Monday, February 27, 2023

Cannoli, Monkeys, and Arma-darn-dillos

Andrew made cannoli last night. He fried them in coconut oil, but in order to access the coconut oil he needed to open a new container. Miriam brought it up from the basement but couldn't open it. I couldn't open. So Andrew sighed, washed his hands off (they were covered in dough), and then tried to open the container. He couldn't. 

I held the container while he twisted the action.

Finally, I sat on the floor and gripped the container with my feet and hands while Andrew twisted with all of his might and...we were in!


After dinner when we were talking about all the work we went through to open that container of coconut oil—a story we had to share with Rachel, who is our resident jar-opener—Andrew said, "But, you know, it just makes sense that it would take us six limbs to open a jar of coconut oil because coconuts come from tropical places like jungles and monkeys live in jungles."

We all stared at Andrew waiting for him to continue this thought. 

He did not continue.

Instead he stared at the rest of us staring at him while he waited for us to "get" it.

We did not get anything.

Finally I said, "What do monkeys have to do with this?"

"Well, because they have six limbs."

" you think monkeys have six limbs?"

"Don't they?"

"They do not. They have four."

"Are you sure?"

"They're not insects, Dad!" Rachel nearly screamed.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Not appendicitis

Last week Benjamin began complaining of pains in his belly. 

He's our kid who's always complaining about something hurting. For years he'd come to us nightly about pain in his right elbow, then his left, pain in his big toe, pain in his shoulder, now his knee hurts, now his wrist. And we'd always just tell him they were growing pains and that he should just go to sleep (since that's when bodies do a lot of their growing and healing). 

Usually this ended up fine because there wasn't anything wrong. 

Once he complained about his neck hurting before bed and I was like, "Huh. Well, I'm sure it will feel better in the morning." And then he woke up with a majorly swollen neck because apparently he'd been stung by a bee earlier in the day and it was really starting to bother him. And then I felt really bad that I'd ignored his complaints.

But it's kind of hard not to when he unleashes his nightly litany of agonies. 

Now, it just so happens that after I got an ice pack for his neck, I hopped onto Facebook to confess to the world what an inattentive, unsympathetic mother I am. 

I like to think that I'm fairly cognizant of my faults—there are many of them! And I know I've made a ridiculous—though honestly probably about average—number of bad calls about things. And, you know, I just like to keep things real.

Things at this house can get pretty...wild.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Scientific salad

In our chemistry textbook, the little kids and I were just learning about the pH scale, so on Monday (which I guess was technically a holiday) we made our own pH indicator juice from red cabbage (and it was totally okay that we spent the morning doing schoolwork because the kids spent about six hours outside in the afternoon so it's not like they didn't enjoy their "vacation" day).

One set of instructions said to soak the cabbage in boiling water. The other said to use cold water (I think to keep it very kid-friendly and completely risk-free). We tried both ways and found that the hot water was a lot more effective (and talked about why this would be the case—what with all those molecules bouncing around energetically). Here's Miriam and Benjamin mashing the cabbage leaves:

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Please, sir, I want s'more...

Since getting our fire pit, Rachel and Miriam have used it with their friends twice and we have used it as a family zero times. 

I guess, technically, we helped the kids each roast a marshmallow for a s'more over the weekend before giving the fire to the girls. But the littler kids have been desperate to have a fire pit night. 

"Cant we have a fire tonight?" they begged at dinner.

"No," Miriam said gruffly. "It's a school night."

"Ahem," Andrew cleared his throat to assert his dominance. "Sure. We can have a fire tonight."

Because who's parenting here, anyway?

So we called Grandpa to ask if he wanted to come over and then cleaned up from dinner and got ready to build a fire. Part of getting ready involved Andrew and Rachel driving to the store to pick up some more marshmallows and things...but we eventually got the fire going and the kids were so excited to sit around the fire, eat s'mores, and chat. 

Grandpa told us about his baptism day—when his mom filled his ears with Vaseline and cotton balls to keep them from getting wet because he'd only recently had "buttons" put in his ears (like tubes, I guess, but in the 60s) so he couldn't get his ears wet. He said he felt like he had Vaseline in his ears for days after that. 

We told some other stories, too, about his first few times driving—and getting passed on the highway by a car full of nuns, much to Grandpa Frank's chagrin. 

Phoebe was a bit of a menace and wanted to play in the fire, but no one would let her and that made her feel grumpy. She was up all day (from 8:30 am or so until...she took a 15 minute nap around 2 pm...and then she was up until about 12:30 am...and I don't know how we're ever supposed to get anything accomplished around here). I thought for sure she'd be easy to put to bed tonight because we spent all day outside...but clearly I was wrong.

Anyway, here's this picture of Alexander, who got a little bit sticky:

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Two years of daffodils

Around this time last year (February 23, 2022, to be precise) we took one of our very first Grandpa Walks and stopped to admire the daffodils along the way. Here's Phoebe from then:

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Wet the drys, dry the wets...

Andrew made some delicious pretzels for dinner this evening. 

There's a meme about how making pasta is all about wetting the dry stuff and then drying the wet stuff over and over again. We make pasta from scratch enough for this to be quite funny: wet the drys, dry the wets, wet the drys, dry the wets, wet the drys...

Pretzel making follows a similar pattern—you wet the flour to make the dough, then you form the pretzels and let them rise, then you boil the pretzels, then you bake the pretzels... I guess that pattern is more of a wet, rest, wet, dry. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Draw near with your lips

We've been having some rough homeschooling days lately (rough as in "let's take three hours to do a page of simple math problems" rough), so we're trying some new methods to promote some personal responsibility (or motivation? or something) and...we'll see how things go tomorrow. 

Phoebe has also been suffering a bit of a sleep regression recently, which is to say that we're all completely miserable over here because even her best sleeping isn't fabulous. But she's just about finished cutting her seventh tooth and then perhaps she will simmer down a bit.

Then again, perhaps not.

We scored a baby swing on the Buy Nothing group, which Phoebe was excited about for exactly one day before she realized that now that we have a baby swing she doesn't get to perch on the big kid swings anymore, so she screams and fusses about being put in the swing until I lecture her about how she's just a baby and remind her that if she would just get in the swing she would have fun.

Here she is being pushed by Zoë:

I love their mouths hanging open with glee—Phoebe with her full front teeth and Zoë without any front teeth at all!

For some reason Phoebe prefers to swing with her arms down at her sides rather than hanging onto the seat or the chain lately. I'm not sure why—is it to test her balance?

Saturday, February 11, 2023

One secret to life, revealed (<--clickbait title)

It'll be our little secret

Don't tell anyone, but when I am suffering from writer's block (when I'm majorly psyched out about my thesis, for example), I open up a Blogger draft and type in there. Because it's soothing somehow. 

I may or may not have 655 words of my thesis saved in a Blogger draft right now. Those 655 words are just a drop in the bucket—for reference, my thesis prospectus is 17566 words (including my references). That translates into 76 pages (and I don't really want to talk about it because writing those 76 pages was hard and made me feel like I wasn't really a writer, or a reader, or a scholar, which is why my thesis itself is only 655 words from today plus the 566 words I wrote a few days ago, so 1221 words total)—but they exist now and they didn't before, so that feels like a victory tonight and so I'm allowing myself to blog about my a treat. 

Will my thesis be finished by next month? Probably not. 

But we're going to just keep putting drops in the bucket—and by "we," I mean "me"—because that's how things get done.

While we were at the park today, Alexander was determined to go across the monkey bars by himself. I helped him across a couple of times, spotting him while coaching him to swing and reach. Then Rachel coached him for a while. And then he attempted it on his own. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Breaking in

I suppose we needn't have worried about the rain. 

We went for a walk this morning so we could be sure to get one in before it stormed, but it didn't really start raining until this evening so we had plenty of time. Before we left we emptied the tent of all the kids' stuff—foam pads, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, flashlights, water bottles, books—and then dragged the tent under the roofed portion of our deck so it could dry off properly before folding it up. 

It had already been sprinkling a bit. That's why we wanted to be sure to get a walk in!

We've been having that funny sort of weather where the outside feels exactly the same as the inside, and it feels as if the portal between those two worlds is malfunctioning. There should be some sort of shock—an icy blast, a wave of heat, a thick lick of humidity—but recently there's been nothing. It's just been...nice. 

We walked around the block. Well, Rachel, Miriam, Benjamin, and I walked around the block. Phoebe rode in her jogging stroller, feet resting on her snack tray, giving off regal vibes, as if she's being carted in  a palanquin. Alexander and Zoë rode their bikes. 

They arrived home first, of course, and found that the code box for the garage door was malfunctioning again. So they ran up the street to meet us, begging for the keys so they could get in the house, open the garage door, and put their bikes away like the responsible children that they are. 

Our garage code box has been on the fritz. A temporary solution seems to be to replace the batteries, but that solution only lasts a matter of days before the box stops working again, so clearly there's something deeply wrong with it. We're therefore conditioned to bring our house keys with us whenever we leave the house. And today was no different—I grabbed my keys to take along with us, just in case the code box decided to malfunction...even though it worked yesterday.

"Good thing I brought my keys!" I said, handing them off to Zoë. "Remember—put it in flat side down, turn to the left to unlock the door, return the key to the neutral position to remove it from the lock."

"Got it!"

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Miriam's audition

Miriam had an organ audition this morning, which I just looked up the meaning of because the word "audition" has been confusing me since she started to do these things. I mean, she's not really auditioning for anything! Paul K. Fox offers some clarification on the meaning: there are three levels of evaluating music students and "audition" is one of them. It's not as intense as being adjudicated (a word that I would be more likely to quickly associate with performing music for a panel of judges); it's one step below a formal adjudication. 

So, Miriam had her organ audition this morning. Grandpa took her for us since Andrew needed to be on campus and I...well...there are reasons Grandpa is helping Rachel learn how to drive. Plus we had our septic tank friends over again so I had to be home for that. Plus I have, what, five other kids at home.

Anyway, she played very well. Her organ teacher, who was allowed to be present for the audition, took this video for us:

Monday, February 06, 2023

Rabbits and cucumbers

I don't even know how long we've been playing "Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit," but it's been years—regularly, it seems, since at least 2014. We just try to be the first one to say "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" to everyone else on the first day of each month.

Sometimes we do it by text, such as the time I texted "rabbit, rabbit, rabbi" to Andrew in 2018. 

Sometimes we shove papers under doors or leave drawings on the whiteboard for the kids to wake up to (such as this one from December 2022):

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Math, driving, ice cream

Zoë still has not developed a rash, so I'm hoping this means we're in the clear and dealt with her brush with poison ivy appropriately. If she could tell you one thing about this week, she'd probably tell you that she finished her math book (and celebrated by dumping her pencil/bookmark out (because she proudly used the same pencil as a bookmark in her workbook the whole time she had it)). Nothing too exciting happened when she finished beyond that—she just got another workbook to go through. 

In more exciting news, Miriam finished her math book as well! 

This is a bit of a bigger deal because this means that—after a few little hiccups along the way—she finished her entire course (whereas Zoë had just finished with a section of her course). She's now starting on "Intro to Counting and Probability," which she's excited about because it's just a teeny little course book, so she thinks she'll finish by the end of the school year and be ready for geometry in the fall. 

Rachel took her learner's permit test yesterday and is now...learning to drive...somehow. This feels like a bigger step toward independence than a lot of other things. I offered to take her to the park yesterday afternoon to let her drive around the parking lot, but she declined. She thinks it'll be better for her if she sticks with driving with her dad and grandpa. She's probably right. 

Andrew had her drive from the corner of our street to our house, and then they took a little trip over to Grandpa's house. I think Grandpa is taking her driving later today. She's afraid my anxiety will rub off on her, I guess.

In other news, she's continuing to cook up a storm in the kitchen. She made ice cream last week, but not just any ice cream—gooey buttercake ice cream in homemade waffle cones:

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Trinity Church and Poison Ivy

This morning Miriam had a rehearsal at the Johns Creek United Methodist chapel, where she played on the organ that used to be in Trinity Wall Street Chapel, so of course we were still singing Hamilton songs at the dinner table. Technically Hamilton never saw this organ—since it was constructed in 1846—but Hamilton was buried at the Trinity Church Cemetery, so perhaps his mouldering ears snacked on a note or two. Probably not. But we sang about Hamilton, anyway. 

At the dinner table, specifically, we broke into a lovely rendition of Aaron Burr, Sir:

Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?

That depends, who's asking?