Friday, March 31, 2023

Things we mispronounce: Professional edition

Yesterday I hosted a webinar for our graduate student organization. Because I've also been serving on this committee (in addition to working and taking classes and writing my thesis and homeschooling the children). Anyway, I had to introduce our speaker, which was fine...except I hate public speaking and this professor was at Notre Dame. 

On the first note, it was a zoom call with five other people—a rather intimate, forgiving environment—so there wasn't too much pressure to perform well.

On the second note, I had to say Notre Dame three times, out loud. 

You've heard of tongue twisters, I'm sure, but have you ever heard of the mental confusion that occurs when you grew up saying a word one way, but you know that it's pronounced a different way where you live now, but when you try to speak out loud your mind turns to mush and you can't remember which way is what way and what way is which? 

Notre Dame. 

My instinct is to pronounce this /nɔ.tʁə dam/ completely with the lovely voiced uvular fricative /r/ found in French. No-truh Daam.

It's not me being pretentious. It's legitimately how I grew up saying Notre Dame.

Just as I grew up saying /kʁwasã/ and not /krə'sant/ (or the even "crescent roll," depending on where you're from).

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Things we mispronounce: Biblical version

Yesterday we were reading Luke 17 and Alexander read verse 3: "Take heed to yourselves..."

Only he read "take heed to your sleeves." 

And that was funny.

But as luck would have it he also read verse 14: "And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests."

Only he read "Go shew your sleeves unto the priests."

And that was funnier

And then Rachel was reading verse 27: "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all."

But she said "flood" with a very strong ooo, like if you stuck an /l/ in the middle of "food," flood. Or like if you took the past tense of fly—"flew"—and made it double past tense -ed, "flewed" flood. Flooood!

And that was even funnier. 

And then I said, "Oh, nooo! The flooood! Save your sleeves!"

And that was funniest of all.


So then we're reading the scriptures this evening (because we are nothing if not dedicated) and Alexander was reading Luke 18, verse 2. 

Things we mispronounce

Not to brag or anything, but my streak on Duolingo is so incredibly large that...I honestly have never quite noticed how streak freezes work. But my children who have made goals to keep their streak on Duolingo this year are acutely aware that if you use a streak freeze your streak does not break but it also doesn't count toward your number of days practiced. 

It just so happens that Alexander has an 85 day streak today...which means that Rachel has a streak of 84.

88 days have elapsed so far this year. But we didn't make our goals for this year until January 2 (for FHE) so Alexander and Rachel have only been working on their streaks for 87 days. Alexander has used two streak freezes this year. Rachel has used three and she is very bitter about it.

She also can't say it. 

Every time she tries to say "streak freeze" it comes out as "freak streeze."

And every time it's hilarious.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

On the same day in March...

Years ago my mom sent us a copy of On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer. It's a story that has stuck with me over the years because weather is such an important part of the setting of one's life and my own life is divided in my mind into chunks defined by various moves—and the associated weather (not to mention culture) of those different places. 

When I lived in Alberta, for example, winters meant months of snowmen and sledding and ice skating (and other less appealing things like shoveling snow and scraping car windows and slipping and falling). Here in Georgia we didn't get any snow this past winter and now it's already 80°F outside while in Utah it snowed several inches today and in Alberta it's still very much winter as well.

I took the kids to the park today and sent a picture of Phoebe in the baby swing to my family's group chat—because I was amazed that she agreed to get in the swing! She's been boycotting baby swings and I spent afternoon refusing to put her on the big kid swings so she finally relented (just as all the other kids were announcing they were ready to go home) and asked to be put in the baby swing. So I let her swing for a while (while her siblings moaned about wanting to go home to cool off). She enjoyed holding them up, I think.

Anyway, Uncle David immediately responded with a picture of Millie, who was also having a some swing time at the park. Their little corners of the world look rather different, but it was fun to think that they were swinging underneath the same bright sun!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Skinks and daffodils

This week I've basically talked myself into a summer graduation. I meet with my advisor about things tomorrow—and I feel like she still feels like May is a possibility but she doesn't know that Phoebe has been refusing naps (and still isn't sleeping through the night) so to me May feels absolutely impossible at this point. 

Especially given the fact that I have to turn in an electronic copy of my thesis in, oh, four days...and especially given the fact that I don't have any analysis or conclusion to speak of. 

I hear those bits are important. 

But the kids have been doing well with their school work and have been helping with Phoebe a little more (and/or she's happier to play with them than she was even a few weeks ago). In addition to liking Grogu, she now also enjoys Bluey, so she will sit and play with Alexander's little Heeler family and sing, "Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh MOM!" to herself. And that's excellent news because she doesn't like to do much by herself at all.

She loves to go outside, so Zoë will often accompany her into the yard, which makes me slightly nervous because Phoebe is a handful, but so far it's been okay. Zoë is rather attentive when she's in charge of Phoebe. She buckles her in the wagon and takes her for little strolls, straps a helmet on her head and wheels her around on a little toddler scooter, draws with chalk with her, etc.

We started some MIT molecule lessons using LEGO modeling. The kids seemed pretty interested in that today, so that was good. They're working on the photosynthesis module since we just went over that process in our chemistry textbook yesterday.

Our science time was augmented by some good ol' fashioned outdoor time. Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander were hacking away at this old tree stump with a number of gardening trowels (because I'm a big ol' meanie and won't let them hack away at it with axes) and they disturbed a five-lined skink.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Georgia Children's Lit

This is a hat that I'm both sad and relieved to be taking off. It has been so much fun (and work—but that's why it's a job, right?) to help coordinate the children's literature conference the past two years. Last year's conference was wonderful, but this year's conference was...even more wonderful. The group of authors we had this year was just spectacular to work with. They were all so gracious and encouraging, interested in each other's work and in the people around them at the conference. Perfectly engaging. 

Andrew was at a conference in Montreal all week, and the days before he left Alexander and Benjamin were out with a not-COVID stomach bug/fever/cough, and I had so much going on, and was getting up in the middle of the night with throwing-up children, and trying to pull everything together for the conference and get all my work done for my poetry class and finish a draft of the analysis section of my thesis and...and...and...I felt like I was about coming apart at the seams!

Reid/Grandpa kept the boys for us Thursday/Friday/Saturday and dropped me and the girls off at the conference center. Rachel and Miriam were expert baby tenders, and Zoë was also a very helpful baby entertainer. Phoebe, for her part, was a chaos machine. However, she was really quite well-behaved on Friday. By Saturday, however, she'd had it and was a little more difficult to manage.

Anyway, it was just a wonderful time! I got to meet Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, which was really cool. I'm discussing When Stars Are Scattered in my thesis, so it was lovely to hear a bit about their writing experience firsthand. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

More lizards

Today during my class, Benjamin caught an anole and named it Jake...or Jack...or Jeff. He honestly can't remember. But that's okay because upon further inspection it was decided the lizard might be a female. Maybe. It's hard to tell the gender of lizards. 

So now we're calling it Sam. 

Here they are together:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

More sleep success

I just wanted to mark the moment before Daylight Saving, tagging along to Mommy's conference, or all of our summer travel plans ruin the good thing we've got going but...

Tonight I nursed Phoebe and then put her down in her bed. I helped her say her prayers and sang her a lullaby and then reminded her that I would sit beside her as long as she was still and quiet but that if she started being silly I'd have to leave and—get this—she just...lay still...until she fell asleep...

It still took her several minutes, and I'm sure she'll be up later, but it was the easiest bedtime we've ever had with her! 

She had a busy evening—our neighbours held a little marshmallow roast in their backyard so she was all hopped up on marshmallows and giggly rounds of tag—so she was ready to sleep, which I'm sure helped. But I don't know how good it feels to have a bedtime! I've been 24/7 momming for so long. Knowing that she'll cooperate at bedtime is a huge deal over here. 

It might mean I can actually finish my thesis this semester.

I honestly haven't been sure about my ability to pull it off because I have been so stinking tired

Anyway, we went to a marshmallow roast this evening. It was a blast, like always. Our neighbourhood is teeming with children—so much so that when an "outsider" stopped by to pick up something our neighbours were selling and stumbled into a dozen kids riding up and down the street on their bicycles and drawing with chalk and blowing bubbles and bouncing balls, they were like, "What's going on? Is this a birthday party or something?"

"This is our street is..." our neighbour said.

And the "outsiders" just gaped at the amazingness. Because it really is like a party. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

I'm a great aunt (again)!

Sweet little Oaklyn joined the family on March 7! Poor Rosie had a hard time with the delivery again, but because of her history of hemorrhaging with Ireland's birth, the medical team was better prepared to help Rosie after the delivery and she managed to avoid having a blood transfusion this time around (though she still didn't have an easy time with things). 

My mom and Josie were lucky enough to get to go visit them in the hospital and Auntie Josie called us from there to show us the baby. She really is a sweet, little thing. 

I've been a great-aunt for over a decade now (Oaklyn...Okotoks, the sixth-or-so great-grandchild for my parents) and a great aunt (no hyphen) for over nearly thirty years, and I'd like to know how that happened. 

Granted, not everyone becomes an aunt at age eight, but still...the fact that I've been an aunt for nearly thirty years seems incredible. 

Anyway, welcome to the world, Oaklyn!

Thursday, March 09, 2023


Say what you will about sleep training—and I do because I'm of the opinion that some babies (see Zoë for exhibit A) are much more difficult to convince that sleep is beautiful than others (see Miriam for exhibit B)—but I've been working hard at sleep training Phoebe (who is more like Zoë than like Miriam) the past little while. 

And—wonder of wonders—she seems to finally be figuring out that sleeping is (a) a thing we do every night and (b) a thing that she can appreciate. 

I don't want to brag, but...tonight when I put her to bed she got up and started playing around in her bed right away and I told her to lie down and go to sleep and she didn't listen. (Okay, there was honestly nothing to brag about in that sentence...anyway...) So then I told her that if she wasn't going to try to go to sleep I'd have to leave and I got up, walked out of her room, closed the door, and played a round of Boggle on my phone. 

It's like a timer, but more entertaining (and makes it so I can ignore all the screaming she does).

And then I opened her door and she ran back to her bed and lay down as quickly as she could. I gave her some hugs and kisses and reminded her that Momma was always nearby (my office is just across the hall), but that I couldn't sit beside her while she fell asleep if she was going to get up and play. So if she wanted me there she had to lie down and be still. 

It still took her several minutes to fall asleep, but she did it!

That's the first time I've only had to leave her room once

All the other nights this week have been a scream-filled circus. Though last night it only took three times. 

She still got up a couple of times last night and climbed into bed with us sometime in the middle of the night, but we're going to count this as a bedtime win.

At 16 months, Phoebe has finally accepted that bedtime is a thing we

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Phoebe and puddles

We had some big storm systems roll through recently. We were on tornado watch all day on Friday...and once again we didn't breathe a word of this to Alexander since a tornado watch simply means that conditions are ripe for tornadoes, not that there's one ripping around the neighbourhood (that's what a tornado warning is when we take action).

Here are a couple of pictures of Zoë and Phoebe from before the storm hit:

Snapping turtles and great blue herons

We went to the park on Tuesday morning—a miracle to leave the house before lunch!—bringing quite a lot of our school work with us.

Our first subject of the day was PE. I made the children run laps around the pond. They don't love doing it (especially Miriam) but they do love the results, which are that (a) they feel good after they run, (b) they're able to run longer and faster, (c) they're better at tag-like games because they can run longer and faster, (d) they seen improvement in their resting heart rates when they're regularly running (that last one is particular to Miriam, who is our only child with a FitBit).

I'm a pretty firm believer that it's silly to simply not do things just because you don't love doing them. If they're good things to do—eating vegetables, running laps, changing stinky diapers, washing dishes—you should continue to doing them even if they don't seem to bring you immediate joy...because they'll help prevent long-term issues. 

They might not like running, but they do want to have good cardiovascular fitness so...we run. 

I don't particularly enjoy running these days, either. Pushing a jogging stroller is hard work and it does not bring me joy. Phoebe likes to go fast. But I get tired out while pushing the jogging stroller way faster than when I'm not. But, Phoebe needs to do something while we jog, so I push her in the stroller.

I ran laps in the opposite direction as the children did, so I noticed from across the pond—with increasing concern—as my children dropped like flies after about a lap and a half. What was wrong? Had one of them been injured? Had they decided to stop and stretch?

I couldn't hear any screaming and figured that if something were truly wrong there would have been at least some screaming. And surely one of the kids would have run to me to tell me what was wrong (as they had when Benjamin threw up last week when we thought he had appendicitis). So, I just kept plodding along and eventually caught up to them, where I found they were just looking at a snapping turtle.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Things that dangle upside down

Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe. 

She is a going concern from the minute she wakes up to the minute she falls asleep (and then wakes up and falls asleep and wakes up and falls asleep and wakes up until the morning). She is always getting into something (very often that "something" is trouble).

She draws on stuff, she climbs on stuff, she's still constantly trying to eat stuff. She follows me around just...getting into stuff and trouble. It's all I can do to keep up with her.

Here she is climbing on her little jungle gym: