Thursday, February 29, 2024

She's so glad when Daddy comes home...

Phoebe has done a lot of colouring in her life, a lot of scribbling. Only recently has she started trying to make sense of her scribbles—naming things in her pictures and so forth. Until today, however, only she has been able to discern what she's been drawing. 

Today she woke up obsessed with the idea of Daddy coming home. Probably because he was not at home. 

She loves the Daniel Tiger episode "Grownups Come Back," so of course she wanted to draw a picture of herself with Daddy. The little preschoolers do that in the episode—draw a picture of themselves with their grownup to help them feel happy. She wanted me to participate in this project.

I was tasked with drawing Phoebe while she turned her attention to drawing Daddy. Here's our finished work:

Like her babbles, which those who don't know her well might not be able to understand at first listen, this drawing might not make very much sense to anyone who hasn't been trying to interpret her squiggles the past long while. But when I sent this picture to Andrew he immediately texted back, "EYES!"

Yes, she was very deliberate about giving Daddy his eyes. 

I'm not sure how flattering he found the rest of the picture when I told him that that...was him...but, yeah. That's him alright. Spitting image. 

Wake up—puppy!

Zoë helped Phoebe get dressed on Sunday morning. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

It's a beautiful day

I took the kids to the playground this afternoon—for the first time in what feels like ages. I also brought a laptop so I could get some writing done because I have a number of writing projects that I'm absolutely choking on at the moment (that I really need to get going on). 

This evening Rachel walked in on me while I was transferring things from the laptop to my desktop computer (there's no internet at the playground, so I drafted offline and then just...brought the computer to my desk) and she said, "Huh. Do you have enough screens there? Could I bring you an iPad or something?"

She's a funny, funny kid.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Sink baths, first sleepovers, and Harry Potter

A couple of kids from seminary were in their high school production of Mamma Mia!. Since Grandpa is a seminary teacher this year and since Rachel and Miriam are peers with the young performers, Grandpa took Rachel and Miriam (and Benjamin and Zoë and Darla) to watch it yesterday evening. 

I stayed home with Alexander and Phoebe. 

Andrew was at work. 

We were pretty boring. Alexander wanted to play Switch Sports. Phoebe wanted to read stories. So we did those things. And then we started getting ready for bed. 

Once we had our pyjamas on I told the kids we were going to spend a few minutes tidying their bedrooms. 

Once the bedrooms were tidier, Alexander declared that it was the perfect space for a fort! 

That's why you clean, right? So you can make another even better mess!

I told him that he could make a fort. He wanted to make a fort to sleep in. And he wanted to use the big blue foam tiles from downstairs. And he wanted me to help because he tried it once and wasn't very successful (and I'd done such a good job helping Benjamin with his bushcraft that I'd probably find domestic fort building much simpler). 

I told him that I could help him make a fort. 

This activity involved several trips to the basement to bring up the blue foam tiles. 

Trekking up and down to the basement meant that Phoebe was, at times, left unsupervised. 

And she's a quick one! She just so easily finds trouble...

Evidently she took herself potty (yay!) while we were downstairs and she knows that after going potty she's supposed to wash her hands. She's still so small, though, that she's never managed this on her own. She can't reach the faucet handles from the stool, so she needs help turning the water on. 

So, Alexander and I came up from downstairs and Phoebe was no where to be seen. 

"Where are you, Phoebe?" I called out. 

"I'm dus washin' mine haaaaans!" she called back to me. 

Just washing her hands?! I can see into the bathroom from the stairs but didn't see her in there. There was no child standing on the stool trying to wash their hands!

That's because...

Zoë vs. the rusty ol' nail

Before you ask, yes, Zoë is current on her vaccines. Her last DTP, DTap, DT, Td shot (I'm not sure why they have them all listed there, but I know they all include tetanus) was on 10/16/2020, so she should be good on that front.


Co-op has simply not been good to this child recently. Last time we went to co-op, we walked away with COVID (today they did another activity blowing through straws; Zoë politely declined to participate). Today, Zoë stepped on a rusty nail!

Here she is soaking her foot when we got home, to help clean it out better than we were able to do on site:

We were outside for recess, and Zoë was heading inside to throw away some trash. The sidewalk leading to the building includes a little corner, but there's a desire path cutting diagonally from one sidewalk to the other. This path is not so desired that the grass has worn away to a dirt trail, but the grass does bear witness to other feet having trod through it from time to time. Zoë took this little shortcut and...found a nail with her foot.

It went right through her shoe and into her foot. 

"OUCH!" she screamed. "Something's poking me!"

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.