Sunday, December 10, 2023

Christmas emotions

Phoebe brought me a granola bar just now and said, "Need help. Need help ope-mmm bar. Me have. Need help ope-mmm bar me have. Please." And I have to admit that her grammar is, like, way off, but that was a pretty big idea she put together!


It rained most of the day, which was unfortunate because I was hoping to do some work on the clubhouse today. We'll have to pick a day next week to get things done (because it's supposed to rain next weekend as well). 

Andrew drove the girls downtown to take the ACT this morning. Why? Because this is a testing year for Miriam, so she has to take a test anyway. And Rachel wanted to take the ACT again in the spring or early summer. But then the ACT company (or whatever) sent me an email offering a Buy-One-Get-One deal and sucked in. If they take the test in December then they'll get a free retake test in the spring or summer. So I figured why not?

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Soundbites from the back seat...

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…


Beatrix Potter Day

We haven't done many (any) field trips with our co-op, in large part because I'm too afraid to drive much of anywhere (and that's on me, I get that). But today's field trip was scheduled far enough in advance on a fortuitous day at the end of the semester when Andrew was able to come with us! One of the moms in our group planned an outing to a new musical having its world premiere at the Alliance theater— Into the Burrow. It's based on characters created by Beatrix Potter and was really quite an incredible performance. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Sometimes I'm hard to please

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going person (emphasis on the pretty), but sometimes I think my kids probably think I'm altogether unreasonable. 

This morning Zoë finished up loading the dishwasher and then went the extra mile and ran the cycle. When it finished and popped open and I got to peek inside I expressed my displeasure because it was half empty! First of all, there were still dirty dishes left on the counters (my kids have this thing where they can only see dirty dishes in the sink...the ones on the counter are invisible) and second of all, if there hadn't been more dirty dishes I would have preferred to wait to run it until after lunch (when we inevitably make more dishes). So while I appreciated her help in doing the dishes, she got a little lecture about being wise stewards and not wasting resources (of time, water, money, electricity, etc.), a lecture that she probably found confusing because...

Earlier this morning Zoë wanted to put in a load of laundry, but it turns out that that load of laundry was ginormous! She took each of the kids' laundry baskets from upstairs and emptied them all into the machine at once (which I didn't know until the cycle stopped and I went to put things in the dryer because my children, like me, have this thing where they forget about doing laundry while it's washing and sometimes leave things in the washing machine far too long). So while I appreciated her help in doing the laundry, she got a little lecture about not overloading the washing machine and...well...

I began to feel a little unreasonable.

Overload the machine? Get a lecture. Under-load the machine? Get a lecture.Overload, under-load...

Signs your baby is growing up

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

Stake Dance

Just a note that a few nights ago in a last-ditch effort to get the kids' attention (because they were being unruly, naturally), Andrew hollered, "Yo! Listen up!"

And because sometimes my children's mother is sometimes equally unruly, I belted out: "Here's the story about a little guy that lives in a blue world, and all day and all night, and everything he sees is just blue—like him!—inside and outside."

Andrew gave up and joined in as the kids' jaws dropped open in amazement:

"Blue's his house with his blue little window, and a blue corvette, and everything is blue for him, and himself, and everybody around, cause he ain't got nobody to listen...."

This is about where the kids lost it, because by this time Andrew and I were jumping around the living room singing, "I'm blue, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di..."

Rachel was like, "No way is this happening. This is not a real song. These are not my real parents..."

But alas, it was happening, it is a real song, and we are her parents. 

"Pretty impressive, really," Andrew and Rachel agreed. "Considering it's not a polka song."

My repertoire knows no bounds.

Mandela Effect re: conversions, transfers, etc.

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

Homemade ornaments

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:

Two year olds in tutus

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.

She's been working on sleeping in her own bed (not last night but the night before she stayed in her bed from 10:30 PM until 8:30 AM and I have no complaints about that) but last night she woke up at midnight and then also ended up in our bed and was a little wriggly-worm.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Making Christmas

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

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.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Miriam is 14!


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 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, 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 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!

Yakety Yack

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


The past three weeks I have been filled with horror watching the news coming out of Israel and Palestine. The attacks of 10/7 were unconscionable, horrific, abhorrent, disgusting, and absolutely condemnable. I mourn with Israel and for Israel for the senseless deaths that occurred that day. Their resulting fear, anger, and grief are both palpable and understandable. 

However, I also must unequivocally condemn their retaliation against a nation, who is not a nation, whose only army is not an army, and which is full of people—fully fledged humans, not some animal-human hybrid—who have no where to flee, and whose import (and export) of food, water, power, and aid is controlled by the very people who wish them harm. 

The footage I've seen coming out of Palestine is disturbing to say the least. 

I've heard it said that "On October 7th, Hamas murdered 1,400 a country of fewer than 10 million people. This would be equivalent to over 50,000 Americans murdered in a single day.  That’s 20 9/11s. That is why October 7th is another day that will live in infamy." 

I agree that an atrocity of that scale is mind-numbing, but I don't think we can stop doing math there. 

I mean, if we are going to do the math, let's do the math!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Orange you glad?

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.

Frivolity and fritters

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...

The last thing our contractor did this week was paint the exterior boards he had to replace on the side of the house. Evidently he spilled a not-insignificant quantity of paint on the ground, which Andrew knew about, and which Andrew warned the children to keep away from. 

I'm sure you can see where this story is going.

For the record, I did not know about this spill or I may have done more than warn the children to keep away from it. I also may not have done much more...we've been so exhausted this week, staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning working on the basement. 

On Friday night the girls—who are finally back at our house after spending three weeks at Grandpa's house—had a fire night with their friends. When their friends went home, Andrew and I roped them into helping us finish putting carpet in the unfinished portion of the basement. They weren't terribly happy about this, since they had planned on showering and going to bed, but they were good helpers nonetheless. 

In order to put the carpet down we had to move furniture, roll the carpet padding out, roll the carpet out, move furniture onto the carpet we had just rolled out, roll the carpet padding out, roll the carpet out...until the room was carpeted. 

Although the carpet was more ore less rectangular, there was more cutting and taping involved than I'd like to remember. We must have put the carpet padding in sideways or something because we had to cut so much of that. Anyway...

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Waste not, want want

On Thursday we attended our co-op. 

Phoebe went to nursery with Rachel for the first hour and did fairly well, but one hour is about all she can handle in there. She refuses to go to nursery alone and needs to be with momma. 

(Interestingly, today she played with Zoë for somewhere along the lines of nine hours while we were working on the basement and she did just fine without me. Of course, they had unlimited snacks and TV and trampoline time, so it felt like a party. But still...)

So she comes to my second hour class—Holiday STEM—with me. I'm one of three co-teachers (in addition to the head teacher) in that classroom, so it's not like my presence/attention is 100% necessary and I can easily split my energy between the students and Phoebe. 

Because we're so close to Halloween and it's a holiday STEM class, the activities were all centered on Halloween. We did some apple-themed activities in September and some leaf-themed activities last time we met. I think it would be neat to see some other holidays factored in there because I know we had, like, Sukkot at the beginning of October, and Diwali is coming up in November. But, I get that while we're a non-denominational group we are also a de facto Christian group. Personally, I think some awareness of other religions would do us some good...and thus the reason for my thesis...and perhaps PhD. 

Evidently I should suggest a world religions course for our kiddos. 

Anyway, we were doing Halloween-themed STEM activities and one of the projects was to figure out how to stack candy corn to see how tall of a tower they could make. The kids were very excited about this—because candy—and kept asking whether or not they were allowed to eat it. 

To be fair, I'm pretty relaxed about these things and probably would have shrugged and told them to make their own choices. But the mom in charge was like, "Oh, goodness, no! You've all been touching them! They've been on the table! They've been dropped on the floor! They're filthy! We'll throw these away and I will give you some clean candies—if your moms allow you to have sugar—on the way out the door."

So that's what happened.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Moving furniture

October has been a whirlwind. We've mostly been keeping busy moving furniture and moving furniture and moving furniture.

First we moved everything out of the girls' room and away from the wall in the storage room so the basement could be waterproofed. When the drywall was up in the storage room we started to piece the storage room back together, though it's still quite a cumbersome mess since all the stuff from the girls' room is in there as well. 

Last night Andrew and I moved all the furniture in the LEGO room so that we could lay down the old carpet from the girls' room in the LEGO room (we can't reuse their carpet for their room because the footprint of their floor has changed—they have a closet now and we had to take out some of the built-ins). And then we moved the furniture back onto the carpet we just put down. And then we moved all the furniture from the "main room" into the LEGO room so that we can repaint in there. 

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

Alexander is 6!

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

A wee hike

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

Reverse, reverse!

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 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'm knitting! I'm a knitter! I knit something!

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.