Thursday, August 29, 2019

Little boys

Besides the chaos of life, in general, I think one of the reasons I've been struggling to write very much during the day/week lately can be summed up by this picture (which Rachel snapped while I was helping her figure out some homework):

Alexander loves to climb all over my office chair.

Bring a treat

I was called as an "Activity Days" leader in our ward and we met for the first time yesterday, which Miriam was rather excited about because Rachel spent the last couple of months going to church activities while Miriam's just been staying home wishing she could go to an activity.

Being somewhat of a stickler (I do try my best to follow rules (even if I think those rules are silly)), I chose some goals from the Faith in God booklet to work on, found a good talk and some good scriptures for the girls to study, and also planned some fun games to play. I also asked the previous leader for a list of past activities and then promptly wished I hadn't because she hadn't been using the Faith in God book at all and instead focused more on just having fun and making memories together. So they'd done things like archery and swimming and building robots and video game nights and...

Those are all fun things.

But I'm not a very fun person.

Or, I am a fun person. I just...enjoy things that other people might not find fun. Like, reading a good article? Oh, boy! Oh, boy! But playing soccer...meh.

So I fretted about this a bit—because I fret about everything*—and Benjamin said, "Just bring food."

"What?" I asked.

"If you're worried they won't think your activity is fun, just bring a treat! They will love it!"

"I don't really have time to make a treat," I pointed out, since I was in the middle of making dinner (and we had to leave for church right after dinner).

"Who said you have to make a treat. I said to bring a treat. Grab some chips. Grab some salsa. Boom. Everybody will love you."

What he said is probably true, but I didn't bring snacks. I think the girls ended up having fun—we said some tongue twisters and played "In the Manner of the Adverb" in addition to our lesson—but they did ask for treats at the end. Fortunately for them the YM/YW had had pizza and ice cream sandwiches as part of their activity and they were able to bum a few extras off the older kids.


* We checked out Mo Willem's I Will Surprise My Friend from the library and couldn't help but see the parallels in our own life. When Gerald and Piggie can't find each other (because they're hiding from each other in order to scare each other), Gerald immediately begins to imagine the worst case scenario. Perhaps Piggie has fallen off a cliff or had been kidnapped by a ravenous monster or...!

Piggie, on the other hand, says, "Maybe Gerald is getting lunch. I want lunch. I'm going to get lunch."

Andrew and I were laughing so hard over this story because I am very much a Gerald and he is very much a Piggie.


Perhaps next time I will bring a treat.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Holy, Holy, HOLY!!!

If you recall, Andrew and Miriam played a duet in church this last April. They've recently been dusting it off to play in church this week and, to her credit, Miriam practiced it to death. She practiced it until she had every last kink worked out and could play it while humming Andrew's part. She practiced it until she wasn't remotely nervous about playing it because she knew the music forwards and backwards.

Things should have gone off without a hitch but organs are tricky instruments and when Miriam got up there she fumbled around a bit. First she tried moving the hymn book and it fell out of the binding and all on top of her, which was embarrassing, and then she couldn't figure out how to turn the organ on so one of the ward organists jogged up there to turn it on for her.

"Every organ is a little bit different," the mother in front of us explained to her daughter who'd been asking what was taking so long, "So it can take a while to get used to a new one. She hasn't played on this organ before."

But finally Miriam was all set and, as previously arranged with Andrew, who sat poised and ready at the piano, she began playing (she can't see over the organ to nod at him or anything and he has a good six measures before he comes in, so she was free to just start). And what a beginning it was!

In her defense, the piece starts out forte (and setting the volume on the organ was...different...than the organs she'd played previously). Miriam started out fortissimo, if not fortississimo!

When Andrew heard how loud the organ was he made a "yikes" face at me and then started pounding on the piano in order to be heard.

And the piece just kept growing in intensity. It was so loud the room was vibrating.

I was sitting in the pews heaving with laughter. I couldn't even help it (trust me, I was trying).

I mean, it was certainly beautiful. Miriam, who had herself been startled by her power, played flawlessly. But it was so terribly funny.

Things from this week

I took a page out of my friend Crystal's book and said no to something.

Last week I was invited to participate in a little preschool co-op with some moms at church and I was on the fence about it the entire weekend. I was excited because here was an opportunity to make new friends and be social but I was not excited because socializing exhausts me and I don't really like teaching preschool. But I went to the planning meeting anyway. 

When they asked why I was on the fence I said that I don't really like formal preschool. I don't like being boxed in to a set theme or "letter of the week" when those are things children these ages are naturally learning. They all know the colour red and the letter A and spending an entire day teaching about that is boring and counterproductive. 

They said that I'd have freedom to do more exploratory lessons, but in the end I said I was just too tired for preschool this year.

The past couple of years have been amazing (just kidding: they've been rough) and all, but I kind of just want to relax, settle in, and enjoy my little ones while they're still little.

Plus, this preschool meets for four hours. I don't want to have to entertain a handful of preschoolers for four hours at a time (even if it means I get a "break" from my own four year old on my off weeks). I am literally just too tired to deal with that. I mean, I tried teaching kindergarten once and it was, like, fine, I guess. But I didn't become a kindergarten teacher, now, did I?

Also, my house isn't set up to accommodate a preschool group yet, anyway.

(When will the unpacking be done?!)

So I said no and I felt better (because I have intensely disliked every preschool (co-op or otherwise) that we've participated in) but I've also been sitting at home worrying if I offended everybody.

My kids were so clingy the entire time we were at this house for the preschool meeting—even though there were toys and kids everywhere—but then I took them to the library and they ran off to play together and wanted nothing to do with me. Silly kids.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Syllabus, Silly Bus, and Red Leather, Yellow Leather

I can't remember how it came up but last night at dinner we spent a considerable amount of time trying to say "red leather, yellow leather." As far as tongue twisters go, this is an incredibly difficult one, at least for our tongues. I think the most times anyone ever managed to say it without messing up was 2.5 times.

Poor Miriam couldn't even get it to come out right once.  She kept saying, "Red yellow leather leather."

This morning at breakfast, Miriam asked James (who—surprise!—stopped by on his way to Florida (I mean, it wasn't a surprise to us, but it might be a surprise for you; he drove the car out (April and the baby flew))) if he could say—and she paused to enunciate very slowly and carefully—"Red leather, yellow leather."

He looked at her funny and said, "Yes..."

"Then say it!" she demanded.

"Red lah-lur-lah-lur-lah-luh. WHAT?!" James said.

And we all nearly died of laughter at the table.

It's amazing how it just seems to turn your tongue numb!

Monday, August 19, 2019

First day of school (August 5)

I suppose with two weeks and two awards under our belts, it's time I officially announce that we've gone back to school.

Miriam and Benjamin leave bright and early in the morning. When they take the bus we get to watch the sun rise. Sometimes they catch a ride with Daddy on his way out the door and then they don't have get up quite so early. I wish that it was socially acceptable for them to ride their bikes to school because (although hilly) it's really not that far. But it's simply not, though at their elementary school I could probably fight for the right.

At a neighbouring elementary school, this is the policy in their student handbook regarding biking (and, actually, also walking (just replace "bike" with "walk")):
Riding a bike to and from school is a privilege reserved for fourth and fifth grade students only. (Exception – younger students who are accompanied to and from school by a parent or guardian may ride a bike; parent should meet child at the bike racks in the afternoon.)  
We do not encourage bike riding to and from school due to the high volume of car and bus traffic in and around our school campus.
Thank goodness our elementary school isn't so strictly against pedestrian traffic (though, I mean, you saw what we went through to get permission to allow our children to walk). Dare I explain to them that much of the vehicular traffic around the school could be eliminated if they encouraged students (and parents) to walk or ride their bikes instead of being chauffeured?

Anyway, here are Benjamin and Miriam waiting for the bus on the first day of school:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Not NOT tossing things

We had a rushed dinner of breakfast burritos and fruit smoothies for dinner on Friday.

Rachel's school day doesn't finish until ridiculously late (5:00, folks) so getting dinner in her before she has to head off to any evening activity can be tricky. This Friday she had a sleepover at a friend's house (who was moved into the other ward, unfortunately, but I'm sure they'll manage to stay friends) so we had to get moving quickly.

"Put these back in the freezer outside, please," Andrew said, zipping up the bag of frozen mixed berries.

So Rachel grabbed the berries and headed to the garage when suddenly there arose such a clatter we ran to the living room to see what was the matter.

Frozen berries were everywhere—rolling all over the floor leaving trails of bright red berry juice, oozing down the walls, melting into little puddles of stickiness.

"What...happened?!" I gasped.

"I don't know!" Rachel said. "It just...broke open!"

"Were you tossing it?" I asked.

On the potty train

Because I can't get enough chaos in my life, I've kind of started potty training Alexander with gusto. I had him fairly comfortable with using the potty a few months before we moved but then I gave up because I knew moving would cause a huge regression (and I didn't have enough brain cells to be constantly wondering when the last time he used the potty was).

My girls have all been fairly easy to potty train (and trained rather young).

Benjamin was an absolute (potty) train wreck.

I'd like to not repeat that with Alexander.

So we're working on it, slowly but surely. We just came across his little potty this week and he was rather excited to find it. He hasn't actually used it all that much, but he's at least excited about it. And he's consistently telling me after he's already gone potty that he needs to go potty. So that's, like, close...right?

Today after church I noticed he was still dry, which meant he'd been dry since we'd left for church, so I told him it was time to sit on the potty. He gladly ran to the bathroom so he could sit on the potty and then he sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and did nothing.

He was starting to get antsy so I told him to just stay put and I would get a couple of books to read.

So I ran to his room and was just picking a couple of books off the floor when he ran in after me.

"Did it—potty! Did it—potty! Did it!" he squealed happily.

"Did you go potty on the potty?" I asked.

"Did it—potty!" he proudly affirmed.

"Let's go see!" I said, and we ran back to the bathroom together.

"What a big boy!" I said, because he had indeed gone potty on his potty.

"I think he needs a treat!" Zoë said. "Can he have unicorn fruit snacks? And can I have my own pack of unicorn fruit snacks? Because he should get a treat for going on the potty. Want a treat, Alex?"

So we went and split a pack of fruit snacks.

I always swore I wouldn't bribe my kids (with food) to potty train them. But here we are.

I think I'll see if stickers will motivate him. I've used sticker charts before (which are a form of bribery, I suppose).

Youngest choir director ever

We only had one hour of church (again) today, so I don't know how we'll even handle two hours next week (and to think we used to be able to sit through three hours). Alexander, who had woken up a smidge too early, was ready for a nap by the time we got to church. He insisted on nursing through the opening exercises (which were long because all we did was sustain people; our ward just got reorganized so it was a lot of people) and was completely zonked by the time we were even halfway through all the sustainings. 

And so he missed when his name was called. 

"If we could have Alexander Heiss stand," the bishop said. 

I looked down at my baby, who'd just settled down for a long (and kind of strange because he hasn't napped at church in ages) sacrament-meeting nap.

Andrew, who knew the bishop was actually talking about him, gave me a this-is-awkward glance, and then stood up. 

"Alexander has been called to be the ward choir director," the bishop continued. "All in favour manifest it."

And the entire ward raised their hands in support of our sweet, sleepy baby becoming the next ward choir director. It made Andrew and I both feel a little giggly. We got it sorted out "in post" when Andrew went to be set apart. But it's still funny.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Wash, rinse, repeat.

I have been wrongly accused of only sharing embarrassing stories of other people on this blog while keeping my own embarrassing stories secret. Now, it may be true that I share more embarrassing stories about other people than I do about myself, but all I can say to that is: it's not my fault that I don't do many embarrassing things!

Just kidding. There are so many embarrassing stories about me on this blog it isn't even funny. In fact, this whole blog could be considered one big embarrassing story. I mean, sometimes I go back to read a post I wrote years ago and find my self shaking my head and muttering, "Nancy, Nancy, Nancy..." Like, what was I thinking?! I always find my current self more wise, mature, and enlightened than my past self. That said, my current self still has a long way to go.

So, without further ado, here is another embarrassing story to add to my collection:

I took a shower with Alexander the other day. It's easier to have him in the shower with me than wandering around the house doing who knows what. Actually, he's usually fine on his own while I shower and Zoë's usually fine on her own while I shower, but the combination of the two is...a complicated dynamic. So, Zoë was sent to her room for some quiet time while Alexander and I hopped into the shower.

Usually he's pretty happy in there. He likes splashing in the water and looking down the drain and playing with the shampoo bottle and my toes. He loves showering so much sometimes he has two or three a day. He'll get in with Dad, then he'll get in with Mom, he'll hop in with any sibling.

This particular day, however, Alexander kept trying to escape the shower. He'd push the door open and run away, dripping wet, and, likewise dripping wet, I'd hop out and grab him and bring him back in. I was trying to shower as fast as I could but it was difficult to do very much of anything with him running away every thirty seconds. Finally, I finished rinsing off, grabbed a towel, and wrangled Alexander until he was dry and diapered and then set him free.

Then I got dressed and went about my day.

I did some laundry, unpacked a couple of boxes (because we're still doing that, yes), made lunch, had lunch, cleaned up from lunch...and my hair was still wet.

But we live in a humid place now, so maybe that's why it seemed to be taking forever to dry.

Alexander and I had a nap, we woke up, read stories, did more laundry hair was still not dry. But it didn't quite feel wet either. It was just...wettish and weird.

And then I realized that in all of that shower chaos I had neglected to rinse my hair! So it wasn't wet, really. It was just...lathered in soap...which made it look (and feel) wet. So really quick before I left to meet the kids at the park I had to rinse my hair.

I've been laughing about it ever since—I went the entire day with shampoo in my hair!

Not easier, just different

Making Alexander's baby book has been a fair bit of emotional labour for me. Between feeling a little bit of the sting of death (Grandma and Alexander loved each other so much, guys), I'm also a little bit in mourning for my child-bearing years.

New borns are the best.

They're exhausting, sure, but they're also the absolute sweetest. And I make 'em so cute.

But also I know that, like puppies, babies grow up into toddlers (and toddlers are a hot mess (still cute, but absolutely a hot mess)). And then preschoolers—boy, howdy. Then grade school. Then teenagers, which is a yet-unknown ball of wax.

We had a contractor over this morning to look at our basement (we want to put switches in for our lights because we're getting tired of having to turn on the lights for the kids any time they want to go down there (they're pull-string lights right now)) and he was laughing because Zoë and Alexander were fighting and I was trying to get them to not to.

"Let me tell you," he said. "You think two is hard. Wait until you have three."

"We have five," I said.

"I'll shut up now," he said. "But seriously. It doesn't get easier. It just gets different."

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Why'd you have to go and make things so complexiated?

Today I got an offer for a free Shutterfly book and since Alexander is coming on two years old and since I haven't yet gotten around to putting a baby book together for him (a little bit of procrastination + a little bit of denial that he's as old as he is) I decided that now is probably as good a time as any.

But it's also a strange time to be reflecting both on my sweet baby boy and on the last two years in general.

Some little person switched my phone data off sometime this morning, so I spent the whole day blissfully unaware that anyone had been attempting to contact me all day. No notifications on my phone: zero. We played outside with sidewalk chalk, we read stories, we had nap time, we had a tea party, we did some chores, we went to the park to meet Benjamin and Miriam after school.

I tried to post a picture of Alexander being silly.

"Connect to cellular data plan or wifi" my phone alerted me.

So I turned on my cellular and my phone blew up. Metaphorically, of course.

Text messages came flying at me, fast.

1, 2, 3. Ping, ping, ping.

4, 5, 6. Ping, ping, ping.

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What happened, baby?

While I was putting a load of laundry in, Zoë locked Alexander in my bedroom.

Not that we can prove that. When I asked her who locked the door she said, "Me. But the lock is on Alexander's side so it could have been him, too. Like, it didn't have to be me."

So I think that means she did it but like the good little lawyer she is, she's building a case for reasonable doubt. Like, sure, it was her...but was it though?

Anyway, I started looking around the house to find something long and thin to pick the lock with. I found a long nail but it was too fat. I found a mini screwdriver but it was too short. Finally I found our set of long, thin screwdrivers and selected one that fit through the hole in the knob and connected with the lock mechanism. And then I set to work picking that lock.

I poked, I prodded, I jiggled, I jaggled.

No luck.

Meanwhile, Alexander is crying and pounding on the door and Zoë's starting to feel awfully bad about the distress she's caused.

"It's okay, baby boy!" she sang while she stroked the door. "We're going to get you out of there. Can you just turn the lock? Just turn the lock, okay, baby?"

"Doo-ooo-ooo-ooor!" Alexander wailed.

Zoë ran off to her room and came back with her (old, retired) iPhone blasting primary songs and stuffed it under the door to Alexander.

"To help him feel better," she sniffed.

I tried picking the lock some more but to no avail.

A day in Durham

Last weekend we drove up to Durham for our friend Brooke's wedding, which was lovely. The kids behaved remarkably well on the drive up there and were so excited to stay in a hotel. 

Here they are on the luggage cart (not smiling for some reason (I'm not sure why because they were so excited about hopping on)):

Monday, August 12, 2019

A little more hair pulling

When we started going through the process of getting the necessary forms for our children to attend public schools in order and it ended up being far more complicated than necessary, I said something to Andrew about how fixing the system was "a hill I would be willing to die on."

So this morning I met with our state representative, Beth Moore, and she was super nice and understanding—and curious—about it. I came prepared for the meeting, armed with health form requirements in other states, evidence of discrepancies on how Georgia law is enforced in relation to these forms, and so forth. She promised she'd look into it more and see how we could simplify it for future families (either removing the Georgia-physician clause or extending the time frame or...something) the next time they're in session (which won't be until January).

I felt pretty good with how things went and really hope we can make some headway because it's been such a ridiculous mess for us (and everyone else who moves to the state).

Now I have to decide how many other hills I'm willing to die on or whether I should just let things go.

Transportation to and from school is still stressing me out. I thought today was the first day of orchestra, so we sent Miriam to school with her cello and sent a transportation form in with Benjamin. Since Miriam wouldn't be walking with him on orchestra days, I'd like for him to ride the bus. All was well and fine with the world until I got an email from the orchestra club in the afternoon informing me that orchestra begins next week.

I couldn't have Miriam walking by herself and her cello while Benjamin was escorted onto a bus.

Unfortunately, you're not allowed to call the school or email the school to request a change in transportation. Ideally you send in the transportation form in the morning with your student and they hand it to the teacher and then whatever needs to happen happens. But in emergencies you can fax a change in. So I decided I'd fax a change in—as archaic as that sounds.

It says right on the change form that you can fax it into the school before 2:30 (but not to email or call about transportation changes).

But also faxing is archaic, so I called to make sure they'd received my fax I was told, "Ma'am, you're supposed to send these forms in with your child in the morning."

Sunday, August 11, 2019


This morning I took Miriam, Benjamin, and Zoë to the baptism of one of their new little friends (while Alexander, Rachel, and Andrew ran to IKEA). Miriam has made such fast friends with the big sister of this little friend and it's such a beautiful thing for me to watch because she had a difficult time finding friends in Spanish Fork. 

Benjamin sat perfectly well-behaved the entire time. It was amazing! I mean, maybe not perfectly well-behaved but well-behaved enough. I didn't really have to get after him about anything. 

Zoë was eager to hit the treats afterward. She ran and got in line and got some grapes and a doughnut and a cookie, then she sat down at a table and...waited. She sat primly in her chair, staring longingly at her food. I stood by her, talking to some grown ups, and when I noticed that she wasn't eating I encouraged her to do so.

"You can go ahead and eat," I said.

"I'm waiting," she said.

"I'll grab something in a minute. You go ahead and eat."

"I can't," she said. 

"Why not?" I asked.

"'re supposed to pray before you eat, remember?" she grumbled.

"Oh, we blessed the food with the closing prayer, didn't you hear?" Brother Rowberry said. "You can eat it. It's holy."

"That means your doughnut is extra holy," I said, and then Sister Rowberry said, "I was just going to say that!"

I do love when someone appreciates a good pun (Ma in The Little House series does not appreciate puns and I'd like to know why not?!). Anyway, Zoë did eventually eat, and so did I, and then all the children ended up doing laps in the hallway again (which all the grown ups were perfectly fine with). When I decided it was time to go, I went into the hallway to collect my children.

Being so preoccupied with chasing down Benjamin and Zoë, I was rather surprised when I ran into Miriam.

"Oh, you!" I said. "It's a good thing I ran into you or I would have left you here. I totally forgot I brought you."

"That would have been alright," the bishop winked. "We'd have just taken her home with us and brought her to church tomorrow."

Miriam and her little friend (the bishop's granddaughter (until tomorrow when we'll get a new bishop (and then she'll still be his granddaughter, I suppose; he just won't be bishop))) started jumping up and down and squealing, "Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please!"

But, alas, they had some family things planned for the afternoon and we had a busy day ahead of us as well, so we pulled those two little girls apart and went our separate directions. 


Andrew, Alexander, and Rachel had gone to IKEA to pick out a new—lower-to-the-ground—bunkbed for the girls' room. 

