Thursday, November 30, 2023

Really instructive

Well, I did it! One post per day...and then some! 

Now I really need to get cracking on our Christmas newsletter (among other writing projects). 

I got a rejection notification for a paper today. I'm getting more and more used to rejection as I put more and more things out into the world. And I'm coming to truly believe that it's more about finding the right home for your writing than it is about what you wrote (it's impossible to please everyone and there are so many different possibilities for writing regarding genre and style).

One of my papers that will be coming out soon (in theory) went through multiple rounds of editing and multiple journals before it found a home. That stung a little, but it was a co-authored paper and my mentor helped me remember to move "onwards and upwards" because she believed our paper had merit and was worthy of publication somewhere. And also our reviewers took time to offer constructive criticism. 

You know—the kind of criticism that points out specific things you might attempt to fix or change, delete or add, explain or verify. It doesn't tear down your work, but builds it up, tells you what you might do to make your project better. 

Two stories

There are a couple of funny stories that I wrote down on Facebook, which I neglected to record here, so I will put them here as well. The first is from two weeks ago when Alexander couldn't live without his emergency paperclip supply. He took a paperclip to co-op. He took a paperclip to church. He had to have paperclips on him at all times!

Alexander: See this paperclip? I can use it to unlock the bathroom door! So if it ever gets locked with nobody inside, I can be the one to let people in!

Me: Well, hopefully that won't happen *too* often.

Alexander: Yeah. 


Me: *knock, knock* Hey, who's in the bathroom? 

Bathroom: ...

Me: Nobody. Okay. 

Alexander, brandishing paperclip: I can fix that.

Me: Thanks, buddy. Hey, are *all* the bathroom doors locked?

Alexander: *looks sheepish*

Me: Okay, how about we unlock all the bathroom doors and use the paperclip only in case of actual emergencies. We don't need to fabricate emergencies, okay?


Alexander: *walking around wearing a necklace of paperclips*

Me: Huh. Nice necklace.

Alexander, patting his necklace: For emergencies.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas Trees

Andrew took Miriam to a musical rehearsal on Sunday evening, so while I was home with the rest of the kids I pulled out our new little Christmas tree (another Buy Nothing Group score) and set it up in the basement. Rachel and I also lugged the parts for the big Christmas tree upstairs (but we didn't put it all together until Monday) because I wanted to get to a box of Christmas books that was behind the Christmas tree. 

Phoebe was so excited about the Christmas tree. Zoë taught her how to be a "present" under the tree. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


We put up our big Christmas tree yesterday (and a small Christmas tree on Sunday evening), so I thought it was only fair that I post about carving pumpkins on the afternoon of Halloween. Because we did that.

Andrew got three big pumpkins for the kids to carve. We paired up and made plans together: Rachel and Miriam, Benjamin and Zoë, and Alexander and me. Andrew focused on taking care of the seeds while Phoebe busied herself by getting into everyone's business. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Freak Streeze

Last night Benjamin told us that his Duolingo streak was in the 300s. Perhaps it was even in the 330s or thereabouts. And it should be because several of the children made a goal to keep a DuoLingo streak all year long and they have been working hard at remembering to practice their language skills (and Andrew and I have been working hard at reminding them to remember to practice). 

Last night Benjamin also told us that it was too bad Rachel had lost her Duolingo streak because she should be right up there in the 300s with him, but now she's back at 1.

I questioned him about this because we've had children lose their Duolingo streaks before. Sometimes there are epic meltdowns over such a loss. A little over four years ago, Miriam lost her Duolingo streak over some technicality (like she wasn't connected to the internet when she did her lesson, or something) and she threw an incredible tantrum and vowed she'd never skip a day ever again. So now she's right up by me in the rankings. I think I'm at 1665 (or something like that), which translates into about 4.5 years. 

Miriam didn't used to be that close to me (re: the length of her streak versus mine). I used to be hundreds of days ahead of her...but I have had to use many a streak freeze in my time because no one nags me about whether or not I've remembered to do Duolingo and sometimes (about once a week or so) I forget to do a lesson. Miriam, on the other hand, very rarely has to use a streak freeze (these are things you can "purchase" in the "store" using gems you've earned doing other lessons). The girl is a machine!

Rachel is not prone to such tantrums...anymore. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Hiking at Sweetwater State Park

Georgia is a beautiful place, so we thought it would be nice for Katherine and Emily to see some of that beauty. We discussed many, many places, but settled on Sweetwater State Park since scenes of The Hunger Games series were filmed there (and that's of interest to Katherine and Emily, both). Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the trail to the New Manchester Mill was closed, which is really quite a shame because the hike to the mill is relatively easy (though the trail gets hard after the mill).

Instead we hiked the blue trail, which was the next shortest hike on the map. The terrain wasn't quite as...gentle...however.

But we made the best of it. We hiked the yellow trail to the bridge just before the blue trail, and then Emily and Katherine waited patiently while the rest of us speed-hiked the loop. At least, I assume we must have hiked it at a decent clip since my Fitbit says our entire hike was only 1.5 hours long (and we had to hike 0.7 miles from the ranger station to the trailhead (and then 0.7 miles back)). 

We're not really regular hikers, though I would love to do more hiking on these beautiful trails (especially through the autumn, winter, and spring when the weather is nice), but for some reason it's been difficult for us to get out of the house. But we did it! And it was lovely! And I think Andrew's sisters appreciated the beauty, even if the hike was a little out of their comfort zone. It was nice to get out into nature for a bit.

Here's Rachel, who was a little less thrilled about being out in nature when she looked down and saw (arachnophobia warning...)


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wave your little hand and whisper, "So long, dearie!"

This morning Grandpa picked up our "youth" (Rachel and Miriam easily qualify in this category, but Benjamin will be joining the young men in January, so he's close enough) to go clean the church. Ordinarily we all go but, uh, when our team leader put forth 7:00 am as a non-negotiable start time, I blanched a little. 

I'm tired, okay? 

Phoebe has slept "through" the night perhaps five times in her life. Phoebe doesn't nap anymore (not typically). Once Phoebe gets up, my day lasts until she goes to bed (and then I have to stay up and take care of other things). 

Waking her (and the rest of the kids) up at 6:00 (or so) in the morning so that we could get all the kids fed and dressed and out the door sounded like a terrible idea. 

And Andrew's been burning the candle at both ends to play Thanksgiving host and attempt to keep up with his work projects, so he's beyond tired...and...

Anyway, we just didn't go. We may have gone if a compromise on the time could have been found. But we sent our kids to represent, so that's got to count for something, right?


In the mid-morning, Grandpa showed up with Emily and Katherine so that we could all say our goodbyes before he (and Zoë and Alexander) took them to the airport. 

Here is everybody except for me:

Friday, November 24, 2023

The clubhouse

This morning we headed to the neighbour's house to start dismantling the clubhouse. The wood seems to be in rather good condition, given that it's at least a couple decades old, but—man!—that thing is hard to pry apart! 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

It was wonderful to have a full house for Thanksgiving. We stayed up late baking pies and prepping food for dinner, then had our plan of sleeping in interrupted by Phoebe. Benjamin and I ran a 5k, we played some group games together (like Poetry for Neanderthals and Really Loud Librarians) so that everyone could play at once. It's actually a little difficult to find games suitable for 10 players. 

Our neighbours are giving away a little clubhouse that has been sitting unused in their backyard for the past 20+ years. They offered it to Benjamin, who was pretty excited about the idea. His real dream is to build himself a tiny house so he can have his own personal space, but he and his friend Reed recently decided they'd build a shed in the backyard. They searched on Amazon and figured they could order a shed for around $40. 

"You can't buy a shed for $40," I told them.

I was accused of hating adventure and killing dreams. 

On the contrary, I support their dreams. They're simply not plausible because there is no such thing as a $40 shed. They need to come up with a better plan. 

"Show me this $40 shed," I challenged Benjamin.

"Well, they can be like $40 on average," he told me.

We went searching on Amazon together. We found this:

A $20 shed...floor mat. Not a shed. A floor mat.

MLK sites

By the time we got to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, everyone was ready for lunch. Technically, I suppose we were hungry before we even left the state capitol building (since the MLK area is only about a mile away). The first thing we did, then, was eat our picnic lunch.

Here's Benjamin, his mouth stuffed with sandwich, pretending to be Chewie (Cheese-bacca, if you will). If you can't tell, he's draped a package of string cheese across his chest.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Georgia State Capitol

I still need to bake some pies tonight, so we'll see how far I get in this post before I call it quits for the day. 

Today was our Downtown Atlanta day! Our first stop was a visit to the capitol building, which turned into a big long adventure to find a women's washroom for Zoë. When she mentioned she needed to use the facilities, Phoebe also started chirping about needing to go "Pee! Pee! Pee! Pee!" but she wasn't as much of a problem as Zoë was because Phoebe has no qualms whatsoever about using the toilet in the men's restroom. Zoë, on the other hand, was not as keen on entering the men's room. 

She and I went all over the place and found multiple men's rooms and only one women's washroom...that was closed for renovations...before we caved and asked the nice workers setting up Christmas decorations where we could find the women's washroom.

The man we asked stared at me for a minute in complete confusion.

"Oh! You want the bathroom!" he said. 

"Yes..." I said.

Look, I don't leave my house a lot, so I just call things what I want to call them without fully realizing it might not be what it's called here. Further, when I'm nervous or formal or hanging around my Canadian friends and family, more Canadianisms slip in. This was a case of nervous formality. 

"Excuse me," I'd said. "We're on a bit of a wild goose chase for the women's washroom. Do you happen to know where one is?"

Was that an awkward way to ask? Maybe.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thanksgiving break begins!

Thanksgiving week is upon us! This year we're excited to have company—Daddy's sister Emily and Katharine flew out from Utah to spend the week out in Georgia (Emily drove from Idaho to fly out from Utah). Auntie Emily's kids each selected a toy to send for our youngest four. Gavin sent a Minecraft puzzle for Benjamin, which you can see people working on below:

Speaking kind words

For Family Home Evening we talked about Emotional Intelligence (or EQ, as a counterpoint to IQ), and how to navigate certain social situations. A huge argument against homeschooling is lack of socialization, but I often wonder what sort of socialization really goes on in schools. My mom has remarked to me that she feels the experience my brother David and I had in our elementary school in Port Coquitlam had a tremendous effect on our socialization. It had such a strong focus on building community within in classrooms and between grades. It was a wonderful environment (in my opinion). 

But not all elementary schools have that same wonderful environment. Our experience at Alice M. Curtis, for example, was not the same as our time at Leigh. 

Anyway, all this is to say, that Alexander had a conflict with a couple of the neighbour kids, who began quizzing him on math facts. Now, Alexander is honestly doing very well with math. He's only in kindergarten, but is working his way through Beast Academy level 1. There's been no formal mention of multiplication in his book, though he is working on grouping numbers (which is foundational to multiplication), and knows about multiplication from his older siblings talking about it. 

"It's like double addition," he explained to me, which I wouldn't say is a correct answer, but which shows that he's at least thinking about things. 

Monday, November 20, 2023


I...wasn't going to post this because it's not my original content. It's Bill Watterson's. But I also don't want to forget this I'm posting it.

Last night after I told my mom about Phoebe's shenanigans yesterday, she said this comic popped up on her Facebook feed:

And it's possible Phoebe believes something like this with every fiber of her being.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Alexander lost a tooth! And Phoebe is a clever two-year-old...

Alexander came into our room to say good morning to us, but mostly to Andrew, since he'd come back late and Alexander hadn't seen him yet. Phoebe, who'd gotten into bed with us in the middle of the night, was also surprised to find Daddy in bed, since when I originally put her to bed, he wasn't home yet...and his presence didn't register with her since she was after one thing (milk).

Right away Andrew wanted to try pulling out Alexander's tooth. So he grabbed a tissue and...yanked it right out of Alexander's mouth.

"Wow!" exclaimed Alexander. "You pulled my tooth out! Hooray! It didn't even hurt! I'm going to go look in the mirror!"

He skipped and leaped out of our bedroom and Andrew turned his attention to Phoebe, who was apparently feeling a little mortified what just went down. Still holding the tissue (and...maybe even the tooth?) in his hand, Andrew said, "Come here, Phoebe!"

Saturday, November 18, 2023

So glad when Daddy comes home

Yesterday I was texting my sister and she was like, "How are you doing?" because that's a fairly normal thing to ask people when you're conversing. I told her that I was doing well, that Andrew had been out of town at a conference, and that I was excited for tomorrow (which is now today) because Andrew would be coming home. 

"So tonight is the last night I have to do dinner and bedtime on my own!" I said. 

Not that it's been terribly difficult. The kids have been fabulous and area typically good helpers. They cook, they clean, they play together. I mean, sure, it takes a little nagging sometimes and we've been known to experience conflict and sometimes devolve in to absolute and utter chaos, but they're altogether good kids. 

Still, it's nice to know there's a second parent around to usher kids off to bed while I'm nursing the baby (still nursing, yes...we're working on stopping but this week (when Andrew was leaving for a conference) was not the week to go cold turkey), or whatever. And...I'm really not great with dinners. 

Last night we had macaroni and cheese (from a box!) with peas and strawberries and chicken nuggets. 

"You really girl-dinner'ed us all, didn't you?" Rachel joked when she saw dinner.

She was busy finishing up all her school assignments, so didn't help much with dinner preparation (though Miriam was a huge help). 

Anyway, I texted my sister that last night would be my last night flying solo because Andrew would be coming home on Saturday, and as I sat there eating dinner with my kids I realized that while it's true Andrew would be coming home on would not be until well after bedtime. So I have another dinner and bedtime ahead of me. 

But this will be the last one on my own. For a while.

Not that it's been terribly difficult! Not only are my bigger kids helping out with the littler kids, we also have Grandpa! He had Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander over for movie nights on both Thursday and Friday evenings, and then this morning he picked Zoë and Benjamin up on the tail end of his bike ride and they all rode down to the park together. 

Alexander desperately wanted to ride with them, but he's still pretty fresh and new on his wheels, so I drove him down to the park, where we met up with everyone else, and then he got to ride around the pond with Grandpa five times before we stopped to play for a bit.

Here he is zipping along, with Zoë (in orange) and Grandpa (in yellow) and a random jogger (in black) behind him (sorry, random jogger):

Friday, November 17, 2023

Phoebe's birthday balloons

Alexander and Zoë got to work making birthday balloons early, so there are several from them. Zoë even made a balloon to look like Daniel Tiger!

Here's an acrostic from Alexander:

Persenoll sister!
Hallurs sister!
Omega love!
Exoqsnen love!
Being fun!
Extrodenery love!

My best guess about what this says:

Personal sister
Hilarious sister
Omega love
Exhaustion love
Being fun
Extraordinary love

Why it says all those things, I can't say...except that they do spell out Phoebe's name from top to bottom.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Here's to our dairy-areas!

I don't drink milk with dinner. Do people drink milk with dinner? I have never drunk milk with dinner.

This evening we pulled some leftover dal from the freezer, warmed it up, cooked some rice, roasted some green beans, toasted some naan, and sliced a cucumber. That was dinner. 

Also, because we were feeling fancy (and we have some lemons that needed to be used), we had lemon water. Technically lemon and basil water (because basil and mint are in the same family and it seemed like a good move; it wasn't half bad). 

We had protein in our beans and lentils, plenty of vegetables to go around, and some grains that probably could have been less processed than they were, but...all in all, not a bad meal.

In the middle of dinner, Alexander asked if we could please pass the pitcher so he could get his "dairy" in, and thus round out his nutritional needs for the day.

We passed the pitcher of water in stunned silence. 

"Hey, buddy," Rachel finally said. "Could you...could you define for me what dairy means to you?"

"Well, dairy is...dairy is...ummmm...*hic* dairy *hic* is *hic* ummmm..."

When he starts *hic*ing we know he's having trouble getting his thoughts out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Biking, Running, Raking

Last night Andrew carefully cleaned the kitchen, then washed a few loads of laundry—including about every pair of underwear Phoebe-girl owns because she had a terrible potty day yesterday. He wanted to be sure to leave for his conference with things feeling under control...instead of feeling wildly out of control (because that's sort of how they were feeling yesterday).

Today I folded those loads of laundry and Phoebe had a great potty day. She even emptied her potty into the big toilet by herself. Twice.

Emptying her little potty is like the best thing in Phoebe's life right now. 

She's expressly forbidden from doing so, but if I leave her sitting on the potty for a minute, or if she decides to take herself without telling anybody first...she finishes her business as fast as she can, hops off the potty, grabs the little...chamber pot...and sprints down the hallway to the bathroom. 


The first time she managed to do this was yesterday (though she'd made several attempts before). Today she did it twice. I'm sure it's just going to be a thing she does now (thank goodness she's pretty good at it), so it might be time to teach her how to use the big potty so we can eliminate the current scenario of "freshly minted two-year-old sprints down hallway carrying container of pee."

Next up on her list of things to do is flushing the toilet. I know this because she tries every time she empties her potty by herself and every time she uses the big potty (at church, for example). So far she hasn't been able to physically manage it, but she certainly knows where the flusher is and wants to do it. I folded the laundry, homeschooled the kids, worked on grad school applications (because I'm a glutton for punishment), took the kids for a walk/bike ride...and then decided to remove Alexander's training wheels and teach him how to ride a two-wheeler.

It took him all of thirty seconds to figure out how to balance while pedaling. I was seriously impressed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Oh, deer...

The deer sure have been active in our neighbourhood recently, so we have to be extra cautious when driving in the dark (and during the day as well, I suppose, but especially at night (let's just say it's good to always drive carefully)). 

Here's a deer we spotted while out on a run this morning:

Monday, November 13, 2023

Phoebe is TWO!


Phoebe has been not-so-patiently waiting for her turn to have a birthday. It was quite the long wait for her, too, since her birthday is the very last one in the calendar year. I'm not sure what knowledge she remembered about birthdays prior to this year (though somehow she already knows a troubling amount of information about Santa—mostly that there is a man named Santa, who is very recognizable in his suit of red, who is supposed to bring her exciting presents. Why does she know this? I can't say. But she does), but she was reintroduced to the idea of birthdays on Zoë's birthday in May and she instantly fell in love with the idea. 

Presents? Cake? Everybody singing to you in an adoring fashion?

These were traditions she could get behind!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Say Cheese!

And just because Alexander was mostly missing from my last post, here's a picture of him and Phoebe sitting on "the nursing chair" waiting for me to finish something up a few days ago. I had just taken a picture of my pink cat (because it's a cat) and they were like, "Take a picture of me, too!"

Phoebe's getting pretty good at flashing cheesy grins for the camera (when she wants to).

Sunday, Sunday!

All the big people in our house woke up feeling poorly (as we expected), but Andrew managed to make it to ward council and the rest of us managed to get ready for church on time. We lost a few battles with Phoebe, who ended up wearing her Grogu dress and Alexander's owl sweater, rather than any of her sweet, frilly frocks, but we made it to church early enough for prelude (which is important since Miriam and Andrew are the organists).

Here's Zoë reading a story to Phoebe while I was finishing getting ready to go, myself:

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Wolf, goat, cabbage

Last night, Andrew informed me that he made appointments for us to get the most recent COVID booster today. And thank goodness for that!

At the beginning of the month we were going over our calendar and I was explaining all the appointments we had in November. I was going to take the kids to the doctor in sets of two (because our clinic only allows two children per appointment): Rachel & Zoë, then Benjamin & Alexander, and finally Miriam & Phoebe.

"Oh, and I need to schedule appointments for our flu and COVID shots," Andrew said. 

"Dad schedules your appointment for you?" the kids laughed.

"Hey, it's all about mental load," I said. "I can only do so much. By the time I've made appointments for all of you, I've about maxed out on my ability to make appointments."

"So, yes, I usually make appointments for Mom to get her vaccinations. I take care of her because she is busy taking care of all of you."

Economies of scale

I can't believe Phoebe is going to turn two in just two days! Lucky for her, she loves the number two!

Here's a little video of Phoebe from October 26 (the day after Miriam's birthday, when we were just getting the bunk bed set up in the girls' room):

First she reminds herself to be "careful," only she says it more like "waffle." Then she starts counting her steps. "One step! Two step!" And then later she realizes that she can count her steps a different way and starts counting how many slats she's skipping. You can hear her say, "One step, two step, two step, three!" (only she says "tee" instead of "three").

She has been so excited for her birthday! It's been hard for her to watch everybody else have a birthday because we never celebrate her birthday. Fortunately, we will celebrate it on Monday. She's excited for cake and presents and singing the Happy Birthday song.

Here we are singing together a little bit before bed: 

And, yes, at the end she's asking to nurse. So clearly she's not weaned yet, but we're working on it. I'm not sure that it will happy by her second birthday, but I'm positive it will happen before her third (like, way before her third). 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Autumn days

Our fall has felt so mild this year...but honestly hasn't seemed very colourful until the past few days. Now the trees really seem to be putting on their reds and yellows.

Thursday, November 09, 2023


I just finished reading Pax: Journey Home (by Sara Pennypacker) and it was such a beautiful story, and such a lovely time for me to finish reading it since it deals with themes of death and loss (and today is the five-year anniversary of Karen's death) and also of the importance of being true to yourself. 

I'll try to not give away too much of the story (if you read it, read plain ol' Pax first (the first book)), but essentially what Peter tells himself he needs is...not what Peter needs. I think that is so interesting—that a person can be adamant about what they want, about what they need, and that...that thing that they want can be detrimental to themselves and others. Part of Peter's journey was truly figuring out what he needed out of life, who he needed in his life, what to do with his life. 

The ending of the book was very touching (it's been a while since a book has made me choke up), but I especially appreciated this line from one of the Peter chapters, after he decides on a course opposite of how his father advised him to deal with the very situation he found himself in. He says (or, rather, the narrator says):

"Maybe [this thing] would have been the right thing for his father to do, but it wasn't the right thing for him.... If that was a disappointment to his father, or to anyone, well, it didn't matter. It was his life, and he had to live it" (p. 227–228).

Instead, Peter ends up doing "the right thing for him" (p. 235), which is ultimately the most important thing to do in your life—the right thing. The right thing is rarely the selfish thing. Peter tried being selfish, he tried looking out only for himself...and that wasn't it. That wasn't right for him. In order to be truly happy, Peter had about others and be cared for in return. And I only share that part because I was expecting that to be the case from the very beginning (and it was the case, thank goodness, but how Peter got there was beautiful). 


What do you think you're doing? PART TWO

You know when you move and you unpack everything and get the house all set up and yet somehow there's, like, still a box of two left to unpack and you just can't unpack them and then suddenly it's been like four or five years or whatever and the box is still just sitting there?

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Imperfect perceptions

Last night I wore what I thought was a grey sweater to the church, but when I walked into the chapel I gasped and said, "Oh, my goodness! This sweater is blue!"

"Yeah?" Rachel said. "It's always been blue."

"I thought it was grey!"

"I mean it's kind of grey, but definitely blue. It's a blue-ish grey, but I've always thought it was blue."

"Huh. I just always thought this sweater was grey..."

It was a little unsettling to suddenly realize I'd been seeing my sweater wrong this whole time.

We—people—know that perceptions differ. There are several examples where people have debated the colour of photographs of various clothing items (a rather mundane thing to argue about, and yet...our perception is important enough to us that we will enter online debates about it).

Is the dress black and blue, or white and gold

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

What do you think you're doing?

I went to mutual with the girls this evening. Miriam made an arrangement of O Little Town of Bethlehem and the young women agreed to sing it for her (Miriam will be playing the piano), but there are are few girls (four tonight) that Miriam decided it would be best if mothers (and aunts, in one case) sang with the young women. We ended up with, as I said, four girls (only three singing), two mothers, an aunt, and three young women leaders. And...we did okay! I think we'll feel pretty confident by Christmas.

On the way home from mutual we made a stop to grab some material that was offered on the Buy Nothing Group. I told the giver that we'd be coming in the evening after our church youth group; she told me she'd leave the porch light on, and that we could just go through and take what we'd like.

And so, there we were, on a dark—but mild—November evening, hunched over a laundry basket full of material on a stranger's front porch. We rifled through the stash at this questionable hour, oohing and ahhing over what was available, when a man walking two dogs rapidly approached us. 

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?!" he said in a tone that was...not gruff, precisely, but certainly accusatory. 

"Oh!" I squeaked out, a little bit nervous about what was going to go down (we live in America, after all, and I'm afraid of guns...and neighbourhood vigilantes). "We're just part of this Buy Nothing Group on Facebook and the woman who lives here..."

Monday, November 06, 2023

Phoebe's speech

Phoebe's vocabulary has been exploding recently, though she's rather big on metathesis and assimilation so can be difficult to understand at times. 

Boots was once "boops" and then became "doots" (two examples of assimilation there—first she turned the final /t/ to a /p/, matching the initial /b/ and then she over corrected and turned the /b/ to a /d/ to match the final /t/). 

Ironically, when she tried to say "book," she would front her /k/ so it actually came out sounding as "boot."

"Read boot!" 

"Put on boops!"

More recently boots are boots, but book is still boot. We kind of have to go off context sometimes.

Today Phoebe wanted to shower with me, but metathesizes the word so it comes out "yeah, sure."

Shower = yeah-sure (ya-shur)

Zoë = O-zee

Alex = Aksay


Rachel, Miriam, and I took Phoebe for a walk this afternoon and came across one of our neighbourhood hawks. I actually have no idea what kind of hawk it is—the kind that likes to sit out in the open and then fly across our path while we're out walking. So some sort of show-off variety of hawk, as it seems. 

It has flown directly across our path more times than we can count.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

The basement!

After two solid months of being in flux, I'm pleased to announce that our basement is finally ready for action. We have things more or less as we'd like them in both the "main room," storage room, and "LEGO room." We sorted through nearly everything we had down there, gifted a lot of things on the Buy Nothing Group (including—fortuitously—a box full of broken dollhouse furniture that I had weeded out from our collection; I was all set to throw it away when I saw someone asking for dollhouse furniture for a diorama their child had to make for school so I sent them a picture of what I had (broken bits and all) and they said they'd take it!), threw out some things that had outlived their usefulness and...we're quite pleased with the results.

Here's a view of the main room (looking toward the stairwell):

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Filthy the Clown

Last year—or perhaps even the year before?—our neighbours put out an animatronics clown figurine on their front yard. Taller than your average human, this clown looms over passersby and lunges at them while cackling and singing ghastly nursery rhymes, like, "Roses are red, violets are blue, you'd better run or I'm gonna get you!"

Needless to say, there were some among our party who were more frightened than others by this massive decoration. We couldn't really have Alexander screaming every time we walked past (never you mind about the werewolf on the other street that would start howling when we walked by) or we'd never get around the block, so we made up a back story for the clown to help him accept the clown as part of our neighbourhood.

"He just needs a name," Rachel decided. "Let's call him...Fil, short for...Filthy!"

Friday, November 03, 2023

October Birthday Balloons

A few of us (Zoë, Benjamin, me, and maybe even Phoebe) wrote birthday balloons for Alexander on time for his birthday, but the rest of us...didn't. Rachel and Miriam were coming home for dinner but otherwise were more or less living at Grandpa's house, life was generally pretty hectic through mid-October, and we didn't formally get around to writing birthday balloons until Miriam's birthday.

So below are both sets of October birthday balloons. First we have Alexander's...

From Zoë:

Especially kind

Happy birthday to you! Love ya, Alex!

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Skinny minnie

I took Rachel and Zoë to the doctor for their (somewhat) annual check ups today. My kids all go in the fall because we've always needed a physical for school paperwork when moving...and have always moved in the summer right before school starts. I suppose we would have needed to go in to become "established" patients at a clinic, anyway. You can't wait to become an established patient, otherwise you might not be able to snag a sick-child visit when you need one right? So, they all went in for physicals in the fall after moving here, but then their visit dates have been creeping later and later in the calendar year because insurance will only cover one well-child visit in a 12-month period. 

So last year Rachel and Zoë had their doctor appointment late in October. But this year they had it on November 2 instead. The next batch of kids to go will be Alexander and Benjamin. And finally (at the very end of November) Phoebe and Miriam. 

Soon we'll be taking the kids to the doctor in December, I'm sure! 

I understand the policy regarding only one well-child visit annually. I just wish they were a little more chill about the dates. Like, maybe have a policy that well-child visits must average out to be 1 per year and must not be closer than 340 days to the last visit...or something. That way it would be possible to keep the appointment more or less around the same date each year—or if you get off for some reason, you can get back on your preferred date later.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Creating Costumes (and the Fall Festival)

Even though it creates a little more stress for me in October...and September...and sometimes even of my favourite parts about Halloween is helping the kids with their costumes. Sometimes they know what they want to be a year in advance and other times they change their minds over and over again. Typically (at least I tell myself), homemade costumes are cheaper than storebought costumes, but what I really value is the chance to be a bit creative.

The most expensive costume was probably Alexander's costume since we used pages from a printout of my thesis as one of the layers of his papier-mâché hat—what a good use for them!

Here he is getting ready to paint his teapot hat grey:

Doll's Head Trail

We've been reading Shakespeare since the beginning of the school year. We began with Julius Caesar, then read Comedy of Errors. Next was Macbeth (and then we watched The Tragedy of Macbeth...with the older kids) and Taming of a Shrew (and then we watched Ten Things I Hate About You...with the older kids). We've been reading Hamlet this past month, which we'll follow up with something a little lighter before moving on to Romeo and Juliet or King Lear or something. It's been fun to read these plays out loud together, in a way that a novel doesn't really allow (though we also read novels aloud together), and explore Shakespeare's language (and all the phrases we still use today like "to send someone packing" and "to catch someone's drift"). 

As we've been approaching Halloween, the kids have wanted to read spooky plays. We tried Macbeth and that was a little spooky, with the witches and all their "double, double toil and trouble" speeches. But Hamlet—it just gets straight into being a ghost story from the get-go. And the descent into madness is much more...charming...than Macbeth's. 

For example, the kids got a kick out of this exchange:

HAMLET: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

POLONIUS: By th’ mass and ’tis, like a camel indeed.

HAMLET: Methinks it is like a weasel.

POLONIUS: It is back’d like a weasel.

HAMLET: Or like a whale.

POLONIUS: Very like a whale.

I mean, Hamlet was going over the top at this point, but still. There have been some very funny passages. Miriam loves reading for Hamlet.

Anyway, Hamlet has been a wonderful read to get us ready for Halloween (not that Macbeth was bad; I'm sure that was also helpful). 

One morning while we were talking about other spooky Halloween things we could do with corn maze tickets sitting around $15–20+ per person and haunted houses a little too enthusiastically scary for our crowd, I needed to find something that was both cheaper and tamer. 

Doll's Head Trail fit the bill!

It was a bit of a drive (over in DeKalb county, nearer to the airport than to our house), but it was free and only mildly creepy (especially given the beautiful weather we had that day). 

It was a little...sketchy...from the beginning, with a broken-down boardwalk and a hand-drawn sign directing us to a skinny dirt trail through the woods.