Josie, which was fun! We walked through the MOA and then visited the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, which currently has a lovely exhibit on the Middle East with some very beautiful costumes displayed. 


And then we went where the kids really wanted to go: The Bean Museum!

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

I ruined dinner twice in one night!

I took out the Instant Pot to steam some potatoes and vegetables for dinner and noted that the steaming basket was already in place so I peeled some potatoes and tossed them into the pot, added some carrots, and poured in a cup of water...which in turn poured out of the base of the Instant Pot, cascaded off the counter, and splashed onto my feet.

I froze, confused—shocked, even—and my eyes settled on the Instant Pot liner, which I had sat on the counter to dry after I washed it this morning (and thus it was most definitely not inside the Instant Pot, where it was supposed to be).

Luckily, I hadn't turned the Instant Pot on and I hurriedly removed the vegetables and then ran upstairs muttering, "Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no," praying that Instant Pots are like cell phones and that it will just dry out and be perfectly fine. I hopped onto the internet and found that Instant Pots are like cell phones and our pot will probably dry out just fine (even if it doesn't, it's at least cheaper to replace than some cell phones, so there's that).

Sometimes the internet can be a very unwelcoming, even threatening place. But today I read a thread about dumping water into an unlined Instant Pot that had 324 very supportive comments and have never felt so grateful for the internet in all my life.

"Me, too."

"Just joined this club."

"Count me in. I'm letting mine air dry before using it again."

"Good idea. That worked for me."

"Baking at 11:30 PM. Bad idea. I could almost taste that rice pudding, too."

"Now a member of the club—with 2.5 cups of MILK!!!"

"Oh, bother. Me, too."

Monday, April 01, 2019

April Fools' Day

Weeks ago Miriam was collecting trash from the various garbage cans around the house and when she went to get the trash from our room, Andrew remotely dimmed our bedroom lights. He can do that because we have fancy lights that connect to our phones because Andrew is a self-proclaimed "early adopter" and because being able to turn the lights off while lying in bed is The Dream. I'm 75% sure the lights are spying on us but at least we're early adopters.

Anyway, it scared her so much that a seed of an idea was planted in my mind: wouldn't it make an awfully good April Fool's prank to switch her bedroom lights for our own?

At first it seemed mean, but then...guys...she has been so excited about celebrating April Fool's day to the max that it began to seem, well, less mean. It began to seem fair. She was hatching elaborate pranks to play on everyone in the family days (probably weeks) in advance. She's been searching the internet for prank ideas and gathering supplies in her room.

The other day she came up to me with the little sewing kit she got for Christmas and asked me to help select the colour of thread she should use for a trip wire.

Out loud I said, "No pranks that could actually hurt someone, okay, sweetie?"

Inside I said, "Oh, girl. You're going down."

She spent the day gleefully pranking everyone.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sleeping (and not)

I don't know why I'm having so much trouble keeping up with my writing lately, though I imagine it has to do with (a) studying for the GRE, (b) writing for my class, which will be over in a few weeks, and (c) my children who are really keeping me hopping these days. Seriously. Alexander either wants me to hold him or he is getting into something he shouldn't. Zoë is constantly tackling that poor boy. Benjamin is, you know, Benjamin. And then the older girls are so busy with extracurricular events that it's hard to keep up.

I mean, I don't know I've ever been happier to miss the soccer registration deadline than I was this year.

Rachel asked me about it so I looked up the deadline and it was so far over it wasn't even funny and I was so relieved that I had a difficult time hiding my true feelings when I told Rachel the news. I was trying to sound devastated but I couldn't quite mask my glee: "Oh...no...we...missed...it."

Somehow she has friends doing both soccer and basketball this season (and they all come from families with, like, 5 and 6 kids so I don't know what my problem is...because I'm exhausted).

It could also have something to do with house hunting. And the fact that I'm still waking up in the middle of the night to nurse babies (and am maybe getting too old for that sort of thing).

Anyway, I have many stories going untold, which is kind of a shame because my family is awfully entertaining. Hopefully things will settle down in the next few weeks. Hopefully.

Meh. Probably not.

Alexander actually slept spectacularly well this weekend.

Andrew was in Toronto at a conference and Reid took the three older kids to Idaho on Friday, so it was just me, Zoë, and Alexander at home on Friday and Saturday.

He and I went down for a nap on Friday afternoon and I didn't set my alarm because I figured he would just wake me up (and because I didn't need to get up to meet the kids after school or anything), so I settled Zoë on the couch with a show and went to bed and woke up to Alexander fussing in his crib three hours later.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

More biking adventures

I didn't see it happen, but I suppose I heard it.

