Sunday, December 10, 2023
Saturday, December 09, 2023
On the way downtown (well, technically only to midtown), we heard the following conversations from the back seat...
Miriam: Can you count to five?
Phoebe: 1, 2, 3, 4! 1, 2, 3, 4! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!!!
Me: She’s learning at a very rapid pace. Just a few weeks ago she could hardly string two words together, remember?
Andrew: I know!
Phoebe: Uuuuuuhhhh blaaaah ugggghhhaaaa maaaaa!
Andrew: And…then there’s that…
Thursday, December 07, 2023
Today Phoebe got into a box of Kleenex, but she only pulled out enough tissues to use as blankets for each of the little dolls she was playing with. Once everyone was comfortably tucked into their makeshift beds on the couch she stopped pulling out tissues.
Before when she'd get into a box of Kleenex it was to pull every last tissue out of the box and shred it all over the living room floor. Eventually she figured out that was a no-no and figured out they were only for noses, so she'd help herself to one every time she felt like blowing her nose (and she felt like blowing her nose as often as she got a hankering to yank a tissue out of the box, believe me).
But now? Now she's playing make-believe.
And that's how I know my baby's growing up.
Tuesday, December 05, 2023
Today Alexander chose to do his science reading with a laptop open beside him so he could verify facts because in his book he read that baby hedgehogs were called hoglets and that didn't feel very true to him because while he's heard of piglets, he hasn't really heard of hoglets before. But the internet confirmed that baby hedgehogs are often called hoglets and he felt better about verifying that fact.
Benjamin, meanwhile, was perplexed because in a math problem he solved a few days ago it said that $1 was equal to ¥90 and today a different math problem told him that $1 was equal to ¥80. We researched a bit about how exchange rates change (usually once per day) and what factors might affect that change.
In fact, today $1 is worth approximately ¥147.
Monday, December 04, 2023
I didn't take many pictures while we were working on our Shrinky Dink ornaments this evening because I was so busy working on my own...and trying to keep Phoebe from wreaking havoc. Here's one of Miriam putting some Mod Podge glaze on Alexander's ornament:
Phoebe has discovered the joy of tutus. She has found so much joy in them, in fact, that she needed to wear one to bed last night.
Saturday, December 02, 2023
Miriam baked cookies yesterday, experimented with flow icing last night, and this afternoon she whipped up some buttercream and allowed her siblings to finish decorating the cookies she had leftover. The cookies turned out great (I'm sure Miriam has pictures of her beautiful creations on Instagram) and the kids had a lot of fun together.
Thursday, November 30, 2023
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.
Me: *knock, knock* Hey, who's in the 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
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
Sunday, November 26, 2023
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).
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
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
Thursday, November 23, 2023
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:
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
The man we asked stared at me for a minute in complete confusion.
"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?"
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
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 comic...so 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:
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Friday, November 17, 2023
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:
My best guess about what this says:
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
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
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.
Anyway...today 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
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 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
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).
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
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."
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):
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.
Friday, November 10, 2023
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 to...care 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).
Wednesday, November 08, 2023
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
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
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.
Sunday, November 05, 2023
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
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
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...
Happy birthday to you! Love ya, Alex!
Thursday, November 02, 2023
Wednesday, November 01, 2023
Even though it creates a little more stress for me in October...and September...and sometimes even August...one 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:
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.
Monday, October 30, 2023
October has been a rather busy month, and Miriam was rightly particularly worried about the week of her birthday. Last Sunday the youth had their Worldwide Testimony Meeting. Miriam played the piano for that at our building. We also had to be at the stake center earlier in the day for a musical rehearsal. Miriam and I both participated in Women at the Well, a musical production by Kenneth Cope, and although most of our meetings were via Zoom (so we had a number of Zoom meetings to attend), we also had to get Miriam together with the soloist she played for.
That performance was this Sunday. Miriam played Daughter, Arise. I was a narrator.
Miriam (and Zoë) also had their fall festival for piano on Saturday, for which they both had to play a number of memorized scales and pieces.
Also, we had our ward Halloween party scheduled for Friday night and a multi-stake dance scheduled for Saturday night.
Also, the youth were in charge of games for the ward party, so on Tuesday night they were supposed to meet to continue preparing for their game stations. Last week they met and made monster posters to go over the corn hole game and talked about other activities they could do—like doughnuts on a string and things like that.
Instead, they had their own little Halloween party this week because for some reason our ward party was moved from Friday night to Saturday night. They announced this on Sunday and...it caused a bit of a stir because everyone had already planned out their weekend with the ward party on Friday evening. There was some discussion about whether or not the youth should "sacrifice" attending the dance in favour of running games stations at the ward party, but I told my older girls that was ridiculous and encouraged them to go to the dance.
Serve others...and don't be a doormat.
Like, there are only a handful of youth in our ward. It's good for them to get out and mingle with other youth in our church who aren't in our ward. If the conflicting dates had been a question weeks earlier, I might have encouraged my girls to be of service at the ward party, but...to have the rug yanked out from under them mere days before the dance, when they'd all been excited about their costumes and everything? I don't think so.
They're still kids and kids get to be kids.
Anyway, we had all of that going on the week of Miriam's birthday...plus Miriam's birthday. And the fact that we were just moving the girls from Grandpa's house to our house. And the fact that we were still due to get our carpet installed. In fact, the carpet was scheduled to be installed on Miriam's birthday!
(Unfortunately, the installers' van broke down so they weren't able to make our appointment and rescheduled for the following day. Miriam is still counting it as her most expensive birthday gift, however).
Here she is standing in her freshly vacuumed room that has a real ceiling, fresh carpet, an actual closet, and a door. It's like a real room!
Rachel spoke in church today...finally. She was supposed to give a talk in June, I think, but we were going to be in Utah, so they rescheduled her for a bit later. But then they spontaneously changed around our stake presidency (a member of the stake presidency, who was from our ward, had just submitted mission papers and was being released so he and his wife could go on their mission, and another person from our ward was called into the presidency), and this reorganization meeting just happened to occur the week Rachel had been rescheduled to speak, so her talk was postponed once again.
So, yes, finally this week was the week she had to speak in church.
You'd think with so much notice she'd have had her talk ready well in advance, but no. She wrote it at midnight after coming home from a multi-stake youth dance in Athens (Grandpa drove the girls and a friend out there, and we are so grateful).
She had had a lot of time to brainstorm about her talk, though, so it was easier to write than if she hadn't even been thinking about it...but still!
Here's her talk (she read it all in about 2 minutes flat, so she was really zooming through it):
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Thursday, October 26, 2023
The thing about setting goals, in my opinion, is that the best time to start is now (not next week, not next year). So in that spirit, I offer the following story of Phoebe, who is forever getting into food (and everything else, for that matter).
She recently learned how to operate the water and ice dispenser in the fridge, for example, so while she's somehow always been able to coerce several people to give her a drink of water (and ice!) and thus end up with several cups of water sitting out all over creation, her independence has exacerbated this issue. We now have cups of ice/water sitting out all over creation. I have tripped on cups on the stairs, in the middle of the hallway. They've been knocked off stools and counters and benches. The child goes through as many cups as she possibly can.
So thank goodness her siblings have figured out the "coaster system." We don't use the coasters because we care about surfaces so much, but because using a dedicated unique coaster helps everyone else remember which cup they've been using. So everyone else uses one cup per day and Phoebe uses...20 or so.
The solution here might be to own fewer cups, but I digress.
I think I'll attempt NaBloPoMo this year, to help me get back in the habit of sharing stories more regularly. I never imagined I might fall out of that habit, but also feel like I sort of have. Not entirely, of course, but just a little bit. So many other things are eating up my time, so many things are weighing heavily on my mind. Like, for example the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the war between Russia and Ukraine, tonight's mass shooting in Maine. It can be hard for anything to hold a candle to the news sometimes.
This is a picture I took of Zoë on October 16; she and I had gone outside to entertain Phoebe and I was feeling like my entire life was frivolous (given the news), while also a pretty big mess. But we had a fun time blowing bubbles together.
Monday, October 23, 2023
I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints...
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Thursday, October 19, 2023
That doesn't sound like a lot once it's all written out. I think what's overwhelming is knowing we have to move everything back to where we ultimately want it (and need to finish putting carpet in the LEGO room).
Sunday, October 15, 2023
As I may have mentioned, Rachel and Miriam have been staying at Grandpa's house while we've been under construction over here. It's given us a little taste of what life might be like in the next five years or so, with both those girls grown and gone. And, really, it hasn't been so bad...but only because they're still close enough to come home for dinner.
They'll be happy to be back in their own room (soon), I'm sure.
The last couple of nights, Rachel has stayed late working on Alexander's birthday cake, requiring rides home (to Grandpa's house) in the wee hours of the morning. I drove her home on Thursday night. Andrew drove her home last night.
It's really kind of a strange dynamic we have at our house lately.
But Alexander's cake turned out beautifully. He requested an owl-shaped cake, which he felt would be a challenge for Rachel, who prefers to make round cakes. It would help her expand her skillset, he told her—help her grow in ways she didn't think she could.
And it was a challenge that allowed her to explore several new techniques.
Anyway, when Rachel and Miriam turned up at the house this morning, Alexander took one look at them and said, "PRESENTS!"
So that's what we did.
Miriam had helped wrap presents one evening when she was here late and we had them set out in the music room the last couple of days. Alexander mentioned that he decided for his birthday he might like to have some presents and I said, "Too bad. I don't think we have any of those."
"Can't I just have those presents?" he asked, pointing to the stack of presents.
"Oh, those presents? I guess so," I said.
Here he is ready to open presents this morning:
Thursday, October 12, 2023
We had planned to go hiking this week, but instead we're just hanging around at home while our house is being prettied up. Today our contractor worked on the roof because rain had been leaking through the roof, running down the walls, and pooling inside the walls downstairs.
Our roof was disclosed as "new within 5 years" in our paperwork, but apparently the previous owners just slapped new shingles on top of the old shingles. The old shingles were already old and tired in this particular "valley" of our roof and the new shingles were (according to our contractor) installed poorly—they bent them rather than overlapping them at an angle...or something...which compromised their integrity from the get-go. So, anyway, the new shingles soon cracked, the old shingles were cracked and no one thought to put any flashing down in this corner, so the wood was all rotting away.
But! It's fixed now, so all the rain water we're getting tonight (and we're getting plenty) should be running off the roof instead of inside our house.
Tomorrow they're fixing some of our siding that is rotting (in this corner where all the rainwater was leaking through our house instead of...not) and they'll be putting up drywall soon. And then we can paint and get new carpet and stick the girls back in there.
And then we can go hiking.
Today I just took the kids to the park and we did a very little walk there. Rachel's taking geology this semester and she's supposed to go out and identify rocks. This week she's supposed to be looking for sedimentary rocks. I'm not sure we found any...but maybe we'll be able to sneak away for a hike this weekend.
Here are the kids all balancing on a log for me:
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Last night while the older girls were at mutual and the middle kids were playing with friends, Phoebe and I spent some time playing outside. She'd grabbed an apple while I was tidying things up after dinner and kept on munching it down to the core (which was a welcome change from her usual bite-and-discard-and-grab-another method of eating apples). She took it on a walk around the block and then carried it about as we played at home.
More than anything, she wanted some time in her car. She's figured out that she needs to keep her feet up if she wants to be pushed around by someone else, and she's figured out how to use her own two feet to push herself backwards (she loves travelling backwards and will often walk backwards just...to walk backwards), but when you're travelling by car, sometimes it's nice to move forwards.
Fortunately, we live on a rather steep hill and Phoebe discovered that if she goes backwards up the hill, gravity will happily push her down the hill (going forwards). She went up and down the hill several times, clever little girl!
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
I have been so exhausted since finishing my thesis—like I just can hardly bring myself to do anything. To be fair, since finishing my thesis I went to Canada, had my basement flood, and our family has been sick for about a month. I also finished all the revisions for a paper that was just accepted for publication. I've been reading and researching a bit more to turn parts of my thesis into parts of a book proposal. I have also finished a couple of crochet projects and learned how to knit. Oh, and I'm teaching a ukulele class to a group of middle school boys (and one girl) and am still homeschooling the kids. And (daytime) potty trained Phoebe. And...and...and...
Okay. So perhaps I've accomplished a few things. I still just feel like I could sleep for a month.
Anyway, Miriam taught me how to knit—and she was a wonderful teacher! She recently taught her fellow young women to knit over a series of evenings. They all made little square swatches that they plan to piece together to a make a little garland to hang in the Young Women's room. So Miriam had had a bit of practice showing others how to knit before she took me on as a pupil.
I was an anxious student because I had tried to learn to knit when I was much younger—around eight years old. Since my mom didn't know how to knit, she had procured a teacher for me, a woman in our ward who seemed to me to already be quite ancient: Sister Laura Vezeau. She was in her mid-seventies and all I knew about her was that (1) she was a widow, (2) she loved music and played the piano for primary, (3) she didn't drive, and (4) apparently she knew how to knit because my mom was taking me to her house so that she could teach me how to knit, too.
For several weeks I met with Sister Vezeau and she did her best to work me through the process of catching loops and yarning over and sliding loops from one hook to the other, and in the end I had a sloppy mess filled with dropped stitches, without ever quite being clear on what a knit was versus what a purl was. We never even got to casting off.
I think I was quite a depressing student to teach, so slow to catch on was I.