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Saturday, July 02, 2022

Poopy tales

Grandpa came to pick up Rachel and Miriam for a Stranger Things party last night and Phoebe was crawling around on the floor. He thought about picking her up, since she hasn't really seen him in quite some time, but he remembered that she can be particular about her ups and downs these days (when she wants up, she wants up, when she wants down, she wants down). Since she was happy down, he left her down and just chatted to her while he waited for her sisters to be ready to go.

Just before they left, she started fussing with some "I'm ready to be picked up now" noises, so I scooped her up from the floor and plopped her on my hip.

Now, in these pictures, she's all fancy, wearing clothes and everything...

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

7/8 of the way there

When I said we'd test Zoë, Alexander, and Benjamin "eventually," what I meant was that we'd test them today. And because the tests came in a 4-pack I decided that I would take a test, too (though I had little hope it would be negative).

Zoë and Alexander tested first and were overjoyed when their tests both showed they were negative. Alexander ran around the house cheering for several minutes. Everyone was very aware that he was now negative. 

I took my test a little later and was surprised when I didn't see a positive line creep up right away. After waiting the allotted amount of time it was still negative. I began to suspect the tests were faulty (because I'm trusting like that).

Fortunately (or not?), Benjamin's test showed that he was positive for COVID still. 

He took the news with a shrug of his shoulders and a little, "Oh, well," but later began wailing dramatically, "Why did I have to get sick last?! Now I'm the only one left!" I don't think he was truly upset about it; he just gets dramatic sometimes. 

Alexander does as well. He had been absolutely jubilant about testing negative, but soon became quite paranoid about having to continue sharing a room with Benjamin, who is still testing positive. 

I explained all about antibodies to him (which he pronounces "anti-botties"), about how he won't have long-term immunity from COVID because it's constantly evolving but that his body is really good at fighting off this particular strain that we have right now. His antibodies know just what to do for COVID right now, so even though Benjamin is still breathing out virus particles, Alexander has little to worry about. His antibodies will take care of everything. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Phoebe's crawling

Here's a sweet picture of Phoebe, who is feeling much better:

 

I think that in addition to being ill with COVID, she's begun teething. So she's been grumpy upon grumpy, very drooly, and her tongue is sticking out of her mouth 95% of the time. But she's darling.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Negative outlook

Rachel tested negative last week—on my birthday, on the 8th day of her illness. 

Alexander, who has been so touchy about being sick, begged to take a test, his little lips quivering. 

"Nobody's tested me lately!"

We explained that his test would likely be positive, since he'd only just tested positive a few days prior and was still likely sick, even if he was feeling better.

"But I do feel better!"

So we tested him. And the test was positive. 

"Benjamin did stand behind me in the kitchen!" Alexander sobbed. "This is all his fault!"

We had to talk him down from his anger. It's true that Benjamin was quite sick, but Alexander was already sick so the fact that Benjamin stood behind him in the kitchen had no effect on whether or not he was going to test positive. Just as Mommy's lullaby—to an already sick and feverish little boy—didn't make him get sick. He already was sick, simple as that. 

The next day—June 23, on my 8th day of illness—Andrew coaxed me into taking a test. I say coaxed because I knew it would still be positive. I still felt awful. But I took a test anyway and that positive line lit up before the control line even got wet. 

Andrew took a test on June 24—his sixth day of illness—it was negative. So we're thinking Paxlovid works fairly well! And I did my best to convince myself to stop feeling guilty for making him do so much while I rest because (honestly) I have just been much sicker. Unfortunately.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

COVID stats

I think we're just about settled into a state of boringness over here, which is a good thing! Initial onset of COVID seemed to be the worst stage for most of us (not the case for Andrew or Rachel, however). Now we're just...slogging through things...until we're better.

Here are some quick, boring facts...

Highest temperature:

1st place: Phoebe with 105°F
2nd place: Me with 104.2°F
3rd place: Tie between Zoë and Benjamin with 103°F, or so

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Benjamin's onset

Last night (Sunday night) Phoebe and I went to bed upstairs. Not like to-bed-to-bed—just, like, sequestered in the bedroom where we did not sleep (because that would be silly). We watched Won't You Be My Neighbour, which made me cry several times, and about a billion episodes of Seinfeld, which did not. 

Andrew texted shortly after midnight to see if there was anything we needed before he went to bed. I responded that we were all good. Phoebe would be asleep soon (hahahaha) and then I'd go to bed and he was like, "Headed there myself. So tired."

He slept downstairs with Benjamin. But only partially so. 

Because Andrew tested positive on Sunday morning, he was sleeping in the entertainment room (where he could still be accessible to the kids downstairs) and he put Benjamin up in the music room (with the windows wide open to give him plenty of air circulation). 

Around 1:00 in the morning I heard a lot of footsteps. I checked my phone to see if Andrew had texted me anything. Nothing. I heard more footsteps. And more footsteps. And not much else because I have this Corsi-Rosenthal box running in the bedroom. 

I thought about texting him to tell him to get to bed (because I'm a nag like that sometimes) but then figured that he was a big boy. He could take care of himself. So I put my phone down and...proceeded to fight with Phoebe about whether or not we should sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

105°Phoebe

After having a rough night on Friday night, Phoebe went to bed at her usual time on Saturday night. 

Andrew texted me to say that she was hungry and sleepy. I put on my mask, washed my hands, and grabbed a squirt of hand sanitizer on my way out of the bedroom. Nursed her to sleep, returned to my...chambers. 

Around 10:30 I heard her fussing, so I went in to feed her again—grabbing my mask, washing my hands, using hand sanitizer. I felt her head first to see whether she was running a fever. 

Note to self: using your hand to check whether another person has a fever while you yourself have a fever is actually not that effective.

She felt fine to me!

But then I latched her on and her little mouth was hot! She was having trouble falling into a good suck-swallow-breathe pattern. Her little heart felt about ready to gallop away. 

I quickly unsnapped her pyjamas—just grabbed an opening and tore that thing right off her. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! I ran to grab a thermometer—103°F! I texted Andrew to find her dosage for ibuprofen. He came up with a syringe full of medicine and then we discussed what to do with her.

Testing her would be difficult. Her little nostrils are teensy weensy. The test swab is, comparatively, quite large. We decided to presume her positive. So then...did I need to isolate from her any longer?

We entertained the idea of continuing to isolate—considering viral load and so forth—but ultimately decided she'd just room in with me. And a good thing, too. I think I nursed her for a grand total of seven hours last night! 

She was feverish and miserable and if she wasn't latched on she was not happy!

Just a timeline of emails and things

July 28, 2020 (ward email):

...I will share with you that what I am seeing in the hospital setting is very concerning regarding those ill with Covid and the overwhelming pressure it is placing on our health care system. Please protect yourself and your families. 

August 31, 2020 (RS email):

Many of you are aware that Sister I_______'s husband, J________, has been in the hospital battling COVID for several weeks. I am saddened to announce that he passed away on Sunday, August 30th. A viewing will be held on Tuesday, September 1st from 6pm to 8pm and funeral services will be held on Wednesday, September 2nd at 2pm (please arrive early - masks are required). 

September 12, 2020 (primary email):

Hello Parents of Primary Children-

Tomorrow is our 1st day of Virtual Primary!! To prepare for tomorrow, the children will need a couple of things to sing with...

 September 25, 2020 (ward email):

Hello fellow members of the Berkeley Lake Ward.  As you know, starting on 11 October, we will start having in person Sacrament meetings again.  The ward will be divided into two groups.  The first group will meet on the even Sundays and the second group will meet on the odd Sundays until we can meet all together again.  We will be sending an announcement as to how the ward will be divided in the near future.  The Sacrament meeting will continue to be broadcast via Zoom every week for the benefit of the not attending group and those that do not yet feel comfortable assembling in a larger group.

September 25, 2020 (Andrew's response):

Is there an option for giving these talks through Zoom? We’re not planning on meeting in person for a while, but if there’s a possibility to participate remotely, we’d be happy to give talks.

Also, Nancy is penciled in for an odd week, while Rachel and I are scheduled for an even week. Is our family supposed to be split across two groups?

September 26, 2020 (personal reply):

For the time being, we want the sacrament participants to be at the chapel. That may change in the future if we continue to have challenges with COVID-19.

Fortunately, we have not continued to have any challenges with COVID-19...

Saturday, June 18, 2022

I forgot to post this one

Everything sounds like crying. 

About 50% of the time the cries I hear are real. The rest of the cries are imaginary, fueling my maternal anxiety. 

Andrew's doing a phenomenal job holding things together as everything falls apart around him. 

Rachel, Miriam, and Zoë are all quarantined in the basement. I'm quarantined in our bedroom so that I can be close to Phoebe. When she needs milk, I put on my mask, wash my hands, then grab a squirt of hand sanitizer before stumbling into the hallway to meet Andrew—double masking in his own home—so he can hand her off to me.

I feed her in her room, away from the lingering virus in my room. 

Then she either naps or returns to Andrew to play.

She's decided that crawling around the house is the greatest thing ever, aside from pulling herself into quasi-standing position on car ramps, toy boxes, fireplace ledges. So she hasn't been entirely miserable, but she hasn't been entirely happy. 

She gets so excited to see me. I feel awful that I only ever spend ten minutes or so with her.

But because I'm also sick, that means I can spend more time checking in on the girls in the basement. Zoë is the most miserable. For a while it seemed like she was going to stay positive yet perky. Now she's running a temperature of 103°F and doesn't feel too hot...or feels far too hot, rather. 

She got up at 5:00 this morning (after Phoebe didn't go to bed until midnight...and then woke up at 3:00 and finally went back to bed at 4:00ish) and I just was able to lull her into taking a nap by stroking her hair and her face until she drifted off. 

I don't feel afraid of her because I have what she has. And I think I'm over the worst of it (famous last words, right?). The first night I spiked a temperature of 104.2°F and was in so much pain I couldn't sleep. But my fever eventually subsided and I felt better. And then I spiked a fever again. And then felt better. And then spiked a fever again. And then felt better. And then...

Currently I feel pretty good, all things considered.

Zoë's highest fever has been 103°F. Miriam's been up to 102°F. 

Rachel hasn't had a fever this entire time. But she's been dizzy, with a horrendous headache. She also has a cough. Miriam has had some tummy issues. Zoë can hardly speak without coughing (but doesn't cough otherwise). I have a very gentle cough. 

So not too bad on that front, but we're still experiencing the first act. 

Hopefully it will just get better from here...

Friday, June 17, 2022

Another one bites the dust (it's me!)

Slowly piecing things together...

A small family—husband, wife, baby, and, I presume, grandmother—are "too sick" to come to church but they send uncle and grandfather anyway.

*****

October 15, 2021—the following email was sent from a councilor in the bishopric to a handful of people, me included although I had voiced several times that we are not attending in person:

Brothers and Sisters,

I normally don’t do this but I find myself in a bit of a jam.  The sacrament speakers scheduled for Sunday have come down with colds and are unable to speak. 

If any of you would be willing to take a quick assignment to speak this Sunday, please let me know.
I respond:
I spent the night in the hospital with preterm labour. We’re home now (and still pregnant), but still trying to be careful. Sorry I can’t help. 

He replies:

Fully understand. Thank you for responding. We wish you the best.  

No one checked in on us. Cool.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Super Positive (with COVID, that is)

On this, the 825th day of quasi-isolation, yea, on the very same eve the FDA gave their approval for a vaccine for children under the age of five, Rachel tested positive for COVID. 

Right now I'm mostly resigned, but initially I was so livid I was shaking.

Livid because we have done virtually nothing for such a long period of time, only to have to battle this virus now. Livid because I could have—and may as well have—blown our safety on something frivolous, like Disney World, or a trip out to Utah, or whatever. Livid because I wasn't ready to go back to church. In fact, have not "gone back" to church because mostly I feel that it isn't anyone's business to decide beans about my worthiness or devotion or whatever and I can just do what I want. But still livid because of all the pressure we've felt to return.

Livid for every "We encourage each of you to attend in person..."

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Phoebe at 7 months

Phoebe is seven months old, which—if we're rounding (and we did a lot of rounding today since that's what Benjamin's working on in math right now) is a year old! She's 58.3% of a year old. That's past the halfway point! I can't believe how fast her babyhood is flying!

She, of course, is determined to grow up. It seems babies just come that way. 

She's inching around on her belly, pretty much anywhere she wants to go. She can get out of her bed on her own (she's on a floor bed rather than in a crib) and followed me into the bathroom the other day. 

We are the proud new owners of a baby gate, which we smartly installed at the top of the stairs.

Here she is showing off her little army crawl:


Monday, June 13, 2022

Phoebe the door guardian (and brothers with swords)

We had our first day of school today, which went well. Phoebe took a nap while I met with my poetry writing group. And then we went to the pool for a few hours to kind of cool down and kind of feel like we were ingredients in a batch of human soup. It's hot and humid out, that's for sure! Phoebe refused to nap at the pool, which is actually somewhat unusual for her. She was pretty grumpy when we got home, but still refused to nap, so we went outside to play. 

She enjoyed sitting quietly outside with me, but was (grumpily) thrilled when her siblings came out to play (because she's convinced they exist to entertain her at her pleasure). The boys were practicing their swordsmanship and Zoë settled on the grass beside me to read. 

Here she is posing stoically for me, looking pretty to mark seven months:

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Benjamin's birthday balloons

Just as we spread the celebration of Benjamin's birthday over a few days (due to shipping times on some presents), so too have I spread out my blogging of his birthday. But Andrew is tidying up the dining room and wanted to take down the birthday sign because we wouldn't be needing it until "the end of July."

"Uhhhh..." I said. 

"Uhhhh..." he said. "Oh, yeah! Your birthday!"

My birthday is also in June. But that's fine. We can put the birthday sign up again. 

At any rate, I'm ready to transcribe Benjamin's birthday balloons. 

Alexander made a valiant effort and wrote:

BEn THE EXTrEmE GOOd A VbEO GMS LEGO

Monday, June 06, 2022

1000 words (or something)

Here are a few pictures of us hanging out in the yard last night..

No time for shoes!!!

This morning the children helped me clean the garage, something that was long overdue. Rachel also mowed the lawn, something that was also long overdue. And then we headed to the pool to cool off. 

After a couple of hours I noticed some clouds congregating in the sky. Frothing and billowing on the horizon, they seemed hesitant to break up our fun. I was, likewise, hesitant to call it a day and figured I nurse Phoebe (because that's what she wanted to do) before calling the kids out to head home. But then the sky stopped prevaricating and pounced with unexpected ferocity.

One clap of thunder and the ever-diligent lifeguard blew his whistle to clear the pool. 

No one needed to be told twice. 

The wind—gusting at 40–50 mph, according to the weather statement—did its best to hurry us along. 

The shade umbrellas yelped and started leaping off the tables and over the fences. A few "big boys" let themselves out of the pool enclosure to chase down the stampeding umbrellas while more docile pool-goers (us) scrambled to crank closed any ones we were near. 

A few sun-loungers and patio chairs executed less-than-graceful swan dives into the pool while several tables practiced their back-handsprings on the deck. 

"Help me gather our things!" I commanded everyone. 

Caos e complimenti

Until it came time to get on our jammies, today was the polar opposite of yesterday. 

When it was time to get on our jammies, Alexander needed help unbuttoning his shirt, so Andrew called to him to come down the stairs for some help. Alexander had lifted his shirt up over his head (bottom up, so his belly was exposed and his head was covered because the button by his neck was still done up) but decided to make his way down the stairs anyway. 

When he was about three-quarters of the way down the stairs he peeked out at Andrew and then—just as Andrew said, "Alexander, that's a really dumb way to come down the stairs..."—launched himself at down the stairs full of hope that Andrew would catch him. 

Andrew did, more or less. By the time Alexander reached a decent-but-still-make-sure-your-catcher-is-ready spot to jump from, he was already upside down. Andrew managed to prevent him from landing completely on his head and then they tumbled down the rest of the way together, landing on a heap at the bottom of the stairs and exacerbating Andrew's surgery site. 

Because—fun story—Andrew had surgery last week.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Ben is ten!

It's hard to believe Benjamin has reached the double digits, the big one-oh, an entire decade.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Ideal Advice

Sometimes advice meted out is so obvious that it's useless.

For example, every evening at the beach house while I would read to and/or feed the littles before putting them to bed, Grandpa and Andrew spent time teaching Rachel and Miriam the game of "Hearts." Once I was finished putting children down and they had finished their round of "Hearts," we'd move on to "Hand and Foot" since "Hearts" is only a four-player game and I make five players.

Frequently I would end up watching them finish their games. 

One particular night, Andrew was coaching one of the girls on their winning strategy and he said, "Okay, on this round, ideally, you want to either get no points or shoot the moon."

This made us laugh because—indeed—those are the two best options. 

*****

Phoebe at 6 months

Phoebe had her 6 month well-child check today, where it was pronounced that she's doing well. She's gained 3 lbs. since her last visit!! She's now 17 lbs. 8 oz, which is about how much Rachel weighed at her 6 month check up. For some reason Phoebe feels ginormous, but she's not really. Here's where she fits in amongst her siblings:

Rachel: 17 lbs. 8 oz.
Miriam: 16 lbs. even
Benjamin: 14 lbs. 13 oz.
Zoë: 16 lbs 13.8 oz
Alexander: 17 lbs. 1 oz.
Phoebe: 17 lbs. 8 oz.

Phoebe quite enjoys eating. She's currently eating the information sheets for the vaccines that she just got—that the clinic simply expected that she would get. And I'm all for that. No one needs (checks chewed up notes) polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, or pneumococcal diseases! I just wish that if we're being forced to "live with" COVID in this "new normal" (or is it that we've gone "back to normal"?) that the COVID vaccine would be as easy to get. But our pediatrician's office is no longer carrying it so we have to go to the Covid Vaccine Store (the CVS). 

Anyway, Phoebe is happy and healthy and nothing exciting really happened at her visit. 

She's a baby who enjoys her sleep, so as we approached her two-hour window of being awake and found ourselves still waiting for the nurse to come in with her green plastic tray of needles (and oral drops), Phoebe fell asleep, despite my best efforts tp keep her awake a little while longer. 

It was a pretty rude awakening to be roused for that! 

The nurse decided to do the drops first and Phoebe wasn't quite awake when she was offered the tube. Having fallen asleep without nursing (though not for lack of trying to convince me to nurse her), she was rather eager to suck anything that entered her mouth...but her eyes flew open with suspicion when she realized it was a vial being put in her mouth rather than warm, yummy milk. Still, the contents of the vial were evidently not vile because she greedily slurped her vaccine down without spilling a drop.

She was less enthusiastic about the needles. 

But she survived (most children do) and took a three-hour stress nap this afternoon (punctuated by a couple of brief nursing sessions). 

Let's see. She was 26 inches tall and her head is 16.63 inches around. She's growing well and meeting all her milestones so...we'll just keep keeping on. 


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Saying goodbye to the beach (May 12)

Since we couldn't find beach access at Mitchelville, we headed back to Singleton Beach so we could bid the ocean farewell from there. We managed to catch the boardwalk shuttle both ways this time, which was nice because it was windy and rainy.

Here's a few family shots on the beach (we have a tradition of taking one of these each beach visit):


Mitchelville (May 12)

Our last touristy stop of the day was Mitchellville, the location of " the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people." Little remains of the actual structures, but there's a lovely little replica village that we wandered through.

Coastal Discovery Museum (May 12)

The Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head was really quite neat! They had a few indoor exhibits (which we didn't spend much time at) and several outdoor exhibits as well. 

The lady who greeted us at the welcome center was, very clearly, from New Jersey. A surprising number of people we ran into on this trip seemed to be from that area. Anyway, she told us about the art exhibit and how to get to the walking paths and insisted we visit the "Kids' Own Room."

She said this several times:"Your little ones will just love the Kids' Own Room! You gotta stop by the Kids' Own Room!"

Imagine my surprise when we were finally able to peel ourselves away from the desk (she was chatty) and followed her directions to the Kids' Own Room, only to find it clearly labeled "Kid Zone." 

That made a lot more sense. I think I wouldn't have been so confused if she hadn't kept tacking "room" on the end of things. Anyway, the Kid Zone (room) was rather delightful. 

We got to see horseshoe exoskeletons in varying stages of development:


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

I took my kids to the pool yesterday

 I took my kids to the pool yesterday. 

They were all surprisingly cooperative as I ran stroke clinics and made them swim laps and tread water and things like that. We also worked on our stride entry, a method of entering the pool from the side while keeping your head above water so you can keep your eyes on the victim.

"Wait...there's a victim?!" Rachel gasped.

"Yeah, like....a drowning victim."

"Well, that really raises the stakes!"

I suppose it does. 

We practiced entering the water with a stride entry and a pool noodle (which isn't really a life-saving device, but we didn't want to get out the pool's rescue rings since they're only for true emergencies) to rescue each other while we took turns pretending to drown. We practiced our surface dives. 

We practiced a lot of things. And then Phoebe woke up from her poolside nap and began commanding my attention.

Happy 7th birthday to Zoë

 It's true! It's true! We have a seven-year-old on our hands and she's wonderful!

Here's Zoë standing in front of our new birthday tree(s):

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Zoë's non-party

"I found my invitation to Zoë's birthday party," our little neighbour told me when I stepped out on to the porch to look a worm Alexander had found. It had been uprooted and drawn to the surface by the drizzly—at times downright downpour-ish—weather.

It was a quizzical-looking thing, with a distinctive hammerhead. Knowing it's invasive, I went back inside to get some salt. While I was gone, Alexander and the neighbour chopped the worm in half, which is cool because they reproduce via asexual fragmentation so now we essentially had two hammerhead worms on our hands. No matter. I scooped it into a plastic baggie and added some salt. Poor dear(s). 

"I found my invitation to Zoë's birthday party," our little neighbour repeated, waving a rather soggy, rather empty piece of paper in my face. 

"You must be mistaken," I told her. "I haven't planned a party for Zoë this year."

We'd considered baking cupcakes and setting up a table in the cul-de-sac for neighbours to stop by and grab and somehow convince Zoë that that is a party. But...it was raining...so we didn't. 

"Don't you love her?"

"Oh, I love her immensely. I just didn't plan a birthday party for her."

Our neighbour, an only child, considered the mathematics of this.

"But I have this invitation..." she insisted.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Stoney-Baynard Plantation Ruins (May 12)

This was an interesting, but very quick, stop that we probably won't be repeating. We found it touted as the "creepiest hike in your state," so naturally Rachel wanted to visit it. Supposedly the ruins are haunted by Baynard (who won the estate in a poker game), himself. But we didn't see any ghosts and the hike was more like a walk (and not even a long walk, at that). It was interesting to see the tabby block ruins and read about the history of the place, but we really only spent a few minutes there (which was especially disappointing because although the site itself is on the list of national historic sites, it's only accessible by a private road and there's a $9 toll per vehicle, which we did not know about beforehand—and it had to be paid in cash). 

So, anyway, it was neat...but not $18 (tolls for two cars) neat.

Here's everyone reading a plaque in front of the big house:



Sunset on the beach (May 11)

I literally don't understand the order these pictures uploaded in. They are all completely out of order. Suffice it to say, we headed down to the beach for a sunset stroll on May 11, knowing it would really be our last chance to do so (we had storms in the forecast for May 12, our last "play day").

I'm going to try to put things in order the best I can.

Here's Zoë and Andrew strolling down the boardwalk together:

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Beach Day 2 (May 11)

Our second sunny day at the beach was much the same as the first, except that we made better use of the shuttle and Andrew only had one meeting in the morning so he was able to join us a lot sooner.

This day really turned into our sand castle day. I think we were all still a little worn out (and sunburned) from playing so hard the day before, though we did eventually get in and do a lot of swimming and boogie boarding. Even Grandpa tried his hand at boogie boarding!

Here's Zoë dancing on the sand:

 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Unraveling

Phoebe and Zoë are working on sharing a room. Sometimes it goes wonderfully and other times it can be a little rough. 

Yesterday was a little rough.

Phoebe woke up around 4:00 in the morning (by my guess) and because Zoë left her fairy lights on when she went to sleep, the room was fairly light. So instead of immediately calling out for me, Phoebe seems to have done a little bit of playing first. 

That's normal for babies to do in the middle of the night and really would be fine, except that by the time I heard Phoebe it was around 4:30 and she was wide awake. And Zoë's music was on—"Rewrite the Stars" on repeat forever. Her volume was rather low, though, and she appeared to be sound asleep. 

I crawled into Phoebe's bed to feed her (she's on the bottom bunk—which is just about floor-level—rather than a crib) and she just...was wide awake. I mean, she was happy to nurse, but she was obviously very ready to start the day.

I also kept hearing the distinct sound of pages turning. 

So I climbed out of Phoebe's bed to peek at Zoë, who appeared to be fast asleep again, but was now suspiciously holding a book.

I climbed back into bed with Phoebe to finish giving her what was apparently going to be her breakfast. And then we got up. 

I grabbed her, I grabbed my book, and we headed downstairs to hang out quietly while the rest of the house slept. She played. I read. And then...Zoë walked downstairs to join us. 

Zoë played with Phoebe and I read until around 6:30 when Phoebe began to act like she was ready to go back to bed or take a nap or whatever. I wasn't sure what to call it, but I was happy she wanted more sleep because I did as well. 

"It looks like Phoebe's ready to go back to bed," I said. "So I'm going to go lie down with her. What are you going to do?"

"Oh, I'll figure it out!" Zoë sang out. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Beach Day 1 (May 10)

We had some balmy weather on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 10 and 11), so we spent those two days at the beach. Unfortunately, those were also Andrew's busiest "work" days, so I was glad to have Grandpa around to help me get the kids down to the beach. One of Andrew's students needed to defend their dissertation one of the days (somewhat important, I suppose) and then he had a couple other meetings that he couldn't miss. Not much of a "vacation" for him, I suppose.

Grandpa, on the other hand, forgot his "electronics bag" at home, so his laptop was left sitting all alone in his living room the whole week...along with all of Grandpa's toiletries. 

Good thing they have stores in Hilton Head!

Anyway, on our way down to the beach we stumbled across an alligator sunning itself (as I mentioned in an earlier post). Here are a few more pictures of that little surprise:


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Savannah (May 9)

Our last stop of the day was a quick progressive dinner in downtown Savannah. Honestly, Savannah is one of those places you could wander around in all day and not get bored. The architecture is charming; it's dotted with public squares and there's the riverwalk and all sorts of interesting things to see. But, we charged through following Andrew. 

I said something about how "my dogs are woofing" because we ended up walking about 10 miles on that Monday and I carried Phoebe for most of it, either in the sling or the backpack, as shown here, with my hair pulled up under Andrew's baseball hat to keep Phoebe from yanking on it (she would not ride in the backpack while he was wearing it, but was happy to do so while I was wearing it).

Andrew and Rachel both looked at me like I was crazy. We don't have any dogs. And there was no woofing.

"This is an idiom," I said.

They'd never heard of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Oatland Island

Our next stop was Oatland Island Wildlife Center, which is run by the Savannah-Chattham county school district (something I thought was pretty cool). We had wanted to go last year because our neighbours highly recommended it, but I think it was closed due to COVID. 

Here's our group standing in front of the visitor's center, which was once the retirement home (?) for the Order of Railway Conductors. There wasn't much for us to do in the visitor's center, but I imagine there are classrooms and things for school groups to use. There were certainly other areas of the center that appeared to be geared toward school groups (such as the sugar cane processing area).


Fort Pulaski (May 9)

Last Monday was supposed to be quite chilly and overcast, so we decided to spend the day doing dry-land activities around Savannah. Our first stop was Fort Pulaski, named to honour Casimir Pulaski (a Polish military commander known as the "father of American calvary," who died in the Revolutionary War). Pulaski died in 1779, fort construction was ordered after the war of 1812, construction began in 1829 and was completed in 1847. Confederate troops claimed the fort in early 1861, and in April 1862 Union forces based at Tybee Island conquered the fort using a new "rifle cannon." 

At the time, most known cannons only had a range of a half mile. Tybee Island is about a mile away from Cockspur Island (where Fort Pulaski stands), so the fort wasn't really expecting to be attacked. But...they were. Many shots hit the outer wall and a few landed near the powder magazine on the far end of the fort, spurring on a surrender (for fear the whole fort would blow). 

This fort is known as the fort that rendered brick fortifications obsolete since it was no match for the rifle cannon.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for helping me remember what we learned at the fort).

This is another National Monument that offers a Junior Ranger badge. The kids were quite excited to get to work on their booklets.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Critters and swimming

The other day the kids wanted to make a habitat for a moth that they'd found. I figured they'd found a little lawn moth or something, so told them to go ahead and choose an "throw-away" container or something to use. They found a cottage cheese container in the Tupperware bin and filled it with mud, since that's what they'd done for the billion snails they'd found after a storm not too long ago.

I wasn't too concerned about them drowning a lawn moth in their muddy habitat, but changed my mind once they dragged me outside to see this moth specimen with my own eyes. This was no mere lawn moth. This was a majestic creature, too regal to drown in a muck-filled cottage cheese container:

Lunar eclipse at home and star-gazing on the beach

I know I just said that I was ultimately happy leaving the beach when we did because that gave us the weekend to recover, but last night when we were observing the lunar eclipse Andrew mentioned how amazing it would have been to watch the eclipse on the beach and suddenly I found myself wishing we'd consulted an astronomer before we booked our trip.

Oh, well. Watching it from our cul-de-sac was fine.

The girls watched "A Quiet Place 2" at Grandpa's house last night and came home late and rather jittery (it's a suspense movie), so we let them stay up late to watch the eclipse with us. We put the younger four to bed, but woke Benjamin up shortly before midnight so he could take a look at the moon as well. He was pretty out of it for a while

The moon is behind you, dude...

Andrew shared some beautiful poetic words by author Manu Saadia:

An eclipse is when you experience the movement of the spheres, orbital mechanics, gravity and all—the truth that we do live in space.


SNORT!

These pictures are still from Mother's Day, a week ago now...before we were all sore and sunburned and worn out. By now we're all feeling greatly recovered from our vacation. Part of me was a little sad that I hadn't planned to stay through the weekend, but you know how trips like these go—you really need a vacation from your vacation by the time you're done. 

Yesterday I shared our more action-filled parts of the day: wading in the water and playing volleyball and things. Today I mostly have Phoebe pictures. She's a pretty chill little thing.

Here she is chomping on her thumb and trying to squirm around so she's not facing the wind:

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Mother's Day (May 8)

When we planned this beach trip we had no idea it was Mother's Day weekend. It was simply a week that worked for us—we looked at schedules for finals and last teaching days and so forth and didn't really consult a traditional calendar at all. So it was a nice surprise to wind up at the beach on Mother's Day. 

We woke up and attended our sacrament meeting via Zoom before heading down to the beach for some wholesome recreational activity.

We've been playing a lot of badminton lately. Several years ago we got the cheapest set we could find at Wal-Mart. The net is still going strong, but the rackets all broke. Restringing a racquet probably isn't too difficult, but we just ordered replacement rackets instead (since some racquets were a little bent, etc., etc., etc.) and turned the old racquets into butterfly nets for the kids...which they then brought on the beach trip.

The first frolic at Singleton Beach (May 7)

When we got to the condo, I watched the very littlest people...

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wildly unsafe

Getting to the beach was so easy; Phoebe had not yet discovered her passionate dislike for traveling in her car seat. Our stopping and going was perfectly timed with her desired napping schedule, so she slept in the car, woke up for Ocmulgee,  slept in the car, and then screamed for the last half hour before we made it to the condo. That, I suppose, is when she realized how terrible traveling can be because she screamed every other time we put her in the car after that!

We arrived at the condo, took the elevator up to the fourth floor, found our door, and explored the inside. Zoë, Alexander, and Benjamin claimed an obvious children's room with a single and full bed. Andrew and I took the main bedroom with a full bed and adjoining bathroom (but then it ended up that it was easier for Andrew to sleep in a full bed with Zoë and Alexander than to sleep in a full bed with me and Phoebe, so Andrew slept in the kids' room and Phoebe and I took the whole bedroom/bathroom combo for ourselves, which I felt a teensy bit guilty about all week). Grandpa took the other bedroom with a full bed. Rachel and Miriam were on the hide-a-bed in the living room. It worked out well.

There wasn't a lot of usable closet space, unfortunately, so all of our stuff was just kind of "out" all week. The kitchen cupboards were all full of dishes...so our food was just...out on the counter. The hallway closet contained the HVAC system. My bedroom closet contained the water heater.

"A water heater??" Alexander said when we opened the door. "In the closet?! That is wildly unsafe! They should have put this thing in the basement!"

Our water heater is...in the basement. 

I pointed out that the condo doesn't technically have a basement. Beneath us is another apartment. Beneath that is another one. And under that one is yet another one. Below that is the parking garage. 

The water heater had to go somewhere and this closet seemed like as good a spot as any. 

Then I reassured him that it was perfectly safe.

We had bigger fish to fry when it came to safety—keeping our eyes peeled for alligators. Here's Zoë by a sign in front of our condo, warning us that alligators are common in these areas.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Always fun for everyone

This last semester was rough for Andrew. My semester was fine; busy, but fine. Andrew's semester was just rough. His students were burned out and he was burned out and...I don't think he's ever been so happy to submit final grades before. 

He gets Maymester off before he's back to teaching again. 

But when I say he gets Maymester off, I mean that lightly. His vacation time has been interrupted for various meetings (dissertation defense meetings, among other things), so the past couple of days Grandpa and I have taken the kids to the beach and Andrew has met up with us later. And the funny thing is that it's way more fun for everyone when Daddy comes!

They have a lot of fun with Grandpa, too, I think. He spent a lot of time out jumping in the waves with the kids. 

It's even possible they had fun with me, though I'm more anxious about everything (sharks, guys...and alligators...and snakes...and ticks...and sunburns...and meteors crashing into the planet) so I spend more time doing things like slathering children with sunscreen than playing (they burned anyway, but think about how much worse it would have been without my efforts). I tend to have an extra hard time loosening up and playing when I have a nursing baby because what if she needs me and I'm cold and wet and covered in sand (or worse, eaten by a shark)? That would be horrible (or at least uncomfortable). 

Anyway, Daddy was fun for boogie-boarding, danger-sandcastles (the ones built down by the surf), and all sorts of adventures. Grandpa was good for wave jumping and Phoebe naps. I was good for shell hunting and safe-sandcastles and sunscreen reapplication and Phoebe cares. Divide and conquer. 

But this is a post mostly about how great Andrew is to us. 

I am typing this up while wearing his sweater (because the thermostat at the condo is set to freezing and my sweater is...somewhere in the room with a sleeping Phoebe...and I'm freezing...he is, too, but he's letting me have a turn).

He's done a great job juggling work and play on this trip.

Here are a few pictures of him playing this afternoon—watching the waves with Phoebe:

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Phoebe vs. the other kids

Taking this week to relax and be a family has caused us (or at least me) to reflect on all our sweet babies, who have been alike in some ways and different in others. They've also been a lot of hard work! I was realizing, as Grandpa was pacing the beach with Phoebe, how easy a trip like this would have been with children ages 5 to 15 (really only 4.5 to nearly 15). 

All of the kids can feed themselves, dress themselves, sit up by themselves. Most of them can swim proficiently. All of them can help shlep stuff to and from the beach. Easy.

Or at least easier.

Phoebe is wonderful but—man!—babies are a lot of work!

Anyway, when we pulled up to our condo at Hilton Head after a long stretch of driving, I hopped right out to unbuckle Phoebe, who was screaming inconsolably in her car seat. I fully expected every toy I'd handed her to cascade onto the ground the minute the door opened, but they didn't. She was hoarding all the toys in her lap. 

It was Alexander who would toss toys overboard (to the door-side of his car seat so that no one could grab them for him). 

So in that way, Phoebe and Alexander are different.

Tonight at dinner, as I was feeding Phoebe guacamole and refried beans (and Zoë was turning up her nose at the same because she hates beans (though she likes guacamole)), I remarked how amazing it was that Phoebe has enjoyed everything she's tasted so far because Zoë didn't like her first taste of anything

Phoebe has had avocado and beans, obviously. She's also had strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, watermelon, apples, bananas, celery, green beans, carrots, peas, corn, red peppers...little tastes of sandwich bread, peanut butter, Ritz crackers, cheese puffs, daal, Cheerios, scrambled eggs, hardboiled eggs (just the yoke)... 

She really doesn't like to be left out of eating so she's pretty much had a taste of anything anyone has been eating. 

Here she is eating some pistachio ice cream from Leopold's (which his apparently the best ice cream in Savannah):


Monday, May 09, 2022

Ocmulgee Mounds

Many of the pictures that we have from the past couple of days were actually taken by either Rachel or Miriam, so it'll be like a surprise for me as I go through them. I spent a lot of time holding a fussy baby, so it just made sense to pass off the camera. 

We were actually pretty lucky on the way down here, Phoebe-wise. She fell asleep for her morning nap just as we were leaving, woke up when we arrived at Ocmulgee Mounds, happily toured around, and then when we got back in the car she was ready for her afternoon nap. She slept until we were about a half hour away from our destination and then screamed nonstop until we arrived. What a good little traveller, we thought. But we've not been so lucky in the car since then, so it's probably a good thing we called off that Utah trip (since Phoebe has decided the car seat is her personal little torture chamber).

Anyway, here she is taking a quick turn around the museum at Ocmulgee with Grandpa:

Friday, May 06, 2022

Phoebe vs. Blueberries

We had the world's most delicious blueberries with dinner this evening. Dinner was leftovers: tomato soup, tacos, pancakes, and dal. The blueberries were not leftover, but they were heavenly. Even the big ones, which I usually avoid because they are sometimes sweet and mushy, were tart and juicy (just the way I like them). 

Phoebe enjoyed playing with some leftover green beans, but she got really excited about those blueberries.

She looks like a normal, sweet & innocent little baby, right?

Thursday, May 05, 2022

New Podcast Episode

The kids have been working on another episode for their podcast. This time they discussed some Civil Rights Heroes—Rosa Parks, Myrlie Evers-Williams, James Holmes, and Evelyn Simpson Curenton. 

You can listen to it on Anchor.fm

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

A couple of achievements

Miriam had her National Piano Playing Audition today. She played two pieces, which she's spent the past couple of months memorizing. She was rather worried about performing them today, but ended up getting straight C's, which is a good thing—C is for "commendable" or something. A's are for things that "require attention" and hurt your score. But she passed with flying colours, as we knew she would. 

Here are a few videos of her warming up on a grand piano that costs just about as much as our house. She made a few mistakes, but that's bound to happen when you're learning on an electric keyboard older than yourself. Something tells me our keyboards somehow don't compare to this elegant 9 ft. grand piano (that, again, is worth as much as our house). She reported that she played better during her audition (only she and the judge were allowed in the room while she was officially playing, but since her audition was right around lunchtime, she was able to sneak into the studio to warm up early and Andrew went in with her then).

Here's 'Gymnopédie No.1' by Erik Satie:


Who would have thought?

Let's all take a minute to relish the fact that rain has been in the forecast—or even written into the clouds—for several days and yet when it comes time to actually rain...it hasn't. We've been bone dry over here!

So naturally, I decide to water the lawn yesterday (double-purposed as a water day for the kids) and in the middle of the night the sky unleashes a huge storm. Just so much rain! 

And thunder. And lightning. 

It was noisy enough to send Alexander running into our bedroom. I pulled him into bed beside me. He was upset that he hadn't even been able to prepare by building a thunder fort. We talked about what causes lightning and what causes thunder. He was a little perplexed that thunder often will strike trees because "wood isn't even a good conductor," so it's nice to know that he's paying attention during our science lessons because, indeed, wood is not a good conductor. We tested out a chopstick with our Makey Makey keyboard yesterday and it would not conduct for us. 

I told him that it might be because electrons can move easier through solids than through gases, so even though a tree makes a better insulator than a conductor it's something solid for those electrons to move through. Plus, trees have...sap...and sap is maybe more conductive than regular ol' wood? I don't know, but I basically created this Reddit thread on the fly at 4 AM, so we'll say it was an okay answer.

I have plenty of memories of lying beside my mom in bed, petrified of storms, and asking similar questions. Once she told me about lightning rods and I imagined that we had an invisible one running right through our house (which at the time was a townhome) like a fire pole, because I couldn't quite understand the concept. Maybe our house had a lightning rod. Maybe it didn't. But it was a lovely thing to imagine because it made me feel safe. 

(My aunt's farm house definitely has a lightning rod, at least...that's what my cousins told me it was. At any rate they have a big, tall pole just beside their house. To no surprise to my mother, I'm sure, I'll admit that I used to climb up it.)

Alexander created his own way to feel safe last night. 

"That was a big thunder!" he pointed out. "It shook the furniture."

"It was very big," I agreed. "I felt it shake the house as well."

"I'll just pretend there's a man standing in the bathroom helping hold things together," he said.

Thanks for imagining that. The one thing I would prefer not to imagine. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

School days, sprinklers, and...some poop stories

Yesterday was a rough homeschooling day. To be fair, we'd just come off a week-long break (for finals week—mine, not the children's) so naturally it takes a while to kick back into gear. It seems almost silly that we took a break given how few days we have left until we hit our 180 day mark. 

To that end, Andrew suggested to the children during FHE last night that they only had eight days left of school, "unless mom decides to fudge the numbers."

Rachel and Miriam's hands flew up to cover their gaping mouths. 

We explained that fudging the numbers wasn't as bad as it sounds. After this week we'll have four days left of school, but I haven't counted any "catch up Friday" days this school year (there have been many more than four) so odds are we've technically accomplished more than our 180 days. Plus we have a few family (field) trips planned out that will be somewhat educational. Considering how few outings we went on this past year (thanks, Phoebe, for complicating things), I don't feel like counting these outings as school days is dishonest. 

We'll be completing some Junior Park Ranger books, for example. See? Educational. 

"So, wait...what does fudging mean?" the girls asked. 

We told them more or less the same thing the dictionary will tell you: that it means to falsify or devise as a substitute; to cheat or to exceed the bounds or limits of something; to fail to perform as expected.

"Oh, that's an actual word?!"

They thought Andrew was using it as a direct substitution word, similar to how The Good Place uses...fork, bench, and shirt. But, no. Andrew was not fudging his language in using the word fudge.

*****

And we are on a countdown to the end of the year. Like I said, yesterday was pretty awful, but today was much better.

Some weekend things

Phoebe woke up grumpy on Sunday morning and fussed and screamed through sacrament meeting as well as through primary. She took a three-hour nap after church and woke up a happy baby, thank goodness.

*****

The bishop approached Andrew to tell him that there would still be a Zoom link for sacrament meeting; it's just going to be a secret Zoom link because some people find it hurtful that others would attend meetings via Zoom rather than in-person. Weird flex, but okay. At least we get to continue our own little status quo while we wait for childhood vaccines (and then also for Phoebe to be old enough to wear a mask??). 

*****

On Saturday morning Grandpa took Rachel, Miriam, and Benjamin on a little bike ride to the park. I packed up Zoë and Alexander with their bikes to meet everyone else at the park (so they could ride around the pond with Grandpa and feel a part of things). 

Here's Alexander pushing Phoebe in the swing (she thought bumping into him was hilarious):


Saturday, April 30, 2022

End of the semester

I submitted my last term papers yesterday and today. 

*****

I was giving Phoebe her last nursing session before bed when Andrew came to see if she was ready for her bedtime walkabout with Daddy (because that's a thing for her). 

"I have nothing to do," I remarked.

Not that I was complaining. I was more...relishing the moment. 

"You can work on your thesis proposal," he suggested. "Or blog."

I have a meeting with my advisor about my thesis on Monday. And another meeting with a potential committee member on Thursday. 

And I also emailed some co-authors from a group project last year that we were planning on getting ready for publication and simply haven't yet, to see if they would still like to revise that. Because I'm, apparently, a glutton for punishment. 

The "revise and resubmit" that I did this semester was not fun. But part of that was just that two of my co-authors decided they didn't want to work on the paper anymore (which...fine) and I had a strange dynamic with the third co-author, who was the principal investigator. She at once wanted me to do too much (in my opinion, which I think is why the other authors had the...courage...to bow out) but also wouldn't let me do enough. It was weird. And stressful. 

One quick example (poor Andrew listened to hours of me agonizing over this process) is that once the PI added a quote to the paper that included the line "when we fail to rest the limits of our knowing." The quote goes on to talk about "a willingness to declare publicly that we might not, or cannot, know anything with certainty" (that's from page 31 of Thinking with theory in qualitative research: Viewing data across multiple perspectives by Jackson & Mazzei, 2012).

Failing to "rest" the limits of our knowledge didn't quite make sense to me, but I didn't have access to this book. My PI, however, did. 

So I suggested that perhaps it was really supposed to read "test."

She responded, "Nancy, this is a direct quote."

Friday, April 29, 2022

An afternoon on the Chattahoochee

It's not that I haven't taken the kids out since Phoebe's been born, because I have. We've just...always gone the very same place, just a two minute drive from our house, with paved trails the stroller can handle, and plenty of playground areas to choose from should we stumble upon a crowded one, and...basically what I'm saying is that I've simply been repeatedly choosing the absolutely easiest outing possible for the last, oh, six months or so. 

If not longer.

The past year has been a full year. I wouldn't say that it's been bad, but it has been full. Sometimes with heavy stuff, sometimes with lovely stuff. Sometimes with lovely stuff that is heavy, sometimes with heavy stuff that is lovely, sometimes with unlovely heavy stuff. That's how years seem to pass.

But today I was feeling pretty adventurous (I've more-or-less finished my final projects so have some room to breathe) so I let the kids talk me into visiting Jones Bridge Park, where I knew we'd mostly just get wet (which is okay).

When we piled out of the van and were walking through the parking lot, Benjamin said, "I can't hear the river yet, which means it can't be too full, which means it should be fine to get in!"

I told him to just cool his jets and to not run ahead and we'd decide about the river when we could see it. 

As it turns out, he was right! The river was perfect for wading in!

...if you like 50°F water. 

Trout and these little crawdads seem to like the water that chilly:

Monday, April 25, 2022

Phoebe at 5 months

Phoebe's been five months old for nearly two weeks now, so I guess she's more like five and a half months old (which is blowing my mind), so here's a little bit about her before she's six months old.

We'll start with her toes, which she found the other day. She thinks they're a whole lot of fun to grab, which works great when she's flat on her back and less well when she's sitting up (because then she ends up folding right in half). Here are a million pictures of her grabbing her feet:


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Easter morn

I suppose this was technically the day before Easter morn, since we had the kids do their baskets and egg hunt on Saturday (the 16th). 

Here they are by their haul:

The little kids all got a new swimming suit and or sun/rash guard since pool season is just around the corner. We also got some sand toys and boogie boards for the beach. And some candy. Lots of candy, actually. When Andrew is in charge of candy we end up with a lot of candy. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

I'm only one traveller

I've had Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' running through my mind today as I've had to make a series of complicated decisions the past couple of days and have been congratulated—more than once by more than one person—for having made a decision at all.

"Good for you for making a decision!" my mom told me when I told her definitively that we won't be making a trip out to Utah this summer. And then I told my siblings that we wouldn't be coming out. And then I threw myself a little pity party—with tears and everything!—and then brushed myself off and went about my day. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

No dice

Grandpa came over for Easter dinner on Sunday and after we finished eating we decided we'd play around of Zilch, a game of chance that requires six dice.

Not a problem; we have plenty of dice.

Andrew uses Zilch to teach his students about probability and risk-taking and things like that, so a few years ago he bought a big ol' bag of dice. We're talking a hundred pieces—ten sets of dice in ten different colours. It's a lot of dice! 

We went to retrieve it from the game shelf, but...no dice. It simply wasn't where it should be, so we launched a full-house search.

We checked the downstairs game shelf (because, yes, we have one upstairs and one downstairs), we rifled through things on the credenza (that isn't supposed to have anything on it, but which tends to be a catch-all spot), we searched the music room, we looked around Andrew's office.

We retraced our steps.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Egg Smackdown 2022

We didn't get around to dying eggs until bedtime last night. And that's just the regular ol' drop-them-in-a-pot-of-dye method. We're still working on our pysanky.

We weren't busy with anything in particular. The day was filled with Easter baskets and chores in the morning, and napping and playing and building a shelf for Zoë's bed in the afternoon. I'm really not sure how the day got away from us, but it did. And we didn't start dying eggs until around 8:00!

It was kind of a magical year for dying eggs. All the kids old enough to participate are responsible enough that I wasn't stressed out over the entire process for the first time in years. No eggs were dropped. No dye was spilled. No tears were shed. 

I'd feel relieved but...I know that I have another little chaos agent in the making (it's Phoebe; she was simply too little this year to participate). I was quite surprised with how delicately Alexander handled his eggs.

Spare change

 I have so much that I'm behind in writing about, but also so much to do that I'm finding it difficult to find the time I would like to write here. Other muses are calling, but I don't want this one to lose its importance.

For now I'll share a brief story that I wrote up for the Hancock Hummer (the family newsletter that I do, and which has for years and years been published the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October, but which I have put aside until now, and everyone has been so wonderfully patient; it's like the family elders all took an oath not to harass me about it (in the past I've gotten emails the first Sunday of the month if I hadn't sent it out the Saturday)). Perhaps they did. One of my mom's cousins has been organizing monthly cousin meetings via Zoom. 

Anyway...this is what I wrote in about Andrew:

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Elephant eggs

A rather boring package arrived today. 

The delivery person drove their truck down our driveway (brave soul), dropped a box off on our front step, and then backed the truck out of our driveway (as I said, brave soul). Benjamin quickly went to bring it in. 

"It's heavy," he announced, before passing it to Andrew.

"It's for Mom," Andrew said. 

"What is it?" I asked. "Oh, it's from Amazon. That's for Rachel."

"For me?!" Rachel said, shocked. She went to take the package from Andrew. "What is it? Oh, wow! What is even in here?! It's so heavy!"

"Maybe it's an elephant," Benjamin suggested. 

Rachel narrowed her eyes.

"You think an elephant could fit in here?" she asked. She rolled her eyes, muttered, "Please."

"Maybe it's elephant eggs."

Why would your next guess be elephant eggs?! That's so stupid!"

My mind immediately went to Horton Hatches the Egg (by Dr. Seuss, of course), but Andrew's mind went in a completely different direction.

"There is such thing as elephant eggs," he said. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Kennesaw Mountain with Grandpa

Grandpa picked up the five big kids on Friday morning and took them on a field trip to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. It was their second time going (we took the kids in October of 2019...without Alexander's stroller), so they knew a bit of what to expect, but it was fun for them to go with Grandpa, who is a bit of a history buff. 

He came armed with little worksheets about the Civil War that he'd typed up and printed out. He challenged the kids to fill in answers they knew on the way there and my kids, being the smart alecks that they are got a little creative with their answers. For example:

Question: What was the first battle of the Civil War?

Answer: Not Gettysburg. 

Technically true, but evading the question. Silly kids. 

Grandpa walked them through the museum and helped them find all the answers to the questions. And now even Zoë can tell you that the Civil War started in 1861. I was glad to have Grandpa take on this subject because there is so much about US history that I...don't know...or care...to teach my kids, so I feel like I'm often learning right along with them. For example, when they got home Grandpa quizzed the kids by saying, "Who was the president of the Confederate States?"

"Davis?" I ventured with a whisper.

"JEFFERSON DAVIS!" all the kids yelled. 

And, like, I knew that...or thought I knew that...or had come across that information a time or two...but it's not really something I know know because I simply never internalized American history the way I imagine a born-and-bred American has.

Not that there's anything wrong with exploring history together with my kids (we do that all the time), but it was also kind of nice to let someone else share what they (confidently) know about history. 

Rachel took pictures of their trip, which she shared with me. Here's the crew before heading up the mountain: