Saturday, December 30, 2023

Monastery of the Holy Spirit and book binding with Uncle Patrick

After hiking Arabia Mountain, we headed over to visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. It was interesting to visit a modern monastery since we'd only ever seen ancient ones (like St. Anthony's in Egypt, circa 300 AD). The Monastery of the Holy Spirit was founded in 1944. At first the monks stayed in an old barn on site (in an interview with the last surviving founding monk, he said that staying in the barn wasn't always comfortable, but if Baby Jesus could be born in a stable, they could handle staying in a barn). 

Arabia Mountain

On Thursday before the weather turned cold we headed out on another hike, this time to Arabia Mountain, a large granite mountain in the Lithonia area that used to serve as a quarry. It's no wonder that Lithonia was named, as it was, after rocks. It's a very rocky area (pity we didn't get to visit while Rachel was in her geology class)! The etymology of Arabia Mountain is not well-recorded, but the consensus seems to be because the quarry workers used to complain about things being "as hot as Arabia" while they were cutting granite in the summer. 

Having been hiking in Southern Utah, I can imagine how hot it gets when the sun starts beating down on all that exposed rock. We'd like to return later this year, perhaps when the diamorpha are blooming, but I don't think we'd consider this hike in the summer!

Here's Miriam at the start of the hike, in front of one of the little pools:

Thursday, December 28, 2023

A quiet day

Monday (Christmas) and Tuesday (Boxing Day) were warm and wet days. We received so much rain that the river is threatening to overflow its banks. So we stayed at home and did Christmassy things, which we might have done anyway, given that it's Christmas and there's much to be done at Christmas. 

Today was chillier, but drier, and still we stayed home, working on our book binding skills (Uncle Patrick, our expert book conservator, is a very patient teacher). To be frank, a large part of our reasoning for staying home today was my terrible monthly cycle, which lately has included a migraine (both as prelude and postlude, a very painful set of bookends), frequently threatens to overflow its banks (just like the Chattahoochee River today), and as some kind of a sick joke decided that a 21-day cycle is as good as a 28-day cycle (and thus showed up twice in December). I have not been very happy about it, so we largely stayed home and worked on our books.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Kennesaw Mountain

On Saturday we hiked Kennesaw Mountain. The timing of our departure may or may not have been selected to ensure our absence during a hot chocolate stand some kids in the neighbourhood were putting on. I...just have this...thing...about lemonade stands. I can't stand 'em! They feel a little coercive to me and I don't think they really teach children about entrepreneurism. Unless they state that the funds are going to be donated to a good cause, I just can't put down $2 per cup of hot cocoa. (I have hot chocolate mix in my house for much cheaper than that, thank you kindly). We've thrown a hot cocoa stand, ourselves...and then donated all the proceeds to Lifting Hands International, a favourite non-profit of ours. But, that could be just me, and I've been know to be a bit of a Grinch sometimes.

Anyway, we left in the morning and didn't get back until the afternoon. 

First we visited the museum and the kids all worked on the Junior Ranger booklets. They even had "Wee Ranger" booklets, which Phoebe really enjoyed. It was her first time earning a badge and she was over the moon to be doing "math" with the big kids!


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The High Museum

After spending a few days doing—in Benjamin's mind—not much, we were all happy to go on an outing to the High Museum of Art on Thursday (December 21). We knew Grandpa didn't get off work until noon, but Patrick was supposed to meet up with friends later in the day, so we decided we'd leave earlier in the morning, so we didn't invite Grandpa. But then I remembered that the kids were supposed to be on puppy duty, so we wouldn't be able to leave until right around noon (when they go to visit the puppy), so we decided that if we were leaving that late we should just invite Grandpa and leave right around noon. And then soon after we decided that, our neighbour texted to say she'd be working from home and thus wouldn't need the kids to check on the puppy, so we could have left earlier in the day, anyway...

It was a confusing morning, but we managed to get out the door around the time we said we were going to leave. And we got back home with time for Patrick to pack for his sleepover. So it all worked out!

Here we are checking out an outdoor exhibit called "Happy Joylanta."

Monday, December 25, 2023

New do, who dis?

One thing Uncle Patrick wanted while he was here was a haircut from Miriam. She was a little nervous because she's only done buzz cuts on her dad, grandfather, and brothers, but Patrick wanted something a little fancier—a haircut with the top left long. I've been working on learning how to do such haircuts for my little boys who—unlike their father—don't like buzz cuts, so I helped a little and Patrick was helpful in walking Miriam through the process as well. 

Heiss Holiday Humbug 2023

I finished this newsletter on Christmas Eve and distributed it to a few friends and family members, but I'm just getting around to posting it here today—on Christmas itself. We didn't take pictures until December 18 (the day Uncle Patrick flew in) and we've been busy, busy, busy since then. 

We had a pretty wonderful year and I can see that next year is shaping up to be just as full. And I suppose that's what we want—a full life. I have heard so many analogies about what makes life beautiful—pianos need both black keys and white keys, music needs dissonance and resolutions (those are actual terms, right?), tapestries need both warp and weave (sometimes it's your turn to really let your colours shine and other times you sit silently at the back of the fabric, lending quiet strength). What makes life sweet and unique and wonderful is taking all those things—the difficult and the pleasant—together. So this year, like all years, wasn't a perfect year, but all in all, life is wonderful. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

UGA Graduation 2023

I got an email telling me that my library privileges have officially been revoked, so I guess that means it's official: I've graduated!

I'm really sad about my lack of library privileges, but I've graduated.

I didn't go to graduation but that doesn't mean we didn't celebrate! Graduation happened to fall on our anniversary, so we'll count our anniversary celebrations as my graduation celebration as well. 

To make things really official, I asked on the Buy Nothing Group if anyone had some robes I could borrow and a neighbour responded that he happened to have his daughter's robes in a closet at home—along with her mortar board and tassels (from UGA's education program, so they were even the right colour!). It seemed like a perfect fit, so I borrowed them...

Now, am I missing the Master's hood? Yes.

Did I know I was supposed to put both tassels on the hat? No. 

Was the robe sized for someone between 5'1" and 5'3"? Yes.

Am I even close to being between 5'1" and 5'3"? Not really, no. 

But, if you ignore all of that (and only take pictures from the waist up), I looked like a real-life graduate! So I prettied my family up and then dragged them out into the woods to take family pictures by some rusted-out tractor bits. Naturally.

Here I am holding the books I analyzed in my thesis:

Uncle Patrick is here!

Uncle Patrick arrived late on Monday night, so when the little kids woke up in the morning—surprise!—they had a visitor. It wasn't really a surprise; we'd talked about it before his arrival. Rachel and Miriam had gone to the airport with Andrew to pick him up. Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander were unquestionably excited for him to come. But before I took Phoebe downstairs for breakfast we talked about Uncle Patrick again (and pulled up some pictures for her to look at and so forth). 

She did a pretty good job accepting him into her home, though I'm sure the treats that he gave her (hand-selected by Uncle Patrick's special someone in Vienna, who felt—probably correctly—that the children would enjoy sweets more than the ornaments he'd picked out for them (though I think they still appreciated the ornaments)) helped her warm up to the idea of...him.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

With Miriam Heiss at the organ

This evening our stake had a Christmas musical fireside and all of the kids (except for Phoebe) got to participate. The primary kids (Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander) sang 'The Nativity Song' and 'Estrella de Luz.' They missed yesterday's rehearsal (because we were busy dismantling that clubhouse), but I'd worked on the music with them on my own so they still went up to sing. I love how our stake often (even usually) does something in Spanish at each event. We have two Spanish-language units in our stake; I think it's only fair to switch off on which language is being privileged (or utilized).

The youth (Rachel and Miriam) sang a song together that no one in our ward knew about until today. So that was interesting. At the very least their bodies made the choir look bigger.

Miriam also participated in a youth orchestra (comprised of one violin, one cello, two basses, and Miriam at the piano). They did very well together. 

Miriam also played 'Angels We Have Heard On High' at the organ. She'd practiced at this building on this organ several times and nothing had ever gone amiss, but in the middle of her performance the air conditioning system kicked on and blew her music away! First one page fluttered away, but she wasn't too concerned because she'd already finished playing it...but then the page she was on flew away, too! Fortunately another pianist up on the stand retrieved it for her and put it back up, but it was a real knuckle biter for a second there. 

My hands flew up to my mouth and everything. 

Once again I didn't take any videos of anything! But people from the stake were filming it, so I hope they'll distribute video of it. Who knows. Otherwise, perhaps we'll record Miriam playing her piece after church next Sunday.

After church today, Grandpa recorded Miriam playing a couple of pieces on the organ. The first is 'Still, Still, Still':

Saturday, December 16, 2023

18 years!

Somehow or another, the movie Elf was released 20 years ago (in 2003). It doesn't seem real that 2003 was twenty years ago, but the calendar keeps telling me it's the year 2024. 

Andrew and I first watched Elf together in Vicenza, Italy, in the Eldredge's basement, where we'd stopped by for a few days so we could visit Vince and Verona while on our honeymoon late in 2005. They were so gracious to allow honeymooners into their home! When Dave picked us up at the train station (quite late at night) on Boxing Day (December 26), the moon was a waning crescent but must have been rather bright because I remember some discussion of the song 'That's Amore," where the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. 

I'd always thought the lyrics were big piece o' pie. 

I was wrong.

Anyway, we hung out in Vicenza (and watched Elf) and went to Venice (where we walked on a bunch of bridges and ate a lot of gelato) and Verona (where we saw Juliette's balcony and ate a lot of gelato) and had a really great time. We also went to Rome (arriving, if I recall, on transfer day when Andrew had only been home for one transfer (or maybe it was that we got married right around what would have been his next transfer had his mission not ended)). We visited the mission home and I got to meet his mission president. We spent a day in London (and stopped by to visit my friend Andrea Rowbottom!).

And now here we are 18 years later (or so the calendar tells me), still living large.

We went to the temple last night while Reid hung out with the kids (Rachel and Miriam are both old enough to babysit and could totally handle their siblings, but sometimes it's nice to not have to be "in charge"):

Christmas concert I

This morning Andrew went to pick up a little red Christmas dress for Zoë (from the Buy Nothing Group, of course), but the kids had already started getting ready to go to the retirement home where our homeschool group was performing. Phoebe and Zoë wore the matching jumpers that Miriam made last year and I didn't realize how excited Phoebe was about matching with Zoë because when I walked up the stairs holding a pretty, new dress that was very obviously Zoë's size, she got very worried. 

"No! No! No!" she commanded, waving her little hands wildly. "Put 'way! Put 'way! Matching woes! Matching woes! Matching woes! Me! O-zee! Matching woes!"

"Oh, are you wearing matching clothes with Zoë?" I asked. "That's okay. This dress isn't for today. I was just going to show it to Zoë. She's not going to wear it. You can still match, okay?"


So, here we are at the nursing home, waiting for everyone else to arrive...with Phoebe and Zoë in their matching outfits:

Friday, December 15, 2023

Favourite Things Party

I went to the Relief Society Christmas party this evening. It was a dinner, which was awkward, because I didn't want to take off my mask to eat. But I just ate before I went and sat and visited with people while they ate. It was tempting to take off my mask because truthfully I hadn't eaten very much before I left, so I was pretty hungry (it had been a busy day and we only finished with the clubhouse at 6:15 or so, and my ride was picking me up at 6:30), but I stuck to my convictions and kept my mask on.

I recently saw someone somewhere explain their reasoning for wearing a mask by talking about the other leading causes of death in the United States. There's heart disease (695,547 deaths/year), cancer (605,213), accidents (224,935), and diabetes (103,294), to name a few.

I wear a seat belt, try to eat balanced meals, get regular exercise, refrain from drinking and smoking...

So naturally—of course—I will also wear a mask. 

Anyway, let's just say that the girl I was sitting beside for a good chunk of the party admitted that [a redacted relative] had wanted to come to the party but [redacted relative] was sick...with COVID. And her husband was sick with COVID. And their children were sick with COVID. 

And I was just very happy about my decision to keep my mask on. That's all. 


The second half of the party was a "favourite things" exchange. I...wasn't sure what to bring...because I don't really feel Like, there were women giving passionate monologues about the gift they gave: "This lipstick will change your life!" and "That is the best-scented lotion in the world! Now you, too, can smell like me!" and "You have no lived until you have used a frother!" 

Meanwhile, I can't think of anything that's my favourite of anything. You have a favourite body wash? Neat. I use soap. Like, whatever's-in-the-shower...soap. Soap that I haven't thought about long enough to even have an opinion on. Do people go around actively smelling each other?

Anyway, I know I can't be the only one to struggle with choosing a favourite thing because the gift that I got was a bag of Hershey's kisses and the giver was like, "Yeah. I don't have a cool story about my gift. I just like candy..." And I was like, "Word." Because...I get that.

Choosing something—a favourite something—to give away was agonizing. 

Funny learning stories

Zoë has been watching Victoria (with Miriam, whose favourite show when she was eight was...Victoria). She's gleaned all sorts of wonderful knowledge from this series, such as the fact that mothers have to push the baby out (she did not realize this was the case and has a new respect for mothers), as well as the following joke:

Q: What's the difference between a funny Dutchman and a tube?
A: One's a silly Hollander and the other is a hollow cylinder.

Last night the episode centered The Great Irish Famine and Zoë, who usually asks questions throughout every episode, sat stoically through the show. She had been doing her best not to cry. When the show was over she lost her composure and sobbed nearly until midnight. I had to pull up our family tree to prove to her that we had no relatives in Ireland in 1845 (because she was worried about that), but even then she was distraught because so many people had died. The Irish population was cut in half, so it was no small thing (and was handled abominably). 

I'll be looking for materials to help Zoë learn more about this subject, but today we spent the morning making Christmas cards for our co-op teachers, tending to our neighbour's puppy, attending co-op, and then dismantling the clubhouse (we took off the roof today, which felt like a real-life STEM assignment (I've been a co-teacher for the upper elementary STEM class this semester)). 

There are no pictures of the roof being removed because it was an all-hands-on-deck situation. We put some ratchet straps around the roof itself, tied ropes to the straps, and then lowered the roof to the ground using the frame of the clubhouse as leverage. Grandpa and Rachel stood on the ground below the clubhouse, with ropes going over the front and back walls, and Andrew and I stood inside the clubhouse with ropes going over only the back wall. And...well...nobody died...and the roof is off.

Here's a picture of Andrew removing the last f the nails before taking off the last wall/frame:

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Christmas emotions

Phoebe brought me a granola bar just now and said, "Need help. Need help ope-mmm bar. Me have. Need help ope-mmm bar me have. Please." And I have to admit that her grammar is, like, way off, but that was a pretty big idea she put together!


It rained most of the day, which was unfortunate because I was hoping to do some work on the clubhouse today. We'll have to pick a day next week to get things done (because it's supposed to rain next weekend as well). 

Andrew drove the girls downtown to take the ACT this morning. Why? Because this is a testing year for Miriam, so she has to take a test anyway. And Rachel wanted to take the ACT again in the spring or early summer. But then the ACT company (or whatever) sent me an email offering a Buy-One-Get-One deal and sucked in. If they take the test in December then they'll get a free retake test in the spring or summer. So I figured why not?

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Soundbites from the back seat...

On the way downtown (well, technically only to midtown), we heard the following conversations from the back seat...

Miriam: Can you count to five?

Phoebe: 1, 2, 3, 4! 1, 2, 3, 4! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!!!

Me: She’s learning at a very rapid pace. Just a few weeks ago she could hardly string two words together, remember?

Andrew: I know!

Phoebe: Uuuuuuhhhh blaaaah ugggghhhaaaa maaaaa!

Andrew: And…then there’s that…


Beatrix Potter Day

We haven't done many (any) field trips with our co-op, in large part because I'm too afraid to drive much of anywhere (and that's on me, I get that). But today's field trip was scheduled far enough in advance on a fortuitous day at the end of the semester when Andrew was able to come with us! One of the moms in our group planned an outing to a new musical having its world premiere at the Alliance theater— Into the Burrow. It's based on characters created by Beatrix Potter and was really quite an incredible performance. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Sometimes I'm hard to please

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going person (emphasis on the pretty), but sometimes I think my kids probably think I'm altogether unreasonable. 

This morning Zoë finished up loading the dishwasher and then went the extra mile and ran the cycle. When it finished and popped open and I got to peek inside I expressed my displeasure because it was half empty! First of all, there were still dirty dishes left on the counters (my kids have this thing where they can only see dirty dishes in the sink...the ones on the counter are invisible) and second of all, if there hadn't been more dirty dishes I would have preferred to wait to run it until after lunch (when we inevitably make more dishes). So while I appreciated her help in doing the dishes, she got a little lecture about being wise stewards and not wasting resources (of time, water, money, electricity, etc.), a lecture that she probably found confusing because...

Earlier this morning Zoë wanted to put in a load of laundry, but it turns out that that load of laundry was ginormous! She took each of the kids' laundry baskets from upstairs and emptied them all into the machine at once (which I didn't know until the cycle stopped and I went to put things in the dryer because my children, like me, have this thing where they forget about doing laundry while it's washing and sometimes leave things in the washing machine far too long). So while I appreciated her help in doing the laundry, she got a little lecture about not overloading the washing machine and...well...

I began to feel a little unreasonable.

Overload the machine? Get a lecture. Under-load the machine? Get a lecture.Overload, under-load...

Signs your baby is growing up

Today Phoebe got into a box of Kleenex, but she only pulled out enough tissues to use as blankets for each of the little dolls she was playing with. Once everyone was comfortably tucked into their makeshift beds on the couch she stopped pulling out tissues. 

Before when she'd get into a box of Kleenex it was to pull every last tissue out of the box and shred it all over the living room floor. Eventually she figured out that was a no-no and figured out they were only for noses, so she'd help herself to one every time she felt like blowing her nose (and she felt like blowing her nose as often as she got a hankering to yank a tissue out of the box, believe me).

But now? Now she's playing make-believe. 

And that's how I know my baby's growing up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Stake Dance

Just a note that a few nights ago in a last-ditch effort to get the kids' attention (because they were being unruly, naturally), Andrew hollered, "Yo! Listen up!"

And because sometimes my children's mother is sometimes equally unruly, I belted out: "Here's the story about a little guy that lives in a blue world, and all day and all night, and everything he sees is just blue—like him!—inside and outside."

Andrew gave up and joined in as the kids' jaws dropped open in amazement:

"Blue's his house with his blue little window, and a blue corvette, and everything is blue for him, and himself, and everybody around, cause he ain't got nobody to listen...."

This is about where the kids lost it, because by this time Andrew and I were jumping around the living room singing, "I'm blue, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di..."

Rachel was like, "No way is this happening. This is not a real song. These are not my real parents..."

But alas, it was happening, it is a real song, and we are her parents. 

"Pretty impressive, really," Andrew and Rachel agreed. "Considering it's not a polka song."

My repertoire knows no bounds.

Mandela Effect re: conversions, transfers, etc.

Today Alexander chose to do his science reading with a laptop open beside him so he could verify facts because in his book he read that baby hedgehogs were called hoglets and that didn't feel very true to him because while he's heard of piglets, he hasn't really heard of hoglets before. But the internet confirmed that baby hedgehogs are often called hoglets and he felt better about verifying that fact. 

Benjamin, meanwhile, was perplexed because in a math problem he solved a few days ago it said that $1 was equal to ¥90 and today a different math problem told him that $1 was equal to ¥80. We researched a bit about how exchange rates change (usually once per day) and what factors might affect that change. 

In fact, today $1 is worth approximately ¥147.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Homemade ornaments

I didn't take many pictures while we were working on our Shrinky Dink ornaments this evening because I was so busy working on my own...and trying to keep Phoebe from wreaking havoc. Here's one of Miriam putting some Mod Podge glaze on Alexander's ornament:

Two year olds in tutus

Phoebe has discovered the joy of tutus. She has found so much joy in them, in fact, that she needed to wear one to bed last night.

She's been working on sleeping in her own bed (not last night but the night before she stayed in her bed from 10:30 PM until 8:30 AM and I have no complaints about that) but last night she woke up at midnight and then also ended up in our bed and was a little wriggly-worm.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Making Christmas

Miriam baked cookies yesterday, experimented with flow icing last night, and this afternoon she whipped up some buttercream and allowed her siblings to finish decorating the cookies she had leftover. The cookies turned out great (I'm sure Miriam has pictures of her beautiful creations on Instagram) and the kids had a lot of fun together.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Really instructive

Well, I did it! One post per day...and then some! 

Now I really need to get cracking on our Christmas newsletter (among other writing projects). 

I got a rejection notification for a paper today. I'm getting more and more used to rejection as I put more and more things out into the world. And I'm coming to truly believe that it's more about finding the right home for your writing than it is about what you wrote (it's impossible to please everyone and there are so many different possibilities for writing regarding genre and style).

One of my papers that will be coming out soon (in theory) went through multiple rounds of editing and multiple journals before it found a home. That stung a little, but it was a co-authored paper and my mentor helped me remember to move "onwards and upwards" because she believed our paper had merit and was worthy of publication somewhere. And also our reviewers took time to offer constructive criticism. 

You know—the kind of criticism that points out specific things you might attempt to fix or change, delete or add, explain or verify. It doesn't tear down your work, but builds it up, tells you what you might do to make your project better. 

Two stories

There are a couple of funny stories that I wrote down on Facebook, which I neglected to record here, so I will put them here as well. The first is from two weeks ago when Alexander couldn't live without his emergency paperclip supply. He took a paperclip to co-op. He took a paperclip to church. He had to have paperclips on him at all times!

Alexander: See this paperclip? I can use it to unlock the bathroom door! So if it ever gets locked with nobody inside, I can be the one to let people in!

Me: Well, hopefully that won't happen *too* often.

Alexander: Yeah. 


Me: *knock, knock* Hey, who's in the bathroom? 

Bathroom: ...

Me: Nobody. Okay. 

Alexander, brandishing paperclip: I can fix that.

Me: Thanks, buddy. Hey, are *all* the bathroom doors locked?

Alexander: *looks sheepish*

Me: Okay, how about we unlock all the bathroom doors and use the paperclip only in case of actual emergencies. We don't need to fabricate emergencies, okay?


Alexander: *walking around wearing a necklace of paperclips*

Me: Huh. Nice necklace.

Alexander, patting his necklace: For emergencies.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas Trees

Andrew took Miriam to a musical rehearsal on Sunday evening, so while I was home with the rest of the kids I pulled out our new little Christmas tree (another Buy Nothing Group score) and set it up in the basement. Rachel and I also lugged the parts for the big Christmas tree upstairs (but we didn't put it all together until Monday) because I wanted to get to a box of Christmas books that was behind the Christmas tree. 

Phoebe was so excited about the Christmas tree. Zoë taught her how to be a "present" under the tree. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


We put up our big Christmas tree yesterday (and a small Christmas tree on Sunday evening), so I thought it was only fair that I post about carving pumpkins on the afternoon of Halloween. Because we did that.

Andrew got three big pumpkins for the kids to carve. We paired up and made plans together: Rachel and Miriam, Benjamin and Zoë, and Alexander and me. Andrew focused on taking care of the seeds while Phoebe busied herself by getting into everyone's business. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Freak Streeze

Last night Benjamin told us that his Duolingo streak was in the 300s. Perhaps it was even in the 330s or thereabouts. And it should be because several of the children made a goal to keep a DuoLingo streak all year long and they have been working hard at remembering to practice their language skills (and Andrew and I have been working hard at reminding them to remember to practice). 

Last night Benjamin also told us that it was too bad Rachel had lost her Duolingo streak because she should be right up there in the 300s with him, but now she's back at 1.

I questioned him about this because we've had children lose their Duolingo streaks before. Sometimes there are epic meltdowns over such a loss. A little over four years ago, Miriam lost her Duolingo streak over some technicality (like she wasn't connected to the internet when she did her lesson, or something) and she threw an incredible tantrum and vowed she'd never skip a day ever again. So now she's right up by me in the rankings. I think I'm at 1665 (or something like that), which translates into about 4.5 years. 

Miriam didn't used to be that close to me (re: the length of her streak versus mine). I used to be hundreds of days ahead of her...but I have had to use many a streak freeze in my time because no one nags me about whether or not I've remembered to do Duolingo and sometimes (about once a week or so) I forget to do a lesson. Miriam, on the other hand, very rarely has to use a streak freeze (these are things you can "purchase" in the "store" using gems you've earned doing other lessons). The girl is a machine!

