Monday, September 18, 2023

Happy "essential" birthday to Andrew!

It stormed pretty hard last night—not so much that it flooded the basement or anything, but still pretty stormy. I listened to the rain as drifted in and out of sleep while I fought with Phoebe about whether or not we should be sleeping (guess who was on which side of that argument). I woke up to the unmistakable THOOM of the power going out and thought about checking on the basement...but Phoebe was asleep right beside me and I figured pretty much anything of value had already been moved out of the path of the flood, anyway. 

The power came back on around 5:00 in the morning, by my calculations (from information gathered from the flashing alarm clock, which alerted me of precisely how many hours had passed since it turned back on). We woke up in the morning and began our rush to get ready for church—stuffing the children into their Sunday best, filling their bellies with breakfast, brushing their hair and their teeth. 

We were right in the thick of it when we realized no one had seen Benjamin.

He wasn't in his bed. He wasn't downstairs playing LEGO. He wasn't answering the full-house announcement. Had he gone outside? 

His shoes were all inside and the front door was locked. Perhaps he'd gone out the garage door...but that door was locked, too...

Fortunately, checking the garage door led Andrew past the couch, where he found Benjamin sound asleep. He woke up very disoriented and spoke nonsense for a good ten minutes before he finally woke up enough to eat breakfast and get dressed. It was really quite concerning, so we were glad he snapped out of it.

Once he was dressed, he went to wait in the van while we put some finishing touches on the other kids and gathered up items for my church bag and collected all our sheet music and hymnals and...I was just putting on my cute little fall booties for the first time this season when my phone buzzed. It was a message from Grandpa:

"Church is canceled."

"Oh. Why?" I asked. "Power outage?"


Soon we were flooded with text messages and emails. Our ward apparently has a phone tree. Also, apparently, it's not a very efficient one. We had messages from YW, from RS, from primary...all telling us to tell everyone we know. So everyone we knew was texting us and eventually it was like, "I get it! Church is cancelled!"

So church was cancelled this morning. Instead we had home church and, honestly, it was lovely to get to do that again! We haven't had everyone home from church in a long time! We gathered everyone into the music room and were just about ready to start singing when we realized that...Benjamin was still sitting in the van waiting for everyone to join him!

We fetched him inside and then started home church.

After home church we had Andrew open presents really quick before he had to run Miriam to the church so she could play the organ for the Spanish ward (the power had come back on 5 or 10 minutes prior to our ward's assigned start time, but we didn't have time to un-cancel church at that point; but the Spanish ward met without interruption). 

Andrew got a lovely letter from Alexander, who decorated the envelope quite festively:

He was sure to remind everyone all day that it wasn't Dad's actual birthday. It was his "essential" birthday. (He meant that it was essentially Dad's birthday, but that's okay). I'll need to find the letter inside this envelope, which was equally enthusiastic about Andrew's birthday (and which used the word Dad about twenty times—I love you, Dad. You're the best dad in the world, Dad! There's no dad that can compare to you! I'm glad you're my Dad, Dad! Have a happy birthday, Dad! Yay, Dad, yay! Have a great day, Dad!). 

Our favourite part of this envelope was "you so old."

We don't feel old yet, but I'm not sure that we can claim to be young anymore.

Anyway, here's Andrew opening his next present: some silicone mats to fit in the Dutch oven for cooking sourdough bread and things.

The kids thought they looked like hats.

Here are the kids gathered around him for a group shot:

I'm including three pictures because I just like the different faces that everyone is making in each shot.* For example, in the shot below, Phoebe is sticking her tongue out a little bit.

* Plus, being decisive is overrated.

Here's Phoebe helping him unwrap his big presents, which were some glass milk bottles almond milk maker!

He was so excited about the almond milk maker! He knew it was coming since I had shown it to him to ask whether he'd like something like it (and then he went ahead and ordered it himself). When he was grocery shopping he picked up a big bag of almonds at Costco ($11 for 3 lbs of almonds, which will yield about 440 ounces of almond milk). Almond milk itself is $10.30 for 192 ounces at Costco, so with any luck this machine will soon pay for itself. 

Andrew did the math and everything!

"Alexa, how many cups are in 5 cups?" he asked Alexa.

"There are five cups in five cups," Alexa obediently answered.

She (the computer) didn't laugh at him... 

...but everyone else did.

"I meant ounces!" he wailed through his own laughter.

The answer is 40 fluid ounces (which, honestly, should be easy enough math to do in one's own brain (if one can ever remember how many ounces are in a cup, which is where my mind so often fails me), thus how we know the 3 pound bag of almonds (with approximately 11 cups of almonds inside) will give us 440 ounces of almond milk).

And it only takes about a minute to whip up a batch!

Of course, we've also been drinking a lot more of it today. For example, Andrew also made some pumpkin spice almond milk, which we've already finished. We're excited to see what else we can make with it. 

I think it's really just a fancy blender, but it strains everything all at once as well, so it's nice and easy to use.

Rachel made Andrew's cake, of course. It was kind of a busy week for her with her college classes starting, so she went with a simple design (although the cake is anything but simple). She tried a new vanilla cake recipe (and even used real vanilla beans) and experimented with a Swiss meringue icing* (and some of the cake scraping tools she got for her birthday back in July—she wanted to try stripes and I think they turned out quite well):

* interestingly, Uncle David also experimented with Swiss meringue icing for Millie's birthday yesterday!

Andrew took a bunch of photos of the cake itself and pretended to take a bunch of silly selfies as well:

There was a little disagreement about whether we should put 12 candles on the cake (3 in the tens column and 9 in the ones column) or 13 candles on the cake (because 39/3 is 13). Rachel settled on 12, but Andrew was on team 13, so after Rachel had carefully counted out 12 big candles, he grabbed a little candle and stuck it on as well (but just a little one because it's not really his birthday).

Here he is with his cake:

And here he is laughing about something or other:

Was it because we reminded him how he accidentally blew all of Zoë's candles out on her birthday? Or was it because we were all being silly and when Andrew was trying to get everyone to settle down I quipped, "Come on, guys! Settle down! Don't make your father count to...five!"

Oh! Another silly thing that Andrew did today was that when he unwrapped the silicone mats he said, "Oh! These are the things to go in the p..."

And that was it. That's all he said. 

"The...what?" Rachel and Miriam asked. 

"The pot!" Andrew finished. "I ran out of air!"

"You ran out of air saying...pot?" the girls asked. "How?!"

"I dunno," he said.

So when he went to blow out his birthday candles he took a deep breath and said, "Puh..." without blowing out any of his candles. We all laughed...and then he blew his candles out for real. 

One thing I love about Andrew is his sense of humour. When we got engaged, he promised he would make me laugh every day and I think he's upheld that promise (though he only told me years after we'd been married that he stole that line from Legacy (see 31:20—you'll have to slide around the progress bar because I don't seem to be able to break into the code to put the time in for you (just kidding! I figured it out—watch for about 10 seconds and you'll hear the line!))). 

He's just so good at finding the humour in situations, at creating inside jokes, at being willing to laugh at himself, and at reminding me to laugh at myself as well. All in all, we've done a lot of laughing together over the last couple of decades and I think it's done us both a world of good...because I don't think life was ever meant to be taken too seriously. 

As Fyodor Dostoevsky once said (though I've yet to verify precisely where or when or why he may have said this), "the cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.” I believe it takes cleverness to recognize your own foolishness, certainly, but also humility and grace and good humour. We are lucky—I am lucky—to have a guy like that (he's the total package). 


  1. 🤩 🤩 I liked the part where he siad po…”it was so funny 😂