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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:

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Ugh

Over the past couple of days, I have written 11,635 words for school assignments. 

Phoebe has been having rough nights, so I often end up staying up most of the night with her. 

Like tonight, friends, when she's just now deciding it would be a good time to go to sleep. Here she is, perched on my lap, where I've been up typing for the last little while, having given up any thought of sleep since going to bed at 2:00, getting up every hour to feed Phoebe and convince her it's really sleeping time, and then just getting up at 5:00. 

So glad she decided to call it an evening a mere hour or so before I have to be up for the day. 

Phoebe's first foods

It all started with a piece of celery. Phoebe was fussing and fussing at the dinner table, so we handed her a nice cool piece of celery and she chomped that thing to death, thinking celery juice was the best thing ever (Andrew has a picture of that). It was about then that we realized that Phoebe wasn't going to give us all the typical "cues" a baby might offer to let parents know they're ready for food. I mean, sure, Phoebe has excellent head control these days, but as far as anything else goes (reaching for food at the table, showing interest in food, watching excitedly as others eat, opening wide to mimic your bites as you eat, showing a reduction in tongue thrusting, etc.), Phoebe wasn't going to do any of that stuff. 

She was just going to scream about feeling left out.

I'm not sure why. We've been testing her food readiness since birth, just kind of as a joke—teasing her with a bite of whatever we happen to be eating. As late as last week we could hold food directly to her mouth and she would simply look at us like we were crazy. She'd make no move to bite it or grab it.

And then this week happened. 

Suddenly she's grabbing things—fistfuls of hair, a container of leftovers from the fridge, spoons full of food—and she is literally singing for her supper. 

No longer content to suck on raw vegetables (which she can't bite, chew, or swallow) and desperate to get her to stop screaming, we put her in her high chair the other night, and offered her some Cheerios.

That was the first time solid food hit her belly, and she was in baby heaven.

"We need to get some rice cereal," I mentioned, which is a far better first food. Not that I'm opposed to giving my child food straight from the table. I'm not. But...our dinner on Wednesday (the 6th) wasn't very baby friendly. Miriam had made bowtie pasta with tomatoes, and mozzarella all tossed in pesto, which seemed far too flabourful and acidic of an inauguration meal for a baby. So, Cheerios it was, followed up with a request for rice cereal, so we can do things a little more slowly and blandly.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Foot poems

As I've mentioned, we're reading multiple translations of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin right now. We just finished chapter three, I believe. Of course, it's taking us twice as long to read it as it would otherwise since we're reading two translations at once (and sometimes listening to the original Russian, just for kicks). 

In chapter one, Pushkin spends approximately five sonnets extolling ladies' feet. The kids were rolling with laughter. Here are a few excerpts from the Poetry in Translation version:

I love their little feet, confess
That, search all Russia though,
You’ll not find three lovely pair.
Ah, they made me long despair
Two slender feet…Now sad and cold
I still remember, and it seems
They yet can thrill me in my dreams.

Monday, April 04, 2022

All-day Outfit and silly scriptures

Phoebe survived the entire day in a single outfit, which has to be a new record for her (so I was glad I picked a cute one)! We did our morning work fairly quickly today and then headed to the park for a picnic and PE (after we finished lunch I made the kids run 1.5 miles before letting them play, or, in the case of Rachel and Miriam, do more schoolwork). 

Here's Benjamin helping Phoebe go down some teeny slides at the park:


I know the stats about children and broken legs on slides, specifically when going down slides on laps. I know that...and yet I still let my kids go down the slide on laps. I just make sure to remind the holder about keeping the rider's legs inside their lap (not to either side) and on top of their legs (not in between). And then I take a deep breath and tell my anxiety to take a chill pill. 

Because—here's the thing—I'm actively anxious about...most things...so taking a few calculated risks is like...exposure therapy...right? Sure.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Conference Weekend

This year's general conference opened with these words a prayer offered by Elder Jose L. Alonso of the Seventy, and it was this thoughtful prayer that really stuck with me through all the sessions of conference that I watched (which...was two, but 2/3 ain't bad; Phoebe and I went upstairs to have a nap during the second session, at the behest of Andrew and all the kids at home (some kids were over watching at Grandpa's place so didn't weigh in on the decision) and we slept for nearly three hours and, honestly, I have no regrets). 

Anyway, Elder Alonso's prayer:
We are so grateful for having living prophets, seers, and revelators. We love them and we pray for them and we support them. We are so eager to learn from thee by the spirit and through the voices of those who will address us today. We pray for them to receive inspiration and great joy. We want follow thy will and we need thy help to remember those words that we will receive today, but mainly the impressions that we would receive by the Holy Ghost...
The emphasis is mine. I was reminded of a lesson I had years ago where the instructor mentioned having such a powerful experience in general conference, feeling like every talk was fine-tuned to be precisely what she needed to hear, feeling like her prayers were answered very actionably, feeling like she finally knew what she needed to do to handle whatever it was she felt she hadn't previously been able to handle. 

When she revisited that session a few years later, however, she couldn't see how she had gotten those impressions since the talks, which she so distinctly remembered being specific to her problems, weren't at all related to what she remembered. Her point was that the inspirations and impressions she got during conference were more important than what words were said. 

I believe this is also the case while reading the scriptures. Naturally, the words are good. But the impressions are often more important than the seemingly obvious meaning of the passage.

So, I liked that opening message.