Saturday, February 29, 2020

Even more tripping

It must be leap year because we're just tripping left and right this month!

We were out walking one fine morning this week—likely the only fine morning on the radar (it's still been so wet and rainy)—and Benjamin and Zoë were racing around picking all the wildflowers they could see. They gathered a lot of purple—with henbit, johnny-jump-ups (wild pansies), and wild violets—some white chickweed blossoms, and a few bright yellow dandelions (a cold-weather weed for us).

Here's Zoë showing off her little bouquet mid-walk:


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Stories without context

I feel like our children have been particularly funny lately, but that I've been slow to blog about things because I've been busy stewing over my graduate school application. So I'm going to drop a few stories here, without a lot of context, for posterity's sake. If you follow me on Facebook, sorry for the repeats, this is practically verbatim from my posts there.

First, from this evening's scripture study (2 Nephi 16 (see also Isaiah)):

Rachel: What’s a seraphim?
Andrew: Seraphim is actually plural. “Im” in Hebrew is like “een” in Arabic. It’s a plural marker.
Rachel: Then what’s a seraph?
Andrew: It’s an angelic being.
Miriam: Then what’s a sans-serif?
Andrew: Completely different thing.

First steps, take 3

We had the missionaries over for dinner last night and before they left I asked if they would help Andrew give Alexander a blessing of healing. He hadn't taken a single step the whole day, but didn't seem to be in a grave amount of pain. And as wonderful advanced as our medical system is, I just didn't want to go through all the hassle of meeting with our primary care doctor to get a prescription to get an x-ray and then go back to discuss things with the doctor and so on and so on. 

Especially because I wasn't 100% sure it was broken. In fact, I was rather confident in the other direction. If I had thought it was broken we would have rushed in immediately (as we did with his arm...and his leg the last time...and what is with this fragile child?!). 

Obviously it was bothering him, but not severely. (I mean, severely enough that he refused to put weight on it but not so severely that he was in constant tears.) Mostly I just wanted some peace of mind. And so we gave him a blessing.

Andrew blessed him that his leg would heal quickly and without lasting consequence, that he would start walking again soon, that we'd know when to take him in if he needed medical attention, and that he'd continue to be the joy to our family that he is. 

I was thrilled this morning when I walked on him dancing in the kitchen with the kids! He was limping around in pathetic little circles, but he was happy and bi-pedal, if only for a moment! Then this afternoon at the playground I carried him around for a bit and then put him in the swing because he hadn't been doing much walking and reminded me frequently throughout the day that his leg still hurt, but he surprised me by asking to get down so that he could play! 

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Bam," he said, which means 'yes' for whatever reason.

"Okay," I said, hoisting him out of the swing. "I don't know what you think you're going to do. Scooch around on your bum, I guess. There's not much to do if you can't walk..."

But he surprised me again and hobbled around doing quite a bit of everything:


And I was finally able to exhale. 

Now when we ask him how his leg is he says, "Still hurts but I'm feeling better."

I'm hopeful he'll have an even better day tomorrow.





Some bits of nature

Today it was not rainy so we went to the park for a while in the afternoon to get out some wiggles that we've been bottling up for far too long and while we were walking we noticed the odd silhouette of these tree branches:


We stared up at them for several minutes, wondering if the tree was diseased somehow, making its bark peel. Or perhaps it had some sort of fungal infection. Or...

We found a small branch on the ground and examined it for a closer look, but still couldn't quite put our finger on what was going on. It seemed like the growth was part of the branch but also different from the branch (Miriam described it as "foamy," but I've since seen it described online as "corky"). I pulled out my phone and used an app to help identify it. The app quickly recognized it as "winged elm," a plant indigenous to the south. Its Creek name is Wahoo (which the kids loved learning).



I've since been wondering if there's a bit of poetry (or a story) in this tree, being stuck on the ground but wishing so hard to fly.

Another book and more tears

I read the last three chapters of Elijah of Buxton to the kids this morning. Usually we read one chapter (sometimes two) but this morning we couldn't help ourselves and we gobbled the whole thing up.

And I cried like a baby, which confused Benjamin again. He's at the age where he was frustrated with Elijah's inaction because he's not old enough to know that it's much harder to walk the walk than it is to talk the talk. In the end Elijah does act, but in a much smaller (but still very significant) way than he originally dreamed up.

If I'm not mistaken, Miriam was tearing up a little, herself, so at least I wasn't alone in my crying this time.

There was a speech in the middle of the book that the "growned folks" make to welcome newly freed slaves into the settlement, which made me cry, and even though I knew I'd be hearing it at the end of the book and had already read it aloud it made me cry again. But then we were laughing just a couple of lines later when Frederick Douglass gets his "revenge" on Elijah.

And that's pretty much how the book went. We were laughing and crying the whole way along.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Anne of Green Gables and five-year plans

I read the last three chapters of Anne of Green Gables to the kids tonight. Usually we read one chapter (sometimes two) but tonight we couldn't help ourselves and we gobbled up the whole thing.

Having to read aloud about Matthew's death was difficult. I've never had to do it before. I bought these books when we lived in Durham but never got around to reading them aloud to Rachel and Miriam (though they've since read the Anne books (or some of them) to themselves). Reading that part aloud was tough, though now that I'm reviewing it in my mind I can't pinpoint the exact parts that made me cry. It was just all so beautifully put.

When I read the line, "It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it," I knew I was doomed.

But "the tears don't hurt me like that ache did," though they did concern the children quite a bit. Zoë kept asking me if I was sad because Matthew died or if I was sad for some other reason (and could I please stop crying?). Benjamin tiptoed out of his room with his beloved "Lamb-y" and tucked him in beside me to help me feel better before running away and jumping back into his bed. It was very sweet.

A little more tripping

I have spent the past 2+ years protecting my baby from the world. And by "the world," what I mean is...his older siblings (specifically Zoë and Benjamin). They are just...not careful...with him.

I'm a lot less nervous about them hurting him now than I was when he was a tiny, helpless baby and they were doing things like tipping over the pack'n'play to roll him out so they could play with him and things like that. Now that he's bigger he's able to fend for himself a little better (and Benjamin and Zoë deserve everything he does to fight them off) and is better able to communicate his desires with cries of, "Go away! Leave me alone! Don't touch me! I want Mom!" instead of just suffering in sweet baby silence.

Still, they're just not gentle with him and he's still so much littler than everyone that I worry.

Yesterday the three little kids went outside together and I was fretting about what to do because I don't like the baby to go outside without a more responsible person with him and I had a couple of things inside that I needed to attend to. Instead I was watching out the window while the children played.

"He'll be fine," Andrew said, coming upon me at the window. "You're all about free-range parenting."

"Not with my two-year-old!" I said.

"Let him explore."

"They're not careful!"

"They're somewhat responsible."

"They're not remotely responsible. I mean, I guess they'd tell me if he got hurt but that's the problem:  he's going to get hurt."

"Kids get hurt all the time. He'll be fine."

"I'm going to get one of the girls to watch him for a minute..."

"Oh, but they're playing so nicely and he's just right in the backyard he'll be..."

Our conversation was interrupted by a piercing scream.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Tripping and tramping

Yesterday morning we went to a friend's house to practice the girls' song one last time before Sunday. We had planned to walk because they only live half a mile away from us, but the morning got away from us and we found we weren't quite ready to leave the house when we needed to so Andrew dropped us off on the way to take the boys grocery shopping.

Zoë was so excited to be included that she leaped out of the van. It was a rather impressive leap, too—she cleared the curb and everything! She crashed on the landing but picked herself up off the ground and started leading her way to the front door. We were cutting through the grass* to get to the front door and Zoë made it about two steps before she slipped—I wouldn't say it was an icy morning but it was frosty (and what is frost, if not ice)—and slid down the hill to the front door on her behind.

We had a pretty good practice and then said our goodbyes and headed out the door for our walk home.

"Hold my hand," Rachel ordered Zoë the minute we stepped out the front door. "You're going to trip and fall."

"No!" Zoë said. "I don't want to! I won't fall!"

"But the stairs are slippery," Rachel cautioned (and they are—not with ice but with moss (things have been so wet that it seems everything in our world is frosted green right now (I have a feeling power-washing season is coming up))). "Hold my hand."

"No!" Zoë repeated. "I won't fall."

"Suit yourself," sniffed Rachel. And then she herself tripped and landed sprawled out spread eagle on the lawn.

We had a good laugh about that!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

NOT in the way

Alexander came in from outside complaining that "everyone says I'm in the way, but I'm not in the way" and I was struck by a sudden desire to read And You Can Be the Cat to him, poor boy. He was rather upset about it and continued to whine about it in the cutest little fashion for several minutes.



He is not in buh way! He is not in wuh way! He can not say /th/.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Math and Reading

Benjamin claims to have slept in this box last night:


I honestly couldn't say for sure whether he did or not. It doesn't look very comfortable to me, but evidently it's comfortable enough that he spent a couple of hours reading there this afternoon, for which I'm extremely grateful. It's been terribly rainy this week (this year, really) and we've had a bit of cabin fever, so I was happy when he decided to settle down with a good book (or several; he prefers to read more than one book at a time, so you can see he's got a Percy Jackson sequel on the floor behind him but he's reading something different, and is also in the middle of a Who Was? book and has another book or two downstairs that he's reading).

All for naught

Remember how I said that I really didn't want Alexander wetting my bed and that was the whole reason we were keeping him in diapers at night still?


Well, last night when Andrew came home from work I hadn't quite managed to get all the kids ready for bed yet (we were too busy playing UNO), so he got Alexander ready for bed. He was sure to put a pull-up on him and then told me, "This time he is really, truly, honestly in a diaper."

So I tucked him into his own bed and then in the middle of the night when he came to find me I very trustingly pulled him into my bed and in the morning was very, very sad to find that Alexander had peed in the night for the first time in...weeks...probably. Mostly this was sad because that "diaper" Andrew had put Alexander in was a swim diaper

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A morning mystery

Last night was our church activity night, so I went to church with the three oldest (since I'm one of the activity leaders) and we ended up staying out later than we ordinarily do because the girls had to practice their song for Sunday and so forth.

By the time we got home, Andrew had Alexander and Zoë in bed. They weren't asleep, but they were in bed! I sang to them and rubbed their backs and read them a chapter from Anne of Green Gables. Then I sat in the hallway and read and crocheted until Alexander finally succumbed to sleep.

He sneaked into our room in the middle of the night and padded over to my sided of the bed and I just heaved him on in and let him nestle in between us, not giving anything a second thought. When we woke up in the morning I reached over to check if Alexander was dry and was shocked to find that he was not wearing a diaper or a pull-up (so was then extra relieved that he had, in fact, stayed dry)!

I texted Andrew: "You put the baby to bed wearing underwear?!?!?!"

To his credit, Alexander usually stays dry over night. He's not going to be a complicated nighttime wetter like some of our other children have been. But he still climbs into bed with us every night and I really don't want him having an accident in my bed, so we still put him in a diaper (we have a few sleeves left over from his diaper days) or pull up (we have some that Uncle Cory gave to us before we left that Riley didn't use). We've talked about going without, but aren't quite ready to take that leap. At least, that's what I had thought we decided.

"No...?" Andrew texted back.

"Yes," I said.

"No, I put him to bed in a pull-up."

"No."

"100% certain. A pull-up and his blue bear jammies."

"100% not in a pull-up and blue bear jammies. 100% in underwear and green moose jammies."

"????? No."

"!!!!! Yes."

By this time I had started laughing because this was all so weird!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Cavity-free club

In happier news, the kids had their first cavity-free check up ever. We have always had to go back to the dentist for one child or another. But we bit the bullet and bought electric toothbrushes for all of our children (except Alexander, but perhaps he'll get one for his birthday since they're technically only for humans ages 3+) and I think that (as expensive as it was) it was worth it. Our children are much better at brushing with an electric toothbrush than with...manual...toothbrushes (and electric toothbrushes are much more effective overall, even more cost-effective when you factor in the cost of fillings (even with decent dental insurance)). We're happy it paid off. 

All the kids went back by themselves, except for Alexander. I went back with him and he remembered what we'd practiced and talked about at home: we were going to open wide for the dentist and cooperate fully. The minute he got in that chair (in my lap, technically, but I was in the chair) his mouth popped open. And he would not close it for anything!

We waited in the chair for several minutes—no dental workers in sight—and he kept his mouth wide open, drool cascading over his lip and onto the bib they had so fortuitously put on him before leaving us there (otherwise his shirt would have been soaked. I told him he could close it but he just said, "Uh-uh!" and kept it wide open.


Murmurings

Yesterday the stake president came to our ward to announce that our ward is being ousted from the stake. We're not sure what's happening entirely—we'll be meeting with another stake(s?) in the next couple of weeks to hear all the juicy details—but we know that we'll no longer be part of our stake and thus that our building will no longer be in our stake so more likely than not we'll no longer be meeting at that building.

It's all speculation for now, but it's certainly not cheery speculation.

No one seems entirely thrilled by the idea of driving half an hour to get to church (even less thrilling is the thought of having to battle through rush hour traffic to get to the church on a weekday evening for church activities), but I am particularly un-thrilled.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: I hate driving. (*gasp*)

When we were considering moving to Atlanta (which, I mean, there wasn't a whole lot to consider) the traffic kept haunting me. So we purposely looked in a less densely populated area, an area decently close to the metro, an area with what we thought would have good schools, an area where I thought I could learn to drive all the places I needed to go even if it was all terribly intimidating.

Location, location, location!

Isn't that a line realtors use?

I thought we'd picked a good place but now I feel like everything I thought I might like about it has been taken away. So why are we even here? I mean, obviously we have to live somewhere and this place is better than no place, but I'm rather disenchanted by it.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Weaning

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

Rewriting

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..."