Monday, September 21, 2020

Buttercream, the Cloudless Sulphur

While on our family walk the other day we saw a "topper-ed nate" (translation: copperhead snake) squished on the road, which was less than pleasant, but we also found a cloudless sulphur butterfly, which was pleasant. 

It was just sitting on the road, so I urged it onto my finger (because sitting on my finger is safer than sitting in the middle of the road). They migrate south this time of year in droves, but not all of them make it and I'm not sure this little guy is one that is going to get much farther south. Perhaps he's considering hunkering down for the winter here (some do). Perhaps it's an older butterfly and doesn't have another migration left in 'em. Perhaps it was simply too chilly of an evening for flying. 

Happy Birthday to Andrew!

Andrew turned 36 on Saturday—a perfect square, he noted, since Benjamin has been studying perfect squares. "I haven't felt so perfectly square since I was 25!" Andrew noted. We began his day with presents in the morning because Andrew knew he'd be getting a new toaster since our toaster has been on the fritz lately (it was the cheapest toaster we could find back in our grad school days when we found ourselves in the awkward position of having been married long enough that our wedding gifts were starting to wear out but not having been married long enough to actually be making any money it really was the absolute cheapest toaster we could find). 

So he had to open that toaster, see, so he could have new toast for breakfast.

His birthday actually started much earlier than that because we let Daddy sleep in, but the three littlest who were so excited for Daddy's birthday (they just couldn't wait ( some were worried waiting might literally kill them (because some of them thought we intended to starve them until Daddy's birthday))) sang the happy birthday song to Andrew before they ate their breakfast.

Once Daddy was up we did presents. He opened the toaster last. Before that he opened a homemade Venetian carnival mask, which Benjamin constructed weeks ago and saved for this very occasion. He was so excited for Daddy to open it.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

RBG and things

I have been a stay-at-home mom since the day Rachel was born. I was so naively confident that she wouldn't possibly be born before her due date, so blissfully unaware that I would spend subsequent pregnancies desperately trying to keep my babies inside while I counted up until the moment they could safely be born (rather than counting down to their due date, like a normal person), that I gave my two-week's notice precisely two weeks before she was born. 

She came two days early, the cheeky thing, and made me cut my last day of work just a few hours short (she was supposed to be born on Sunday but came Friday afternoon). 

I've worked several freelance jobs since then—tutoring, editing, and (when extremely pressed) childcare—helping put Andrew through school (and school and school) while keeping our family financial situation afloat. But mostly I've been a stay-at-home mom, which has also helped keep our financial situation afloat (considering how costly childcare is).

I think I'm pretty okay at being a mom (World's Okayest Mom, right here), but I'm a hopeless housekeeper, which usually doesn't bother me...until it does. I feel like I'm usually pretty good avoiding the pitfall of comparing my worst to someone else's best, but sometimes social media gets to me, too. The other day my friend was posting pictures of her magazine-ready house, gorgeously decorated for fall. And then I looked around at my house and it's just so very different from that. My house was a...mess.

On that day Gretchen Goldman, PhD was interviewed on national TV. She wore a yellow blazer. Her house looked spotless. Dr. Goldman looks like she had everything together. And then Dr. Goldman posted this to Twitter and I almost cried with joy:

Friday, September 18, 2020

Snippets from this week

Where to even begin?

Hurricane Sally blew past us this week, dropping our temperatures into what really felt like fall (though I do believe it will warm up again for a while before fall is truly here). At least her trajectory kept the smoke from the west coast fires at bay (we had friends in Maryland and Ontario showing pictures of the haze; we had lovely air quality, however, due to the hurricane). The rain was different from a regular southern downpour; the wind was really lashing rather than simply falling. 

A few big branches dropped here and there. And Sally discovered—and took advantage—of a weak join in our roof, so now we get to discover the ins and outs of getting one's roof (and drywall) repaired (which we're just thrilled about). 


Rachel made a birthday cake for Andrew's birthday, with some help from Alexander. He loves helping Rachel bake. 

When the cake came out of the oven he asked if he could try some and Rachel told him that he would have to "wait until Daddy's birthday," a phrase he really internalized. 

"I can't wait 'til Daddy's birthday," he came to tell me. 

How sweet, I thought, then said, "Well, you're just going to have to. It's only two days away."

"Two days is a long time," he gulped.

"Daddy's birthday will be here soon enough," I assured him.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sweet boy

Shortly before 5:00 this morning I awoke to hearing someone screaming, "Mommy!" so I stumbled out of bed to investigate and found Zoë sitting up in bed, screaming her head off. Alexander had also gotten up and was making his way up Zoë's (bunkbed) stairs to comfort her. He reached over her bedrail and patted her on her head. 

"I can't sleep because Zoë is crying," Alexander explained. 

"I can hear that," I agreed. "Let's see if we can't make her feel better."

She calmed down enough to stop screaming long enough to tell me that she'd had a terrible nightmare (and did not want to talk about it), but then she started into wailing again.

"Let's go to the bathroom," I suggested. "Everybody can go potty. We can get a little drink, snuggle back into our beds, turn on some lullabies..."

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Jumping into the pool

We have gone swimming 17 times (I think) in the past 4 weeks, which translates to roughly 40 hours in the pool, and Alexander finally today decided he could jump in. Last summer he was all about jumping in the pool but he started out this year's pool season feeling so timid. Now that he can confidently go under water (today he kept telling me, "I am a fish! I am!") Zoë convinced him that jumping into the pool would be a lot of fun and they spent a long time doing just that this afternoon.

Here they are first jumping from the stairs (because jumping from the ledge was too scary):

But eventually jumping from the ledge didn't seem very scary either:

Maybe we'll convince him to jump off the diving board in the next couple of weeks before the pool season is over.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Good clean (sterilized) humour

Andrew believing Zoë needed to "stabilize" her feather is...not something we've let go of very easily in our house. It was the topic of dinner conversation last night when Rachel came up with a joke. She said something like, "There's a man named Bill and he's got lazy eyes with a propensity toward wandering. What do you say to get Bill's eyes to focus?"

Answer: "Stay, Bill eyes!"

Andrew then challenged her little joke by calling it nothing but "horse gossip."

"Horse gossip?" she wondered.

"Yeah," he said. "Stable lies."

It was a rather entertaining dinner. 

Happy things

Now that I've got all that negative stuff off my chest, you should know that I don't really consider myself a negative person. Sure, I'm really good at coming up with worst-case scenarios but I also am really good at finding the positive in even the most pathetic of situations (at least, I think so). So here are a few cute things my little ones have said recently (really just a few though because I need to get to bed).

I took the kids for a walk the other night (Wednesday—when the emergency electricians were over making it so our house didn't spontaneously combust) and we found so many hints of fall. We're still enjoying our daily swim, of course, but the leaves are starting to turn and Zoë found an acorn and an owl feather. 

She's very much into a new series we found (at the friendly neighbourhood "little free library" near the pool) called Owl Diaries (and, of course, Alexander loves owls as well, so he's been enjoying listening to Zoë read about this little owl world) so was very excited to have found an owl feather.

Negative Nelly

COVID rates have been dropping in Georgia in recent weeks, which makes me feel a bit better about life. But still this pandemic is not over, which means that things will probably get worse again. And I don't know how to come to terms with that fact and the fact that this pandemic something that our country seems to want to sweep under the rug. We can't just sweep it away. It's here and I...

I have a friend who is a COVID widow.

While she has been stuck in bed, too sick to do much of anything, and while her husband was in a hospital, his life draining out of him, we were pushing for in-person activities—a pool party for the young women!—and it breaks my heart. I could we be asking for in-person activities when this family—here—had been suffering so much at the hand of this disease?

It doesn't make sense to me.

This friend worked with me, with the children, doing whatever it is we're doing now. It used to be "activity days" but now I think it's "primary activities." What I wouldn't give for a good verb. Anyway, because she's been so sick and another leader has been sick with non-COVID things, we're down to two leaders instead of four. So I'm in charge of the girls and another friend is in charge of the boys. But she called to ask me the other day how I "felt" about in-person activities. 

"How I feel about in-person activities?" I repeated, in shock.

Like, she knows why we're so "understaffed," doesn't she?

"Yeah. I'm just trying to gather people's feelings about in-person activities."

"I feel...we...would not participate," I said. 

I just can't. Not yet. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Alexander swimming underwater

We, of course, went back to the pool today. It was a little bit cloudy and chilly, but not too bad once we were in the water. And because it was a little bit cloudy and chilly we had the pool all to ourselves (though the tennis courts were busy). Here's Alexander doing a little bit of (heart-stopping) swimming practice: