Thursday, March 31, 2022

Lovely things

Phoebe is four months old, an age infamously known for a good ol' fashioned sleep regression. This coupled with taking Phoebe to a conference and upending her entire world and schedule, coupled with getting vaccinations on Monday and subsequently running a fever for a few days has led to a pretty miserable time in the Heiss household. 

Two nights this week that baby has stayed awake until—cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye if I lie—6:30 in the morning. I mean, technically, she went to bed, but then she got up around midnight or so and then she was up. It's been brutal. 

This morning, around 5:00, I left a message on the board for my children in bold, capital letters, hoping they'd read it and do as it said. Hoping, against hope, that they'd get some work accomplished before I got up for the day because I could tell—at 5:00 in the morning, with a wide-awake baby on my hip—that I would not be waking up when my kids got up. I would be sleeping in as long as possible.

Phoebe and I finally crawled into bed at 6:38 AM. 

We got up at 10:00 and I went to find my kids, who were all...playing.

"Did you practice the piano?" I asked them, hopefully.

No, they had not. 

"Did you see my note?"

"The one that said, 'PRACTICE THE PIANO! OR ELSE!!!!'? Yeah. We saw it."

"And you decided to just...not practice this piano?"

"Well," Zoë explained, "You did say 'or else,' so we're doing something else."

Silly things

Today I feel in way over my head with all sorts of things. Mostly I think it's because I'm back to working on this particular back-burner project that I wish had not stopped bubbling over. I worked on it all summer (the project that gave me a lovely eye-twitch, which stopped almost the minute I turned the darn thing in) but now it's back in my hands and I just wish it would go away. It's a long story, but it's mostly been making me feel very incapable of accomplishing anything and is absolutely not something I wanted to be working on four months postpartum. 

There are other things that have been weighing on me and I know that most of my concerns are just silly anxieties concocted by lack of sleep and whatnot. But, I've just been feeling sad. 

So I this evening I interrupted my assigned readings to play badminton with Benjamin, who enjoys declaring, "Badminton is my middle name!" Mostly because Benjamin Badminton Heiss is fun to say. And because he's enjoying the discovery of "underrated sports" (his words, not mine), such as badminton. 

Also, I wrote this silly poem (because our whole world is turning a ghastly green right now):

An Ode to High Pollen Count

I need—Achoo!—a tissue;
I’ve a tickle in my nose.
Achoo! I can’t stop sneezing.
I’m allergic, I suppose,
to—Achoo!—all this pollen,
Which seems t-achoo! accrue
Upon every—Achoo!—surface
So—Achoo!—I wish that you
Would pass the—Achoo!—tissue box
And let me pull one out!
My—Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!—nose
Is running like a spout.
I know that only weeks ago—
Achoo!—I wished for spring.
Unfortunately, I forgot
We’d be coated—Achoo!—green!

And, honestly, I feel a bit better.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Phoebe's 4 month check up

As is fairly common with my babies, Phoebe has put on a delicious—seemingly unprecedented—amount of weight in a few short weeks. 

She is now fifteen pounds. Fifteen!

Well, 6798.21 grams, so not quite fifteen pounds. But almost!

I feel shocked, perhaps because Alexander remained tiny so long, probably on account of his severe-severe, throat-damaging reflux. Phoebe, like all my children, also has reflux but not so badly that it's keeping her from putting on weight. Clearly.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Home-church talks

We're still home-churching our younger crew, which is getting a little tiresome after two years. But the pandemic is *checks notes* still a thing, and our metric for "returning" remains having our entire family vaccinated. A high bar to set, I realize, since there isn't even a vaccine for five and under. And yet, it's the bar. Although I know many people think I'm overreacting, I think that statistic shows that I'm...kind of not.

Without much fanfare, we've reached one million (1,000,000) deaths in the USA. 

And I know that kids "don't" get seriously ill from COVID and's in the top 15 causes of death for children 0–4, 5–9, and 10–14 (as per the CDC), so *shrugs* we're still at home. 

This week there was no zoom sacrament meeting (which we've been fortunate to have still) because the person in charge of setting up the Zoom meeting was out of town this week and one weird, unintended consequence of this pandemic has been that absolutely no one knows how to use Zoom. 

Just kidding. Everybody knows how to use Zoom now, I think. I mean, I felt a little top-of-the-line using Zoom for the little writing class I took a few years ago, before COVID, before moving to Georgia, right after Karen passed away. Now I feel run-of-the-mill using Zoom. 

But, we didn't have a Zoom sacrament meeting today so I was all on my own for both sacrament meeting and primary. Which is fine. Staying home is my choice. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Blowing out eggs

Easter is late this year so I figured we'd have time to experiment with pysanky eggs before then. Josie sent us a kit—golly!—last April (?!) and it's been sitting on my bookshelf, taunting me, ever since. I honestly didn't think it had been a year since she sent it but the date on the package is 4/19/2021. 

But I had only just found out I was expecting Phoebe around that time last year, so the idea of engaging the children in such an involved project simply...wasn't going to happen then. This year I have no such excuse. Besides, you know, the living, breathing Phoebe that we have. 

Rachel rocked her to sleep while Miriam and I experimented how, precisely, to empty eggs, which is the first step (or last step) of pysanky (depending on how you want to make them). 

Cow shoes, jumping ants, and empty nests

The other day at lunch Rachel mentioned wanting to make baklava, so our lunchtime conversations centered around baklava, balaclavas, and various nuts. Walnuts are a popular nut in baklava, but I prefer pistachio. Rachel's a little bit allergic to walnuts (nothing too bad; they make her mouth tingle), so she was okay not doing walnuts. She suggested that almonds might be a good alternative as well. Someone mentioned cashew. But I'm a little bit allergic to cashews (nothing too bad; they just create havoc in my digestive track).

Miriam mentioned how odd it is that pistachios are so clean, given that they grow in the dirt. 

This clued me into the fact that my children don't actually know where nuts come from. So we discussed peanuts (which do grow in the ground and are called groundnuts in other places in the world) versus tree nuts (which are...most other nuts).

We went for a walk later in the afternoon. Zoë and Phoebe wore matching outfits, coordinated by Zoë, of course:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Duels over Duolingo

Today Zoë had me look at her "phone" so I could help her fix something in her settings. While I was in there I happened upon a texting thread she had going on with Benjamin, wherein he has sent her several automated messages from Duolingo, telling her about his streaks and inviting her to "join" him (so that he can earn more "gems" in the platform).

She more or less blows off his first message...

Benjamin: I'm on a 7 day streak learning Greek on Duolingo! Join me?

Zoë: Maybe

And that's it between the two of them for a full week. No further exchanges. But then she really blows off his second message, which he sent on March 17, and which she didn't respond to until today

Benjamin: I'm on a 14 day streak learning greek on Duolingo! Join me?

Zoë: Cool? Like, I have a 53 [day] learning [streak]. But, if you want me to, sure. What is your invite link?

The first day of spring

As part of my post-conference wind-down, we went to the park for several hours this afternoon. I'm not sure how long we were there, but it was definitely long enough to get a little sunkissed.

I made the kids run 1.5 miles today. They did well with that, for the most part. And then I unleashed them on the playground while Phoebe napped in her stroller and I did some readings for my classes. 

Rachel also did some reading: 

St. Patrick's Day

This first picture is not from St. Patrick's Day. It's just Phoebe taking a little rest during a surprisingly happy tummy time. She flips onto her stomach all the time now, and while she can flip onto her back from there, she often gets so frustrated with life on her tummy that instead of flipping over she just screams into the carpet. Because that makes sense. 

But here you can see she's just being pleasant.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

Conferencing it up

We did it! We made it through the conference!

I don't know how I would have been able to do it without Andrew, who was my cheerleader over the past year and helped me through more than one emotional breakdown. It's not every day you commit to working a new job and taking more than a full load of graduate-level courses in addition to homeschooling your already-handful of kids and then find out you're pregnant. But it was one day. 

At least, it was for me. We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of that day. 

That day wasn't pretty. Not exactly. 

But we made it through it! 

And now, here's Phoebe being a beautiful (tired) baby at a beautifully coordinated conference:

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Matching jammies

Andrew's cousin Ashley—whose boys are Rachel and Miriam's ages—had a baby girl two months ago. I think it's kind of funny that our kids line up so well (aside from, you know, Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander)!

Ashley posted two-month pictures of Scarlett the other day, along with her one-month pictures for comparison—because babies do a lot of growing those first few weeks. I saw this post while I was lying in bed, nursing Phoebe, just as the sun was beginning to rise, and I noticed that Phoebe was in the same pyjamas Scarlett was wearing in her one-month pictures!

Here's Scarlett at one month (we're not jealous about her hair at all (just kidding; we totally are)):

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Moving in

Grandpa's moving truck arrived on Friday afternoon, so we headed over to help unload. Unfortunately, we'd waited so long that Andrew had eventually decided to go grocery shopping (since grocery shopping on Friday takes much less time than on a Saturday), so he wasn't home when we got word the truck had arrived, which meant that I headed over by myself with the kids. 

I'm not sure how helpful a mom and six kids are when it comes to unloading a moving truck, but we seemed to make pretty good headway before Andrew arrived to do the heavy lifting. 

Phoebe did us the favour of falling asleep and taking a good long nap on Grandpa's floor, so I got to do some decent helping before Andrew got there. And Rachel and Miriam were excellent helpers as well.

Here's Phoebe not napping on Grandpa's floor:

Phoebe at 4 months

Phoebe is four months old today! I don't know how big she is because her well-child check isn't for a couple more weeks and, well, I haven't bothered to measure her myself. Suffice it to say, she's a growing concern.

She recently learned how to laugh—like full on belly laugh—and it's highly amusing for everyone. Here's a video from a couple days ago when Miriam came into my room around bedtime and engaged Phoebe with peek-a-boo for the first time (it's not the first time we've tried peek-a-boo with her; it's simply the first time she "got" the game).

Warning...there's some baby spit-up (or, as we like to call it, Phoebe Cheese) involved...

I don't think anyone has ever had more fun playing peek-a-boo! 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Park day

We made it to the park today (for the first time in a long time) and spent our mid-morning and early afternoon there. I made the kids run a mile and the only one who cried was Alexander (who wore flip-flops despite my explicit instructions to put on socks and shoes, and who subsequently tripped and fell and scraped up his toes), so perhaps this means our endurance is improving.

Here's Alexander being happy about the goose in the background (there was a pair of geese wandering around the whole time we were running):


Wednesday was just about the hardest day we've had in a long time. The kids simply didn't want to do anything they were asked to they just didn't. I was absolutely swamped with work and drowning in baby spit up and the kids simply walked all over me. 

I say "kids," but really Miriam and Rachel were helpful and on task most of the day. But those younger three. Oh, boy. I was about ready to sell them to the circus.

Andrew is usually around on Wednesdays, but he had meetings on campus all day. And it was just...a hard day. 

Thursdays are traditionally my hardest day of the week because that's when Andrew is usually gone all day so I'm on my own from sun-up to sun-down (and then some), but today Grandpa came over to have dinner with the kids while I holed up in my bedroom with Phoebe and did schoolwork. It worked out really well.

Phoebe was exhausted from playing at the park all afternoon, so she took a good, long nap (and I took a little one, too, since she was up until 3:00 last night). I wrote an entire paper and sent some important emails. Rachel fixed dinner, and then the kids ate dinner, watched a movie, and played a round of UNO with Grandpa. He even stayed to pace the floor with Phoebe while I read bedtime stories (while Rachel was at seminary (on zoom) and Miriam was practicing the organ). It was the most relaxing Thursday we've had in ages!

Despite the kids being...the way they were...yesterday, here's some cute pictures from recent history...

Phoebe grinning up at us from her stroller:

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

When Grandpa Comes!

One thing led to another, which turned into a snowball effect of sorts, and...suddenly...Grandpa lives around the corner from us! It's a little surreal to have family nearby all of a sudden, but it's been fun so far.

At least for us.

Andrew went to close on the house on February 28th and for FHE that week we took the kids over to tour the house. They were very excited to explore!

Monday, March 07, 2022

Kelli and Rosie's visit: the deets

As always, I have a million other things that I should be writing, but I've decided to get some blogging done (a) as a treat and (b) out of necessity. Last week Kelli, Rosie, and Irie were here. Already it's this week and Grandpa is here. So I have a lot of ground to cover!

Fortunately for me, Phoebe had a string of very easy nights, where she went down around 7:00 pm and slept for a good 12 hours (aside from a few wakings to refuel so she could sleep some more). Tonight we were...not that fortunate...but it does mean that I got some good headway on my assignments over the past couple of days. 

Anyway, when Kelli arrived I was surprised to see that she and Rosie had packed three big suitcases. For four days?! It seemed excessive. 

Well, one of those suitcases was filled to overflowing with toys and things for the kids, including a ginormous stuffed unicorn for Zoë and a slightly smaller but still enormous stuffed owl for Alexander:

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Happy birthday to them!

My brother and Andrew's Grandpa Frank share a birthday (54 years apart). I won't tell you how old my brother turned this year, but I will tell you that Grandpa Frank turned 93 (David turned that age in reverse). We knew that, and yet when we phoned Grandpa Frank to wish him a happy birthday, Andrew said, "How old are you turning this year—40?"

Grandpa Frank chuckled and said, "I wish. I'm 93!"

"Wow!" Alexander exclaimed. "You're almost..."

Deep down inside, I knew what was coming, but I willed it away, muttering, "Please say 100, please say 100, please say 100..."


Sometimes having kids is so embarrassing!

We had a lovely little chat with Grandpa Frank, anyway, and then called up my brother to play some games online. We haven't done that for quite some time (since Christmas or NYE 2020?) because things tend to get a little glitchy with so many people on the call. But with three households combined in my house (represented by me, Kelli, and Rosie), things went a lot smoother. We just had us, Uncle Patrick, and Uncle David on the call, so it didn't get very glitchy at all. It was fun to get to spend some time with my brothers and kids and Kelli and Rosie. 

And it was nice that we got to speak with both Grandpa Frank and David since I didn't get around to mailing birthday cards for them this year.

I'm really hit or miss in that department.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

They come, they eat, they leave...

My sister Kelli has been trying to visit us since June 2020. 

I made her postpone her trip, though, because the world felt too upside down right then. It still feels upside down as we're approaching two years of this thing and as vigilant as we aim to's getting really hard to when Kelli asked if she could visit, I said yes. 

Then I spent the next several months feeling absolutely sick over the decision as Delta popped up, etc.

But she came at the end of February, bringing along with her Rosie and Ireland, which was so much fun! They were just here for a little weekend visit and it rained virtually the whole time, but that was alright because with a pandemic and two little babies our time was probably best spent at home, anyway.

We told the kids that my sister was coming but kept Rosie and Ireland a surprise. Kelli came bearing and entire suitcase full of gifts for the kids (including, but not limited to a ginormous stuffed unicorn for Zoë (pictures of that later) and matching outfits for Phoebe and Irie). They got in rather late on Thursday night so before retiring for the evening Rosie and I selected outfits for the next day and set our trap...

In the morning, the kids got up and found Auntie K, who slept on the couch in the TV room. I had told the kids that she would be up in Zoë's room so that they would help me get that room ready for company (stripping the bed to wash the sheets, etc) and then after the kids went to bed I made up a bed in the TV for Kelli. So the kids were not expecting to see her down there. They were happy to see her, however.

And then when I got up and came downstairs with Phoebe, Rosie followed me down with Ireland dressed exactly the same way and...the kids were absolutely shocked!

The older girls got up a bit later, so when Rachel wandered into the dining room for breakfast and saw Kelli spotting Irie (who was sitting on the table, something Phoebe can't do yet) she gasped, "What are you doing with the baby?!"

Then she noticed me standing on the other side of the room holding Phoebe, who I'll remind you, was dressed the same way and screamed, "WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BABIES?!"

It was a hilariously wonderful prank.

Here are too many pictures of the babies in their matching outfits: