Saturday, April 29, 2023

Shopping day

This morning Andrew took Phoebe shopping. He's been taking her for a few weeks now and she loves it because she gets to wave at everybody and remind him that we need bananas. I love it because he used to always take the littlest kids with him as "shopping buddies" every Saturday to give me, like, my one and only break from little kids in the whole week...but hasn't done that since March 2020. 

That's a long time to go without shopping buddy time!

Today she reminded him of more than just bananas.

After they'd finished at Costco, they headed out to the van, put the groceries in, and then wheeled the cart over to the rack. Andrew took Phoebe out and started walking back to the van and Phoebe started fussing at him, "Dada! Ahhhh! Dada! Ahhhh!"

"Yes, those are the carts," he agreed. 

"Dadaaaaaa! Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Dad!"

"I know you like to ride in the cart. You can have another ride at the next store," he promised.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

High Museum of Art

Sensing my "hey-you-just-went-to-a-fancy-art-museum-in-Chicago-and-I-am-getting-thrown-up-on-over-here" fomo vibes, Andrew and I coordinated to purchase a pass to the High Museum of Art while he was out of town (with six children, the family pass seems very affordable). Today we all went to the museum together. 

We started at the top of the museum—African and Folk Art—and worked our way down. Here are some of our crew admiring the truly amazing masks on display:

I'm sure they were trying to imagine balancing while wearing that very tall mask (I know I was).

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


Sometimes—even though...or because...I live in a city—I feel very trapped by my surroundings. Stranded, even. It's a very frustrating feeling for me. But there's just really no where to...go...not without driving. And driving is...fine...but, we also all know how I feel about driving (A—I don't enjoy it and B—I think our society's dependence on cars is morally wrong). 

The closest place to walk to is a full mile away (it's a church on a busy street). If we want to actually walk somewhere to, like, hang's more like two miles. 

I learned this on Monday when I proposed that we walk to the park because it was "only" a mile. But, guys, my brain just got so excited when it saw the 1 that it neglected to absorb the .9 that followed it.

And so it happened that I took my kids for a four-mile walk on Monday. They did great, but it was a little farther than we bargained for. And not at all doable every day...not that we're not physically capable...but time-wise I don't think our schedule can handle an outing of that duration.

Here's Phoebe, so happy to be out of her stroller and running around:

Monday, April 24, 2023

A few cute pictures from today

Here are Zoë and Benjamin clomping around in the shoes that Andrew and I wore to church this morning:

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Talk on Forgiveness

Today Andrew and I spoke in church. Reid came over to our house to hang out with the kids since we're still trying to navigate our return into public air (but really Phoebe is getting much better at masking so we might be close; today when she noticed Andrew and I were getting ready to go somewhere she quickly went to find shoes and a mask). Rachel was home, of course, but we didn't want to leave her home with all the kids because...they're a handful. Phoebe did great without us!

Miriam came with us, since we were still figuring out the specifics of her playing the organ for the Spanish Ward. 

And we figured out Zoë's baptism date as well...more or less. She wants to get baptized while we're out in Utah.

So, it was a productive morning at church! And then Rachel got her patriarchal blessing this afternoon! Busy day!

Anyway, I spoke on forgiveness and Andrew spoke on loving others.

Here's more or less what I said:

Lizards and spelling

This morning after Alexander finished his chores he came to me and said, "Mom, I finished putting away my dishes and everything so C-O-O-D-I-P-L-A-Y-M-C?"

I looked at him blankly.


"What?" I asked.

"Could I play Minecraft?"

"Oh," I said. "Sure. For a bit."

"I think you need to work on your spelling."

"Yeah, same, buddy."


Zoë triumphantly announced that she caught a lizard the other day. She has it in an old spinach container, but she would like government officials to know that although she is diligently hunting earthworms and leaving out dishes of water for this small creature...she's not keeping it as a pet. She's merely protecting it from birds while its tail heals. Because apparently it dropped its tail in self-defense not too long ago.

15% chance

How, how, how are entire weeks going by without me writing a single word on this blog? I swore this would never happen to me. But here we are.

The three middle kids spent the past week sleeping in a tent. They have bedrooms...with comfy beds in them...but they prefer to squash into a flimsy tent on thin foam padding. Go figure. 

They were excited because there was no rain in the forecast this week...until last night, that is. Even then, there was only a 15% chance of rain. Coming from the desert, we figured that meant it wouldn't rain, but we moved the tent under the roof on the back porch, just in case. And a good thing we did, too, because we landed in that 15% and it rained!

I think everyone pretty much knows that that 15% chance means that in 15% of the however many million models run by rained. I understand that, too. But there's some part of my brain that assumes that if there's only a 15% chance of rain, then even if it does rain it won't rain very hard.

Evidently that assumption is incorrect because apparently last night we had a 15% chance of being caught in a two-hour downpour! 

Thunder, lightning, wind and heavy rain!

I was so glad our flimsy, little tent was protected by the roof. 

We need to remember that in the south any percent chance of rain is a high percent chance of rain!

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Just spicing things up

As part of the Easter Egg Hunt, the bishopric gave each child a picture of Jesus to take home. 

We're homeschoolers so we're already pretty used to people wanting to quiz our children—

"Oh, you're homeschooled? What's 6 + 5? 18 - 4? 7 x 3?"

"Oh, you're homeschooled? How do you spell predicament—pre-DIC-a-ment?"

"Oh, you're homeschooled? Who was the fourth president of the United States?"

So I had to laugh when pictures were being handed out and to children with a "Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Happy Easter!" and then, upon reaching Alexander, a pause...

"I have this picture for you, but first..." [***POP QUIZ!***] "Can you tell me who this is?"

"Uh...Jesus..." Alexander said, slightly offended at being asked such an obvious question.

Even Phoebe can answer that one. Apparently. 

(I didn't know she could before today, but evidently she can because she said, "Jesus!" as well, with much more enthusiasm than Alexander was able to muster.)

"Yes, and can you tell me what's behind him? Like what is this?" [indicating the tomb].

"The tomb," Alexander said, equally bored. 

"It is! Good job!" and then for the next child, "Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Happy Easter!"

It's always nice when my homeschooled children can pass these "pop quizzes" everyone seems to want to give them, whether scholastical or ecclesiastical.

Anyway, this evening we were reading the Berenstain Bear's Easter Story and we got to a page that said, "On the morning of the third day after Jesus died, some women who knew Jesus came to weep at his tomb..."

"Uh, they did not come to weep," Alexander interjected saucily. "They came to spice it up!"

"True!" Zoë agreed. "They went to anoint the body with spices."

So, there you have it. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Easter Egg Hunt

I feel like we're very much in the minority of the population, but we're still just dipping our toes back into society because even if we end emergency measures, even if we announce "mission accomplished" and claim the pandemic is over, the truth of the matter is that COVID is the third leading cause of death in the United States and while we the strains we're dealing with are less deadly—whether due to vaccination, natural immunity, and better treatment due to targeted medications, or simply less vicious viruses—people are still getting very sick.

We would still like to avoid getting sick (especially as sick as we were last year) and so we're still trying to limit our exposure (especially indoors). And we're still wearing our "silly" masks (as someone called my mask not too long ago—"Oh, you're still wearing those silly masks?"). And we're still just...trying to be careful...

But also it's been years of having essentially no contact with anyone and I'm tired. So we're slowly dipping our toes into society because we have to learn to live with COVID. Isn't that a line we've heard over and over again? It's not going away any time soon, is it? So we must learn to live with it. 

I think that learning to live with COVID means the opposite of going back to the way things were but instead means moving forward in new ways. So we're not willing to give up our masks and personal air purifiers in venues that haven't improved their own ventilation systems since COVID's arrival. And we're encouraging gatherings to be held outdoors, when possible, and are trying to support those activities.

Rachel and Miriam went to their first multi-stake dance this evening. It was a "food truck evening" and was held outside! They had lights and speakers, an area to dance, volley ball games, and—of course—food trucks. Everyone had a lot of fun...outside.

The girls learned a line dance (this one) to Cotton Eye Joe (by the Rednex).

I can't believe they're still playing that at stake dances. And yet I can...because it's a great dancing song.

We didn't do that line dance to Cotton Eye Joe when I was going to the dances (though I think they did in Utah, technically, but I hardly count those dances because...they just weren't as cool as the Calgary tri-stake dances). Ours was...kickier...if we did one (like this one). But mostly I remember free-styling polka-like moves.

At any rate, I'm glad kids are still dancing to it. 

I mean, we dance to it at our house sometimes. But I'm glad that kids are still dancing to it outside of our house. 

I'm not sure when they'll get to go to a dance again, though, because an indoor dance sounds...super soupy. Just inhaling everyone else's exhales. No thanks. 

Anyway, the primary Easter egg hunt was outdoors and was their first outdoor activity all year, so I decided we'd show (especially since we'd RSVP'd). I was hesitant after that terrible night with Phoebe, but...she's really pretty great at social distancing...and really was just choking on snot...that wasn't brought on by we went. 

Allow me to demonstrate how well she can social distance:

On the same day in April

Just as Millie and Phoebe had vastly different (and yet similar) days on the same day in March, Andrew and I are having vastly different experiences on the same day in April. And even as I was typing that last sentence our weekends got even differenter

He is in Chicago at MPSA (Midwest Political Science Association). 

I'm here at home.

He had lunch with Bonnie Goodliffe's son (who is a professor at BYU's Political Science Department so is also at this conference and reached out to Andrew for some networking).

I fed the kids tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, which I soon regretted when Phoebe had a coughing attack and vomited tuna fish salad all over the both of us while she was nursing.

This is the only gross picture in this post (unless you think lizard silhouettes are gross; there are a couple lizard silhouettes, too)

Easter Egg Smackdown 2023

We held our Easter Egg Smackdown on Sunday after church. Miriam went and played the organ—and had a marvelous time doing so! We recently got a new organ installed at the church and because it was Easter and the new organ has fun, fully-functioning stops, she went wild with the bells and chimes.

Here are the boys setting up the bracket:

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Benjamin's smackdown

This evening Andrew took Rachel and Miriam to the church for mutual. They played capture the flag. Outside this time.

Last time they played capture the flag they moved the activity indoors, which I wasn't very happy about, but my girls wore masks so nobody got COVID. Except, ironically, that my girls were the COVID+ people at that activity, running around in the gym with a bunch of maskless peers. 

Fortunately, my girls' good masking habits seemed to keep everyone else safe that day. 

As for our family, well, we talk a lot at the dinner table so you know we all got sick. 

(We all did; Rachel had unknowingly been infected at church on Sunday and was just starting to feel off when she attended the mutual activity).

Anyway, this time the activity was outside, so the girls went. 

I stayed home with the younger four kids because even though the Activity Days activity was an "Obstacle Extravaganza," and even though I was told by multiple people in the primary that they would make an effort to hold activities outside so that my children could more freely participate, they didn't want to do obstacles outdoors. 

So, anyway...

The kids helped me water the garden!

Super exciting times over here.

Easter pictures with the kids

I have many Easter posts in queue (along with a few term papers and that blasted thesis) and I figure these stories will remain relevant because, in the words of Alexander, "Did you know that we have two Easters? Regliar and Oxagon."

"Orthodox," Andrew told him.

"Regliar and Orthodox," Alexander repeated, not bothering to correct regular. "And that will be awesome because two Easters!"

He was pretty disappointed when I told him we, unfortunately, only celebrated Easter one time.

But Orthodox Easter is coming up (and we even have our primary Easter party that day) so I figure I can keep posting about Easter for a while.

Tonight it's late and Phoebe is rejecting the idea of slumber, so I'll just do a brief post about trying to get a cute picture of my kids on Easter morning.

Phoebe wore a darling dress that I picked out from the sales rack at Target while I was wandering around—pregnant—after getting one of my COVID vaccines. It's been hanging in our closet for a while. She even (kind of) let me do her hair. That is, I put a headband on her and distracted her until she forgot about it for all of five minutes before yanking it off her head again.

Here she is looking longingly outside, wishing she could join her siblings on the other side of the glass...but ignoring Mom's pleas to come put her shoes on.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Girls at the theatre

Here's some photographic evidence that the girls (Rachel and Miriam) went to Durham—they're standing in DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) by a statue of a bull (there are bull statues all over Durham...because of the Durham Bulls, of course):

They're still so glad they could go! 

Sunday, April 09, 2023


This morning a murder of crows was flying around the house cawing their heads off. Phoebe doesn't like noises that she can't immediately identify, so first we had to snuggle while I reassured her that everything was alright and then—of course—we had to go watch them flap around and yell about whatever it was they were yelling about.

Was it the impending storm? Was there (as Zoë believes she saw from her bedroom window because she also got up to watch the crows) an owl or a hawk tormenting them? Was it merely a territorial dispute between crow factions? 

Friday, April 07, 2023

American Heritage

Rachel and Miriam (and Grandpa) arrived home this afternoon after a grueling 7.5 hour drive from Durham (it should have taken them about 5.5 hours but it was terribly stormy). Apparently Rachel drove 11 whole miles on the way up, but nothing on the way home (on account of the storm). The girls had a fabulous time, loved the show. Miriam was so impressed that the little 9-year-old boy who played Gavroche was able to lie still on the stage after he "died" (Benjamin, she determined, would never be able to do something like that, to which he responded that "actually, dead bodies twitch"). 

It's good to have the girls home! 

The little kids worked hard to clean the basement and we had it all nicely vacuumed by the time the girls came home. It was seriously messy when they left.

Andrew made Rachel take her American Heritage final after dinner. She wanted to wait until tomorrow, but Andrew reminded her that we have so many Easter things to do—like dying eggs and so forth—and she should just get it off her plate.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

A week update

It's been almost a week since I last posted! I don't even know how time is escaping from me so easily these days—except for the fact that Phoebe exists and I'm swamped with other writing projects (but I don't even feel like I'm making progress on those). 


The good news, I suppose, is that Rachel is very nearly finished with her American Heritage course. She has not enjoyed it and has spent so much time on it. Once she takes her final, I plan on roping her into babysitting for me a little more often so I can get some solid writing accomplished before, you know, 11:00 at night. 

She and Miriam just drove up to Durham with Grandpa to attend Les Miserables. They'll be back tomorrow, I believe. Rachel supposedly drove some part of the way there; I'll have to wait for her report about how far she drove.

Benjamin and Zoë (and Alexander, I suppose, who listens in) finished their science curriculum today. We're technically just about finished with our school year (today was day 172 for us), but we still have quite a bit left in our math curriculum so might keep pressing forward through that before taking some time off in the summer. To be fair, our math curriculum is really quite challenging (and technically both Zoë and Benjamin are working a year above their grade level) so it's understandable that we haven't quite made it through our workbooks. 


Our weather jumped from a chilly 50°F to mid-80°F this week, so we're looking forward to having the pool open. Meanwhile, in Utah they've had a record-breaking year for snowfall and it's still falling!


General Conference was last weekend. We convinced Andrew to go to the park with us between Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening sessions (I still am wondering what the purpose of the Saturday evening session is; we went from having a women's session the week before conference, to alternating Relief Society and Priesthood meetings on the Saturday evening session, to no Saturday evening session, then back to Saturday evening session...but it's only an I'm pretty sure we could just go back to no session...or have a women's session since we hear from men all day anyway). It was fun to get to spend some time with him at the park. 

I'm very tired of our schedule being so busy. And it's not even that busy. But somehow it feels busy.