On one hand, Archie's very smart. He has an excellent sense of direction. He'll often yell, "Mom, you're going the wrong way!" when he feels we should be going home and we're not yet. On the other, he's convinced that he's three and no amount of argument will make him admit he's two. I think this is because Penelope was still three when he was just learning about how old people are and that's the answer he learned from her.

Penelope has some high boots that she occasionally stuffs a toy in to sneak to church. This week it was a little obvious.

Penelope: Dad, tomorrow I'm going to sing a America song! 
And as soon as the older kids left for the bus the next day she did.
Twelve beautiful princesses, twelve beautiful princesses, twelve beautiful princesses dancing on a castle in AMERICA!
Our Sunday School lesson today was on grace and how we need Jesus Christ. The teacher kept asking different versions of the question, "Is it possible to be perfect in any one thing?" I felt he was fishing for the ol' you-can-be-perfect-at-paying-tithing answer, so when he asked, "What's one thing you're perfect at?" and Woo answered, "Imperfection." I was grateful. Woo actually earned a handshake from the teacher for that one.

Here's Woo saying goodbye to the Mercedes. It gave us a good six years for a good $3,000 and now we've faded into minivan oblivion.

And here I am being duly impressed with Woo's new iPhone.

This week I was thinking of how amazing Curious George is (the original stories). We've worn down two "big George" books, all of my kids have loved them (Herbie and Linus in particular), we go through phases of reading from it every single day, and no one ever gets tired of it. Not even me, the adult reading them over and over and over again.

This weekend was marathon weekend. We let Ruby run the 5k. I was nervous she'd sprint hard for a mile and then die out, especially when she was the only person to stand right up to the starting line. And she kind of did, but not totally. She still came in 5th place overall with a time of just over 24 minutes, which I think is great for a first 5k.

Herbie called home sick one day from school. He really was sick, with a fever, but he wished he'd kept it a secret when he realized he wasn't going to be allowed to go to pack meeting that evening. He made a valiant effort to go about business as usual and even do extra chores for me to prove he was feeling fine. He was very sad when our minds weren't changed.

Moses seems to be having a good start to the school year. "Look, Mom! I got 100% on all my spelling tests!" And then he runs to the fridge to put every single one of them, including all his artwork up. I can barely open it sometimes. He's also working through his back-to-school adjustments, which seem to be over-reacting to everything (but less than in past years) and a strange ability to not hear a thing his parents say.

Linus is going through that I-just-started-kindergarten-and-I'm-going-to-be-super-grouchy-at-home phase. Penelope seems to be his main target for some reason. Well, and me. Hopefully, we'll come up with something soon. I like him and Penelope to be friends. He also had high hopes for the kids race. "What if I win the kids race?!?!?" But unfortunately, he's still on the younger end and wasn't even close.

Well, that's it for the week. Hope yours was great!



It's been fun to have Penelope and Archie running around the house together being buds. In fact, in their back to school blessings, Woo blessed them to be special friends their whole lives, which I thought was sweet. Penelope's definitely the one in charge, and Archie is happy to go along.
Penelope's song: Today is my birthday-- 
Archie: No. It's not. 
Penelope: You say, "Oh! It is! 
Archie: Oh! It is!

Inspecting something on the ground...
Archie: It's a cheed. 
Nellpea (laughing): You don't know what it is. It's a veed not a cheed. 
Archie: Oh, a veed. 
Nellpea: Yeah, to kill bad guys.

Of course, it's not always sunshine and roses. Every once in awhile one will yell at the other, "You're not in the club!" which never fails to produce tears, and sometimes Archie will get really mad and call Penelope a "Mister-head!!" But it never lasts long.

Penelope has been on a magic kick.
Woo: Nellpea, do you remember when we fixed that vacuum today? 
Nellpea: Oh, yes! We didn't even touch anything! It was just out magic!
And when I opened the van door from the keychain both Archie and Penelope gasped.
Nellpea: Mom, did you do that with your powers?
Archie, however, quickly recovered. "I opened that by myself, Mom. I opened that door by myself."

I thought giving Penelope a head start on writing her long name might be in order. She did a great job on the first try, but her efforts quickly dissolved into cursive.

I was in the kitchen making dinner when Herbie yells, "Mom! Nellpea has two matches!!!" What??? "Ok, Nellpea, come here." But it turns out Penelope getting ahead in memory is much more exciting than I would've guessed. "No, not those kind of matches! In the game!"
Archie: Mom, I'm a soccer team! 
Me: Awesome! 
Archie (smiling proudly): Yeah.

Some of you will think this is sad, but I'm kind of proud. Herbie came home and said, "Mom, what's an Xbox? Everyone's always talking about them and I don't even know what one is." Turns out, I couldn't quite explain it either. Woo had to help us out.
Herbie: Mom, what does Oma mean? 
Ruby: I am the Oma and the omego, isn't it?

A friend introduced Ruby to the Ranger's Apprentice series and she has loved them. I read the first one to check them out. I can see why Ruby loves them, it was a fun, quick read, and I came away with the distinct impression that the author was a good man, which I is something I don't ever recall thinking about a book before.

Woo was in charge of organizing Sacrament meeting for the old folks home up here. He enlisted Ruby and Herbie to give talks. Ruby prepared a talk on prayer and Herbie a talk on resurrection this morning (their choice). I think they both enjoyed it.

We picked up some Halloween costumes at Savers one day. Moses found a ninja costume and entertained us all with his special ninja sounds and moves.
Woo: That's a good costume for you, Moses. 
Moses: Yeah, it's good cuz I know karate!!!

The contents of Moses' pocket, which he almost snuck up to bed, if not for a sharp-sighted Woo.

Moses and Linus were in the same school assembly together.
Moses: Who was that kid you were tickling? The one in front of you? 
Linus: Oh, that was Sam. He's funny. 
Me: You were tickling the kid in front of you during an assembly? Did you get in trouble? 
Linus: No. The principal was way back behind us. In the very back. 
Ruby: Did Sam get in trouble? 
Linus: No. The teacher just came and told him to stop or he'd have to move.
Linus meets scented markers for the first time.

After two weeks Linus already knows most the kids in his and the other kindergarten class by name. He's recognized several kids while out and about. He always shouts out their name and says hi. The other kids never seem to know who he is. One even told him he didn't remember Linus in his class. Linus just laughed.

Woo is still not 100%, but he's feeling way, waaay better than he has in weeks. It's been so pleasant to have him back. He's worked hard to get his office put back together and I got to take a trunk load of stuff down to the thrift store (yay!). We even moved our three extra appliances out of the house and into storage in the rental. The house seems really clean now.

He told me he'd get rid of this hard-earned poster off some wall in Portugal, if I took a picture of him with it, but after he saw it again in all it's glory, he just couldn't do it. This one is back in the office.

He also started working on a new project at work, something to do with surveillance cameras, so someone came up to our house this week to set us up with a security system including three cameras, door locks, smoke and CO2 alarms, etc. It's kind of overkill for our house, but Woo's pretty excited about the cameras. He's enjoyed tinkering around with them.

Of course, a nice peaceful week would be too much to ask for Woo. The Mercedes broke down on his way to work. It may be destined for the junk yard since it ran out of oil. Whoops. Neither of us were monitoring that too closely, obviously. But it's been on its last legs in a few other areas as well. I'm glad Woo wasn't hurt, and it turned out okay.

Some of you know that I've been drinking a tablespoon of olive oil every day for almost a year. I could tell something was happening almost immediately--my skin and hair became super smooth and soft. My nails got stronger and grew faster. My joints and muscles moved more smoothly. I felt like a well-oiled machine. After a couple of weeks, my newest wrinkles, in the middle of my cheeks, that I developed while pregnant with Archie went away. It suppressed my appetite--I no longer felt like snacking and eating constantly (which is why I originally started drinking it). And this week I noticed a new benefit. I had sprouted several white hairs at my crown and I'd just let them grow, because well, why not? But a few months ago I plucked them. This week I noticed they're not growing back in white, but my normal hair color or a very light gray. Pretty cool. I had no idea anything like this could happen.

Sorry so long. Hope you had a great week!


I've been lifting pretty heavy the last ten weeks and it's brought back all sorts of weightlifting memories for me, most notably two.

The first is lifting after dinner in the basement with Dad. I mostly remember Tyson being there too, but I think Josey started joining us in the end. Lyndy was too young to be lifting (probably preschool to 1st grade?) and also to be safe around the weights. She stayed upstairs with Mom most of the time. This was back when I was stronger than Tyson (5th and 6th grade?), which bothered Tyson at first... "But she's a girl!" Dad just said, "She's a strong girl." Tyson seemed mollified, but he was still out to get me. He might have passed me now, but we'll never know since we quit lifting together before that ever happened.

We would pull on our bike gloves (gardening gloves do the trick now), lie back on the bench and struggle with our skinny, chicken arms to lift the bar in the air. Dad spotted us and gave encouragement. I seem to remember benching 45 and 55 lbs, but I could be way off.

We also did wall sits. Dad sent Josey to run and get Mom and Lyndy to watch the pinnacle of my wall-sit career--10 minutes; although, I'm not entirely sure it was legal. I eased up a couple of times for a fraction of a second. Dad was probably being generous, as long as I didn't fully stand up and sat down for more.

The other long-forgotten memory is lifting in Wash U's student weight room in the few months I had between nursing Ruby and Herbie being born. I'd wake up early, ride my bike to the school and lift, while Woo got Ruby up for breakfast. I wasn't the only woman in the room, but I was definitely the only extremely pregnant one. I could do almost everything (except sit-ups, obviously) pretty normally, but I eased up on squats after awhile.

I've missed weightlifting. I like it and it's easy to do early in the morning, when you're not 100% awake. I tried to get into it briefly when Penelope was six months or so, but couldn't stick with it because my old weight routine wasn't feasible with my weights at home. But I've found something new that never takes longer than 30 minutes and I can still progress meaningfully with the weights and space I have. Results for women from weight lifting are slow to non-existant at first, but by now I'm starting to see results. For the curious, I've modified this slightly to fit the weights I have.



Too bad Labor Day wasn't the most exciting part of our week. It was definitely the most fun thing and about the only place we took any pictures (Sorry, they don't show everyone and they're not very good--unless you like pictures of Moses picking his nose.) We all loved the rodeo, especially the clowns, and it was good to see so many of you, and then Woo's family at dinner.

Last week after I cleaned out the office, Woo got steadily better until Saturday, when he got steadily worse. Neither of us slept much Sunday night, he was coughing so much and could hardly breath. Going to Lyndy and Brody's was one of the best things we could've possibly done. Just as I noticed Woo's lips going slightly blue, Brody was there with his nebulizer. It was a lifesaver and carried Woo through most of the day and night. He could breathe ok, but started coughing up fluid from his lungs.

We figured there must still be something in the house, but didn't know what. A lot of people suggested mold (after all the basement floodings), but Woo was pretty sure it was mouse related. Still, we had to check. It was decided that I would open the crawlspace access in Woo's office and take a look around. This was pretty much the last thing on earth I wanted to do. But it needed to be done.

First, I stalled by flushing out the piping in the jetted tub (Hey, there could be mold there... ) Then I emptied the bookshelf over the access in Woo's office--lots of cords, gadgets and textbooks. I slid the bookshelf out, found myself a headlamp and stationed myself at the corner of the door, behind the bookshelf, with a quick escape route to my rear. I thumped on the door several times to scare any critters away, and lifted it up quick to see...

A plank of plywood screwed to the floor. I walked back out through the living room to get a screw driver where Woo and Archie and Penelope were stationed.
Woo: What if you lift the door and there's 8,000 mice staring back at you?
Um, thanks. That was exactly my fear. Did I mention I was terrified? After pulling out eight screws, I figured I'd made more than enough noise. I lifted the lid and did not see a single mouse. I didn't even see a spider. I did see a lot of white powder, which gave me a shock for a bit until I realized it was dust from when the drywall was finished in that room.

Woo was concerned about the area under the tub, but I couldn't see that without slithering into the crawlspace on my belly. Woo suggested I hold the phone down there and take pictures. Which all looked very good to me, except one spot I couldn't quite tell. Woo thought maybe I'd be able to see something through the electrical access between the vanity and tub.

I pulled out the bottom drawer of the vanity, got in there with my head lamp and saw something... I couldn't quite tell what it was... A pile of old insulation? A mouse nest? I took a few pictures before I finally figured out it was a long dead mouse, badly decomposed. (I'd show you the picture, but I don't want to make you throw-up.)

I pulled on some gloves and cleaned it all out. I had to plastic bag it all and pass it out the bathroom window to avoid carrying it all by Woo on my way to the garbage. When I was all done, I was very confident that I'd found the last, remaining problem and Woo'd be able to live comfortably in the house again.

The problem was Woo was already severely weakened and besides the asthma some bad bugs had started to take hold in his lungs. He couldn't sit and read scriptures with us. He had to stand and walk around to get air. I got him to agree to go to the Instacare when the kids were in bed. A kind neighbor ran over, and we were off.

Unfortunately for the neighbor, we spoke loudly right under Ruby's window on our way out. Ruby did her own form of investigative work, and before long, all the kids were abuzz with the knowledge that Mom and Dad had gone to the hospital and a babysitter was downstairs. When she went up to restore order, all the kids were out of bed, in the boys room, taking turns praying for Woo to live (which he did, by the way).

Moses claims it was his idea. He, Herbie and Linus all prayed before they ran down the hall to get other kids. Archie was just about to take his turn when the babysitter came up.

The wait was long. They told us two hours. Luckily, it was half that because Woo kept trying to leave. He insisted he was fine (his breathing got a lot easier in the reclining seats of the van). But I wouldn't leave. We saw the doctor and were out of there in time to make it to the pharmacy before it closed for medication for asthma and pneumonia. The asthma pretty much left after that first use of the inhaler. He was miserable the next day with junk in his lungs and the day after that with junk in his sinuses, but by Saturday he was feeling well enough to start putting his office back together. Hooray!

Well, that's all I'm going to write tonight. Back to our regularly scheduled program next week. I'm looking forward to a normal week!



We did a lot this week. I cleaned out the office, which was not too bad. Most of what we thought was mouse poop was actually an old cord to a rock band drum set deteriorating on the floor. Still... we caught three mice and the room isn't well ventilated. Plus,Woo was having an allergic reaction. He's our canary in the coal mine. I cleaned and aired out everything, which had the undesired effect of spreading Woo's belongings into other areas of the house. Did I mention we also have a broken washer, broken dryer, two bathroom doors and beadboard for the back bathroom cluttering up the house? Besides all our normal stuff? I've never lived in such a mess. This week has been an exercise in patience in that area alone.

The good news is I was able to get through the entire mountain of backed up laundry (built up while we were waiting for a working washer) and the kids put it away. Also, I was able to impress on the older four kids that if they didn't entirely mess up their rooms every time they changed clothes or got a book, they'd only have to clean up a few things before school instead of an entire room. Their rooms have never been so clean for so long. Also, Woo agreed to go through some of his stuff and get rid of it.

He started with baseball cards. The kids were in heaven. Pretty much all they did Saturday was stack and organize any and all cards Woo tossed their way. And then after dinner, we went outside and Woo taped cards to their bikes to run in their spokes. They were thrilled.

One evening Woo brought home Subway after work and we rode our bikes down into the river bottoms for a little picnic. The kids ran around and climbed trees.
Penelope: Mom am I going to break this tree? 
Me: No, but you're going to ruin your dress. 
Penelope: No!! I want it forever!!!
I managed to go shopping for a few kids' clothes, which with just two kids was easier, but I still had to take both of them to the bathroom and get a drink. Penelope and Archie were fascinated by the automatically flushing toilets. Penelope finally came up with an explanation: Our bums has powers!!

Linus loves kindergarten, but he does not like to talk about it. Asking him questions just annoys him and he says he can't remember everything, but he says that he loves it. It has made him feel very knowledgable and his efforts to educate his younger brother and sister have increased.
Linus: Nellpea, do you know what ankles are?  
Penelope: No.  
Linus: They're these bump things right here. You have one on each leg. 
Linus: Nellpea, there is someone in my class named Elizabeth. 
Penelope: Who is it?  
Linus: Elizabeth.

Ruby requested something pink with owls on it. I did manage to find a pink jacket with an owl on it. It also said: I love nerds. I know I love nerds, but we didn't know what Ruby's reaction would be. She loved it. She immediately put on all her new clothes, wore them to bed, and was up and ready in the morning. She wondered if anyone would even recognize her with her different clothes. I assured her they would.

In fact all the kids were very grateful and appreciative of the new things they got. I felt like a success.

Ruby also gave out two mini Book of Mormons to friends this week. She wrote her testimony (which was very good) in the front and had a positive reaction from both. When we asked her why she did it, she just said that she felt like she should.

Herbie was very excited to take apart Woo's old iMac with him and try to fix it. They weren't successful (soldering iron trouble) but Herbie got his fix-it/dad time. Herbie is excellent at this kind of stuff because he can wait quietly, hold still without touching or hold stuff steady when needed.

Moses had some concerns the first week of school. He said he hated recess because he didn't have any friends to play with. He just walked around the whole time. Woo gave him some very specific advice of what to say and when, and I suggested he pray. He did both, and the next day proudly announced he had one friend. This week he smiled and told us he has three or four that play with him regularly.

Archie always has to comment on his poop after a trip to the potty. Usually the shape is what concerns him. A 'nake, a pen, a mountain, etc. He also associates bad guys with poop.

"Bad guys eat poop! And they drink pee!"

One time I asked him how all that poop had gotten into his belly. He answered, "A bad guy put it there."

Just one last thing I thought was kind of cute. Going through his cards brought back all sorts of old memories and feelings for Woo. One was that he and his friends started a card shop. He found a little note with a plan for how he was going to spend all his profits.
10% Tithing
30% Cards For Me
40% Cards For Shop
20% Supplies (binders and plastic folders and the like)
Interesting to note that one of his card shop co-owners now owns a couple pawn shops in Maine.

Well that's about it. Hope you had a great week!