Saturday, December 31, 2022

It's fun! It's Incredible! It's glorious!

Last night the older three kids were finishing their Lord of the Rings marathon with Grandpa, so instead of "just" going to bed, I suggested we take the little ones out for an evening adventure. Plus, I had an inkling of hope that if we gave Phoebe enough stimulation before bedtime it might tucker her out. We'd had an awful night the night before and...the sad part about awful nights is that then it makes you reluctant to do anything during the day (because you're just so tired). But, honestly, that little evening romp seemed to have done the trick for her last night because we didn't have a terrible night with her after we got home.

Anyway, Andrew and I took the younger three kids out to see some lights at the town green. Here is a lovely shot I got of Andrew with the kids and the lights:

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Montgomery, AL (day 1)

We haven't been very good about planning adventures lately. We used to be quite good at it, making sure to fit in x-number of family adventures per year, but the pandemic put a stop to that habit. We're still inching our way back into society. Anyway, the point of that preamble is that we went on another somewhat spur-of-the-moment trip to Alabama after Christmas. We'd been talking about maybe doing it for some time and had a few things on our mental bucket list, but really Andrew just looked up hotels on Boxing Day (Monday, the day after Christmas) and then we left on Tuesday morning and drove straight to the Rosa Parks Museum.

Andrew went ahead and paid for the whole experience—both wings of the museum! Probably just the main part of the museum would have been fine for us. That involved a little video/reenactment experience of Rosa Parks getting arrested, and then a walk through the exhibits. Things were a little glitchy (doors that should have been closed were open, and then when those doors should have been closed they slammed open and shut for quite some time) and we were often rather confused about where we were supposed to be, when we were formally "excused" from a certain portion of the exhibit. Lights would just turn off and we'd all be left in the dark...and then would...make our way to the next section. It was weird. But it was good; we learned a lot!

No photos are permitted within the exhibit itself, but here's Phoebe on a bench with Rosa Parks in the lobby:

Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas Eve 2022

We set up our tree in early December, but left it undecorated until Christmas Eve in order to (1) get Phoebe acclimated to the idea of having a tree in the middle of the living room, and (2) to prevent her from mucking with a decorated tree. It worked pretty well! The kids got to enjoy having the tree—and lights—up all month and I did't spend the whole month stressing out about the tree.


Friday, December 23, 2022

Sleep panic

Phoebe hated bedtime! The whole bedtime procedure!
Now, please don't ask why. We don't quite know why either!
It could be the light was a little too bright.
It could be, perhaps, it was too cold last night.
But most likely the reason she'd not be consoled
May have been that her toes were pinched by a hole
In the feet of her footie pyjamies. 
Settle in close and I'll tell you the story...

She's never been a great sleeper. Well, I take that back. There was a time in her life when I wondered whether she would ever perk up and take a look around at the world. But it's hard to remember those days at all given how much she hates sleep in recent history.

Yesterday I was nursing her before bed and my sister called, so I asked if I could have a minute to put Phoebe down before calling her back, and she said yes...because...I wasn't really asking for permission. So, I hung up, nursed Phoebe for a minute or so longer, and tried to put Phoebe into bed, but she woke up again, completely alert, wanting nothing to do with bed.

So, we returned to the nursing chair, where she nursed and nursed and goofed around and refused to close her eyes. 

So I texted Andrew:

"Do you want to try sitting with Phoebe for a minute? She where near asleep, but K is trying to call me. I tried putting her down a bit ago but she woke up immensely"

Drat! A typo! Thanks a lot, predictive text. Better fix that:


Cookies, cookies, cookies!

I have done zero holiday baking, but that's been okay because Rachel baked gingerbread and spritz cookies and Andrew made sugar cookies. I didn't have to lift a finger (until it came time for decorating)!

But to start off this post, here's a picture of Phoebe and Alexander helping me make dinner on Sunday. We made a French toast casserole and they were such proud helpers!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Cold days

It is cold in a lot of places right now. We're due for our own little cold snap over the next several days, but we're only supposed to drop down to about -14°C (6°F). That's record-breaking cold around these parts—it hasn't been that cold since 2014!

I'll probably go outside just to feel how cold it feels to be that cold, make the kids go experience it because...we just don't often get that cold here. 

More nighttime poetry

Not that we're a family of night owls...but...

After we put the little kids to bed, Rachel and Miriam begged to play Pandemic because we'd played it last night—and almost won!—and they wanted to see if we could do better tonight. 

Reader, we did not do better tonight. And we play on the easiest setting.

We're rather pathetic at that game, to be truthful. 

But we had fun!

When we finished, we scattered to do various activities. I went upstairs to work and noticed that Benjamin was still up reading, so reminded him to go to bed. Andrew retreated to his office (or do BCC stuff). Rachel returned to the hot chocolate bombs she was making. And Miriam returned to her sewing (she's making a doll dress currently). 

