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 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.