With freshly painted walls and newly installed carpet, their room is finally ready to furnish. We pulled their bed frames out and started putting them together and found out very quickly that Rachel's loft bed was not going to work in her new room. 

Our basement has drop ceilings (unfortunately), so she had barely enough room to slither into bed between the top of her bed frame and her ceiling. It's doable, but she'd have been sleeping with her nose up against the ceiling tiles. So we searched around for a shorter solution and decided on a set of bunkbeds, which seems to be working out nicely. 

We also put together a wardrobe for them since their bedroom doesn't have a closet. Because our floors in the basement aren't precisely...level...we were sure to mount it to the wall. We marked the studs and used the drill to make some pilot holes, then screwed the brackets into place before we assembled the doors. Andrew left the drill on the floor when he'd finished with the brackets and then I tripped over it while putting the hinges for the doors on. It hurt, but it looked fine, so I shrugged it off and kept working on the hinges. I was surprised when I looked down at my foot again, to find it looking a little less fine. I had blood dripping all over the place!

Fortunately, Rachel is a super-duper prepare-o-matic and had a first aid kit handy.

Their room is mostly put together now (they just have to finish unpacking their boxes and putting things away (and we still have to finish painting their shelves)), which is rather exciting!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Word (ward) party

The average American will move 11 times throughout their life (Canadians are not far behind). I hit that number before I even got married, so I'm well above average now. That number was actually surprisingly...high...I thought. I would have expected it to be lower.

When we lived in Spanish Fork I would giggle to myself when people described their difficult moves. This one time a girl got up to bear her testimony about how years ago (like a decade or more) when they'd moved into the ward/neighbourhood, her family had been distraught to be leaving their family and everything they knew to go so far away. She went on and on about how difficult it was to be so far away from her grandparents and her cousins and how isolated they had felt, but went on to reveal that her family had moved from...Provo.

PROVO?! I screamed at her in my head. PROVO!!!? Moving from Provo was difficult for you?!

Provo and Spanish Fork are about 10 miles apart. No joke. Like, seriously, if you miss your family... go visit them (they are right there).

I'm sure it was a difficult transition all the same, but it makes me question the whole "average of 11 moves" thing. I don't know many people who have moved 11 times.

I also would have expected this move to be easier for me. But it hasn't been. It's been difficult.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Every day I'm slip-slip-slippin'

Last night we read Heleman 13 together as a family. Some of us sat and followed along while others of us ran around like hooligans. Alexander was part of the latter. He had on footie jammies, which is a dangerous thing to wear when you live in a house with wood floors. Technically footie jammies have "grippies" at the bottom of the "feeties" but these grips are really never very functional (and, frankly, babies would probably be safer without them (but I just thought: maybe they're not for traction at all...maybe they're for durability)).

So, I'm reading verse 31...

"And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery..."

And, as if on cue, Alexander slipped and crashed. He was fine. We giggled a bit and then dove back in.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Heretofore unheard of bipedal creatures spotted ambling along treacherous urban jungle trail!

"I am sorry for the confusion yesterday but I assure you it was out of an abundance of caution that my staff questioned what is a new practice for us."


I wrote a lengthy email to the assistant vice principals of our school (one for the lower grades, one for the upper grades) yesterday, venting my frustration at my children being prevented from walking home from school two days in a row. They forwarded it along to the principal,

I'm now "that" parent. Oh, well.

On the first day of school, they were told they were not old enough to walk home but were eventually allowed to leave campus after Miriam convinced them that she was in grade five (she's just short). So I was worried sick when they failed to show up where they should have when they should have (but it was all an effort to keep them safe, I guess, so that's nice, but also...*deep breaths*).

Yesterday the crossing guard gave them a hard time—and then drove down to find them as they were walking to our prearranged meeting place—and told Andrew (who was meeting them that day) that it was too far of a walk and that she couldn't allow it, especially because it involved crossing a busy street (where he was currently standing, meeting the kids as they crossed).

So I was upset, having gone through what I assumed to be the appropriate channels to get my children the coveted "walker" tag on their bags. I mean, there was paperwork, I stood in line, I talked with their teachers. I thought we were covered.

But apparently the school has never—not once in anyone's institutional memory—ever had a child walk away from campus unattended.

The idea that I would allow my children to walk down the street unsupervised seems to be a completely foreign (and somewhat appalling) idea to them—"a new practice."

It's a practice that will, perhaps (I hope), gain some traction.

I just am floored by the idea that no one walks, that no one has ever walked.

It's completely walkable. And should be walked.

In fact, I sent them links to about five articles on the benefits of walking to school (it's safer, it's good for your physical and mental health, and it's better for the environment) and suggested that they participate in Walk to School Day (because records show that in the past they have not). I also mentioned that having ten minute of unsupervised independence a day is probably good for kids.

Walking to school should not be weird, especially if you live in a place with sidewalks (which we have here, unlike in Durham where we did not walk to school because...there were no sidewalks).

But hopefully (?) we've got that all sorted out now.


All I have to finish sorting out is this blasted Form 3300.

Because our school isn't going to accept our dental records. Which technically means that they can disallow our children from attending class starting, well, tomorrow, but they've decided to graciously offer me an extension since I made a good faith effort to fill out the stinking form.

I was shaking with rage as the principal explained that part to me—the part where even though the county health office gave the form their okay, the forms were not acceptable for the school. Because each school has their own standards, their own requirements (the county health office explained to me when I asked why it was acceptable for them but not for the school), so even though it's a state-wide requirement, each school gets to enforce it however strictly they'd like (and each county health office, likewise, can accept or deny whatever documentation they'd like, willy-nilly, just like that).

And...guys...I'm meeting with my state representative about this on Monday.

Because...I even with the red tape anymore.


I will make dental appointments for...sometime in the near future.

The post I took down and which I'm now putting back up

Because seriously no one knows who my visiting teaching companion three years ago was so the veil of anonymity is thick. Plus I've moved twice since then and really no one is tracking who my visiting teaching companions were (so I swear your identity is obscured to everyone except, perhaps, to the person who originally tipped you off that I wrote "about" you in the first place).

But I saved the post because I felt like my thoughts were being censored—since these are mostly my thoughts, I think...because I thought them (in April of I've been harbouring these thoughts for a while; I think they are popping up with such vibrancy right now because I feel like I'm drifting through a sea of depression, myself. So while I'm physically here, I feel emotionally distant from (and/or crushed by) everything, but we're working through it).

Without further ado:

The place begins to look like a farm

I know, I know. The Little House books are problematic...but I'm still reading them with my children (and hopefully talking through the problematic parts well enough to do them justice), and I still find myself gleaning good things from them.

I was reading them to Rachel and Miriam when we moved from Utah to North Carolina years ago and I found Laura's descriptions of moving and settling in to be comforting as we were moving and settling in. But I also remember being shocked at Laura's treatment of Native Americans, a fact that I once brought up at book club when we were discussing children's literature.

The Little House on the Prairie was such a big part of my childhood that I don't think I'll ever be able to not love it, but I do reserve the right to be disappointed in parts of it. Anyway, all that is to say that one of the ladies at book club gave a passionate (as in she was nearly crying) rebuttal about how Wilder's work was historic and that's just how things were at the time and she completely missed my point altogether (because I completely agree with her that it's a historical work).

And—frankly—I'm a little nervous to even write anything about that Durham book club because this one time I wrote what I felt was a perfectly innocent commentary on book club, revolving (I felt) around the theme of the book, and I mentioned something about how one of my visiting teaching companions had assumed that a recent widow in our ward had been divorced when really her husband had been in a care facility the entire time. And how that was similar to what the book described—that we can love someone and not be able to care for them (and how that doesn't diminish the love we have for them). It was seriously, like, a thirty second snippet of a much longer conversation (and the last comfortable conversation I would ever have with this person).

Sunday, August 04, 2019

New ward boundaries

The same weekend we left Spanish Fork (June 30), our bishopric was released and a new bishopric was put in—which is really quite an upheaval for a ward. The bishop is "the presiding high priest for a ward, or congregation. He has overall responsibility for ministering the temporal and spiritual affairs of the congregation," and he really kind of sets the tone of the ward. Like, a new bishopric can really change the dynamic of a ward—most often in a good shake-things-up kind of a way, from my experience.

We were a little sad to miss the shake up, especially when we found out who had been called as bishop (we think he'll serve wonderfully).

Anyway, we thought it was funny that we were in our ward here for such a short time before hearing rumblings of a big shake-up coming down the pike, especially since the change ended up being announced today (and we missed it because we were visiting our old ward in Durham).

I know Susanne had asked this awhile ago and I don't know if I ever really answered, but, yes—wards are assigned geographically, so we don't really get a choice on which congregation we'll attend. We just move somewhere and find out what ward our house is in and that's that.

We were in the John's Creek ward, but it was getting far too big (the "ideal" population cap for a ward is around 400 people), which was getting unsustainable. Further, a new building was being completed just north of our ward boundaries (so it was much closer to the people at the north end of our boundaries, some of whom had to drive a considerable distance to get to our building).

Anyway, they announced the changes today and our ward has been dissolved and split (along we a few other wards) and we're now a different ward entirely, which we might have been more emotional about if we'd really known anyone at all...but we don't really know anyone so I think we'll be just fine getting to know the people assigned to be in our new ward with us without really knowing how things would have been otherwise.

Just funny that we managed to miss both big announcements!

Brooke's wedding

When I got Brooke's wedding invitation in the mail, I knew we had to go. Brooke spoke at Rachel's baptism when she was in young women's and then came to Miriam's baptism (and Alexander's baby blessing) when she was out at BYU. She's such a sweet girl and we just love her (and her family) so much (her mom taught primary to Rachel (as well as to Miriam, I believe)) and was so fabulous!

It felt like an indulgence, but I think it was an indulgence that we really needed.

We needed to leave our house in shambles, to get away from the chaos of unpacking and settling in, and going somewhere that felt like...home. We needed to be reminded that it's possible to put down new roots after being uprooted, and that those roots can run strong and sweet and constant. 

Driving into Durham and turning off the GPS felt like a breath of fresh air. 

We knew where we were. We knew where we were going. 

Walking into our old church building was already a comfortable feeling, but seeing so many loved friends was the very best of all. No one asked us for our names or life story. They already knew us and were simply thrilled to see us. We did a lot of catching up—and enjoyed some hearty NC barbecue at the reception after the ceremony—and it was simply wonderful. 

I think we needed to feel that family feeling again to really have hope that we'll find it here.

Here has been wonderful and welcoming...but we're introverts so it always takes us time to really get settled and get to know it's not home yet. 

We spent Saturday meeting up with friends and family and went to church today, which was so, so great. Mary Moore, one of Grandma's dear friends from her Durham days way back in Andrew's babyhood, rushed up to us and grabbed us both in the biggest, longest, rib-crushing-est hug. 

"I'm so sorry about your momma!" she said, a huge smile on her face—but with tears behind her eyes. She peppered us with questions, like, "How y'all been? How's your dad?"

Later she sang her way to the pulpit to bear her testimony, just as she has for years and years.

Yes, a visit to Durham was just what we needed, so thanks, Brooke, for getting married!

I'm going to get some pictures off my phone now (I will eventually find the charger for my camera and use that, too...I hope) but I might not get around to posting them until tomorrow because school is starting and we have to get up early for elementary!

Friday, August 02, 2019

Meet your teacher day

Technically, I drove to the school for meet-your-teacher day. But the parking lot was so incredibly crowded that I could hardly navigate the place just to get back out (because there were zero parking spaces available). So I drove home and then Andrew dropped us back off at the school. It was insanity.

Benjamin was...buzzing...the whole time. Just off the walls. He was driving me a little crazy, but we'll talk more about that in a minute. We met his teacher and she seemed nice but I'm not entirely sure she's a good fit for him, which makes me so sad because he's had two very nice teachers in a row who have not been a good fit for him. I'm hoping that I'm wrong about her. He is very excited that he has a class pet (which is a reptile or amphibian of sorts; he's not sure which—either a snake or a gecko (I'm not sure how those two can be mixed up)).

Miriam's teacher seems wonderful, though getting to her classroom is like walking through a labyrinth! She met the sweetest little classmate while we were in there doing paperwork. We were talking to the teacher, telling her about ourselves and when we were finished this little girl's family kind of pounced on us, like, "We were listening in to every word! This is So-and-so. You just moved here! That's great! We live just down the road..."

And I think we're best friends now?

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Rushing, rising riv'lets

Living on a hill presents some challenges aside from backing out of our driveway.

"She's still complaining about backing out of her driveway?" you're asking yourself. "Cry me a river!"

No. Problem.

Here's a view of our front waterfall driveway in a rainstorm last night:

Our home inspector suggested that we go out in a heavy storm to see just where water is pooling in our yard so that we can divert it away from the house when we need to. The answer, we found out, is that it pools both no where and everywhere. It pools in the front...