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...

Bike rides and doughnuts with Grandpa

One of the things the kids most wanted to do with Grandpa was go on bike rides. Taking the kids on bike rides can be complicated because they're all at such various levels of riding. Grandpa was patient and took Zoë and Benjamin around the neighbourhood a bit while Alexander pouted in the cul-de-sac (since he's not big enough to make it up (and down) the hills). 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Pool and poo stories

I came downstairs the other day and found Zoë and Alexander huddled around the iPad playing what he calls "Teach Monster" (but what is actually called "Teach Your Monster to Read"), which is really rather unobjectionable screen time, in my opinion. 

"It's probably about time for screen time to be over," I said. "We still need to put away the dishes and..."

I don't remember everything that I listed. There was probably a bunch of stuff because needing to do a bunch of stuff is our normal state of being around here. 

I went into the kitchen and started putting away the glass dishes and Alexander soon came to help me. He shuffled into the kitchen with his head bowed. 

"What's up, little buddy?" I asked.

He let out a big sigh and then said, "Mom, the reason I didn't ask permission for screen time is because you were taking a nap."

That is true. I was. Taking five kids to the pool by myself is exhausting. So sue me.

"Oh, well, that's okay," I said. "Clearly you asked someone for permission even if it wasn't me because someone had to put the password in for you to get on in the first place."

He hadn't thought of it that way and felt much better after I'd given my ex post facto consent (when I hadn't even cared in the first place).


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A very merry un-birthday!

Sometimes we get a little behind schedule. For example, today is the day I finally got around to making Alexander's birthday poster. It's taken us a while to get these posters up before...but never 3.5 years! At least we'll be able to fill his frames (that have been diligently hanging (empty) on our walls for nearly two years) before his fourth birthday!

I'm not sure it's perfect, but it's done, and I've been working hard to learn that done is often better than perfect because perfect often means nothing and usually something is better than nothing. Alexander is very excited about the prospect of having something of himself on the wall next to his siblings. 

There are other times, however, when we're well ahead of schedule!

Take this weekend, for example, when Grandpa suggested that we celebrate Zoë's birthday a week early. How's that for timely?!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A hike with Grandpa

Yesterday was Grandpa's last full day here, so we took him for a hike at Simpsonwood. 

Friday, May 14, 2021


We just signed up for Rachel to get her first COVID vaccine tomorrow, which is rather exciting news, and which reminds me of why and how I feel somewhat fuzzy on the details of earlier this week. I had my second COVID shot on Monday morning!

I really felt pretty okay all day long; my arm was just a little sore. But by Monday evening I had a raging headache and went to bed with a lovely fever/chills mix. I woke up fever-free but was so sore. It wasn't really a regular full-body ache like you might get with the flu (at least, it didn't feel that way to me). Like, it wasn't my muscles aching, but my joints. I felt so very aware of every vertebrae in my spine (and so forth) and moving hurt because my joints just felt so sore. Plus I had that blasted headache. And just a general feeling of malaise. 

By Wednesday I was feeling mostly okay (still slightly headachy) and I think by now I'm finally back to normal (though I am, perhaps, just a little bit more tired than usual, though that could also be because we've been staying up much later than we should playing "Hand and Foot" and talking).

I'm excited to have joined the ranks of the fully vaccinated (in a couple of weeks), but I'm more excited for Rachel to be vaccinated! This will mean she can, like, hang out with friends (or, you know, make friends...somehow...that's still a thing people do, right?). It's been a tough year (+), having (a) moved to Georgia, (b) our ward split and she was separated from the friends she had made, (c) then our stake split and we were further separated from people we had just been getting to know, and then (d) the very next week everything shut down for the pandemic.

So it's felt like we somehow moved three times (though we really only moved once) and then we immediately jumped into isolation mode. To top it all off, the little group of friends that Rachel had been rather united with, in spite of being peeled off into a separate ward, has largely dissolved. One girl moved to another city in Georgia, one girl moved to Utah, and one girl moved to Texas. So...I think it will be very nice for Rachel to dip her toes back into the world of socialization so she can make some friends here. 

The other kids aren't old enough to be vaccinated yet, but I'm hoping that will happen for them soon. 

In the meantime we'll largely be continuing to hunker down...

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Swimming with Grandpa (part 1)

I haven't been writing as often as I should (because we're busy trying to cram two years of togetherness into a single week and...that's exhausting) so already my timeline is blurry. I do know for certain that we haven't had a single day of truly warm-enough-for-the-pool weather (but that we've been going to the pool a lot, anyway). I think the first day we took Grandpa to the pool was on Monday and I believe that it was supposed to have stormed the whole day, but that it ended up clearing up a bit so we headed over to the pool in the afternoon to do some polar swims.

Here's everybody inching their way in:

Monday, May 10, 2021

It's always fun when Grandpa comes!

Grandpa promised the kids that once he was fully vaccinated he'd come out to visit them; they've been looking forward to "May" for weeks upon weeks for this very reason! Well, Grandpa's fully vaccinated now (as is Daddy, and I just had my second shot this morning so I'm two weeks away from being considered fully vaccinated myself) and his plane touched down on Saturday the 8th. 

Alexander and Zoë were so excited that they set out "Grandpa outfits" on their floor the night before so that they could be sure to look extra wonderful when Grandpa arrived. Then they—along with Benjamin—slept on their bedroom floor because they were too excited for beds.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Pool Season is OPEN

We hit the pool for the first time this season and it was...chilly (71°F/22°C). I honestly didn't think the kids would swim much at all but we ended up staying for over two hours. Here they are all decked out and ready to swim:

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Last day of school adventures

Even though we started our school year in July we didn't take our "back-to-school" pictures until August when everyone else started their school year. Today we took our "last day of school" pictures, though the public school kids won't do that for a few more weeks. 

We spent the afternoon enjoying having the park all to ourselves (which meant our masks could stay in my purse rather than on our faces).

We're basket weavers!

Rachel finished her basket last night so we finally took a picture of our little basket weavers with the baskets they wove:

We have a ton of cord left over so we'll probably be doing some more weaving at some later date, though for now I think all our basket-weaving desires have been fulfilled.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Books with Benjamin

I took Benjamin to the library today—his first time being in any public building (other than the dentist's and doctor's offices) since last March. And maybe I shouldn't have taken him, but it was a pretty low-contact trip. He needed to do some browsing so he could choose something to read because I just haven't been choosing books that suit his "vibe" lately. Plus, it's been raining non-stop for two days and (a) that child needed to get out of the house and (b) everyone else needed that child to get out of the house. So, to the library it was!

I warned him that we wouldn't be able to just waltz on in, that we'd have to stop for a temperature check first, but it seems like they abandoned that practice sometime between my last visit and this one. Here's Benjamin in the stacks looking for books that Alexander might like:

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Baskets, Blades, Battle-to-the-death-ica

It's our last week of the school year! Initially I told the kids that we would just hang out at the pool all day (since we've completely run out of curriculum and the kids aren't ready to dive into next year quite yet), but we had a huge storm system move through today and it was...dark and stormy...all day. It was pouring rain for hours upon hours. Thunder, lightning, the whole nine yards. We couldn't even safely go outside to splash in the puddles.

So instead we tried our hands at basket weaving.

We ordered this kit a while ago (around Easter) but it's just been sitting around waiting for Mommy to feel patient enough to get into it. I turned in my final paper last night and woke up this morning feeling quite a bit more patient than I have in several weeks (correlation or causation?) and since we needed to eat up our day with something I thought it would be a good day for basket weaving.

I should mention that I ordered a kit that came with four bases, which is clearly one too few bases for the number of children in our family. I can't remember how I rationalized this at the time of purchase. Did I think to myself obviously not all the children are capable of weaving a basket so they'll be happy to share with each other! That sounds a little naive... Or did I think that the kit came with five bases? Or did I figure we'd be industrious enough to make another base by ourselves? I don't know what I was thinking, but when the kids pointed out there were only four bases...but five children...I said, "Well, that's because basket weaving is only part of today's educational journey. The first part is a battle to the death. Survivors get to make a basket. Losers..."

Alexander disappeared upstairs and returned a few minutes later with a (fake, plastic, annoying, got-it-in-a-box-of-hand-me-downs-and-now-he-sleeps-with-it) knife.

"I've got my fighting weapon," he announced, waving his knife around. "Where's your fighting weapon, Mom? Where's your fighting weapon, Rachel? How come no one has a fighting weapon?"

So we had to explain that we weren't actually going to have a battle to the death over basket weaving supplies. We were going to share with and help each other. Because evidently that needed to be explained (because the three-year-old weirdly doesn't pick up on sarcasm yet).

One day...when that knife is not so closely will disappear. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to

Yesterday when dinner was busy cooking away in our InstantPot(s) and everyone was busy setting the table for dinner, Alexander kept mysteriously appearing with his mouth full of food.

"What are you eating?" I asked him.

"Potatoes," he said with bulging cheeks.

"Potatoes?" I wondered.

We were indeed having potatoes for dinner, but they were cooking in the aforementioned InstantPot and were not ready for consumption. 

"How could he be eating potatoes?" I asked Andrew. "He's not...getting into the you think?"

Andrew had put potato peelings in the garbage...

We were still wondering about what Alexander could be eating when he showed up with another mouthful of food. 

"What are you eating?" Andrew asked.

"Muh-hrm-murh-hmm," Alexander mumbled.

"What's in your mouth?" Andrew asked. "Open up."

Alexander quickly chewed, swallowed, and then opened up his mouth to empty mouth.

"What was in there?" Andrew asked.

"Potatoes!" Alexander said. 

"What potatoes?!" Andrew asked.

"The potatoes," Alexander said. 

"Can you show us where you are finding these potatoes?"

Alexander led us to the kitchen, straight to a container of...cherry tomatoes.

"Someone left it open," he shrugged.

So, he'd been eating (unwashed) cherry tomatoes, not potato peelings from the garbage, which I honestly think is probably better for him (not that potato peelings are necessarily bad either, but they are when they've been in the garbage with everything else (for example, the packaging from raw hamburger (because the other InstantPot had meatloaf in it))).

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Harry Potter Marathon

The kids have been having a Harry Potter marathon of sorts, with four of them reading the series at once. They started on April 20 and there were tears when Benjamin walked in on all three of his sisters with the first book open in their laps. I had been going to ask him to practice the piano just then, but he ran past me (sobbing), burst into his room, and slammed the door. 

I followed him upstairs and knocked quietly on his door, entering only when I heard his muffled, "Come in."

He was furiously reading a copy of Harry Potter in his bed. 

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY DIDN'T TELL ME WE WERE STARTING!!" he cried. "I have to catch up! I have to win! They're all a bunch of cheaters!"

I let him have some calming-down reading time and then his sisters clarified that this marathon was more of a journey than a race. Rachel and Miriam had decided they wanted to read it along with Zoë, who is reading it through for the first time by herself, and Benjamin decided he wanted to tag along on this journey as well (mistaking it for a competition). He's definitely winning because Zoë is reading at her own pace and Rachel and Miriam are managing quite a few other side projects, while Benjamin is plowing through at break neck speed. 

He wants to beat his last record for reading through the series (which is something like eight months, he told me) and considering he's already on book five or six, I think he'll definitely achieve a new personal record in this department.

Here are Benjamin, Rachel, and Zoë reading in the music room (without being mad at each other):