Monday, May 20, 2024


I've been the primary chorister for about two months now and feel like I'm starting to settle in. At any rate, I know the kids a little better and they know me a little better and we're all willing to have a good time together. The first week I left feeling a little bit like they'd eaten me alive...but things are going better now. 

We've had some fun and successful lessons/activities. And we've had a few activities fall flat. 

That's the way things go, right?

I can tell when an activity goes over well because then Zoë or Alexander will offer to teach Family Home Evening...using my music lesson from the day before. I think that's totally okay, though, because mimicking a lesson is an excellent way to learn how to teach. 

That's how I initially trained as a swimming instructor. 

When I started teaching swimming lessons I was actually too young to have gone through the Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification course that our recreation center required to teach. But I had said in my lifeguarding interview that I was absolutely interested in teaching swimming lessons. For some reason they didn't realize how old I was, so they just banked on me teaching swimming lessons that summer. 

Because I wasn't technically certified, I couldn't sign any of my own report cards or anything. But they still had me teach as I would shadow a certified teacher for the first swimming session of the morning and then would simply...repeat that same lesson the rest of the day with my own classes...over and over again...until my shift was over. 

And then I'd get up and do it all again the next day. 

Honestly, I think I learned more that summer of shadowing my good friend Sam than I did when I finally went through the process to get my WSI certification. I'm really good at teaching "level three" swimming skills!

Spring Piano Recital

On Saturday between helping Grandpa move out of his place in the morning and into Darla's house in the afternoon, Zoë and Miriam had their end-of-year piano recital and awards ceremony. I should probably clarify that "year," in this case, refers to the school year (which our piano studio follows). My littler kids were confused about all the different meanings "a year" can hold—a fiscal year, a school year, a calendar year, a leap year...

Anyway, we had a crew helping at Grandpa's house in the morning, and then parted ways—Rachel and Benjamin went up to Darla and Grandpa's—and the rest of us went to the recital.

A couple of the moms were talking about Phoebe, asking me if she was the same little baby they'd seen at the recital last year...and she was the same baby—just a year older! 

Here she is in May 2023:

Thursday, May 16, 2024

What it's like having teenagers

Being a mother to young children is relentless. They need you very first thing in the morning, all throughout the day, and into the night as well. Phoebe recently developed a little "chirp," where she says, "Mom. Mom. Mom," at just the right pitch to make my skin crawl. It's incessant. All. Day. Every. Day. 

Teenagers aren't like that so much. 

I can go hours without seeing my older girls. They host their own parties. They skip out on things they never used to skip out on (like trips to the library and swimming pool).

They are so capable. They do laundry. They cook. They keep up with their school work. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Freudian slips: Dishwashing edition (and a cake story for dessert)

We were finishing up dinner this evening...relatively late...because we had things like swimming and music lessons...and we were reminding the kids about their "dinner jobs." One child is in charge of clearing the table, one child is in charge of doing the dishes, one child is in charge of tidying up the floors, and one child is in charge of taking care of the cat (and garbage, if needed). Alexander helps out here and there or helps keep Phoebe entertained and out of the way. 

It sounds like a well-oiled machine, doesn't it? 

After all, we're pretty experienced parents now. We have systems and things like that...

Alas, systems are always better in theory than they are in practice (at least from our experience), so it really works like a rusty, piece-of-junk machine. 

But it's working (I guess), so that's all that matters.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day the kids let me stay in bed while they made me breakfast. Andrew was also staying in bed because he took the middle-of-the-night Phoebe shift and fell asleep in her bed. 

Zoë made the egg for me (though she thinks she may have cooked one side too long because she left it on the stove unattended while she worked on my picture and heard it "popping and whistling" in the pan, but it was delicious so I'm sure it was just fine). Alexander washed the tomatoes and filled my cup with water. Phoebe got the ice.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

East Palisades Trail

Feeling like we haven't gone on a family adventure in ages, we decided last night that we'd go for a hike today. Miriam suggested hiking to see the bamboo grove at East Palisades Trail, so that's what we did. 

Here's everyone at the trailhead:


Thursday, May 09, 2024

Swimming stories and Phoebe tales

This morning we went to the pool to do some practicing before swim tryouts. We'd gone to the pool on Monday afternoon for several hours, but it just so happened that a couple of our co-op families joined our pool so they showed up and then all my kids wanted to do was swim. Naturally, that is something that should happen at a pool (and I understand that) but I did want to make sure my kids would be able to pass the swim test to get on the swim team that I already paid know? 

The test isn't hard—they just have to swim one length of the pool without stopping—but it's early in the swim season and my kids...haven't ever done competitive swimming...or formal swimming I just wanted to give them a few more "mom" lessons so they could feel...readier. 

Yesterday we didn't make it to the pool because we had trouble getting anything done and so simply couldn't make it out the door. And by the time we were ready to make it out the door I was not in any shape to take them out. So I took a nap instead.

So this morning we went to the pool and we did quite a bit of playing, but we also worked on our strokes a little. Zoë needed to be reminded to keep her ears in line with her shoulders, and just doing that improved her stroke (and endurance) significantly. If she can just remember that one thing, she'll have no trouble making it across the pool. 

Phoebe loves going to the pool (so it was a little soul crushing to her when we didn't go to the pool yesterday) and very sweetly asks for me to teach her, too. "Mommy teach me swimming! Teach me again!"

We mostly just practice back floats and kicking and things. She also loves to jump into the water (kind of—she kind of squats and falls into my arms).

And after she jumps in the pool she comes back up out of the water and splutters, "Do it 'gain!"


This afternoon the kids and I spent some time in the garden this afternoon while Daddy took Miriam and Zoë to their piano auditions (which they passed with flying colours). Benjamin and I were doing some actual work—weeding and tending and planting—Alexander and Phoebe were collecting worms and making habitats for them. Admittedly, keeping Phoebe occupied and out of trouble is actual work, so Alexander was working, too. And Phoebe was engaged in play, in the hard work of exploring her world.

And I was grateful those two were so passionately engaged in their labours while Benjamin and I were engaged in ours.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

More wedding pictures

Because I need to put these pictures somewhere other than my phone, here are a few pictures from Grandpa and Darla's wedding...

Here's a sweet shot of Zoë and Darla walking back inside the church together after family pictures:

Monday, May 06, 2024

Field Day and Swim Teams

On Thursday we met with our co-op for the last time to have a field day. It's been a few years since we've done a field day, and I was so happy the kids got to participate. I always loved field day when I was growing up—I loved getting the whole school out there, having older students and younger students working together. It was competitive, but more fun than truly competitive...I don't know. For someone who doesn't really enjoy "sports," per se, I have some awfully good memories of field day. 

When Rachel and Miriam were in school, they always had to move around field day stations with their class...which I found less fun...but still nice...I guess.

Anyway, at our co-op field day the kids were divided into red, blue, yellow, and green teams, and each team had a mix of little and big kids. The teams sure were competitive and winners were announced after each event, but honestly no one had any idea who won overall (because nobody was really keeping track) and everyone cheered loudly for the last competitors to finish (which, honestly, was usually the yellow team—the team I was helping coach). But we all just had a lot of fun. 

I didn't take a lot of pictures because things were busy (we had about 40 kids there, with 10 kids on each team). Here's Zoë (blue team) racing against Alexander (green team) in the sack race:

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Agog with frogs

For a brief moment I forgot that I had written anything in May and I was really excited because my first post of April was about Alexander finding a skink in his pants, but I already did a post in May, so this is my second post. Fortuitously, the skink-in-his-pants post was also my second post in April (apparently I don't remember anything anymore). 

I hate to see what June brings because...

I had only recently finished my run (and then had gotten distracted by a bunch of primary music stuff because Miriam finished making the medley I'd asked her to make and then I needed to finish up a slideshow for one of my songs...) and I was just about to shower when I got a text message from Andrew, telling me that a frog just fell on him.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

First Day of Pool Season

Last year the high on May 1 was 67°F (19°C) and we did a little polar plunge for FHE. 

Today the high was 84°F (29°C) and it was a Wednesday, so we squeezed a trip into the pool between doctor appointments and school work and puppy duty and music lessons and...stuff. So it ended up just being me and the youngest four (Andrew picked Zoë up from the pool to go to her music lessons), but the pool was much warmer than last year! We had a great time!

Here's our traditional First Day of Pool Season picture: