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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Phoebe's hips don't lie

We took Phoebe in to have her hip ultrasound. 

The pediatric hospital (where our appointment was) was like a fortress! We could not figure out how to get to the parking garage so ended up parking at the regular hospital (where Phoebe was born, basically) and walking to the pediatric hospital. But we had to walk all the way around...and still couldn't figure out where the parking garage entrance was (though we had to walk through the parking garage to get to the hospital). We finally made it and had to go through several levels of security (and COVID screening) to get registered.

And then we went over to radiology to have her imaging done. 

I have to say, everyone we talked to was super nice about everything. Whoever's doing the hiring over there is doing a great job. Everyone gushed over Phoebe and talked with such sincere, comforting voices. Like they all knew that no parent ever wants to be in the children's hospital with their precious babies. 

We weren't even there for a very serious reason so I didn't really need their compassion, but it was lovely to witness them being so gentle with me and with everybody else. One child got met at the door with a literal welcome wagon (for them to ride in) and a therapy dog. I imagine that child was there for something much more scary than hip imaging. 

Our ultrasound technician was super friendly and very gentle with Phoebe. Phoebe just slept through the whole process (if only she would sleep now).

Creativity x3

Miriam decided to learn how to embroider a few months ago. Rachel and Andrew were quite swept up in cross-stitching, which Miriam tried as well, but she craved a little less rigidity, so she started with a blank canvas (a piece of material she found in our scraps-of-things) and began embroidering a phantasmagorical landscape. If my memory serves me correctly, she began this initial project around General Conference (so the first weekend of October...or was it April?) and finally finished it on Thursday night.  



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Two truths and a lie

After a very exciting long weekend—full of snow and mud and fun—our house about looked like a bomb had gone off. I'm calling it a long weekend even though we had a school day yesterday because the kids spent the afternoon playing in the remnants of Sunday's snow. They came in just before dinner, tired and wet, and shed their soggy boots and coats and gloves and hats right there on the mat by the back door. 

A mess of snow clothes was also by the front door. 

School books were scattered around the music room. Blankets and novels laid paired up and abandoned in various cozy spots around the house. Dinner had been waffles and the waffle irons were still out on the counter. Rachel hadn't washed them (it was her dish day) since she'd stayed up late to finish baking the cookies she'd started on Sunday. 

Laundry was literally piling up all over because while I'm somewhat immune to needing to change my outfit when I get spit up on, everyone else feels the pressing need to change their clothes immediately. And Phoebe spits up a lot, so all her burp cloths were dirty, too. 

The kids had been "creative" in the basement and had pulled out every type of toy we own—dress ups mingled with blocks and toy food and the dollhouse accessories...

As I said, it was like a literal bomb had gone off. 

Andrew and I spent Monday evening taking turns pacing with Phoebe, who was suffering so badly from her reflux that she genuinely couldn't even lie down or fall asleep. When Andrew was holding Phoebe, I was working. While I was holding Phoebe, Andrew was working. 

But not at cleaning the house. No! 

We have actual jobs, you know! 

And then, suddenly, it was 2:00 in the morning and Andrew, who I believe had a screaming Phoebe, texted me to say, "Oh, by the way, the bug guy is coming tomorrow morning."

Excuse me...what?

The bug guy. Is coming. Here. To our house...that looks like this...in the morning?!

And it was basically Andrew saying, "Good luck to you!" because he works downtown on Tuesday mornings so he'd be getting up and leaving early, which meant we need to get to bed because it already was early in the morning. 

So I sighed a heavy sigh, and we went to bed.

And then before we knew it, it was morning again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Young, Scrappy, and Hungry

Here's little Phoebe in the Hamilton-themed onesie Aunt Stacey sent for Alexander:

Monday, January 17, 2022

A...brief...spiritual thought

Now that our family is more on the big side rather than the small side, we thought we'd institute another Family Home Evening job—a spiritual thought.

Our FHE structure is really fairly relaxed. Someone usually gives a lesson. This lesson may be well-planned out or could be an on-the-fly lesson when we realize we forgot to have anyone prepare a lesson. Someone gets to act as conductor and that person gets to choose who chooses the opening song and who says the opening prayer. Alexander is very often the conductor. Andrew is usually in charge of "calendar" (which my family growing up called "family business) simply because he's dependable about having his phone on him (I, on the other hand, currently have no idea where my phone is other than it's in the house, so I'm not usually in charge of family calendar time). Sometimes someone will make a treat. That someone is usually Rachel. Sometimes we'll have an activity (Andrew's playing Settlers with the big kids right now). 

So that's our wishy-washy FHE structure: conductor, opening song, opening prayer, calendar, lesson, treat, activity.

That's seven things and there were seven of us and this worked well. We didn't always do all the things, but we usually did some of the things. And that was good enough for us.

But now there are eight of us, so there wouldn't be a job for everyone (besides the fact that we don't always have someone in charge of a treat or activity). Plus the kids are getting older and are ready for more responsibility besides picking their favourite primary song (to Rachel and Miriam's credit, they often give lessons (something Benjamin and Zoë have only started to do)).

So, we added a spiritual thought portion to our FHE routine at the beginning of the year. We explained to the kids that a spiritual thought is simply a short idea that they found uplifting—it could be a scripture, it could be a quote, etc.—they just read it and tell us why they liked it or what it means to them. Short and sweet.

Snow! In Georgia!

As I mentioned, snow was in the forecast for today, so naturally everything started announcing their closure yesterday. Church was cancelled by Saturday evening as well, even though we didn't see a snowflake until around 11:00 (right when we would have been getting out of church; though we're still just zooming into sacrament meeting). We have snow in the forecast for next weekend as well, so perhaps church will be cancelled then, too, and I'm glad about that because if we won't close for omicron, at least we'll close for snow.

According to the Federal Department of Transportation, "nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet" every year! So it definitely makes sense to take precautions for ice and snow. 

We're only experiencing, you know, 2000 deaths per day from COVID. We wouldn't want to close schools or churches for that. But snow? Yes. Definitely.

Now, I've lived in the south for a considerable amount of time—going on eight years, I think?—so I understand the feelings surrounding snow. They don't have the infrastructure to deal with it (though we had no snow accumulation on the roads, which means snow plows weren't required today, we're still worried about the possibility of black ice, which...I mean...fair enough...but northern places also get black ice...it's fine). I've learned to just smile, sit back, and relax while everyone else is losing their minds. So I'm totally fine that they cancelled church today, even though there wasn't yet a snowflake in sight. 

I just wish I could get them to take, you know, other things seriously as well.

Anyway, with that rant out of the way, here are my sweet kids all dressed and ready for the snow:


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Three exciting things!

Exciting times over at our house!

First of all, it snowed. So church was cancelled and the library was closed. Schools would have been had they been in session, but it's the weekend—and a long weekend at that!—so they didn't have to be closed. My library books weren't due until Tuesday, but I renewed them just in case it was too icy to go out (though I suppose I needn't have worried because the library would have just been closed). 

Second of all, Zoë lost her first tooth! She's been anxiously awaiting this moment since our little next-door neighbour lost her first tooth. It happened after we Skyped with Grandpa but before we Facetimed my parents. So, of course, we had to text Grandpa a picture.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Phoebe at two months

Is it possible for 2022 to have been an emotional rollercoaster already? 

We're only two weeks in and somehow it has been! 

Getting my book published has definitely been a high. I wasn't expecting such a warm reception and though I'm certain not everyone loved it, I've been overwhelmed by the messages I've received from my readers so far. It feels like I've sat down and had a heart-to-heart with each one of them and it's really been very wonderful.

Today, however, we got some disappointing news (which I'll leave vaguely sitting here like that because it's Andrew's news, not mine, and I'm not sure how public he wants the news). But don't worry; we're fine. We're disappointed, but we're not distraught and that's a good place to be. I'm sure we'll get over this soon because we've suffered far worse disappointments before. 

Anyway, today is January 13, which means Phoebe is two months old! 


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

In which I stick my foot in my mouth

We're currently reading Piecing Me Together, as I mentioned in an earlier post, and the main character is a collagist and mentioned something about how she likes taking tired/ugly materials and turning them into something new/beautiful, which is a beautiful outlook on life. 

So my kids have been making collages while I've been reading out loud to them and we've been discussing various social aspects addressed by the book.

Today we also discussed an article Aaron Miller posted on Twitter about how it's better for children to grow up thinking the world is a good place than a bad place, but I had a little bit of trouble introducing the article to the children and they were victims of a little train-of-thought introduction:

"One of Dad's professor friends shared this article on Twitter. Oh, what does he teach again? Ethics, I think... No. He can't teach ethics; he's a lawyer."

At this, Rachel lost it and just started laughing...because lawyers have certain reputations, you know.

"That is not what I meant!" I gasped. "I just meant that perhaps I remembered wrong when I thought he taught ethics because he's a lawyer first and a professor second. I didn't mean that lawyers can't be ethical. But what does he teach? I think non-profit stuff? But obviously I can't remember. Anyway, doesn't matter...let's just look at the article."

As it turns out, he teaches both ethics and non-profit stuff. So my memory is fine. I just like to second guess myself.

*******

Soon after Andrew got home from campus this afternoon, Benjamin brought the mail in.

I'll interrupt my story to say that Miriam has started taking clarinet lessons from Andrew and this morning just as the mail truck was driving by, Miriam started warming up on the clarinet. Zoë was working on some math with me. Today she was working on measuring weight; last she was measuring length.

Here's Zoë measuring out 1000 g of pinto beans this morning (it was supposed to be 1 kg but we don't have a scale that registers kg, so Zoë got to learn that 1000 g is the same thing as 1 kg):

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Andrew's microphone

Andrew is teaching in-person again this semester. He taught in person last semester as well, but only had one class at the graduate level, so it was small and in a big room and his students all wore masks and were super understanding about him having a baby in the middle of the semester. 

This semester he's teaching two classes and one is an undergraduate course with 40 students, which means that the room is much more crowded, and he doesn't know any of the kids and wasn't sure if they would mask up if he asked them to (because we have no formal measures here regarding COVID). So he was a little nervous going into class today because of (a) all the teacher reasons (teachers are often scared of their students) and (b) all the COVID reasons (this variant is wildly infectious). 

But, he was happy to see his classroom 100% masked. He said one student arrived without a mask, but they took a mask from the box he had set out (yes, he provides masks and hand sanitizer for his classes) and wore it without complaint. So that was nice!

When I was talking to my mom on Sunday about his teaching schedule this semester, she asked if he had a little microphone. She said that she's found having a microphone on helps her students to hear her through her mask (which is perfectly capable of being talked through, though things do come out a little muffled, especially for those in the back, I imagine). 

So I asked Andrew about it when we finally crawled into bed last night (he was up late finishing his lecture notes (it's a new-to-him class; one he's taken but not taught, so it's a lot more work to prepare for) and I was up late trying to get Phoebe settled (her reflux makes her fairly miserable, and although she handles it with composure, it also makes it hard to get her settled for the night because it's much easier for her to deal with when she's being held upright)). 

"I have a microphone," he assured me.

"You do?" 

"Don't you remember?" 

"I do not," I said, and Andrew started laughing so hard tears were rolling down his cheeks as he tried to whisper-remind me about his microphone (Phoebe sleeps in our room). 

Last semester, Andrew taught in person for the first time and he got a portable/wearable microphone to wear. One that would clip onto his shirt. It has a little foam cover thing over the microphone head, which is pretty normal for a microphone. 

Well, he was on campus one day and he went to the bathroom and while he was...using the urinal for its intended purpose...something fell off his shirt and into the urinal. 

A round black thing of considerable size. 

"What is that?!" he wondered, so he bent over to inspect it closer.

It was the foam cover for his microphone!

So he fished it out of the urinal and ran it over to the sink and washed and washed and washed it and then filled his hand with hand sanitizer and marinated the poor microphone head cover-thingy in it and let it sit soggily in his pocket until he got home. 

"Oh, yes!" I giggled. "I do remember that you have a microphone!"

So, yes, Mom! Andrew has a microphone to wear to class!

Butter emails...

Miriam has been becoming more active in the kitchen. Last year she had a goal to cook dinner twice a month (I think) and she did well with that. It actually is really nice having more than one capable child around; whenever Andrew's had to stay late on campus or whatever he simply assigns one of the older girls to make dinner and *presto!* I don't have to worry about it.

That said, Miriam has decided she wants to step things up in the kitchen a little bit. Rather than making things like "spaghetti with canned sauce" and "cake mix cookies," Miriam wants to become a "from scratch" chef/baker. A noble pursuit!

She made cookies for New Year's Eve and asked me how to go about softening butter, so I instructed her on how to warm up butter in the microwave for around 15 seconds. You don't have to take the wrapper off or anything because it's not in there long enough to really melt; it just gets warmed up. If this idea seems scandalous to you, don't worry! I, too, was incredulous about this method until I made cookies at my friend Marian's house (in Durham) and she showed me that it worked perfectly well. I've been doing it ever since.

So Miriam popped a stick of butter in the microwave for 15 seconds and then made a lovely batch of cookies.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon...

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Kid news and school news

Phoebe has been growing again. I can't cram her into her newborn sleepers anymore, which makes me feel rather sad. But she's moved into these cute sleepers my friend Crystal sent, so that makes me feel happy. And that about sums up my feelings about my children growing up: sad and happy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Book drop (and dropping classes)

Paradoxical Glory is now a physical book! My first copy (with some embarrassing errors that were fixed before any other copies shipped, thank goodness) arrived yesterday, the day my book was launched (though technically people started purchasing it the day before). I think it's beautiful (but I'm scared to have people read it).



Silly Bills

Northside Hospital has been calling me and leaving me voicemails asking me to call them back for...days...but I only called them back today because I just couldn't before. And that's on them, because they called me on December 27, December 30, and January 4. Like...hello...it's the holidays. And I've already given them hours of my life trying to sort out this billing issue. 

So I took a deep breath this morning and returned their call, very surprised to find that using the number they gave me meant that I didn't have to wade through a phone tree and wait on hold for...forever.

Turns out all they want to know is how I plan to pay this bill! And would I like to apply it to a credit card or debit card right now?

No. I would not like to do that. 

I explained—for what feels like the millionth time—that I have given the hospital loads of money. I preregistered for my birth like a good little girl and paid 100% of my copay. But then I went into the hospital for preterm labour monitoring and was subsequently discharged...still pregnant. Hallelujah! But then when I went in to have the baby for real they put all those charges on a separate account from the one I poured all my money into. 

So now the first account is duking things out with the insurance company (over a nominal amount the insurance company refuses to pay) and the hospital is refusing to use my funds to cover that amount because I don't owe them that money...the insurance company does...but all my funds are tied up in that one account until the insurance company and hospital agree about stuff. 

But because the hospital hasn't reported to my insurance company that I've given them all this money that they refuse to use, my insurance company doesn't know that I've paid my co-insurance payments, so the hospital doesn't know that I've given them all sorts of money (how could they not know?!) and they want me to pay the second bill because on that bill both the hospital and insurance agree that I haven't met my co-insurance payment...which is sitting untouched in another account at the hospital. 

And I get that that's really confusing. For real, I do. I'm confused. The system is confusing. It doesn't work well (at all). It's terrible and horrible and...also...figure it out, Northside. Figure. It. Out. 

Because you have my money. 

And I was told not to worry about this bill because the money would move over automatically after the first bill was resolved. But my insurance seems to think the first bill is resolved. I'm not sure what the hospital's deal is. 

But now apparently they can simply move the funds to the correct account if I give them 24 hours. 

As if I haven't given them enough tries and enough hours to do that already? Like, if that's a thing that's possible...why hasn't it happened before now? Goodness knows I've spent hours calling—begging, pleading, crying—for them to sort this out.

Who wants to bet that my only option will be to pay this bill out of pocket and that the hospital will refund me just...whenever they get around to it?

To be clear: They already have enough of my money to cover both accounts and then some. And that's why I'm annoyed.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Three Phoebe Stories

I was an early talker. 

The year I was born, my older brother got a speaking teddy bear for Christmas. When the bear turned on it would say, "Hi!" and everyone would say "Hi!" back to it. By New Year's Eve, I was also—at six months old—saying, "Hi!" to the bear and had figured out that if I said "Hi!" to anybody they'd say "Hi!" back to me. 

My mom told me I would make ladies do second takes when teensy little me (I was 13 lbs. at six months) would enthusiastically call out, "HI!" in the grocery store.

The other night Phoebe gave me a little taste of my own medicine!

I don't think she's quite old enough to understand cause and effect (though Alexander wasn't so much older when he invented his little head-tilt game (he figured out that if he cocked his head to the side he could make pretty much anyone also cock their head to the side; I thought he had a tic or something before I figured out he was doing it on purpose)) but the other night, Andrew and I were cooing over her when she locked eyes with Andrew and said, "Hi!"

It was, frankly, creepy. 

We were like, "Wha-ha-ha-hat?! What just happened!?"

It was a fluke, I'm sure of it. But it was a rather surreal moment nonetheless to have this tiny baby who doesn't know much about anything stare her father straight in the face and say, "Hi!"

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy New Year

Alexander had some very specific ideas about how New Year's Eve should be celebrated. He wanted sprinklers (sparklers) and spicy water (Martinelli's). All day long he was begging for sprinklers and spicy water. We (i.e. Andrew) had enough forethought to pick up some Martinelli's. We weren't sure about the sparkler situation, but fortunately Rachel recently reorganized the kitchen counters so she knew that we had some!

Our day was pretty low key and the evening followed suit. 

We used up our stash of sparklers...