Sunday, November 28, 2021

Phoebe's Blessing Day

Last Sunday I realized two things: (1) we hadn't made any plans about Phoebe's baby blessing, and (2) we only had Grandpa here for another week. So I brought up the topic with Andrew and he said he'd ask the bishop for permission to bless Phoebe at home this Sunday. And then I forgot about it (because I have a few other things on my plate) until yesterday afternoon when I asked Andrew if he had heard from the bishop.

He had not because he forgot to contact the bishop at all, so he quickly texted the bishop and got an equally quick response. So, we blessed Phoebe early this evening (or late this afternoon). It ended up being 5:00 because that was a good time for Brother McClure to pop by. 

Phoebe, of course, wore the same blessing gown that I wore, which Auntie Josie later wore, and which Rachel, Miriam, and Zoë all wore in turn. Phoebe was just about drowning in it—compared to her sisters, who were each a few months old when they were blessed—but I think she looks quite similar to my picture in the blessing gown. Phoebe hasn't quite had time to grow her cheeks yet...

Still the first week?!

That's it, guys! I'm calling it!

I'm never going to get caught up on sharing all the pictures I'm taking. And I just keep taking more. Like, eventually I have to stop taking pictures of every child holding this sweet baby every day, right? But so far I am not sure that's happened.

But so much other stuff is happening that I can hardly keep up. Today we put up the tree. Tomorrow we're blessing Phoebe. I'm still working on finals. And somehow Phoebe is two weeks old and we're getting ready to say goodbye to Grandpa (I'm a little bit scared of that because Alexander has basically been glued to him the whole time he's been here and...once that's not an option...*gulp*). We've been playing games and celebrating Thanksgiving and...I'm still working on last week's pictures.

Some games:

Friday, November 26, 2021

What Phoebe's Thankful For

I wanted to acknowledge Thanksgiving really quick (I'll do a more formal Thanksgiving post later) by sharing some pictures of Phoebe dressed up as a pumpkin. She's wearing the hat and booties I crocheted for Miriam (and I actually still have the nightgown Miriam is wearing in her pictures as well, so I should redo the pictures with Phoebe wearing that as well). 

Rachel and I took these on November 17th, I believe. We had been taking pictures using the actual camera but just as I got Phoebe into this outfit the camera battery died so these are from my cell phone camera.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Phoebe's first few days (in pictures!): part III (plus a figurative tale)

Okay; these pictures are all from my phone over the last 12 days or so. I only know that because Phoebe is twelve days old. I feel simultaneously like I'm taking too many pictures and not enough pictures. But mostly I'm just trying to survive. I think I'll feel a lot better after finals are over (this group project is killing me (figuratively)). 

Last night I broke out in hives! 

Apparently postpartum hives are a thing (I'm assuming my root cause is stress (see: group project, above)).

So that's been a fun little side effect, in addition to some pretty wild afterpains and some wicked engorgement and lack of sleep forth. But all those things should be coming to an end soon (except, I suppose, for the lack of sleep). 

Anyway, I'm not sure how much dialogue I'll share regarding these photos that I snapped. Mostly I just think my children are adorable.

But I will tell you a quick story about Alexander. 

For whatever reason the boys were fighting over a Jedi robe before bed. Alexander wanted to wear it in the morning so that he could be a Jedi Master. Benjamin also wanted to wear it, presumably so that he could be a Jedi Master. 

"But if you wear the cape tomorrow then I can’t be the Jedi Master!" Alexander whined.

"Well, that will be too bad if I get to the cape first," Benjamin said, darting upstairs (presumably to hide the cape/robe).

"I want to KILL you!" Alexander fumed.

"Oh, Alexander!" I gasped. "That’s a pretty strong emotion you’re feeling. You are free to be angry or sad—and sometimes those angry and sad emotions feel very powerful—but surely you don’t want to kill your brother!!"

"FIGURE’tively, Mom!" he reassured me. "FIGURE’tively!"

All the grown ups in the room exchanged looks of disbelief. Did he just say what I thought he said? What was it that he said? 

"Figuratively?" I repeated.

"Figure. Tively," Alexander affirmed. 

And we lost it. Grandpa, Andrew, and I were all just cracking up (while trying to remain serious). How does this sweet little four-year-old baby (who just started talking intelligibly in June) know and use that word correctly?! It was comically shocking.

"Even so," I said, trying desperately to regain my composure. "We don't want to use such strong and hurtful words figuratively."

He really is a sweet little guy even if he uses colourful figurative language sometimes (while other times he wishes for "actulal" swords so he can "defense" himself against his older siblings). Here he is helping Phoebe maintain a good nursing position (look at those innocent blue eyes—who knew they were figuratively capable of so much!?):

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


 I interrupt the Phoebe feed to bring you a story about Zoë. 

We accomplished a lot of things before Phoebe was born. For instance, on Friday the 12th we finished reading the Articles of Faith (by screaming reciting them at top volume), which means we finished with our course of study for Sunday School this year. Unfortunately, while the older kids were able to join in our lively recitation, the younger kids were a bit lost. 

During Christmas we like to have Christmassy devotionals, so we aren't too worried about "what" we'll do for scripture study during December, but we still had the rest of November to go, so we decided that we'd work on helping the younger children memorize the Articles of Faith. 

So we started with the first one because that's the shortest and the easiest and we've been working our way up. But on Sunday I skipped ahead to eleven and twelve because they had to do with the lesson we were on for Sunday School and so that we could "surprise" Daddy with how well they already knew it (he was at church being the organist). 

Number eleven is kind of a fun one because whereas the remaining twelve Articles of Faith begin with "We believe..." number eleven begins with "We claim..."

More specifically it begins, "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God..."

So I told the children about this anomalous Article of Faith and Zoë leapt out of her seat, stood up on the couch, pointed her finger to the sky and declared, "I CLAIM THE PRIVILEGE OF WATCHING A TV SHOW BEFORE GOING TO BED TONIGHT!"

And, like, she was dead serious. 

She surmised that if she could simply...claim the would be a done deal.

But one does not simply claim privilege. 

I told her that in order to claim a privilege, the privilege had to first be

It worked out for her in the end. Daddy was so charmed by her pronouncement (and the way she memorized the actual Article of Faith) that he's been letting her watch an episode of Maya and the Three every night before bed since Sunday (we're on holiday; it's fine). I'm not sure how we'll ever undo the idea that she can simply claim a privilege, but I'm sure it's fine. 

Also, it reminded us of Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Phoebe's first few days (in pictures!): part II

What I want most in the whole wide world is for finals to be over with. I just want to snuggle my baby and not feel completely stressed out. But, here we are...

Since I only have my digital resources class left and since we discussed memology and since our final is a group project (worth 40% of our grade), I will ask you, "What is the worst kind of assignment and why is it a group project?"

Ugh. I'll get through it, I guess. But what I really want to do is hibernate a little bit. 

I finally took pictures off my phone from the last week, so let's briefly revisit Phoebe's birthday. Here she is all fresh and new:

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Happy One Week!

Phoebe's been here for one entire whirlwind of a week. So far she seems like a pretty chill baby. She's an avid nurser by now (though she got off to a bit of a slow start). She does not appreciate being put down (I know you can't spoil a baby...but it might just be possible that Phoebe's a little on the spoiled side). She likes to be swaddled. She's starting to lift her head a bit when we hold her and that's about what her tummy time is for now because she does not like floor tummy time (Andrew and I tried putting her on the floor this afternoon and she got her legs underneath herself and did a wild donkey kick flip-thing onto her back and then we picked her up because she was really upset about whatever it was she'd just made her body do). I'm sure she'll warm up to tummy time eventually.

Terminology: Phoebe /ˈfiːbi/ FEE-bee Φοίβη Phoíbē

Phoebe was actually a name that Zoë suggested because at the time she was loving the Phoebe and her Unicorn books. There was a little confusion over the name Phoebe, of course. Both Benjamin and Zoë kept wanting to say Fo-ebb. But we're all clear on her name our house...


Poor Grandpa Frank just can't seem to put his finger on it. He called us at the hospital to congratulate us and asked us if we would spell her name for him so he could write it down (unbeknownst to us Reid had already walked him through Phoebe's name before). So we're trying to spell the name P-H-O-E-B-E but it's not going well. 

Why do so many letters of our alphabet rhyme?! P-E-B-E...

So we tried the whole "P as in pizza, H as in horse..." clearly we're not fluent in Alpha Bravo, but eventually Grandpa Frank had the letters down in the right order.

"Now how do you say it?" he asked.






An off-colour tale

To say we're tired over here would merely be stating the obvious. We'd gotten used to a baby-free lifestyle—no diaper bags, no spit up, no middle-of-the-night feedings—and we'd grown soft. So while on the one hand it seems like Phoebe does nothing but sleep, on the other hand we are completely exhausted. 

Catering to someone's every whim, it turns out, is tiring. Especially when you have to guess at what the someone's whims are because they're not an especially great communicator (no offense, Phoebe, but you just cry about everything).

So, it's just about been one week (which is mind-blowing) and we're tired. 

And so much has happened!

Alexander pointed out at bedtime that Phoebe is "more of a sandy-tan" (which is how he likes to describe white people) than she was when she first came home all pink and new, which means her newness is already wearing off! 

Why do these baby stages go by so quickly?!

Anyway, last Sunday Andrew came to the hospital to spend the night since we didn't know what time we'd be discharged on Monday and traffic is unpredictable. He told me that on Saturday night, after having been up all day Friday and then most of the day on Saturday, he was finally getting ready to head to bed (at home) around 10:00 in the evening when he remembered that he needed to make a loaf of bread for the sacrament in the morning. So he went to the kitchen and carefully measured everything into the bread machine. He meant to delay the start time by a several hours so the bread would be ready first thing in the morning but he accidentally hit the "start now" button, a command the bread machine took quite literally by immediately whipping its little paddle around and giving everything a good little stir. 

Now, the secret of bread machines is that you create a little island of flour in your liquid base and right in the middle of the island you drop a scoop of yeast (like a bread volcano of sorts). As long as the yeast stays dry, you can delay the bread making process. But if the yeast gets activates and you become somewhat committed to seeing the process through to the end.

"So once that yeast hit the water, I had no choice but to let it run the whole cycle," Andrew said. 

"I understand that feeling on a very deep level," I said, with a meaningful glance at Phoebe. 

That gave us both a good laugh.

Only in my case (which was technically our case), we ended up with a beautiful baby, while all Andrew got was a soggy loaf of bread because it finished baking in the wee morning hours and he didn't bother waking up to check on it (and I don't blame him one bit) so a bunch of moisture condensed and dripped down onto the bread and...let's just say that Phoebe is a much prettier outcome.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Phoebe's first few days (in pictures!): part I

I think I'll share picture in two or three waves, with no real rhyme or reason to them other than that we had multiple devices to take pictures with and so far I've only downloaded the pictures from one device. 

So, these are the pictures from the camera. 

Months ago when I was still very much pregnant with Phoebe, we were discussing her impending arrival at the dinner table—how we needed her to stay in for so long (and she did exactly that; bare minimum sort of lady, I guess) but also needed her to get out in a timely fashion. And thus it was that my children were introduced to the idea of "induction." 

My due date was December 2, but Phoebe would have been induced on November 25 whether she wanted to be born then or not. For health reasons. The kids needed an explanation of what an induction was and since we tend to get a little...rowdy...around the table sometimes I explained it thusly:

"It's basically when the doctor decides, 'We're gonna yeet this fetus!' And they give the mother some medicines that help kickstart the process."

We thought the phrase "yeet this fetus" was so hilarious that we decided to save it for the birth story. But then I wrote the birth story and completely forgot to title it "Operation: Yeet this Fetus" (the post about our preterm labour scare could have then alternatively been called "Operation: Keep this Fetus"). Anyway, it was particularly funny because we often referred to in-utero Phoebe as "Phoebe the Fetus."

So here are some more details about her "yeeting," hospital stay, and homecoming. 

First of all, here is the single picture Andrew took during the labour and delivery. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Phoebe the fugitive

Well, folks, she's been at it again!

Once more Phoebe set off all the alarms and locked all the doors!

She was on her way to the nursery to visit the pediatrician this time. The nurse had just left my room, which is kitty-corner to the door to The General Hospital (which babies aren't allowed to enter) and was just making her way past the door when another nurse "badged in," which caused the door to fly open while Phoebe and the nurse were standing right there.

Phoebe's ankle monitor did not think this was appropriate so it quickly sounded the alarm and locked everything down. 

Things were resolved much faster this time, however.

There was a bit of a commotion in the hallway, my nurse rushed into the room to tell me about the confusion so I wouldn't panic, and because they had prior authorization they just had to call in to headquarters to let them know what happened.

But that's two escape attempts in less than 48 hours. Phoebe has me concerned for the future. 

Will she be a little escape artist...?

Only time will tell.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Phoebe's Birth: Initial Reflections

For the past several weeks our ongoing motto has been "don't have a baby." Every night Andrew would say to me, "Don't have a baby!" Every time he left the house he would say to me, "Don't have a baby!"'

Last night he said—rather seriously—"Don't have a baby!"

We had both stayed up late working. I was finishing up a final project. He had a book to lay out, some urgent revisions to make on a paper, and a number of other projects. 

"So really don't go into labour tonight," he said. "My Saturday is packed!"

It was 1:30 in the morning. I was not in labour. I hadn't even had very many contractions that evening.

So I said reassuringly, "I don't think this baby is coming for a while."

We stayed up until around 2:00 making plans for the next day. We needed to finish tidying the house to get ready for Grandpa to come. We needed to pick Grandpa up. We needed to finished all the multiple projects we listed previously. We needed to...we needed to...we needed to...

Andrew let me do my verbal nesting (although I had been nesting...and making the children nest along with me (they were great helpers!) all day long) and then we decided that it was late (it was) and we should do no more talking because we really needed to go to sleep (we did) and we turned out the lights.

Then at around 3:00 I awoke to a pop and a gush. So I reached over and...

Did I mention that I got my COVID booster yesterday? I did. My arm was incredibly sore.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

37 weeks

Well, I did it. Or we did! 

We made it to 37 weeks, which is considered a term pregnancy, which means I am no longer at risk for preterm labour. 

And we did it all on our own (i.e. without manufactured hormones)!

It's nice to have the constraints surrounding those pregnancy complications disappear, but now I'm left to wonder when this baby will make an appearance because I'd really rather not be induced because I prefer as few interventions as possible. But also the notion of a firm deadline is rather appealing, like, for sure I won't be pregnant after Thanksgiving. 

But I kind of wish she'd come on her own before then because I'm so tired of being pregnant.

But also I know that when she's inside, she's quiet and cared for. 

But on the outside there are so many other people who can hold her.

But we'll be trying to recover from the mess that childbirth is.

And I still have a few final projects to do. 

So maybe she should stay in for a while longer. 

But also I really just want to eat a big, fat muffin. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Come again...?

We were talking about placebos during dinner last night—I can't quite remember why—and after a few minutes of discussion Miriam asked, "Can men even get placebos?"

We were all a little confused by her question because of course men can get placebos. All you have to do is give them one. We realized that she must not know what placebo meant so we began to explain that if you are doing a study to see if a medicine works, for example, you would give a certain number of people in the study the actual medicine but would give the rest of the people a placebo—or a fake—medicine, such as a sugar pill, and then would record the effects both groups of people experience. This way you can determine if the medicine works and...

"Oh!" she said, dissolving into giggles. "I thought placebo and placenta were the same thing!"


Grandpa will be arriving in a few days to help take care of things whenever we end up in the hospital. The rules of the hospital are quite confusing; they used to be that I was allowed one person in and that person had to stay the whole time (which is hard to do when you have five other kids at home). But now I think I'm still only allowed one person with me that person is allowed to go and come back (which makes things easier). 

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Meet me at the Covid Vaccine Store!

In addition to getting her hair cut last night, Zoë was excited that she'd be getting her COVID shot in the morning. Rachel gave us a lovely Family Night lesson about gratitude while we were gathered around the kitchen table, and during the lesson, Zoë drew this picture to get her excitement out:

The Alexander Monologues

Every now and then Rachel will remember to go through the kids' phone to see what sort of monologues Alexander has been recording. There are dozens of them and they're all adorably hilarious. Here are three that Rachel sent to me this morning:

One wondering whether anyone likes him (they definitely do):

One explaining how we ended up with a new vacuum (because sometimes he comes around the corner and crashes into people while they're carrying the vacuum and they drop it and it breaks):

Zoë's big haircut

Since the pool closed, it feels like we simply never leave the house anymore. I keep meaning to take the kids to the park at least, but by the time they finish their schoolwork I'm more than happy to let them run loose while I work on my schoolwork and so...we just never seem to leave the house. 

My mom pointed out that they're probably just fine. We don't live in an apartment; we have a house with a big yard situated on a quiet cul-de-sac. They've been outside to play on the play set and jump on the trampoline and ride their bikes and play soccer and jump rope...but, still...we feel a little bit like we've been cooped up since September.

Cue the end of daylight savings time.

Now it's difficult to even get out for our traditional post-prandial stroll. This is a long-standing tradition in our house, whether I am pregnant and diabetic or not, but it becomes more important when I am pregnant and diabetic. When I'm not pregnant and diabetic, we get to our walk eventually. When I am pregnant and diabetic we rush through our after-dinner chores, clearing the table and sweeping the floor as fast as we can so we can get out the door with enough time for me to get a good walk in and have some rest time before I have to check my blood sugar.

It's a delicate balance between exercising too much and accidentally raising my blood sugar and exercising too little and...anyway. 

We even have a rallying cry this time—a lusty cheer, "For Phoebe!" is often chorused by the children after anyone mentions that we need to go for our evening walk.

But now it's dark by the time we're finished with dinner. It's only been two days, I get that, and I really shouldn't gripe because I grew up much farther north where the sun sets much earlier than it does here. But still. It's awful.

To paraphrase my friend Kiristen, "How do I need the sun at 7:02 am in a way that I no longer need it at 5:37 pm?" 

It makes no logical sense.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

A Baby...Monsoon

You've heard of baby showers, I'm sure—a little party to welcome a new life into the world and equip new parents with all the stuff a baby requires (or that society thinks a baby requires). Well, by the time you're expecting your sixth baby people tend to assume you have all that baby stuff, which I'm sure is often the case...

Unless you happened to have moved across the country and the child you thought was your caboose is well past babyhood. Then you've been offloading baby stuff for years, so when you find out you're expecting again you kind of panic realizing you've got...nothing (or, at least, very little).

Lucky for me—and parents everywhere—there are usually other parents who are offloading baby stuff when they think they've reached the end of their baby-rearing years. 

And that's how you get a baby monsoon. 

My cousin Dylan came by this afternoon with her car overflowing with baby paraphernalia!

Friday, November 05, 2021

Almost over!

I have about a month left of this semester and a month left of this pregnancy and I'm feeling pretty good about things. I've been working long hours to get ahead and now all I have left to do is:

one more "critical response" in Digital Resources

 one final (group) project in Digital Resources

 three quizzes in Writing Pedagogy

 two zoom sessions in Writing Pedagogy

 one final project in Reading Instruction

 a variety of work stuff

 one baby delivery

So I think the next month should be entirely doable, though when I look back at this semester I think I will forever wonder whether I was suffering from a severe lapse in judgement when I signed up for all of this. Taking twelve (graduate) credit hours while working and being pregnant and homeschooling five kids in the middle of a global pandemic was a little bit...nutso.

That said, I've just about made it through—we've all just about made it through—and I think next semester will allow for a little more breathing room. I met with my advisor the other day and she's being very flexible with my schedule due to my...impending circumstances. I've somehow plowed through all the required coursework for my degree except for my research methodology course, so I will definitely be taking that class next semester. And then my schedule will mostly be filled with research credits so I can design my thesis for a newborn... 

And keep raising my other five kids... 

And work (the conference I'm helping plan is next semester, so things will be busier then than they have been this semester, or so I'm told). 

And, honestly, that still sounds much more relaxing than what I'm doing now.

We also talked about taking the summer (and maybe even the fall) off completely (though I will still use that time to write and research) and then taking my final thesis course next spring (when I'll graduate), which also sounds like a good plan because I'm tired.

