Sunday, September 22, 2019

Thursday and Friday with Naanii (plus a happy birthday for Andrew)

My mom is headed to Poznan, Poland, for the International Viola Congress next week and on the way she decided to stop and spend a few days with us. Stopping by Atlanta on your way to anywhere is relatively easy since Atlanta is quite a popular place for layovers. In fact, it's the busiest airport in the world (and has been for the last two decades), so we're well-positioned for hosting people on their way to somewhere else (should they choose to have an extended layover here)!

Naanii arrived too late for the kids to see her on Wednesday night (she may have gotten in early enough to see them but her plane was delayed on the runway and then their baggage took a long time to come and by that time the metro (which I simply can't get used to calling MARTA, but people look at me really weird when I talk about the metro) was running on its evening schedule (ie. arriving and departing stations less frequently) so she was delayed at the station as well) but they were certainly excited to see her on Thursday morning.

Alexander knew she was coming and rushed to find her as soon as he woke up and then he just snuggled and snuggled and snuggled, which was weird for me because usually that's the treatment I get in the morning (it was also rather nice of my mom because he'd uncharacteristically soaked right through his diaper (usually he's dry or dryish in the morning) and was getting her damp, too). It was surprising behaviour for him, but I'm glad he's finally decided to like my mom (even if he only decided it right before we moved so far away).

After breakfast I helped Benjamin and Miriam with schoolwork while my mom kept Zoë and Alexander occupied in Alexander's bedroom. It was easy because Alexander was such a willing playmate. He's been chirping things like, "Naanii, where are you?" and "Naanii—play with me!" nonstop the last few days.

Here are the kids after building a tower to the ceiling, something they've been obsessed with doing (and then razing said tower before building it up again) for the past few days, which has slightly been driving Naanii bonkers since she's staying in that room and would like the kids to not play all over her things. Largely they haven't been because Naanii is a very tidy person and keeps her things put away, but, boy, are my children ever encroachers. If there exists a territory to be encroached upon, there they are, encroaching upon it!

For example, my mom had her (work-issued) laptop charging in her room (which is Alexander's room) and Zoë walked in to talk to her and my mom said, "Careful—don't step on my computer."

Zoë looked her straight in the eye and then stood on her laptop.

I mean, come on, child!

Naanii has taken to charging her laptop in a more secluded area of the house (since my children at times are quite defiant).

We took Naanii to the library and she helped Miriam find some books about WWII. She's been reading The Diary of Anne Frank and so we've decided to supplement that with an entire unit on WWII. Technically she is supposed to study that this year at school (specifically from the American perspective, which I'm admittedly not the greatest at portraying since I grew up hearing a non-American perspective) so we're right on target for that. She's also in the middle of Belonging, which should give her a bit of a German perspective on the war (one rightly filled with a lot of regret and sorrow for the past as the author seeks to grapple with her grandfather's role in Nazi Germany).

Hungry, hungry hippo!
Naanii thought our little hippo book drop was fun (the kids always think that's fun, too).
Anyway, it was fun to take my librarian mother to the library. When Miriam said she wanted to find books on WWII, my mom said, "Then let's head to the 940s!" Because she knows the Dewey Decimal system off the top of her head like that (I actually used to be quite good at it myself back when I was doing a lot of shelving, but it's been years since I've shelved (and BYU used LC call numbers rather than Dewey, so it's been even more years than you might think—not since I was volunteering at the elementary school library when I was homeschooling through middle school)).

Trying out some computer games at the library

Here's Naanii reading some books to the kids:

And here she is reading books to the kids later in the evening while Miriam gives her a foot rub:

Miriam gives fantastic foot rubs! She'll often just come up and start rubbing my feet and I think it's the best thing ever (my mom feels the same way and, in fact, I was often my mom's foot rubber growing up, though I wasn't quite as a spontaneous foot rub offerer as Miriam is). Andrew hates having his feet touched, but that's his loss. It leave more foot rubs for me (unless my mom is here visiting).

Here's Miriam rubbing her feet the next evening during scripture study (Naanii is reading the scriptures on her phone):

But back to Thursday.

We spent the afternoon doing our social studies and reading/language arts curriculum and playing in the backyard, which is largely untamed. It's been so wild that the kids have been afraid to play back there (snakes! poison ivy! ticks! oh, my!) but we've been working hard to make it better and they've been doing more exploring and playing back there.

We've got swings for three:

And plenty to do for those not swinging. Benjamin has been busily working on a house in the backyard for weeks now. He's been excavating/hunting for discarded bricks and other materials around the yard and has been back there building and creating (and digging holes) to his heart's delight:

Here's Naanii pushing Alexander and Zoë:

Zoë looks like a sourpuss in all these pictures because (well, she's frankly a little bit of a sourpuss, but also because...) she's not feeling well. My kids have been passing around a cold the past couple of weeks and Zoë's had it bad the last couple of days (though it's really not a terrible cold).

Here's Miriam climbing this ladder that may have once been anchored to the ground, but which is no longer anchored to anything and is thus quite wobbly. She was proud of herself for figuring out how to climb it without making it swing (directly into the tree with poison ivy growing up it (we really need to take care of it (if you zoom in to see if that's really poison ivy you'll probably note that it's English ivy—and you won't be wrong, but there's poison ivy mixed in with the English ivy which is all sorts of fun that we need to sort out))):

Here's Alexander on the trapeze bar, which he desperately wanted a turn on after watching the big kids do it. "My turn! My turn!" he chanted, doing his best to jump at the bar. So Naanii helped him up there and he swung like a champion trapeze artist and then told Naanii he was all done and she helped him get down. But the second time he took a turn it did not go over so well.

It started out fine but then he just...let go...or lost his the middle of a swing and though he landed fairly gracefully he did a bit of a face plant into a log and scraped his face right by his eye.

This was supposed to be a picture of him gleefully swinging (because mere nanoseconds before he had been gleefully swinging)

He was a pretty sad little boy! "Hurt me! Hurt me!" he fussed.

Here he is forlornly sitting by the dump truck, too sad to even play for a few minutes.

(And, like, you'd think this experience would have taught him some sense of caution, but no! My mom was out there swinging with the kids this morning (Saturday), pushing first Zoë and then Alexander, and then Zoë, and then Alexander. And then Zoë jumped off the swing and I guess Alexander watched her do it because the next thing my mom knew, Alexander had also launched himself off his swing—"My turn!". Zoë landed on her feet. Alexander...landed flat on his back. He is having quite the week, poor little guy!)

Thursday was technically Andrew's birthday, but he had to work all day long (until late in the evening) so we hardly even saw him (I'm not sure the children saw him at all, honestly). In addition to teaching his regular class he gave a guest lecture at the University of Georgia in Athens (so he had a lot of driving to do in addition to teaching and lecturing). His topic was how to cope with failure, which is such a great thing to get to speak about on your birthday.

We joked that he should begin his lecture with, "My story of failure began 35 years ago today..."

Anyway, I guess they found the write up he did about his three-year job search and wanted him to speak about how he survived applying for so many jobs and interviewing for so many jobs, hitting so many dead ends and somehow...just keeping on keeping on.

I'll be honest: it. was. not. easy.

But, here we are!

Anyway, it was nice to have my mom around on Thursday when Andrew was gone all day.

This doesn't really have much to do with anything, except that during Thursday evening's scripture study Rachel was proud that she managed to balance her phone (which she had also been reading the scriptures on (it's handy, okay—the bookmark keeps your place to the verse and never falls out of your book or anything)).

On Friday morning we did our math work and the headed to Jones Bridge Park for our science lesson. We're talking about resources and cycles right now (renewable resources have naturally occurring cycles, as do biotic factors since they reproduce cyclically to perpetuate their existence (we're using Mr. Q's science textbook for now (Friday's lesson was supplemented with a Bill Nye video we got at the library)).

Here are the kids drawing a cycle of their choosing (or just drawing, in Zoë's case, or "dubbo-ing" in Alexander's case because that's how he says "colouring"):

We played at the playground for a long time together. Jones Bridge Park has a lovely playground!

Here's Naanii getting ready to try the "elevator" (which could eventually be a fun science lesson on pistons (because I think that's essentially what this toy is)):

Halfway down:

All the way down:

Once the rider gets off, the "elevator" rises back to the top for the next rider to hop on.

Here's Alexander taking a turn with Naanii
And Miriam's turn
We had to go exploring by the Chattahoochee river as well! The kids were awfully excited for this part—so excited that Alexander, my highly independent and highly clumsy toddler, fell down the stairs as we were approaching the river. He just ran straight for them, walked down a step or two, and then bounced the rest of the way down.

He earned several goose eggs (like three) and a big scrape down the side of his face and was a pretty sad baby! But he recovered.

I don't remember why my mom is making this face, but she must have been talking about (or perhaps is being shown) something exciting
This was all in addition to: running into the table at orchestra on Monday, being pushed off a box by Zoë (also Monday), falling off the scooter on Tuesday and scraping up his chin, falling off the "trapeze" in our backyard and scraping his cheek on his landing on Thursday, and then bouncing down the steps on Friday. He's all black and blue and is making his poor momma quite jumpy—"Oh, Alex! No, Alex! ACK! ALEX!"

Alexander showing something exciting
 He doesn't want me to stop him from taking risks, though. He's always demanding "Put down me!" so he can follow his siblings in whatever too-dangerous-for-a-baby thing they're doing.

I kept a tight grip on him at the river, but he was squawking at me the entire time, "Let go me! Let go me! Let go me!"

Crazy boy!

Naanii keeping a hand on Alexander so he doesn't end up in Florida
.02 seconds after Alexander gave Naanii the shake (he'd be in Florida right now if I didn't splash in after him and scoop him up—he doesn't care that the water is only 50°F! In he goes!)
The kids were excited to spot a heron of sorts (possibly a great blue heron) out in the river. There were also several Canada geese and mallards around. You can see all three in this picture:

Miriam made a lovely sketch of the heron since she didn't feel like splashing in the frigid water. I didn't particularly feel like splashing in the frigid water myself but I dressed ready for the occasion since I knew my little ones would most definitely feel like splashing in the water.

So Benjamin, Zoë, Alexander, and I waded out to the rock, just past the river bank (on the other side of all the ducks/geese in this picture):

And it was fine until all the ducks/geese in the picture showed up.

Zoë lost it. She was screaming and crying and clinging to me and absolutely petrified. I couldn't make her walk back to the shore. She was just screaming and yanking on my arm, threatening to tip me (and the baby) into the water.

The waterfowl were simply hoping it was feeding time and were not even the tiniest bit deterred by Zoë's earsplitting screams. In fact, as we were flailing around on that rock, geese from behind us started swimming toward us, also hoping for a tasty snack.

So now I was suck on a rock, with a wild toddler in my arms, a frantic preschooler knocking me off balance, and a freaked-out seven year old (who slipped and landed in the river, drenching himself (and still not scaring off any birds)) and there are geese approaching us from all sides, like, "Oooh! I think this screaming, limb-flailing human is trying to communicate that they want to feed us!"

My mom was on the bank just laughing at us.

I was like, "Mom! Do something! I have to get Zoë off this rock!"

"Shoo! Shoo!" my mom said, waving her arms at the geese.

The geese simply figured that that also meant it was feeding time and just kept coming.

"Okay, this is bad," I yelled to my mom over the sound of Zoë's otherworldly screaming and the honking of the eager geese. "But I have some pretzels in the diaper bag! Can you get them out and toss some to the ducks, but over there so that we can get back to the shore?!"

So that's what we did.

I know feeding ducks is, like, bad (and in retrospect perhaps we should have offered them apple slices) but, like, I had to get my kids off of that rock. And there was no way Zoë was going to ford that narrow neck of water under the current circumstances (and there was also no way that I could navigate it myself carrying both Alexander and Zoë).

So we fed the ducks and then fled back to the safety of the playground where we did a lot more climbing and playing before heading home.

Gee, baby, how is it you keep ending up getting hurt?!

Come to think of it, these pictures may have been from before the river because Alexander's face looks too pristine to have been taking after. I dunno; they were all out of order when I uploaded them for some reason.

When Daddy came home from work he decided we needed to do some leaf blowing (let's be honest: we never don't need to do some leaf blowing and it's not even truly autumn yet!) so he cleared off the deck and then tried to get part of our gutter that's full (but it's too compacted so we'll just have to climb up there and clean it out by hand). While he had the leaf blower out, however, I suggested he get the deck roof cleared off since leaves like to collect there (and our house inspector said we should try to keep it clear to increase its lifetime).

He tried blowing the leaves off from the deck but couldn't really get at them I suggested we try it from the upstairs window. This quickly morphed into him sending Rachel onto the roof to blow the leaves off (it's a very gentle slope and she is a very careful person, but it was still rather nerve-racking).

Here she is climbing out onto the roof:

And here are her brothers being showered with decomposing plant matter:

...and loving it!

And here's Miriam on the roof because she absolutely had to have a turn:

If you ever wonder what I'm doing, just know that I'm worrying about whether or not a specific child of mine will heed our firmly worded dictum: "Going on the roof is a parent-supervised activity. You will never go onto the roof without direct parental permission/supervision."

Note that this specific child was not pictured on the roof because he (whoops—"they") weren't allowed up there because "they" didn't listen very well while we were playing at the river.

"But when can I go on the roof?" he whined (oops—"they").

"When we go to the river and I can say, 'Stay between this rock and the shore,' and you just do that. But did that happen today? Or did you push your limits?"

"I pushed my limits," he ("they") grumbled.

After all that leaf blowing it was time for cake. We celebrated our wonderful Daddy a day late (due to his intense work schedule on his actual birthday). We made him a banana cake (from scratch) with cream cheese frosting and it was rather delicious, if we do say so ourselves! Zoë was a little sad that Daddy went ahead and turned "five" because it had been so much fun when we (Daddy, Mommy, and Zoë) were all four together. But she's also excited because it means she'll turn five next and then Mommy will turn five and we'll all be five together!

"That's right," I said. "If we ignore his first thirty decades your math is right on!"

"First thirty decades!?" Andrew yelped. "What am I? 305 now?!"

Apparently Zoë and I are both having trouble wrapping our minds around his age. It was nice to get to celebrate him a little bit, even if he's only internet-famous for having failed so much, for so long, so well!

I've known him for nineteen years now (we've been married for nearly fourteen of those years (if my math is right, which...let's face could super-duper not be)) and I'm happy to be failing along with him!


  1. One more story that didn't make the blog: other Alexander!

  2. I'm just now reading about your mom's visit...thus how I just realized it was a Viola thing she went to, and I thought it was a librarian thing re: books! Oops!  I know librarians do much more than works with books, but I just think of books first.  I wondered why she talked about music so much on her blog posts.

    Alexander looks so content in your mom's arms/lap. It's like he remembers she's part of his life back in Utah - the place he was born and raised until mid-year.  I'm sure she enjoyed all the attention. And, wow, such a nice foot rubber Miriam is! But, oh man, Zoë purposefully standing on a laptop! Benjamin looks so grown! I like the house he's building out back. That's cool!

    "We joked that he should begin his lecture with, "My story of failure began 35 years ago today...""

    Haha...what a great opportunity for Andrew to speak on his birthday! I hope he is enjoying his new job.  Funny that he turned 5 before you and Zoë!  :)

    Glad you survived the geese and ducks episode!  Yikes! I hate feeding frenzies like that.