Saturday, October 3, 2015

809 pictures later

Today is my last day in the US. I've been here for a month, visiting family and friends. I also went on a writing cruise. It's time to go home--I miss my family--but I'm going to miss being here among friends and family. I've only taken 809 pictures on this trip, which sounds like a lot, but most certainly doesn't capture the heart of the experience of visiting.

Still, here are a few of my favorites from the last month:

And from the cruise:

Such an awesome experience. I wish I could come back every year, but of course I have responsibilities and a limited budget.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Year update, a month late

Kip's been a year old for a month now (tomorrow, anyway) and I should write down a few stats before more time passes.

When Kip was just a year he had seven teeth. The seventh (on the bottom) poked through a couple of days before his first birthday. The eighth showed up a couple of days after. And then, last week, he got another tooth, this time a molar. I think he's excited about this food stuff. I made him a yellow cake with chocolate frosting for his birthday, which he mostly turned into a big, huge mess while I took pictures.

At his 1 year appointment (which was a week after his first birthday, but close enough) Kip weighed 10 kg and was 76.5 cm long. He got two shots that day and took them well. So glad one of them was the MMR since now we know measles erases part of the immune system's records of previous infections.

I can tell I haven't been as diligent about signing with Kip. After his one sign I expected him to add a few more to his vocabulary, but it hasn't been happening. Oh well. Makes me really miss the support system (read: local signing time) that we used to go to.

Sylvia also lost a tooth last week. She wiggled it and wiggled it and finally twisted it around so it was hanging on by almost nothing, at which point I reached in and plucked it out. We still haven't had a visit from the tooth fairy because we all keep forgetting to stick the tooth under Sylvia's pillow at night. I might just pay her $5 and let her keep her tooth.

Today was the last day of school holidays. We still have the weekend, of course, but today's the last non weekend day. Sylvia wishes she had another week of holidays, and I think Kip and Paul just wish I weren't working so they could be home with me. We don't really do that much when we're home. I took the kids to the South Australia Museum last week. Sylvia begged to go back, I suspect more because she wanted to catch pigeons (she was successful on our first trip) than because she wanted to see the museum. We didn't do much this week. It's been too cold so all we were able to do was hang around the house watching cartoons. I did make sure we had some outing or activity every day, even if just a trip to the grocery store, but it's so hard when it's cold. Looking forward to the next school holiday when it'll be warm enough to do stuff and go places!

Monday, June 1, 2015


I don't think I've every really been big on my own birthdays. Sure, it's fun to have cake and celebrate a little, and yes, it's the anniversary of the beginning of me as an independent person (which is important) but I don't think I really understood the significance of my birthday until I had a child of my own.

My birthday is the day my mom went from being one, responsible only for herself, to becoming two; the anniversary of her taking on a huge, life-changing responsibility. In a sense it's not really my day at all, or at the very least not about me alone but about me and my mom.

Happy birthday to me, and happy birth day to my Mom, who had what sounds like a pretty scary birth experience with me and yet didn't let that stop her from going through the whole thing three more times. Thanks for thirty seven years of everything from nose and bum wiping to dropping me off at college (and paying for it!) to watching me become a mother and supporting me through those challenges. Love you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hala + Dave

A couple in my congregation tied the knot this weekend and they let me take a few pictures of their family and of the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Slow down

Kip's been sick all day and, consequently, has been exceptionally cuddly, to the point of not letting me put him down. You know, I love cuddles as much as the next person, and I know I won't be able to hold him all day this way for much longer, but wow, was today ever tiring. My back aches, my arms hurt, and I haven't been able to do much of anything but hold him. Yet somehow I can't bring myself to feel all that bad about such a slow, calm day. My baby won't be a baby all that much longer (if he even qualifies now).

Monday, May 25, 2015


On my list of things to do today:
Play group
Feed the missionaries
Normal stuff (taking Sylvia to school, cleaning, etc.)

Not on my list of things to do today:
Create a bird habitat/aviary for bird rescue

I took Sylvia to school, then came back and picked up Paul, Kip, and Derrick. Ran Derrick to the bus station and took Paul and Kip to playgroup. Paul and Kip had fun, but at around 11:15 Kip fell asleep nursing and, when I pulled him off, he started coughing so enthusiastically he vomited. Yeah.

Stopped at the store on the way home. Bought chippies for Paul and Vegemite chocolate for me (I had to try it once).

On the way home I thought through the rest of the day and realized I had barely enough time to get things going for dinner at 6. Fed Paul and myself quickly and started meat for tacos al pastor (the meat has to marinate 4 hours at least). Kip wasn't cooperative so I fed him while chatting with my sister in Utah until Kip was asleep. Paul brought in the Vegemite chocolate while I was on the phone and insisted he wanted to try it. He wasn't impressed. I think it tastes a bit like chocolate with molasses, which isn't all that bad, though there are definitely other flavors I like better.

Finally got Kip to sleep. Started a load of laundry and went back to the taco meat. Got the marinade together just as Kip woke up. Grr. Not a fan of micro naps. Cut the meat while Kip was crying and dumped it all together. Realized it was time to pick up Sylvia. Pulled out the other load of laundry and started a new one while also getting kids ready to go. Unsurprisingly I was late.

Picked up Sylvia, drove home, gave kids a snack (perhaps more honestly, let kids pull ice blocks out of the freezer for snack) and sent them outside to eat it while I put up laundry.

Putting up Laundry when I heard something smack against the window of Sylvia's room.

"Sylvia, what is a bird doing inside your room?"

Ran inside.

"Sylvia, what is a bird doing inside your dresser drawer, and why are you trying to hide it from me?"

Much sadness as I carried it outside to release it.

Doves aren't the smartest of birds. This one, probably terribly traumatized, was happy to sit in my hands while I carried it around the yard trailing my hysterical kids. Bird finally flew away from me--right back into the shade house.

Rolled my eyes at the stupidity of birds and went back to folding laundry.

A few minutes later realized Sylvia was stalking the bird again, despite my insistence she leave it alone.

"Sylvia, where is the bird's tail?"

"A cat got it."

Noticed Paul clutching a fistful of feathers.

"A cat named Paul?"

Went inside to find out about wild animal rescue. Called the RSPCA but got a recording I couldn't spare the attention for. Called a friend, who suggested the best option might be to drop the bird across a neighbor's fence and hope for the best.

When I went back outside the kids had constructed a 'trap' for the bird 'to protect it' using pieces of scrap wood. Convinced them to come inside and help me make a temporary aviary out of their castle tent. By the time we went back outside the bird had escaped/been carried off (I hope the former). Kids will look for the bird tomorrow to see if it returns.

All that and already 4:45. Dinner at 6 and my house still a mess and nothing cooked. Cleaned up in record time, made tortillas and guac, Derrick came home (seriously, my hero tonight) and cooked the meat for dinner. Managed to feed the missionaries before they had to leave for their next appointment, but only barely. Sent kids to bed with songs and watched a couple of episodes of Castle while holding a mildly feverish Kip against my chest. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blown out

We met up with some friends for lunch at a park today and I took my camera. It's been a while since I've taken any pictures (and even longer since I've posted--sorry) and I can tell I'm out of practice because I had a very hard time remembering to check my settings. Still managed a few nice images with some copious editing

(The last image is Derrick swinging Kip by his coveralls. We know how to have 'round here)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday, 17 May

Breakfast--potatoes with onions and bacon, well-seasoned but not crispy.

Talked with Derrick's parents, mostly about kids, inconsequential things. Philip's kids keep getting lice from the foster kids' siblings. Carolyn has a new kitchen with glass-fronted cabinets that go to the ceiling. Roger is looking at a BMW convertible.

Hung laundry while kids played and Derrick worked on the yard. He's emptied one of the beds of rock, exposing the dirt and plant roots underneath. Took out one big root, he's guessing from the neighbor's walnut tree. We'll need to add soil or something.

Pulled out the bread and crackers kids dumped in the pond during the party last weekend. Most of it was growing and disintigrated at my touch. Really should have taken care of it earlier. After the grossness of touching cold, slimyness I took a shower, took Kip with me.

While I was in the shower Sylivia and Paul made orange/lemon/apple drink. Said it was good (I don't believe them). I shooed them outside and hung up another load of laundry. Kip is the favorite toy. Paul took Kip on a ride in the garden cart over the pile of rock and dirt Derrick pulled from the garden bed. It looked like the cart was about to overturn as he pulled it across and I freaked, screeching and running toward him. Nothing overturned.

Kip fell asleep as I was putting lunch together for the other kids. Sylvia and Paul were remarkably dirty (mud does that) so they showered before lunch, then tried to eat naked, huddled in their towels on the kitchen floor. Lunch--pizza rolls (Derrick and me) and cheese-bacon rolls (Sylvia and Paul).

Neighbor (Harry) came over as we were eating. I heated up some soup (celery and onion with horseradish). Talked about church, Mormonism, Utah.
Kip woke up and I took the kids to church.

Classes were already going (something like 2:15 or 2:20 when we arrived) so I slipped everyone in and went to class myself.

Sunday school talked about the Prodigal son. Someone asked if God subjected the whole land to a famine to change the heart of that one person. If that were true that would make God a serious jerk.

Feeling self-conscious since teaching last week. I felt like what I presented was the right thing up until the moment I started reading a blog post/essay (obviously uncorrelated), at which moment it was like an alarm went off saying, "wrong, wrong, wrong!" Definitely felt the anger of the piece more while reading it out loud, which might be the issue. Ever since I've felt guilty, uncomfortable, like I've committed a terrible sin of which I need to repent despite the fact that many people thanked me for the lesson, described it as powerful and profound. Fully recognize it might just be revenge of the teen-age angst I feel any time I do something that brings attention to me.

Relief society felt like an oblique refutation of everything I taught. Sis V talked about needing deep tap roots, about intellectual or social conversion alone being insufficient. Railed against education (my fave), about needing spirit of discernment to challenge teachings that sounded good on the surface but were subtly wrong.

Some people don't like being challenged. Some people equate discomfort with evil. (I know I sometimes do)

Stopped at the chemist on the way home to pick up my bc prescription that I forgot to get yesterday. Told the kids if they stayed with me we'd go to Cole's and get a treat. Sylvia did a great job (Kip too, of course) but Paul disappeared. Turned out he went to Cole's on his own and picked up a wedge of watermelon as his treat. I chewed him out but we still picked up candy. Didn't give any to Paul, though, because he hadn't stayed with me. Conversation on the way home he kept asking why he handn't listened. I told him it was a learning thing, but probably should have asked him to answer the question himself. Next time.

Derrick had a fire waiting for us when we got home. Roasted marshamallows with the kids while I worked on dinner (curried cauliflower soup for adults, mashed potatoes for kids).

Sylvia tried to juggle fire. Serious chewing out for that one and banishment to the house.

Paul was so tired at the end of dinner he couldn't finish eating and so again didn't get any candy. Poor kid. Sylvia got a couple of mento's but left the table so I ate them. Gave her one back when I realized she'd successfully gone to the toilet on her own (yipee!)

Bedtime for kids, Derrick read, I sang. Kip fell asleep shortly after the older two and I held him on the couch while reading "The Alchemist." Derrick watched a couple of episodes of "Castle" (one of the shows that makes him/us look like Republicans if you only know our TV viewing habits) then looked for flights for my trip to the US for the writing excuses cruise.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Toothier grin

The end of last week was pretty brutal. Kip was up at 5:30 or 5:45 every morning and I, jealous of every minute of free time, stayed up until at least 11 pretty much every night. Not a good combo. I'm, shall we say, irritable. Not so good with small children.

Kip should start sleeping better soon, though. On Saturday I noticed he has two new teeth popping out. Teething doesn't bother Kip overmuch, but it does make him sleep quite a bit less.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sick day

Yesterday afternoon while Sylvia was at daycare she fell asleep during a movie. While unusual, her napping in the afternoon isn't totally unheard of, though it can mean she's sick. Her daycare (which isn't her usual one) called to let me know she was sleeping, but that otherwise she'd had a good day. I asked if she felt warm to them and they didn't think she was feverish so I kept working and left at my normal time (about 5). When I arrived to pick her up, though, she was still sleeping and, when I tried to rouse her she was lethargic and complained about a headache. When I got her home she had a fever of about 101 C.

I thought I might still be able to go to work today at least for the lab meeting and paper discussion, and just have Sylvia sit in the room with me and maybe play on the ipad during the meeting.

Then Paul curled up on a dining room chair, tightly wrapped in a blanket, and stared at the pancakes he'd requested for dinner instead of eating them.

So, today was a sick day.

It rained off and on all day, so being inside was kinda perfect and I really didn't feel guilty letting the kids watch TV and play games on my computer all day long. They didn't get overly wild at the inactivity (though bedtime wasn't quite as smooth or as quick as normal) and there weren't too many fights over what to watch or play. My kids do get along remarkably well. If they do fight I only have to find a temporary (like 2 minute) solution and they both move on. I hope it's as easy when they get older and when there are three of them competing over TV and whatnot.

Derrick is on a field trip to Kangaroo Island until Sunday, which I'm kinda grateful for. I realize when he's around I work a lot harder on certain things, like cleaning and cooking. I'm more ambitious about cooking in particular when he's around. He's also much less willing to let the kids watch TV all day. I made sure to break up the TV watching with other activities every couple of hours, but I'm perfectly happy to let my kids watch TV, while Derrick prefers the kids spend time outside.

Because Derrick wasn't here I gave myself time to cuddle with Kip when he woke up too early from his second (afternoon) nap and almost took a nap myself. I finished a book I've been working on reading for far too long. I fixed a simple dinner of mostly left-overs, only augmenting with some taco meat (which had to be made) and eggs for Paul.

I don't get many days like this. I should be more grateful for my life more often, because I do have a fantastic life. I have a great family, a small but sufficient home, a job I love. It was nice to slow down and really savor those things today--especially the family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sometimes funny

A couple of days ago Paul was helping me cook. I didn't have the light on over the stove so he told me, "I can turn on the light with my mind. And this button."

Today, while walking to school Paul passed a wad of pink ABC gum. He told me, "Somebody dropped part of their brain."

How is it that a 3.6 year old has a better sense of humor than about anybody else I know?

Sylvia, on the other hand, is funny unintentionally. We took her to the toilet before we went to bed (but too late to avoid an accident). She screamed about how things were hurting, then suddenly she wanted chickens. The last thing, "I'm hungry! Why doesn't anybody feed me anything I like!"

Classic Sylvia.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Language acquisition

Tonight, Kip very deliberately signed 'milk'. So I gave him some.

Tonight, Derrick got Kip's attention with his name, and stopped him from getting into the trash by saying, 'no.'

It's so cool when kids get to the stage where communication takes on the first vestiges of true language. Wahoo!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thanks, Northern Hemisphere, for sharing your germs

One of the cool things about Australia is that we get summer in December, January, and February. I found it strange to celebrate Christmas in the heat that first year (okay, let's be honest--I found it strange this year, too) but it's growing on me. It's kinda cool having BBQ weather for New Year's.

The not so much fun part is that we still get the 'winter' cold and flu season. Yeah. We get our own winter cold and flu season, too, but, thanks to the huge population of the Northern Hemisphere, we get their colds too. So much fun.

If you haven't guessed yet, we have illness running through our house.

I'm not sure who brought it home. Derrick had a sore throat for something like a week before anybody else got sick, but he's also claiming he's getting sick again, so maybe what he had isn't what the rest of us have. The kiddos have fevers and body ache--your typical mild flu-like symptoms. Paul was over the worst of it in about three days, starting last Friday and ending Sunday, but then he's had a deep, worrisome cough ever since his fever went away. Sylvia and Kip have had fevers this week (Wednesday and today. Obviously don't know about tomorrow yet) and I just can't wait for the lovely cough to start in them, too.

I miss sleeping through the night. It's been a while.

To top it all off, Kip has another tooth poking through. It's wonderful for him, since it'll open up more food options to him, and that boy likes his food! At the same time, teething means sleep disruption, and I'm so over that. Sigh.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Updates and milestones

Kip has two teeth! His first tooth came in New Year's eve while we were in Mount Gambier and another came in a couple of days ago. He's still pretty slobbery, and his sleep is most definitely disturbed, but I'm hoping the worst of this first round of teething is over. Of my three kids, Kip is most definitely the one who has had the hardest time with teething. I don't think he's having as hard a time as Derrick had when he was a baby, but we've had a couple of pretty hard nights.