I don't think I'll ever regret taking this many courses this semester because I did need/want to get them more or less "out of the way," so to speak—before Big Life Changes happen (hello, baby)—but I think I will always and forever look back at this semester and laugh while wondering what on earth I was thinking.

At least, I hope I'll laugh.

I guess I should get through all my final project stuff before deciding whether to laugh or cry...

P.S. Master's degrees go by really fast, guys!

Thursday, November 04, 2021

So many doctor appointments

Today it felt like going to the doctor was my full-time job, which I really shouldn't complain about because with Zoë and Alexander I had to go to the doctor once a week for the last half of my pregnancies and I've only just started going every week this week (the last month) of this pregnancy. But today I had an appointment in the morning that ran longer than I was expecting and then I had to take Miriam and Benjamin to their well-child visits this afternoon (and that appointment ran a little longer than we were expecting as well). 

My appointment went fine. I simply didn't realize I had to do another non-stress test, so that was a surprise. The test is easy—as I mentioned before, I literally just lie there—but it does take time. The baby seems to be doing fine, but the doctor noticed that I had quite a few contractions while I was lying there. 

Monday, November 01, 2021

Birthday messages for Alexander and Miriam

October was kind of a busy month, but now it's barely November and I've already stripped the tree of its birthday wishes (doubling as Halloween decorations) and am ready to record our sentiments about both Alexander and Miriam. Andrew...didn't get around to writing on birthday balloons this time around (even though we reminded him multiple times). In his defense, we usually do these as part of family night, which we still do on Mondays, and Andrew hasn't been home on Monday evenings this semester. He was also otherwise occupied with going-out-of-town business and picking-up-all-the-slack-for-his-pregnant-wife business.

Here's what we had to say about Alexander this year...

Hogwarts robes

This is my last Halloween post, I promise (for tonight, anyway). I just wanted to note how much mileage we've gotten out of the Hogwarts robes I made for Rachel's fifth birthday! 

She used them for her birthday party (2012).

She used them for Halloween in 2012 when she went as Hermione.

Then Miriam used them in 2016 when she went as Luna Lovegood (with the lion head).

Then Benjamin wore them in 2018 when he went as Neville Longbottom.

And then Alexander wore them this year to be Harry Potter. 

And I just realized that I completely forgot to include pictures of this year in this collage, which means I'll have to post a new collage later. 

And eventually we'll have to convince Zoë to dress up in them as well. For continuity's sake!

(I don't know why she hasn't because she also likes Harry Potter, but oh well).

Edited to add: It's later! Here's a collage with Alexander thrown into the mix!

In which I'm thankful for gestational diabetes...

 It's Baby Month!

I mean, technically next month is baby month, but my doctor's pretty sure this baby will come prior to then, and if she doesn't she'll be kicked out anyway because...diabetes.

Now, I have done more than my fair share of complaining about having gestational diabetes, that's true, but to quote from dear Marti again, "When you have no food in your belly, chewing on a complaint or two can bring a little comfort" (Leavitt, 2014, p. 43). As I've mentioned, it's hard to hear other pregnant women complain about their cravings when in my overall experience of pregnancy cravings are entirely irrelevant. 

For example, "I wanted a mint chocolate milkshake but they were out so instead I had to get cookie dough." *pout*

(Cry me a river).

Or, "I live in a foreign country and can't find any of the things I'm craving so instead I've tried this, this, and this, which just don't quite hit the spot. But then I tried this and it's incredible and I ate an entire box!"

Puh-leeze. I'm over here, like, chewing on spinach.

Pumpkin carving

Andrew went a little overboard with the pumpkins this year. First he got two "big ones" at Costco and then a few weeks later when he was at Kroger he thought to himself, "May as well get three little ones as well!" So he did. 

But when he got home he found out that the three little ones were about the same size as the two big ones, so we ended up with five fairly large pumpkins. And then Rachel brought another one home from mutual so we had six pumpkins sitting on our porch! 

Only was was carved, however, the other five were sitting around just waiting to be carved...until today.

I told Andrew that he was in charge of that activity and he gladly did so as soon as he got home from church (he's the organist currently). I left them to it while I did a little bit of a workout on the exercise bike (so that my body would know what to do with the lunch I'd just eaten) and then joined them later.