Saturday, March 25, 2023

On the same day in March...

Years ago my mom sent us a copy of On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer. It's a story that has stuck with me over the years because weather is such an important part of the setting of one's life and my own life is divided in my mind into chunks defined by various moves—and the associated weather (not to mention culture) of those different places. 

When I lived in Alberta, for example, winters meant months of snowmen and sledding and ice skating (and other less appealing things like shoveling snow and scraping car windows and slipping and falling). Here in Georgia we didn't get any snow this past winter and now it's already 80°F outside while in Utah it snowed several inches today and in Alberta it's still very much winter as well.

I took the kids to the park today and sent a picture of Phoebe in the baby swing to my family's group chat—because I was amazed that she agreed to get in the swing! She's been boycotting baby swings and I spent afternoon refusing to put her on the big kid swings so she finally relented (just as all the other kids were announcing they were ready to go home) and asked to be put in the baby swing. So I let her swing for a while (while her siblings moaned about wanting to go home to cool off). She enjoyed holding them up, I think.

Anyway, Uncle David immediately responded with a picture of Millie, who was also having a some swing time at the park. Their little corners of the world look rather different, but it was fun to think that they were swinging underneath the same bright sun!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Skinks and daffodils

This week I've basically talked myself into a summer graduation. I meet with my advisor about things tomorrow—and I feel like she still feels like May is a possibility but she doesn't know that Phoebe has been refusing naps (and still isn't sleeping through the night) so to me May feels absolutely impossible at this point. 

Especially given the fact that I have to turn in an electronic copy of my thesis in, oh, four days...and especially given the fact that I don't have any analysis or conclusion to speak of. 

I hear those bits are important. 

But the kids have been doing well with their school work and have been helping with Phoebe a little more (and/or she's happier to play with them than she was even a few weeks ago). In addition to liking Grogu, she now also enjoys Bluey, so she will sit and play with Alexander's little Heeler family and sing, "Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh MOM!" to herself. And that's excellent news because she doesn't like to do much by herself at all.

She loves to go outside, so Zoë will often accompany her into the yard, which makes me slightly nervous because Phoebe is a handful, but so far it's been okay. Zoë is rather attentive when she's in charge of Phoebe. She buckles her in the wagon and takes her for little strolls, straps a helmet on her head and wheels her around on a little toddler scooter, draws with chalk with her, etc.

We started some MIT molecule lessons using LEGO modeling. The kids seemed pretty interested in that today, so that was good. They're working on the photosynthesis module since we just went over that process in our chemistry textbook yesterday.

Our science time was augmented by some good ol' fashioned outdoor time. Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander were hacking away at this old tree stump with a number of gardening trowels (because I'm a big ol' meanie and won't let them hack away at it with axes) and they disturbed a five-lined skink.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Georgia Children's Lit

This is a hat that I'm both sad and relieved to be taking off. It has been so much fun (and work—but that's why it's a job, right?) to help coordinate the children's literature conference the past two years. Last year's conference was wonderful, but this year's conference was...even more wonderful. The group of authors we had this year was just spectacular to work with. They were all so gracious and encouraging, interested in each other's work and in the people around them at the conference. Perfectly engaging. 

Andrew was at a conference in Montreal all week, and the days before he left Alexander and Benjamin were out with a not-COVID stomach bug/fever/cough, and I had so much going on, and was getting up in the middle of the night with throwing-up children, and trying to pull everything together for the conference and get all my work done for my poetry class and finish a draft of the analysis section of my thesis and...and...and...I felt like I was about coming apart at the seams!

Reid/Grandpa kept the boys for us Thursday/Friday/Saturday and dropped me and the girls off at the conference center. Rachel and Miriam were expert baby tenders, and Zoë was also a very helpful baby entertainer. Phoebe, for her part, was a chaos machine. However, she was really quite well-behaved on Friday. By Saturday, however, she'd had it and was a little more difficult to manage.

Anyway, it was just a wonderful time! I got to meet Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, which was really cool. I'm discussing When Stars Are Scattered in my thesis, so it was lovely to hear a bit about their writing experience firsthand. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

More lizards

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

I just wanted to mark the moment before Daylight Saving, tagging along to Mommy's conference, or all of our summer travel plans ruin the good thing we've got going but...

Tonight I nursed Phoebe and then put her down in her bed. I helped her say her prayers and sang her a lullaby and then reminded her that I would sit beside her as long as she was still and quiet but that if she started being silly I'd have to leave and—get this—she just...lay still...until she fell asleep...

It still took her several minutes, and I'm sure she'll be up later, but it was the easiest bedtime we've ever had with her! 

She had a busy evening—our neighbours held a little marshmallow roast in their backyard so she was all hopped up on marshmallows and giggly rounds of tag—so she was ready to sleep, which I'm sure helped. But I don't know how good it feels to have a bedtime! I've been 24/7 momming for so long. Knowing that she'll cooperate at bedtime is a huge deal over here. 

It might mean I can actually finish my thesis this semester.

I honestly haven't been sure about my ability to pull it off because I have been so stinking tired

Anyway, we went to a marshmallow roast this evening. It was a blast, like always. Our neighbourhood is teeming with children—so much so that when an "outsider" stopped by to pick up something our neighbours were selling and stumbled into a dozen kids riding up and down the street on their bicycles and drawing with chalk and blowing bubbles and bouncing balls, they were like, "What's going on? Is this a birthday party or something?"

"This is our street is..." our neighbour said.

And the "outsiders" just gaped at the amazingness. Because it really is like a party. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

I'm a great aunt (again)!

Sweet little Oaklyn joined the family on March 7! Poor Rosie had a hard time with the delivery again, but because of her history of hemorrhaging with Ireland's birth, the medical team was better prepared to help Rosie after the delivery and she managed to avoid having a blood transfusion this time around (though she still didn't have an easy time with things). 

My mom and Josie were lucky enough to get to go visit them in the hospital and Auntie Josie called us from there to show us the baby. She really is a sweet, little thing. 

I've been a great-aunt for over a decade now (Oaklyn...Okotoks, the sixth-or-so great-grandchild for my parents) and a great aunt (no hyphen) for over nearly thirty years, and I'd like to know how that happened. 

Granted, not everyone becomes an aunt at age eight, but still...the fact that I've been an aunt for nearly thirty years seems incredible. 

Anyway, welcome to the world, Oaklyn!

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

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

We went to the park on Tuesday morning—a miracle to leave the house before lunch!—bringing quite a lot of our school work with us.

Our first subject of the day was PE. I made the children run laps around the pond. They don't love doing it (especially Miriam) but they do love the results, which are that (a) they feel good after they run, (b) they're able to run longer and faster, (c) they're better at tag-like games because they can run longer and faster, (d) they seen improvement in their resting heart rates when they're regularly running (that last one is particular to Miriam, who is our only child with a FitBit).

I'm a pretty firm believer that it's silly to simply not do things just because you don't love doing them. If they're good things to do—eating vegetables, running laps, changing stinky diapers, washing dishes—you should continue to doing them even if they don't seem to bring you immediate joy...because they'll help prevent long-term issues. 

They might not like running, but they do want to have good cardiovascular fitness so...we run. 

I don't particularly enjoy running these days, either. Pushing a jogging stroller is hard work and it does not bring me joy. Phoebe likes to go fast. But I get tired out while pushing the jogging stroller way faster than when I'm not. But, Phoebe needs to do something while we jog, so I push her in the stroller.

I ran laps in the opposite direction as the children did, so I noticed from across the pond—with increasing concern—as my children dropped like flies after about a lap and a half. What was wrong? Had one of them been injured? Had they decided to stop and stretch?

I couldn't hear any screaming and figured that if something were truly wrong there would have been at least some screaming. And surely one of the kids would have run to me to tell me what was wrong (as they had when Benjamin threw up last week when we thought he had appendicitis). So, I just kept plodding along and eventually caught up to them, where I found they were just looking at a snapping turtle.

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 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."

" you think monkeys have six limbs?"

"Don't they?"

"They do not. They have four."

"Are you sure?"

"They're not insects, Dad!" Rachel nearly screamed.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Not appendicitis

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

Scientific salad

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

Around this time last year (February 23, 2022, to be precise) we took one of our very first Grandpa Walks and stopped to admire the daffodils along the way. Here's Phoebe from then:

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...

Pretzel making follows a similar pattern—you wet the flour to make the dough, then you form the pretzels and let them rise, then you boil the pretzels, then you bake the pretzels... I guess that pattern is more of a wet, rest, wet, dry. 

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:

I love their mouths hanging open with glee—Phoebe with her full front teeth and Zoë without any front teeth at all!

For some reason Phoebe prefers to swing with her arms down at her sides rather than hanging onto the seat or the chain lately. I'm not sure why—is it to test her balance?

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 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

Breaking in

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."

"Got it!"

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Miriam's audition

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

I don't even know how long we've been playing "Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit," but it's been years—regularly, it seems, since at least 2014. We just try to be the first one to say "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" to everyone else on the first day of each month.

Sometimes we do it by text, such as the time I texted "rabbit, rabbit, rabbi" to Andrew in 2018. 

Sometimes we shove papers under doors or leave drawings on the whiteboard for the kids to wake up to (such as this one from December 2022):

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Math, driving, ice cream

Zoë still has not developed a rash, so I'm hoping this means we're in the clear and dealt with her brush with poison ivy appropriately. If she could tell you one thing about this week, she'd probably tell you that she finished her math book (and celebrated by dumping her pencil/bookmark out (because she proudly used the same pencil as a bookmark in her workbook the whole time she had it)). Nothing too exciting happened when she finished beyond that—she just got another workbook to go through. 

In more exciting news, Miriam finished her math book as well! 

This is a bit of a bigger deal because this means that—after a few little hiccups along the way—she finished her entire course (whereas Zoë had just finished with a section of her course). She's now starting on "Intro to Counting and Probability," which she's excited about because it's just a teeny little course book, so she thinks she'll finish by the end of the school year and be ready for geometry in the fall. 

Rachel took her learner's permit test yesterday and is now...learning to drive...somehow. This feels like a bigger step toward independence than a lot of other things. I offered to take her to the park yesterday afternoon to let her drive around the parking lot, but she declined. She thinks it'll be better for her if she sticks with driving with her dad and grandpa. She's probably right. 

Andrew had her drive from the corner of our street to our house, and then they took a little trip over to Grandpa's house. I think Grandpa is taking her driving later today. She's afraid my anxiety will rub off on her, I guess.

In other news, she's continuing to cook up a storm in the kitchen. She made ice cream last week, but not just any ice cream—gooey buttercake ice cream in homemade waffle cones:

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

Where's Daaaaddy?

This afternoon we we talking about different fabrics because Miriam has become obsessed with textiles. She is constantly inspecting what everyone's wearing and declaring whether it's stockinette or garter or cable or jersey or satin or woven or...

She happened to have on a satin skirt and was telling us about how the weave is looped over the weft in a certain way and...things like that. Satin feels silky, but is not silk. 

This led to Andrew explaining what he'd recently learned about silkworm factories. Apparently they boil/kill the silkworms in order to harvest the silk without damaging the fibers (because the silkworms chew a hole through their cocoon in order to exit). It's a little controversial these days (though, to be fair, silkworm soup is it's not as if all the silkworms go to waste...I guess). Enough silkworms are left alive to mate, and then the process starts all over again (since silkworms have evolved to be 100% dependent on humans for their survival—they can't find food, they can't fly, their only instinct is to mate, and then they die).

Andrew the Optimist

Yesterday morning—before the library had even opened—I was verbalizing my personal itinerary for the day to Andrew. 

"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..."

"Oh, before you shower," said Andrew the Optimist, "We should move things around in the basement real quick and pick up those cabinets from my dad!"

A few things you should know:

(1) Reid recently had his kitchen renovated, including having new kitchen cabinets installed. It looks lovely! And the old cabinets were just sitting there, begging to be used. 

(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..." 

I don't know if it's because we're inefficient project doers or what, but sometimes I'm right. Though, to be fair, sometimes he is. Most often we probably land somewhere in the middle, accomplishing more than I thought we would, but less than he dreamed we would. I can't say whether it's better to be a pessimist realist and be pleasantly surprised or to be an optimist and be mildly disappointed.

Though Andrew isn't someone who gets disappointed often. He just is happy with what he accomplishes and moves whatever he didn't accomplish to his next to-do list. So...that's the optimist in him, I guess.

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 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

Today I officially (??) turned in my thesis proposal and then took the kids to the park to get some good, ol' fashioned fresh air after spending the last couple of weeks cooped up sick. I told the kids I wouldn't make them go running...yet...since some of them are still feeling a little sluggish, but since (a) we're sure we don't have COVID and (b) because no one has any fevers or active coughs, we did feel a walk outside and some time at an empty playground couldn't hurt anyone. 

We stopped by the little free library and grabbed some stories to read between games of tag. 

Phoebe has become demandingly independent recently, screaming and squirming to be put down so she can use her own two feet instead of being carried. When we arrived at the park there was no way she was going to allow us to strap her into the stroller, so we played at the park before going on our walk.

When the kids started their game of tag, I was initially pushing Phoebe in the swing, but then Alexander was it and no one would let him get them, so I joined in and let him tag me, and then played around with the kids for a while. And then I stopped playing to push Phoebe in the swing some more. 

Keeping everyone happy is a real balancing act!

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

We're just entering our second week of classes, which means last week was our first week of classes. Already I can see my pledge to blog more slipping in favour of writing more for my classes (as it always seems to do). In theory, I should finish this semester...if I can finish writing my thesis. But I'm also taking a poetry course again could I not?

Andrew was supposed to be home late, late, late on Thursday, but he surprised me by coming home much earlier than expected.

I shouldn't have been surprised because he texted me several times to update me on his plans, but I had placed my phone on the charger so that it could be fully charged in case there was an emergency (we were on a tornado watch all day and my battery was running low), so I didn't see any of his texts until after he walked in through the door and was like, "What are you doing home?"

We were watching Matilda the Musical to keep our minds off the storm (you know how Alexander gets) and we didn't lose power or anything. 

Other places in the storm's path were not so lucky. Here's Andrew telling me that a tornado hit Selma...and that they issued a tornado warning for his area so he had to find shelter:

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Phoebe at 14 months

Phoebe turned 14 months on Friday the 13th!

She is 100% a walker these days and only crawls in the most dire of circumstances (like when the vacuum comes out and she has to get to safety fast). She suffered a few bumps and bruises along the way to foot-fluency, but her balance is pretty good these days. 

She loves to eat—things she's supposed to...and things she's not. 

Today I was reading her a story on the couch before church when she heard the microwave beep. She scooted off the couch so fast and ran to the kitchen to see who was cooking what and whether she could have some. 

Miriam was warming up some chicken noodle soup (we're all sick over here) for breakfast...and she did share with Phoebe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Prayer refresher

Tonight we had a family night lesson about prayer. We do refresher courses every so often for the benefit of...all of us. How do you get ready for prayer? How do you say a prayer? Why do we pray? 

Sometimes we forget these things. 

We talked about The Lord's Prayer (which we'd just covered in family scripture study) and Andrew talked about what it means to avoid "vain repetitions," (which our generation was sometimes taught meant saying scripted prayers, such as The Lord's Prayer, which is a little silly given the fact that that prayer was given as a template in the first place, and given the scripted prayers we use weekly in sacrament meeting and in the temple and so forth). We read the story of the rameumptum and discussed the proper motivations for prayer. It is the thought behind the prayer that determines whether it's a vain repetition or not. 

So we talked about motivations for prayer: to express gratitude, to seek communion, to seek guidance, for comfort, to express and feel love, to reflect, and, yes, to meditate. 

(Andrew hesitated on that last reason, but I think it has merit).

Monday, January 09, 2023

Interesting mishaps

The weather has been beyond beautiful the last little while and it had been too long since we'd had a good jogging session, so today the kids and I went to the park for a run. The three older children all made biking goals this year, so they all rode to the park together. This gave me plenty of room in the back of the van to load the jogging stroller, Zoë's bike, and two of Alexander's bikes (his pedal bike, which he didn't want to ride but ended up riding, and his balance bike, which he insisted we bring along and which he didn't end up riding). 

I have a baby seat sitting in the garage but it doesn't seem to be able to attach to any of our bikes, otherwise I might have been persuaded to ride to the park with the kids. But instead I drove the younger three and all their gear (and all the water bottles) to the park. We completed our jog, did some plein air painting, played at the park, and then headed home. 

Once there, Zoë and Alexander obediently grabbed "stuff" from the van to carry inside, dropped everything in a pile just inside the door, and went to get themselves a snack, left me outside to deal with everything else (bikes, screaming babies, the whole kit and caboodle). 

I got Phoebe out of her seat and let her toddle around while I started unloading the back of the van. I took out the balance bike and put that away. Then I took out Alexander's pedal bike and just about put it away, but then I thought I would put Zoë's bike away first, since she has an easier time moving his bike to get to hers (compared to how difficult it is for him to move her bike to get to his). So her bike can go against the garage wall and then his bike can lean against hers.

Like most things in our house, bikes have to be doubled up to be put away. There are just too many of them to store them single-file. So I left Alexander's pedal bike behind Andrew's car while I reached inside the back of the van to pull out Zoë's bike. 

Keep in mind that Alexander's pedal bike has training wheels, so it stands upright on its own. This is good, because it meant that when Phoebe decided to push it back over to me it didn't topple over on top of her. 

It was also bad because it meant that as I was backing my way out of the back of the van carrying a bike, I toppled over on top of Alexander's bike that was suddenly parked directly behind my ankles. I didn't even hear Phoebe do it (since I was too busy grunting and clanging in the back of the van as I wrestled with Zoë's bike)!

So, there I was, a Mommy sandwhich—one bike under me, one bike on top of me. 

Not my finest moment. 

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Yogourt and Yelling

Phoebe-face was incredibly grumpy today. She spent most of the morning screaming. And then we took a nap. And she woke up still pretty grumpy. So she screamed most of the afternoon, too. 

She enjoyed eating (because that's pretty much her favourite thing to do). We had a smörgåsbord leftovers for dinner + homemade yogourt and granola. Phoebe really enjoyed the yogourt!

Miriam's first wedding!

My friend Becca got married yesterday—a small family affair in a cute little chapel out in Vinings—and she asked if Miriam would be the organist for her. Miriam was thrilled to pieces (and her organ teacher was thrilled to pieces) and set to work preparing. 

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!

Here we are on the twelfth day of Christmas and I'm finally getting around to posting about Christmas morning.

Because we had church on Christmas morning and didn't want a repeat of Christmas morning tears, the kids all slept over at Grandpa's house—his Scrooge-house, with no decorations, no presents, and no internet (only because his internet was down for some reason, which factors into the story, I promise)—and in the morning Andrew dropped me and Phoebe off there and picked Miriam up because she was going to be playing the organ.

By the time I arrived, the internet guy was already there—yes, on Sunday; yes, on Christmas—trying to figure out what was wrong with Grandpa's internet. Eventually the diagnosis was, "Yup. Yup. Seems to be an outage of sorts," which wasn't very helpful, but he did what he could. We though he must have thought we were a little strange, though, to be in an obviously-Christian house filled with children but having no tree or presents (or any decorations at all) in sight. 

We sang a lot of carols, which was lovely, and since there was only one hour of church (which we streamed through Grandpa's phone—hurrah for satellites—which was hooked up to the television, it was over before we knew it and we were packing up to head home for the part of Christmas morning that the kids were really excited about.

Here they are lining up for "The Christmas Train":

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).