I thought the younger three kids were all—miraculously—asleep. 

But when I turned on my computer I had a text message pop up from Zoë (sent at 10:13 PM):

The pencil poem
  he pencil poe
    e pencil po
       pencil p
             __ always just floored with what she manages to come up with sometimes. The only thing I would change is that I think the "c" is technically the middle letter, not the i. 

So "after" bedtime, we played a game, sewed a dress, wrote a poem, made hot chocolate bombs, snuck in some reading time, and accomplished several hours' worth of work!

UPDATE: She admitted this was a poem she was recalling from a book called My Dog Ate My Homework?? Or something...?

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Commissions and commissioning (are everything in least this weekend)

This weekend was rather industrious for Rachel and Benjamin, who were each working to fulfill their first commissions. Benjamin made a set of winter hats as a gift for the set of twins around the corner from us. When we babysat them at our house, their mom mentioned to Benjamin that they needed new hats this year and that she'd gladly pay him to make a bigger set for them. Benjamin's eyes lit up with dollar signs and he worked rather diligently on these hats for several days.

Family Pictures: The Groupies

This was, I believe, one of the first pictures we took and...almost worked out! It's not centered, but it worked out!

We're here to burgle your turts

When Josie was out here, Rachel, Miriam, and I watched Over the Garden Wall with her. It's a quirky little cartoon, but it has many layers to an onion...or Dante's Inferno (which it is often compared to). It follows the whimsical journey of a pair of brothers—ages 5 and 15 (or so)—as they try to find their way home. The music is quizzically delightful. And it's just something that you watch and think, "Huh..." because it seems so simple and yet leaves you thinking long after the episode is over. 

So after Auntie Josie left, the girls convinced Andrew that he needed to watch it as well. They weren't sure he would like it's a little weird...but he loved it. We now own the soundtrack (so we can listen to "Miss Langtree's Lament" as many times as we want to without Alexa yelling at us about needing to buy it) and Miriam has been leaning to play "Potatoes and Molasses" on the piano.

One of our favourite lines from the show is "We're here to burgle your turts!" which I won't explain. Because you should just watch the show to find out what it means. 

Just know that that line is what came to mind when we found this little turt(le) crawling by the pond. 

I think these pictures of Zoë and Benjamin with their little turtle friend are darling. I'm so glad we captured this moment of the sun sinking low, casting a golden light on these sweet children bonding with this pond creature (who I'm sure was more than happy to be released again when they were through).

Sleep training-ish

I had planned on writing a section of my thesis this evening, but instead I decided enough was enough and I was going to be really hard-nosed about Phoebe's bedtime. She has been, to put it lightly, an absolute nincompoop when it comes to bedtime. Waking up every ten minutes to yell about...whatever. 

And I'm so over it!

We were successful (in early September) at training her to not require hours of pacing to fall asleep every night. Before then Andrew used to set the (automatic) vacuum on rove and would follow that little machine all around the house with a fussing Phoebe.

But then I was like, "Enough is enough! She can learn this."

It took some doing, but we did get her trained to her mattress. She would lie in her own bed to sleep. For a bit. If she had a grown up nearby to comfort her while she begrudgingly went about falling asleep. And that was a heckuva lot better than pacing the floors with her for hours on end so we called it a win. 

I thought we'd slowly move away from her, Call the Nanny style. One night in her bed, the next night on her floor, then ever closer to the door...

But instead we digressed into spending hours lying next to her, patting her back, and shushing her, and singing her songs while she kicked and cuddled and head-butted and hugged us. It was getting downright obnoxious but we just lived with it because we were in survival mode for the duration of the semester. Sleep training is hard work and we didn't have the time to commit to being...consistent...about it. So we've been hanging onto sanity by a thread these past few months and tonight I decided, "Enough is enough! She can learn this!"

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Heiss Holiday Humbug 2022

So many working parts go into this newsletter, but we've fortunately reached the stage in life where we have many helping hands: 

Rachel and Miriam helped me coordinate outfits for family pictures; Andrew was the cameraman and photo editor. Miriam generated marbled background papers using a program in R, and Rachel gathered all the links for the poem to make it easier for me to insert them into the final layout. All I had to do was write a poem, beg people to smile, and lay things out (you know—easy stuff).

We waited so long to take pictures—and it had been so rainy—that instead of going to a fabulous predetermined (pre-dreamed-of?) location we just...went to a random walking path a little ways from our house. I figured the paved path would prevent my kids from getting too muddy (the other location was a little more adventurous...and you remember what happened that time we decided to take family pictures at the salt flats, right? Yes, at least two of the kids ended up covered in mud from head to toe), but I was wrong. Even with a paved path for us to take advantage of more than one child became acquainted with the mud anyway. 

Apparently that's just what my kids do.

But that's okay! We had good time and got some good shots!

As always, you can download our newsletter here, or read it below the jump! 

17 years to us!

Somehow or other today is our 17th wedding anniversary. I'm not sure how it happened precisely, but it checks out both mathematically and calendrically. As is our modus operandi, we planned absolutely nothing in advance. 

People warned us about that, you know—getting married in a hurry during finals week. 

"Every anniversary will fall during finals week," they told us. "You'll never catch a break."

I don't remember who those prescient people were, precisely, but I do remember that Andrew and I laughed off such remarks. He'd graduate in a few years and then we'd never have to worry about finals week ever again! Semesters wouldn't always rule our lives! Silly people!

Silly us. 

How did they know we'd be sprinting to the finish line each and every fall semester before looking at the calendar and going, "Oh, yeah! Our anniversary!" every year for the next...foreseeable future?!

Did they peg him as a professor so young? Before he even realized a PhD might be a thing he'd do?

Whatever the case, they were smart and we were dumb and in love, and so we got married in December in the middle of finals week. And now here we are, just as dumb and in love as ever (and just having finished finals week for the 17th time as a married couple)!

Anyway, I was thinking last night that we should do something, so I started looking up hikes and things while I was nursing Phoebe before bed. And then I was so unbelievably tired that—in a most romantic and magnanimous gesture—Andrew insisted I go to bed, too. At 9:30!!

For the record, the other night it started raining, but I wasn't sure whether it had started raining or whether the heater had kicked on, so I asked, "Did it just start raining really difficult?"

I meant "hard."

My children will probably never let me live that down because while those words are synonymous, they also aren't synonymous (at least, not in this sense of the word). But it's a wonderful illustration of how absolutely fried my brain is. 

And then not only did he put me to bed, but he helped Phoebe back to sleep every time she got up (which was several times because she's a stinker lately) between 9:43 pm (when she got up the first time) and 6:00 am (when I finally heard her and relieved Andrew so he could get some rest). 

I...honestly don't know what we're going to do with her. But...she's learning more and more every day so I have hope that she'll eventually learn to sleep through the night as well. 

Anyway, somehow or other we settled on hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park before I went to bed last night because I knew I had to get up to get everything packed up to go after Andrew's morning meetings. So while he was in his meeting I rushed the kids through their morning routine and then made 8 peanut butter and jam/honey sandwiches and we were out the door by 11:15 (11:00 had been our goal).

Grandpa came with us and his carload beat us to the parking lot at the—award winning!—visitor's center (one of the most environmentally responsible buildings in the country (the children weren't terribly impressed by the pit toilets, but, having visited some rather rank pit toilets, myself, I was—they didn't smell at all!)). The kids thought the animals were cute in their little Santa hats. Phoebe was especially excited to see all the animals, which was an exciting change to see in her (the last time I took her to a museum with such animals (in September when I visited Utah) she was completely underwhelmed).

Here are some pictures of Phoebe getting all excited about the animals:

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

All she wants for Christmas

Zoë has been working and working at her wiggly tooth lately. Her hands were constantly in her mouth, which was really skeeving everybody out, and she would come up to me about a million times a day to ask me to "check" to see if it was loose enough for Daddy to pull.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Phoebe standing solo

Phoebe has been taking a handful of steps here and there for weeks now, but she hasn't been very committed to the idea of walking. I'm not too concerned about that yet because she did the same thing with crawling—she scooted on her belly far longer than she needed to, simply because crawling on her hands and knees felt pointless when scooting was so fast. But then she figured out hands and knees (and learned that that method actually was more efficient than she thought) and gave up scooting. I have a feeling the same thing will happen with walking any day now. 

Another thing holding her back has been her inability to get into a standing position unaided.

She could walk if we set her on her feet and coaxed her. And she could walk if she pulled up against something (the couch, the wall, whatever). But she couldn't simply...stand the middle of the floor...

Until this evening!

She decided in the middle of our evening Christmas devotional that she could stand up, after all. 

The reading loft (and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff)

Somehow I think the only record I have of Andrew building our reading loft is in a poem in Paradoxical Glory. In the poem I referred to it as a tree house, I believe, but really he built a reading loft in our basement. And somehow I missed ever writing about it. 

If I recall, I think I was "saving" it to write about for when it was "finished." 

I say that Andrew made it because that's largely true, but I will probably default to "we" because I helped...a bit. I'm mostly afraid of power tools, so I didn't help too much, but I did help with what I could. Andrew was oddly fixated on power tools when we first moved out here, which I attributed to his grieving process. I mean, he'd used power tools here and there throughout our marriage before 2019, but right around the year mark of Karen's death, Andrew had this sudden desire to really build something. 

His mom was the power tool user at his house growing up. She built a bunch of things—a little garden bridge, a picnic table set, cute little American girl doll beds. 

He just wanted to build something. And that's not an unhealthy outlet for grief. So we built a loft for the kids in the basement the week after Christmas in 2019 (a little over a year after Karen's death). 

Here is pictorial evidence of our nearly finished product (look how little all the kids were):

Saturday, December 10, 2022

More lights!

We've been having a very wet, very warm week! Yesterday it was about 75°F outside in the afternoon, with about 90% humidity, so although it wasn't actively raining, we were so close to the dew point that we were getting wet just being outside. But! it wasn't actively raining, so we figured it was a good time to try to get the Christmas lights up.

Every year—around October—our Christmas-loving neighbour Jan warns us about needing to get Christmas lights up before it gets too cold and wintery to do so. And every year I giggle about this because...we live in Georgia, not Alberta. That is sound advice in Alberta. Like, literally, if you do not want to get frost bite it's a good idea to get your decorations up before winter sets in. 

(My friend's husband ran outside—barefoot, in Alberta, in winter—the other day to break up a dog fight (between their own farm dogs; long story) and ended up with frostbite on both his feet (since he neglected to put on shoes before running out). That's simply not a story I'd expect to hear in Georgia).

But we're in Georgia and it was 75°F yesterday. Here are Miriam and Phoebe feeling very not cold in their t-shirts, even as the sun is setting:

Friday, December 09, 2022

The Loveliest of All was the Unicorn

I recently checked out a book called The Very Short, Entirely True Book About Unicorns from the library (I also checked out The Very Short, Entirely True Book About Mermaids, but that's besides the point). Zoë, of course, devoured it. Read them over and over again like it was the bible or something.

And perhaps she wasn't too far off base...

On one page, you see, Laskow explained the unicorn was once considered a symbol of Christ

Ever since, Zoë has been referring to all the unicorns in her room as...Jesus...which...I mean...we've explained why, perhaps, she shouldn't...but at the same time, kids are going to be kids...and Zoë really likes the fact that her room is full of...unicorns. 

I mean, it can't be any more sacrilegious than the time Miriam planned "Pin the Jesus on the Cross" for family night

This evening after she was sent to bed she texted Andrew the following:

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Matchy, matchy (and some music)

I picked up some Christmas pyjamas from my "buy nothing group"; someone wanted to give away a pair of elf pyjamas—size 8 and size 3. That was just about perfect for our house. The pyjamas are a little small for Alexander, but they worked perfectly well for him and he was ecstatic to be matching with Zoë (especially because we'd recently babysat my friend's twins).

Here are the cute little elf twins:

Monday, December 05, 2022

Alexander's Christmas Story

This is a little story that Alexander assigned himself to write. I don't usually give him assignments to do because (a) he's not technically in kindergarten yet, (b) I have my hands full with the kids who are technically in school, and (c) he has been doing a fine job learning on his own. He's very on board with unschooling (which means self-directed (rather than teacher-directed) learning) and is picking things up left and right. He can read, he can write, he can add and subtract, he does typing and coding lessons on the computer, and the other day we had a rather in-depth conversation about the phonetics of Arabic. At in depth as one can get with a five year old...who was having trouble grasping how to say the sound "وو" (he's been learning the Arabic alphabet on Duolingo because...he wants to).

"That's right! Wāw says /w/ and wāw says /oo/ so if you wanted to write the sound woo it would be wāw, wāw."

(و the letter is pronounced "wow" or wāw).

Anyway, after doing ten minutes of "Minecraft Focus Time" (which is a thing in our house for several children now), he settled down to write this Christmas season (which is saved as Chris Miss Ligo on the computer).

Thanksgiving day

Thanksgiving! We had it! Don't worry! We had it!

I'm just slow about writing about it because...thesis. But that's okay! 

We'd planned to have dinner around 3:00 in the afternoon. Josie, Rachel, and Miriam played games at Grandpa's house all morning and cooked the turkey breasts (which no one ate very much of, though the kids seemed to love after I turned it into turkey à la king last week for one of our leftover nights). The little kids and I spent the morning raking leaves. Andrew spent the morning bustling about the kitchen.

Here's how our spread ended up:

Friday, December 02, 2022

Run off voting

Living in Georgia has helped us to really put Reid's "vote early, vote often" maxim to use. Thanks to all the run-off elections we've found ourselves voting multiple times in any given election recently. Today was the last day for early voting so I packed all the kids up and we headed to the park so we could do our traditional "vote and play." 

Here we are stopping by the "raptor" that Grandpa saw in the park the other day:

It's been here for years now and is in sad shape, but it's still fun to stumble upon.