Friday, December 31, 2021

So mulch better

We had 2.8 tons (2.54 metric tonnes) of mulch delivered to our house yesterday and Andrew was determined to get it spread in the yard despite the lingering afternotes of the spectacular thunderstorm the night before. By our calculations, ordering and spreading the mulch ourselves would be much more cost effective than having a landscaping crew do it. We failed to account the physical costs (and, Andrew would point out, the opportunity costs) associated with such labour. 

So although Andrew is currently feeling rather sore, it was, at least, a memorable experience for the kids to spread mulch with their father in the pouring rain. 

A few random stories

To resolve yesterday's stories about footprints all over my floors, I offer this picture:

We had a long list of chores to do today (longer than what is shown here) and included among those was cleaning the mud off the carpet (a task we didn't quite get around to yesterday).

Funny enough, Andrew was the one to sleep in this morning. I figured he was pretty worn out from how hard he'd worked on the yard the day before, so we just didn't wake him up. But I made the list of chores and began leading the kids through the chores. When Andrew got up, however, he almost immediately called the kids together for a family meeting. 

"Here's the plan," he said. "We need to do some chores today—we're focusing on bedrooms and..."

"You stopped us from cleaning our bedrooms to have this meeting," the kids told him. 

"Yup," I said. "I have a list on the whiteboard. We've already been knocking things off."

"Well, then..." Andrew said. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Phoebe Snoozy/Phoebe Spritely

Phoebe continues to be a very sleepy baby, for which I'm ultimately grateful even if it does make me nervous sometimes. She still manages to make me feel completely worn out and wakes up every few hours to eat, but at least I know that nap time usually isn't far off.

Today I was fretting about whether she'd ever manage to meet her milestones because she was in such a snoozy mood all day long. All I saw her do today (and probably for the past couple of days) is fuss & feed, fuss & feed. I could not get her to engage in alert time at all. I might think she was up for a while but then I'd do something crazy like put her on her stomach for tummy time and...

A winter storm

The storm is raging all around us now.

The sky—strobing pink and purple—
Is turning on and off again—
Dark and light, dark and light
—is thrumming on a timpani, rattling cymbals.
Thick, juicy rain offers a long
And drizzly standing ovation,
Calls for an encore. Encore!

Noticing that a storm was in the forecast, Zoë and Alexander made a list so they could be ready for the storm. I just dug it out of the recycling bin, so pardon all the creases.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Book announcement

On December 30, 2019 I sent my book proposal to BCC Press and was shocked to hear back the very next day that they were interested in publishing it. I was originally told it would likely be published in the fall, which was fine with me. I wanted to spend more time with my manuscript, anyway! But then—in case you live under a rock and weren't aware—the world became embroiled in a pandemic and everyone got very busy coping supply shortages...and illness...and so forth. So the timeline for publication kept being pushed back and back and back. From August October January

Honestly, I just stopped asking about it.

And I stopped telling people about it, too, because I never knew what to tell them. 

But late December brought a flurry of book publication activity—from cover design to marketing to I-really-need-to-finish-going-over-my-manuscript-one-more-time—and my book is being released on January 4, 2022. 

I almost feel a little silly about it, honestly, since the book deals with the intersection of grief over Karen's death and grief over the fleeting nature of motherhood and...though we will forever be grieving Karen (as Andrew Garfield once said, and which my sister Josie reminded me of today after she finished reading my manuscript, “This is all the unexpressed love, the grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other, no matter if someone lives till 60, 15, or 99") I have kind of renewed my lease on motherhood, having just had another baby. 

I already am finding the "last time" emotions to be difficult, even though I've done them before, so perhaps publishing this book will help me work through them again. And poor Phoebe, of course, isn't mentioned in the book at all. So perhaps I will work on a new set of poems that include her. 

Anyway, I'm excited and scared for the book to come out. I've always wanted to be an author. But now that it's come down to it, I'm scared to have anyone read what I've written. 

That's why I sent my manuscript to Josie (I needed someone to read it and tell me nice things). 

I had a few early readers—author friends and non-author friends alike, all wonderful—who said some very nice things about my book and gave me some helpful ideas on how to make it better (some of which they'll find I implemented—thanks, friends!—and some of which they'll find I ignored—sorry, friends). And I loved the love I got from them and the development that came through talking about my manuscript with them.

But I had one author-acquaintance that I sent my manuscript to who did not have very much to say about my book at all. They didn't say anything mean but I could also tell they were struggling to find anything nice to say. And that was hard and has definitely had me thinking twice about this collection of poems over the past year, but only in the back of my mind because I've had so much else going on and because I wasn't sure my project was ever going to wind its way through the publication pipeline. 

But now it has and I'm really nervous about it. 

But, just tonight a Twitter friend was talking about the exact topic of my book (the fleeting nature of motherhood and how unprepared I felt for that as a mother) so I feel like while my book definitely won't be for everyone (which no book really is), it will at least be for someone (as all books are). So I'll just have to take a deep breath and let people read it, I guess. 

Here's a sneak peek of the cover:

I think it's beautiful! Christian Harrison designed it, Brooke did the sketch of the woman (and the illustrations). Andrew, of course, typeset the inside of the book. I wrote the words. 

The words are both accurate and not. Many poems are based on experiences I've had or people I've known. Some experiences are exaggerated or embellished or downplayed or downright imaginary. But largely, I think, the poems are true. They're the truest poems I know (to paraphrase Hemingway). 

Yard progress

This might be the first time I can say this without waxing hyperbolic, but tomorrow we're having tons of mulch delivered to our house. Two-point-eight tons, to be precise. 

Today Andrew, Benjamin, and Miriam spent the afternoon spreading a weed barrier on a couple levels of the front yard after the landscaping people laid down sod on the top and bottom level. It was gently raining all day, so the mud was incredibly slick and they all ended up looking like mud-people (as well as Zoë and Alexander, who weren't really helping but were just sliding around outside). It will be good to get some mulch in there so things aren't quite as muddy. 

And then we have to decide what kind of plants we want to put in. I've been looking at some "walkable" groundcovers (also here) since we know we don't want to have to mow all of these terraces. But there's time for that.

Andrew's a little worried about tomorrow's weather; he was hoping it would be nice out so that he and the older kids could really dig in and get the job done...but I'm not sure we'll be quite so lucky. We're currently under a tornado December! I can hear thunder rolling ever closer in the distance as the storm is closing in, and it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow. We'll see what we can get done.

I, of course, will entertaining the wee ones. I feel good enough, I think, to pitch in...but it would be ridiculous to get that muddy and messy only to have to get cleaned up to change a diaper or feed the'm on kid duty for now. And that's fine. 

We'll get the yard looking nice somehow or other, I'm sure.

That 70s Baby

This isn't the first time I've popped Phoebe into this outfit, but it is the first time I took a picture of her in it before she had to be changed out of it (we go through a lot of outfits over here).

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A dedicated cleaner

We are having some beautiful weather right now, which perhaps doesn't bode well for climate change over all, though Atlanta doesn't typically see a lot of snow, anyway. 

Some older neighbours were telling us today that this warm of weather was unusual and that they used to often have White Christmases here, but I think they're misremembering because the Atlanta-area really only sees snow once or twice a year, if at all. According to Wikipedia, it was only in 2010 that "Atlanta had its first White Christmas since 1882 and 1883!" 

So...I'd say that white Christmases are pretty unusual for the area! We counted last year's skiff as a White Christmas but that was just a dusting of snow.

Anyway, I do worry about climate change, but I don't mind having warmer winter weather (especially in the south where warmer winter weather isn't all that unusual). The kids were really hoping (and literally praying) for a White Christmas, but it wasn't to least not here...though other places got to have a White Christmas! The kids have been playing outside in shorts and t-shirts all this week. 

On Christmas Eve we sent them outside to play and they stayed out there for a little while before they began to show signs that they intended to come inside. They were too hot. They needed a drink. They needed a snack. They needed to change their shoes. There was nothing to do out there. They were bored. It's too muddy. It's too sunny. It's too windy. They're all out of energy...

Finally I told them that they could come inside but, if they did, they would have to do chores. After all, we had to get ready for Christmas!

Even that didn't deter them. They came inside and willingly started on chores. 

Pretty soon the doorbell rang. It was some neighbours dropping off treats. 

"And I want to know if Big Zoë can play!" said Little Zoey (because that's how the cul-de-sac children distinguish between the two—Zoë, a big girl of six years, and Zoey, who is merely Alexander's age). 

"I can't!" Zoë said, coming to the door. "I have to do chores!"

"Oh, she can too play," I said. "She's only doing chores because she came inside from being outside. What I really want is for the kids to be outside."

"But we have to get ready for Christmas!" Zoë objected. "We can't stop cleaning now! I will come outside after I finish my chores!"

The kids ended up doing a great job with their chores and then also spent quite a lot of time playing outside, which was a win-win situation for me.

Christmas Morning

 Phoebe was not the first one up on Christmas morning.

I guess the little kids got up around 8:00 and then woke up the bigger kids and they all just "played" in the basement until Andrew, Phoebe, and I finished getting up. I texted Rachel around 8:30 to let her know we were on our way...just waiting to finish feeding and changing Phoebe. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve somehow ended up being a busy day in spite of not really having much to do. The little kids were all so excited they could hardly contain themselves, which made for some interesting personality dynamics (one talked nonstop the whole day (Benjamin), one got really aggressive (Zoë), and one kept running into things and getting hurt (Alexander)). Despite their often conflicting personalities, they kept each other entertained for most of the day. 

Here they are having a pretend Christmas Eve feast:

Friday, December 24, 2021

In the middle of the night...

Alexander is in the habit of waking up in the middle of the night for no other reason other than to check on things and get a little extra love. He routinely gets up around midnight just to say hi before putting himself back to bed. I've been "dealing" with it for months now, since my "office" is on the same floor as his bedroom. Not that it's a difficult thing to deal with; in fact, it's rather cute and endearing. 

A few nights ago he stumbled into my room to tell me a joke.

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

Usually all he wants is a hug but on this particular evening he said, "I have a joke."

"You have...a joke?" I asked. 

"Yes. Why did the sheep cross the road?"

"I don't know," I said. "Why?"

"To get to the baaaaarber shop," he said.

I gave him a little chuckle. It was a good joke.

"That's all," he said. "Good night." 

"Good night," I said and with that he turned around and put himself back to bed. 

So, you see, it isn't particularly difficult to deal with Alexander in the middle of the night. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Piano Recital

We started working on Christmas music months ago but then the children's piano teacher (me) went and had a baby and she (me) has been on maternity leave, so they haven't had formal lessons the last five weeks and practicing has been only so-so. But they still wanted (with a little prodding from me) to do a little recital. We went super low-key this year, with some of the kids already in pyjamas, but it's what we could muster this year:

Alexander insisted on taking part, so we let him sing a song at the end (but which shows up first in the video). He started out singing Silent Night and then switched to Little Star but then couldn't remember the words. I was nodding vigorously at him when he was trying to sing "news" but he still wasn't quite sure that was right. And he was right that it wasn't quite right because it should be "joyous news." But that's okay. He was spot on for his little four-year-old self.

Zoë had also prepared Deck the Halls and wanted to play that, but since that was the only song Benjamin felt he really had ready to perform we decided to let him have the spotlight there. They both did wonderfully with their pieces. 

And Miriam played a fun organ piece (that she also played during sacrament meeting on Sunday); it's an arrangement of Angels We Have Heard On High by Richard Elliot. It sounded much more exciting on the church organ than it does on our organ at home, but she plays it beautifully wherever she plays it.

Rachel didn't quite get her assigned pieces prepared so she opted out of this year's recital, unfortunately.

Phoebe's well-child visit

I took Phoebe in for her one-month check-up this morning. Before I left Andrew and I both guessed how much she'd weigh in as. I guessed 8 lbs. 3 ounces; Andrew guessed 8 lbs. 10 ounces; she clocked in at an astounding 8 lbs. 15 ounces—nearly three pounds above her birth weight (and in the 25th percentile)! So she's growing well. 

All she's done the past five weeks is eat and sleep (and poop) so this really shouldn't be shocking. 

She's only 20.5 inches long, which is a little on the short side (5th percentile), but I think part of that is simply because she's still "unfurling." If something doesn't involve swaddling and/or cuddling, she tends to not like it very much, so she still spends a lot of time balled up in the fetal position. I imagine she'll gain some length soon. 

Overall we're pleased with her growth and her reflexes are all up to snuff. 

She's a little weak on head lifting (she doesn't raise her head up when she does tummy time, except to move it from side to side) but she's got time to master that skill. Rachel had excellent head control by one month (and would hold herself up on her elbows during tummy time), but Rachel was always a little ahead of the curve in meeting her baby milestones. Phoebe's been sleeping through life so I think she'll take a little longer to get things down, and that's fine. 

She can roll from side to side, so she's obviously working her muscles somewhere between her constant naps. 

A little stretch between naps this afternoon

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Working woman

When Miriam switched organ teachers earlier this year her new teacher wanted to know what organ books we already had so that she could potentially assign Miriam pieces to learn from those books. It's always smart to use what you have and we have quite a lot of organ books because we inherited all of Grandma's organ music! So Andrew had Miriam go the extra mile and instructed her on how to create a (spreadsheet) catalogue showing the cover of each book (as well as the table of contents, I believe). 

It took her quite a while to go through everything but in the end she had a beautiful self-created catalogue and her teacher was so impressed that she offered Miriam an assistantship! 

Her teacher wants a catalogue just like the one Miriam made, so she's asked if Miriam would be willing to stay after her lesson each week to work on the catalogue in exchange for partial tuition fees. We, of course, thought this was a brilliant idea and Andrew just about said yes right away but I figured we should at least consult Miriam about it. 

She's actually rather excited to do it, even though she won't see any monetary reward (since we're the ones paying for her organ lessons). The reward for her, I suppose is experience—she gets to experience the joy of cataloguing (her librarian bloodline runs deep, I guess) plus it will look great on her budding resume.

Piano teacher and studio assistant.

Rachel's a little jealous since her nannying job ended in September, but she'll find another way to gain experience/income in the future, I'm sure.

(Technically she could have another nannying job, but that situation involves (a) three more kids than her last gig, (b) less money than her last gig, (c) a big dog, (d) no transportation (her last gig brought her home everyday), and (e) a misalignment of COVID safety ideals. Rachel wasn't quite ready to sign up for all that.)

Gingerbread houses

Today I spent practically all day wrapping presents (with the help of various little elves, some more helpful than others). When I'm hoarding presents in my closet I always feel like there are so many (and, I suppose, there are, technically), but when I get them out and divide them into piles for each child...suddenly there doesn't appear to be very much at all and I realize how terrible I am at presents.

Like, I'm seriously so bad. 

First of all, Andrew buys most of the presents around here. So that in itself is telling. 

Second of all, Zoë's pile had...underwear...and a little set of LEGO.

That's it. 

I picked out the underwear at Target the day before Phoebe was born while I was waiting around for fifteen minutes after my COVID vaccine. That's when I did my little contribution to the Christmas present shopping (that Target run and a little online shopping). 

So Andrew ran out to the store to find a few more things for her. He got all the practical things on my list ("Oh! She needs new socks, too!") but also remembered to grab a few fun things (he's better at fun things than I am). 


Yesterday we made gingerbread houses. And by "gingerbread" I mean graham cracker. And by "we" I mean Andrew, Miriam, and Rachel constructed the houses earlier in the day while Phoebe and I napped and then we gathered for family night to decorate them but I mostly just held and fed Phoebe while Andrew and the kids decorated their houses. 

So it worked out pretty well.

Here are Rachel and Benjamin making sure things are all set up:

Monday, December 20, 2021

Hospital bills update

I figured, with 2021 rapidly drawing to a close, that I should try to finish paying our hospital bills, which meant more phone calls today. A friend did a post on facebook about yelling at people to get his way (he had done his fasting prep  for something and then was told that his insurance didn't preapprove things yet so they had to bump his appointment and...anyway...he got his appointment today) so I did my own version of that and just let myself cry about it on the phone. 

And I finally got some answers!

So, that first account is pending because my insurance only paid x-amount when they should have paid more than that. Or something. So even though I paid even more than that (as I mentioned, in excess of around $1000 more than that) and even though that amount is just sitting in the account, my insurance was supposed to have paid $160.16 more than they did. So the hospital is still holding out on getting that amount from the insurance company before they move my money around. 

But I don't have to worry about paying the new hospital bill—the $808.83—until after all the insurance back-and-forthing is over. And even then I won't have to worry about paying it because in fact these two hospital visits are linked in the system and the money that is all tied up will be transferred to the next account once the first account is officially resolved. And then I'll still end up getting a refund. 

And that's good news because I didn't really want to have to pay this bill (since I technically already paid it) because, well, it's (a) it's Christmas and we bought presents for our children, (b) I have tuition due next month...though technically it's just "fees," since my tuition is covered as a perk through my work, it's still a pretty penny, and (c) we decided to bite the bullet and pay a crew to build a series of retaining walls out front and that's all happening faster than we expected which means we'll also be paying for that this month (but it will help protect our foundation and hopefully make the front yard more usable).

Turns out if you just blubber about all of that then instead of snippily telling you that "you're upset at yourself because you don't understand that you have two accounts" and they're both your responsibility you get told, "Oh, no, girl! We are not doing that* today! Today's a good day! We'll figure this out! Life is good! You just give that little shorty on your lap a snuggle and take a deep breath and we'll work through this thing together! It's going to be just fine!"

And that's how a customer service representative is supposed to talk to you.

(I still think the whole insurance/billing/health care system thing we've got going on in this country is an absolute abomination, but it was nice to be treated with a little kindness!)

* crying

Family Pictures 2021

Our 16th anniversary was on Thursday—as my mom's cousin Lori pointed out it was our 16th anniversary on the 16th! We spent the evening getting our temple recommends interviewed. The stake center is a 45 minute drive from our house so it was quite the excursion. We took Phoebe with us and left the kids at home to fend for themselves; Rachel made pancakes (some with chocolate chips, some with blueberries) for dinner and then they settled in to watch Rudolph.

It's so nice to have older children!

We ordered Mexican food for ourselves, which arrived home just five minutes after we did. 

And that's about all the celebrating we could muster this year.

We also decided when we'd take our family pictures.

Alexander vibes

This morning I was sitting in the music room with Alexander. We're all decorated for Christmas (and by "all" I mean "lightly" because...I just had a baby and didn't do much decorating this year) and Alexander thinks this is thrilling. 

He's quite bossy when it comes to having the Christmas lights be on or off (on; they must always be on). He's also obsessed with turning off the other lights in the house so that we can bask in the glow of the Christmas lights. He calls it his "Christmas vibe."

So we were sitting in the music room this morning, with the Christmas tree turned on, and he was having a wonderful time. And then the clouds parted and the sun came out and...

"Alexa! Turn off the music room!" he snapped at our Echo (which the lamps in our music room can communicate with). Nothing happened, so he turned to me in a panic. 

"Mom! Can you turn off the lights?"

"Baby, that's the sunshine!" I told him (funny how quickly we forget the sunshine after a series of rainy days). "I can't turn off the sunshine."

"But my Christmas viiiiiiiiiiiibe!" he howled.


He was in bit of a mood this morning, having been up brainstorming in the middle of the night. 

Or something. I don't know what he was doing.

All I know is that I was up working on the Christmas newsletter late last night when he wandered into my room—past midnight—looking a little lost.

"What's up, buddy?" I asked. 

"I have a joke," he said sleepily.

"You have...a joke?" I repeated.

"Yeah. Why did the..." he paused for a big yawn. "Why did the sheep cross the road?"

"I don't know," I said. "Why?"

"To get the the baaaaaar-ber shop!"

I gave him a little giggle.

"That's all," he told me. "Good night."

"Good night," I said.

And with that he turned around and went back to his bed. 

Me: Good night.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Heiss Holiday Humbug 2021

I finished our Christmas poem last night and, as Andrew pointed out, that was my last big project of the year! So now I should be able to relax and enjoy the holidays (and blog a little more). You can read it below (or download it here). Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tummy time

Here's Phoebe doing a little tummy time (December 9 (I even remembered what month it is this time!)): 


Phoebe at one month

Life is coming at us fast. Phoebe has already been with us a month and to celebrate she pulled an all-nighter last night...which was fun. She just had a crummy tummy, I think. But she was miserable. 

I told Andrew that it's really only, like, her third miserable day, which I didn't think was so bad. 

"That's like 10% of her life," he pointed out, "Which is quite a lot."

And that's a good point. But really three rough days isn't so terrible.

Mostly she's been gentle on us. Mostly...

On Saturday morning Andrew hoisted Phoebe up on his shoulders for "baby's first shoulder ride." 

"Is that...wise?" Rachel questioned.

Phoebe gave a little *urp* and then spat up on top of his head while he muttered an "Oh, dear," and Rachel erupted into laughter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Can you pay my telephone bills? Do you pay my automo' bills?

"Ma'am, I hear you getting frustrated and I think what you're getting frustrated with here is yourself because you can't seem to understand that because you came to the hospital twice you have two different accounts with us."

No, I totally get that part. 

I think it's...ridiculous...but I understand it. 

I'm. Not. Dense. 

What I am frustrated about is that for whatever "reason" that account is still "pending" and so my co-pay (over $1000) is tied up in that account. Even though my insurance shows their portion of the payment has cleared and even though you're holding onto hundreds of dollars of mine...for some "reason" the account is still "pending." 

Technically, we can pay this surprise bill ($800 or so) without hardship. Technically. So why am I upset? 

Because I feel like I did everything right and still I managed to do everything wrong. 

So basically, I'm frustrated because Northside Hospital's billing department is a complete mess.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Owl-exander and Phoebe

Now that the semester is over I've turned my attention to our Christmas newsletter, which means I'm still not getting caught up on the blog. I have also been napping a lot more and am so thankful that so far Phoebe seems to be the kind of baby who prefers to sleep for like 17 hours a day rather than, like...8. 

I've had babies at both ends of the spectrum. The sleepy ones allow for a little more rest (though I find I still have to watch the clock to make sure she doesn't sleep too long, so it's not precisely worry-free). 

Anyway, here are a few pictures (from November 7) of our little cutie with Alexander, who was very excited about her owl-themed onesie (he pronounces his name like Owl-exander, which is fitting given his years-long obsession with owls). I think they're really cute together.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

A spider story

Warning #1: We hung up our stockings for our Family Home Evening activity on Monday and the kids pointed out that we have enough stockings to clothe a very big spider. 

I hope we never have a spider quite that big in our house!

Warning #2: On Wednesday my sister shared this joke over our family group chat:

There are some big differences between Iran and Iraq. For example, Iran—everyone is terrified of spiders. But Iraq—no phobia. 

And now for my story, which is about spiders (consider yourself duly warned):

Some ramblings

We typically don't do schoolwork on Fridays—because Friday free day!—but this last Friday we did because we didn't do schoolwork on Monday—because we were too busy partying with Grandpa. Amidst the schoolwork, however, we also squeezed in a little visit to the library and to the playground.

Now that the kids are vaccinated (for the most part), we're starting to experiment with taking them out in public a little bit more so I actually let the kids come inside the library with me...well, three of the kids. Miriam, Benjamin, and Zoë came inside the library with me (I needed them to help me carry books, anyway) while Rachel sat in the van with Phoebe and Alexander (don't worry: the weather is perfect for sitting in the van and Rachel is 100% capable of unbuckling and removing the children from their car seats (and the vehicle) and walking them into the library, should the need arise).

Here's Benjamin putting the library books into alphabetical order for me so that we can cross-reference them with our library list to make sure we are returning everything we've borrowed. Zoë is sitting in the background holding Phoebe and fruitlessly trying to convince Benjamin that you just ignore the "the's" in titles and alphabetize by the next word (but he ignored her advice so had to re-alphabetize when he was finished) :

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Grateful for Grandpa

On Monday Andrew said sighed and said, "I'm so tired! It's hard to believe my dad's only been gone for..." He paused to do some quick mental calculations. "Five days. Is that right?! My dad's only been gone for five days?! It feels like it's been weeks."

Grandpa left us on November 30, but here are the kids taking a picture with him before bed on November 29th (just in case we weren't put together enough in the morning to pull together a farewell photo): 


I officially survived the semester. I don't know for certain what my grades are but I have completed and turned in every single assignment for every single class. And today I spent a billion (okay, so only about 75 individual well as a mass email to about 900 only around one thousand) emails for work, which means I'm all caught up on that front as well.

I can't say I recommend having a baby while taking 12 (graduate) credits, while working up to 20 hours a week, while homeschooling five children. It was...kind of a lot. 

But then I was thinking back about all of my births and concluded that either (a) our life is a little over-the-top sometimes or (b) having babies is just...hard...because I also cannot recommend:
  1. Moving across the country while extremely pregnant (and then being thrown into a somewhat tense living arrangement (we moved in with Andrew's parents and while living with them was easy, living with his sister was a little more stressful)).
  2. Having your husband leave for a two-week conference shortly after your baby is born (and having your otherwise helpful mother-in-law fly out to "help," only to be struck down with kidney stones so you end up taking care of her).
  3. Having a baby prematurely mere weeks after your husband returns from a summer internship in Ghana and mere weeks before a cross-country move.
  4. Having a baby in a foreign country where you are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the language and culture (also—plan on moving when that baby is eight months old).
  5. The level of hardness that is having a baby for the first time (also—plan on moving by the time that baby turns one). 
So basically, having a baby is hard. But also...we move a lot...and that complicates life, too. So it can be hard to sort out whether (a) moving is hard or (b) babies are hard. But I'm not currently moving so I'm leaning toward (b) babies are hard.

Andrew pointed out that Zoë's birth wasn't as hard as the others because it wasn't compounded by a move. Although he left shortly after she was born, that was only temporary (and at least I wasn't alone). 

This is a very good point.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Beat poetry

Today we read First They Came... by Martin Niemöller because it was used in the book we're reading aloud in the mornings (Efrén Divided). We talked about it a bit and I had the kids write a reflection. 

Zoë asked if she could instead write a poem because she was so inspired by Niemöller's words, so I told her she could. So while I sat down to have a reading lesson with Alexander, Zoë sat down and wrote this:

Slavery. Death. I saw it all.
Punishment. Crying. Why?
Gunshot. BANG. Justice.
Death again. Sickness. Ruins
Of what used to be
Africa. Regretness. Jail. Rags.

And I...

I mean...


Happy Due Date

Today is Phoebe's due date—just another milestone on her journey to becoming a Real Girl. She's still very much in a newborn stupor, and I expect that will last for a few more weeks yet (she's allowed to be a few weeks "behind" her peers since she was a few weeks early). We don't mind the sleepiness, though. She's a cuddly little squish. 

She actually did quite a bit of awake time yesterday morning, falling into an exhausted slumber that afternoon. She even let me place her in her bassinet and stayed sleeping soundly there until I got into bed to take a nap. It's so interesting to me that the current recommendation is to have infants sleep in their parents' room but on a separate sleeping surface when studies show that babies who can smell their "own mother odor increased mouthing" (source: Sullivan & Toubas, 2007 (this article is also interesting, though it doesn't quite support my argument)). This is something we learned when Benjamin was in the NICU—our favourite occupational therapist, Annie, told us that babies begin stirring in the bassinets the minute their mothers walk through the door. They recognize their mothers and want them almost immediately (Annie also explained that young children still have this instinctive desire to come to their lactating mothers and, indeed, whenever I've been nursing my newborns my toddlers have flocked to me). 

So it seems almost like a recipe for disaster, trying to keep baby in their own sleep space but in the same room as their mother. My babies always just fuss and fuss and fuss until they're back in my arms. So...we usually end up co-sleeping (which isn't as risky as it sounds).

In fact, we've started having Phoebe "hang out" in Daddy's office while I'm trying to work because there she'll peacefully rest...until I walk into the room (and then she immediately starts acting like she needs milk now). She can't hang out in her bouncy chair in my "office" because...she just fusses. 

Like, why can I smell you...but you're not here?

Anyway, Phoebe has reached her due date and is quickly coming up on being three weeks old. She's sweet and squishy and is starting to spend more time looking around at her world. But mostly she's still very sleepy. 

Last night, bedtime was rather peaceful. I read to the kids while I nursed Phoebe. We're reading The Good Master right now, which I'm really enjoying (and I think the kids are, too). It's like The Little House on the Prairie but set in Hungary (and possibly less problematic). It's rather bucolic, so it makes for a cam bedtime read. Alexander fell asleep on my bed while I was reading last night. I can't lift him yet (in fact, I forgot I'm still not clear to lift things yet and when I checked on Zoë last night her head was hanging off her bed—she was nearly horizontal—so I tried to hoist her back onto her pillow and...I could not! Somehow she weighed a billion pounds; I don't know when she got so heavy)!