Thursday, February 13, 2020


After today Alexander will have gone without momma's milk for a full week. Some days moments are easier than others. This morning he woke up begging for milk and he howled down the moon when I told him there was no milk left for him (there is, but somehow we've reached the point of no return...after he willingly skipped nursing on Friday (didn't ask a single time) and then went the weekend with a lot of help from Daddy (the king of distraction) and suddenly here we are...).

It was a rough start to our day, but we got through it. 

He had waffles and oatmeal for breakfast (anything you want, kid). 

Yesterday afternoon when it was far too late to take a nap, he came to me and begged for snuggles. 

"I want a nap," he said and even though it was far too late for such a thing I told him we could lie down together for a few minutes before dinner (I wasn't feeling well, anyway). 

"But you can't have any milk," I told him (he has never taken a nap without nursing, which means he hasn't taken a nap this entire week (so it's been a long week)).

"I don't want milk," he said. "I just want you."

He nestled in for some snuggles and soon fell fast asleep.  

And I think he's going to be okay. I think we're going to be okay. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Does it smell like up-dog in here?

I took the kids over to a friend's apartment complex this afternoon so they could help put up flyers for her lost cat. She has arthritis and wanted someone to help her run flyers up to the top floor so that she didn't have to. It was quite a lot of stair climbing for my little brood (and thank goodness, too, because they needed a good tuckering out).

At one point Benjamin and Zoë went scampering up a little hill and Alexander wanted me to put him down so he could follow them, so I did. He romped up the hill with them and then ran back to me. I scooped him up and caught a whiff of fecal matter in the air.

"Did you poop in your pants?!" I asked.

"No!" he said.

I verified and this was true. He had not pooped in his pants.

So we continued on our way, posting flyers here and there, and always with the lingering smell of fecal matter following us around.

"Are you sure you didn't poop?" I asked. "Do you need to go poopies?"

No and no, he insisted.

I decided to put him down on the ground this time in order to take a better gander in his pants (the first time I had him in my arms and took just a quick peek). When I put him down I noticed that I had mud all over my clothes from him kicking me with his shoes as I carted him around. It was smeared all over my pants, all over my shirt, all over my sweater...

Wait a minute, I thought. That's not mud!

Indeed, it was not.

He had been kicking me all over with his dirty shoes but he had not stepped in mud. He had stepped in doggy doo-doo...which was now all over me.

I carefully wrenched his shoe from his foot and wiped off as much of the remaining doggy doo-doo into the grass as I could but he and I were a hopeless, stinky mess (he less so than I). We continued to perfume the air around us while we worked, which I'm sure everyone appreciated.

When we got home I had Miriam give him a bath while I freshened up myself.

His shoes are still sitting on the front porch. I'll get to them eventually...

(As Andrew pointed out to me: it could have been worse).

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Library woes

This morning we headed to the library, making it just in time for story time (somewhat of a fluke for us; it's happened twice in months of weekly library visits). I turned in our books and then decided not to speak with anyone about it because the last time we managed to show up for story time (which was just a couple of weeks ago) I talked to a librarian about needing to turn in our books before we could check out books and she kind of rolled her eyes (what is with these people?) and asked if we would be staying for story time. I told her we would and she said, "Then your books will definitely be checked in by the time you go."

So today I thought, "Okay. It's story time. We'll be here for a full hour. The books will definitely be checked in by the time we're ready to check out and go."

But they definitely were not checked in.

So I found an employee and asked them about it and they again asked which book drop I'd used. So I told them and they went back there for a long time. Finally they came back out to say they'd checked some stuff in but there was so much back there that they couldn't be certain which books were mine.

Meanwhile the plumber I'd called to fix our garbage disposal had called me to say he was fifteen minutes away from our house. He'd originally told me he'd give me a half hour's head's up, which is why I decided to go to the library in the first place, figuring that when he called I could just check out and go home.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Messy efforts

This afternoon we piled our table high with paper and scissors and crayons and glue to make valentines. Oh, and a big mess. We also made one of those.

We stuffed a dozen different envelopes full of a ridiculous number of valentines, some of which were lovely and some of which were, frankly, train wrecks, and will hopefully get them in the mail tomorrow.

This was a useful exercise for us because we got to make a list of our loved ones and talk about them as we made up valentines for them. It's always nice to remember why you love people, isn't it? To think about what they like, what they've done for you, and good times you've shared together.

It's even nicer to realize that you care about more people than you could possibly ever contact all in one sitting. There were many, many people that we would have loved to make a valentine envelope for but, unfortunately, could not.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Milk and bread and eggs

We had French toast for dinner.

Somehow it seemed the fitting and proper thing to do, what with all the snow this morning. But it seems—and I could be wrong since we've only had a single snowfall and it fell on a Saturday so we didn't have to deal with the chaos of schools closings and inclement weather make-up days—that Georgians are able to keep their wits about them in the snow a little better than North Carolinians. I mean, no one really overtly freaked out about things.

Andrew went grocery shopping and there were still milk and bread and eggs to be found. I noticed that several of our neighbours left their houses—and we live in a pretty hilly area—to run their Saturday errands.

Life, for the most part, carried on as usual. But this time with snow!

There were only a couple of things that made me giggle. One was a message on our neighbour app that said: "It's a veritable blizzard! The accumulation has blown past the predictions of less than 1" for the area. And it's still coming down hard and thick!"

CRAY-ZAY that we blew right on past that "less than one inch" prediction! We got a full inch, at least!

The other was a picture a friend of mine shared on Facebook, saying that after watching a car "slide to the curb and get stuck" in the snow and then watching the firetruck that had come to rescue them from being stuck in the snow also slide into the curb and get stuck, she's convinced that she should just stay home.

Now, I'm not saying it wasn't slick out there because snow and ice tend to be that way. I'm just saying...can you really be stuck in this amount of snow? And if you are, do you really need to call the fire department to get you unstuck? I mean, firemen were out in that big blizzard in Newfoundland last month digging people out of their homes and so forth. But, like...this is not remotely the same as that. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what happened and the car went, like, into a ditch, but even then it seems like they'd need a tow-truck and not a firetruck.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The south can have some snow, as a treat

This morning was a hard morning for me and Alexander. Yesterday he didn't ask for milk a single time—he woke up wanting breakfast and didn't even think about nursing, he didn't seem to need a nap so I didn't give him one (which meant he didn't ask for milk then either), and he's been going to bed without milk for quite some time. And we were both happy and fine. 

But this morning he woke up wanting milk. 

"It's all gone," Daddy told him.

"It's NOT all gone," Alexander said, his voice tinged with the mingling emotions of fear and hope. 

"It's all gone," Daddy repeated.

"It's not all gone. You're being mean!"

Thursday, February 06, 2020


I finally got down enough words to count as a first draft for my paper. It's pretty awful, but aren't all first drafts? I tend to think so. 

I printed it out to edit it in order to give myself some separation from my writing space. Editing and writing are related processes but different enough for me that I felt that I needed a different medium entirely (at least with this first round of edits). I didn't want to edit as I wrote; I just wanted to make sure to get down enough content to actually work with, which I finally did!

This afternoon/evening I went over my paper with a red pen and found plenty of room for improvement, which you can see below (don't attempt to read the paper as it sits below; it's definitely only first-draft level (which is to say it's embarrassingly bad)):

I just wanted a record of all those red marks I gave to myself, to prove to my children (or whoever else's work I'm editing/reviewing) that I definitely believe in rewriting.

I don't really want to rewrite this paper right now (so I'll probably take a break and some other writing (I still need to write a personal statement for my application, for example) or work on some other projects (I have several going on)) but at least I can rewrite it now...

Parent of the year award

This morning we gathered in the entryway for family prayer because we're never quite together enough in the mornings to kneel down together for such a thing. Always Rachel has her backpack on and is ready to run out the door the minute we say "amen." Always I have two grumpy babies (who I know aren't really babies anymore but they're my babies) clinging to me, smacking away the hands of anyone who dares reach out to stroke their head or rub their back, growling at anyone who wishes them a good morning. It makes kneeling down a little hard, so I just sit on the steps and try to isolate them on either side of me (so that they can't touch each other either).

My kids aren't exactly morning people.

So we gathered for prayer this morning before sending Rachel (into the torrential downpour that was our morning) to hike up the hill and wait for her school bus.

I got the kids settled at the table with breakfast and then started reading aloud to them, as is customary. We're reading Elijah of Buxton currently, which has had the kids both laughing aloud and holding their mouths open in stunned silence. It's pretty good writing!

After we read our chapter I assigned the kids their writing assignment for the day (they are comparing the characters of Mr. Leroy and The Preacher and which one makes a better mentor) and then I came upstairs to check my email and perhaps sit down to do some writing myself (which obviously I'm doing although what I really need to do is finish up that paper I'm writing) and so forth.

So I found my cell phone and see that I have a couple of missed text messages, some missed phone calls, some voicemails. This is not unusual for me—my 1,041 unread emails notification drives Rachel and Andrew bonkers (they prefer to keep their phones notification-free)—but I took a look at them to see if they were important.

Turns out they were. A text message told me:

"Be advised that Gwinnett schools are in a severe weather protocol due to a TORNADO WARNING. Once we have the all-clear, normal schedules will resume."

Huh. I just sent my sweet baby (not-a-baby) out into the clutches of an unusually wet and windy winter storm all alone. She was probably fine just sitting at the bus stop all by herself while everyone else was locked down "severe weather protocol," right? Sure. I mean, I don't even know if they suspend bus transportation during severe weather—so who knows if that bus was even coming to get her?—but I'm sure she was fine.

Fortunately, as I was checking to see if Rachel had made it to school (she's there) I had an incoming phone call from Gwinnett County Public Schools giving the all clear, so that tornado warning is over (now to make it through the rest of the day).

Weird that I didn't get a severe weather alert on my phone (or perhaps I did and I just missed it (I just checked and while I do have a missed flash flood warning (in effect until this afternoon) I didn't get a tornado warning so it must not have been for our direct area)) but glad that Rachel made it to school.

Perhaps when the weather is this horrible I should check on things a little more carefully...

That's the sound of the...

We have spent literal hours at the park this week. Probably close to eight hours, if I'm being honest. The weather has just been so fantastic that we've hardly been able to help ourselves (but don't worry—we're still getting all our schoolwork done). It's supposed to rain for the rest of the week—we're supposed to get 3 inches of rain tomorrow, for example—so that will keep us indoors, I'm sure. But the lovely spring-like days have been a wonderful reprieve from the wet and gloomy weather we've been having.

Today when we were driving to the orthodontist we came across a row of trees (possibly okame cherries) all bedazzled with pink blossoms—on February 5th! I didn't take a picture because I was driving, but there they were, looking all beautiful as we zoomed on past. 

Here's Miriam with more braces instead of fewer (which had been her hope). She had thought she was finished with "phase 1" but we finally found an orthodontist who would take her and we found—surprise!—that one of the teeth we were told she was missing had grown in, so they decided to put some more brackets on and force her to live in braces for a few months more rather than removing them right away. But she's still happy to have a removal date at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, February 03, 2020

A lovely afternoon

Today's date is special because it's palindrome day 02/02/2020 and Groundhog Day. On the way to the church one of the kids asked, "What if the groundhog sees his shadow and we get stuck with six more weeks of winter?"

"I wouldn't even care," I admitted. "This winter has been so mild. Six more weeks of this weather is just fine with me!"

Since the weather was so gorgeous we decided to explore a new park this afternoon. Andrew made me drive to help me expand my driving bubble; it helps to have him in the passenger seat when I'm doing exploratory driving (I hate exploratory driving; I've ever so much more calm when I know precisely where I'm going and how I'm getting there).

I mostly took videos at the park, to be honest (and I don't feel like uploading them (what a surprise)), but I took a fair number of stills as well.

This park—Shorty Howell—is one Andrew, Alexander, and I visited when we were out here looking for houses last year. We visited on a very hot and very quiet afternoon. The park was about the exact opposite of that today—it was busy as could be, absolutely crawling with people, and the weather was perfect. We were happy to see so many people out and about on a Sunday afternoon (especially with the Superb Owl prowling around, scaring everyone indoors), but less happy that it meant the playground was so crowded. Luckily this park is one of the several (?) mega sports complexes in the area so there were actually several playgrounds for us to explore.

We first took a little stroll around the duck pond:

Sunday, February 02, 2020

The way books are

"What was your favourite part of the day?" I asked Rachel at the dinner table a couple of nights ago. It's a question she's heard hundreds of times in her life and it's a question she knows she's not allowed to answer with "I dunno" or "Nuthin'" so it's a question that I love (not that I really have a problem with my kids answering me with "I dunno" or "Nuthin'"; they tend to be expounders).

"I dunno," she said.

I realize I just told you that Rachel doesn't answer my question with "I dunno," but to be completely transparent she always answers with "I dunno" or "That's a good question" whenever she's asked a question...even if she knows what the answer is immediately. It gives her time to process the question fully before spitting out her answer.

"I dunno," she said. "We started reading Frankenstein in class today. It's pretty cool. It's formatted the same way as Dracula at the beginning—just a bunch of letters."

I have never read Frankenstein or Dracula. The horror genre isn't really my scene. I can think of plenty of things to be afraid of without anyone telling me more things to be afraid of, thank you very much.

But Andrew read Dracula just before Rachel did this past October, so he immediately understood what she meant. I did not. Her statement went right over my head.

"All books are just a bunch of letters..." I pointed out, thinking, of course, of letters arranged (or formatted) on a page to form words.

"Yeah," Rachel said, "But these are back-and-forth letters between two different people, so..."

"Oh, I see," I said, somewhat embarrassed.

It's fine.

A Very Blogger Miracle

One of the requirements for my graduate school application is a writing sample, which has been slowing my application process down considerably (well, that and the statement of purpose). I've done a lot of writing since leaving my undergraduate years behind but I wouldn't say much of it (or any of it, really) counts as academic in tone. I have my old college papers somewhere in a box downstairs (not all of them, just the ones that I deemed "good" back in the day) and I suppose I could drag one out and revise it but I hardly feel I'm the same person I was the last time I wrote a college paper (and I daresay that although I haven't been doing academic writing my writing has gotten better over the past decade and a half (at least, that's my hope)). So really the only option I have is to write a paper to submit as my writing sample, which is fine because getting a master's degree will likely require a fair bit of writing.

And I'm fine with that.

Writing isn't usually a problem for me.

I'm one of those people with an internal monologue that's constantly running, so I always advise people (*cough* Benjamin *cough*) to just take the words that are in their brain—which obviously must be telling them stories all day long—and put them on the paper. But is it possible other people don't experience life this way? It seems possible (and the few friends of mine who have come out as non-internal-monologuers have mentioned that writing is a difficult task for them). But that's besides the point because I am the sort who has an internal monologue blaring in my brain all. day. long.

And I've always been more comfortable writing those words out than I have been saying them.

But this paper has been psyching me out!

I have done quite a bit of research. Probably not enough research, honestly, but with the deadline looming and without the guidance of any sort of research advisor, I'd say I did a fair to middling job at finding decent sources. I read, I highlighted, I took notes, I transcribed my notes.

And then I sat down to write and had a billion false starts and several stormy days where I doubted everything about myself (which was super fun) and wound up with my curser flashing on a blank page. I simply couldn't do it.

"Try writing it in Blogger," Andrew suggested.

"I've thought about it," I admitted. "But it almost seems silly. I can't go through grad school on Blogger..."