Thursday, November 24, 2022

Auntie Josie is here!

My sister Josie arrived yesterday afternoon. 

I had a meeting at 1:00, so Andrew to Zoë to go pick her up from the metro station (we'll drive her to the airport when she leaves since she has to be there so early in the day), which I should probably get used to calling MARTA at some point since no one knows what I'm talking about when I say "metro" here. Or they do. They just always give me a "huh" face before correcting me with MARTA. 

Zoë was so excited to be selected as a companion for this trip that she got dressed and did her hair without any complaining at all. And then she proceeded to ask whether or not it was time to go every five minutes for the next four hours. We eventually set a timer on our Alexa device so that Zoë could ask her how long until it was time to leave to pick up Auntie Josie and that worked well. 

When the pulled back up at home, I had finished my meeting and was just putting Phoebe down for a nap, so the rest of us visited quietly with Josie while she slept. One of the first things she noticed, of course, was how much the children had grown. The children noticed, too! All of a sudden Auntie Josie is a lot smaller than she used to seem!

Rachel is the only one taller than far. Josie is pretty used to being the shortest one in the family, though. She's been shorter than all of her siblings for her whole life and is shorter than many of her nieces and nephews already (to that point, so am I, even though I'm the second-tallest sister)!

Their outfits were unintentionally coordinated.

When Phoebe woke up, Andrew just handed her off to Josie and Phoebe just went to her and then was like, "Wait...what?!"

There's been a medium amount of confusion between me/Rachel/Josie the past couple of days. We're not used to having so many brunettes about. 

Josie was very tired from her long day of traveling, so we didn't do too much with her beyond dinner before carting her and the girls over to Grandpa's house for bed (Rachel and Miriam are sleeping over at Grandpa's house with Auntie Josie). Last night she just went to bed while Grandpa and the girls watched The Phantom of the Opera. I'm not sure what's going on tonight, but I'm sure they're having fun.

Today we went to the park for a couple of hours...because we're not very exciting people, going to the park is one of the most exciting things we do. We had fun playing with each other and with Auntie Josie.

Here's Miriam and Phoebe on the teeter totter:

We didn't actually spend a lot of time at this playground because all the kids wanted to do was swing and there are only two big-kid swings at this particular park, so that meant that all the kids were doing was fighting over the swings. So we decided to walk up to the "spider" park because it has more swings.

Here's Benjamin patiently waiting his turn (and by "patiently" I mean whinging at his siblings to give him a turn) while Auntie Josie pushes Zoë and Alexander, who are both fully capable of pumping but enjoyed having someone push them anyway:

So, we walked to the spider park. Zoë carried Phoebe, which was a little nerve wracking (especially considering how Alexander face-planted with in minutes of arriving at the park). She managed to make it the whole way up the path without incident, though. Phoebe was so cute looking back at us while they walked (so I took a million pictures).

Phoebe really likes giving hugs:

Once at the spider park, all the kids played so nicely together!

Just kidding. Once at the spider park, none of the kids wanted to swing anymore and instead started a game of grounders, which involved a lot of yelling about who was it and whether or not any particular move was legal and so forth. 

I was like, "But the swings...guys..." 


Eventually they gave up on grounders, though, and really did start to play nicely with each other.

They even used the swings!

It was okay with Phoebe that Auntie Josie pushed her in the swing. Not great. But okay.

Phoebe can be pretty slow to warm up to people, and has really done amazingly well with Auntie Josie, even if she doesn't particularly like interacting with her...yet.

Auntie Josie even offered her a bite of food this morning and Phoebe, after weighing her options (to take, or not to take, that is the question), put her hand out and grabbed that small offering with lightning speed. Like, she wanted the food, but she really didn't want to have to touch Auntie Josie's hand to get it. She ended up breaking it (a little piece of a petite madeleine) and getting crumbs all over the place, but she got her cake with minimal contact!

Here's Auntie Josie taking a turn on the swings with all the girls:

Phoebe's cutting her top teeth right now, so she's chew-chew-chewing on just about anything she can get her hands on. Or...just her hands...if nothing else is available.

At the same time, she really was pretty good about not trying to eat wood chips today and spent quite a bit of time actually playing rather than trying to eat everything in sight.

I don't know how both things are true, but somehow they are!

Here's Phoebe climbing up a slide with Auntie Josie spotting her:

Here's Benjamin carrying her across a bridge:

Here's Alexander feeling rather flummoxed over this bit of graffiti:

This next bit was probably the most memorable part of our trip to the park, honestly...but it deserves a little preamble. 

I checked the book What's in Your Pockets? out from the library a bit ago and probably owe the author, Heather Montgomery, a thank you note. It's a beautiful book. Benjamin, in particular, felt very drawn to it. He's always been a collector of "nature's treasures," which I haven't minded because I was quite the collector as a kid, too. Rocks, bugs, shells, pinecones, acorns... 

It drives Andrew a little nuts, but I am fairly at peace with the jars of bugs and piles of rocks in my house because I know how interesting they are (sometimes I'm still the one who brings the bugs inside in the first place). 

But a couple of things happened after Benjamin read this book, and saw himself reflected in the pages. First, he realized that being a collector is a talent. He often feels like he's a slow bloomer, like his talents are rumbling beneath the surface, still waiting to be discovered. In part, he's not wrong. I think everyone has a lot of potential talent lurking in the dark, waiting to be illuminated. But also, he's already a talented kid and collecting stuff is one of his talents! He realized while reading this book that collections are pretty cool; they help us appreciate, learn, and codify the natural world. That's all pretty cool!

Second, he realized that he should, perhaps, take better care of his collections. Since reading this book he's been working to organize the hodgepodge of natural relics scattered about his room: snake skins (as well as an entire baby snake—well-roasted and partially squished—that he pried off the asphalt), horseshoe crab shells, a billion cicada casings, shells, rocks, a couple of dried katydids, etc. The jumble of stuff on top of his dresser really needed a good sorting through, so I'm glad he did it! He now has a system in place to keep his collection tidy and secure.

I might not be able to get Benjamin to clean his room, but Heather Montgomery apparently can (so thanks for being part of my village). 

In his defense, he was only six, had (and still has) a very active imagination, and that was also the year of the big wildfires so the sky was filled with billowing smoke and ash. 

Anyway, all of that is to say that there were a couple of wasp nests under the pavilion that Benjamin wanted for his collection. He already has one wasp nest in his collection (which he retrieved from his bedroom window after he was sure the wasps had abandoned it for the winter (and it is truly completely empty)), but these nests were bigger and he wanted them. 

So Rachel spent probably a good half hour trying to hit the nest from the ceiling with a shoe—his shoe, to be precise. Everyone else tried, too, but Rachel tried the most. Here you can see how very close she got to hitting the nest—which is right above the shoe in this picture:

Ultimately, we found a rather large stick to use to knock it down:

And here are the wasp nests for Benjamin's collection:

He's pretty sure the egg cells are mummified at this point (there were several larvae still in open shells that were clearly completely dried out), but he's keeping the nests sealed for the time being, just to be certain.

What he really wants is one of the big nests we can see in the trees now that the leaves are falling. There's one in Mr. Paul's yard, and one up at Reed's house, and one in a tree in between the two. They are very big and mesmerizingly beautiful. But they're also very high up in the trees. It seems like the nests are typically abandoned and thus are safe to simply remove in the winter so maybe if Benjamin's lucky he'll find a way to get a big ol' wasp nest for his collection. 

Anyway, here we are taking a quick stroll around the pond:

After having lunch at home, Grandpa picked up Alexander, Zoë and Benjamin to spend the afternoon at his place. Phoebe was tuckered out and needed a nap (which ended up being a contact nap, which equalled nap time for me). Andrew, Rachel, Miriam, and Josie, meanwhile, busied themselves making pie. So much pie. I think they made five...with a few more in the works for tomorrow!

We had leftovers for dinner to clear out the fridge well for tomorrow's leftovers (the little kids ate French toast at Grandpa's) and then played some games before initiating bedtime protocol (and sending Auntie Josie and the big girls over to Grandpa's house for the night). 

And then Phoebe, who slept terribly last night, who didn't sleep in particularly late this morning, who only napped for about an hour after spending hours at the park, was the biggest stinker at bedtime! 

I blame the teeth. 

Anyway, she's asleep now.

I'm writing.

And Andrew is making still more pie.


  1. Please tell Benjamin that I am honored. He should be proud of his choice to sort/organize/classify his collection!

    1. Oh, wow! Thanks so much for responding here! He was thrilled to see your message! :)