Tuesday, April 30, 2024

4/4 April haiku

I managed to write one haiku a day this month (even if I don't love them all) and I managed to write a 38 page paper for a journal...that was promptly desk-rejected because I didn't anonymize my cover letter (because they didn't say to anonymize it) and because I left my self-citations as "Author, 2023" rather than "Author, Year" (and that mistake is on me because I overlooked that small detail). But I just resubmitted it so I think it should be good. I hope it should be good...good enough to not get desk rejected again. The deadline is today, so...

I spent most of the day crossing things off of a long-neglected do-stuff-around-the-house list. 

I'd been looking for another toddler bicycle seat to try with our bikes because Benjamin would really like to go for more bike rides and the park isn't that far. I mean, it's too far to walk, in my opinion (at least regularly), but it's a perfect distance for biking. 

After submitting my paper I looked at seats on Amazon for a while, intending to measure certain parts of our bikes to see what seats might work with what frames. The last time we scored a bike seat on the Buy Nothing group it worked on none of our bikes. Literally none of them. And we have like 5 adult bikes in our garage to choose from. So that was a bit frustrating. 

We got rid of that one, though, and obtaining a new one has been on the back burner of my mind. 

So I spent some time looking on Amazon.

But then this morning, I opened Facebook and the very first post was someone on the Buy Nothing Group giving away a brand new "universal" toddler seat. What are the odds?! 

Probably higher than you might think.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Random stories

Last night Phoebe came upstairs at bedtime and heard crickets singing through the open window. She was so excited she started screaming and running around. It took me several minutes to catch her and calm her down enough to discover what it was she was carrying on about. 

She wanted to (1) climb up to the window so she could listen to and look for the crickets, (2) to open all the windows, and (3) to go for a walk to see what's special at night. 

That last one I partly credit Daniel Tiger for, though we typically do a lot of nighttime walks once the fireflies come well as in the winter when it gets dark earlier.


I feel like singing time is going so much better. I've really only done it a handful of times because I got called in March and did two weeks of singing time...and then we had Easter and General Conference and Ward Conference right in a row...and then I've done two more weeks. And...things are going better. 

I've been making Google Slides presentations rather than little posters to hold up. Checking the television out of the library every week is a little annoying but, honestly, I'm such a disorganized person that it's far better for me to just have all my Google Slides in one location than it would be for me to make a bunch of papers for me to keep track of. 

Of course, this means I have to remember my computer and various cords to connect everything...and so I have to keep track of all of those things. So I guess the idea of it being a convenience is a toss up. 

And then today I forgot The Church Bag, which was certainly not convenient. 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Home again! Home again! Jiggity-jig!

Vienna. Salzburg. Freilassing. Znojmo. Bratislava. And finally home again!

Here are a few pictures of Rachel and Miriam in Znojmo, Czechia:

Friday, April 26, 2024

Signs of growing up

Alexander just came upstairs to tell me that in addition to the songs I assigned him for piano, he's also been working on the C major 5-finger scale with both hands

"You just play them at the same time and it sounds amazing. Like, I have both my thumbs on middle C, like this, and then I play with my second fingers—which would be D on the right hand and B on the left hand—and it just, like, together it sounds so beautiful!"


Yesterday we had our last official day of co-op classes, though we still have a field day next week. Rachel wasn't here (obviously, since she was in Vienna visiting Uncle Patrick, though technically I think they were in Bratislava on Thursday) so I had to teach her preschool class for her, which went well. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

3/4 April haiku

I'm up against what feels like a pretty big deadline right now (I have a paper due on April 30, not for a class, but to submit to a journal) and it's kind of crushing me right now. But this evening I got to stay at home with the little kids while Andrew took the middle kids to the church for their activities because our big kids are in Europe (and because Benjamin remembered at the very last minute that it was career day and he was supposed to ask his dad to come talk to the kids about what it's like being a professor). 

So instead of writing, I went on a long, dawdling walk around the block this evening, braided a crown of clover flowers, and drew with sidewalk chalk. 

And I don't really regret it because it was time well spent. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Rachel and Miriam take Vienna (and other places)

It's been weird and wonderful having Rachel and Miriam being off on their little adventure. People have asked me whether I worry about them and—honestly?—I don't think I really have been. They're good, capable teenagers, and they are accompanied by a number of good and capable adults—Auntie Josie, who is very well-travelled, Uncle Patrick, who lives in Austria, and Hadis, Uncle Patrick's girlfriend, who I hear has made some delicious food for everyone and who offered up her apartment building's practice room for Miriam's use. They've been well taken care of. 

I've been asked whether we're feeling the pinch of having our babysitters and extra driver snatched away and...I'll admit there have been times when it would have been useful to have a babysitter or extra driver around, but we've managed. 

Mostly I've been consoling myself with the fact that by the time these two are actually ready to leave the house, Phoebe will be just that much older (that is, less of a baby and more of a kid, and that should be helpful). 

Today Darla asked whether it was quiet without the girls and you might be surprised to hear is quieter without the girls around. They're not very noisy people, but the house is definitely quieter without them. The table feels emptier and no one has to sit next to anyone else in the van and so, yes, it's quieter. 

From the few text messages I've gotten from the girls (and Uncle Patrick and Aunt Josie), they seem to be having a wonderful time, but we'll sure be glad to have them back home!

Their Instagram accounts are filled with pictures of...places...but here are a few pictures Auntie Josie has sent me of them...

Here they are carrying baguettes home from the bakery on their way back to Uncle Patrick's apartment on their very first day in Europe:

Friday, April 19, 2024

Poison Ivy and Marbles

We keep a bar of special soap in our cabinet specifically for poison ivy emergencies. Sometimes it's Fels-Naptha. This time it was Marie Originals Poison Ivy/Oak Soap. 

Honestly, given how long we've lived in the south—where poison ivy seems to grow about as prolifically as dandelion weeds do on the Alberta prairies—we have a pretty good track record of not getting into poison ivy. It's true that I spend a considerable amount of time looking for poison ivy (and watching for snakes) and teaching my children to look for poison ivy (and watch for snakes). 

Growing up I didn't often worry about those things—snakes and poison ivy—because all the poisonous snakes came with alarm systems and running into poison ivy was a true rarity. It's possible that's why I'm so scared of them out here. Unfamiliar things are often a little scary. And we've been so have thus far avoided having any serious run-in with the vines. 

Zoë has had to take a few baths after some flirting with disaster too close to the side of the trail (or sidewalk—because poison ivy is all over the city as well as in the woods, which just blows my never-seen-poison-ivy-before-moving-out-here mind), but we haven't had, like, a serious run-in. 

And then today I noticed some poison ivy growing on our little hill. 

Cue Phoebe's high pitched voice: "On my little hill?!"

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Phoebe tales

This morning I took the kids on a walk to go find the aftermath of a fire that was in our neighbourhood. We didn't know what had happened. All we knew was that Andrew went out to run a quick errand last night while I was reading to the kids before bed...and he couldn't come home the same way he'd left because there was a fire engine blocking the road, actively spraying water at a flaming something.

We still don't know what happened, but we found the location of the fire. It wasn't a house or anything, just someone's side yard that had been thoroughly torched for some reason or other. 


Phoebe walked the whole way and filled her stroller up with a pile of pinecones "to show Daddy."


When we got home the kids ran in through the garage door and slammed it behind them, which is borderline responsible. I mean—they remembered to close the door! But Phoebe was right behind them and was a little upset about having the door slam in her face (but at least it was only that and not on her fingers, right?).

She can do a lot of things—more and more things every day! She can reach the lights at the top of the stairs to the basement and will stand there and flick them on and off and on and off. And she can reach the light switch by the couch. But she can't reach any other light switches in the house. 

She can open the garage door from inside the house, but she can't open it from outside of the house.

It's frustrating for her to sometimes be able to do things and not be able to do them at other times. So she was pretty frustrated by her inability to open the door. 

"Momma—open door for this little..." she pouted, and the paused.

"This little what?" I asked.

"For this! Beep-boop-beep-boop-beep!"

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Auntie Josie's visit

Auntie Josie arrived on Friday night, just before midnight. We talked too late in the night and then slept in the next morning. I had originally wanted to go hiking or something, but the logistics proved too much for me to manage (which vehicles do we take, who drives, what do we do about Miriam's arm, etc). So instead we went grocery shopping, which is pretty lame, I guess.

But Josie is one of those people I just enjoy being around, so it was fun to get to walk around the store with her...even if shopping isn't the most thrilling activity.

Then Rachel left for the dance and we finally got around to passing out the presents Naanii had sent with Auntie Josie. Zoë and Benjamin got slap bracelets (and some colouring kits, that I told them was to share). Phoebe got  a stuffed pig in a BYU shirt, and Alexander got a stuffed bunny in a BYU shirt. Miriam and Rachel and I got a set of pens. And there was also a little game for the family. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

For meeeeee?

Phoebe has started to say a few cute things recently.

For one, she has started calling me "Mama" or "Momma" (I am never sure how to spell that) and it's adorable, but also off-putting because it's just...something I thought I'd heard the last of. I haven't been called "momma" in years

When Phoebe started talking she skipped right over that and went straight to "Mom."

She said it at the pediatrician's office once and the doctor was like, "Excuse me, did she just call you Mom?"

"Yeah," I said. 

"Tell me you have five older siblings without telling me you have five older siblings," the doctor (more or less) said. "Typically babies don't say mom right away. Mama is much more common."

It's true. That duplicated syllable ma (ma+ma = mama) is easier to accomplish than tacking a final -m sound onto mo- to make mo+m (mom). But, that's the way Phoebe did it...

Until recently when she's suddenly started calling me "Momma."

2/4 April haiku

My last post took us from April 1 to April 8, which is 8 days (in case anyone is counting). I already wrote a haiku today, so this post will take us from April 9 to April 16, which is also 8 days. I am well aware that a week is only 7 days long. However, April has 30 I had to have a few collections with 8 days in them (or have four 7-day collections and one 2-day collection and that hardly makes any sense). 

April 9

a dreary morning
against all odds
she asks for milk


soggy catkins
curling on the asphalt
a dead snake

Blue cast, Spring Formal, and many visitors

Could more things have happened over the weekend? Possibly. But it felt pretty packed as things were.

I woke up bright and early Friday morning and began calling pediatric orthopedic offices to see if anyone could squeeze Miriam in that same day. The first office I called (which was the one recommended to us by the urgent care facility) was super grumpy about how "entitled" I was to think my child could be treated within such a small window. You have to plan for these things, apparently.

The soonest possible appointment would be at least ten days out. She didn't care what we had coming up...

And I'm like, "Who plans to break their arm mere days before taking an international flight?!"

So clearly that wasn't the place for us, the weirdos. 

But I found a place that could see her that same day. Because her break was minor and her swelling wasn't too bad, they went ahead and put a cast on her to immobilize and protect her arm during her travels so that her minor injury didn't turn into a bigger problem by being jostled, etc. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024


My sister Josie arrived this evening! 

I set up an air mattress for her in the basement. And also set up a couch cushion bed for her in case the whole air mattress thing didn't work out. And told her that a third option was a futon in the girls' room, which I didn't set up because Rachel had already gone to bed. 

Miriam was going to take the futon and let Josie have her bed, but then she broke her arm and didn't want to give up her comfy bed because sleeping has been hard enough as it is. 

But the futon is a third option. And if none of those options really sound good then we can kick Alexander out of his bed and steal his mattress to put on the floor downstairs.

So many comfy options!

"I'll be fine," she insisted. "My years in Young Ambassadors really taught me that I can sleep anywhere."

She loved her touring days, but they were grueling and the accommodations could sometimes be...less than accommodating. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Left arm...broken!

A few months ago I scored a push tricycle on the Buy Nothing Group. Phoebe had been putting up a fuss about riding in the stroller and I thought that perhaps a tricycle stroller would help make her fits less frequent. And I was correct! She is much happier about getting to bike around the block than she had been being pushed around the block. Eventually she'll walk around the block just fine—and she has walked around the block before—but sometimes we want to go faster than she travels on her two little legs.

So the push tricycle has been a fine solution.

I wouldn't say it's been a perfect solution, but it was free, right? And free is nice.

A few of this issues we've had with the push tricycle are:

Monday, April 08, 2024

1/4 April Haiku

It's National Poetry Month! 

I've trying to write a haiku for every day this month. 

Haiku has become such an interesting form to me (since reading Jane Hirshfield's Ten Windows, which contains such wonderful discussion on Basho). What children are taught in elementary schools about stringent syllabic patterns—and, perhaps, that the poem should have something to do with nature—is woefully inadequate, not to mention slightly misleading. While the three-line rule seems to be sticking rather firmly, the 5-7-5 rule is work well in English. Syllables don't matter as much as ideas because in Japanese the poems don't contain 17 syllables but seventeen on. A good haiku makes an observation about the world by means of a surprising very few syllables.

(Read more about haiku here, here, or here, or wherever).

So, no—my haiku don't always have 17 syllables. That said, they don't always contain a surprising twist either.

I didn't promise every day's haiku would be a good haiku, did I? 

My purpose, I suppose, is to tell little stories about each day, to remember the month by. So far it's been a gloriously good month for haiku—so much has been happening with nature!

April 1

earth warms—creatures wake,
slink and worm their way inside
the boy's pants—"A skink!"

Watching the April 8, 2024 Eclipse

We had a lovely time watching the eclipse this afternoon. While we weren't in the path of totality (we were about 85%), we did notice a significant gloaming effect (another vocabulary word from today) as well as an accompanied decrease in overall temperature. 

Painted Book of Mormon Activity

Today for FHE we talked about syzygial relationships...or how thinking celestially can help us align with God. Really I just thought it would be fun to talk about alignment today, after watching the eclipse. And I was in luck because this month's Liahona had a couple of articles about just that—aligning our hearts and wills with God. I gave the kids a head's up about today's topic at dinner and told them all to come prepared to share something and everyone (except Alexander and Phoebe) was ready to share. 

We talked about some of the General Conference talks we listened to this past weekend and shared thoughts we had about scriptures we'd been reading recently. So it worked out well!

Last week we finally got around to painting the covers of our copies of The Book of Mormon. We'd seen many people do this and decided we wanted to do it as a family and told the kids they could choose whatever language they'd like for their copy of The Book of Mormon. Rachel is just finishing up her second semester of Spanish, so she chose Spanish. Miriam has been studying German for quite some time, so she chose German, as did Alexander (who studies languages by whim...the other day he told me about the "galactic" lesson he'd recently completed...but he mean Gaelic). Zoë has been learning French at co-op, so she chose French. Benjamin simply wanted English. That's what we did for Phoebe as well. I chose Russian. Andrew chose Italian. 

So we ordered all these books months ago and some of them came in right away, but the Spanish and French books were on backorder for some reason. But eventually—at long last—we received another package...with only a Spanish book in it. And then waited and waited and waited some more and finally— finally!—Zoë's French book arrived. 

We painted our books last Monday. It was pure chaos, but everyone had a good time.

We covered a portion of our table in paper to keep the little ones from accidentally (or purposefully) scribbling on the table with the paint markers.


For school today we went through the Jr. Ranger eclipse booklet, which led to some exploration of other moons in our solar system and the potential for other planets to experience eclipses. 

Then Benjamin asked for a haircut and I jumped at the opportunity before he could change his mind because...uh...he needed a haircut.

Then Benjamin and I went on a quick run, leaving Zoë to do some work on her country report. She printed out some pictures for Alexander and Phoebe to colour while she worked, which kept them very busy. Technically Rachel and Miriam were in charge, but they were diligently working on their own school work since this is Rachel's week of finals at BYU-I...and because we told Miriam that she had to finish at least one of her ASU classes before leaving for Europe. So they were home, but not interested in entertaining babies. Zoë had things covered, though!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

All things bright and beautiful

I took the kids to the park the other day, on the first day of the year that was due to be rather warm (around 80°F/26°C). I don't know if I should be slathering my kids with sunscreen before spending hours outside in January (especially considering the fact that we rarely get snow here), but I do know that I should be slathering my kids with sunscreen when the warmth of the sun feels like a punishment rather than a caress. 

Especially because my children all inherited a ridiculously fair complexion and tend to burn. I'm always forgetting that about them because, well, I simply don't burn as easily as any of them. But on this particular day, I remembered (gold star in mothering for me!) and broke out the sunscreen. 

As I was rubbing this "lotion" on Phoebe she started sniffing excitedly. 

"Mmmm...mmmmm...mmmm!" she moaned with Pavlovian desire. "This lotion! Mmmmmm! This lotion mates me wanna doe pool! Tan we doe pool today?"

It's jarring to think that in spite of not being able to really speak last summer, Phoebe has lasting memories of going to the pool (triggered by a strong olfactory association with sunscreen, apparently).

This post is actually about poetry—Happy Poetry Month!

I am notoriously bad at managing my notifications. It drives Andrew a little bit crazy. 

Right now, according to my computer, I have a manageable 31 unread text messages...but on my phone that number is 187. My phone tells me I have 18,801 unread emails on my personal account...but my computer tells me it's only 7388. I'm not sure what is up with those discrepancies, so who even knows how many unread messages I truly have?

My school email address has 2529 unread messages.

Somehow Andrew's usually able to keep on top of his notifications, but for whatever reason...I just can't. 

We had dentist appointments this week and—I kid you not—we escaped without a single cavity between all six kids and me (Andrew will be going next week). But I did not escape without racking up 43 text messages and 38 email messages all from the dentist's office

"Just a reminder..."

"To confirm your appointment..."

"Your appointment has been confirmed..."

"Click to fill out the required paperwork prior to your appointment..."

"Your paperwork is complete..."

"Your appointment is coming up today at..."

"Thank you for scheduling your next appointment with..."

"Did you enjoy your visit? Take some time to leave feedback at..."

Times. Seven. People.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Easter Egg Smackdown 2024

 Like many families in the world this week, we dyed Easter eggs. Below you'll see (from left to right, in columns) Phoebe's, Miriam's, Zoë's, Alexander's, and Benjamin's eggs, respectively:

Monday, April 01, 2024

Just to be clear

Yesterday when we were getting ready for church, the following exchange occurred (with me yelling up the stairs and the kids yelling down the stairs):

Me: Phoebe, come here! I want to do your hair!
Phoebe: Not yet!
Me: But we’re trying to get ready to go!
Phoebe: Not yet!
Me: What are you doing?
Alexander: She’s building a house!
Phoebe: Just out of LEGO! Not a real one!

It's a good thing she clarified because otherwise I would have thought she was building a real house!


Spring is here, as I've noted. We've got violets and steaming compost heaps and—apparently—lizards in the basement. The sun is flouting its bedtime and so too are the children. Thus, it was relatively late when they came inside from playing outside with the neighbours (and boy did they smell like outside kid).

We had scriptures and prayer before sending them off to shower and the following exchange occurred:

Me: Oh, you've got a ring on!
Zoë: Yeah. Alexander married Evelyn.
Alexander: But not for real. Just for pretend.
Zoë: But they really have crushes on each other.
Alexander: That's true.
Zoë: So we had a ceremony!
Alexander: A pretend ceremony.
Zoë: And they got married!
Alexander: For pretend.
Zoë: And Evelyn really gave him that ring.
Alexander: That's true.

It's a good thing he clarified that for me because otherwise I would have thought I'd have to worry about in-laws next door! 

Sneaky Skink

As promised, we are taking some time off from schoolwork this week. Well, the little kids are, at least. The bigger girls are bound by their semester schedules (and will get a lovely vacation in a couple of weeks) and I am hoping to use this time to get some good writing done (though...I'm excellent at postponing things). 

So, this morning the kids—still all in their pyjamas—were downstairs playing in the basement, when suddenly Alexander let out a blood-curdling scream.


"What's going on?" I called down the stairs. 

Alexander ran up the stairs and, melodramatically gasping for breath, explained, "! 

"There was your..." I began repeating, but Alexander cut me off, still panting.

"Pants! Yes! I felt something cold and wet on my legs and thought maybe I was peeing my pants or something…and then a lizard plopped out!"

"...of your pants?"

"Yes! Come and see!" he said, and then ran to the Tupperware drawer. "I need to find a container!"

"This isn't some sort of prank, is it?" I asked.

It is, after all, April Fool's Day.

"No!" he insisted. "A lizard was really in my pants. It's just a skink, we think. Why can't I find a lunch meat container? I can only find good Tupperware! Oh! Here's one!"

Easter Sunday

Miriam and Rachel stayed for all three sacrament meetings at our building today. First they attended the Spanish ward, where Miriam is the organist. Then they stayed for the next ward because their friends from seminary were singing. And then they attended our meetings where...