Thursday, January 31, 2019

Right arm...broken!

For the past 11 years, 6 months, and 10 days of parenthood, Andrew and I have held an ongoing (joking) wager about which child will be the first one to break an arm/leg. When Rachel (who happens to be 11 years, 6 months, and 10 days old today) was a toddler and was climbing all over the place as if she wasn't afraid of gravity one little bit, we were certain she was going to break a limb.

She didn't.

When Miriam was learning to ride her bike and seemed to be magnetically drawn to any and every potential obstacle (and crashed around twelve thousand times), we thought for sure she'd be the first one to break a bone.


Benjamin still has very high odds of breaking an arm, in my opinion. But whenever he, you know, "be's Benjamin," as Zoë would say, he has always emerged from whatever Benjamin-ism unscathed. We're constantly checking him for broken bones.

So far none.

When Zoë, who was barely walking, fell in love with jumping off the couch we thought for sure she was going to be the one. Just the other day we were heading down to the basement and Andrew offered to carry Zoë the rest of the way down the stairs. Instead of saying, "Why, yes, father. Thank you for offering," she literally just flung her tiny body down the staircase in his general direction, a crazy trust exercise of sorts. 

How has she not broken a bone?!

And then our little climber! Alexander can't walk (well) but he climbs, you know, anything and everything. The other day I learned that he can climb onto Zoë's high chair and from there he can get onto the kitchen counter. He has fallen off the table upstairs, multiple times (most recently giving himself a black eye). He seems to have a goal to climb over the back of the couch (which is an awful goal—Grandpa once caught him just n the nick of time, and Alexander twirled about, suspended in the air by his ankle, his head inches from the tile floor, wondering why Grandpa stopped him). I am constantly running to get him down from places and/or scooping him up off the floor as he howls, "OW! OW! OW!"

But he's only been alive for fifteen months. Sure, he's a bit of a daredevil, I thought, but surely he's as invincible as the other children!

Apparently not. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

FHE on the Plan of Salvation

We discussed the plan of salvation for FHE tonight. I set up a scavenger hunt around the house, which led us through all the levels of our house finding different parts of the plan of salvation, using the diagram from the March 1994 Friend Magazine.

We read Job 38:4, 7 and talked about the premortal existence and how we were spirits before we came to earth. I adapted a puppet pattern (from the gospel library) so that Benjamin could have a boy spirit and Zoë could have a girl spirit to carry around with them (and idea I had while reading this lesson plan).

Monday, January 28, 2019

C≠B, where C is the closet and B is the bathroom

Doing all this math elicits quite the dichotomy of feelings within me. I did so well on the "solving linear equations" section that I took a picture of my notebook to send to Andrew:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Black-eyed baby

I haven't gone to Sunday School this year, a feat made easier by the fact that we only have Sunday School twice a month now. I missed the first week of Sunday School because instead I taught (and, uh, maybe lost) Sunbeams. I missed last week because Zoë was too sick to go to her class so I took her home instead (and then I also packed for my weekend trip to Idaho because I'd forgotten to do that the night before). 

She's now getting over her croupy cough and hasn't had a fever since early this week (though she also missed preschool on Wednesday, which was bitterly disappointing (though was made sweeter when her friend Hannah dropped by some cupcakes to help her feel better)). 

Naturally Alexander is croupy now, running a fever and barking that iconic seal-like cough. He's so sick and miserable that everything he does is 100% pathetic and sympathy-inducing. 

"Momma!" he'll moan, and he gets Momma.

He moaned a new word this afternoon, "Banana!" and he got a banana. 

Basically whatever he wants he gets because everyone feels so sorry for him. Our pity is heightened, I think, because on top of being cute and small and sick, the poor boy has a black eye! 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Building, writing, creating

This evening I had my second session of my writing class, which has so far been surprisingly empowering. My sister sent me an article about parenting through grief several weeks ago when we were, you know, in the trenches of parenting through grief (not that the battle is over, but I don't feel like we're quite in the trenches like we were) and it said something about allowing yourself to neglect the kids and house a bit. When you hear that judgmental voice in your head saying, "Too much television is going to rot that child's brain," or "That laundry should have been folded days ago," to just thank that voice for its concern and send it on its way.

That was so helpful for me to read at the time.

Eating pizza for dinner (again) wasn't going to ruin my children's childhood. Playing the Wii all weekend long wasn't going to ruin my children's childhood. Picking clean clothes out of a laundry basket instead of their drawers wasn't going to ruin my children's childhood. And eventually we'd find our new normal and life would continue with vegetables and human interaction and chore charts.

No need to castigate myself for not having it all together because people don't have everything together in the best of times, so why should I have everything together in what could be categorized as one of the worst of times? (For the record, we're out of the trenches and my house still isn't tidy, but it wasn't before, and I don't think my children are really worse off for it).

I heard a similar thing tonight in my class. We made lists of our fears and our distractions and the judgmental voices inside our heads and then one of the teachers said to thank those fears, distractions, and voices for trying to protect us but we were going to forge ahead anyway.

And that was apparently so helpful and empowering for me to read that it spurred me into having a difficult but necessary conversation today.

But enough vagueness. I only meant to say that we did a writing exercise during class, which is one I feel rather familiar with because it's kind of the topic of this blog, but it went in a surprising direction, so I will share it here. The prompt was, "In this very moment..."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My math zipper is misaligned

So, I'm studying for the GRE, which is all kinds of fun and is bringing back lots of, you know, fun memories. And by fun I mean traumatic.

I suffer from a bit of math anxiety, which I've been reading quite a bit about lately. This fear of math can be passed on from parent to child when the parent expresses thoughts such as, "Math is dumb, anyway," or "It's alright if you're not good at math because I'm not good at it either," and things like that. It can also stem from teachers expressing math anxiety in front of their class or, I imagine, from shaming students who are struggling to grasp a particular concept.

Two instances of math shaming stand up readily in my mind. The first is in grade three. We had to do timed multiplication tests weekly in Mrs. Robinson's class and while I did enjoy my time in Mrs. Robinson's class, I did not enjoy those timed multiplication tests. I only ever managed to get through the whole test once at the very end of the school year.

"You must not be as mathematically minded as your brother," I remember her remarking. "He was so quick!"

He had been in her class a couple of years before me and he, of course, finished his timed tests every week. I know this because if you got 100% on the test (which would naturally involve finishing it) then you got to pick a prize. He got a prize every week.

I never got prizes. Until the end of the year. And by that point I don't think I cared any more.

(Except that I am bringing this up again so perhaps I cared a little bit more than I thought).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Up to Idaho and down again

I ran up to Idaho with my mom this weekend to attend Burt's funeral. We drove up with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Wally and Alexander (the only child I took with me) was a fabulous little traveller.

It was wonderful to get reacquainted with some of my more distant relatives and to have the opportunity to see some close family members again (my Auntie Colleen and Uncle LeRon drove down from Alberta and Elizabeth was there...because she lives there).

Alexander had a marvelous time crawling around (and rolling around) the floor. He seemed to enjoy the soft carpet quite a lot. He also did a lot of toddling! He was taking quite a lot of steps as he made his way around the room. Without anyone there to yank him around and knock him over (I'm looking at you, Zoë) I think he felt confident enough to give this whole two-feet thing a try.

After the viewing we met at the Airbnb my Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sara had rented—a cute single-wide trailer home—for a dinner that Sara prepared for us. It was fun to get to visit as our own little family unit for a while (Uncle Bruce, Aunt Sara, Elizabeth, Bridget, Aunt Judy, Uncle Wally, Auntie Colleen, Uncle LeRon, my mom, Alexander, and I). And then, since we hadn't yet found a place to stay, my mom, Alexander, and I ended up spending the night there as well (Colleen and LeRon had already found a hotel and Aunt Judy and Uncle Wally stayed at Elizabeth's). It was so nice of Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sara to share their space!

The funeral was quite wonderful. Burt was, by worldly standards, a rather unsuccessful man; he had terrible luck progressing through any given career track, but he kept on trying new things so that he could help support his family. Still, his lack of success plagued him throughout his life and he just never felt successful. But he was successful in all the ways that truly matter. He was so kind and honest and generous. Everyone loved and respected him. He was, as was repeated so many times today, a gentle soul—just so good.

He'll be missed by many.

After the funeral program we all piled into our cars to make the half-mile journey to the cemetery. It was cold and windy and the dedication of the grave was mercifully short. Then we all piled back into our cars to head back to the church.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Old friends

I got together with some old friends tonight and it was so great to get to see them! We go back a long time. Let's see...

Courtney and I have been in three different wards together. She was in our Parkland ward when our family moved to Calgary (the end of 1994). My family moved to High River before the start of the next school year and Courtney's family moved very soon after we did, so naturally we were in the same ward again because there was only one ward in High River (and it encompassed several nearby towns as well: Nanton and Cayley and so forth (now there is a ward and a branch in High River)).

Amy's family moved to High River from Oregon that same year, but in the middle of the school year, I believe.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Extra Eyebrows

Today Zoë had an open peanut butter and honey sandwich, which means she gets half a slice of bread with honey and half a slice of bread with peanut butter. She likes it open so she can have the full experience of honey-on-bread and peanut-butter-on-bread one at a time, rather than the traditional melding of flavours that is the abomination known as a sandwich.

She ended up giving herself a little peanut butter mustache while she was eating and when she showed it to me she said proudly, "Look, Mom! I have an extra eyebrow on my face, just like men do!"

And now I can't stop imagining going up to some random men and complimenting them on their "extra eyebrow" (or, perhaps "lip eyebrow"), just to see how they respond.

Karen's Cookie Kegger (November 17)

I've put off going through the pictures from Karen's funeral for two solid months now. There's no reason for it, in particular, other than that life keeps marching on. I didn't do it right away and so it go swept under the rug (along with the billion other things I haven't documented in my life). It's not particularly painful to go back and look at the pictures because although it was a hard day it was a good day. I just haven't looked through them until now.

But I had to pull them up yesterday so that I could find this picture of my mom (and me (and Alexander and Kathi and Sister Starr)) with my mom's cousin Burt:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A visit to the fire station

Our neighbourhood preschool took a trip to the fire station this morning. The first truck we got to visit was a 1937 American LaFrance Fire Truck, the second engine Spanish Fork acquired (it's engine #2). The kids weren't allowed to climb on it, but they were allowed to walk around it. It still comes out to participate in parades sometimes (though it looks like it might need some work before hitting the streets again—something was leaking all over the floor).

Monday, January 14, 2019

Alexander at 15 months

This sweet little baby of mine continues to insist upon getting older, so I guess he's fifteen months old now. He's still at the age where he's changing a lot from month to month, so I will do another update on him.

At fifteen months, Alexander...
  • is finally experimenting with walking, though he still doesn't love it and will refuse to take any steps if he's not in the right mood. He is definitely, and by far, my latest and most reluctant walker. 
  • still loves to climb. He likes to hang out on top of his little slide'n'climb structure, which has been a sanity-saver this winter. He can also climb onto the benches for our table, which means that he can also climb onto the table whenever he wants. 
Here he is doing a bit of climbing:

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ben the Builder

Benjamin has been very interested in constructing things lately. He loves going over to Aunt Linda and Uncle Trevor's house to play in their garage with tools. They had him working on some project or another recently (it's a secret, however, so I don't know what it is). Linda suggested that we take him to one of the building days at Home Depot, but they're all the way in Provo at 9:00 in the morning on Saturdays and, well, we're too tired for something like that. Instead Andrew took Benjamin to Lowe's and let him choose a little kit to build.

Then that kit sat and sat and sat and sat and sat. Past Thanksgiving, past Christmas, into the New Year.

I finally helped Benjamin put it together on Friday (the kids didn't have school). He enjoyed figuring out the instructions and hammering all the nails into place. 

This little light of mine...

Today was Rachel's first official day in the Young Women program (since last week we only had Sunday School). She had asked for a new dress for Christmas and had even looked at a few online, which she showed me to give me an idea of what she was looking for, so I ordered one and when it finally came in (this week, so we totally missed Christmas) Rachel loved it immediately. And then she held it up to herself and revealed that it was not going to be a dress for her. It was going to be a dress for me.

It was way too big for her!

So we went online together and picked out another dress, which came in a much more timely manner (Friday). This time it fit her perfectly. 

So that is what she wore to church today and she looked beautiful (even if her toes were being pinched by her shoes because I can't keep up with how fast her feet are growing (those shoes were purchased in August and are already too small)):

Friday, January 11, 2019

Rocking, Rocking it out, and Painting

The other day Benjamin and Zoë called me in to take a picture of them rocking their babies. I happily obliged because not every moment of every day is this cute. Benjamin was holding Alexander and Zoë was holding the newly christened Baby Carrie. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019


Last night Zoë conducted Family Home Evening and she selected herself to choose the opening song.

"Welcome to Family Night, everybody," she said cheerfully. "Mommy will say the prayer and I will choose the song—ABCDEFG!"

"It needs to be a church song," Andrew reminded her.

Zoë narrowed her eyes at him and snarled, "A.B.C.D.E.F.G."

So we sang the alphabet song because...what option did we have?

Then she had us sing I Am a Child of God, which is a church song. Then she asked us to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which she calls, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I Wonder What You Are because she's not very good at song titles yet) but we told her we'd pray first and then would sing Twinkle, Twinkle and then that would be it for singing time.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The first snowman of 2019

It's finally warmed up enough that going outside isn't miserably cold so the kids and I went out this morning to a rapidly thawing world where we got absolutely soaked. The snow was perfectly packable, though, so we were able to make a few good snowmen. 

Here's Zoë pushing a big snowball. It was hard work but she did it all by herself:

A two-hour Sunday...

This morning I woke up and remembered that Benjamin was supposed to give a talk in primary today. Luckily we woke up with time to spare since the kids woke up well before my alarm went off and we didn't have to be to church until 10:30 (yay!), so I assigned Benjamin the task of writing three sentences about how he can be responsible for his own learning (since that was today's topic). 

He and Zoë sat at the table writing and colouring, respectively...though not respectfully. They were elbowing each other and touching each other's papers and driving each other crazy. 

It took twenty minutes (which was fine because I was nursing the baby and didn't want the other two in my hair anyway) but Benjamin finally came up to me with his three sentences and we sat down at the computer to flush out his talk.

His three sentences were:

1) Read The Book of Mormon every day.
2) We bulev that we can teach are own lernings. 
3) We love Come Follow Me

Clearly we had a bit of work to do. So we were talking about things and expanding his ideas when there was a crash and a clatter and...where was the baby?

In the bathtub.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

The case of the missing peas

We were pulling out vegetables to go with lunch today—carrot sticks, celery, cherry tomatoes—but we couldn't find the sugar snap peas. I dug through the vegetable drawer and came up with nothing. I combed through the remaining shelves and didn't see that bag of peas anywhere.

"Did you throw them away?" I asked Andrew, who had, with bravery and nobility of knight, cleaned out the fridge this morning.

"I did not," he said.

"Are you sure?" I asked. "Because I'm not seeing them."

"I think Rachel was the one who put them away last night," he offered.

"Rachel," I said, turning to her. "Where'd you put them?"

"Just in the fridge," she shrugged.

"They're not there," I said.

"Well, they should be..."

She took over looking but also could not find the peas.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Alexander's first steps

Alexander technically took his very first steps on December 21 while we were visiting a neighbour's house for Christmas cookies. He took just two before sitting down.

A few days after that he was standing, holding a bottle of lotion, and he took about three steps towards me before sitting down.

Shortly after Christmas he was playing with Grandpa in the basement and he picked up a big toy and took five steps toward Grandpa.

Mostly he can't be enticed to walk and seems to do it almost by accident when he does it. Any sort of encouragement—"Walk! Stand up! Take a step!"—and Alexander's legs buckle underneath him like jelly. He's absolutely stubborn about it.

It's not that he can't walk. It's that he won't.

Tonight, however, he stood up and took a few steps toward me right in front of everybody. We all cheered and instead of getting flustered, Alexander proudly stood up and tried it again. And then we were able to coax him into trying it over and over again. He was drinking up the attention and working really hard (but we still got a few of his ol' jelly legs every now and then).

Rachel flew to her room to grab some technology so she could record Alexander's first steps:

It was a very proud day:

And now there's no looking back!

Back to school and a spontaneous rant about libraries

The kids went back to school today, which feels far too soon. It was so cold this morning that we beat out all the places I checked yesterday, including Shelley, so we won the award for being the coldest. The kids weren't thrilled about walking to school, but I assured them it would be a good experience. None of them ended up walking, however.

Andrew dropped Rachel off early on his way in to campus and a neighbour stopped to pick up Benjamin and Miriam so they didn't have to freeze.

So the only one who ended up walking to school was Zoë. Alexander and I made the chilly walk with her, but it was only a few houses down the street so it wasn't too bad, and as much as I was loath to send them all back to school today I have to admit that it was nice to have a quiet house for a few hours.

In the afternoon I bundled up the little ones again so that we could walk to the school to meet the big kids. Rachel is participating in the school musical and today was the first rehearsal and parent meeting for that. Andrew's schedule is still fairly flexible but, alas, he had a meeting this afternoon and wasn't able to leave in time to get home for me to go without the kids. He was, however, able to leave in time to greet the kids after their walk home from school. So once we got to the school I sent the little kids back home with Miriam and Benjamin (who took turns pulling the wagon) and it worked out just perfectly.

Andrew arrived home a few minutes before the children, I was on time for Rachel's meeting (and I didn't have to keep any little people with me).

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy SNEW year!

We ended 2018 slipping and sliding down the hill at the "train park." It was rather cold today (it's currently colder here than in Prince George, BC, where David and Ruth live, but warmer than it is in High River, AB, where Abra lives) so we bundled up until we couldn't feel the cold anymore and played outside for about three hours!

I don't actually have snow pants so I wore two pairs of long johns under my jeans, the kids were nice and toasty in their snowsuits, and we got plenty of exercise going up and down the hill.

Alexander loved sledding so much that when he was waiting for his turn with a sled he would toboggan down the hill on his tummy. It was adorable (also note: Zoë doesn't pay any attention to me or anybody when she sleds, so watch out): 

I brought our real camera with me but neglected to put a memory card inside, so instead I took pictures until my phone died (which means I probably took far too many pictures.

Here's Alexander getting pulled on a sled: