Sunday, May 31, 2020

Take a Hike.

Our family went on two hikes this week. I think that makes us park rangers or something. Just call us The Wild Kratts.

On Monday, we went to Gettysburg. With the grand intention of walking around the trails  AND climbing the big rocks at Devil's Den AND completing the car tour.

We would still be there if we had done all of those things. But we did do plenty. And will be going back soon.

Yes, that's a Yankees hat on my son. I'm cringing too.

Old man Harris and his walking stick:

Beck loves the leaves and tries to eat them whenever he can. It's adorable (minus the eating part).

And yesterday, we went back to Swatara because the girls have been begging for the waterfall hike again.

June decided to dress like a 50-something birder for the occasion.

Harris just loves throwing rocks. It's all he wants to do when we go. Everywhere. We. Go. Even our backyard.

The girls wore their swimsuits underneath their clothes so that they could "swim" in the waterfall.

The baby and I made it about halfway up before I said, "You know, I think we're good." Maybe in a few years. Hauling a baby up rocks is no joke.

This is the rock Dan and June climbed up and the rock where I thought they would perish. There was slipping and sliding, and I screamed but they didn't. I guess I scare easily.

Made it!!!

And Harris . . . threw some more rocks.

The kids had a mixed reaction to the water. They all said it was freezing. I asked Gwen how the experience was, and she said, "TERRIBLE!" But when they finished the trip back down, she told me it was awesome and asked when we were coming back.

Not pictured for this trip: On the way back to the car, Gwen asked if she could push the stroller. This stroller was holding the other three kids. She pushed, the stroller got away from her, June fell off, and then the stroller ran over June's leg. And a lot of people witnessed this amazing thing. And then a lot of people were blessed to hear a screaming June for the rest of the ride back to the car.

She's fine, by the way. I'm not, but she is.

Other happenings from this week:

Dan received a box of samples from Hershey with new products they are launching soon. The kids heard the box opening from across the house and ran to see the goodies. So naturally, we had a taste testing.

Of the many treats sampled, there was a stiff competition between the Reese's with pretzel and the Reese's with potato chips.
 In the end, the potato chip won.

And, we found out we have a neighbor who cuts hair. YAYAY for Dan!

Now I get to be the unthreaded, unhighlighted, uncut wildebeest next to him.

And all of the summer vibes are here, except I still haven't figured out how we will swim this summer. BUT. We did watch the ultimate summer movie on Friday night, The Sandlot. Our kids died laughing. I look forward to every single scene in this movie. Has there ever been a more quotable film? I've decided we need to start every summer with this flick.


You mean that's the same guy!?!?

And it was followed by s'mores on the deck ("I haven't had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?"), and the kids stayed up too late and then all crashed in the same bed.

And then we had some of that "other" type of family bonding. The negative kind. Yard work! To quote my father, Doug Beck, "If we all just get outside and get to work, it will only take 30 minutes."

It never lasted 30 minutes.

Later on in my childhood, he replaced the former speech with:
"It's going to be long and hard, and I don't want to hear any complaining."

This is a much more accurate depiction of yard work.

Luckily, our kids are young and still a little excited about it. They fetch water for us, they mess around with Dan's tools. And they break some things. It's fun.

We're trying to get our lawn to look like everyone else's lawn. Progress updates forthcoming.

And church today:

I forgot to take before photos, so here are some "afters".

And Dan's Come Follow Me lesson. The man goes all out.

I really, really love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Reading the Book of Mormon this year has been especially wonderful. I've pulled out my Romanian scriptures from my mission and have tried to read everything in both languages. My language skills are RUSTY, but I've enjoyed the different insights I've had reading everything over twice, especially in a language which requires me to think about each and every single word.

If you ever have a question or want to talk about the Book of Mormon or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please let me know.

The End.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

They Say It's Dan's Birthday!

Yesterday was Dan's birthday. Our third birthday in quarantine!

Side note: I'm going to type this as fast as I can because there is something weird on my contact, and there's a glare when I look at anything. That's weird, right?

Another side note: Gwen has informed me that she's starving and that I need to get her some lunch. I have calmly reminded her that she had a big breakfast this morning with pancakes and a grapefruit and that lunch is in one hour so I can blog. She has told me she's not going to make it that long. I have let her know she will be sorely missed because she is my best cleaner. She told me I can't say that. So I said, should I say you won't be missed? And now she's mad. She's my kid most similar to me temperament-wise. Easily happy and easily mad. People pleaser but with a terrible temper. 

Anyway, back to Dan's birthday. This is kind of how Dan's birthday always goes. Seemingly about him but always filled with attention-seeking behavior from everyone else. He's nice about it.

To spice up yet another quarantine birthday, the kids and I wrote down 33 things we love about Dan. 

I realize that top one says "He took me away from Vegas" and it sounds like I'm knocking Vegas. I actually like a lot of things about Vegas but was very happy to move to Florida by the beach.

We put them all over the house so that he could find them throughout the day.

We also made the traditional candy bar poster.

It says: Dad! It is a joy to be your children. Every day is "reese's" (recess)/ Sometimes we can be sour patch kids and we can't go to mom because you know how "shey's" (she is). You are nicer than HERshey's/. We want to give you kisses.

Gwen also wrote down a joke in the middle. It says: how do you save? you eat!!

I told her I don't understand her joke. and she told me that jokes aren't supposed to make sense.

The girls also decided to make hats for everyone to wear.

Forcing Harris to put his hat on.

 The caravan up to the room, complete with the candy bar poster. June is carrying his orange juice, and I am carrying the breakfast we made for him to eat in bed. I hate breakfast in bed. Dan has always loved it, but I think he started to see why I hate it when it was spilled all over the bed this year. He has agreed we should just serve it in the kitchen next year.

Surprising a not-very-surprised dad. Because the kids were so loud the entire hour before and I'm sure he was awake for all of it.

Posing with his hat. It was like a tribute to a future Irish pope. The girls still insist that everything we give Dan be green because they insist it's his favorite color. Even though he has told them that's not true. But it also kinda is true because he isn't allowed to like any other colors.

Also this week June had to take some pictures of some stuff in our backyard for her science class. She and the others were out there a long time and didn't take any good pictures. Instead, my phone is full of pictures like this:

And this:

It wasn't even Gwen's assignment.

And I ordered June a new swimsuit, which came in the mail this week. And it instantly became a swimsuit day.

What we are reading: We finished Little House in the Big Woods, and Dan said he wanted to read Hatchet to the girls, so they started that.

And our Sunday photo:

Harris refused to participate. Gwen was mad at June. June was twirling.

The End.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Christmas in May.

We had a bit of Christmas feeling in the air this week. Which is weird because it's really finally starting to be warm. I'm confused every year since leaving Florida four winters ago that spring doesn't really start here until late April, and summer doesn't start until the end of June.

Anyway, we started reading Little House in the Big Woods, the first in the Little House on the Prairie series. I have a lot of book-y friends who recommend things for my kids and I to read together, and of course Little House books are always the first things people say. And I have just been waiting. I know a lot of them are set in winter, so I thought--wouldn't it be nice to read them over winter? And then I stop myself because I think that the books must be so antiquated and maybe I should wait until the girls are older and can understand better. 

But we bit the bullet. We started. It's not cold outside, and my kids are still young. And they have loved it. Gwen--my child who complains that every book and movie is just a little too long--literally bursts into tears when we "only" read one chapter at night. She loves it. June loves it too, but has been traumatized by a particular scene. There are many stories about bears and panthers, but no, these do not concern her. The scene that June worries over is one where Pa lost a toenail. She has stopped me mid-sentence during our piano lessons together with a look of horror on her face, exclaiming, "Could that happen to my toenail!?!?" when she is really supposed to be answering me that the D scale has two sharps and that they are F sharp and C sharp. In the middle of a meal, she'll gasp out of nowhere and with a cringe on her face, say "I just thought about losing my toenail again!"

We all get on my bed and read until I fall asleep, which really does happen way earlier than it should. And then they poke me in the face. I don't like it.

On the best nights, an extremely tired Harris will join us and crawl around the bed until he finds his "spot", put a blanket over his entire body, head included, and then fall asleep. Harris is still hard to put to bed. He needs naps but when he takes them he goes to bed so late and then wakes up so early. So I purposely try to never let him have naps. But I will still find him in the middle of the toy room floor asleep sometimes. Or he'll fall asleep in the stroller or bike trailer. And then I know it's going to be a long night.

But the nights when he just falls asleep while I read, I feel like the luckiest mom in the whole world. 

(He had a nap in the car yesterday and came into my room at 4:45 a.m. today to ask me what I was doing. While I was face down in my pillow. And then asked about having pancakes for breakfast. It is seriously terrible.)

So yes, we have been having some great Christmas and winter stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder. And also, the girls started learning Jingle Bells on the piano this week. Kind of a weird week. 

June was required to make a fossil for her science class. We made a giant no bake cookie and make some imprints in it. It reminded me of my mission. Peanut butter was a rarity in Romania, and whenever we found some we made no bake cookies. And often would not spoon it out into cookies, but would rather dump it all in the middle of a pan and go at it with spoons.

The thought of doing that this time grossed me out. But my kids had no problem.

Also, lots of play time this week.

But the best play time of all. And ever. Was when we went on a little hike at Swatara State Park. Our parks are finally opening back up, and I've never been so happy. The whole 30-minute drive I kept pointing out things as if this was my first visit to Planet Earth. "Look at the FLOWERS, Dan! Looks at that sign! Look--a McDonald's!"

We arrived at the parking lot, and there were kids across the way from us, and Gwen shouted "FRIENDS!!!" even though we were socially distant and just said hi and that was it.

I feel like I've been handling quarantine okay. I like being home. But this week was TOO MUCH.

 Gwen wanted a picture by herself, thankyouverymuch.

And I wanted to take a picture with the kids, but none of them would.

And Dan captured this very Sound of Music Moment where the kids and I were holding hands and singing, "The Ants Go Marching". It's a little embarrassing, but it was the only thing that would keep Harris with the group.

And we made it to a waterfall. I kept the baby down with me, and Dan helped the other three up the rocks.

There was a pool of water that Gwen and June played in, right in front of them in this picture below:

And then Gwen came down by herself. Because she had to go to the bathroom. But she didn't make it. She peed her pants. And announced it to everyone there: MOM, I'M PEEING! MOM, I'M DONE! DO YOU THINK DAD CAN CARRY ME ON HIS SHOULDER BACK TO THE CAR?

The answer to that was no.

People were entertained. I have to give June credit. Before we left, she carried an extra pair of underwear out to the car with her, saying we might need it. And I thought to myself, hopefully not! My girls are old! But we totally did need it.

And here's Dan carrying June down from the rocks. He's the best. Even if he won't carry a pee pee child on his shoulders.

And today, Gwen and Harris helped me make parmesan rolls for dinner. Harris was on butter duty, and Gwen was on parmesan duty.

And our church photo. Gwen's "smile" comes from the fact that we banned all toys from our Sacrament meeting. Which has always been the rule! But today it just hit her how unfair the whole world is.

Other books and movies this week: June listened to the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this week. So we watched the movie. I told Dan that Hershey should offer a promotion with five gold tickets! How fun would that be!?

The End.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Yo Mama's Day. 2020.

Why is that I tend to be the worst mother right before Mother's Day? Is this a form of self-sabotage so that everyone will leave me alone not only ON Mother's Day, but every single day before and after?

The homeschooling thing has actually been going okay. I've actually enjoyed parts of it. Dare I admit that? Are the other frazzled moms going to come after me with their pitchforks (with unfinished math homework pierced through the ends, no doubt)? I've definitely had my moments of frustration too. This week, for example. Wednesday was really bad. I was tired and fed up. So I blew up. And marched upstairs and put myself in time out.

I'm sure this is when everyone in my family put my Mother's Day presents in the toilet. Again, why do I do this the week leading up to Mother's Day?!?! It's like breaking up with someone right before Valentine's Day! At least get your present first.

But anyway, I calmed down and we called it a day on schoolwork. It was rainy so we couldn't go outside, so we climbed into the van and drove to Harris' favorite spot, where we haven't been since before isolation began.

That's right, we went to the YMCA parking lot and watched trains go by.

It was a very nice way to spend the rainy afternoon. Also, I played The Wonderful Wizard of Oz audiobook for the girls. Everyone was content.

Except Baby Beck, who kept crying whenever the car was parked. So then we just drove around the same parking lot to keep Beck content, still close to the trains so Harris was content, and still listening to the book so the girls were content.

There's a lot of construction going on in our neighborhood, so when we go on walks, Harris just plops down on the grass and watches the construction show whenever he can, so often the girls go on ahead of us.

We also did our usual bike rides. Baby Beck was promoted from stroller to bike trailer this week. Here's his very first ride. He loved it.

I normally like to say what we read and watched this week at the end of the post, but I've already ruined that and might as well ruin it some more. The girls listened to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, most of it all in one day. And then my phone died. So they had to wait until the next day to listen to the final 30 minutes.

We watched the movie for Fun Friday. But on Saturday. Because no one finished their chores Friday so it had to be moved.

Having Fun Friday on Saturday sounds exactly like the new read aloud we started this week, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. We finally finished up Begin from the Growly series. It was long. There were many times (especially the first half) where I thought--if we ever finish this, we aren't continuing with the series.

And then of course, we got really into it, and the last chapter left us with a cliffhanger. So we are going to continue on with the series. But I needed a little break and a different change in plot pacing. So Sideways Stories, it is. The girls can't get enough. 

Which inspired the next event. There's a chapter about a girl named Rondi who is missing her two front teeth. June's top FOUR teeth have all been super wiggly for months. Reading about Rondi inspired her to finally let me tug a tooth out of her mouth.

Of course, even though I told myself a million times NOT to forget, I forgot to play Tooth Fairy. This morning, I woke up to a sad June bemoaning that the Tooth Fairy never came.

I had to think, and fast. I scrambled to get a piece of paper and put together a scavenger hunt. It was three clues long and each clue led to someone's bed, first Gwen's, then Harris', and then mine. While she was rounding up the clues, I managed to sneak a dollar into the final clue's spot--her underwear drawer.

I didn't mean to upload this picture. It is terrible. But here it is. Here she is getting a clue off my bed.

 A dollar! Normally, the Tooth Fairy is a stingy lady at our house, doling out a quarter per tooth. But she was feeling a little guilty this morning.

Five minutes after receiving her prize, she marched back into my room and demanded I take out another tooth. So I did. Now she looks exactly like Rondi, so she's excited.

And I'm excited to forget all about being the Tooth Fairy again so I can scramble around like a banshee last minute.


ANYWAY. Mother's Day! Me me meeeeeeeee.

Luckily, even though I was a grouchy mama this week, my family didn't flush my presents. A few years ago, Dan and I attended a marriage workshop at church, and one of the therapists leading it said, "Ladies, it is not cheating to tell your husband exactly what you want for a holiday. He can't read your mind. Just tell him what you want."

I have ever since, and it's been grand.

I wanted flowers. I love flowers.

Dan brought me some roses for the table.

And some geraniums for our garden.

And yesterday, he spent the entire day painting our garage. I'm one of those weirdos who really wants a beautiful garage. I don't know what part of my psyche is lacking where I think the aesthetic nature of my garage will fulfill it, but it's a true desire of mine.



He's going to paint the floor in another month when the weather is warmer.

He's the best. I'm the worst. Everyone knows it. The end.

And I highlighted my own hair yesterday. The regrowth has been out of control.

Orangey and spotty but still better than before.

And now that everyone knows how weird I am and how grouchy I am and how shallow I am, I can close.

