Monday, July 06, 2020

Let there be light

One of the ballasts in our kitchen lights died recently and the other one was on its way out and refused to turn the lights on about 50% of the time. We decided we'd replace the ballasts, a task we've done before, but when Andrew went to do that he found that these original-to-the-house ballasts had been screwed into the light casing from the wrong side. The only way to get the ballasts out was to remove the entire light fixture so we could unscrew the ballasts from the outside of the light; it should be possible to replace the ballast without taking the light completely out but whoever assembled our house thought they built it so well that nothing would ever need replacing.

Like the blower system in our attic. Guys, I don't know that there's any way to get that old system out of there. And if we can't get it out of there how do we get a new system in there? I mean, I suppose we've survived this long without air conditioning so chances are we could keep on surviving forever. might be might be be able to cool things down every once in a while.

The A/C guy came today with a part our home warranty company had ordered to try to fix the unit was a literal non-starter. So we're back to the old drawing board (our home warranty company, I imagine would really prefer not to replace our system, which I get, but also I would like a system Our A/C guy can't stop talking about how sorry he feels for the bloke who has to replace that unit because how will they ever get it down from there? I don't know.

Anyway, here's Andrew working on the lights with Zoë as his helper:

Sunday, July 05, 2020

You can write rhymes but you can't write mine

Alexander is our little poet; he has a surprising grasp on language for a child his age and enjoys making up songs about his life. The other day we were getting out of the shower, he and I (because we're "shower buddies"), and he said, "We are aww wet!" The he paused, dropped his jaw with shock, and said, "Mom, wisten! I wrote a poem! What duh het?! We are aww wet! What duh het?! We are aww wet! What duh het?! We are aww wet!"

The translation of that would be, "What the heck?! We are all wet!"

Which, I mean, doesn't exactly rhyme but it does exactly rhyme when he says it. I thought it was pretty clever (even if I don't love that my two-year-old throws around the phrase, "What the heck?!" (but when you have a teenager and a toddler I guess you lose a little control over the language your sweet baby is exposed to (or at least I do))).

Then today while we were talking to my mom, I prompted Alexander to tell her about watching the fireworks and he kept telling her that it was so scary and that he had to cover his ears. Then he paused briefly and said, "I am writing a song!" and came up with this:

I'm in-de-pen-dent!

For the first week of school the children researched countries whose independence/national holidays were celebrated this week. That's why Rachel has been going deep into Rwanda (we watched Hotel Rwanda with the girls, a movie we haven't watched since the summer of 2008 (with James and Uncle Jacob (and whoever else was watching) in San Diego)) and she has been reading and writing nonstop all week. Miriam, on the other hand, dove deep into Canadian history. She gave a lovely presentation about how Canada was granted independence (though I challenged her on a few points (as I am apparently wont to do), such as when she said, "Canadians were generally okay with being colonized," I said, "Which Canadians? Like, the colonists were okay with being colonists and being under the rule of the crown, perhaps. But what about the aboriginal people. What do you think happened to them? How do you think they felt about colonization?" So we'll be continuing with that bit of her education next week; but anyway...). It was a lovely report and she's in the middle of making a "fact book" about Canada, which is turning out beautifully. 

We had poutine for dinner. Without cheese curds because for some reason those are ridiculously difficult to find in the south, which is honestly rather puzzling. You'd think that would be a food the south would embrace. I mean, if they do pork rinds surely they can do cheese curds. But alas. We used some fresh mozzarella instead and it was fine.

America's Independence Day was today. We spent the first part of the day completing projects around the house (putting new lights in the kitchen, for one thing; honestly...this house...I will blog about it in a little while but, long story short, the ballasts in the kitchen lights went bad). Then Andrew grilled some burgers and hot dogs for dinner. We had watermelon and peach crisp (because I like crisps better than cobblers). And it all felt very American. 

I asked the kids to tell me their favourite part of America at the dinner table (because sometimes I need reminders about why this place is okay). Benjamin very quickly answered, "Minnesota."

"Minnesota?" we all repeated, somewhat shocked.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

366 days in Georiga!

We've officially lived in our house for a year now—366 days (as our friend James pointed out when Andrew erroneously claimed 365 days (that would have been yesterday)) because it was a leap year!

Of those 366 days, we have spent 112 of those days being very much at home due to the coronavirus. That's about 30% of our time in Georgia, spent right home. So that's fun. 

We moved here and attended our ward for a couple of weeks before it split off into a brand new ward and we enjoyed that ward for a several months until we were peeled off and tacked onto another stake. We met as our new ward in our new state for one week before church was cancelled (well, not cancelled so much as moved to our home). It's been weird. 

But Rachel got to "attend" the virtual camp "with" her friends from our old stake last month and this month she gets to "attend" our new stake's virtual camp "with" a bunch of girls she has never seen in her life. That will probably be really weird.

Anyway, in honour of being in our home for a full year I hung Happy and Top over the kitchen sink where they can keep our dish-doers company (yes, we're still deciding where things go). My mom texted me to say that she thought Alexander would probably enjoy looking at those birdies and he was quite happy about their addition to the kitchen.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Toilet Paper Forever

This morning I took the kids to the park so that Andrew could record some more lectures (and while there we gleefully discovered that they have re-opened the parks (I'm all for social distancing; but absolutely no one was at the park besides us so the kids had a blast playing (we haven't used a playground in literal months))). While we were on our way home a friend of mine texted to see if we wanted some toilet paper. 

A company her husband did some (computer) work for offered them a free sample of their toilet paper so she said, "Sure. Why not?" and the next thing she knows a truck is delivering a pallet of toilet paper in her driveway. They tried it out but they don't love it so she tried to give it away to various charities but no one seemed very excited about it. But, like, I'm not very picky about toilet paper. And it's septic safe. So...I said, "Sure. Why not?"

And I just can't get over how much toilet paper we have stacked in our living room right now, given how The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 is just barely in the rearview mirror. Like, I just laugh every time I walk past it. We are set.

Don't Leave Me!

I discovered the "Don't Leave Me" challenge the other day and—naturally—found it hilarious. Basically, it's a pun challenge and I'm here for that kind of thing, so today I had the kids help me write and film a few skits. It was a lot of fun to do and we got to have a good discussion on compound words (we watched some videos (here, here, here, everywhere) and identified which skits were based on compound words and which skits were just silly) so it even counted as school time!

We're so funny!

Bob Hope (and things)

I sat a little shell-shocked at my computer after I got the news that Greg Hope had died. It was rather late at night and Andrew was working. For levity's sake, here's a picture I snapped of Andrew this evening before he began filming his lecture:

Business on the top, casual on the bottom. I haven't seen him wear pants in weeks (it would be months but Benjamin's baptism last month kind of broke his streak).

Bird man

"Hoo-hoo, Mom," Alexander said, stumbling into my bedroom at 1:00 in the morning (I know it's up late; Andrew is still recording his lecture and I'm in the very bad (?) habit of staying up until he's ready to go to bed). He often stumbles into my room and says weird things. Sometimes it's just, "Hey." Sometimes it's, "Will you take me potty and then tuck me back in my own bed? Because I do want to sleep in your bed but my bed has all my toys." Sometimes, apparently, it's "Hoo-hoo."

I caught him mid-yawn, but you can see he brought one of his stuffed owls with him.

This boy and his birds!

She loves me (she loves me not)

We are reading The Ickabog right now. In fact, we're all caught up as it's being published chapter by chapter. The kids were so frightened by the end of last week's installment that when I realized new chapters apparently aren't posted on the weekend and so began reading The Trumpet of the Swan to the children they begged me not to return to the The Ickabog. It was just too scary. 

But we've gotten a few good drawings out of it. Zoë has been drawing monsters and nightmares for everyone in the family. Here are a couple she drew from me and Alexander. Alexander's picture is clearly a terrifying beast. My picture looks like a bucolic home scene...until you notice the venomous snake slithering in the grass. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

First world problems

As I mentioned, we've had some wonderful summer storms roll in (we're supposed to be seeing a Saharan dust storm but haven't really noticed if it's hit us or not because of all the rain we've been getting) and they've been knocking the power out quite regularly.

On Friday it was clearing up a bit so I told the kids we'd go play outside really quick before it stormed again, but as we were lugging our bikes out of the garage the storm clouds gathered together, blocked out the sun, and started throwing a temper tantrum. So we put our bikes away and sought shelter inside.

"I'm going to start making dinner right now," Andrew said, even though it was a little early. "I'm just afraid the power's going to go..."

And at that moment the power went off. But then it came on again! But then it went off again. But then it came on again! But then there was a loud exploding noise and it went off again. We waited for it to come back on but the exploding noise was exactly as ominous as it sounded.

"Never mind about dinner," Andrew said.

We played UNO instead. By candlelight because the storm was blocking out so much sunlight that Alexander asked if it was bedtime (at 4:00 in the afternoon). Alexander usually plays but he couldn't because "power outage" so he snuggled on Rachel's lap and mumbled "power outage, power outage, power outage" while the rest of us played.

Monday, June 29, 2020

COVID quarantine

Our power was out for about 8 hours yesterday, so I actually have quite a bit to blog about. We had a pretty great time without the internet! One of the activities that Rachel and Miriam did was write a little parody about our current life in quarantine to the tune of Yellow Submarine. They did a great job coming up with lyrics. We recorded it today after church for you to enjoy:

(One note on the lyrics is that even if you are wearing a mask we still probably won't play with you; sorry (not sorry)).

Friday, June 26, 2020

Mud, baths

The kids were being wild at lunch so we sent them outside to play. Soon Alexander and Zoë tromped up the deck steps to complain that they had gotten muddy, and they had. Their shoes were muddy (Zoë was in rain boots and Alexander was in crocs) and they had a bit of mud on their legs and hands.

"You're a bit dirty," I agreed, "But that's okay. We'll just wash you off before you come back inside the house. Where's Ben?"

"Benny is dirty, too!" Alexander told me. 

I walked to the edge of the deck so I could see into the backyard and...yup. Benjamin was dirty. Benjamin was very dirty. Our poor backyard is just a swamp right now; we've had so much rain.

Mask insanity

Today's PSA: Just because you stop caring about something doesn't mean that thing stops mattering. In other words: We are still in the middle of a pandemic.

A friend of mine posted an article about pandemic numbers rising (quite astronomically in some places) and her post has garnered 213 comments on Facebook. People fighting over whether or not masks work, whether or not masks are a political statement, whether or not masks are stripping us of our freedoms. It was a definite popcorn-muncher (as in you wanted to just pop some popcorn, sit back, and watch the entire conversation devolve into chaos).

How is this even a question at this point?

Anyway, a different friend on the other end of the mask-wearing spectrum posted a video of a a certain representative from Ohio who refuses to wear a mask because he believes "that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face," and thus he refuses to wear a mask. In the video he has various youngsters stick a GX-2009 gas monitor inside their masks to measure whether or not there is an acceptable level of oxygen in their masks.

Every time the monitor is placed inside the mask the alarm starts beeping and it won't quit until it is turned off manually (so it continues beeping after it's taken out of the mask and is in fresh air; it must be turned off by pressing the reset button). This is important to note. It doesn't turn off once it's back within acceptable, breathable levels. Our politician friend points out than anything less than 19.5% is considered an oxygen-depleted environment. That's true.

So this alarm will go off when it detects an oxygen-depleted environment (or an oxygen-enriched environment, which is also dangerous) and will not turn off when oxygen levels return to normal.

The alarm sounded in all three tests and when he checked back on the "peak reading" they were as follows:
First test: 17.1%
Second test: 18.1%
Third test: 17.6%
Now, I'm just going to point out an interesting fact for you. Fun facts are fun, after all.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Gotta have Hope

In the middle of writing my "School Bells" post last night, I found out that Greg Hope passed away, so the post quickly devolved into chaos. It's fine.

Greg Hope is my dad's cousin's husband, which sounds like a rather distant relation, but he's is an emotionally close relative. My dad's immediate family isn't at all tight-knit, at least not with us. His brothers tormented him when he was younger and he simply didn't end up great friends with any of them in adulthood. My aunt lives in Washington State and we used to visit with her family when we lived in British Columbia, but I haven't really spent time with anyone from her family since I was 8 or 9. My uncles all live in Utah. Some uncles have walked a path riddled with addiction and difficulty and simply live a lifestyle that is so, so foreign from my own. Others are fine people, good people. Still, if I was walking down the street and one of my uncles was walking towards me, I honestly couldn't say that any of them would recognize me. And on the off chance that they did recognize me, there is no way they would be able to guess my name. I mean, I would be shocked if they both recognized me and had my name pop into their head. It would

We're not close, is what I'm saying.

The Hopes though? They're different. They're family

School bells

We are getting set to open our homeschool academic year very soon (Monday is the plan, actually), which feels very strange to me as I'm seeing my Canadian friends just barely posting their end-of-the-year pictures. But, honestly, our social life is pretty bland right now and we have no plans to do any sort of fun vacation this year, so I figure we may as well get a little bit of our formal learning out of the way. We're abandoning the school calendar this year, anyway, and are embracing a year-round calendar (which is something we've missed since we said goodbye to Easley Elementary School). Plus, I think it will be nice to have the kids into a routine and feeling comfortable with their new curriculum before I begin my classes (because I'm a little nervous about that).

Our math text books arrived a couple of weeks ago and the kids were rather excited about that. I just ordered our science curriculum (it's downloadable, though, so its delivery is fairly instantaneous). Various novels have been trickling in. We just built frames for and hung up our maps (finally). I reorganized our kitchen cupboards and reclaimed an entire cabinet in the dining room for our homeschool stuff. And when our new notebooks arrived, you should have heard the children squealing with joy—so many colours, so many ruling options (wide-ruled, college-ruled, primer-ruled), so much bliss!

Zoë was thrilled with her new notebooks and was sure that her very first assignment will be the writing prompt featured on the front of her notebook. She wanted to practice writing the way she would for her notebook but she didn't want to write in her notebook because she wanted to keep it clean and fresh for kindergarten. So instead she got out some scrap paper and copied the writing verbatim and then drew a picture of a house next to it (it's a picture of Benjamin, in case you can't tell).

She writes a lot of things from her own brain as well, but I thought it was cute that she thought she would need to write the exact thing that's on the cover of her notebook.

Mysterious text messages and Medieval creations

It's 11:15 PM and a new text notification pops up on my screen. It says:

Ben H is talking to you. Ben H should absolutely not be talking to me at 11:15 PM so of course I check my phone. His text message simply says, "Keep going."

So I walk down the hall to Benjamin's room. "What are you doing, buddy?" I ask.

"Nothing," he says, doing a terrible job of hiding his phone...which, for the record, isn't technically a phone; it's an old cast-off phone that he uses as an iPod—he likes to do Duolingo on it, and enjoys listening to a pod cast before bed and then to music while he falls asleep, oh, and he can text a limited number of people on it as well. And which, for the record, is not supposed to be plugged in next to his bed but across the room from his bed.

"I'm going to have to take your phone," I tell him and he reluctantly hands it over. "You really need to go to sleep," I remind him but I still am just baffled by his message so I start asking him questions. "But what does it mean—keep going?"

"I don't know," he said.

"Who did you think you were texting?" I asked. "Because clearly you didn't think you were texting me."

"I thought I was texting Rachel and Miriam and you."

"That's exactly who you texted. But why 'Keep going'?"

"I don't know!"

"Then why send it? And why send it in the middle of the night when you know you shouldn't be on your phone?"

"I just...I didn't realize that texts sent so quickly! I thought it would be a nice message for you to wake up to in the morning. I didn't think it would go to your phone right away. I thought it would take some time!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Years ago my mom sent me a book on childhood trauma. I...don't know where it is currently...but I'm positive I still have it. We just have moved twice since I got it's...somewhere, I'm sure. Okay, I found it. In my mind it has a blue cover (it does have a blue cover), but the spine is red! So that threw me off the scent a bit. Anyway, it's called Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa and my mom sent it to me because it talks about how even if our brains can't remember our trauma, our bodies remember our trauma. Stressful events even from infancy can be kind of hardwired into our bodies and we need to learn how to cope with this hardwiring. So, she sent me this book to help Benjamin, who had a less-than-graceful opening act of his life.

But I've been thinking about this book over the past year and a half or so and I'm glad I finally found it so that I can review it a little bit and hopefully glean an idea or two.

My kids—Zoë and Benjamin, specifically—still aren't "over" Karen's death. I'm not sure death is something to get over, really. I think that longing—that clenching, tugging sensation in your heart—never goes away. I think it gets better. I think it becomes something that you can live with, something that becomes a part of you, something tolerable, familiar, and, to a certain extent, comfortable. We learn to be comfortable with our grief. Somehow we realize that in spite of always, always missing someone, we will be fine. I'm fine. Andrew is fine. But my kids aren't quite fine yet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Family history for kids

One of the activities in the family history booklet that I made was a "Don't Eat Pete!" spin off. I made up a little board for the kids to either print out or draw pictures of their relatives and sent along a little box of candies for the kids to use as game pieces. I made up labels for the boxes of candy that said "DON'T EAT ME!" to keep the kids from immediately consuming them (it worked for my own children; I do not yet know if it worked for my other primary children). My children were, understandably, rather anxious to get to this activity so we tackled it this afternoon. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

My birthday

Thirty-five seems like a rather big birthday. I mean, at thirty you're just barely out of your twenties so that's obviously still young. Thirty-five is, like, solidly mid-thirties (hurdling toward forty)...which, honestly, is starting to sound young still. So perhaps it's not that significant after all. 

Andrew and the kids gave me plenty of time to rest today, which they're really pretty good about most days. They say they're trying to make up to me for waking me up every two hours for a solid 10+ years but honestly I think they just want screen time. Either way I get a nap so I don't mind. 

Rachel did a lot of work behind the scenes to make today special. She baked me a cake on Saturday, completely from scratch, and it smelled so good, so we were all excited to get to eat it today. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Father's Day Post

One of these days I will figure out how to put up the family history booklet I made for my primary kids. One of the challenges inside is to learn a hobby or trade one of your ancestors enjoyed and today as I stood balancing (for hours upon hours) between a ladder and a window frame, reglazing our windows, I thought about two of my fore-fathers. First, I thought of my Grandpa Conrad, who would climb up anything, balance on anything, and who could probably fix anything. One summer during the Great Depression he and his brothers and cousins dug a swimming hole and built a high dive, just for kicks. But the picture in the collage is of him after he'd shimmied up a pole to do some repair work to the CB radio antenna. It makes balancing on a ladder (for like eight hours!) look easy. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Junk bugs

Have you ever wondered if you were meant to be an entomologist? Sometimes I wonder that about myself, but then I remember that there are reasons I am not an entomologist (and many of those reasons are the same reasons I didn't pursue my early dreams of becoming a veterinarian (because, honestly, who's ever heard of a vet who is afraid of dogs?)). Bugs are interesting but, like, also I've been known to call my husband to trap a cockroach or kill a spider. So...

Anyway, Rachel spotted a fluffy boi in our yard today—a cute little ball of fuzz scuttling along a leaf. It was intriguing, so we caught it to see if we could identify it.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Notre-Dame and notre dôme*

I'm reading Notre-Dame de Paris right now. I've never read Victor Hugo before but I figured that since Miriam read both Notre-Dame and Les Mis this year, I could probably also handle Victor book form. I don't think I could handle Victor Hugo in real life because he was...kind of a terrible person. Like Johnny Cash. Guys, I'm sorry, I watched Walk the Line when it came out years ago (I am not sure why because I wasn't quite sure who Johnny Cash even was) and I left that movie hating Johnny Cash. I don't know if that was the point of the movie but, uh, that was where the movie led me. Anyway, while I don't think watching a movie of Victor Hugo's life would elicit good feelings towards him, I do like his writing so far.

From "The Great Hall": 'I tell you, monsieur, it's the end of the world. The students' behaviour has never been so outrageous. It's all everything. Artillery, serpentines, bombards, and especially printing, that other plague from Germany. It's the end of manuscripts, the end of books! Printing is killing off the book trade. The end of the world is at hand!"

Spoiler: Books have survived. So rest easy, dear reader.

Silly or sorry

Over the past few weeks I put together a family history booklet for my primary kids, working on it here and there in the evenings (between trying to get my manuscript polished up and catching fireflies with the children and a few other projects). Yesterday I met a couple of other ladies from the primary at the church so we could make copies of and assemble the booklet (and make a little package for each of the kids with candy (for a game inside the booklet), and cutout leaves and a glue stick (for a make-your-own-family-tree activity inside the booklet).

Before I got out of the car, I put my mask on.

I had figured that the other woman would as well. She is from Taiwan, I reasoned racistly, so surely she will have respect for masking. But, alas...

"Oh, do we have to wear masks?" she asked. "It's just so silly."

"Well, I'm going to wear a mask," I said. "Better silly than sorry."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

COVID thoughts

Last May, the Georgia Department of Public Health issued their final weekly influenza report for that the 2018–2019 flu season. Between September 30 (when the flu season began) and May 11 (when they had no reports of influenza to report), there had been 44 deaths attributed to the flu in the state of Georgia.

1 child between the ages of 0–4 died. 2 children ages 5–17. 6 people between 18–49. 10 between 50–64. 25 were 65+.

The final flu report that I can see for this year is for April 18. I'm not quite sure the flu season is over  (they just seem to stop publishing reports sometime in April/May and pick up again in September without ever really declaring anything over) and it was touted as a particularly harsh flu season (back in December and January, before we'd really even heard of the coronavirus). And by all indicators that seems to be true. There have been 93 deaths attributed to the flu this season.

3 children between the ages of 0–4. 2 children ages 5–17. 18 people between 18–49. 23 between 50–64. And 47 ages 65+.

Now do COVID-19!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Mud puddles

We have had a cool summer so far, which we're rather glad about since our air conditioner is broken. The transformer blew, I guess. We're waiting on our home warranty to decide how they want to fix it (cross your fingers they will decide soon because I don't know how long the cool weather will last). Today has been rather chilly and rainy so I'm fine upstairs right now, but when the days are leaning toward hot and humid (not that we've had many very hot days yet this year) things get pretty hot upstairs rather fast.

We've been joking that each level of the house is in its own biome: polar in the basement, subtropical on the main level, and tropical upstairs. One day it was 75°F on the main level and 85°F on the top floor. That heat felt rather heavy. Today they're about the same temperature, though.

Here's a look outside today on this wet and rainy day:

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A (lockdown) date night. Finally!

Last night Andrew and I sat down together to watch a movie together. It's the first time we've sat down together on the couch to watch anything for six weeks. So ask me how online teaching is going...haha.

In his defense, he just finished up with a super intense "May-mester" course (150 minutes of class time every day for three weeks) that had been intended to be taught in person, but he suddenly found himself scrambling to get the entire course online (after scrambling to get the rest of his spring semester online). It was not fun and involved many, many late nights in a row.

But it's over now and he's teaching just a regular summer course now, which has given us some time to breathe. So, you know, we watched Just Mercy, which was actually not an easy watch and just made me feel really, really angry. Which is great because I had just watched Teach Us All the other night and that also left me feeling really, really angry.

Let's just say that I believe we could really use a systemic shift in this nation.

Friday, June 12, 2020

So much Lego

The kids destroyed their Lego village today so they can try playing something new because, as Miriam said, "We've been playing Harry Potter for four years!" Instead they've made up a medieval role-playing game, where they role dice to assign roles (king, nobility, peasant) and the catastrophes their characters have to deal with. They have it all written down, along with which die which roles get to roll. For example, if you roll yourself an illness then how sick you get depends on which die you get to roll. The king gets to roll a seven-sided die. If he gets a 1, he gets very sick and has to roll again. If he rolls a 1 again, he dies. If he rolls a 5, 6, or 7, he gets immunity. A peasant, on the other hand, gets to roll a four-sided die. So you can see his odds of getting, and staying, ill are much higher than the king's since he wouldn't have good access to doctors or medicine. 

When it comes to acquiring wealth, however, the king gets to roll the smallest die and the peasant the largest die because in that scenario the king should have a higher probability of stuffing his coffers than a peasant would. 

They've thought long and hard about medieval inequalities. 

Anyway, before they destroyed their creations I took several pictures for those interested in seeing what they've built (hi, Mom!) and Andrew took several more pictures a couple of weeks ago so I'll add those in at the end. This is the children's wizarding world...

More fireflies

Zoë was so excited to have a sunny day again so we could go on another firefly walk. She talked about it all day long and even wrote a little sign to tape to our designated firefly jar that says, "I love to cach fier fli's." She likes to go on firefly walks, that's true, but she doesn't necessarily enjoy the catching of the fireflies. She's hardly succeeded in touching one, let alone catching one. But she'll happily chase them around.

More windows

The glazing on our windows is so flaky that when I told Andrew that a wasp had flown into the house through the glass-less windows (because, you see, I had taken the glass out) and he subsequently swatted it, a chunk of glazing popped right off one of the bottom windows. a problem...and that's why we're fixing the windows. This week was a little rainy, but Rachel and I did the top half of the window on Monday (wasp day; taller windows, taller helpers). Today the smaller kids and I did the bottom window.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Sticker motivation

Zoë was very diligent about practicing the piano all of last week. And she very diligently marked off each practice session in her piano notebook, too. If she practiced five out of seven days, you see, she would earn a sticker. Well, she practiced seven out of seven days last week and was thrilled when I brought out the folder of stickers I spent a lifetime hoarding.

For some weird reason, using stickers always stressed me out as a child. Once you stick it somewhere...that's's gone. Plus, I weirdly thought, it would be nice to have some stickers for my children. So I just...saved all the stickers I ever got as a child (or the majority of them, anyway).

And isn't that so weird? Like, did I think we wouldn't have stickers in the future?

Anyway, I have some pretty cool stickers. Sparkly stars, cute baby animals, planets and insects and balloons and flowers. Stickers that say "good work!" and "nice job!" and "A+!" Stickers...stickers...stickers...

"I know just the one I want!" Zoë said and she hunted through that packet of stickers for a long time until she found...a sheet of round, pink circles. Like AVERY brand labelling dots. "This one!" she squealed, and she peeled off a round, pink circle and stuck it on her piano notebook and...I just stood there blinking for a few minutes. That one? Okay.

At least I know she's easily motivated.

(When it comes to piano practicing...)

Monday, June 08, 2020

Baptism memories and baptism music

My dear friend Diana posted a beautiful picture of her baby book where her mom had collected signatures for Diana of her parents and grandparents. It looks like kind of a fun thing to have. Names, written in their own hand. Two important things. Anyway, someone commented and said that's why she says it's important to write things down in scrap books and things—rather than type everything—so that your progeny can see your handwriting. 

So I have some handwriting samples for you this evening! For Family Night I challenged everyone to write down some memories of their baptism day (and those who had not yet been baptized were welcome to draw pictures while everyone else wrote). We reference briefly Elder Anderson's talk from the last session of conference as well as Alma 5, to emphasize the importance of writing things down. And, interestingly, when we began to share what we had written we began to remember more

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Firefly sunset

Last night while the big kids were (at long last) finishing their Harry Potter movie marathon (which they started mid-May), I was reading stories to Alexander and Zoë when the sky turned red, drawing us all to the window, and then to the back deck. We stood and watched the sunset grow redder and redder, lighting up the sky behind the dark silhouettes of the trees. And as we were staring off into the woods we saw an elusive flash of light. Then another. And another. 


Saturday, June 06, 2020

Benjamin's baptism

In an alternate reality we would have been physically surrounded by family today. My mom and dad were supposed to visit us this week. My sister Kelli had a plane ticket to come see us. Grandpa was talking about flying out as well. But, as we all know, coronavirus happened and we ended up being rather alone today.

Benjamin had his bishop's interview via video call a couple of weeks ago:

Friday, June 05, 2020

I just can't even...

When I first moved to the states and we went to register at the school, the guidance counselor kind of just fit me into classes that had room for me rather than thinking about what kind of classes I might need. Thus it was that I ended up in remedial English and US History Honors (with a u (had to backspace it out of there)). I'm not sure I'll ever feel not offended by that.

I'm not upset about it anymore, really. I got through it just fine. But I just...why?

Anyway, US History (Honors!) was a difficult class for me because so much of it was Brand New Information. Or at least it was information that I had been taught but hadn't been forced to memorize and...uhhhhh...worship. The first week of school we had to take a quiz on the names of the fifty states, plus their capitols, plus their location on the map. My brain felt like it was exploding.

Canada has 10 provinces and (at the time I had to memorize them) 2 territories (now there are 3 territories). Being forced to memorize fifty names, capitols, and locations felt utterly overwhelming.

But I did it, by golly.

And by "did it" I mean "got 100%" because I'm a little bit of a perfectionist so anything less than 100% is an abominable failure and I'm really working on not being like this.

Molten oatmeal

This morning the kids woke up and started getting breakfast on their own, as they've been trained to do. They've all been using the microwave since they were three or four. And, I mean, sure...sometimes things end up a little bit flame-y...but mostly the fact that they can fend for themselves (usually) makes my life a whole lot easier. 

So I had just come down to the dining room and was checking on Alexander who—very oddly—had not come to me first thing in the morning and was still in his pyjamas and nighttime diaper, a clear indication that he had not gone potty. When there was a blood-curdling scream from the kitchen.

Everyone ran there in a hurry and tried to figure out what had happened to Zoë. 

Oatmeal was...everywhere...and Zoë was curled up on the floor screaming and crying.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Nope, nope, nope.

First of all, we're probably going to pass 200,000 COVID cases within a week, which is super fun. The kids and I went for a walk at one park, which was fairly empty, and then drove over to the pool we have a pass to to see how busy it was (there were about five other cars at the parking lot, which felt a bit too busy for me) and then headed over to another more popular park (with river access) to see how full it was and the parking lot was jam-packed. There were so many people there it was ridiculous. The kids really wanted to cool off in the river but we just headed home (to find a package from my sister—blow up balls that you go inside of and bounce off of each other—so we played with the toys she'd sent us and then broke out the splash pad she sent us last month (she is single-handedly keeping us together this pandemic)). 

Second of all, today I saw some really bad takes on the internet that I'd like to take a minute to address. The internet is full of bad takes, but some of them just irk me a little more than others. This particular bad take is that George Floyd shouldn't be "martyrized" because he has a criminal record. In fact, he's a felon! Or was. He had, by all accounts, managed to turn his life around and has spent the last several years living clean. But whatever.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Eight is great!

After dinner we gathered around the table to celebrate Benjamin's birthday again (for real this time). Here are the kids smiling by the cupcakes (except for Zoë who is not smiling and who had a day):


Alexander in the evening

Not last night but the night before was a rather rough night for Alexander. There was a lot of screaming. He kept getting up and just screaming. Nothing in particular seemed to be wrong. He didn't need to go potty. He wasn't thirsty. He got to choose his favourite lullabies to listen to. He had his favourite bedtime things. The fan was blowing gently. It's wasn't too light or too dark. Everything should have been just fine but he just kept waking up and screaming. I think he really just wanted to climb into bed with me but also really wanted a sticker so was just torn over sleeping at all.

When it was finally morning I told him that if he pulled another stunt like that he wouldn't get a sticker. Like, neat-o that he "stayed in bed" all night but also a big part of staying in bed is not sneaking to the side of my bed and yelling in my face every twenty minutes. He agreed that was, perhaps, a little annoying and when I put him to bed last night he agreed that he wouldn't scream when he got up in the night.

And so, at around 3:30, I heard a gentle knocking on my bedroom door before it opened, just a crack.

"Mom," Alexander whispered. "I'm not screaming, but my hands have so many owies."

"What?" I asked groggily.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Benjamin's birthday eve

It's the last day of this sweet little boy being seven years old. We started celebrating him on Monday with a portion of our Family Night devoted to writing on balloons for his birthday tree.

He is appropriately wearing an octopus shirt

Monday, June 01, 2020

Broken windows (and empty hallways)

I feel like I've been glazing windows for forever and that I will be glazing windows forever. I managed to rope Miriam into helping me for a few minutes this afternoon. She'd been asking to learn how previously but was reluctant to help today because Rachel was in the middle of decorating some cupcakes for a Young Women's Camp activity tomorrow (they're showing off their baking skills on zoom since we're having the "home edition" of Young Women's Camp this year) and Miriam wanted to help. 

Rachel was just making fondant and didn't want Miriam's help at that exact moment, so I told Miriam that glazing compound was very similar to fondant. So she came and put some glazing around one window while she waited for Rachel to finish mixing up the fondant and then she abandoned me.

Rise up

I honestly don't know what to say or do right now. I don't have any eloquent words to deliver. 

I don't know what to do. I didn't feel like joining in any marches was safe (Andrew's office building downtown had its windows smashed in, for example). I didn't volunteer to help clean things up downtown either.

We just stayed home...where we've been pretty much solidly for the last few months. 