Each time her tricycle wheels thunked across the joints of the sidewalk, the bell on her handlebars gave a forced chime, a rhythmic *clink-clink* keeping time with the steady squeak of her pedals.

Squeaky-squeaky, THUNK *clink* THUNK *clink*

Squeaky-squeaky, THUNK *clink* THUNK *clink*

She made her way down the sidewalk, pedaling furiously and singing a gleeful, made-up song, "When you fall down, you pick yourself back up and flyyyyyyyy away!"

Squeaky-squeaky, THUNK *clink* THUNK *clink*

I turned my attention to her brother. Today we were working on being a self-starter.

"No one gets to start riding this way," I said again as I held his bicycle seat and he, with great effort, put both feet on his pedals (the little cheater). "You have to start with one foot on the ground. Good. I'm letting go of your seat now. Push down with your top foot and bring your other foot off the ground and onto the pedal. Look up! Look up! Look the direction you're going! Don't forget to steer!"

It's a tricky business, this bicycle riding thing.

"I tried and I can't do it!" he pouted.

"Yes, you did try, but you're supposed to try and then you're supposed to try again. That's the way the saying goes, so let's try again, shall we?"

And that's about when I heard her scream.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Biking holidays

Andrew took the older girls to BYU this afternoon (Miriam had organ and Rachel had to set up for the science fair) so I took the younger three to the park. More to the point, I made them ride their bikes to the park. Zoë was immediately on board. Benjamin resisted emphatically, but I told him it would be good practice.

At first he was rather melodramatic about the whole thing, wobbling for a few measly pedal strokes and then launching himself into the grass beside the sidewalk. It was ridiculous and rather frustrating because I was pulling Alexander in the wagon and coaxing Zoë along but then we'd all have to stop so I could help Benjamin get going again (he hasn't quite figured out how to start riding his bike yet, though he can keep riding).

Nothing I said could convince him to actually try until he saw his friend Holly riding her bike down the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

"She's not wobbling at all!" he remarked.

"She's probably practiced more than you," I said.

"She doesn't even have a helmet on!" he observed.

"Well, that part...I dunno about...but clearly she's had more practice than you have which is why I'm dragging you out here—to practice!"

He hopped back on his bike and went a considerable distance before stopping to watch another kid go by on their bike.

"WHAT!?" he shrieked. "THAT KID IS IN KINDERGARTEN!! HOW IS HE RIDING BETTER THAN ME!?"

Monday, March 25, 2019

Nursery-bound

Yesterday I took Alexander to Relief Society with me. I haven't taken him to class by myself for several weeks now and it made me feel very glad that he will soon be in nursery because he was quite the handful.

Are you ready for me to blow your mind? Because I just checked the calendar to see how many weeks of church we have to endure with him and the answer is one.

He has one week before he goes into nursery (the last Sunday in March). The week after that is General Conference weekend and then, magically, it's April 14 and he'll be 18 months old (which is old enough for nursery, though imagining that he'll just waltz in there is laughable (he's not going to like it, not one little bit))! That baby is such a momma's boy!



Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Domino Effect

Today we celebrated Riley's birthday, though he won't actually turn four for a few more days. We don't go to his house often (in fact, I think the last time we went to his house was for his third birthday party) but the kids always have fun when we do because there are so many little people to pal around with.

I was pregnant with Benjamin at the same time that Cory's sister was expecting twins (if my memory is serving correctly) so when we all get together we have 5 rather rambunctious children—the 3 six-year-olds, Riley, and Zoë (plus Alexander and a motely collection of older cousins). It's pretty fun—so fun that Zoë even faced her fear of dogs so that she could play in the backyard with all the kids.

When we arrived Riley was already out in the backyard with the twins and his dog. Benjamin made a beeline for the backyard and Zoë trailed along behind him like she always does, but when she saw the dog she immediately backtracked and quickly closed the door behind her. There was no way she was going out there!

She sat forlornly for a few minutes, watching the children outside playing their little hearts out. Then she turned to me and said, "Mom, I think I'll go outside 'cuz you know what? Puppies don't bite people. They just run around and scare people!"

And with that she ran outside to join the passel of children in the backyard.

Abby (the dog) was having a blast playing fetch with some of the older cousins and wasn't paying the little kids any attention at all, so Zoë was pretty safe (Abby didn't even come up to sniff her).

We went through the typical birthday activities: pizza, presents, and cake.

Here's Riley opening a few gifts:


Labial Frenectomy III

Poor Alexander seems doomed to have no very good stories to tell...ever.

On Tuesday when my mom stopped by to pick Miriam up for organ (which we're so grateful for because I don't know how we would have been able to have Miriam take this organ class without my mom's help), Alexander tripped while walking and landed flat on his face, partially tearing his little labial frenulum.

"My! He's a fragile little guy!" my mom remarked.

I mean, first he breaks his arm while crawling and then he trips, face plants, tears his frenulum and bloodies his lip. Sheesh. It really doesn't take much for this kid!

Today he finished the job—giving himself a full frenectomy—and still without a very cool story to tell.

He hadn't attempted to climb onto the roof of a couch cushion fort, causing it to collapse and propelling him into the organ bench, thus severing his frenulum (like Rachel). Nor did he tumble down the stairs of the deck to do so (as Benjamin did).

No, nothing quite exciting or adventurous as that.

Friday, March 22, 2019

You know it's been a long and trying semester when...

...you pull the calendar up on your phone to see if anyone has signed up for office hours with your professor husband and tell your children, "I'm just checking to see if Daddy can come over a little earlier today."

And by over I naturally mean home because he lives here, duh.

Even if sometimes it doesn't feel like it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Guess what? Ahoy! Benjamin bikes! He's a biker! He bikes!

I've been trying to teach Benjamin how to ride a bike for quite some time. He figured out the tricycle pretty fast but lacked the patience required to learn how to ride a bike. Or a scooter. Or even to pump on a swing.

You'd think that those sorts of things would be attractive to my active little boy, but you'd be wrong because my little boy was too active to sit still long enough to learn how to do any of them!

He couldn't sit on a swing long enough to learn how to pump his legs (though he did manage to figure it out this past summer). Whenever I'd try to get him to try he'd sit for all of five seconds before popping back off the swing so he could run around.

We had the same issue with his scooter (though he did manage to figure that out earlier this year on a warm winter day). Whenever I'd try to get him to try he'd furiously pound his pumping leg against the sidewalk for five or six steps, then throw his scooter aside and start running around.

Likewise, I could not get him to sit on a bike for more than a few seconds at a time before he'd hop off and start running around like wild.

(Spoiler alert: While he was working with Benjamin today, Garrett wondered aloud how Benjamin hadn't learned to ride without training wheels "yet," but this is why—I honestly couldn't get him to sit still long enough to sit on a bike).


It was frustrating because very clearly he is a child who needs this sort of outlet, but he pushed against learning anything. He seemed to lack the coordination, the balance, the determination, the desire to learn any of it. It wasn't quite as frustrating as trying to teach him to eat was (hello, NICU days) because this wasn't a matter of his survival, but it was still rather frustrating because it was a matter of my survival (or at least my sanity).

Learning to swing was a marvelous thing for him.

Learning to ride his scooter was even better (I can't tell you how many "scooter walks" we've gone on recently (he scooters (and Zoë scooters) and I push Alexander in the stroller)).

Learning to ride his bike would make this a childhood trifecta! His summers could be carefree and glorious if he would just sit. on. his. bike. long enough to learn how to pedal.

An artsy-fartsy weekend

Growing up, f-rt was considered such a vulgar word in my home that to this day I cannot hear it without cringing. Andrew's home was the very same way. So very naturally, the word still goes largely unused in our home (though, weirdly, many of our siblings use it with reckless abandon, which, I mean, like, to each their own, but...how?! How does it not grate your ears, guys?!).

Oddly enough, however, the phrase "artsy-fartsy" does not bother me in the slightest, so that would be the one use of the word f-rt that I would consider appropriate.

And that's just the kind of weekend we had—an artsy-fartsy one! It was a long weekend because the children didn't have school on Friday and BYU had Friday off for spring break day. It felt marvelous to get to take things slow Friday morning. Rachel went to the temple with some friends. We puttered around the house. And then we headed out to the Springville Museum of Art, which we've somehow never been to even though it's amazing!

Alexander at 17 months

I missed writing about Alexander at 16 months, which is a shame because that's right when he learned how to walk! Oh, well. He's 17 months old now, which means we're just one month away from entering nursery (not that I think he'll go without a fight).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Rachel's Cinderella

Rachel was kept hopping on Wednesday and Thursday with four performances of Cinderella! We skipped her matinee shows and instead hit her evening shows. Andrew had to work late on Wednesday so Grandpa and I took the little ones and saved seats for Naanii and Auntie Josie. On Thursday Andrew and I took the kids again (since Andrew hadn't seen it yet and I didn't want to stay at home with all the kids). 

Not Rachel

Saturday, March 16, 2019

An Eggs-tra Special Pi Day

I made quiche for dinner on Thursday—Pi Day—with Zoë's help, of course. I can't seem to do anything in the kitchen without her help (except when it comes to putting away the clean dishes, which is her actual kitchen job). 

I cracked fifteen eggs into a bowl (because our family is somewhat ginormous) and let her whisk them up. I added some spices, some milk. She kept stirring while I went to check on how the pie crust was coming along. Because we were in a rush to get dinner on—Rachel had curtain call for her school musical at 5:00—I decided we'd make mini quiches in a muffin tin (which I would refer to a as a tart: a small "open pie" (with no crust on top), but definitions of pie vary wildly, it seems, so you might not refer to it as a tart simply because it's a miniature pie). Tarts bake much faster than pies!

Anyway, Rachel and Miriam were given the task of filling muffin cups with pie dough but, being the inexperienced pie makers that they are, they were taking forever to get it done. Miriam was working the dough so much in her hands it was warm and goopy by the time she pressed it into the muffin pan; Rachel was stretching her dough so paper-thin that she kept poking holes in it. So I showed them (again) how to quickly make a ball and flatten it and spread it in the muffin cup. We were all three rolling dough in our hands when I heard a slurping sound from behind us. 

ssssssssssllluuuuuurrrp!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Thankful Tree 2018

We put up last year's Thankful Tree on Canadian Thanksgiving—October 8, 2018—and just took it down today—March 15, 2019. We got distracted from it for a while (hello, November) so I don't think it ever got quite as full as it could have. But also it was nice to have it stay up as a reminder that we have so much to be grateful for. But considering it outlived Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day (and St. Patrick's Day and Easter are right around the corner), it was high time for it to come down.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today's schedule

I thought that it would be an interesting exercise to write out today's schedule sequentially:
  • 7:00: wake up with the baby (after working until 1:30 AM, nursing the baby at 2:00 AM, getting up with Andrew's alarm at five-oh-something, and then again at six-oh-something).
  • do Rachel's hair and make-up (she had a play performance today; this is not a typical thing)
  • 8:00: drive Rachel to school because she had to be there early and we ran out of time to have her walk.
  • 8:30: walk Benjamin to Brynn's house so he can walk to school with Brynn
  • 9:30: walk Zoë to preschool
  • 10:00: put Alexander down for a nap (daylight savings is messing with his schedule because he hasn't taken a morning nap for months...and then we switched time and he's been a mess) and squeeze in a twenty minute nap for myself.
  • 11:00: pick Zoë up from preschool
  • 11:15: check Benjamin and Rachel out from school for return dentist appointments (they had check ups last week and my children always have cavities no matter how well we brush their teeth or how much I encourage healthy eating—I was just visiting with a mom whose daughter was chugging a soda and had a bag of jellybeans in her hand (just for an after-school snack) and she bragged that her children can eat whatever they want and have just never had cavities and I just...whatever....because my children aren't allowed pop or candy on a regular basis and I'm fairly militant about dental hygiene and yet...we're always coming back in for dental work). Miriam and Zoë did not have any cavities this time around; Zoë (and Alexander) still came with me to the dentist (Miriam stayed home sick). Zoë thought this was funny because she went on a field trip to the dentist yesterday (and got a dentist goody bag with a toothbrush) and visited our own dentist last week (and got a dentist goody bag with a new toothbrush). She was a little upset when she wasn't handed a dentist goody bag with a new toothbrush when we left today!
  • 12:15: check the kids back into school (our dentist is efficient (and funny (and good at what he does))).
  • 12:30: feed the kids lunch (I forgot to mention that I helped get them breakfast; I did that) and then settle Zoë and Miriam in with a movie and wrestle with Alexander while I try to work.
  • 3:00: put Alexander down for another nap (again, he's been down to one nap for months now, but daylight savings...boy...I dunno) and squeeze in another twenty minutes for myself. 
  • 3:30: take a shower (with Alexander).
  • 3:50: redo Rachel's makeup (because she washed it off after her performance) and start some water boiling for dinner.
  • 4:30: send Rachel back to school for curtain call and eat dinner (Grandpa mercifully came upstairs to finish making (boxed) macaroni and cheese for dinner).
  • 5:00: stand in line to buy tickets for Rachel's show.
  • 6:00: watch show.
  • 7:00: begin bedtime routine—stories, jammies, teeth brushing, scriptures, prayer, lullabies, back rubs, and more stories (On the Banks of Plum Creek) while I sit on the couch to nurse Alexander and Zoë and Benjamin lie in their beds and try to settle down.
  • 8:30: the house is somewhat silent and I begin some decent uninterrupted work.
I also did a bit of laundry, changed several diapers, tidied up the living room, and did many other things I'm sure I've forgotten to mention. Thinking about today's schedule made me realize that my days are really quite full (this isn't nothing; this a lot) so I should probably stop feeling that I never accomplish anything.