The End.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Watching the Grass Grow.

Two very exciting things happened this week!

First, our grass is finally coming in. We literally watched the grass grow this week.

We will no longer be the embarrassment of our neighborhood in this respect. In many other respects, we will remain the embarrassment, but we can check this one off the list. 

ALSO! The window treatment guy was finally allowed to install our blinds.

No more mattress box against our bedroom window so we can change clothes! We are really coming up in the world.

I was surprised what a difference having blinds makes. I feel like our house is more homey now. Rollin' with the homies!

Other developments from this week:

Gwen finally let me take out one earring she has been wearing for months. She let one ear close up awhile back, but continued wearing just one stud in the other ear for a long time. This week, she decided that looked ridiculous and agreed to have the stud taken out.

This next development might have been as big of a deal as the grass and blinds:

Sand for the sandbox.

I had ordered some from Amazon for Harris' birthday, and it was delayed a bunch. And then when it finally got here, I realized that the two boxes I ordered were itty bitty and yet super expensive. So we filled up 1/32 of the sandbox for $40. And then Dan went to Lowe's and bought four huge bags for $5 each and filled up the rest of the box. Harris is in heaven. The girls love it too, but Harris never tires.

There is a never-ending trail of sand from the back door to the kitchen table. I sweep it all day long. But he's happy and busy, so I'm happy and busy. I'm hoping it distracts him a lot when we do school this week.

Speaking of Harris, he cut his hair off this week.

You may recall that each of my girls has done this. And it was terrible. But at least I didn't know it was happening when it was happening. Harris did it right in front of me, and I still didn't notice. I was doing Gwen's hair, and in order to do her hair or June's hair, I pull down my "hair box", a little container with dividers for brushes, hair ties, scissors (that I use to cut stubborn elastics), etc. Harris was sitting next to me and grabbed the scissors and chopped off some bangs without my noticing.

And then I did notice.


It wasn't as bad as the girls. You can't really super duper tell.

And to my utter shame, this contest continues.

Dan is getting better, but he uses more than one piece of gum! Disqualified!

And school continues. And sending pictures to teachers of assignments being completed continues:

And the girls made a fort and slept in it Friday night.

And yes, that is Harris' potty in the middle of the toy room. But it is unused! So it's fine. But also not fine. Because why won't he use it.

And the highlight of my week:

It was my sister Heidi's 40th birthday. Are we all really going to turn 40? I guess so.

Anyway, my mom and all my siblings had a Facetime chat and told Heidi our favorite memories of growing up with her. It was so nice to talk to everyone at the same time. Confession: I didn't always feel as close to my siblings as I do now. Which is weird, because now we all live far away from each other and have our own peeps and lives to worry about. But I had a lot of anxiety as a kid, and it got in my way of developing relationships. It's wonderful to feel closer to them all as I do now.

My brother Steve interviewed my dad before he passed away and asked him for memories of each kid. So he played the portion about Heidi for our phone call. That was tender. Even BETTER was that Steve tracked down an old family video clip of us all singing "Happy Birthday" because my dad used to add a great harmony to the end of the song. Made me tear up to hear his dramatic flair.

Doug Beck was a great man.

And finally, church today.

June was sad that Beck always misses the church photo because he's down for a nap, so I let him stay up for the photo this week. She put that bow tie on him so that he would be appropriately dressed for the photo.

She wanted me to let him stay up for our sacrament meeting. Nope. I have my limits.

Our sacrament meetings continue to be great. Today, after Dan administered the sacrament, we sat for long time in silence, just thinking and listening and praying. And then I realized that it had been a really really long time. I was impressed with Dan and his serious commitment to this time of meditation. More time passed. Finally, I realized that maybe I should open my eyes and see if they were done. I opened them, and everyone was just staring at me. I then realized that they had been trying to conclude the quiet period for a looooooooooong time now, but were just watching and waiting for me to open my eyes to signal that I was done. Haha whoops. That quiet time was still amazing though, and I have no regrets.

The End.