Thursday, August 05, 2021

All about Alexander

Alexander has been pining after my attention the past little while. It's true that I've been a little busier than usual, especially this past week, but it's not like I never do anything with him! I've often found that if I take a break from what I'm doing and spend a little time playing with him, that he'll be satisfied and leave me alone for a little while (which makes for a much better chunk of working time than if he's sitting beside me whining the whole time I'm trying to work). This past week he's been insatiable though!

Yesterday before dinner he was hounding me about playing with him and I kept telling him that I was almost finished with the section I was working on and that he had to be patient...and then Andrew announced it was time for dinner. 

So we were going around the table asking everyone what their favourite part of the day was and Alexander said, "Almost getting to play with Mommy."

It about broke my heart.

Tonight at dinner when I said that my favourite part of the day was, first of all, that when I asked Alexander to do his job, he rushed to the dishwasher and said, "I'll get all the plates first!" and quickly gathered them up, put them away, and ran back to do more! He's been such a sulky, fussy boy this week that I think he's cried about putting dishes away every other day, so it was nice to have him do his job nicely. 

Side story: the other day Rachel casually reminded him that dishes were his job and he, feeling lonely and neglected (while in a house, constantly surrounded by siblings) picked up an old phone and recorded his feelings about his life. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

✓ Finish Summer Semester

I just turned in my final project for my first (and potentially ever) "summer short session," which is essentially a full semester condensed into 19 days (25 days, including weekends). I've been a little stressed out about the next couple of semesters, what with taking a full load of classes and doing an assistantship and homeschooling all the kids and having a new baby.

But completing this class—in the midst of everything else that has happened over the past three weeks*—has given me confidence that I can complete three classes spread over 111 days (including weekends), no problem. Technically I have to take four classes, but the fourth is more of a "filler" class, which I had thought meant it was an independent study class, but my advisor explained it's more of an "use these hours if your assistantship ends up taking more time than you're being paid for" class. So that's kind of a huge relief. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

No debate

I'm just popping by real quick (because...did I mention I'm taking a summer course that smashes an entire semester into a mere 19 days of work? All I have left to do now is my final project's going to be an intense couple of days getting that done) to say that today we finished up eight weeks of our school year. 

Of course, we don't always do schoolwork on Fridays, so I've only counted 35 instructional days, but still. We're pretty happy to be this far "ahead" before the public schools have even started (they go back next week). 

One of my primary concerns about homeschooling is that I'm not doing enough (but that also might simply be a personality flaw of mine ('s fine)) but today Zoë finished with the first half of her math curriculum for this year, so I think we're probably doing enough in that department. She's done really well, too, except today she announced that she doesn't really need to learn any more math because she's going to be a ballet teacher when she grows up and the only math you need to learn to do that job is just keep time with the music...and she already knows all about that so she's all set!

Everyone in the family quickly intervened, telling her that she'd need to learn more math to know how much tuition to charge, how much to pay her co-teachers, how to pay her studio rental and utility fees, how to design a safe stage set, how to...etc.

So she's convinced she can start on the second half of her curriculum (though I might let her spend more time playing Prodigy) and I'm convinced that we probably are moving through our curriculum at a decent (if not accelerated) clip.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Happy Pioneer Day!

Our ward is back to meeting 100% in person, with masks optional, and no real option for zooming into meetings. Fortunately, I've been so firm about refusing to attend in-person activities with my little people (who are not vaccinated because...they can't be yet!) that the bishop gave us special permission to surreptitiously stream sacrament meeting for the time being. Honestly, I'm a little annoyed that the reason given for this change (at the stake level) is that "everyone who wants to be vaccinated should have had time to be vaccinated by now" because that simply isn't true in the case of children. But I'm not sure everyone is aware of this. 

As a nation, we really have been neglecting children in this whole equation.

For example, my "ministering sister" stopped Andrew in the hallway to ask about my whereabouts. He said that I'm staying home with the kids.

"Are they sick?" she asked. 

"No," he said. "They're not vaccinated."

"Oh!" she said with shock (because we're the well-known liberals in the ward). "I didn't think your family would be against vaccinations!"

"We're not..." he said. "But there is no vaccination for children under age 12."

"Really?" she gasped. "I had no idea! I thought everybody could be vaccinated!"

Her kids are all young adults. The youngest just graduated from high school. The oldest just graduated from college. None of them are married (there are no grandbabies) and all of them are vaccinated. She had no reason to be fully aware of the vaccination details for younger kids.

So, here we are...still at home (and simply dreading orchestra (even though, again, the little kids and I will be outside the whole time...just waiting for big sisters to be done)) having church all on our own.

Andrew (and sometimes Rachel) have been baking bread for sacrament every week, which has been lovely. Andrew now does a small sacrament service just for us before he and Rachel leave for church. And then later Rachel does a video call with us so we can listen to the speakers (and hear Andrew play the organ). Then we're on our own for classes since those aren't being streamed anymore.

This week was particularly fun because it was Pioneer Day on July 24! 

Here's Benjamin with his pretend beard:

Orchestra audition

Even as the Delta variant is taking over the southern United States and as we're stubbornly refusing to socialize in groups (especially indoors), we're preparing to send the girls to orchestra next month. I'm really hoping that things will clear up by then...

But we already took a year off of orchestra and I just am not musically talented enough to give the girls the instruction that they need. Rachel is fully vaccinated and Miriam will soon be able to be vaccinated as well. The rest of us have to stay outside, anyway, and the orchestra meets in small groups, so hopefully it will be alright.

Anyway, the girls had to send in an audition video (not to get in to the orchestra, but so that their teacher/conductor can put them into an appropriate level) and we finally got around to making those videos yesterday. 

Rachel recorded hers by herself while I helped Miriam put together a few songs. We've been working on a duet that she really wanted to record (though I daresay it's not her very best playing, but she recently sized up her cello and got glasses so she was working with a lot of things she wasn't quite used to), so we did that one and then Miriam recorded a couple of songs from her methods book.

Here we are playing Vivaldi's Spring:

While I was helping Miriam with her videos, Rachel sent me a couple of videos and said that she'd redo them if she had to (for example, she knew she messed up the second video) but that she didn't really want to (and was willing to just live with the mistakes). I suggested that she simply re-record the second video to see if she does any better but she just about died at that suggestion, so I let it go. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lifeguards, frogs, finding goodness, diabetes, and garbage humans

I took the kids to the pool for nearly four hours today! We went "early" and had a picnic lunch because Alexander doesn't like it when the lifeguard is at the pool because the lifeguard calls for "adult swim" the last fifteen minutes of every hour and he doesn't like to be forced out of the pool. But really the lifeguards are all really nice. We especially like Teaghan, who just happened to be working today.

It was hot out and instead of just chilling on her break like she usually does, Teaghan decided to delight the children (my four (Rachel didn't come) and three from another family (the only other family) there) by lining them up on the side of the pool and doing spectacularly splashy cannonballs and can-openers off the diving board, soaking all the kids over and over again. They thought it was the best thing ever!

I hope if they remember anything from this summer years from now, it's Teaghan the Lifeguard splashing them all during adult swim. (It would be cool if they remember other things, too, but I think this is a memory that needs to be locked away in their brains). 

And then when adult swim was over and Teaghan was climbing back onto her lifeguard chair, a bunch of little kids climbed up on the diving blocks, ready for her to whistle and call for "kid swim," so she teased them by raising the whistle to her lips and lowering it several times. Benjamin had a little "false start" and fell into the pool before she blew her whistle (and climbed back out as quickly as he could, because he's no rule-breaker!). When she finally blew her whistle the kids all screamed for joy and leaped into the pool together and it was utterly adorable.

So, again, I really hope they've all committed Teaghan the Lifeguard to memory. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Baby #6 is a...

I had my 20 week (and 6 day) appointment today, which included an ultrasound and a glucose test. I managed to keep the glucola drink down, so that was a bonus, but my blood draw went a little horribly. There's this one nurse that I'm never sure about...and I got her today. And when she looked at my veins and said, "This will be a tough one," I thought to myself, "Maybe we should wait for someone else..." because I've often been told my veins are like plump little juice boxes. 

Let's just say she did not do a great job and forty minutes later I was still bleeding. She ended up slicing my vein a little bit? It's fine now; it just hurts and is bruising. 

The ultrasound took quite a long time because baby was in a tricky position. The ultrasound technician found everything she needed measurements for except for the head. Baby is already solidly "presenting vertex" and no amount of prodding was going to make it budge (although it was certainly flip-flopping all over the place). I had to get up to empty my bladder in the middle of the ultrasound so we could keep trying to measure baby's brain (because that darn bladder was in the way). 

But we finally got a clear shot. Everything's looking great.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Rachel is 14!!

Today was mostly a regular school day for us, which is really fine because Rachel's pretty used to having school on her birthday (from her year-round years at Easley), but we had some fun today as well. We've been watching a lot of interviews with authors lately. Today we watched a talk Minh Lê gave at BYU's Book for Young Reader's Conference and we also got to tune in to a Zoom lecture he gave with Dan Santat (who has illustrated a few of his books) at some public library in Milwaukee. 

I...just have to write a paper about one of Minh Lê's books this week...

But, I mean, the kids learned plenty from these book talks as well, so we're totally counting it as their ELA time for today. And when we do this sort of thing it makes for a good break from our ordinary routine. 

Our bathroom downstairs has a plain drywall ceiling up now, which is rather exciting. It still needs to be taped and painted, but we're just happy for the drywall! The upstairs bathroom is coming along nicely as well. The new door has been framed (we're putting in a pocket door since the door is in a bad location (right at the top of the stairs) and made the doorway itself a bit bigger because the old doorway was too narrow to be considered "to code") and the subfloor and shower pan are in and the walls are coming along. We might just survive this process!

Friday, July 16, 2021

My birthday balloons (and a pretty lousy week)

With Rachel's birthday right around the corner, I thought it was probably time to take my birthday balloons down so we can get ready to put hers up. Miriam was the one who spear-headed the birthday balloon tradition for me (which I appreciate because soliciting kind remarks for someone else makes me a whole lot more comfortable than soliciting kind remarks for myself). She sat Zoë and Alexander down one afternoon when the kids were all finished with their homework and helped them cut out and write on some balloons. 

Alexander's balloons, of course are all full of scribbles, but one of his scribbles turned into a beautiful butterfly, so that was nice. Miriam also took some dictation from him: "I am so happy you play with me. I love you, Mommy!"

Zoë's balloons say, "Happy birthday! I love Mom because she is having a baby. And she's nice!"

She also wrote me an acrostic:

Natuory [nature-y]
Ya, she's the best!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

20 weeks

We've officially reached the half-way point—I'm twenty weeks today! Our anatomy scan is scheduled for next week and everyone's very anxious to learn the gender of this next baby. 

Benjamin is firmly on team boy because he would like our family to be equal

Zoë is firmly on team girl because she feels sandwiched between boys and because she's so much younger than her older sisters they never spend a lot of time playing with her, which leaves her with only boys to play with, which is sometimes unfair because the boys don't always want to play the games she wants to play or tell her that she can't play with them.

"Oh, if this baby is a boy, I will play with him all the time," Benjamin said to her. 

"THAT'S MY POINT!" Zoë wailed.

I didn't point out to Zoë that there will be a bigger age gap between this baby and herself than there is between Miriam and herself. I think she'll have fun playing "little mommy" no matter the outcome, but she very much wants a girl. And Benjamin very much wants a boy. 

And there's really only one way to solve this argument and get everyone excited and on the same page by the time the baby we'll be revealing the gender next week (assuming baby cooperates).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

In which the bathroom strongly disagrees with my opinion on adventure...

We are redoing the hallway bathroom upstairs, a rather urgent project considering the subfloor was rotten and we were at risk of falling through it at any moment. Why was the subfloor rotting? Well, because the previous owners redid the bathroom (likely a DIY(ikes) project) and when they built the shower they installed the shower pan incorrectly. Even though the shower curb is rather shallow (another error on their part), they didn't put the shower pan over the curb. They put it under the curb. So the shower had been just...leaking under the shower curb for years (at least two because that's how long we've lived here, but probably longer because they redid the bathroom before we bought the house, obviously).

I get it now...

Years ago—and I can't remember quite when or in what context (though I must have answered a simple question like, "What's new?" with "Nothing much. Things are pretty boring around here,")—Reid told me that boring is good

Excitement is bad. 

Boring is what you want. 

I'm not sure I immediately understood because sometimes when you're in your twenties you crave adventure (which, I mean, I think when he said this to me I was living in Egypt, which was like an everyday adventure as I tried to navigate the culture and the language), but today I'm feeling it. 

Adventure is fine. A bit of excitement every now and again can be thrilling. 

But sometimes it's a flash flood entering your basement. 

Or a child breaking their arm. 

Or any number of draining (emotionally, monetarily, or otherwise) things.

And those things aren't fun. 

A lot of excitement isn't fun.

Today I'm grateful for boredom. I'm grateful my life isn't an action/adventure film or a soap opera. I'm happy to just sit at home and read books and play games with my family and just be boring together.

Boring is good. 

I like boring.

It's calming and stable and fine. 

Adventure is out there—I love a good adventure!—but I can also make my peace with boredom.

Here's wishing you all a good dose of humdrum, everyday life.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The snake shed

Zoë and Benjamin were both mighty confused to wake up in their beds this morning. Apparently they had no recollection of Andrew rousing them to make them march inside the house carrying their pillows. When the kids were confusedly and excitedly telling me about how they "woke up in [their] beds!" Alexander excitedly proclaimed, "SO DID I!" (which honestly shouldn't have been very surprising for him considering that's where he went to sleep initially).

I went out and collected the snake shed this morning (after cleaning out the gutter because we had a huge rainstorm yesterday afternoon and the gutter got a bit clogged with debris). It was definitely still very fresh, so I don't know when that snake managed to wriggle free from its (old) epidermis without anyone noticing. Andrew's been out working on the back deck the past couple of days.

Side story: We only bought a few boards because lumber is super expensive right now (and we have a few other home improvement projects going on besides the deck). But also I was adamant that we couldn't really put off replacing the worst of our boards. Andrew thought I was being overly anxious about the deck...until he went around testing boards to see which lucky few get to be replaced and...plunged through the deck up to his knee! (Looks like he found a board that desperately needed replacing!) He's a little scratched up but otherwise fine. 

Anyway, I carefully peeled the shed away from the drain pipe and brick wall of our house and then the kids and I examined it. Well, the little kids and I examined it (the older girls were off weeding, playing volleyball, and eating pizza and ice cream).

The snake shed (43 inches) is a little taller than Alexander (~38 inches (he wouldn't stand still so I measured him as he was playing)). By nature the snake shed is also a little taller than the snake that shed it (since the skin stretches as the snake wriggles free and because the shed includes skin from both sides of each scale). According to a few sources I've read, a snake shed is usually 20 to 30% larger than the actual snake, so 33–36 inches is its approximate total length (assuming I did my math correctly, which assumption). That's still about as tall as Alexander! 

Castles and Knights (and snakes)

Andrew remembers first playing Carcassonne at my cousin Heather's house in Alberta (I think technically we had gone to visit Daelene's house). I vaguely remember this (I remember more heading out to visit the lake they had in their subdivision). 

I remember first playing Settlers of Catan at the Masons' apartment in Cairo. Being the helpful person that I am, I shuffled the deck (word of advice: don't do that). We both learned to really enjoy Settlers (something Andrew may have already known about himself). 

We have had Settlers for quite some time now and while I still enjoy playing it, I've found that my tolerance for "long games" has been steadily decreasing with each child I have. game...but literally you want me to sit here for 1 to 2 hours, thinking about this game while simultaneously keeping the small ones happy? No, thanks. 

My patience for such games runs especially thin at the end of the game when it's already clear who the winner is and everyone is just trying to keep them from sealing the deal (thereby prolonging the game (just let it end, people (especially if I've assured the little kids that "we're almost finished" a dozen times already))).

So Andrew got Carcassonne, as a treat. 

It's like Settlers, but much less complicated, and it only takes half an hour or so to play out. We've been having a lot of fun with it!

Zoë and Alexander happily draw together while the rest of us play a quick game and everyone stays happy the whole time (until someone loses and then sometimes there are tears). Tonight Zoë and Alexander drew castles because Carcassonne is, to quote Zoë, "definitely based on Medieval times." 

Here's the castle she painstakingly drew (Miriam taught her a new way to draw flowers, which was thrilling):

Friday, July 09, 2021

Ups and Downs from Today

This morning I watched a cool video about how turmeric can be used as a pH indicator. I've considered trying to use red cabbage to do pH testing, but it seems like a more involved project than I'm ever quite ready to do (at least lately). You have to boil the cabbage and strain the cabbage and have the cabbage (we don't usually have cabbage). But we do have turmeric! And this looked fairly easy!

So we got our supplies and went to work. We mixed up some turmeric, which I just learned today has two r's in it! I have always said it TOO-mer-ic (or even TYU-mer-ic) and had just...never paid much attention to the label, I guess. 

Swimming in the rain

The kids and I went swimming this afternoon, while Andrew stayed home and repaired a section of the back deck that was stressing me out; lucky for us, he doesn't particularly love going to the pool and, quoting a few productivity gurus, gushed about enjoying working with his hands since he spends so much time working with his mind, so that made me feel less like he was getting the short end of the stick. 

Swimming was interesting because it was pouring rain and it's always nice to switch things up a bit, I guess. I wanted to take a nice picture of the kids enjoying themselves but...they wouldn't stop enjoying themselves long enough for me to get a decent picture. So we'll have to do that later.

Alexander has made great progress with his swimming. He can do a lovely glide and he tries to do his "big arms" for the front crawl. He loves diving down to touch the bottom of the pool. And this all works really well for him when he's in the shallow area because he can just stand up and breathe when he needs to. 

When we head out into deeper waters, however, it becomes a real problem. He can swim on his front, he can float on his front, but he just can't...breathe (which is...kind of important). He can flip from his front onto his back but has trouble getting his face above water, so we're working on that. He can hold a back float once I help him get into position. He just can't quite get into position by himself. But I have a feeling that by the end of the summer he'll be able to!

We enjoyed the pool in the rain for about an hour before it started thundering, and then we called it quits and went home, which was fine because we still had some schoolwork to finish up.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Tile shopping adventures

We didn't take any time off school for the 4th of July since we're banking our days for other things, so we got up this morning like usual and I started the school day with the kids, reading them a section from our read-aloud book and getting them started on some grammar exercises before heading to the kitchen to do the dishes. While I was doing the dishes, Andrew got a call from our contractor.

We're redoing our bathroom—out of necessity more than desire. The, uh, floor is caving's...fine...I'm sure...except that it's 100% not we have to redo the subfloor, which means redoing the shower, which means that we may as well do the whole bathroom because that bathroom has the weirdest floor plan in the world, so we're going to move the toilet over here and put the sink over there and take down that wall and change the door...and....

That all sounded fine until our contractor started talking about picking out cabinets (the current cabinet is super tall so none of the kids can reach it without a stool and it's falling apart and I hate it) and tile and paint and faucets and...

I am not a decisive person.

Anyway, we've been putting off making many of these decisions (because our contractor has been communicating through Andrew's email, and although Andrew teases me mercilessly for how many unread messages I have in my inbox, this is an email I would have been stressing about because I don't "shelve" my problems well (Andrew sometimes shelves problems a little too well)).

Because I was up to my elbows in homeschooling, Andrew said that he'd just run down to the flooring place by himself and that he'd text me about options and I could have my say that way. But I was planning on taking the kids to the pool because hurricane Elsa is on her way and is going to take away a few potential swimming days this week. If I was at the pool, I wouldn't necessarily be the best at texting Andrew back. 

"Why don't I just come with you really quick?" I suggested. "I can set the kids up with some assignments and we'll just run in and out and be done with it. With the promise of the pool hanging over their heads, I think they'll buckle down and do what they need to do."

So that's what we did.

Independence Day and our 2-year Georgia-versary

Well, we've done it! We've lived in Georgia for two full years, a time period which feels at once longer and shorter than it sounds. We still feel very new here—because we haven't done much exploring and hardly know our ward at all (thanks to splitting wards, and then switching stakes, and then suspending church services for COVID)—but we also feel like we've been stuck in this house for a long time. 

We moved in on July 3—two years ago now—so it's been nice to mark the day on July 4 the past couple of years. We didn't do very much to mark the day (everything feels a little unexciting lately), but at church the kids had a patriotic primary lesson and Zoë came over to me (because we're still Zooming in over here, much to everyone else's very obvious annoyance (I think we'll be cut off in the next couple of weeks and then...I don't know...we'll go to sacrament meeting and then go home? Like, am I that crazy to want my kids to be vaccinated before we jump into things with both feet again? Evidently...yes)...anyway, when the music leader asked what sorts of fun things the kids were doing for the holiday, Zoë came over to me and said, "Mom, today's a holiday?"

"Yes," I said. 

"What are we doing?" she asked.

"Not much," I said. 

It's only fair. We didn't do much for Canada Day, either.

"We can put up some decorations!" she suggested.

"Oh, yeah...I don't decorate for this holiday," I said.

I don't decorate for many holidays.

I wonder why holidays so often feel unexciting over here... 

Couldn't be me.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Eye appointments

Again, I should be doing other writing, but I just wanted to talk about the trip Miriam and I took to the optometrist this morning. Technically Andrew chauffeured us (it was raining/outside of my "bubble") because he's nice like that, but because of COVID protocols still in place (thank goodness), he just sat in the car while Miriam and I had our eyes checked.

I'm still pretty blind, which isn't really a surprise. But my prescription hasn't changed, which is good. I think it's been the same my entire adult life so far. Still, I needed new frames because Rachel broke my "favourite" glasses back in February 2020 so I've been skating through life in my back-up pair (which is fine, but it's always good to have a back-up pair for your back-up pair (or maybe a new "favourite" pair since I don't love my back-up pair)). 

My left eye—or “oculus sinister”—has been twitching for weeks now, if not months. It's been driving me crazy (and has certainly felt a little sinister), so I brought that up with the optometrist and he said that my eyes look perfect (or at least as imperfectly perfect as they can, given the fact that I can only read the top letter of those vision charts (Hello, E)). He asked me about tea, coffee, and other sources of caffeine, but I could very honestly tell him that I don't have any caffeine in my diet at all. 

"Stress?" he asked.

"Oh, some," I laughed. 

"I see in your medical notes that you're pregnant. First off, congratulations! What number is this for you? Second? Third?"

He knew it wasn't my first because, well, I had Miriam with me, but I think I kind of blew his mind when I told him, "Sixth."

"Okay," he said, giving a little whistle. "Listen, if I were expecting my sixth kid I think both my eyes would be twitching nonstop! It's annoying but it should go away."

Canada Day and Benjamin Day

We're reading Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth together right now, so we've been talking about residential schools and related traumas since the beginning of June in conjunction with Gansworth's book. It's been so interesting for me to be watching this horror be uncovered from the States, which is currently up in arms against teaching critical race theory, because my Canadian friends—both conservatives and liberals—mostly seem to be (1) aghast that this atrocity was covered up for so long and that they (we) were never taught about it in schools and (2) eager to make change happen. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Full-contact Rock Paper Scissors

Zoë and Benjamin were playing outside today (socially distanced, of course) with some neighbour kids (Alexander wasn't because he's still a little feverish; he felt being kept inside was terribly unfair and tried to explain to me that fevers are inside your body and that fevers "don't shed," so he wouldn't get anyone else sick, so I explained back to him that fevers are merely a symptom of a disease and while the symptom may not spread directly, the disease might) when Zoë ran back inside screaming and crying and bleeding everywhere. 

It was a four-bandaid emergency!

"What happened?!" I asked her.

I was very shocked when she replied, "Well, I was playing Rock Paper Scissors..."

"Rock Paper Scissors?!" I exclaimed, taking in all her multiple injuries. 

Was it full-contact Rock Paper Scissors?!

She put both her hands up to reassure me. "No one pushed me," she said. "I just was standing on the grass by the driveway at Zoey's house and I lost my balance and tried to put my foot down but when I did I put it right on the edge of the driveway and then my foot slipped off and I fell down!"

We got her all patched up—two bandaids on her elbow, one on her wrist, and one on her knee—and she felt much better, but I still juts can't stop laughing about how bloody that Rock Paper Scissors battle was! I've never seen anything like it in my life!

"Were you using actual scissors and rocks?" Andrew joked at dinner. 

"Dad!" she said, getting frustrated with our teasings. "I told you! I just fell down!"

Monday, June 28, 2021


I volunteered to do a writing project this summer while I was between terms and it's been a little...agonizing. I don't think I will ever love the paper ( paper) but I think we've almost pulled it together, so that's something. I really should be working on it now because we have two weeks left to finish it, but I'm going to take a little bit of time to do some writing that's...not that

As a treat.

Somehow we ended up with bread and apples coming out our ears. Andrew does all the grocery shopping at our house, which is wonderful, but sometimes he has a lot going on and gets a little distracted and just...buys things. And then he gets home and I'm like, "Dude! We have a case of apples right here! What are we going to do with that case of apples?!"

Like, I know we have a lot of mouths to feed but there's only so many doctors we need to keep away!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Happy birthday to me

My birthday was on Tuesday and it felt like a somewhat important milestone for me because I thought that turning 36 was what would define me as being of "advanced maternal age," but as it turns out, any pregnancy at age 35 or later is considered a "geriatric pregnancy" so apparently I've been plain old this whole time. 

It's kind of strange because I feel no different than I did at 21 when my first OB/GYN called me a "spring chicken." I went from spring chicken to geriatric in 14 short years! Those 14 years flew by.

Rachel, my spring chicken baby, made a birthday cake for me. She carefully researched the most diabetic-friendly cake she could find—a carrot cake (vegetables!) with applesauce (that's healthy, right?) and cream cheese frosting (cheese is protein!). It was a very delicious cake (I had a slice because I technically haven't been diagnosed with gestational diabetes yet, though I'm sure that's coming). 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Before heading home on Friday morning, we stopped by the Tybee Island lighthouse, one of five lighthouses in Georgia. It has quite a history of being built, being knocked down by a storm, being built back up again, being burned down so the Union couldn't take it, being built back up again, being knocked down by a storm, being...

But it's been standing for a long time now!

At 144 feet, it felt a little short to us compared to the North Carolina lighthouses we visited (Cape Hatteras is 210 feet tall, for example), but I guess it's not really that short because there are many, many lighthouses shorter than it. 

We didn't pay to go inside (the line was long, the price was pricey) but we did take a few quick pictures!

Hilton Head, SC

Usually we make a goal to do a certain number of home-state and out-of-state adventures as a family. We quickly abandoned those goals the first quarter of 2020 and...didn't really set any for 2021. So we decided that while we were on this vacation, hitting multiple of home-state adventures (Ocmulgee, Tybee South, downtown Savannah, Tybee North, UGA aquarium, etc.) we may as well hit an out-of-state adventure, too! After all, we were so close to South Carolina!

Georgia's coastline is only  about 100 miles, which sounds small (considering Alaska has about 6640 miles of coastline, North Carolina has about 300), but it's also the 16th longest coastline of any given state and states that I automatically consider "coastal states," like Rhode Island and Delaware, technically have less coastline (at 40 and 28 miles, respectively), though I suppose they have more coastline when you consider their overall size. I had honestly never considered Georgia a coastal state before moving here; I still have trouble considering Alabama a coastal state, but my mom's cousin in Alabama has been posting a ton of articles about Alabama's coastline lately so I guess they are (and looking at a map, this is true—they have about 50 miles of coastline). But when I'm thinking of coastal states I'm never like, "Oh, Alabama. Best beaches!" Nope. Alabama doesn't even cross my mind.

The west coast is easy. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska. There are no states sticking a sneaky finger into the coastline pie like there are in the east. I'm looking at you, Alabama. And New Hampshire, with your 13 miles. What even is that? Anyway...

To get to South Carolina, all we had to do was cross this bridge over the Savannah River (you might recognize it from our river walk downtown):

UGA aquarium/Skidaway Island

Despite feeling sunburnt and beat-up from our long beach excursion on Wednesday, everyone still wanted to go to the beach on Thursday. I thought it best that we take a little bit of a break from the sea and sun (and avoid being at the beach during the hottest part of the day), so we spent the morning at the UGA aquarium. 

Historic Downtown Savannah

We only "ate out" twice the entire time we were gone (it's amazing how many times you can fill tummies with PB&J, honestly (or dishonestly sometimes, too...because we forgot to buy jam and only realized it when we were getting ready to head to the beach on Tuesday morning so we sent Zoë and Miriam back down to the breakfast bar to grab a few little tubs of jam...which...I mean...we bought a little jar of jam for Thursday...). Wednesday evening was one of those two times because there was a Cook Out right across the street from our hotel!

We like Cook Out, but there isn't really one close to our house. 

Anyway, this Cook Out meal was a little disappointing because (a) their milkshake machine was broken, which meant no milkshakes (I'm trying to be a good pregnant lady and not eat a lot of sweets because I just know I'm going to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes any day now so this was probably good for me, but was disappointing for everyone else) and (b) they forgot to put any sauce in our order and Andrew forgot to ask. So we just ate...plain hush puppies and plain chicken strips. 

"We will find dessert!" Andrew promised the kids.

There's this famous ice cream place in historic downtown Savannah called Leopold's. Andrew decided we'd go there. Why not?

So we drove downtown, parked, and started walking toward Broughton Street. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Tybee Island, GA

We spent all day Wednesday at North Beach on Tybee Island. It was a lot less windy than it had been on Tuesday evening (which we spent at a more southerly beach on Tybee) and we heard on the news over breakfast that it was because of the big storm that rolled in that evening. I was glad the wind really was atrocious on Tuesday had been a while since we'd made it to the beach...and I couldn't remember if it was always that miserable and I had just been remembering things wrong or what. The sand was stinging our legs as it hit and it was really quite uncomfortable. 

But on Wednesday all we had was a lovely sea breeze and the day was perfectly beautiful.

I took a million pictures because (a) we haven't been to the beach in forever and (b) I'm a lot less adventurous when I go to the beach pregnant than when I go to the beach when I'm not so while everyone else was enjoying boogie boarding out in the waves I took a gentler approach...

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park

As I mentioned, we stopped by the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park on our way to the beach. We visited the Etowah mounds in October 2019 (and that very well may have been the very last "adventure" we took before the whole COVID thing happened), so we were a little more prepared for what we'd see this time around. This particular site features an earth floor dating to 1015 AD (the lodge built over it is a reconstruction, but it was fun to go inside and look at the floor (admittedly, that's still rather recent history (I've seen mosaics older than this floor, for example), but it's still pretty cool and...among the oldest we've got)). 

Here's Benjamin at the entrance to the lodge, anxiously waiting to go inside (he's usually at the front of our group, no matter where we're going):

Hello, old friend!

Our first stop of the day was actually at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Park, which I will write more about later, I'm sure. For now I will say that they interesting...and hot...and Benjamin's life was made when he got to ask a park ranger how they got their job...and we were all really hot.

I suppose we shouldn't really complain because Salt Lake City hit a record-breaking 106°F today! We were only in the 90s (with something like 97% humidity). So it was hot for us...but not as hot as some places.

What the kids really wanted to do was get to the beach already (but we had to stop for a lunch break somewhere so a picnic at Ocmulgee Mounds it was (safer than attempting a restaurant; not that many dining rooms are open yet)). The whole time we were there the little kids were trying to see the ocean from the tops of the mounds or asking if we were "there" yet, which we weren't, but after a short 2.5 hour drive we finally made it to our "beach hotel."

Alexander seems to be purposely throwing in as many /s/, /sh/, /j/, and /ch/ sounds as he can now that he can actually say those sounds. So our hotel isn't just a hotel. It's a "beach hotel." He's not even disappointed that we're thirty minutes away from the beach. He's just so excited to be here. 

He also carefully pointed out each and every "gas station" along the way. Once we passed one and he said, "There's another gas 'tation..." and when he realized he forgot the initial /s/ in 'station,' he just...stuck it on the end. So he ended up sayin, "There's another gas tay-shun...ssss!" He's getting lots of good practice in and we still find it so ridiculously cute whenever he says anything with any of his new sounds.

Anyway, after checking into our "beach hotel" (half an hour away from the beach), we headed to the beach to play until the sun set (completely neglecting to have any dinner). As we were walking across the boardwalk to get to the beach, Alexander saw the ocean and exclaimed, "That's a big river!"

He was very impressed by the ocean (and practiced saying that word a billion times while he was building sand castles).

Here he is being very impressed:

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A frolic of fireflies

If my children ever question whether I ever loved them, please remind them that in the summer I routinely let them stay up past their bedtime so I can take them on "firefly walks" in 95% humidity.

It was absolutely sweltering this evening, but after our walk they insisted on staying outside to catch lightning bugs. I didn't take any pictures, so enjoy these pictures from June 8. I think we easily caught twice as many—even three times as many—fireflies as we caught that particular day because the firefly population seems to have exploded since then. The kids were catching fireflies left and right, coming up to me and saying, "Okay—I've got three!" Even Alexander caught several (and he's...not very catching fireflies (though I really think it has more to do with his height than his skill; they so quickly fly out of his reach)). 

Benjamin did not wear his flannel onesie this evening (he would have melted), but he was wearing it on June 8:


To celebrate finishing our first week of school, the kids decided we should have a movie night, complete with pizza delivery. So because we're big spenders, we ordered from Little Caesars. We got a cheese pizza, of course, and pepperoni (standard stuff over here), as well as Italian cheese bread (often known as ICB). 

Now, Andrew's family has a long-standing joke about ICB because whenever they would order Little Caesars and Karen/Grandma would go to pick up the order, there would be a slice of ICB missing from the box. She would always act surprised and say something like, "What?! There's a piece of cheese bread missing!" and then she'd follow up by lightheartedly blaming it on the workers, always munching on her pizza order, they were!

Of course, we all knew that she had helped herself to a piece of ICB on the way home, but it always gave everyone a good laugh. The tradition has continued and often when Andrew picks up Little Caesars he'll come home and "discover" that a pice of ICB is missing.

But today we got it delivered (we were "boxed in" at our house due to some tree removal equipment parked in front of our driveway) and our delivery person simply pulled up, retrieved the pizza from their trunk, handed it to us, and left. We gathered for dinner, said a quick meal prayer, and then started opening boxes. 

We were very surprised when we opened the ICB box to find...this:

"Huh...there seems to be a piece of cheese bread missing..." I giggled.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

School's IN for summer!

Due to circumstances currently beyond our control, in addition to circumstances we wanted to get control of, we had our first day of school on Monday. 

For one thing, we'll be having a baby sometime in November or December (but most likely November (unless I'm jinxing myself because I've never made it to my due date before; but I'll likely be diagnosed with gestational diabetes and then they won't let me go to my due date, anyway,'ll most likely be November)) and I imagine we'll want to take some time off then. Probably more than we would, otherwise, at any rate. Especially because I'll be going to school full time, myself. 

For another thing, the kids haven't been giving me a moment of peace! There's always a constant stream of them wanting this or that: Play with me. Get me a snack. Read me this book. Look at what I made....

No amount of interacting with them seemed to stem the flow. They just always wanted something. 

And while we're not poor, we certainly aren't rich enough to, like, send our kids off to camp for a month (besides which I'd miss them too much; plus there's still a pandemic on (contrary to popular belief)). So they're just home...all the time...and I'm the only one to field their requests and complains and whatever (because somehow the kids all respect Andrew's designated work space and time) and it's been exhausting.

I was thinking about it and I thought, "You know, doing our lessons takes about the same amount of energy from me as fielding their all-day requests. Sure, I spend a few good hours with them—reading and instructing and discussing and playing—but then, once we're finished...they're sick of me. They want to go off and do their own thing, play their own games. And that gives me a few hours to do what I want (and/or need) to do without interruption every five minutes!"

So that's my secondary (somewhat sneaky) reason for starting school so early. But also, it's another pandemic summer and there's little to do with all our unvaccinated little ones and I'm preparing for a maternity leave of sorts (how a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom actually prepares for maternity leave...I don't know...but I imagine it has to look something like front-loading school days).

Anyway, we started school on Monday. And things have been going fairly well. We're reading Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth, which I initially thought was a little...dense...when it arrived (not dense as in 'stupid,' but dense as in...robust...heavy...more cerebral than the kids could manage), even though the recommended grades is 7–12 (which, I realize is more directed at Rachel and Miriam than the younger three, but I figure the younger three can sit through it since I do story time with them at various other times of the day). Anyway, yes, I realize it's recommended for middle school on up. But even then the book just seemed denser when I flipped through it. But it's been a joy to read so far. Even Benjamin likes it. 

It's made up of poems and short essays and things like that, so we can pause to talk about things quite easily, which has been great.

Anyway, it's been a wonderful read so far. We're also deep into our math books, with Benjamin learning about angles, and Zoë learning about equations, and the older girls in their algebra and geometry textbooks. Here are the little ones working on their math for the day:

Monday, June 07, 2021

A "brush" with regional variation

I've lived in the United States for several years now—nearly 20!—and my language has adapted accordingly. Now when I go back to my small town I can hear an accent that I couldn't hear before, that I didn't realize I had. So I know that I've been...gulp...Americanized. But I also know that I don't quite sound American because there are some Canadianisms that I've clung to (or that have clung to me). 

I feel comfortable, for example, calling markers 'markers' (even though I grew up calling them 'felts' or 'felt-tipped pens' or 'felt-tipped markers'), but I just can't say (or even spell) 'coloured pencils' without cringing (because I have to stick that /u/ in there, which, an active choice I made years ago). 

They are 'pencil crayons,' and always will be.

I am not even sure if that's one that I'm clinging to purposely or if it's just so ingrained in my mind that I the new word hasn't been able to unroot it. 

Another word Americans find strange, which I know I've kept, is 'housecoat.' It's not a word that's used often enough that I've replaced it in my lexicon. If I go to and look up 'housecoat,' I will only see American-style 'housecoats,' not necessarily what I mean when I say 'housecoat.' Because what I mean, according to Americans, is 'robe.'

On the Canadian website, I immediately see what I'm thinking about when I say 'housecoat':

A cockroach story

It's getting to be summer (even though we're starting school back up tomorrow (sorry, children, but we've got to get a jump on things now so we can take some time off in, say, late November, early December)) so in addition to fireflies, we've got 95% humidity (our walk this evening was so muggy), near-daily thunder storms, and all sorts of creepy crawlies—cicadas (though we didn't get hit by Brood X), snakes, mosquitoes, cockroaches...

Cockroaches are one of my least favourite things about having to get up in the middle of the night to...use the facilities. Stepping on one in my bare feet is kind of my worst nightmare. Although...not really... I've been having such horrendous dreams lately, dreams that would make stepping on a cockroach feel rather tame. Still, I imagine stepping on a cockroach would be at least mildly unpleasant. 

Benjamin stepped on one in the music room last year. It was...mildly unpleasant. 

Anyway, I don't really want to step on a cockroach, but when you're making your way though the house, in the dark, in your bare's always a possibility. 

(Don't suggest wearing slippers because I also have this mild fear of putting on shoes and finding bugs (or whatever) inside, so I have to check before I put them on, because could you imagine putting your foot into your slipper in the middle of the night only to find that there's a cockroach inside?!)

Keep in mind that these cockroaches don't live inside. They simply...get...inside. 

Just this evening a cockroach flew into the house when Andrew opened the garage door. 

They just...find their way. Like lizards. And things.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Benjamin's Birthday Balloons

We made birthday balloons for Benjamin during FHE last week.

Alexander wrote on his balloons with his formal binomial code language and then read his balloons very seriously to everyone (while I took dictation). He made a bunch of them. The first one says, "I hope you stay well and I hope you stay happy." Another one says, "Happy birthday! I love you and we can give you some presents." The last balloon he translated for us said, "I hope you have a good day. I love you, and Ben—I love you and hope somehow this can be on the tree." He declined to give a translation of his fourth balloon.

Zoë's balloons were heavy on doodles (they were absolutely plastered with hearts) and light on text. She said, "I love you Ben, Oh, and happy birthday!" and "I love you because you play chess with me," and "Happy Birthday!"

Between Zoë and Alexander there weren't many balloons left for the rest of us.

Andrew's balloons said, "You are great at forgiving others and always being flexible and happy!
 and, "Ben! You are a super fun dude!"

Rachel said, "You are smart, funny, energetic, ambitious, brave, and curious. I love how much you love to read and ride your bike and you're so good at everything you try. I can't believe you're nine already! (Seriously, it's really weird. I remember when you were born and now you're almost a decade old? Like, what?)"

She also wrote him an acrostic poem:


Miriam only managed to snag one balloon and chose to write another acrostic about Benjamin:


I also only got a single balloon, but I filled it up with things (so it's like I wrote on several balloons): "Benjamin, I admire your persistence and dedication in learning. Sometimes it takes you longer to learn things, but you keep a good attitude and keep trying until you succeed. It was fun to watch you learn how to ride a bike this year. You started out slow and now you're a pro.

"You can be a silly kid sometimes but also know how (and when) to be responsible and mature, which is pretty cool!

"It's been a privilege to watch you grow, learn, and develop your talents. You're turning into a fine young man and I look forward to watching you continue to learn and grow. 

"You're a wonderful brother, son, and friend. I love you!"

He sure is a good kid!

Friday, June 04, 2021


Yesterday was a pretty great day because in addition to it being Benjamin's birthday, I also got cleared from jury duty, and we got to take our very first firefly walk of the season! I think the kids caught more than a dozen before we headed inside (they're still fairly sparse, but I'm sure there will be more soon).

Here's Benjamin showing off the firefly jar (from yesterday; they were out there again this evening):

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Benjamin is 9!

Rachel spent some time cleaning up her room and "putting away her childish things," which is part of growing up, I guess, but it feels wild that Rachel's doing it. She passed almost her entire wardrobe down to Miriam...but in her defense, we haven't taken her clothes shopping in ages and she's grown a lot the last couple of years (so guess what she'll be getting for her birthday). And she gave her watch to Benjamin—the watch that she begged us for on her ninth birthday (but later discovered she's not a "watch person," which I totally get because...same).

She gave it to him on Tuesday and I pointed out that she should have reserved it to give to him on his birthday because that boy was over the moon about getting her old watch. But he was happy to count it as an early gift. "Besides," he pointed out, "You're really giving me two gifts: a watch and a cake!"

And that's true because she did make his cake. 

But back to the watch. Man, alive! This kid!

He spent the entire day Tuesday giving us updates on the time. I was working with him in the kitchen one morning and he was telling me the time every minute! I finally had to ask him to not tell me the time anymore. Like, I was going to try to just be patient through this stage of fascination but soon it became clear that I would either have to say something to try to get him to change his behaviour or I would absolutely snap at him. Better to speak up early, right? 

So he did his best to not tell us the time every single minute but he continued to tell us the time frequently (and often in atypical ways, like: "It's 21 minutes to 6."

At the dinner table he noted the time anyone did anything remotely noteworthy. 

"That prayer was 34 seconds long."

"Alexander tooted at 5:47."

"I just knew Miriam was going to choke on her water at 5:52."

Eventually he finished his dinner and Andrew sent him upstairs to do something and we all breathed a sigh of relief because that meant he wasn't telling us the time anymore. And then he made a whole-house announcement (thanks, Alexa) telling us the time and we all burst out laughing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Freeman's Mill Park

We all got out of the house for a little adventure this afternoon. It was like pulling teeth, but we did it! I wanted to do it yesterday but Andrew had put off a project with a deadline of May 31 (which he didn't realize was Memorial Day), and then Rachel had to work this morning and when she came home she immediately started baking Benjamin's birthday cake (which I appreciate) so we had to let her finish that (even though it put us a couple of hours "behind schedule," so to speak (we keep a rather flimsy schedule around here)).

Andrew suggested we could go another day, but I knew Wednesday wouldn't work since that's our busiest weekday, and I honestly don't know whether or not I'll have free time any given day this week (because I'm on call all week). But I did know that I didn't have jury duty today, and that's something, so we headed out. 

I had seen a few friends post about Freeman's Mill Park and wanted to check it out for ourselves as a little local adventure (we honestly haven't gone on an adventure in ages). The park is about a half hour away from our house (longer with traffic, of course), and was surprisingly empty (given how crowded the parks closer to our house typically are). 

We had fun mis-reading signs along the way. Rachel saw this sign that said, "Well water is used for irrigation" but she read it as, "Well, water is used for irrigation," and it was hilarious (because we find things like that hilarious).

On Call

Sometimes I wonder if we accidentally moved to a place where things are simply bureaucratically more...difficult.

For example, I've been summoned for jury duty before, when we lived in Durham, but I was given a specific date and that one single date was my only potential day for jury duty (unless the trial went longer than expected). From Durham county's website we learn:

"Jury service in Durham County operates on the one-day / one-trial system. A new group of jurors are summoned each day of the week and, if selected to serve on a jury, a juror will serve for that day or for the length of a trial. However, if a person is not selected for a trial, their jury service will be complete after that one day. If selected to serve on a trial that is completed before the end of the day, those jurors will return to the jury assembly area and may then be selected for service on another case. If not selected again, those jurors will be allowed to go home at the end of the day, having completed their jury service. Jurors selected for a trial that takes several days will need to be present each day during the trial.

The average length of service on a trial is two days."

When I called to see if I needed to check in, I was told my services weren't needed. So then I was finished.

Want to know how it works in Gwinnett county?

For starters, their website is...a you won't necessarily find this information on it. But basically, I'm on call for jury duty for the entire week. I have to check in every evening after 7:00 PM to see if I'll be needed the next day. For an entire week

Now, I understand that jury duty is important and good. But an entire week!?

Name Generator

My favourite baby naming website (nymbler) is now defunct. You used to be able to insert your inspiration names and check off al sorts of parameters and it would generate ideas for you that you could like to save in a list and then generate more...and...I wouldn't say that we necessarily found every name that way but it's definitely something I played around with when we were in the process of naming our other kids. It's a terrible platform now. 

I've seen a few places recommending Name Berry's Name Generator, so I'll have to check that out (but I doubt it will be the same as nymbler was). 

The good news is we have plenty of helpers to come up with good names. 

Zoë recently handed me this list of suggestions:

In which Alexander speaks

Alexander has had a major breakthrough in his speech! 

He started using /s/ spontaneously and organically on Sunday, which was a rather amazing thing! We've been practicing saying /s/ for quite some time now but he's never used it, on his own, in context before. And then on Sunday he was just...throwing /s/ in all over the place. And not just /s/, either. He was also using /ch/ and /j/ and all sorts of sounds that he's simply elided before (or substituted with another sound (usually /b/ or /v/).

I woke up from my nap (*yawn*) and Andrew said, "Watch this! Alexander—tell Mom what you were playing downstairs!"

Alexander mumbled something. 

"Say it again," I urged him. "What were you playing downstairs?"

"Dollhouse," he said...with the /s/ (though apparently he wasn't feeling like giving me a full-sentence answer, which is odd because he's a talkative kid).

"You were playing with the dollhouse?"

Later in the afternoon I was playing LEGO with him and he was talking up a storm, throwing in his /s/ sounds all over. 

"Don't do it like that. Do it like this!" he'd tell me. 

And I'd swoon a little because...this!

"I'm going to build the tower. You build a fence!" he'd say.

And I'd feel all giddy because...fence!

A walk in the park

I took all the kids (save Rachel) to the park today and the kids noticed that the bramble berries are starting to ripen. I...don't know what sort of berries they are...precisely...though I think they're more like blackberries than raspberries (because they don't leave behind the inside part when we pick them). In fact, I think they're probably dewberries (which are just...wild blackberries).

Friday, May 28, 2021

Captain Obvious and Captain Obvious, Jr.

Last night before bed Andrew and I were talking about needing to do something this summer (because we've just been in our house for the past forever) and we settled on, perhaps, making a trip out to the beach. We kept talking for a while (because there was quite a bit of extended family excitement going on last night) and then Andrew hopped on his phone and kind of zoned out a bit. 

"What'cha doing?" I asked.

"Looking," Andrew answered vaguely, his voice trailing off. 

"Good answer," I said and started laughing because it was just too funny for me not to.

"At beach possibilities," he said, shaking his head to come back to reality. "Why are you laughing at me?"

"No reason, really," I said. "It's just...earlier today your child, who has jumped into the pool a million times before, jumped into the pool and when he resurfaced he announced, 'There's water under the water!' And I was just thinking about how very much your child he is."

That child was Alexander and it was a very hilarious moment because he shared this fact with everyone like it was a Moste Exciting Discovery when really...duh. 

In his defense, yesterday was a monumental day for him in that he realized he has more control over his breathing patterns than he originally thought, so he can actually hold his breath and be under water, calmly observing, rather than wildly thrashing around, trying to get back to the air so he can fill his lungs. It actually made the whole outing less stressful for me because, as it turns out, it's easier to get back to the surface when you calmly push off the bottom of the pool than when you're wildly thrashing about (go figure). He didn't inhale any water the entire day! But he did spend quite a bit of time carefully sinking to the bottom of the pool (where it was 2.5 feet deep; it's not like we were in the diving tank or anything) taking in his underwater surroundings. 

He noticed that the pool gets bluer where it's deeper, which is the idea I think he meant to express when he observed that there's water under the water. But it was just such a comical observation to make. 

As was Andrew noting that he was "looking." 

Like, I knew that part! What are you looking at?!

Anyway, like father like son...

Pregnancy FAQs

Our baby has done quite a bit of growing and changing the past month. Here they are last month, looking like a little bean:

And here they are the other day, looking like an actual human:

No wonder I'm tired!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

There's a lizard in the hallway!

The other day I opened the front door to retrieve a package from the front step and a lizard must have taken that opportunity to dart inside the house because soon after I closed the door I heard Alexander hollering, "There's a lizard in the hallway!"

"What?" Zoë yelled and then her shrieks joined Alexander's hollers. "There's a lizard in the hallway!"

And then Benjamin began bellowing along with them: "There's a lizard in the hallway!"

So apparently there was a lizard in the hallway. 

It cornered itself in the pantry and I trapped it under an old Cool Whip container and then we worked a thin piece of cardboard under it, just like we'd do for a bug (though for bugs we often just use paper). I carried it outside and put it in a bucket for the kids to observe for a little while before we set it loose.

A train! A train! A train! A train!

For FHE, Andrew decided it was high time the kids got a lecture reminding them of our COVID family motto: We are going to ROT together. Respect. Obedience. Tolerance. 

So the kids got a lecture over dinner. I'm not sure it helped because today we ran into the same problem we've been having of me asking the (younger) kids to do things repeatedly and them completely ignoring me until Andrew opens his office door and then they suddenly spring into action. But it was worth a shot.

(And if they don't watch it, I'll get so tired of their behaviour that I'll just start the school year for next year...)

Anyway, when I felt that the lecture had drawn on long enough, I said, "Okay, so we did Dad's idea for family night, but I had a different, funner idea in mind..."

The kids immediately wanted to know what it was.

"Well, we need to finish eating, clean up from dinner, go on a walk, and then...I thought we could all go down to the basement and..."

"Clean it?" Rachel moaned. "How is that any more fun than Dad's idea. Like, I'd rather endure another lecture than clean the basement tonight..."

"Build a LEGO train together?" I suggested. "I thought we could each make a train car that represents us and then make a little stop motion movie of our train rolling along."

The kids agreed that this idea actually did sound like quite a lot of fun, so that's just what we did. It took us far too long—we were still finishing our creations at 9:00—and Alexander ended up having a complete meltdown about having to go to bed before we made the movie, but really I think it was better that we made the movie after we put the youngest three to bed. At any rate it was a lot less chaotic.

Here's our finished movie (which I'm sure I'll talk more about later):

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A little bit of swimming

The pool has been lovely the last couple of days! It's warm enough that getting in isn't painful and cool enough that getting in feels refreshing, so it's just about perfect. The little ones have been making great improvements with their swimming skills. 

Here's a few pictures of Benjamin lounging around like a lazy bum (on a little raft we found floating in the pool; it's not ours), but really he's been working hard on both his front crawl and backstroke:

A power outage

Not last night but the night before I was ripped from my sleep when the pad-mounted transformer in our front yard exploded/blew/failed. Whatever it did, there was a tremendous bang and a flash of light and our windows were open and I'm a pretty light sleeper was a terrifying way to wake up. 

I quickly identified the sound as a failed transformer (though I didn't know it was our transformer until later) because, well, the power had gone out. So I figured I may as well go to sleep (there's not a whole lot to be done in these scenarios). I was just about calm when I heard the thunderous pitter-patter of little feet followed by a frantic banging on my bedroom door.

Evidently the boom of the transformer blowing had woken up Alexander as well.

Here he is talking about his point of view in the morning. He explains all about how he couldn't find the doorknob because it was night and the power had gone out and so he felt confused (listen for the second time he says confused (at the very end of the clip); I can't get over how adorable he is).

He got to sleep in our bed.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Zoë's birthday cake

As I mentioned, Rachel made Zoë's birthday cake again this year. From scratch, of course, because that's how she rolls. We haven't had cake from a mix in ages! Rachel believes this is her most elegant-looking cake to date. 

Zoë requested a mermaid cake, so Rachel made a lovely blue cake, made a wave of flowers on it, and added some chocolate seashells and mermaid tails (that she molded herself and then dusted with gold using the new foodgrade air brush set Auntie K sent her for her birthday, which isn't technically until July...but Kelli knew Rachel could get a jumpstart in using it if she sent it early). 

Here's Rachel placing the chocolate (they're really candy melts, not chocolate) embellishments:

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Zoë's 6th birthday!


Today's the day! At long last, Zoë finally turned six years old! She's been looking forward to this day for a long time. It was a pretty good day for her but she's disappointed that (a) she has no wiggly teeth yet (she checked each and every one of them this morning), and (b) we won't be starting our new school year tomorrow (though if she really wants to get started I don't have a problem letting her break in a few of her workbooks; the other kids aren't ready to dive back in, however).

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Is this what zero-scaping is?

When we cut down the trees in our front yard we had some pretty big plans for fresh landscaping, including doing some terracing with some retaining walls. Pretty easy, right?

Don't laugh.

Because that's exactly what the landscaping guy did on the phone when I told him.

We'd priced things out online but hadn't yet actually ordered our supplies, so after measuring things out once again (measure twice (or thrice), build once, right?) I phoned a landscaping supply company to place our order. 

"I'd like to place an order for some supplies..." I began.

"What is it you're trying to do?" the guy asked.

"Well, we're going to put in some retaining walls..." I began again.

This time the guy on the phone just started laughing. 

"Good luck," he (finally) chuckled.

I...didn't know how to respond to that so I think I just sat there in stunned silence.

"It's not that I don't think you can do it," he clarified. "It's just...good luck finding supplies."

Because, turns out, that in addition to the lumber shortage (thanks, COVID), there's also a cement shortage (thanks, COVID). Evidently it's true because this place didn't have supplies for us and every other place I tried didn't have the supplies either. 

So now we at least have a good excuse for why our yard will continue to look like a mess for the next few months...