Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sure do!

Recently Phoebe has begun saying "sure do!" in place of "yes!"

Is always an adorable answer, but can also be humorous because she doesn't pay any attention to whether or not the answer of "sure do" is an appropriate grammatical follow-up to whatever she's been asked. Instead she uses it as a straight synonym.

For example, if I said, "Phoebe, do you want some breakfast?" and she answered, "Sure do!" that...makes sense...grammatically. 

But yesterday we had a package dropped off and the deliverer of said package rang the doorbell, which is always very exciting at our house. The kids run to the bell like a pack of puppies (or ignore it completely; there is no in between). Andrew was the one to retrieve the package and since it had my name on it, he handed it to Phoebe and said, "Hey, Phoebe, can you give this to Mommy?"

"Sure do!" she exclaimed. 

And, see, that response doesn't make grammatical sense in this case. "Sure can!" would have worked. "Sure do!" doesn't work. But it is still an adorable response.


One week later...

I was thrilled to test negative Tuesday of last week because Thursday was my second-chance night to see Hamilton! Grandpa and Darla picked Miriam and I up for dinner (at Waffle House) before heading downtown.

It was fun to get to know Darla a little bit better! We've been meaning to spend more time with her after meeting her (on January 22, right?), but she didn't end up coming to the zoo with us (and Amanda) because her granddaughter was sick, and then that ended up being a little fortuitous because we all came down with COVID (though miraculously, Amanda and her family did not!). Miriam got to spend quite a bit of time with Darla while she was staying at Grandpa's house, but...the rest of us did not. All that is to say that it was nice to get to chat with Darla a bit more. 

Monday, February 19, 2024

On a scale of one to ten...

I will write about our evening out soon! In the meantime, while we have all tested "negative" from COVID-19 and have been improving, we have not been having a fun time at our house. For whatever reason, both Andrew and I developed a post-COVID cough, and it's a doozy. It's possible Zoë and Phoebe have the same cough, but theirs isn't as bad. This cough is seriously no fun. 

And it's not like I didn't have a cough when I was sick with COVID. Because I did! 

I coughed so hard—I kid you not!—I pulled a muscle in my back (or something...must be getting old). I could hardly bend or twist and coughing was so painful! But I got over that cough. And my nose stopped being stuffy. And my back started to feel better. And I tested negative for COVID...and then I developed another nasty—and very productive (medically speaking)—cough. 

I am so tired of coughing. 

But I didn't start writing to least...not about coughing. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Phoebe's night in

Rachel babysat the youngest four this evening while Miriam and I went to Hamilton with Grandpa and Darla (and Dad was at work). I felt a little bad (but not too bad since she got to go to Hamilton last week) leaving her in charge of everything, but she's an incredibly capable human, and managed everything just fine. She fed her siblings, got them off to bed, and even carved out some time to attend a Zoom meeting for one of her classes. 

Phoebe went to bed relatively easily for her, which I was so glad to hear when I texted her during intermission. There were other parts of Phoebe that weren't exactly easy, however.


Earlier in the day, while I was helping Benjamin with a tricky math problem, Phoebe took herself potty on one of her little potties. We really need to train her to use the big potty and were making headway in that direction...but that all fell apart over the last two weeks.

Anyway, she did a lovely poopie in her potty and stood up to tell me the good news. 

"I pooped! Yay!" she said, clapping her hands. "Look at it, Mommy!"

Like many children (at many of my children; I'm not really sure if other children also do this), she likes to...check out her artwork...and give it a good name. Like ink blots—"what do you see?"—but with bowel movements. It's a dangerous game for her to engage in, however, because Phoebe's gag reflex is...delicate. 

Just last night I had to remove her plate from her after she dipped her garlic bread in spaghetti sauce too long and—to her horror—it turned into "poop" right in her hand. She hates poop—the look of it, the smell of it, anything that is squishy and brown...and yet! She insists on examining her poop after going potty. So I have to make sure I intervene in this little game at just the right time.

Intervene too early and I'm mean because she didn't get to bond with her poop. Tears are very likely in this instance. Heaven forbid I flush it away before she's had a chance to name it and say goodbye (the cruelty!). Intervene too late and...well, I intervened too late today because I was on the other side of the room helping Benjamin instead of being her emotional support potty person, so I can tell you what happens (I'm a mom: I've told you before, and I'm sure I'll tell you again).

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Valentine's Day

"Mom, will tomorrow be special?" Benjamin asked me before bed last night. "Or will it be just an ordinary school day?"

"Well," I told him honestly, "Valentine's Day is always just an ordinary day. It's not, like, a federal holiday or anything like that where we get time off, so everyone will be going to work and school and..."

"No, I mean, like will we be exchanging valentines or getting candy or anything like that?"

"Did you make valentines to exchange?" I asked. 

"Well, no...but..."

"Then we'll see. For now, good night."

Now, I already knew that Andrew had picked up some candy from the store. And I had collected a few items from our Buy Nothing group to give to the little kids. I even splurged and got a set of books on bushcraft for Benjamin. I set all these things out before I went to bed, along with some poems I wrote for each person in the family, which is a sometimes-tradition for me. 

My friend Kathy introduced me to the idea of sometimes-traditions (Kathy was a linguistics major with me at BYU (at any rate we took multiple linguistics courses together) and she ended up marrying one of Andrew's friends (they'd served missions in Italy together); she's also an author). Anyway, she posted pictures of some gorgeous gingerbread she and her girls created this Christmas of Hogwarts Castle and the Hogwarts Express was truly phenomenal. I think technically they did it in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. 

But she explained in her post that it's only a sometimes-tradition because it isn't possible to pull of a stunt like that every year. Making gingerbread from scratch, agonizing over templates, piecing everything together, spending the time to decorate it just so. It's a lot of work! 

So some years they do that. Other years they just throw some graham cracker houses together (that was us this year). Other years they forego gingerbread houses altogether. 

And I think that's just fine. Some traditions are rather complicated and if you need to take a step back for whatever reason in order to simplify your life, well, that's just fine. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024



Bushcraft feels like a new term for me. Benjamin started using it recently and, honestly, it is a term that is rather applicable to his general "vibe." He loves outdoorsy stuff (as much as a city kid can) and loves "collecting" survival skills. Bushcraft is somewhat different from wilderness survival since the former "is generally thought of as the enjoyment of living in a remote, wilderness location. No one is expecting impending doom, rather they are seeking to live life outdoors, appreciate nature and leave no (or minimal) trace of their activities."

It's roughing it for the pure enjoyment of roughing it. 

Good news!

In our house, a proclamation of "good news" is most often followed up with one of either two things:

1) "I saw a dog today!" from the movie Elf


2) "She's dead!" as vigorously belted out in the musical Wicked

Monday, February 12, 2024

We're getting better all the time...

Tomorrow Miriam is supposed to be a page at the state senate, but she's been a little nervous about riding downtown with Andrew (who has been down with COVID). He's been taking Paxlovid for about four days now, though, and woke up feeling great this morning, so he took a test this afternoon was negative!

"Wow! You won the COVID race!" I said.

"That's true!" he said. "I was positive for the least amount of time. Of course, I'm taking performance-enhancing drugs." true.

So, Zoë is negative, Phoebe is negative, Andrew is negative. 

Benjamin took a test yesterday and it was ever-so-faintly positive, but we let him downstairs to play in the basement anyway...for the first time in over a play LEGO. 

I'm still sick and am scared to test because I'm afraid it's going to be "more" positive than I'd like it to be at this point. While designed to be solely an indication of disease, and are no approved to show how much of the disease is present, the rapid-tests can actually offer an indication of how many virus antibodies are active in your body: "The line that you see on a test 'is actually made up of millions and millions of little antibodies holding onto a the more virus, the more little dye molecules are going to line up on the line.'" Thus, the tests offer more than a binary (yes/no) answer to the question of whether or not you have COVID; rather, "the intensity of the line does tend to correlate with the amount of antigen in the sample."

So I'm hoping for a faint, faint line. We'll see...if in a few days...when I get brave enough to take a test...

Let's see...

Alexander is still pretty freshly sick, but he's feeling pretty okay. 

Here's a picture of him and Zoë with a puzzle they worked on together yesterday evening:

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Slowly getting better

Zoë tested negative for COVID on Tuesday (five days after she tested positive). Phoebe tested negative for COVID on Saturday (seven days after she tested positive). She's been full of energy the past few days, so we knew she was feeling better.

It sure would be nice if everyone had as much energy as Phoebe!

Friday, February 09, 2024

Consonant clusters

I'm not taking Paxlovid. I thought about trying it this time around, but it just didn't feel right to completely wean Phoebe while she's trying to get over COVID as well (though I'm sure she'll finish up weaning in the next few weeks, anyway, and then I might have wished that I had just cut her off and taken the medicine). Andrew is taking Paxlovid, however.

Oh, by the way, Andrew and Alexander tested positive today so obviously we've done a bang up job at containing this virus. 

Anyway, Andrew went ahead and got a prescription for Paxlovid. He just had to take a picture of his positive rapid-test and a random doctor online wrote out a script. 

On the one hand, I think that's approaching accessibility (and that's good). On the other hand, why don't we just make it over-the-counter at this point? I mean, it's not like the doctor is doing any actual safe-guarding in this situation. 

We have so many positive tests sitting on our counter...Andrew didn't have to take a picture of his own test. I mean, he did because...honesty is...good. But, I mean, come on... I guess I'm just team "make it over-the-counter." That said, I have no knowledge of how these decisions are made, so I guess I'll let those more knowledgable than me hash it out (but if they're looking for opinions, there's mine). 


The first time Andrew used it was when we had COVID the first time and I, honestly, was about 100 times sicker than I was this time around. I was miserable. But, I also had a baby who was still nursing full time, so Paxlovid wasn't even a consideration. But it worked really well for Andrew, who hardly got sick (comparatively speaking). 

I called the drug pax-LO-vid. 

He teased me for pronouncing it wrong, telling me it sounded far too Russian—pax-LO-vid, with a rich liquid /l/ following the tricky /sk/ of the x. Because here's the thing: you look at the word paxlovid and you think to yourself that there's only an "xl" consonant blend, just two little letters. And how hard can that be to pronounce? We have a billion consonant blends in English. I'll share some examples of blends below from this very paragraph:

sounded: nd
tricky: tr
think: nk
consonant: nt (and kind of ns, I guess, though that's a syllable break, so...I dunno)
blend: bl and nd
hard: rd
pronounce: nc
from: fr
paragraph: gr

English: Now, that one is pretty tricky since it looks like "ngl" is three consonants together, which is a somewhat unusual occurrence in English. However, the /ng/ is technically a single sound (/ŋ/ in the IPA), so it's still just a two-consonant blend. Think is technically /ŋ+k/, so that is two sounds.

Tricky, on the other hand, clearly has a two-consonant blend at the beginning of the word /tr/, but although it looks like that /ck/ at the end is another consonant blend, it's really not, phonetically speaking. We've just doubled the orthography representing one's not any different from any other /k/ sound and is not a phonetic blend; it's a digraph.

Same thing with that /ph/ in paragraph. That's a digraph, not a consonant blend. /Th/ is also a digraph—two letters coming together to form a single sound. 

X is tricky in English because it is a single letter representing two sounds /k+s/, so it alone qualifies as a consonant cluster, phonetically speaking, even though it's made up of a single letter.

I'm getting to the story, guys, I promise. 

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Just around the river bend...

I feel like I have turned the corner on this illness, which is a good feeling. I mean, I'm just on the other side of feeling really awful, so I still feel really awful, but I feel on the downward slope of feeling awful rather than on the upward climb. So that's good news.


We've been going through popsicles like water over here.

Here's a picture of Zoë so graciously sharing the last of her popsicle with Phoebe...after she dropped it on the ground:

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Positive things happening over here

1) Zoë tested positive for COVID on January 31.

2) I was accepted into UGA's PhD program in Language and Literacy Education on February 2.

3) Benjamin and Phoebe tested positive for COVID on February 3.

4) Then I tested positive for COVID on February 6 (today).

Atlanta Zoo

Here's that same picture of Zoë (who is still coughing up a storm but testing negative for COVID now) with the flamingoes, which were actually quite a clever attraction so close to the entrance of the zoo. I haven't been to many zoos, but I feel like both the entrances to the Hogle Zoo and North Carolina zoos spill patrons out into plazas looking at large animals, which are neat, but...I don't know. The flamingoes were just entertaining—flapping and splashing and squawking around in captivating ways that elegant giraffes just can't manage. 

It kept the children's interest while we all filed into the zoo and used the restrooms and oriented ourselves.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

How it's going

By yesterday Benjamin was feeling poorly—though testing negatively—so we left all the big kids at home to either recuperate or do homework, depending on whether they were sick or whether they are teenagers, and headed to the park for some carefree, unmasked, fresh air time:

The teenagers are not sick. 

Friday, February 02, 2024

A fresh air day

Phoebe, the boys, and I spent the day at the park. It's usually empty during the day when school is in session and it kept us out of the house and in the fresh air. For the most part everyone has been good about masking inside the house...but Phoebe doesn't understand why she should have to do it's better to simply keep her where the air is clean.

In fact, when I first donned my mask inside, Phoebe ran to find a mask, and begged to have someone help her put it on, saying, "Me go, too! Me go, too!"

"I'm not going anywhere," I told her. "But you can wear a mask."

Thursday, February 01, 2024

COVID, round 2

Tuesday was zoo day and it was a beautiful day! Everyone was excited and happy and healthy!

Here's Zoë hanging out with the flamingos at the zoo opening:

See how perky she is? How vibrant? How cheerful and carefree?

The only thing she complained about on Tuesday was a "dry" throat, which didn't really send up any red flags for me. She had a fun time at the zoo with everyone else. 

Petting zoo (the zoo within the zoo)

Going to the zoo on a Tuesday morning in January was a chilly idea, but an excellent one overall. We were shocked—shocked, I tell you!—to find the parking lot mostly empty when we arrived. I don't think I've ever been to such an empty zoo (except, perhaps, for the zoo in Cairo). So finding parking was easy!

We got a free pass for four from the library, and then Grandpa also got a pass for four, so this outing was much cheaper than expected (which was nice), and we almost had the place to ourselves! We took the zoo "backwards," as Andrew described it, which I think simply means that we took the available loop counter clockwise. This put us at the petting zoo first thing (after the flamingos), which was very exciting, at least for Rachel, Benjamin, Phoebe, and Alexander (and Prima), who were al excited about getting to pet the animals. Miriam and Zoë were a little less excited about the animals.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

I have friends, I definitely have friends...

There are times in my life when I think I'm pretty awesome. And there are other—and perhaps more frequent—times in my life when, honestly, I don't. Lately I've been feeling unlikable, which I keep trying to talk myself into believing is not true. I think I'm just at a phase in my life where my social circles feel a little depleted. And making new friends is hard! For example, step four in this article on how to make friends as an adult is "assume people already like you." Like that's easy or something.

Andrew reminds me that I have some good neighbourhood mom friends, and that's true. Our neighbours are so, so good. 

And my friend Crystal and I had a wonderful phone chat not too long ago...but it had been forever since we'd talked before that because...we're thousands of miles away from each other...and are quite busy being moms. 

(Man alive! We thought being moms to a bunch of toddlers was busy. No one warned us how busy things would get when those toddlers grew into teenagers and young adults! ...Well, maybe they did warn us, but did we listen? Ha!)

We had dinner with Reid and a new friend of his, which was lovely, and I'm excited to watch that relationship blossom (because it'll mean one more friend for me, right? That's step three of the article "make friends through friends you already have").

I can't ever talk about friends without talking about this song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (because making friends as an adult (or kid) often feels very much like this):

But this week's most beautiful tender mercy was a little trip my friend Amanda planned to come out for a visit. It has been years since we've seen each other. She hasn't met Alexander or Phoebe and I haven't met either of her children (who go by Prima and Secundo online). That means it's been at least six years, but it's probably been more than that. In the intervening years, she moved to Japan (and sent us the sweetest little "care package" filled with Japanese goodies), had a baby, moved to California, moved to DC, and had a baby. I moved to Spanish Fork, had a baby, and moved to Georgia, and had a baby, and completed my master's degree. It's...been a while. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Get yourself a man who...

Since Marshmallow died, Benjamin's terrarium (or vivarium, as he prefers to call it) has been sitting empty, reminding him of his bereavement. He's been begging for a frog, but frogs just seem so...high maintenance to me. Having to find live prey for them to eat? That basically means keeping pets...for a pet. 

So I suggested some Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Because anybody can keep a cockroach alive, right? They just eat kitchen scraps, basically, and are less...delicate...than their frog counterparts, a little more forgiving of their environment. 

But no one was particularly excited about that idea, including Benjamin. 

Last night, however, we were reading Shiloh (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor) and we got to the point where David Howard (the protagonist's best friend) shows him his new pet...hermit crab! And it didn't hit me right away, but it eventually dawned on me that a hermit crab might be the middle ground we're looking for!

I approached Andrew with the idea after the kids were in bed. 

" I thought we could get Benjamin a hermit crab."

"Oooh!" Andrew, clearly enthused (an 1827 backformation of enthusiastic). "That's a good idea! But where would we keep it?"

On Friday

It was warm (and dry) enough to run yesterday, so Benjamin and I put in a 5k, which was easier than we thought it would be considering the long-ish break we took during that cold/wet snap. I know that earlier I said that I'm more of a winter runner because I'm opposed to getting all hot and sweaty (I grew up in Canada where getting hot and sweaty isn't the norm) but I also don't particularly love running when it's cold outside (and I'm rather disinclined to obtain cold-weather running gear since...we live where we do...), nor when it's raining cats and dogs (though I rather enjoy running in a light rain). So what we could say is that I'm a unicorn runner. I run between x and y degrees, otherwise I'm hibernating or at the pool. 

After our run, I took the kids (Benjamin, Zoë, Alexander, and Phoebe) to the library where we picked out some new stories to read. Andrew created a website to track what we read, so now the kids—who have long (but inconsistently) been keeping track of what they read on spreadsheets—can see a real-time count of how many books they've read so far this year (as well as how many books their siblings) have read. It's been a real motivator around here! The kids are each determined to out-read one another. 

Needless to say, they were all quite excited about visiting the library. 

While we were walking through the parking lot, the kids were thrilled to come across quite a magnificent an oil splotch:

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Botulism at the Iron Rod

On Sunday the youth speaker brought a can of beans up on the stand with him, specifically black-eyed peas. I wasn't sure what he was going to speak about per se, but when he held up the can and said, "I just have a can of black-eyed peas here," and set it down beside the microphone, assuring the congregation that "those are for later," I figured that...maybe he was going to talk about New Year's Day. Setting goals, welcoming new opportunities, things like that. 

After all, down in the south, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is said to bring good luck. The speaker himself was raised in the south, but his parents were/are Mexican immigrants, though, so I wasn't sure if he would have grown up with the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. My own children are of non-southern heritage themselves and we haven't adopted the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Many in our congregation are transplants to the south. But maybe there's, like, a Mexican New Year's tradition surrounding black-eyed peas...or beans in's possible.

I spent quite a lot of time speculating about those beans, but everything I hypothesized was way off.

He spoke about the Vision of the Tree of Life and the importance of holding to the iron rod, which, in Lehi's vision, symbolizes the word of God.

"So imagine this Book of Mormon is the iron rod," he said, placing one hand on the book and lifting the can high into the air with his other hand. "And this can of beans represents temptations and things. But if I just hold fast to the iron rod..."

And with that he brought that can of beans down onto his hand. *BAM!*

It was...shocking.

"I'm just fine," he said. "But the can, you can see, is dented. Actually, my pinky hurts a little bit. But, like, only a little bit. It's fine, really. My hand is fine. Because I was holding to iron rod, see?"

I mean...I don't think it's a sacrament talk that we'll soon forget...that's for sure and certain.

And when we got home we had to see whether, in fact, this was an actual thing that people can do to themselves and emerge unscathed. So we watched a few YouTube videos (like this one) and then we went through several cans of pears. 

But evidently it's a thing you can do (it's physics!); we all did it and lived to tell the tale (though evidently it's better to use one finger than it is to use all your fingers like we did).

Here's a video of Andrew and Rachel trying it:

More Phoebe stories

While we were reading Romeo and Juliet yesterday, Phoebe was supposed to be quietly playing with her puzzles. Instead she was loudly announcing the name of each puzzle piece (e.g., cow! train!) as well as its accompanying sound (e.g., moo! choo-choo!) and banging them on the table. 

"Phoebe!" I complained. "You need to be quiet while we're reading, remember?"

"Otay, Mommy," she said. "Sorry, mean to."

"It's okay," I assured her. "Just play quietly if you want to be at the table with us, okay? Otherwise you can go play in the other room."

"Otay!" she cheerfully agreed. 

She climbed down from the table and ran off into the other room, so I figured that was the option she was choosing for the time being, but no! She soon scampered back into the dining room, having donned some noise cancelling headphones. She then recommenced playing even more loudly than before because to her altered perception she was being quieter.

I have to hand it to her, that was a creative (if ultimately ineffective) solution! 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah!

I won't say that I'm not jealous that I wasn't able to attend this gathering because I do wish that I could have been there. I'm sure Patrick and Josie feel the same (to some degree or another). We haven't managed to all be in the same country (let alone the same room) at the same time in decades

Decades, plural.

Multiple. Decades. 

One day, perhaps, we'll accomplish such a feat (perhaps we never will). In the meantime, I still think it's pretty cool that I saw every single one of my siblings within one calendar year (2023). Sure, it only took 13 days(!) of driving, a few international flights, hundreds of dollars in passport fees, and thousands of dollars between gas, hotel, and airfare. But it was worth it. 

So I'm not entirely jealous that I wasn't able to attend this gathering because my feelings of joy that these people got together overwhelms any amount of self-pity or longing that may have initially twinged in my heart. Look at these beautiful people!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Once there was an iceman...

We've been in the middle of—what for Georgia is—a deep freeze. But although the world is freezing, there's nary a snowflake to be seen, and the kids have thus been feeling a little shortchanged. We have a tradition of building a snowman with the first snowfall of the season (at least, or, when we live in the south every snowfall of the season). Benjamin was determined to use the cold weather to do just that, even if the cold weather wasn't offering any supplies. 

He grabbed a laundry basket (that he and his friend found in the back-backyard; my backyard is filled with junk they've found in the back-backyard) and trudged into the back-backyard to harvest some ice from the creek. He knows I worry about him when he's back there, but he's pretty good at being home in time to "check in" at our designated hour (whatever it might be), and right on target I looked out the window and saw Benjamin lugging his basket full of ice home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Miriam on "Mighty Mo" and a belated Christmas "recital"

Yesterday Miriam's organ teacher invited her to attend "The Mighty Mo Tour" at Fox Theatre in Atlanta with her. I imagine its name comes from its manufacturer—the M.P. Möller Organ company—but I haven't really verified that. 

At the theatre, they listened to Ken Double (the organist) play some pieces and also got to go on a tour of the stage. Mighty Mo's console apparently lives in the basement, but can rise up when needed. It was originally built in 1929—but has undergone some extensive restoration work since then—and is currently the "second largest theater organ, [and] it utilizes 3,622 pipes ranging from the size of a ball point pen to 32 feet tall and wide enough for a man to stand in." Miriam tells me its pipes stand in 47 ranks and that it has 415 stops (which is a lot of stops).

She was very impressed! It's been a while since she played an organ of such a grand instrument, though to be fair...

She played on the Aeolian-Skinner organ that was once int he Trinity Church in New York (but which now resides in John's Creek United Methodist Church) about a year ago, and it has 120 stops and 161 ranks.

She's also played on the organ at the Tabernacle at Temple Square (formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle), which is one of the largest in the world. It has 206 ranks (11,623 pipes)! The Conference Center organ is smaller (7,708 pipes in 130 ranks). 

Anyway, here she is playing Prelude and Fugue in F Minor by Bach:

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Sunday, Sunday

We had a busy Sunday (again) this week. After sacrament meeting Miriam was sustained as the first counselor in the YW class presidency. Then we rushed off to primary to listen to Zoë give a talk. From there we headed to YM where Benjamin was ordained a deacon. Busy.

Zoë started writing her talk on Thursday night (I didn't find out about her talk until Thursday morning) and she wrote a very lovely paragraph retelling the story of Nephi and his brothers heading back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates. I told her it was lovely, but that it could use some...further thought...because of course people think of 1 Nephi 3:7 when given the prompt of "I will go and do as the Lord commands." 

We spent some time talking about it over the dinner table, sharing stories about when we've "gone and done" and other scriptures that connect back to 1 Nephi 3:7. And then Zoë and I revisited her draft. Sometimes she dictated and I typed. Other times she asked to sit in the pilot seat and type for herself. 

This was the final product:

Saturday, January 13, 2024


I made Phoebe a Bluey doll for Christmas, which she simply wasn't very excited about even though it turned out pretty cute. What she was really excited about was a tiny "Floppy" that came with a Bluey action figure set that she got. Now, I knew that she loved the episode "Sleepy Time" but I had not realized how much she loved Floppy. Floppy is just a...toy...though I suppose Floppy comes to life in Bingo's dream scenes. 

Phoebe has been carrying around that tiny figurine ever since Christmas, which means she's also been losing it left and right. One of her most common phrases these days is, "Where Floppy? Where are you, Floppy? Where Floppy? Where?" It's a miracle we still know where Floppy is! 

Sooner or later, however, that tiny toy is going to disappear into thin air, so I decided that the best thing to do would be to crochet a Floppy doll for her, so I've been working on that for the past week or so. I finished late last night shortly before Phoebe stumbled into my room, so proud that she managed to stay in "Phoebe own bed" all night. 

"Oh, you didn't stay in your own bed all night," I said. "It's still the middle of the night, so you've got to go back to bed."

"Back to bed?!" she wailed. 

"I know," I said. "But it's still sleepy time. Do you want to go potty?"

She absolutely did not. We don't make her go in the middle of the night because she can get quite upset when we make her try while she's busy "staying dry" so we let her choose. She usually manages to stay dry all night, so whatever. 

"Do you want a little drink before you go back to your bed?"

She did. And my water bottle was sitting on my desk so (contrary to all advice to not share water bottles), I carried her over there and let her take a sip from my water bottle. There she spied the finished Floppy. 

"Floppy!" she said, thoroughly impressed. "Nice!"

"Do you want to take Floppy to bed?"

She did. So we grabbed Floppy and went back to bed. 

Phoebe has finally figured out that if she says, "Guess what!" she has to follow up with exciting news. On the one hand, this has been nice because I was tired of her leaving me hanging when I'd ask her "What?" and she'd just...walk away. On the other hand, she hasn't quite figured out what exciting news is so she usually just tells us something random. 

"Guess what, Mom!" she said, after I'd tucked her back in.


"Floppy has eyes now."

"That's right. I finally finished making Floppy's face. Floppy has two eyes that are so tired. Floppy wants to go to sleep. Can you help Floppy go to sleep?"



"Guess what, Mom!"


"Mommy made Floppy me!"

"I did!"

"Floppy so nice! And Mommy so nice!"

"Well, thank you, baby! It's time for sleeping now, though, okay? So hush-hush."

"Mommy, guess what!"

I eventually had to call Andrew up to take over for me because she was not going to stop talking to me. She woke up not in Phoebe's own bed, but in Mommy and Daddy's bed, where she continued to gush about Floppy (even though she'd left Floppy behind when she came to find me). I got up with her and we went downstairs where she found her small Floppy and asked me to take a picture of her and Floppy and Floppy.

Friday, January 12, 2024

College memories

BYU's humanities magazine arrived in my mailbox yesterday. 

Yesterday it was 60°F (15°C) and Benjamin and I went running in t-shirts, no sweaters (while in Alberta some of my friends were battling temperatures sub -40°F/C).

Today we've got rain and scattered thunderstorms throughout the day. The kids are busy getting their rain gear on so they can splash in puddles, and I sat down to fill out the crossword puzzle at the back of the magazine. I don't know why. I haven't ever really sought out crossword puzzles before and it feels a little bit like a "soaps and bonbons" way to fill the afternoon. As if I don't have anything responsible to be doing? Like editing the proposal I should be editing, for example...

And then—because I like to read things backwards sometimes, I guess—I flipped the page to read the faculty farewells and obituaries. Not because I was seeking such things out, necessarily, but because that's what happened to be there. And I have to was a rollercoaster of a read because two professors who were very meaningful to me were featured.

First, Deryle Lonsdale evidently retired after 25.5 years at BYU. When I took classes from him he was not even tenured! And now they want to tell me that he has retired?! Sounds fake, but okay. Apparently it's been nearly 20 years since I took a class from him. He was such a great professor. 

I know that I wasn't one of his favourite students (especially in syntax, where I was thrown into dysfunctional group on a semester-long project filled with so much drama it gives me nightmares to this day, and where I had several "run-ins" with the TA of the class, who was one of his master's degree students (who, until today when I looked him up, I thought was a PhD student (turns out he was just a master's degree student with a god-complex)), and with whom he co-authored six papers, but who was a complete...uh...person with whom I could not find a way to get along with). 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

First day of the semester

Today was our first day of the new semester at co-op, which means that we all had new classes. It was also Andrew's first day teaching this semester, and he was quite nervous because it had been so long since he'd last taught in person. But he did well, and so did we!

Rachel and I were in the nursery with Phoebe the first hour. Rachel was the head teacher; I was one of the co-teachers. She did a fabulous job teaching and Phoebe had a delightful time! 

When it was time four our second class, I asked Phoebe if she wanted to come with me or whether she'd like to go back to her nursery class. She informed me that she'd like to go back to her nursery class. I was surprised, but I took her down there, opened the door, waved goodbye and...then stood by the window watching her for a few minutes.

She was perfectly fine without me.


So I left to go join Alexander, since I am the co-teacher for his LEGO Challenge class. 

I was in there for a grand total of maybe five minutes, when I heard a bit of a familiar-sounding commotion in the hallway. I poked my head into the hallway and saw Rachel carrying a weepy, red-faced Phoebe towards me.

I guess I'm not so unnecessary after all. 

Laundry math

We've been using cloth napkins for a few years now. We made a set from material we had on hand (it's how I taught myself how to use a sewing machine, which, as it turns out, wasn't as scary as I thought it would be (though it can certainly be frustrating at times)) and I bought a new set. And then we thought we were set! 

But apparently we're messy eaters, or lazy laundry-doers, or something because we were always running out of napkins. So whenever I see someone post napkins on the Buy nothing Group, I usually throw my name into the ring. I've picked up a lovely set of Thanksgiving napkins this way, a set of Christmas napkins, and not one, not two, but three sets of "everyday" napkins. 

The Thanksgiving and Christmas napkins aside, since they're put away with our holiday things, we have at least five sets of napkins in our napkin drawer, but really more like six because we made something like 20 homemade napkins (so that definitely counts as two sets for our family). 

That's a lot of napkins! And we really haven't run out of napkins in a quite a while.

I was surprised, then, when we were setting the table this evening and...found out we had no clean napkins! 

Incredibly, all the napkins we own fit in our laundry bin...even though it used to seem like all the napkins we owned (before we owned as many napkins as we do now) barely fit in the laundry bin. I'm not really sure how this works out, mathematically speaking, but it's the predicament we found ourselves in this evening.

But now the napkins are all washed, dried, folded, and put away to start the cycle over again tomorrow.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Oh where, oh where has my little boy gone...?

Each church schedule comes with its pros and cons. The 9:00 block means that you don't really get to sleep in all that much, but at least you're out before lunchtime. 

The Spanish ward has the 9:00 block, so Miriam left for church at 8:30 this morning (with Grandpa), played the organ for sacrament meeting, and then played the piano for primary, and then came back home. 

You'll probably be in charge of setting up all the chairs in the overflow, but you won't have to break them down at the end of the day. 

The 10:30 to 12:30 block is really pretty nice, but it can be difficult for little ones to feel like they're missing lunch. I dunno. This might be the best block of time because I can't really think of any "cons" for this time. Some people complain about church interrupting this thing called a "nap schedule" but I'm not really sure what a nap schedule is, so I don't really feel like church got in the way of that. 

We're currently on the noon to 2:00 church block. 

I'll admit—it was nice not to have to rush people out the door. Is it bad that leaving the house by 10:00 in the morning requires us to rush? Leaving by 11:30, though? No rushing required. In fact, we found it a little difficult to fill the time before leaving. It was fast Sunday, so it wasn't even like there were a million people trying to have breakfast or lunch (just a few of the little people). 

I did manage to give Alexander a piano lesson. And the girls worked on their crochet projects (Miriam just taught herself how to crochet and Rachel is still working on her temperature blanket from last year (she's still in August)). The kids played downstairs. It was quiet. And still. was ready to go. 

Andrew stood in the entryway and called all the kids to come because it was time to go.

One, two, three, four, five children assembled in the entryway—Von Trapp family style (or perhaps a little less organized than that)—all dressed in their Sunday best and ready to pile into the van. 

"Okay, let's go!" Andrew said. "We can't be late for 12:00 church!"

Not that we'd ever be late for church. There's a video meme going around right now with the formula "we're x, of course we y" (like this video about millennials, or this one about Greeks, or this one about stay-at-home moms). If we were to make one about our family, it might go, "We're organists. Of course we arrive to church fifteen minutes early and feel like we're fifteen minutes late..."

We have to get there for prelude, so we're always on time. 

Anyway, Andrew said, "Okay, let's go! We can't be late...wait... Where's Ben?"

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Who said that?!

While he was grocery shopping, Andrew picked up a two-pack of some small tongs. We've had one pair for years and years—they've got orange silicon tips and they're just perfect for serving roasted vegetables and things—and we've often found ourselves wishing aloud that we had more of the same. But—until this week—we've just made do with that single pair of small tongs and a couple pairs of larger tongs (which are so unwieldy that we hardly ever bring them out).

Anyway, Andrew came home with this two-pack of small tongs and I was like, "Oh, this is great! We've always wanted more of these!"

And Rachel was like, "Awesome! More tongs!"

Miriam whipped open the drawer where tongs are kept, pulled out the orange tongs, and said, "New tongs? Good! These things are the worst!"

Nary two seconds had elapsed (and none of the rest of us even had time to say anything) and Miriam gasped and goes, "Huh? Who said that?!"

" did," we said. 

"I did not!" she said. "Mom said it!"

Saturday, January 06, 2024

On Christmas Day in the Morning

Our children aren't very early risers, so the big kids were more or less content to sleep in until Phoebe woke up. All the kids slept in the basement—which featured its own festive tree this year—so after she woke up we all went downstairs to get everybody. 

Here are Miriam and Benjamin, just waking up:

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Phoebe tales

I'm sure I'm jinxing myself, but I just have to announce that Phoebe slept in her bed all night last night. She didn't come into our room until 8:00 in the morning. She climbed into bed to snuggle and then requested to go downstairs for breakfast (without requesting her traditional morning nursing session for the first time in her life). So we went downstairs...and because we still have Christmas treats out, she asked for a cookie for breakfast. 

She ended up with an apple, a cup of milk, and a cookie. 

Sadly—and terrifyingly—after dipping the cookie into her milk it turned into...poop!!

"Oh, no! Poop!" Phoebe gagged, dropping the cookie on her plate. 

"That's not poop!" I told her. "It's just your cookie!"

"Poop!" she declared again, dry heaving a handful of times in rapid succession. 

"It's not poop! Mommy wouldn't give you poop to eat! It's a cookie, silly goose! A cookie—breakfast of champions..."

"Poop! Help me! Poop!"

I had to rush to take away her soggy cookie bits before she threw up all over the table. She does not like getting poop on herself. And she does not like anything that reminds her of poop. 

We recently had another "magical" food-to-poop incident when she declared that she needed to go potty in the middle of eating a slice of banana bread. I carried her to her little potty and helped her sit down, but a chunk of banana bread that had been hiding in a fold of her shirt fell out somehow and landed on the floor right in front of her.

"Poop!" she screamed.

"That's not poop. It's banana bread," I said, picking it up with the baby wipe that I had been using to wipe her hands off. "I'll take care of it."

"Poop," she gagged. 

She dry heaved. She moaned. She dry heaved some more. 

"I'll just...go throw this baby wipe away," I suggested. 

"Yeah. Throw away poop!" she said with relief.

"It's not poop. It's just banana bread! It hasn't even been chewed!"

Needless to say, she is pretty much 100% on getting her poopies where they should be (in the potty) because having messy pants is pretty much impossible for her to handle. 


Phoebe is prone to saying "I love you, too!" before anyone has said, "I love you" first. She just comes up to someone, gives them a hug, and croons, "I love you, too!"

Rather than a simple "thank you," she normally says, "thank you, welcome," as if that exchange is a single phrase.

She likes taking attendance of who is home and whether the people at home are happy. If ever I'm [upset, sad, mad, frustrated, tired] about anything, Phoebe is guaranteed to check on me (and offer a hug and a kiss) and say, "Happy now?"

Lately she has been coming up to me and saying "Guess what!" and then wandering away before I have a chance to guess and without ever offering me any news (although today she did allow me to guess what and then told me that she wanted cheese). 

Creating a list of words she knows is virtually impossible at this point in her language development. She seems to know every word and is piecing together sentences well. The other day she said to Andrew, "Daddy, please help me to get some water and some ice in this cup." 

She loves water and ice and is completely capable of dragging a stool over to the fridge and operating the ice and water dispenser (although she also likes to command others to get water and ice for her: "And ice!" she'll say. "Also ice!"). She knows which button will give her ice and which will give her water and even gets a responsible amount of But it took several...irresponsible...episodes to get to that point. 


Here's a couple of pictures of Phoebe and Zoë in their matching pigtails (Phoebe's first full-head pigtails) on Sunday:

Her hair is still pulling into little ringlets (which I love) and she's still favouring her left hand.

To sum up, we all love Phoebe to bits!

Cooper's Furnace

Last night for FHE we reflected on the goals we made in 2023 and discussed our goals for 2024. As usual, we listed a number of "Georgia Adventures" to complete (in the past these have been "Utah Adventures" or "North Carolina Adventures"; anything that gets us out exploring our own state (usually for free) so we gain and maintain an appreciation for our immediate surroundings). We also split up "hikes" and "Georgia Adventures" this year, so that hikes can't count as adventures (I guess because I've been craving wilderness lately, though I recognize that history and culture and civilization and things like that are also valuable).

Anyway, today we thought we'd get started by checking off both a hike and an adventure! We headed out towards Cartersville to hike the trail to Cooper's Furnace. We first stopped at the Allatoona Lake Visitor Center & Museum (which was really marked as the Land Bureau or something like that, so we were a little bit timid going inside) so that we could use the potty.

Very technically, we stopped at a random gas station about 10 minutes prior to arriving at the visitor's center so that Phoebe could make an emergency potty trip. When I ran up to the gas station shop with her, however, the doors were locked! A man ran up behind me and when he saw that I had trouble with the door he said, "It's locked?! You have got to be kidding me! It's 11:00 in the morning!"

Fortunately, the worker came to the door, removed a sign (that she'd taped to the top corner of the door, above all the other signs and stickers on the door, that said she'd be out momentarily) and let us in. That man busted past me and Phoebe to the restrooms, so evidently he was in some dire straights. 

Phoebe did her business and then we went to the visitor's center where Phoebe did some more business of a different nature. And then we were ready to begin our adventure.

The museum is small, but interesting. We learned about pig iron (so called because the cooling forms look like piglets nursing a sow), the Allatoona Dam, the Civil War, and some of the local wildlife. (We also were lambasted at every turn by reminders to wear our lifejackets—with catch phrases like "Lifejackets worn, no cause to mourn" and other cheerful things like that. 

Monday, January 01, 2024

On Christmas Eve in the Evening

On Christmas Eve we surely had something for dinner. I can't remember whether it was latkes or green chili burritos, but either way it was good (and whatever we didn't have for Christmas Eve dinner, we had for Christmas dinner (Andrew was a super chef machine over Christmas break)). 

After dinner we gathered together to read the Christmas story. This year, rather than having Andrew read and the kids act it out, I put together a sort of a reader's theatre piece, breaking up the lines (pulled directly from the scriptures) over various characters so that more people could have a chance to read. The kids had so much fun reading Shakespeare together this past semester that I thought they'd also enjoy reading some more of the scripture story. I'm not sure it was a complete success, but they did seem to enjoy it. 

Alexander and Phoebe were Joseph and Mary.

Frisbee Golf with Patrick

This summer there was a house on the way to the pool with a disc golf basket set up in their yard. Every time we drove past, Benjamin would say, "Look at that! They have disc golf!" So disc golf had been on my radar since then, though it wasn't until I saw a set pop up during a big sale that I made the leap. It hid in our house for months, waiting for Christmas—with the big bonus being that Uncle Patrick was coming for Christmas (and Uncle Patrick is pretty much a professional frisbee player (like, he played and coached Ultimate Frisbee for years and years)).

I was fully committed to waiting for Christmas morning, until I saw the forecast for Christmas and Boxing Day was full of rain. Christmas Eve, on the other hand, was lovely and warm I decided that it could be an early present and brought it out on Christmas Eve afternoon. 

Uncle Patrick taught the kids (mine plus some from the neighbourhood) the rules of the game, and gave them some wonderful instruction on how to throw discs properly.