Saturday, March 25, 2023
On the same day in March...
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Skinks and daffodils
Sunday, March 19, 2023
Georgia Children's Lit
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Today during my class, Benjamin caught an anole and named it Jake...or Jack...or Jeff. He honestly can't remember. But that's okay because upon further inspection it was decided the lizard might be a female. Maybe. It's hard to tell the gender of lizards.
So now we're calling it Sam.
Here they are together:
Sunday, March 12, 2023
More sleep success
Friday, March 10, 2023
I'm a great aunt (again)!
Thursday, March 09, 2023
Say what you will about sleep training—and I do because I'm of the opinion that some babies (see Zoë for exhibit A) are much more difficult to convince that sleep is beautiful than others (see Miriam for exhibit B)—but I've been working hard at sleep training Phoebe (who is more like Zoë than like Miriam) the past little while.
And—wonder of wonders—she seems to finally be figuring out that sleeping is (a) a thing we do every night and (b) a thing that she can appreciate.
I don't want to brag, but...tonight when I put her to bed she got up and started playing around in her bed right away and I told her to lie down and go to sleep and she didn't listen. (Okay, there was honestly nothing to brag about in that sentence...anyway...) So then I told her that if she wasn't going to try to go to sleep I'd have to leave and I got up, walked out of her room, closed the door, and played a round of Boggle on my phone.
It's like a timer, but more entertaining (and makes it so I can ignore all the screaming she does).
And then I opened her door and she ran back to her bed and lay down as quickly as she could. I gave her some hugs and kisses and reminded her that Momma was always nearby (my office is just across the hall), but that I couldn't sit beside her while she fell asleep if she was going to get up and play. So if she wanted me there she had to lie down and be still.
It still took her several minutes to fall asleep, but she did it!
That's the first time I've only had to leave her room once.
All the other nights this week have been a scream-filled circus. Though last night it only took three times.
She still got up a couple of times last night and climbed into bed with us sometime in the middle of the night, but we're going to count this as a bedtime win.
At 16 months, Phoebe has finally accepted that bedtime is a thing we just...do.
Sunday, March 05, 2023
Phoebe and puddles
We had some big storm systems roll through recently. We were on tornado watch all day on Friday...and once again we didn't breathe a word of this to Alexander since a tornado watch simply means that conditions are ripe for tornadoes, not that there's one ripping around the neighbourhood (that's what a tornado warning is when we take action).
Here are a couple of pictures of Zoë and Phoebe from before the storm hit:
Snapping turtles and great blue herons
Wednesday, March 01, 2023
Things that dangle upside down
Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe.
She is a going concern from the minute she wakes up to the minute she falls asleep (and then wakes up and falls asleep and wakes up and falls asleep and wakes up until the morning). She is always getting into something (very often that "something" is trouble).
She draws on stuff, she climbs on stuff, she's still constantly trying to eat stuff. She follows me around just...getting into stuff and trouble. It's all I can do to keep up with her.
Here she is climbing on her little jungle gym:
Monday, February 27, 2023
Cannoli, Monkeys, and Arma-darn-dillos
Andrew made cannoli last night. He fried them in coconut oil, but in order to access the coconut oil he needed to open a new container. Miriam brought it up from the basement but couldn't open it. I couldn't open. So Andrew sighed, washed his hands off (they were covered in dough), and then tried to open the container. He couldn't.
I held the container while he twisted the lid...no action.
Finally, I sat on the floor and gripped the container with my feet and hands while Andrew twisted with all of his might and...we were in!
After dinner when we were talking about all the work we went through to open that container of coconut oil—a story we had to share with Rachel, who is our resident jar-opener—Andrew said, "But, you know, it just makes sense that it would take us six limbs to open a jar of coconut oil because coconuts come from tropical places like jungles and monkeys live in jungles."
We all stared at Andrew waiting for him to continue this thought.
He did not continue.
Instead he stared at the rest of us staring at him while he waited for us to "get" it.
We did not get anything.
Finally I said, "What do monkeys have to do with this?"
"Well, because they have six limbs."
"Do...do you...do you think monkeys have six limbs?"
"They do not. They have four."
"Are you sure?"
"They're not insects, Dad!" Rachel nearly screamed.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Last week Benjamin began complaining of pains in his belly.
He's our kid who's always complaining about something hurting. For years he'd come to us nightly about pain in his right elbow, then his left, pain in his big toe, pain in his shoulder, now his knee hurts, now his wrist. And we'd always just tell him they were growing pains and that he should just go to sleep (since that's when bodies do a lot of their growing and healing).
Usually this ended up fine because there wasn't anything wrong.
Once he complained about his neck hurting before bed and I was like, "Huh. Well, I'm sure it will feel better in the morning." And then he woke up with a majorly swollen neck because apparently he'd been stung by a bee earlier in the day and it was really starting to bother him. And then I felt really bad that I'd ignored his complaints.
But it's kind of hard not to when he unleashes his nightly litany of agonies.
Now, it just so happens that after I got an ice pack for his neck, I hopped onto Facebook to confess to the world what an inattentive, unsympathetic mother I am.
I like to think that I'm fairly cognizant of my faults—there are many of them! And I know I've made a ridiculous—though honestly probably about average—number of bad calls about things. And, you know, I just like to keep things real.
Things at this house can get pretty...wild.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
In our chemistry textbook, the little kids and I were just learning about the pH scale, so on Monday (which I guess was technically a holiday) we made our own pH indicator juice from red cabbage (and it was totally okay that we spent the morning doing schoolwork because the kids spent about six hours outside in the afternoon so it's not like they didn't enjoy their "vacation" day).
One set of instructions said to soak the cabbage in boiling water. The other said to use cold water (I think to keep it very kid-friendly and completely risk-free). We tried both ways and found that the hot water was a lot more effective (and talked about why this would be the case—what with all those molecules bouncing around energetically). Here's Miriam and Benjamin mashing the cabbage leaves:
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Please, sir, I want s'more...
Since getting our fire pit, Rachel and Miriam have used it with their friends twice and we have used it as a family zero times.
I guess, technically, we helped the kids each roast a marshmallow for a s'more over the weekend before giving the fire to the girls. But the littler kids have been desperate to have a fire pit night.
"Cant we have a fire tonight?" they begged at dinner.
"No," Miriam said gruffly. "It's a school night."
"Ahem," Andrew cleared his throat to assert his dominance. "Sure. We can have a fire tonight."
Because who's parenting here, anyway?
So we called Grandpa to ask if he wanted to come over and then cleaned up from dinner and got ready to build a fire. Part of getting ready involved Andrew and Rachel driving to the store to pick up some more marshmallows and things...but we eventually got the fire going and the kids were so excited to sit around the fire, eat s'mores, and chat.
Grandpa told us about his baptism day—when his mom filled his ears with Vaseline and cotton balls to keep them from getting wet because he'd only recently had "buttons" put in his ears (like tubes, I guess, but in the 60s) so he couldn't get his ears wet. He said he felt like he had Vaseline in his ears for days after that.
We told some other stories, too, about his first few times driving—and getting passed on the highway by a car full of nuns, much to Grandpa Frank's chagrin.
Phoebe was a bit of a menace and wanted to play in the fire, but no one would let her and that made her feel grumpy. She was up all day (from 8:30 am or so until...she took a 15 minute nap around 2 pm...and then she was up until about 12:30 am...and I don't know how we're ever supposed to get anything accomplished around here). I thought for sure she'd be easy to put to bed tonight because we spent all day outside...but clearly I was wrong.
Anyway, here's this picture of Alexander, who got a little bit sticky:
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Two years of daffodils
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Wet the drys, dry the wets...
Andrew made some delicious pretzels for dinner this evening.
There's a meme about how making pasta is all about wetting the dry stuff and then drying the wet stuff over and over again. We make pasta from scratch enough for this to be quite funny: wet the drys, dry the wets, wet the drys, dry the wets, wet the drys...
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Draw near with your lips
We've been having some rough homeschooling days lately (rough as in "let's take three hours to do a page of simple math problems" rough), so we're trying some new methods to promote some personal responsibility (or motivation? or something) and...we'll see how things go tomorrow.
Phoebe has also been suffering a bit of a sleep regression recently, which is to say that we're all completely miserable over here because even her best sleeping isn't fabulous. But she's just about finished cutting her seventh tooth and then perhaps she will simmer down a bit.
Then again, perhaps not.
We scored a baby swing on the Buy Nothing group, which Phoebe was excited about for exactly one day before she realized that now that we have a baby swing she doesn't get to perch on the big kid swings anymore, so she screams and fusses about being put in the swing until I lecture her about how she's just a baby and remind her that if she would just get in the swing she would have fun.
Here she is being pushed by Zoë:
Saturday, February 11, 2023
One secret to life, revealed (<--clickbait title)
|It'll be our little secret|
Don't tell anyone, but when I am suffering from writer's block (when I'm majorly psyched out about my thesis, for example), I open up a Blogger draft and type in there. Because it's soothing somehow.
I may or may not have 655 words of my thesis saved in a Blogger draft right now. Those 655 words are just a drop in the bucket—for reference, my thesis prospectus is 17566 words (including my references). That translates into 76 pages (and I don't really want to talk about it because writing those 76 pages was hard and made me feel like I wasn't really a writer, or a reader, or a scholar, which is why my thesis itself is only 655 words from today plus the 566 words I wrote a few days ago, so 1221 words total)—but they exist now and they didn't before, so that feels like a victory tonight and so I'm allowing myself to blog about my children...as a treat.
Will my thesis be finished by next month? Probably not.
But we're going to just keep putting drops in the bucket—and by "we," I mean "me"—because that's how things get done.
While we were at the park today, Alexander was determined to go across the monkey bars by himself. I helped him across a couple of times, spotting him while coaching him to swing and reach. Then Rachel coached him for a while. And then he attempted it on his own.
Friday, February 10, 2023
I suppose we needn't have worried about the rain.
We went for a walk this morning so we could be sure to get one in before it stormed, but it didn't really start raining until this evening so we had plenty of time. Before we left we emptied the tent of all the kids' stuff—foam pads, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, flashlights, water bottles, books—and then dragged the tent under the roofed portion of our deck so it could dry off properly before folding it up.
It had already been sprinkling a bit. That's why we wanted to be sure to get a walk in!
We've been having that funny sort of weather where the outside feels exactly the same as the inside, and it feels as if the portal between those two worlds is malfunctioning. There should be some sort of shock—an icy blast, a wave of heat, a thick lick of humidity—but recently there's been nothing. It's just been...nice.
We walked around the block. Well, Rachel, Miriam, Benjamin, and I walked around the block. Phoebe rode in her jogging stroller, feet resting on her snack tray, giving off regal vibes, as if she's being carted in a palanquin. Alexander and Zoë rode their bikes.
They arrived home first, of course, and found that the code box for the garage door was malfunctioning again. So they ran up the street to meet us, begging for the keys so they could get in the house, open the garage door, and put their bikes away like the responsible children that they are.
Our garage code box has been on the fritz. A temporary solution seems to be to replace the batteries, but that solution only lasts a matter of days before the box stops working again, so clearly there's something deeply wrong with it. We're therefore conditioned to bring our house keys with us whenever we leave the house. And today was no different—I grabbed my keys to take along with us, just in case the code box decided to malfunction...even though it worked yesterday.
"Good thing I brought my keys!" I said, handing them off to Zoë. "Remember—put it in flat side down, turn to the left to unlock the door, return the key to the neutral position to remove it from the lock."
Wednesday, February 08, 2023
Miriam had an organ audition this morning, which I just looked up the meaning of because the word "audition" has been confusing me since she started to do these things. I mean, she's not really auditioning for anything! Paul K. Fox offers some clarification on the meaning: there are three levels of evaluating music students and "audition" is one of them. It's not as intense as being adjudicated (a word that I would be more likely to quickly associate with performing music for a panel of judges); it's one step below a formal adjudication.
So, Miriam had her organ audition this morning. Grandpa took her for us since Andrew needed to be on campus and I...well...there are reasons Grandpa is helping Rachel learn how to drive. Plus we had our septic tank friends over again so I had to be home for that. Plus I have, what, five other kids at home.
Anyway, she played very well. Her organ teacher, who was allowed to be present for the audition, took this video for us:
Monday, February 06, 2023
Rabbits and cucumbers
Saturday, February 04, 2023
Math, driving, ice cream
Wednesday, February 01, 2023
Trinity Church and Poison Ivy
This morning Miriam had a rehearsal at the Johns Creek United Methodist chapel, where she played on the organ that used to be in Trinity Wall Street Chapel, so of course we were still singing Hamilton songs at the dinner table. Technically Hamilton never saw this organ—since it was constructed in 1846—but Hamilton was buried at the Trinity Church Cemetery, so perhaps his mouldering ears snacked on a note or two. Probably not. But we sang about Hamilton, anyway.
At the dinner table, specifically, we broke into a lovely rendition of Aaron Burr, Sir:
Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?
That depends, who's asking?
Monday, January 30, 2023
Andrew the Optimist
"I need to go to the library," I said. "But I think I have time to shower first. And then I need to get started on my prospectus revisions and..."
(2) Andrew is the optimist in our house. I'm what he would call a pessimist, though I prefer to call myself a realist. When we have our "Project Saturdays," he'll make a grand list of 8–10 things to accomplish and I'll say, "Cool your jets! You can pick two items...maybe three...though we might not even get through one..."
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Going Mythological, A New Toy Box, and a Girl and her Kitty
Alexander has been on a roll lately with his little sayings. He was talking with Benjamin and Zoë about things no human alive today has ever seen—dinosaurs and dragons and unicorns and the like—and they were trying to convince him that some of those creatures are extinct while others are merely mythological. He got all mad and insisted that extinction isn't real at all, that when a creature goes extinct they merely "go mythological!"
It's a lovely parallel form to "go extinct."
In effort to tame Phoebe and all of her...stuff...and because I've wanted one to go behind the couch for a long time, I bought a storage bench. It was already on sale, which is why I was looking at them (well, technically I was looking because I was up nursing Phoebe late at night and ran out of course readings...so turned to window shopping), but then I noticed that they had a "warehouse" one available that was being sold as "used," but which was "new," just in a damaged box. It was way cheaper, so I bought that one, and now we have a lovely little toy box behind our couch (that says on the bottom "not intended for use as a toy box").
Saturday, January 21, 2023
A me fail and a mom win
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Lego-nary and Potentially Cleaning Things
Last night for FHE we played "Lego-nary," which could definitely use a better name. It's like "pictionary" but with Lego instead of pictures. We just paired up and spent 8 minutes putting together a Lego interpretation of a scripture story (with pictures for inspiration) and then we had to guess what story each pair had made and then each pair had to share a retelling of their story.
It went well. Everybody loved it. Everybody made awesome-looking scenes...except for me and Phoebe. Our team underperformed, but that's okay.
Here's team "Daddy and Zoë" with the story of Jesus cleansing the temple:
Monday, January 16, 2023
Tornadoes and Scrap Paper
Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoebe at 14 months
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Monday, January 09, 2023
Sunday, January 08, 2023
Yogourt and Yelling
Miriam's first wedding!
Like that nightmare where your teeth keep falling out...
On December 14, as you recall, I yanked one of Zoë's front teeth out. And it was horrifying.
She's had her hands in her mouth, wriggling those incisors back and forth like she'd been hired to conduct mechanical stress tests on her teeth, for weeks now and we're all thoroughly grossed out by it all.
So we all rejoiced when Andrew finally convinced her to let him pull out her other front tooth. We missed having her two front teeth out by Christmas, though we did manage to have them both out for Epiphany (January 6)! It wouldn't have mattered, anyway, because Zoë flew into a fury anytime anyone suggested she sing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" for us.
Saturday, January 07, 2023
On Christmas Day in the morning!
Sunday, January 01, 2023
54 miles (from Selma to Montgomery)
We drove to Selma in the morning (December 28) and I have to say that Selma—bless its heart—was such an empty little town. And I say that as someone who was born in a town with a population that is now only approaching 4000 people (and who grew up in a town of (in 2000) less than 10,000 people). It made me quite sad to see how the city has been neglected. It felt almost like we were in a ghost town.
But you don't have to take my word for it (because I'm not the only one who felt this way).