I was already worried about what the numbers (the coronavirus numbers) would look like after Memorial Day weekend. Now I'm doubly worried about what we'll see over the next couple of weeks with so many people—thousands and thousands and thousands—out on the streets, protesting racial injustices still so prevalent in our society. And rightly so. 

We talked about racism for our church lesson today. I picked some resources out and was surprised when Andrew knew about the people who wrote them just off the top of his head. I had to look them up. But, anyway, the first story I shared was a talk by Alexander B. Morrison.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Fairies and other conversations

Before, during, and after breakfast the littlest three were crafting up a fairy kingdom with materials they'd mined from the recycling bin. I read to them from The Ickabog while they worked (and/or ate (and which you should check out if you have elementary-aged kids; it's a project J.K. Rowling is hosting—she's releasing a couple of chapters every day and has an illustration contest for the children)).

Zoë, who was hard at work colouring in the fairy garden she'd made for the castle grounds, suddenly stopped colouring, looked up at Benjamin and said, "Benny, do you think fairies are real?"

"Oh, absolutely," he answered.

"Mom, do you think fairies are real?"

"Oh, I don't know..." I hedged.

Benjamin puffed out his chest and said authoritatively, "Don't ask her. Grown ups are really bad at knowing this sort of thing!"

And thus I was saved from having to either confirm or deny the existence of fairies. 

I found their little exchange rather poetic. I also found this tree poetic:

Fix-It Felix

Today was a busy day of house projects. I spent most of the day reglazing windows (now that we finally have a stretch of sunny weather again), Rachel and Miriam spent most of the day painting their cabinet doors in the garage (we started painting the built-ins in their bedroom just about as soon as we moved in and, yes, are just getting around to painting the cabinet doors now (I'm very excited to get them out of the garage)), and Andrew spent most of the day shopping.

With current social distancing measures—limiting the number of people in stores and so forth—shopping seems to take forever. Plus Andrew had to go to the hardware store because while the kids were playing Lego in the basement (I will get around to highlighting their Lego creations, Mom) they noticed a pinhole leak had sprung in one of our pipes. Luckily it was in an exposed area (which probably helped us discover and fix it a lot easier than it otherwise would have been).

Here are a few pictures of the children playing in the windows while I worked. Alexander is saying, "I can stick my hand right through the window!"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sweetest boy

This morning Alexander came into my room at 7:00, which isn't terribly early (but which is early enough to qualify as early for me) and he climbed into bed, snuggled up to me, and explained, "It is morning time. I'm just here for snuggles, not for sleeping, so I still get a sticker!"

And it was the cutest thing he did the entire day up to that point (only to be eclipsed by another fifty things before breakfast because he's too darn cute).

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ink, pink, a bottle of a ink, my baby's in the bathroom sink

Tonight while I was getting Alexander ready for bed I plopped him into the bathroom sink, which he thought was silly (it was silly). 

Mind over matter

I changed the furnace filter today, a long overdue item of business.

But, like, honestly, the furnace/AC is in the attic and the filter for the furnace/AC is at the back end of the unit, requiring a body to crawl through the attic on their hands and knees, over and under ducts and wires, along a narrow spider-frass-covered plank balanced across the crossbeams. Oh, and it's dark. And you will get spiderwebs in your hair. And probably bang your head once or twice.

It was...not pleasant.

Nobody wanted to do it. We actually bribed Miriam to go exploring up there ($6 was her price, for the record (we offered her $5, she countered with $20, Andrew offered her $6, she took it, and then spent it all at the Lego store)) but she wasn't able to find the furnace filter so I had to go up there anyway. No one gave me $6.

Turns out you have to remove the cover (which is screwed on) in order to access the filter, which I wasn't expecting at all because we've lived lots of places and haven't ever had to unscrew an access panel to find the filters. In our Durham house the filter was actually right in the living room wall, which was handy! Our current house actually has two units and the one in the basement has a super accessible filter—it's just right there when you look at the furnace, slips in and out, no screwdriver necessary.

It literally took us an hour to change the darn filter in the attic. But, next time it should take just a few minutes to get over the initial feeling of not wanting to do it.

"It's really not so bad once you're up here," I told Andrew, as I crawled through some spider webs.

And it wasn't. Like, once you actually start doing it it's just a thing that you're doing and not the horrible nightmare you imagined.

Goats and things

I taught Miriam how to play (a very basic version of) cat's cradle this evening. It took her a few minutes to get it down but she's practically an expert now and she loves it.

"This is a really fun game!" she said. "How did you learn it?"

"My friends and I played it when I was younger. I don't remember who taught me, exactly, but the game has been around for a long, long time so it could have been anyone."

"Oh. When was the game invented?"

"A long time ago," I told her. "The game is so old that no one really knows where it came from, though I think it may be from China. Speaking of which, there's also Chinese jump rope, which is like cat's cradle but, like, with your legs. I don't remember how to play but my sister had a Chinese jump rope when we were kids."

Wikipedia tells me that in Canada we call it "yoki" but, uh, my family didn't. We always called it Chinese jump rope. Perhaps I'll look into those as well. I just ordered another jump rope kit for the kids because Miriam found the remainder of our last set, which I guess we left in North Carolina when we moved, and strung a rope for herself today and was trying to learn how to jump (which was a very frustrating experience for her, though she did make a lot of progress).

It's time for us to get back into jumping rope again, I guess. I've been meaning to be better at offering my kids physical activity this next school year anyway (aside from let's go for a walk and play at the park) so this is something fairly rigorous but simple enough to just pull out and play with in the cul-de-sac. And goodness knows we need another outlet for our energy.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Some thoughts

Memorial Day is always such a weird holiday for me. I don't know how to celebrate it and it always sneaks up on me. I actually have to use a mnemonic device to even remember that it/when it exists. Memorial Day is in May, see? As opposed to Labour Day, which is in September for some reason, or Veteran's Day, which is is somehow different than Memorial Day and takes the place of Remembrance Day, which is a far superior holiday (in my opinion).

America hasn't been very good at teaching me what these holidays are about. I think in theory Memorial Day is to honour soldiers who have passed away. In practice it seems to be a great big summer kick off (as a Canadian, it always felt a little early to be kicking off summer in May considering we go to school through June). There are barbecues and pool parties but not a lot of actual remembering going on (from what I can tell), so it doesn't really feel like that's what Memorial Day is for (coming from an outsider).

But that's fine.

People celebrate and remember things in different ways.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Just duet

Benjamin has been reluctantly slogging through piano lessons this year. Playing the piano is a skill he wishes he had but it's not really something he wants to put a lot of effort into (in short: he's discovered one life's lovely paradoxes). Getting him to practice is a bit of a battle, getting him to focus is...also a bit of a battle, but—you know what?—we're making headway!

Here he is playing a duet of Ode to Joy with Miriam this morning:

Ignore his funky wrist flops. It's not great form but we are picking our battles over here. He mostly played the right notes and he's mostly on beat and he didn't walk away in the middle of a song to look at that thing he saw out of the corner of his eye so we're calling it a win!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Splash Pad

My sweet sister Kelli sent us a little splash pad to use over the course of the summer since we'll be avoiding such things this summer (very unfortunately). The kids all loved it. Kelli thought the three littlest ones would appreciate it, while the older two might think it was a little lame. But, when we were deciding our favourite parts of the day during dinner Rachel said that her favourite part of the day was playing on the splash pad!

Benjamin, unsurprisingly, was basically unstoppable. The cold water didn't bother him at all; he was the first one in and the last one out.

But all the other kids had fun with it, too.

Zoë's 5th birthday: the cake

For her cake this year Zoë wanted a strawberry cake with flowers, butterflies, sunshine, birds, and rainbows. Not that she's particular.

Rachel asked if she could try her hand at cake decorating, so I put most of my effort into making a strawberry cake from, as Benjamin likes to say, "scrap." He means, of course, "scratch." We've corrected him but he can't hear the difference and it's hilarious. Like, the other night Andrew was tempted to order take out (something we had rarely done in pre-pandemic times but which we seem to do about once a week now (to support the local economy, Andrew tells me)) and I said, "Oh, we can just make spaghetti or something simple."

Next thing I know, Andrew is making a lovely homemade tomato sauce and homemade spaghetti noodles. It was quite the undertaking and I was like, "I meant just open a box and boil the contents, not make a huge mess and spend hours in the kitchen!"

"It's okay," Benjamin said, "I love it when Dad makes food from scraps."

Like he's just throwing leftover this and that into a pot. Ha!

Anyway, I made a strawberry cake from scratch (including making a strawberry reduction from fresh strawberries to flavour the cake) and it turned out quite well. It had a nice tight crumb, which made icing it a lot easier than it is on super fluffy cakes from a boxed mix. Rachel did the crumb coat and stacked the layers and then did the overcoat (is that the term for it?) on Thursday and on Friday she made marshmallow fondant and started decorating.

She did the sunshine and the five all by herself, but asked for a little help with the flowers (we ended up using a heart cookie cutter and then cut the hearts in half). Here she is adding some buttercream grass around the base of the cake (I did the flower stems):

A new birthday tradition on Zoë's birthday

Zoë ushers in our "birthday season" since her birthday is the first birthday we celebrate in a calendar year. This has been a very difficult concept for her to wrap her head around. A lot of things are difficult concepts for her to wrap her head around, but that's alright because she's only five. For example ,she's happy to now be Daddy's age. He's 35, she's 5. Same age! And she's happy that soon Mommy will be joining her in being 5 (because I turn 35 next month).

Likewise, shouldn't she be the oldest because her birthday is first? So she was born first. And that's what makes people the oldest. It's just so weird that her birthday is first and yet she's stuck being the second to youngest. The world makes no sense. None at all.

At least she's figured out that much.

Anyway, today is Zoë's birthday and she's five now, which is an absurdly large number for her to be. We all can't get over how absolutely tiny she is, when we consider how grown up five felt when Rachel and Miriam were turning five. Now that they are great big girls, five doesn't feel so grown up. I'm happy to have her be small for a while longer.

This birthday is particularly interesting because it falls on a Saturday, the very same day that she was born five years ago. I mean, all birthday fall on the very same day one is born, naturally, but this birthday falls on the same day of the week that she was born and the weather is very similar to the day she was born and we're back in the south and it all just feels very full circle.

We opened her presents this morning (right around the time she was born) so that she could spend her birthday enjoying them. She has been so terribly excited for her birthday (and so very aware of the calendar, which is odd considering we're in the middle of this weird stay-at-home phase of the quarantine where time has absolutely no meaning anymore, except that Zoë has been keeping a very accurate countdown to her birthday) that we decided to not celebrate Benjamin and Zoë's birthday together. It still sounds like far too much cake for such a short period of time, but I guess that's alright (also Rachel has taken a sudden interest in cake decorating and begged to take the lead on Zoë's cake).

Anyway, before we opened presents I explained our new tradition, which will be to write reason we love our birthday person on paper balloons and stick them to our "birthday tree." So I cut out balloons and everyone took a few minutes to think about why they love Zoë and then we read them out loud and stuck them to the tree. And then we opened presents, which Zoë has be not-so-patiently waiting for all morning.

Here she is beside her pile of presents:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Brush your teeth

I couldn't leave you with that picture of sad Alexander at the top of the page, so here are a few happy pictures of him as well:


The other day Alexander knocked over a tower that Benjamin had built (and had been saving to show to Andrew). I had already looked at it (and it was a pretty neat tower), but Andrew hadn't gotten there yet. So Alexander had to sit on the steps while we chatted about why we don't knock over other people's towers (answer: because it makes them feel so sad).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A house lizard

Benjamin walked into the kitchen the other day and let out a scream. There was a lizard sitting by the onions. We didn't get terribly close to it because we didn't want to startle it. Instead we got a bin and stealthily moved the onions, slammed down the bin to capture it, eased a piece of cardboard under the bin and transferred it outside.

These five

Here are our five kids, who are still mostly getting along, haunting the neighbourhood in their pandemic masks (Benjamin added a handful of cockatoo feathers to his):

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Harry Potter foods

The kids have been planning a Harry Potter marathon for weeks now, waiting for school to be over so they can claim a little more control over their schedule. Rachel took her final final this morning (it took her about ten minutes and she got 100%, which has been the story of her life lately...and which is neat...but also...she's excited to be homeschooled next year so she can be challenged a bit (I'm so glad I fought to get her placed in the gifted program here because I honestly don't know what she would have done with herself if she hadn't been placed; she's been rather bored all year)) and then started working on some sorting-hat cupcakes (or cauldron cakes). 

She mixed up a chocolate cake from scratch, filled them with four different colours of icing (red for Gryffindor, green for Slytherin, yellow for Hufflepuff, and blue for Ravenclaw), and then she made a chocolate cream cheese frosting for the top. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

In which Benjamin (re)learns how to ride a bike (and tries to self-administer a tracheotomy)

We've been working very hard at learning how to ride our bikes around here lately. Zoë's bike has training wheels—the first in the family to have them!—and she took off with gusto after very little instruction. She's so confident that she asked if she could take her training wheels off for her birthday. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


This evening before bed I read my children a little book I made called Roots and Branches. There aren't a lot of words in it but that's okay because I can tell the stories to them...for now (though I suppose I should make a book with more words in it eventually). Instead there are pictures of ancestors (along with brief statistics: birth, death, and marriage dates).

We were flipping through and looking at the pictures and I was telling stories while the kids asked questions and made comments. Benjamin felt the need to cast judgement on every single name in the book and when we got to my grandma he wrinkled up his nose.

"Pearl?" he said. "Don't like that."

"Why, thank you," I said.

"Why are you thanking me?" he asked. "It's an ugly name."

"It's my middle name," I informed him. "I am named after my grandma."

"Oh," he stammered. "Well, it's alright for a middle name, I guess. But to go by that name every day? Just...why?!"

"Technically Pearl was her middle name, too," I said.

"What?!" he asked.

"Yes, look," I said, pointing to the text box containing the barest bones of her life details. "Her name was Zetta."

"Zetta?!" he echoed, completely dumbfounded.

"Zetta Pearl," I affirmed. "But she went by Pearl."

"Yeah, good call," he said. "Pearl's way better than Zetta!"

Monday, May 11, 2020

A few things

First off, I'm so relieved to not be homeschooling today. We were ready for a break. The three littlest ones have been playing in together so nicely this morning and I've just been doing my own thing. Eventually I will have to hound Benjamin about finishing his author report (the very last thing he has left to do for this school year), but that can wait for now. Rachel eventually needs to get started on her final exams, but there's no rush for that either (update: she just came upstairs to tell me she completed both of the exams she had scheduled today and she got 100% on both of them (she started the exams at 10:00; it is 10:17 that's neat)).

Next, one of my cousins messaged me to say that after she saw my posters on Facebook she wanted to share some of the pain she's been enduring quietly, without her pack, so to speak. So she did. And I'm so glad she did because that is the exact thing I envisioned when the words "strong women tend to run in families" came to mind (where it reads almost like voiceover from a wildlife show, but perhaps that's just me). We don't have to mourn alone because we have a pack.

Finally—and the main reason for this post— thing I've been (somewhat morbidly) searching for on FamilySearch was any account of the Spanish Flu pandemic in our family tree but I was having trouble finding anything. Turns out I should have asked my mom because she knew right where to look.

Strong women

My mom (and, by extension, our entire family) was given a wonderful gift yesterday when she was notified that a distant cousin had uploaded a baby picture of my grandfather to FamilySearch. This cousin had been selected as the person to cart around all the family history and finally decided—because of this quarantine—to start scanning and uploading documents. Among these documents was a baby picture from 1915 (most likely taken by a doting still-unmarried auntie who was so sad to have her little baby nephew carted a thousand miles away, across the border, to grow up in the north (I can say this with confidence because the photograph was found in this particular aunt's collection)).

While I was clicking around on FamilySearch I started reading my great-grandma Ida's autobiography. She talked about the difficult time she had adjusting to life in Alberta (it is cold there, so cold, and the windy):
Oh, what I haven't gone through! It hasn't all been nice! I wasn't the only one—don't think it was just me that had it so hard. There was a lot of these old-timers, a lot that I could name now that's got nice homes, that had it tough. Once in a while, we'd get together, a bunch of us, and one or the other of us would start to say what we had to do and how hard we had it. And then, if I say anything the rest would say, "You didn't have it any harder than I did," and they'd go on. So we'd shut up! Because they didn't, any of them—well, there might have been some that I didn't know—have the conveniences and things that we have now. I know Emma Harris would say how hard she had it and what she had to do. I know I had to melt ice in the winter to do the washing. Oh, yes! You don't know the struggle we had! 

Sunday, May 10, 2020


Zoë's very-special, make-you-so-strong, peach-flavoured, super-yummy "vitamins" arrived the other day and, eager to try them out, Andrew gave her one just before family prayer. She loved everything about it—the flavour, that it was special for her, that it was making her feel "strong."

We carried on with our bedtime routine. She brushed my hair while I read Harry Potter to the kids (she loves to put a billion barrettes in my hair every evening) and then, once Alexander was asleep, she happily climbed into her own bed for personal reading time.

"I will tell you when it's time to turn off your reading lamp," I told her. "And then I will tuck you in and sing you a song."

So I left her reading and sat down to do some work on my computer (I've been learning Adobe Premiere Pro, splicing together clips of our primary children tossing balls to make it look like they're playing catch with each other). At 9:30 I went to tell her it was definitely time for bed, but I was surprised to find that she'd already turned off her reading light and was very nearly asleep, though she still wanted a lullaby.

"You turned off your light," I observed.

"I am just so sleepy," she sighed.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Quarantine music

The kids and I wrote a little song this afternoon (to be background music for a little video we're planning for one of our virtual primary activities). Here we are singing it for you with our very best singing/behaviour:

Bedtime woes (and some poetry)

It is 11:35 and all my children are asleep in their beds (technically Alexander is back asleep in my bed after his first nightly waking), which might not seem like an accomplishment but which really is an accomplishment. I'm not actually sure what time the children went to sleep. Alexander fell asleep while I was reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to the kids. Zoë and Benjamin fell asleep sometime later. They've not been sleeping recently, which has been frustrating.

I remember my mom telling me about a set of cousins of hers that didn't have bedtimes. Like their parents would just let the kids go to bed whenever they wanted to, so sometimes they'd stay up super late (and be falling asleep in their dinner) and other times they'd go to bed a decent hour. But, like there was no real rule surrounding bedtime. And I kind of get that.

Like, what is the point of having and executing a bedtime routine when it doesn't lead to sleep because nothing leads to sleep because the children simply aren't going to sleep? I've often said, "you can lead a child to bed but you cannot make them sleep." It doesn't matter how many bedtime cues you give them certain children aren't going to sleep.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Panes and pains (and glaze)

I just finished glazing my first full 8/9 of 1/2 of one of our windows!

Yes, in the dark, alone, after the kids were in bed. I wasn't quite alone, of course. I had plenty of critters to keep me company: every beetle and moth for a square mile, for instance, came flocking to watch me work, along with about a metric tonne of mosquitoes. The frogs chatted to me ceaselessly and I heard a few animals scampering around in the trees behind me. Nothing really bothered me, per se, until I heard some scampering coming from directly beneath my feet. Something was ambling along under the porch. And it wasn't a small something, either.

I turned on the shop vac to see if I could frighten it into revealing its identity, but the creature just continued shuffling along, completely unfazed. As it approached the edge of the deck, I peeped over the railing to see what I might see—a raccoon, a bear, a deer, a coyote?!

It was a possum.

"Oh, hey, possum," I said.

It didn't even look at me. It just kept on walking.

But, I finished the window (well, 8/9 of 1/2 of the window) and it's a thing of (messy) beauty (we'll get those fingerprints taken care of eventually). This is the inside of the window so you can't see my beautiful glazing job but that's part of the beauty of the glazing job—that you can't see it from the inside! This picture is more is to show you our lovely cereal box panel.