Sunday, June 30, 2019

Travel notes: redacted

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


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

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

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

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

I got no response. So I sent another message.

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

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

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

Because people laugh when things are funny!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Travel notes: Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, our lives also have been wildly different.

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

So spooky

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

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

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

"You thought I was dressed..."

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday privileges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loading Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Utter Chaos

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The 7th floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Lost his marbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 14, 2019


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

"Eleven," he calmly corrected.

"Today is almost over," I said.

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

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

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

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

Ten highs we experienced in Spanish Fork:

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

Ups and Downs

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Zoë's first talk

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

Here's the transcript of her talk:

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

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

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

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

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


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

The Hogle Zoo

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

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

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Helping hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave it to beavers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 07, 2019

Black and blue

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

Or won.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 05, 2019


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

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

"What?" I asked, truly shocked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven years ago I had a hard day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ol' noggin

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

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

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

He's a very colourful boy right now.

Benjamin's 7th birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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