Rachel is not prone to such tantrums...anymore. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Hiking at Sweetwater State Park

Georgia is a beautiful place, so we thought it would be nice for Katherine and Emily to see some of that beauty. We discussed many, many places, but settled on Sweetwater State Park since scenes of The Hunger Games series were filmed there (and that's of interest to Katherine and Emily, both). Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the trail to the New Manchester Mill was closed, which is really quite a shame because the hike to the mill is relatively easy (though the trail gets hard after the mill).

Instead we hiked the blue trail, which was the next shortest hike on the map. The terrain wasn't quite as...gentle...however.

But we made the best of it. We hiked the yellow trail to the bridge just before the blue trail, and then Emily and Katherine waited patiently while the rest of us speed-hiked the loop. At least, I assume we must have hiked it at a decent clip since my Fitbit says our entire hike was only 1.5 hours long (and we had to hike 0.7 miles from the ranger station to the trailhead (and then 0.7 miles back)). 

We're not really regular hikers, though I would love to do more hiking on these beautiful trails (especially through the autumn, winter, and spring when the weather is nice), but for some reason it's been difficult for us to get out of the house. But we did it! And it was lovely! And I think Andrew's sisters appreciated the beauty, even if the hike was a little out of their comfort zone. It was nice to get out into nature for a bit.

Here's Rachel, who was a little less thrilled about being out in nature when she looked down and saw (arachnophobia warning...)


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wave your little hand and whisper, "So long, dearie!"

This morning Grandpa picked up our "youth" (Rachel and Miriam easily qualify in this category, but Benjamin will be joining the young men in January, so he's close enough) to go clean the church. Ordinarily we all go but, uh, when our team leader put forth 7:00 am as a non-negotiable start time, I blanched a little. 

I'm tired, okay? 

Phoebe has slept "through" the night perhaps five times in her life. Phoebe doesn't nap anymore (not typically). Once Phoebe gets up, my day lasts until she goes to bed (and then I have to stay up and take care of other things). 

Waking her (and the rest of the kids) up at 6:00 (or so) in the morning so that we could get all the kids fed and dressed and out the door sounded like a terrible idea. 

And Andrew's been burning the candle at both ends to play Thanksgiving host and attempt to keep up with his work projects, so he's beyond tired...and...

Anyway, we just didn't go. We may have gone if a compromise on the time could have been found. But we sent our kids to represent, so that's got to count for something, right?


In the mid-morning, Grandpa showed up with Emily and Katherine so that we could all say our goodbyes before he (and Zoë and Alexander) took them to the airport. 

Here is everybody except for me:

Friday, November 24, 2023

The clubhouse

This morning we headed to the neighbour's house to start dismantling the clubhouse. The wood seems to be in rather good condition, given that it's at least a couple decades old, but—man!—that thing is hard to pry apart! 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

It was wonderful to have a full house for Thanksgiving. We stayed up late baking pies and prepping food for dinner, then had our plan of sleeping in interrupted by Phoebe. Benjamin and I ran a 5k, we played some group games together (like Poetry for Neanderthals and Really Loud Librarians) so that everyone could play at once. It's actually a little difficult to find games suitable for 10 players. 

Our neighbours are giving away a little clubhouse that has been sitting unused in their backyard for the past 20+ years. They offered it to Benjamin, who was pretty excited about the idea. His real dream is to build himself a tiny house so he can have his own personal space, but he and his friend Reed recently decided they'd build a shed in the backyard. They searched on Amazon and figured they could order a shed for around $40. 

"You can't buy a shed for $40," I told them.

I was accused of hating adventure and killing dreams. 

On the contrary, I support their dreams. They're simply not plausible because there is no such thing as a $40 shed. They need to come up with a better plan. 

"Show me this $40 shed," I challenged Benjamin.

"Well, they can be like $40 on average," he told me.

We went searching on Amazon together. We found this:

A $20 shed...floor mat. Not a shed. A floor mat.

MLK sites

By the time we got to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, everyone was ready for lunch. Technically, I suppose we were hungry before we even left the state capitol building (since the MLK area is only about a mile away). The first thing we did, then, was eat our picnic lunch.

Here's Benjamin, his mouth stuffed with sandwich, pretending to be Chewie (Cheese-bacca, if you will). If you can't tell, he's draped a package of string cheese across his chest.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Georgia State Capitol

I still need to bake some pies tonight, so we'll see how far I get in this post before I call it quits for the day. 

Today was our Downtown Atlanta day! Our first stop was a visit to the capitol building, which turned into a big long adventure to find a women's washroom for Zoë. When she mentioned she needed to use the facilities, Phoebe also started chirping about needing to go "Pee! Pee! Pee! Pee!" but she wasn't as much of a problem as Zoë was because Phoebe has no qualms whatsoever about using the toilet in the men's restroom. Zoë, on the other hand, was not as keen on entering the men's room. 

She and I went all over the place and found multiple men's rooms and only one women's washroom...that was closed for renovations...before we caved and asked the nice workers setting up Christmas decorations where we could find the women's washroom.

The man we asked stared at me for a minute in complete confusion.

"Oh! You want the bathroom!" he said. 

"Yes..." I said.

Look, I don't leave my house a lot, so I just call things what I want to call them without fully realizing it might not be what it's called here. Further, when I'm nervous or formal or hanging around my Canadian friends and family, more Canadianisms slip in. This was a case of nervous formality. 

"Excuse me," I'd said. "We're on a bit of a wild goose chase for the women's washroom. Do you happen to know where one is?"

Was that an awkward way to ask? Maybe.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thanksgiving break begins!

Thanksgiving week is upon us! This year we're excited to have company—Daddy's sister Emily and Katharine flew out from Utah to spend the week out in Georgia (Emily drove from Idaho to fly out from Utah). Auntie Emily's kids each selected a toy to send for our youngest four. Gavin sent a Minecraft puzzle for Benjamin, which you can see people working on below:

Speaking kind words

For Family Home Evening we talked about Emotional Intelligence (or EQ, as a counterpoint to IQ), and how to navigate certain social situations. A huge argument against homeschooling is lack of socialization, but I often wonder what sort of socialization really goes on in schools. My mom has remarked to me that she feels the experience my brother David and I had in our elementary school in Port Coquitlam had a tremendous effect on our socialization. It had such a strong focus on building community within in classrooms and between grades. It was a wonderful environment (in my opinion). 

But not all elementary schools have that same wonderful environment. Our experience at Alice M. Curtis, for example, was not the same as our time at Leigh. 

Anyway, all this is to say, that Alexander had a conflict with a couple of the neighbour kids, who began quizzing him on math facts. Now, Alexander is honestly doing very well with math. He's only in kindergarten, but is working his way through Beast Academy level 1. There's been no formal mention of multiplication in his book, though he is working on grouping numbers (which is foundational to multiplication), and knows about multiplication from his older siblings talking about it. 

"It's like double addition," he explained to me, which I wouldn't say is a correct answer, but which shows that he's at least thinking about things. 

Monday, November 20, 2023


I...wasn't going to post this because it's not my original content. It's Bill Watterson's. But I also don't want to forget this I'm posting it.

Last night after I told my mom about Phoebe's shenanigans yesterday, she said this comic popped up on her Facebook feed:

And it's possible Phoebe believes something like this with every fiber of her being.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Alexander lost a tooth! And Phoebe is a clever two-year-old...

Alexander came into our room to say good morning to us, but mostly to Andrew, since he'd come back late and Alexander hadn't seen him yet. Phoebe, who'd gotten into bed with us in the middle of the night, was also surprised to find Daddy in bed, since when I originally put her to bed, he wasn't home yet...and his presence didn't register with her since she was after one thing (milk).

Right away Andrew wanted to try pulling out Alexander's tooth. So he grabbed a tissue and...yanked it right out of Alexander's mouth.

"Wow!" exclaimed Alexander. "You pulled my tooth out! Hooray! It didn't even hurt! I'm going to go look in the mirror!"

He skipped and leaped out of our bedroom and Andrew turned his attention to Phoebe, who was apparently feeling a little mortified what just went down. Still holding the tissue (and...maybe even the tooth?) in his hand, Andrew said, "Come here, Phoebe!"

Saturday, November 18, 2023

So glad when Daddy comes home

Yesterday I was texting my sister and she was like, "How are you doing?" because that's a fairly normal thing to ask people when you're conversing. I told her that I was doing well, that Andrew had been out of town at a conference, and that I was excited for tomorrow (which is now today) because Andrew would be coming home. 

"So tonight is the last night I have to do dinner and bedtime on my own!" I said. 

Not that it's been terribly difficult. The kids have been fabulous and area typically good helpers. They cook, they clean, they play together. I mean, sure, it takes a little nagging sometimes and we've been known to experience conflict and sometimes devolve in to absolute and utter chaos, but they're altogether good kids. 

Still, it's nice to know there's a second parent around to usher kids off to bed while I'm nursing the baby (still nursing, yes...we're working on stopping but this week (when Andrew was leaving for a conference) was not the week to go cold turkey), or whatever. And...I'm really not great with dinners. 

Last night we had macaroni and cheese (from a box!) with peas and strawberries and chicken nuggets. 

"You really girl-dinner'ed us all, didn't you?" Rachel joked when she saw dinner.

She was busy finishing up all her school assignments, so didn't help much with dinner preparation (though Miriam was a huge help). 

Anyway, I texted my sister that last night would be my last night flying solo because Andrew would be coming home on Saturday, and as I sat there eating dinner with my kids I realized that while it's true Andrew would be coming home on would not be until well after bedtime. So I have another dinner and bedtime ahead of me. 

But this will be the last one on my own. For a while.

Not that it's been terribly difficult! Not only are my bigger kids helping out with the littler kids, we also have Grandpa! He had Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander over for movie nights on both Thursday and Friday evenings, and then this morning he picked Zoë and Benjamin up on the tail end of his bike ride and they all rode down to the park together. 

Alexander desperately wanted to ride with them, but he's still pretty fresh and new on his wheels, so I drove him down to the park, where we met up with everyone else, and then he got to ride around the pond with Grandpa five times before we stopped to play for a bit.

Here he is zipping along, with Zoë (in orange) and Grandpa (in yellow) and a random jogger (in black) behind him (sorry, random jogger):

Friday, November 17, 2023

Phoebe's birthday balloons

Alexander and Zoë got to work making birthday balloons early, so there are several from them. Zoë even made a balloon to look like Daniel Tiger!

Here's an acrostic from Alexander:

Persenoll sister!
Hallurs sister!
Omega love!
Exoqsnen love!
Being fun!
Extrodenery love!

My best guess about what this says:

Personal sister
Hilarious sister
Omega love
Exhaustion love
Being fun
Extraordinary love

Why it says all those things, I can't say...except that they do spell out Phoebe's name from top to bottom.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Here's to our dairy-areas!

I don't drink milk with dinner. Do people drink milk with dinner? I have never drunk milk with dinner.

This evening we pulled some leftover dal from the freezer, warmed it up, cooked some rice, roasted some green beans, toasted some naan, and sliced a cucumber. That was dinner. 

Also, because we were feeling fancy (and we have some lemons that needed to be used), we had lemon water. Technically lemon and basil water (because basil and mint are in the same family and it seemed like a good move; it wasn't half bad). 

We had protein in our beans and lentils, plenty of vegetables to go around, and some grains that probably could have been less processed than they were, but...all in all, not a bad meal.

In the middle of dinner, Alexander asked if we could please pass the pitcher so he could get his "dairy" in, and thus round out his nutritional needs for the day.

We passed the pitcher of water in stunned silence. 

"Hey, buddy," Rachel finally said. "Could you...could you define for me what dairy means to you?"

"Well, dairy is...dairy is...ummmm...*hic* dairy *hic* is *hic* ummmm..."

When he starts *hic*ing we know he's having trouble getting his thoughts out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Biking, Running, Raking

Last night Andrew carefully cleaned the kitchen, then washed a few loads of laundry—including about every pair of underwear Phoebe-girl owns because she had a terrible potty day yesterday. He wanted to be sure to leave for his conference with things feeling under control...instead of feeling wildly out of control (because that's sort of how they were feeling yesterday).

Today I folded those loads of laundry and Phoebe had a great potty day. She even emptied her potty into the big toilet by herself. Twice.

Emptying her little potty is like the best thing in Phoebe's life right now. 

She's expressly forbidden from doing so, but if I leave her sitting on the potty for a minute, or if she decides to take herself without telling anybody first...she finishes her business as fast as she can, hops off the potty, grabs the little...chamber pot...and sprints down the hallway to the bathroom. 


The first time she managed to do this was yesterday (though she'd made several attempts before). Today she did it twice. I'm sure it's just going to be a thing she does now (thank goodness she's pretty good at it), so it might be time to teach her how to use the big potty so we can eliminate the current scenario of "freshly minted two-year-old sprints down hallway carrying container of pee."

Next up on her list of things to do is flushing the toilet. I know this because she tries every time she empties her potty by herself and every time she uses the big potty (at church, for example). So far she hasn't been able to physically manage it, but she certainly knows where the flusher is and wants to do it. I folded the laundry, homeschooled the kids, worked on grad school applications (because I'm a glutton for punishment), took the kids for a walk/bike ride...and then decided to remove Alexander's training wheels and teach him how to ride a two-wheeler.

It took him all of thirty seconds to figure out how to balance while pedaling. I was seriously impressed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Oh, deer...

The deer sure have been active in our neighbourhood recently, so we have to be extra cautious when driving in the dark (and during the day as well, I suppose, but especially at night (let's just say it's good to always drive carefully)). 

Here's a deer we spotted while out on a run this morning:

Monday, November 13, 2023

Phoebe is TWO!


Phoebe has been not-so-patiently waiting for her turn to have a birthday. It was quite the long wait for her, too, since her birthday is the very last one in the calendar year. I'm not sure what knowledge she remembered about birthdays prior to this year (though somehow she already knows a troubling amount of information about Santa—mostly that there is a man named Santa, who is very recognizable in his suit of red, who is supposed to bring her exciting presents. Why does she know this? I can't say. But she does), but she was reintroduced to the idea of birthdays on Zoë's birthday in May and she instantly fell in love with the idea. 

Presents? Cake? Everybody singing to you in an adoring fashion?

These were traditions she could get behind!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Say Cheese!

And just because Alexander was mostly missing from my last post, here's a picture of him and Phoebe sitting on "the nursing chair" waiting for me to finish something up a few days ago. I had just taken a picture of my pink cat (because it's a cat) and they were like, "Take a picture of me, too!"

Phoebe's getting pretty good at flashing cheesy grins for the camera (when she wants to).

Sunday, Sunday!

All the big people in our house woke up feeling poorly (as we expected), but Andrew managed to make it to ward council and the rest of us managed to get ready for church on time. We lost a few battles with Phoebe, who ended up wearing her Grogu dress and Alexander's owl sweater, rather than any of her sweet, frilly frocks, but we made it to church early enough for prelude (which is important since Miriam and Andrew are the organists).

Here's Zoë reading a story to Phoebe while I was finishing getting ready to go, myself:

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Wolf, goat, cabbage

Last night, Andrew informed me that he made appointments for us to get the most recent COVID booster today. And thank goodness for that!

At the beginning of the month we were going over our calendar and I was explaining all the appointments we had in November. I was going to take the kids to the doctor in sets of two (because our clinic only allows two children per appointment): Rachel & Zoë, then Benjamin & Alexander, and finally Miriam & Phoebe.

"Oh, and I need to schedule appointments for our flu and COVID shots," Andrew said. 

"Dad schedules your appointment for you?" the kids laughed.

"Hey, it's all about mental load," I said. "I can only do so much. By the time I've made appointments for all of you, I've about maxed out on my ability to make appointments."

"So, yes, I usually make appointments for Mom to get her vaccinations. I take care of her because she is busy taking care of all of you."

Economies of scale

I can't believe Phoebe is going to turn two in just two days! Lucky for her, she loves the number two!

Here's a little video of Phoebe from October 26 (the day after Miriam's birthday, when we were just getting the bunk bed set up in the girls' room):

First she reminds herself to be "careful," only she says it more like "waffle." Then she starts counting her steps. "One step! Two step!" And then later she realizes that she can count her steps a different way and starts counting how many slats she's skipping. You can hear her say, "One step, two step, two step, three!" (only she says "tee" instead of "three").

She has been so excited for her birthday! It's been hard for her to watch everybody else have a birthday because we never celebrate her birthday. Fortunately, we will celebrate it on Monday. She's excited for cake and presents and singing the Happy Birthday song.

Here we are singing together a little bit before bed: 

And, yes, at the end she's asking to nurse. So clearly she's not weaned yet, but we're working on it. I'm not sure that it will happy by her second birthday, but I'm positive it will happen before her third (like, way before her third). 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Autumn days

Our fall has felt so mild this year...but honestly hasn't seemed very colourful until the past few days. Now the trees really seem to be putting on their reds and yellows.

Thursday, November 09, 2023


I just finished reading Pax: Journey Home (by Sara Pennypacker) and it was such a beautiful story, and such a lovely time for me to finish reading it since it deals with themes of death and loss (and today is the five-year anniversary of Karen's death) and also of the importance of being true to yourself. 

I'll try to not give away too much of the story (if you read it, read plain ol' Pax first (the first book)), but essentially what Peter tells himself he needs is...not what Peter needs. I think that is so interesting—that a person can be adamant about what they want, about what they need, and that...that thing that they want can be detrimental to themselves and others. Part of Peter's journey was truly figuring out what he needed out of life, who he needed in his life, what to do with his life. 

The ending of the book was very touching (it's been a while since a book has made me choke up), but I especially appreciated this line from one of the Peter chapters, after he decides on a course opposite of how his father advised him to deal with the very situation he found himself in. He says (or, rather, the narrator says):

"Maybe [this thing] would have been the right thing for his father to do, but it wasn't the right thing for him.... If that was a disappointment to his father, or to anyone, well, it didn't matter. It was his life, and he had to live it" (p. 227–228).

Instead, Peter ends up doing "the right thing for him" (p. 235), which is ultimately the most important thing to do in your life—the right thing. The right thing is rarely the selfish thing. Peter tried being selfish, he tried looking out only for himself...and that wasn't it. That wasn't right for him. In order to be truly happy, Peter had about others and be cared for in return. And I only share that part because I was expecting that to be the case from the very beginning (and it was the case, thank goodness, but how Peter got there was beautiful). 


What do you think you're doing? PART TWO

You know when you move and you unpack everything and get the house all set up and yet somehow there's, like, still a box of two left to unpack and you just can't unpack them and then suddenly it's been like four or five years or whatever and the box is still just sitting there?

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Imperfect perceptions

Last night I wore what I thought was a grey sweater to the church, but when I walked into the chapel I gasped and said, "Oh, my goodness! This sweater is blue!"

"Yeah?" Rachel said. "It's always been blue."

"I thought it was grey!"

"I mean it's kind of grey, but definitely blue. It's a blue-ish grey, but I've always thought it was blue."

"Huh. I just always thought this sweater was grey..."

It was a little unsettling to suddenly realize I'd been seeing my sweater wrong this whole time.

We—people—know that perceptions differ. There are several examples where people have debated the colour of photographs of various clothing items (a rather mundane thing to argue about, and yet...our perception is important enough to us that we will enter online debates about it).

Is the dress black and blue, or white and gold

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

What do you think you're doing?

I went to mutual with the girls this evening. Miriam made an arrangement of O Little Town of Bethlehem and the young women agreed to sing it for her (Miriam will be playing the piano), but there are are few girls (four tonight) that Miriam decided it would be best if mothers (and aunts, in one case) sang with the young women. We ended up with, as I said, four girls (only three singing), two mothers, an aunt, and three young women leaders. And...we did okay! I think we'll feel pretty confident by Christmas.

On the way home from mutual we made a stop to grab some material that was offered on the Buy Nothing Group. I told the giver that we'd be coming in the evening after our church youth group; she told me she'd leave the porch light on, and that we could just go through and take what we'd like.

And so, there we were, on a dark—but mild—November evening, hunched over a laundry basket full of material on a stranger's front porch. We rifled through the stash at this questionable hour, oohing and ahhing over what was available, when a man walking two dogs rapidly approached us. 

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?!" he said in a tone that was...not gruff, precisely, but certainly accusatory. 

"Oh!" I squeaked out, a little bit nervous about what was going to go down (we live in America, after all, and I'm afraid of guns...and neighbourhood vigilantes). "We're just part of this Buy Nothing Group on Facebook and the woman who lives here..."

Monday, November 06, 2023

Phoebe's speech

Phoebe's vocabulary has been exploding recently, though she's rather big on metathesis and assimilation so can be difficult to understand at times. 

Boots was once "boops" and then became "doots" (two examples of assimilation there—first she turned the final /t/ to a /p/, matching the initial /b/ and then she over corrected and turned the /b/ to a /d/ to match the final /t/). 

Ironically, when she tried to say "book," she would front her /k/ so it actually came out sounding as "boot."

"Read boot!" 

"Put on boops!"

More recently boots are boots, but book is still boot. We kind of have to go off context sometimes.

Today Phoebe wanted to shower with me, but metathesizes the word so it comes out "yeah, sure."

Shower = yeah-sure (ya-shur)

Zoë = O-zee

Alex = Aksay


Rachel, Miriam, and I took Phoebe for a walk this afternoon and came across one of our neighbourhood hawks. I actually have no idea what kind of hawk it is—the kind that likes to sit out in the open and then fly across our path while we're out walking. So some sort of show-off variety of hawk, as it seems. 

It has flown directly across our path more times than we can count.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

The basement!

After two solid months of being in flux, I'm pleased to announce that our basement is finally ready for action. We have things more or less as we'd like them in both the "main room," storage room, and "LEGO room." We sorted through nearly everything we had down there, gifted a lot of things on the Buy Nothing Group (including—fortuitously—a box full of broken dollhouse furniture that I had weeded out from our collection; I was all set to throw it away when I saw someone asking for dollhouse furniture for a diorama their child had to make for school so I sent them a picture of what I had (broken bits and all) and they said they'd take it!), threw out some things that had outlived their usefulness and...we're quite pleased with the results.

Here's a view of the main room (looking toward the stairwell):

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Filthy the Clown

Last year—or perhaps even the year before?—our neighbours put out an animatronics clown figurine on their front yard. Taller than your average human, this clown looms over passersby and lunges at them while cackling and singing ghastly nursery rhymes, like, "Roses are red, violets are blue, you'd better run or I'm gonna get you!"

Needless to say, there were some among our party who were more frightened than others by this massive decoration. We couldn't really have Alexander screaming every time we walked past (never you mind about the werewolf on the other street that would start howling when we walked by) or we'd never get around the block, so we made up a back story for the clown to help him accept the clown as part of our neighbourhood.

"He just needs a name," Rachel decided. "Let's call him...Fil, short for...Filthy!"

Friday, November 03, 2023

October Birthday Balloons

A few of us (Zoë, Benjamin, me, and maybe even Phoebe) wrote birthday balloons for Alexander on time for his birthday, but the rest of us...didn't. Rachel and Miriam were coming home for dinner but otherwise were more or less living at Grandpa's house, life was generally pretty hectic through mid-October, and we didn't formally get around to writing birthday balloons until Miriam's birthday.

So below are both sets of October birthday balloons. First we have Alexander's...

From Zoë:

Especially kind

Happy birthday to you! Love ya, Alex!

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Skinny minnie

I took Rachel and Zoë to the doctor for their (somewhat) annual check ups today. My kids all go in the fall because we've always needed a physical for school paperwork when moving...and have always moved in the summer right before school starts. I suppose we would have needed to go in to become "established" patients at a clinic, anyway. You can't wait to become an established patient, otherwise you might not be able to snag a sick-child visit when you need one right? So, they all went in for physicals in the fall after moving here, but then their visit dates have been creeping later and later in the calendar year because insurance will only cover one well-child visit in a 12-month period. 

So last year Rachel and Zoë had their doctor appointment late in October. But this year they had it on November 2 instead. The next batch of kids to go will be Alexander and Benjamin. And finally (at the very end of November) Phoebe and Miriam. 

Soon we'll be taking the kids to the doctor in December, I'm sure! 

I understand the policy regarding only one well-child visit annually. I just wish they were a little more chill about the dates. Like, maybe have a policy that well-child visits must average out to be 1 per year and must not be closer than 340 days to the last visit...or something. That way it would be possible to keep the appointment more or less around the same date each year—or if you get off for some reason, you can get back on your preferred date later.