Four-Year Old Jokes

9 Aug

The Scooter Pies turned four this week.

Pumpkin Pie made their cakes:

A Goomba from Super Mario World

And a Smash ball from Smash Bros Brawl.

These little guys seem super grown up suddenly.

Zeek gets super offended if we call him “Baby” or refer to his room as “the babies’ room”

“I not a baby!” He cries.

Zeke’s favorite color is dark blue and light blue.

His favorite game is Smash Bros. His favorite food is saltine crackers and little breakfast sausage links. His favorite treat is fruit snacks. His favorite animal is a lion. His favorite song is “Ducky” (which is a song he and Skeeter made up in which they sing the word “ducky” over and over.) His favorite bedtime story is “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Skeeter’s favorite color is red. His favorite game is Temple Run. His favorite food is chicken nuggets. His favorite treat is cake. His favorite animal is a moose. His favorite song is the Smash Bros Song.

Skeeter’s favorite place to go is the park. His favorite bedtime story is “The very Hungry Caterpillar.”

A conversation they had tonight while I was trying to get them to go to sleep:

Skeeter: we want Taco Tuesday

Zeke: Yeah, and the we want Taco Threesday.

S: And then we want Taco Foursday!

Z: (laughing delightedly) then Taco Fivesday!

S: (laughing hysterically) and then sixday, seven eight ninesday!!

Both of them collapse laughing

Z: we missed Taco Onesday.

Me: how are they so smart? Also, I think Taco Ninesday should be a thing.

As I typed this,,Zeke recognized the word “Taco” on screen. What? They might be reading. Before they start preschool.


Family Trip 2019

25 Jul

This summer we put a little extra effort into planning because we realized that it might be our last summer vacation trip as a whole family.  Blueberry Pie is 19 and will be leaving soon on a 2 year mission for our church.  By the time he gets home, Cherry Pie will be 19 and could be leaving on a mission, moved away to college, or something grown-up.  Basically from now on, we can’t count on our kids all being home with us.  Next time we have all the family together for a summer vacation, it will be more of a reunion than a family trip.  Yikes. How can this be?

I owe it all to my friend that we got to do something out of the ordinary and amazing. But I better stick to a chronological tale:

Sunday, July 14, the resident captain got home from his National Guard Drill weekend at about 4p.m.  The kids and I had spent the week packing, and we nearly had the van packed and ready to go.  I put the food in the ice chest while the captain changed into civilian clothes.  Inspired by my sister, Katie, we packed as light as we could manage, each person only getting a school sized backpack for their clothing. behind the back seat in the van went my camp chair, the sleeping bags, and 3 tents.  We had four rubbermaid tubs on a trailer hitch platform on the back of the van which held tarps, the camp kitchen, air mattresses, and hiking boots for everyone.  I had a first aid kit, and a box for the 5 kindles, 1 car dvd player, dvds, and charging cords for all of the tech.  It helped in packing light that the twins are potty trained, so I did not have to pack a week’s worth of diapers for two.  I also packed less snacks than usual, and zero candy.  The last few trips we have gone on, I brought way too much food.  We did bring a small 2 gallon bucket 1/2 full of kitty litter in case one of them needed to pee between gas station stops.  It had a tight lid and fit under a van seat, and, yes, it was used several times.

Sunday afternoon, I had made 3 pizzas for dinner, and the kids only ate one plus a little, so I put the rest in the freezer (Feeling like a fool for making too much food and not knowing that pizza would bless us later.) I also made 2 sheet pans of garlic bread sticks.  Those turned out to be the twins and my favorite car snacks.  We rolled out of our driveway at 4:30 p.m.  First time ever that we left on vacation at the time we hoped to. Victory!

Zeke plays Galaxy Evolution on a kindle while Blueberry Pie inspects the backs of his eyelids.


We drove straight to Rexburg, Idaho, according to Google, a 22 hour drive, but it took us 24.  The captain drove the most, I drove about 7 hours and Blueberry Pie drove 3 or maybe 5 hours.  I listened to a Great Course on the life of Winston Churchill while I was driving, and it was very good.   I was unable to fall asleep in the car after I took my turn driving, and felt super tired and cranky about it.

When we got to Rexburg Monday afternoon, the weather was breezy and dry and we all loved it.  Almost all of us, anyway.  Zeke burst into tears and sobbed for at least 10 minutes. He was so upset that after all that driving, we weren’t home.  He wanted to go home and play the wii. After he calmed down enough to look around, he joined Key Lime Pie and Skeeter on the slide and had a great time. Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean were already building sand castles in the giant sandbox.  After setting up our tents, I got to go sit down and talk with sisters and cousins and not worry about those babies at all.



Tuesday morning the teenagers went to do baptisms at the Rexburg Temple.

I had gotten up to wake them at 5 a.m., so I went in to the kitchen and had a lovely talk with my cousins, Angelic, John, and Tom Pincock, while they cooked everyone’s breakfast.

Then I sat outside in the shade and watched the littles play in the sandbox and talked to cousins and sisters.
After lunch, the captain took Blueberry, Cherry, Pumpkin, Tamale, and Key Lime Pie to explore the ice caves nearby.  (They has planned to climb Mt. Borah, but it was still snowing last week up on the mountain and so the captain decided it wasn’t safe without gear like ice axes and crampons.) They had a super fun time in the caves. (Probably more fun than climbing the mountain would have been, just sayin’.)
I went with all the little pies and cousins to the city splash pad in Rexburg.  The wind was chilly, so even in the sun, the babies got too cold to play after about 45 minutes.  Cousin Olive sure was cute! When we got back to the reunion campground, Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean were changed out of their swimsuits and in the sandbox playing in less than 5 minutes.  They loved that sandbox.

Baby Olive

Uncle Sam Bennion had the idea that we should fold a thousand paper cranes for Heidi Jane, our cousin who just discovered she has cancer, so all of us, but especially the teenagers, worked on that folding during the whole reunion.
Key Lime Pie and cousins played many games of Pokémon.
Rexburg seems to be constantly windy, and someone brought kites.  These were a huge hit with all the littles at the reunion.  So was the huge water balloon fight my mom started.  My dad stationed himself at the swings and pushed little kiddos for literally hours straight.
Tuesday night, my cousin Penny and I had a book club for the book Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.  It was just the two of us—partly because I couldn’t find that anyone else had read the book. Later I found that Uncle Doug and Aunt Lillian had read the book, and Aunt Jeanne read most of it, so I wish I could have found them to be in the book club. Penny and I had a lovely chat about books though, and she brought Scottish shortbread cookies.  That talk was definitely a highlight of the reunion for me.
Wednesday morning most of my siblings and I took our kids to the dunes.  The kids had a blast rolling down the hills and burying each other in the sand.  My cousin, Laura, and her husband, Josh, came with their kids and some of her sister Rachel’s kids. They brought boxes to slide down the dunes in, but it turns out boxes don’t slide on dunes. There was a random family there with a couple of inner tubes and swimming goggles.  It turns out that inner tubes don’t slide down sand dunes either, so they abandoned them. Jimmy snagged their tubes, climbed inside, and rolled down the dunes. He went super fast and in a crazy zig-zag. Lucky for little Hazel, Luke was alert and dived down and snatched her out of Jimmy’s path at the last second—or she would have been creamed.
Morgan tried rolling in the tube and he totally face planted in the sand twice as he rolled down.  Blueberry Pie was going to try it, but the owners of the tubes came back and so we had to return their property.
Peter collected a pocket full of bullet casings and kept joking about collecting “shells” at the sand dunes.
My phone died before I could take very many pictures.


Wednesday evening we had Mom’s Bennion Family History Quiz Bowl tournament. Mom and I had made 25 poster of family history stories and hung them in the hallway so that people could read the stories while they waited in line for meals.
Peter, Jimmy, and I combined answered lots of questions (Pete the most) so we did very well. Aunt Jeanne answered a lot as well, and the scorekeeper gave the win to her.  Uncle Howard made a lot of hilarious comments but still also knew a fair amount of history.


The Scooter Pies discovered cousin Joe Bingner playing his Nintendo switch and spent two hours one evening watching him play.

My little technology addicts

Late Wednesday night I went into Rexburg and washed all our dirty laundry at the laundry mat (because we only brought 3 days worth of clothes for everyone, and Zeke had a few accidents.)  Zeke also stripped naked several times each day, providing extra excitement for us all.  The Scooter Pies both got upset every time I tried to take them with me to the girl’s bathroom–they wanted to go to the boy’s bathroom.  So I kept telling them, “This is the family bathroom.”

Thursday morning we packed up and cleaned up, and headed out by 11:30.

This is where the Pie family parted from the larger Bennion family and went our own way.
We headed to Cody, Wyoming, a 5 hour drive, which took us through the northern boarder of Yellowstone park. Luckily, the Captain gets a free pass into National Parks.  We stopped at a couple of thermal springs to stretch our legs, and saw several buffaloes and a bear.  We camped at the KOA in Cody, and the kids got to play on the playground and jump on the giant Jumping bubble (similar to a bouncy castle without walls) for a bit after we cooked dinner.
The next morning, we met my friend’s brother, Joe, who drove down from Powell with his river boat and took us for an hour ride down the Shoshone river.  He has been guiding river tours for over 20 years and told the kids lots of interesting geology facts about the river banks as well as lots of funny jokes. The rapids we went over were not too big, but there was one big section that was pretty intense, and he had us paddle so that the boat spun in circles as we rode the rapids, so that was pretty exciting.  The Captain, Blueberry Pie, Cherry Pie, and I rowed (when he told us too). Joe had two big oars in a rig that he steered with.  The water was near freezing.  Joe called it “refreshing.”  Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie sat in the very front of the boat and caught most of the water splashes, blocking the rest of us, heh heh. Zeke loved the whole ride.  Skeeter smiled and shivered the whole time, but claims he didn’t like it.  Key Lime Pie and Baby Bean cried —mostly because they were cold, I think.  Banana Cream Pie didn’t cry, but she announced loudly that she did not like the bumpy, splashing parts. It was super fun and like nothing we have ever done as a family before.  Joe was awesome, and we sure appreciated him taking nearly a whole day to make fun for us.
After the river ride, the Captain went shopping for lunch stuff, and the kids and I went and sat in the hot tub at the KOA pool to warm up our numb feet and legs.
Then we had lunch and took a nap.  Some of the kids did not nap but went and played in the indoor playroom at the KOA.  After our siesta we went into town and treated ourselves to Wendy’s frosties and played at a park.  We wanted to go to a museum or a hike or something, but I was feeling tired still and began to feel sick as time passed. So we went back to the Camp.  More and more of us were feeling kind of queasy and tired,  so we just had Raman noodles for dinner. I’m so glad we camped at the KOA, because I was feeling so terrible that I took all the little kids back to the indoor playroom, and I took a 3 hour nap on a couch while they played and watched TV. Ben washed up the dishes, etc. Then I made all the kids go to bed, and I slept again. In the morning, I think our original plan had been to find a place to hike. But I was so sick that all I could think to do was pack up and go home. So that’s what we did.
It was supposed to be 18 hours home, but it took us 21–probably because I needed extra bathroom stops.  🤢 Cherry Pie was a sick too, though not as bad. About 9 p.m. Saturday night I started feeling better. I slept most of the day, so I took the last driving shift from 4:30-7:30a.m.
And that got us back home Sunday morning, just in time to unload the van, shower up and get to church. I tried to talk myself into staying home and sleeping after the 21 hour drive, because we had not expected to be home that early and had arranged subs for our responsibilities at church—but I couldn’t bring myself to skip church when I had the opportunity to go. So I dragged all my tired, cranky kids to church, and felt really happy and grateful to be there.
Also we had a Sunday miracle.  I was worried that after church I would have to break the Sabbath and go buy groceries because the fridge was pretty much empty.  But there was 1/2 a gallon of milk, and Pumpkin Pie reminded me that I had made too much pizza before we left and had frozen 2 whole pizzas. So we had a delicious lunch, and easy, too.  Funny, I was so irritated at myself for making all that food that no one wanted to eat, and it turned out to be a blessing.
Because we are a military family, we always have an AAR (After Action Review) after big family activities.  Here are the kid’s favorites and highlights:
Blueberry Pie: Riding the river, the Japanese Breakfast Great-Aunt Miyuki cooked for us, and drawing alongside Great-Uncle Howard and Uncle JohnnyD
Cherry Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves
Pumpkin Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves, Riding the River, playing with baby Olive and baby Magnus.  (She now wants to move in with Aunt Tahnee and babysit Magnus daily)
Tamale Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves, playing at the sand dunes
Key-Lime Pie: Playing Pokemon with cousins
Banana Cream Pie: the sand box, flying kites, playing at the indoor playground at the Cody KOA
Baby Bean: Sitting in the Hot Tub at the KOA
When we asked what activities the kids would like to repeat, they predictably listed the ice caves, sand dunes, and river rafting.  Banana Cream Pie commented that she loves visiting places where chiggers don’t live.
When we asked what the kids would like to never do again, they voted to pack even lighter so that we have less stuff kicking around the car.  They also begged to not drive straight through, but stop and sleep somewhere along the way, and to not bring the dvd player, because the little kid movies are annoying.

My First Suzuki Workshop

6 Jul


Yesterday, I spent the day in the first class required for Suzuki teacher training, “Every Child Can.”

First of all, it was an incredibly rejuvenating and inspiring and igniting experience to be in a room with other caring teachers and learn and discuss Shinichi Suzuki’s philosophy and method for teaching children.  I learned so much. Additionally, often when a class member made a comment, the teacher would ask, “do you mean ‘…’ by that?” and rephrase their answer.  Sometimes, the connections made were so unlike my own, that I got 3 new ideas from each comment: the idea of the class mate, the idea of the teacher, and the connecting idea that related the two.

I loved the ideals that Suzuki put forth.  I loved the camaraderie of the class.  I look forward to attending more in the future.

Things I learned:

Shinichi Suzuki was born in 1898 and died in 1998, nearly 100 years old.  He trained musically in Germany in 1926 and married a German woman as well as becoming friends with Einstien.  He and his family suffered much during World War 2.

This puts a context to his work with children.  He was not just teaching music to children, he was trying to change the world.

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki


“Perhaps it is music that will save the world.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education


I also learned that Suzuki never stopped learning, himself.  He called his teaching “research” and was continually trying new things and seeking more knowledge.

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. DO not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education

Until we die, we should spare no time or effort in changing our weaknesses to merits. To do so can be pleasant and interesting. We can become like the horse that starts last and yet outruns the field, reaching the wire first; it is the same fun.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education


As I listened and learned yesterday, I made many connections with what I learned reading Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry Prizant, PhD.  I feel that both of these men see children as human beings worthy of respect, and this is what makes their work effective and inspiring.  Charlotte Mason (whose educational philosophy I have written about before) also saw this when she stated as her first principle: “Children are born persons.”  It seems like such an obvious statement, rather like Shinichi Suzuki’s statement “All Japanese children learn Japanese.”  Yet it is recognizing a simple truth (which the majority of people have taken for granted) that changes the world.


What do I need if I’m Pregnant with Twins?

12 May

Four years ago, my doctor informed me that my baby number 8 was actually baby number 8 AND baby number 9.  I was a pretty experienced mommy, but I knew twins would be different.  I scoured the internet for information on what I would need.  Most mommy bloggers of twins had different life situations than I had.  Their twins were usually their first and second babies, or they had a toddler and twins.  I don’t think I found a single blog by mothers who already had 7 babies and then had twins.  (These women are much too busy to blog.)  These mommy bloggers all also seemed to be able to afford the deluxe, premium versions of everything from strollers to diaper bags.  That was definitely not me.

I do want to remember what I learned and what turned out to be useful for me.  So if you just found out that you are going to be a Mother of Multiples and you have a real life budget, here are the things that were the best things I bought.  I got my money’s worth out of all of them.  (P.S. None of these links are affiliate links because Missouri and Amazon do not get along–these are just sincerely the things that saved my sanity.)

#1–I ordered this brace when I was 30 weeks along. I should have ordered it at 25 weeks. It really helped reduce how much back pain I had while standing to cook dinner. (by 27 weeks, I only stood up to cook dinner. The rest of the time I sat on the couch watching Dora with Baby Bean.)
#2–I bought this pillow for nursing two babies at once. It was great for just holding them too. My twins turned out to be terrible at eating, so I only used it for about 3 1/2 months before I faced reality and switched to full formula and bottles. There are lots of twin mommy blogs out there of super women who exclusively breast fed or exclusively pumped and bottle fed their twins for a whole year, so I’m not saying it is impossible. But don’t judge yourself if your unique situation doesn’t work out that way. ❤
#3–If it turns out that you partially or fully bottle feed your babies, you will be super glad to have these “hands-free” bottles. The part that goes in the baby’s mouth is like a pacifier that hooks to the bottle on a long tube. This way, no one has to hold the weight of the bottle. It’s awesome. Also, the babies swallow less air with these, so if your babies have colic or gastric re-flux, they help with that too. I can’t tell you how many nights at 1 in the morning I was attempting to nurse a baby with one arm, hold the breast pump on the other side, and had the other baby in a bouncy chair and was propping a bottle for him with my foot. These fix that.
#4–Speaking of bouncy chairs….when I had only one baby, these seemed like useless space hogs. But My twins were in their bouncy chairs so much. Bouncy chairs or swings…either is fine, but you need two! They can double as high chairs for a long time as well.
#5–I got a backpack diaper bag because I knew both hands would be busy with the babies. That was a good call. You don’t want a shoulder bag that is going to slip down your arm onto a baby or make you lopsided. You’ll be juggling too much anyway. This is the one I got, and I loved it, but there are many many options out there.
A lot of twin moms recommend the JuJuBe diaper bags. They look amazing and expensive.
#6–This stroller is light weight, sturdy, and works with most car seats, so you don’t have to buy two new car seats (if you don’t want to) This thing was my work horse for many months–as long as you bring the babies into church in their car seats, you’ll be glad you have it. Baby Trend Universal Double Snap-N-Go Stroller Frame
#7–Start making a list now of things that people can do for you. Lots of people will ask if they can help, and you’re going to be so tired and overwhelmed that you’ll go blank, and you won’t know what you can tell them to do. So make a list now of things you’re willing to let people help you with– like running a load of laundry through your washer, or sweeping your floor, or washing baby bottles, or feeding your goats etc. The thing that someone did for me that helped me the most was to come once or twice a week and take away my preschoolers for the afternoon (Banana Cream Pie was 3 and Baby Bean was 18 months old.) For those few hours I could take care of the twins or take a nap and not have to worry about what crazy messy thing Baby Bean might be getting into.
#8–I made lots of casseroles and freezer meals so that dinner would be easier after the babies were born. By 25 weeks I had 30 meals in the freezer.  I didn’t make more because after that, I was in too much pain to stand for long enough to put extra meals together.  (see #1)  After the babies were born, we also ate a lot of dinosaur chicken nuggets, freezer pizza, taquitos, and popcorn–everyone survived just fine 😉
You can do this, Mamma! Heavenly Father will grant you the strength and wisdom you need when you need it ❤ He is sending these beautiful babies to you because you are the perfect mommy for them. They will love you as you are.
Don’t let yourself think that you have to do things a certain way.
Every time you get frustrated, ask yourself–What is driving me crazy?
How can I make that process simpler or make it go more smoothly?
What expectations do I have that aren’t really true and I need to let go of them?
(example: “good moms do X so I have to do X also.” or If my kids are unhappy, I’m failing.”)
❤ Glowworm

Productivity as a Homemaker

5 Mar

I was listening to a podcast and the speaker was talking sort of on a “seize the day/make every moment count” theme. I was getting more and more stressed out listening to her. That particular stressful feeling of “I’m wasting my life and all my time and I’m not being productive” used to bother me all the time, but hasn’t recently, and I paused the podcast to think about why. I realized that

-in the past, I read so many efficiency and productivity books and was trying to be productive, but they were all business oriented so my housework didn’t seem productive to me. Those books all talked about goals and promotions and “getting to the next level”. Home making doesn’t really have promotions and levels. You can’t often make a S.M.A.R.T. goal for housework–because there is no end date. House work repeats over and over. There is no promotion to a new level where I suddenly don’t need to wash dishes any more. Because of this, I didn’t view housework as “productive”. Housework was the stuff I had get over with so that I could go do something productive. Since it never ended, my frustration was almost constant.

-A few years ago I decided to stop trying to be “productive” because it was getting in the way of me being able to love and care for my family. I was making everyone miserable trying to rush through housework. If a child spilled something or made a mess, I would totally lose my temper because I saw it as a setback to my goal of “getting done.”

I chose to accept what must be done and strive simply to do it well. No longer would I speak of housework as drudgery or complain of the Sisyphean mountains of laundry and dishes. Instead I reminded myself each day that my job as mother is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, make a clean and tidy place for my children to grow in, minister to the sick, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. These are things that Jesus did while he was on the earth. They cannot be drudgery, no matter how often they repeat.

-This choice brought me a large measure of peace. Spills and messes are inevitable in a family of 11. I don’t lose my temper anymore because spills aren’t setbacks. They are just spills. I’m happy doing what I can do each day.

As I thought about what the podcast speaker was saying, I realized that no one has ever said house work wasn’t productive. That was just a logic hole in my own head. When I “gave up on productivity,” what I actually did was to let go of my narrow definition of productivity and accept the work set before me. I’m so much more productive now that my focus is on what is essential and not on an unrealistic view of what I ought to be doing.


Spanish Poetry

12 Feb

via Spanish Poetry

2018 Book Review

9 Jan

It was my goal to read 60 books for 2018, and I only managed to finish 53. It was also my goal to only read books I enjoyed, and I dropped several without finishing, including Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway and Origin by Dan Brown.

My favorite fun reads: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand (Thanks Katie)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, narrated by Jim Dale (this one is the first book I’ve listened to that I believe is a better experience listening than it would have been to just read myself)

Classic that I hadn’t read before that I still can’t talk about:

Random Harvest by James Hilton

All I can say for now is that it is what Brideshead Revisited could have been if Evelyn Waugh had written characters worth reading about.

The one book I read that I didn’t enjoy, but I finished because it was good for me:

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Books that I couldn’t stop talking about:

At Home by Bill Bryson (thanks, Ruth)

The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Best Family Read-alouds:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Top 3:

No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown