Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Phoebe at 21 months

Somehow Phoebe is already 21 months old. She's been busy doing a lot of growing up the past few months. From potty training (which is going pretty well, though I'd like to speak to the person in charge who decided this was a good idea the month before international travel) to giving up her high chair (a more recent development; she's now on the kid stool at the dinner table), she just keeps growing up and up and up!

This evening during our Family Night lesson, she found a pair of pants in the diaper bag and managed to put them on by herself. She was quite proud—got one leg in each pant leg and everything!

She also climbed up on her little "busy cube," though I missed getting a picture of her standing precariously on the edge of it. Here she is climbing down because all her siblings were shouting, "No!" at her: 

For our Family Night activity we went to the library together because (a) I'd forgotten that I had library books due until right around the time rush hour started and didn't want to head out to the library then so we decided to wait until after dinner and (b) we needed to figure out what was going on with the kids' library cards.

Here's Phoebe helping return books...straight into the hippo's mouth:

Some people pay their kids allowance. We've...never done that. 

When we lived in Durham we were earning around $2000 a month (with three, then four, going on five children (though Alexander was technically born after Andrew landed his first real job out of grad school)). After paying rent and utilities, gassing up the vehicles, and covering other basic necessities, we were pretty much tapped out each month. There was no $5 a week to give the kids. Or $2. Or even $1. 

I once had the Relief Society president's daughter babysit for me so that I could take a shift cleaning the temple in Raleigh. All she did, really, was show up early in the morning to wait at the bus stop with little Rachel. Andrew drove me into the city and kept Benjamin and Miriam busy while I cleaned. 

Anyway, I knew this sweet girl was saving up to go on a mission and that babysitting was one of her methods of earning money. I gathered up all the loose change in the house and gave her our pathetic little offering in a ziplock baggie. We had nothing else to pay her!

We literally couldn't even spare a quarter for allowance. We just didn't have it. 

Rachel once lost a library book—George Washington's Cows—and I begged and begged the school to please just give me more time to find it (which we eventually did...a few years later when we were moving furniture move maybe?), but the school was adamant that I had to pay for a brand new copy, library binding, or my children wouldn't be allowed to check out any books for the remainder of the school year and the library gave those girls life, so I ponied up however much it was ($20 or $30) and just cried and cried because we were that worried about money. 

I was so mad when we found that book (even though it quickly became Benjamin's favourite) because it was such a worn out piece of junk! The binding was falling apart and several pages were torn—not that we did that! It had just been checked out so many times by so many other children before my own. It was really on its last legs; I'm sure it was destined for the discard pile any moment. It still sits—somewhat delicately—on our bookshelf today. The most expensive piece of trash I own, probably!

(It's a wonderful little story, but...just...I didn't want to pay $30 for a falling apart book!)

I can now consider that a donation to their school, but at the time it seemed like a huge burden.

So we've never been in the habit of giving our kids allowance. Andrew grew up getting an allowance. But I really didn't. I remember my parents trying allowance, but what would happen was that my parents would give each of us four kids (Kelli, Abra, David, and me) a crisp $2 bill—I wasn't too fond of the terra cotta colour of this bill, but I loved the picture of the robins on it—and then those beautiful little birds would up and fly away. *Poof* I couldn't keep them in my piggy bank to save my life!

I used to be sure the culprit was Kelli...but it could have just as easily been Abra. Of course, they both denied doing anything like that, but on the next allowance day the same thing happened. And then it happened again and again (I don't know how many times) and eventually my parents announced that enough was enough. Allowance was over. 

So I haven't had allowance since I was, like, five years old or something. And I'm not any the worse for it. My mom would give out spending money for certain events—like if we went out to the movies with friends, for example. But we never got allowance ever again.

Anyway, some people pay their kids allowance to inspire them to help out around the house. 

We...recently discovered audio books. 

Technically they aren't a recent discovery. We've known about them for a while, but more recently we bought the kids bluetooth enabled headphones, which means they can pair up with a device, which means they can walk around more easily while listening to audiobooks. 

And all of a sudden everybody wants to do the dishes. It's great!

Zoë has been mopping the kitchen floor every morning—she's listening to some book about foxes. She stayed up late doing dishes (it's Miriam's dish week, technically, but Zoë shooed her away) so that she could listen some more. She even mopped under the kitchen table. It's incredible!

So we had to set up the kids' library cards. 

When we first moved here, we set up library cards for Rachel, Miriam, and Benjamin, but they were linked to their school accounts. When we pulled them out to homeschool their library cards were deactivated, but I didn't know this! 

I usually just put all our checkouts on my library card—and even petitioned the library to increase the limit on the number of items a patron could check out (from 40 to 75), explaining that while I could allow each of the children to check out items on their individual cards, keeping track of that many accounts is an administrative nightmare (at least for this mother). It's much easier for me to have everything on one account than to log in and out of however many accounts making sure we have all our library books gathered up. That seemed to make sense to someone over there, so they increased the limit (I seriously wrote them an entire essay about it). And I was very happy. 

Then the pandemic hit and I stopped taking the kids to the library altogether. For quite a while we could only do drive-through service, putting all our items on hold and then picking them up without setting foot in the library at all. 

So it's been a few years since the kids have tried using their library cards. We couldn't log into the online system, even though we had their passwords and everything saved. And this was beginning to be a problem because the kids wanted to check out audio books on their own cards—so that it would save their spot, they couldn't all listen to books at the same time using my account, etc. etc. 

Zoë and Alexander had never had their own library cards, so I took them in to open accounts and got the grumpy library lady who said that because they're homeschooled they are still liable for overdue fines. She gave them this long lecture about responsibility and blah, blah, blah. I told the kids that was okay because I probably wouldn't ever check anything out on their cards anyway. But now they could at least check out audio books! And those can't be overdue because the system simply removes them from your queue when they're due!

Those two were very excited.

Unfortunately, none of the older kids went to the library with me on that trip, so none of them could get their cards sorted out, which meant they couldn't even check out audio books.

So tonight we took the big kids (except for Miriam, who was babysitting) to the library and reactivated their cards. The librarian on this evening was, in a word, jovial. He told the kids that anyone under age 18 is exempt from overdue fines, so he'd set them up with that perk. 

"Even though we're homeschooled?!"

"You're not 18, are you?"

So perhaps we'll start using one of their cards instead of my card to check out our books! Hahaha!

He even let us set up Miriam's card (even though she was not there)! So now all the kids can check out audio books to their heart's content. And very often while they're listening...they do chores! It's amazing!

We returned home to find Miriam inside, which was a nice surprise. We were due to arrive home just about the time her babysitting was supposed to end, anyway, she just beat us home. But the fact that she was able to get into the house was an added bonus! Since February, getting into our house has been a bit of a puzzle. 

The front door wouldn't unlock from the outside. 

The garage code box consistently malfunctions. We replaced our old one with a new one, but it, too, consistently malfunctions. Andrew insists it's the batteries because when he changes the battery, the code box works again...until it doesn't work anymore. Never have I ever had to change the batteries on the code box so often! It's ridiculous—like they last a week if we're lucky. My theory is that it's the humidity. 

Anyway, the front door couldn't be opened from the outside, the garage couldn't be opened from the outside, the basement door can't be opened from the outside, and that just left the kitchen door, so we were forever having to remember to unlock the child lock before leaving the house, just in case the garage wouldn't open (thank goodness the garage door openers in the vehicle usually worked for this). 

Our house has many doors, but so few of them were functional. It was frustrating. 

Andrew ordered a keyless entry for the front door, which I installed Sunday afternoon. The battery compartment for this is inside the house, so I'm hopeful the batteries will last longer than a week. Anyway, Miriam was able to get inside the house all on her own, which was great!


This post was really supposed to be about Phoebe. Phoebe who suddenly is old enough to help return books at the library (though she is the only child without her own library card). 

Phoebe loves animals and can be easily distracted from a bad mood by seeing or talking about animals. Here she is sitting on Benjamin's lap while he watched a video about artificial selection and domestication on Khan Academy:

Most often she calls dogs "pup-pups," which should not be confused with "buppa" (Grandpa) or "puh-puh" (potty) or any other puh or buh words. Understanding Phoebe means making use of context clues.

Fortunately, she happy to play 20 questions. She knows when a question is a yes/no question and when a question requires a more sophisticated answer. Yes/no questions will be given a yes/no response.

Yessssssssss or yeth or yup or bup or yeah for "yes." 

No or uh-uh for "no."

If a question requires anything beyond that she'll usually put on a pensive expression and say, "Uhhhhhhh..." or "Ummmmmm...." as if she's really trying to formulate an answer (which, to be fair, is probably the case).

Here she is answering "YES!" when I asked her if she was shoving her bowl in my face because she wanted more applesauce.

She painted herself with applesauce the other night. It was disgusting. We kept telling her no. But she kept on lathering it into her hair, silly goose.

Let's see...what else does Phoebe say?

Diaper, shirt, dress, sweater, shoes, brush, pool, bubbles, pop, goggles, towel...

She really likes swimming, and trying on goggles (though she doesn't usually wear goggles to swim because none of them actually fit her):

She also says...

Doll, Dad, Mom, Rachel, Mimi, Ben, Zozo, Dander, Grogu, Bu(m/p)pa, hello, bus, truck, colour, yellow, purple, blue, water, bowl, too, cup, cookie, banana, cheese, noodles, magnets, fish, cat, gorilla, nurse, juice, me, pencil, dark, thunder, stool, jungle (because of "jungle vitamins"), pillow, bug, John!

Oh, so Miriam was babysitting John today (he lives a couple houses down from us) and while we were getting ready to go to the library Alexander went outside. Miriam and John were blowing bubbles on John's driveway (he is the bubble house—his mom has this whole set up and it brings all the kids to the yard), so Alexander went over to play for a few minutes. Then he came home to check on our progress.

"I was just playing with John!" he told us when we asked where he'd been.

Phoebe came screeching down the hallway, "JOOOOOOOOOOOOHN! JOHN! JOHN! JOHN!"

She pounded on the door and tried the knob: "Door? John! Door? John! John!"

She was a little brokenhearted when we told her we were going to the library instead of playing with John, but she got over it. Also, for the record, she can open many of our inside doors, but has yet to figure out the front door (thank goodness).

So obviously she can say door. 

She also says up, this, that, bath, ball, tomato, stroller, want, hot, teeth, ear, eye, elbow, rainbow, cloud, hat, puzzle, cow, horse, giraffe, buckle, bucket, prayer, amen, push, car, squirrel, deer, wall, ladder, cracker, more...

Her vocabulary is to the point where it feels like she could say just about anything she put her mind to, and she often surprises us by saying things we didn't know she knew how to say. She doesn't often put sentences together yet, but does say things like, "Me, too!" (thought technically she says "nee, too!"). Really, that's pretty formulaic for her: "[Noun], too!"

"Want [noun]" is another formula she uses quite often, or even "Want that [noun]."

Most often that three word sentence is "Want that stroller" because she always wants to ride in the pink umbrella stroller, but the big red jogging stroller is so much easier to we always have a little argument about that before leaving on walks. 

Naturally, she seems to understand about 10 times what she can say, and follows directions quite nicely...when she wants to. When she doesn't want to, all bets are off. 

For now she's happy to throw us a clue, like "Puzzle," and let us begin our game of 20 questions.

"You want to play with some puzzles?"


"Okay! Let's do it!" a longer example:


"What about the door?"


"Do you need me to open a door for you?"


"Which door?"


"Is your bedroom door closed? Did Zoë shut you out again?"


"Do you want to go outside?"


"Is it the basement door?"


"Do you want to go check on Rachel and Miriam?"

"Yesssssssssssth! Ammo!"

That's another word she says: animal (sounds like "ammo"). Rachel and Miriam have a collection of stuffed animals that they keep in a pillow case under their bed. For some reason that collection of stuffed animals is much more tempting for Phoebe than the entire bin of stuffed animals in the corner of her very own bedroom. I guess because she can get into that any old time. 

She loves visiting Rachel and Miriam's bedroom and pulling out their ammos!

She likes to make animal noises, as well. She knows arf, meow, neigh, moo, baaa, ssssss, various growling sounds for scary animals, quack, cock-a-doodle-doo (or something along those lines), braaloo (this is what an elephant says, apparently), and all sorts of things. She also likes to pretend to fall asleep and snore "ha-shoo, ha-shoo, ha-shoo."

She's turning into a beautiful little girl right before our very eyes...even if she still wants to get up to nurse four or five times a night. Just tonight she was up around 11:00, begging for milk already. I told her that was ridiculous, that she'd barely been asleep for two hours, that I wasn't going to give her any milk, but that I would come be with her while she fell asleep. 

She screamed and screamed and screamed, signed "more please, more please, more please" and screamed and screamed and screamed. 

I told her that if she kept screaming at me that I would have to go. I was willing to stay with her for however long it took for her to fall asleep but I was not going to be screamed at like that. 

She stopped to think. 

"Do you want me to stay?" I asked. "Or do you want to keep screaming?"


"I'll ask one at a time. Do you want me to stay?"


"Do you want to keep screaming?"


"So you want me to go?"

"Yeth! Go!"

"Fine, I'll go."

I left her room and closed the door and she screamed and screamed and kicked her wall and screamed some more. I don't know how Zoë slept through it, but she did!

After a few minutes I opened the door to check on her and she stopped screaming. 

"Are you finished?" I asked. 

"Bam," she sniffed (bam, being one of her alternatives for yes...for whatever reason). 

"Would you like me to stay with you now?"


"You're not going to scream at me?"


And she didn't. I tucked her in, patted her back, sang her a few songs, and sat by her while she tossed and turned, then settled down, and went to sleep. Now I just have to do that three more times tonight and every night for the foreseeable future until she drops some of these nighttime feedings...

She's almost two so I don't feel too badly about that...except that it makes her feel quite upset when the answer is no.

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