Monday, September 25, 2006

Let's go to Canada

On Wednesday evening, Andrew, Josie, my mom, and I set out to make our cross-country trek to Alberta. My cousin Heather (technically my favorite second cousin) got married on Friday and asked me to be her bridesmaid so we all headed up together. We got to do a lot of neat things: we went through the Cardston temple, Andrew got to meet my sister Abbi, and Heather got married.

We arrived at my Auntie Colleen's farm on Thursday after driving all day. The border was a rather interesting experience. We went through the routine questions: do you have any animals, are you carrying any firearms...blah, blah, blah. The guard asked us a series of questions that we thought were normal but he did them in a way so that he could find out who we were and where we were from.

Guard: Where are you from?
Mom: Utah.
Guard: Where are you headed?
Mom: We're going to Grassy Lake to visit my sister and then to Cardston for a wedding.
Guard: Do you have any firearms?
Mom: No.
Guard: So this isn't a shot-gun wedding, then.
Mom: No.
Guard: Do you have any tobacco or alcohol?
Mom: No.
Guard: I have one more question to ask you.
Mom: Okay.
Guard: So, are you guys Mormons?

Let's do the math: we're from Utah going to Cardston for a wedding. We have no tobacco or alcohol...hmmmm...

Mom: Yes, we are.
Guard: Well, my son just finished a mission down there...blah, blah, blah.

It was pretty funny. I didn't ever think I would have that experience at the border!

After we got through the border and played on the fake hoodoos in front of the Alberta visitor's center, we headed for the farm. We were really glad to get to Auntie Colleen's house and have a nice dinner and warm beds waiting for us. We tried to do some exciting things like ride the four-wheelers, but they were broken (a long and tragic story!) so we just visited, which was fine with me. We also did my hair in rags (Uncle LeRon's old pyjama bottoms) so that it would be curly for Heather's wedding. My hair does not like to curl! However, with a lot of hairspray and time twirling my hair we headed to bed hoping for a miracle.

In the morning, we took my hair out and it was curly (wonder of wonders)! We finished getting ready and headed to Cardston for the 10:30 session. This was cutting it really close because Heather was getting married at 1:00 so the session would get out just barely before she would get sealed. We thought about going to the 9:30 session so that we would definitely be out in time but I have never been to a temple with all the different rooms before so mom really wanted me to see that. The 9:30 session is for people with limited physical abilities and they just stay in one room the whole time.

It was really a different experience than the Provo and Timpanogos temples. It was so cool! And because it's Southern Alberta, my mom knew a ton of people there (okay, like 2). Her cousin Claire happened to be working there that day, so we took some time to get caught up with her before Heather's wedding because, in true Heather fashion, she was hopelessly late. That's okay because Ryan was even later!



The ceremony was beautiful. It was fun for Andrew and I to attend a sealing because that was the first one that we'd been to since getting married ourselves. It was nice to be reminded of the blessings bestowed on us when we went through.

***

It was pretty cloudy all day and we were hoping that it wouldn't rain. It did. It didn't ever down-pour, but it spat the whole time and was freezing cold! Pictures were an interesting experience, especially with the grandchildren!


Krista, Me, Sara Beth, Heather, Ryan...2 of Ryan's friends, and his little brother, Aaron





The grandkids in the picture below may look like they are being very well behaved. However, they were not. They were screaming and crying and running away. Not one of them sat still (until a few of the little girls were told they could touch the wedding dress if they sat still). I don't really blame the kids for crying though. It was freezing!



When the bridesmaids were permitted to leave, mom and Andrew and I headed over to the Senior's center to help set up for Heather's luncheon. Sharon (Kathy Sisk's mom--Kathy is Heather's cousin!) and Helen (Heather's aunt) had already set up but they were missing the box full of Heather's decorations so they scavenged and found some things to make-do with. Now, I thought that it looked very nice, but you have to understand my cousin Heather.

Heather is not a flouncy girl who likes pink. She is a non-flouncy girl who detests pink.

Sharon and Helen decorated in purple and pink. I, being the zealous bridesmaid that I am, was put in charge of making sure that it looked how Heather would like it. So, once we found the missing box, I started changing around all the table cloths, center pieces, and napkins. Everyone was nice and helped out...which was a good thing. Even though there were a few mishaps (square table cloths instead of round ones...) everything worked out. We put the square cloths in Heather's colors over the purple and pink clothes...she didn't even notice the pink and purple! Phew! It looked great. And Heather and Ryan looked so happy!

It was pretty late in the afternoon when we headed home, but not so late that we didn't see the Happy Face Barn. This has been our "we're almost home" landmark for almost a decade now. Maybe it even has been a decade. (Man! You know you're getting old when you can talk about things in decades!) It's just outside of High River. As kids we would watch for it and know that when we saw it we were about 10 minutes from home. You may have to click on the picture to see it clearer.



After introducing Andrew to everyone, we stayed up late talking. Piper instantly fell in love with Andrew and couldn't stop climbing on him. She was so funny! Then she tripped and fell in front of him and ran crying into her room. That was the last we saw of her that evening. She was so embarrassed but had forgotten about it by morning.

We went to the park in the morning and the kids had a great time showing off, especially Deklan. We played some ogre game and chased the kids all around and had contests on the swings...







Deklan was climbing all over the place saying, "Auntie Ci-Ci, come take a picture quick! It's kind of hard to stay up here!" So I would hurry and take a picture so that he could get down without breaking his neck...









And now, for our final playground picture...drumroll, if you please.

Deklan had been jumping off the swings and I almost got a picture of him...so I told him to do it one more time. Before, Andrew was pushing him really high and then he would wait and jump off when a sane person would jump off. This time we repeated the swinging really high thing; however, when he was still really high, Deklan yells, "1-2-3...now!" And bailed off the swing. He really got some air!



When he finally landed, he crumpled on the ground screaming. We investigated his foot and decided that it wasn't broken. He's screaming because it hurt and laughing because Josie and Piper and Malachi are shoving cookies in his face. When Abra touched his foot Deklan screamed, "Ouch! Mom! It hurts when you even just touch my arm! I mean foot!" He had a fun time hobbling home...

(When we looked at it yesterday during church his big toe was all bruised. I wonder if that's what he broke because he landed hard.)

After getting home (Deklan was carried half-way) Andrew, Josie, Mom and I headed to the Great Canadian Super Store to get some Canadian staples: chocolate bars, chips, and maple cookies. We then headed back home to re-do my hair.

While we were doing this, Andrew was in the basement trying to do his homework. Piper, of course, was all over him. He was getting pretty frustrated, so Billy called Piper off him and told her that people have personal space. When my hair was finally defrizzed and re-curled, we relinquished the bathroom to Andrew so he could shower. While I was walking upstairs to get him a towel, Piper caught me.

Piper: Auntie Ci-Ci, I really like that Uncle... Oh, I can't remember his name, but I really like him!
Me: That's good. I'm glad you do.
Piper: I'm going to ask mom if I can sleep over with him.
Me: Oh...?
Piper: Yes. Who usually sleeps with him?
Me: Me.
Piper: Oh, well...Josie is in my room and I was thinking, maybe we can trade.
Me: Hmmmmm...

Piper got another lecture about giving people their personal space...and since Uncle Andrew really just met her, she might be making him feel a little uncomfortable. Plus, little girls just have sleep overs with their aunts. Not their uncles.

Abbi asked Piper if she understood. Piper sniffed, "Yes...Uncle Andrew hates me!" It didn't take her long to get over that blow either and before we knew it, she was her happy little self again. Not allowing Uncle Andrew any personal space. (It was really okay. He was flattered that she liked him so much right away!)

Unfortunately, after Abra did my hair and makeup, there was very little time to play with my nieces and nephews more because I had to be to the reception early to take more pictures. Not like that happened. When we arrived, I was the only one from the wedding party there dressed with my hair and makeup done. So I helped in the kitchen while the other girls got ready. It's a good thing I did because we barely got everything ready in time. We had to drag Heather away from the mirror and into the receiving line (not that I blame her because standing in line shaking a bunch of people's hands is not my idea of a fun evening either)! Sara Beth and I took off our shoes at the same time so that we'd be the same height and not have sore feet. Krista left hers on because she was so short.



When Deklan came (limping) through the line, he had a lot to say to everyone. When he got to me he said, "Hello Auntie Ci-Ci. I'm here because I knew Heather when she was just a little girl." He then proceeded down the line telling everyone the same thing. Even Heather. It was hilarious because, well, he's 6 and she's 21.

Andrew got to experience his first true-blue Canadian wedding. There was a program. It was fun. I got to sit at the table of honor and watch everyone perform for Heather and Ryan. I also got to perform for Heather. Ryan's last name is Adams...so Dalene and her husband wrote a parody of The Adams Family theme song for Heather and Ryan. We all got up to sing it...and that was our first practice. We botched it so bad the first time that they made us do it twice!





I have a similar shot of this picture from my wedding. Only I was in white and she was in yellow!

After the reception we all cleaned up and the went home to go to bed...Sunday was going to be a long day. Unfortunately, bed isn't something that we do well when we know we have to say goodbye soon...so we stayed up even later watching TV and talking.

The next morning we got ready for church. I tried to take some nice pictures of my niece and nephew before we left, but it was hard to get them to sit nicely. Except for Deklan who was sitting in the same spot almost the whole 30 seconds that the following shots took place in.









It was fun to go to church and see all of our friends...and see how big the "children" are now. I'm sure everyone was equally surprised to see me toting a husband...but, wow! All those kids I used to babysit sure are getting old! It was fun to see my friend Jocelyn and her husband who were also up visiting (though just from Lethbridge...not quite as much of a drive). We also saw Heather and Ryan, who...ha-ha...are spending their honeymoon in High River because they procrastinated and couldn't find another hotel that was vacant!

We said our good-byes after sacrament meeting. Abra, of course, cried. I, remarkably, cried very little. Piper wasn't fazed at all (Oh, before you go, Uncle Andrew, will you lift me up to touch the ceiling?). Malachi was excited to say goodbye (at least as excited as he was to say hello). Billy was stoic. Mom did okay. Josie cried with Abra. Andrew lifted Piper up to touch the ceiling. And Deklan...well...Deklan lost it. He was absolutely bawling. He was crying so hard he was gasping for air and trying to talk between each gasp. "I *gasp* don't *gasp* want *gasp* you *gasp, gasp* to go!" I got down on his level and told him that they were planning on coming at Christmas so that's just a short time (a little of September, then October and November, and a little of December and you can see us again) that he'd have to wait! Then I got up and told Abra the very same thing. I'm not sure I remember right, but I think she slugged me in the shoulder.

We were amazed that Deklan cared so much. Aside from showing off at the park...he escaped our company for hours to play the computer. I guess he was a little more excited to see us than we thought.

Well, Abra and Billy are planning on coming down for Christmas, so I'm very excited about that.

***

The ride home was long. Andrew got pulled over...but he didn't get a ticket. Those Montana roads are really hard not to speed on. They're straight and empty...you can just cruise and if you happen to have a led foot...

Josie was, as always, very entertaining. I don't know how she finds so many interesting things to do in the car.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to Andrew!

Andrew turned 22 today. He's pretty much an old-timer now. He's happy to have reached an age where people don't gawk when they ask when he got married. He pretends that he's been home from his mission for a year and says that we just got married. People seem to be okay with that. It's just when they find out that we have been married for 9 months and he's been home for 11 that they get a little bit weirded out.

I had this birthday together about as well as Andrew had mine...meaning that I made the cake yesterday and bought his present today. It was definitely fun. The whole family came, except my mom and David who were working and Patrick who had mutual late.

As soon as everyone was here, Andrew blew out the candles.


Then we had cake and ice cream and visited and told jokes. Since it was Andrew's birthday, I bet you think that Andrew was the center of attention. And he was, for about 5 minutes...until Josie realized that she is really quite funny.







If you will, notice Andrew's right arm. He has it in his traditional "thinking" position. He does that all the time: when he's on the computer, when he's reading, when he's writing, when he's asked a question... You name it, if he has to use his brain, his hand flies up to his face. Sarah has adopted a modified version of this thinking position (note her spread fingers). Apparently those jokes Josie was telling were pretty difficult.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Camping in Heber

This weekend Andrew and I took Josie camping with the Heisses, the Gillespies and some other families from Andrew's parent's ward. It was quite fun. A little cold, but fun. We had three cabins: A (for adults), B (for the boys), and C (for crazy...that's the girls' cabin). We left Orem after helping Josie finish packing. Even with all the help, she forgot numerous things: like pants.

We drove through Provo canyon to the city of Heber and from there to the Heber Girls' Camp. It was a beautiful drive. At least, I thought so. It's probably a really good thing that Andrew and I lived in Jordan for a while because now I finally appreciate the beauty of Utah. I used to think it was an ugly old desert. Now I think that it has beautiful trees, tall mountains, plenty of water. Strange things can happen to one's point of view in a very short period of time!


When we arrived at the camp site, we unpacked and settled down for some hot chocolate and cider. Jacob already had a fire all ready for us. Even though it had rained/hailed all day, he started the fire with only one match.





I spent most of my time in various cabins. It was much too cold for anyone reasonable to be spending too much time outside. Andrew spent a lot of time outside. He forgot his fleece jacket. He likes to blame me for that, but it was sitting right on the couch, so he could have grabbed it as well, so he wore his dad's jacket for most of the time. His dad then had no jacket because he had forgotten his coat on his bed (it must run in the family).

After a nice dinner of stew, we headed to the A cabin for games. A little boy, about 5 years old, was so excited to use his sleeping bag that he kept telling everyone to be quiet so that he could sleep. His mom kept telling him that it wasn't bed time yet...we all just ignored him and kept playing our (rather loud) games: cutthroat UNO and Apples to Apples. Finally Robert (the little boy) gets up on his bunk bed and starts yelling, "Excuse me! Excuse me! I have an announcement." So we all turned and looked at him: "Everyone look at Robert!" That got him, he kind of choked back his words and gave up giving his announcement. He stared at us with wide eyes and then said, "Okay, I want that table and that table to BE QUIET!" We decided it was story time. Karen told a nice story of her connection to Heber...and then a story about the importance of having integrity. We then had a group prayer and all headed to cabin B so that Robert could sleep. As we were leaving, he said to his mom, "But, I didn't get to have any fun!" It was pretty funny.

Before the story and prayer, Sarah and Emily finally arrived. They had been at the High School football game since Emily is in the marching band and pep band and Sarah is on the colour guard. They had a miserable time getting here. The heater and defrost wouldn't work so their car was all foggy and they had to drive with the windows down while it was hailing and raining. They got there and they were so scared and cold...needless to say, they weren't very happy. But they soon warmed up and started to enjoy themselves.

We also had a little birthday celebration for Andrew. He turns 22 on Tuesday (Sept. 19), so we had cupcakes. There were no candles so Karen stuck a pretzel in his cupcake.



The cabins were surprisingly warm. I thought that I was going to be so cold all through the night, but I was actually just fine. Andrew slept like a log...I slept alright, but every time someone went in or out of the cabin, the door would slam and shake the whole cabin. Andrew would sleep through it, but I would wake up and be scared stiff for the next little while until I would finally drift off to sleep again.

We got up pretty early the next morning since some people had to places to be that morning. Breakfast was all ready to go by 7 am. Andrew and I were probably the last two people up! And when we walked out of the cabin there was a thick blanket of snow covering everything. Ugh.





We started packing and cleaning up, but almost as soon as we started, we decided to quit and play games. Andrew wanted me to play hand and foot against his mom. She beat us all...we were very poor competition for her! When we were warmed up and played out we started cleaning up again. Before we knew it we were headed to the warm, sunny valley.




We had snow on our car the whole way down. I always thought it was funny to see a car with 5 inches of snow on it driving around the city, but you really don't have to be that far up in the mountains to get snowed on.

I spent the rest of the day watching my twin nieces while Andrew went home and started his homework. It was kind of nice to just have that little vacation and still have time to do some things when we got home.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A non-ridge Stake?!?! In Orem!?!

Well, Andrew and I attended our old ward (the Lakeridge 12th ward) on September 3rd. We had previously found out that our Stake was being reorganized so our first Sunday was essentially our last Sunday. It was fun to see all of our old friends though!

This Sunday we had a multi-stake conference (regional? I'm not sure) in the morning. It was very good. President Monson spoke--he was hilariously inspiring, as always. In the afternoon we met again to hear our new ward boundaries. So, here's the news:

Our stake was renamed. We are now the "Stonewood Stake." This is the first non-ridge stake that I've been in while in Orem (I was in Northridge, and then was in Lakeridge). There are a lot of -ridge stakes...Heathridge, Northridge, Lakeridge, Lakeridge North...okay, so technically that is all but now Lakeridge is gone and Lakeridge North has taken its place. But now we're in the Stonewood Stake so all confusion is gone.

Our ward is all of our complex plus two other complexes (one south and one north of us). This comes as a slight disappointment since Andrew and I both really enjoy living in a regular family ward (because that is ever so much more normal than a student ward of any shape and form) but we're also looking forward to it since we'll have greater opportunity to serve.

In our old ward, the "condos" were viewed quite transiently, so very few people in the condos got real leadership positions. For example, Andrew was the permanent substitute Sunday school teacher and played the organ once a month. I made the ward bulletin and conducted the music in sacrament twice a month. Not that I didn't enjoy myself or grow in the way I was called to serve...it's just that sometimes it is nice to say that you teach the 12-year-olds, or that you are the music coordinator, instead of saying that you are a permanent substitute or occassionally conduct the music in sacrament meeting. Plus, I guess it is still a regular family ward in a regular stake.

So, in our new ward, everyone is viewed as transient and a lot of changes are going to be happening all the time. It should be interesting. We're looking forward to attending on Sunday.

Of course, we're only going for sacrament meeting on Sunday since it's Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon's "last talk before they leave on their mission" day. And then the Sunday after that we'll be driving home from Canada (Heather is getting married on the 22nd)! So, once we actually go to our own ward, I'm sure we'll feel just comfortable in it.

And another interesting point in our stake. We have two branches. In Orem. Yup, that's right folks. 2 branches. So, for those of you "out in the mission field" these Oremites can now relate with you. We've been told that amazing things will happen with these two branches. So, I suppose missionary work is one. We're also challenged to make the people who live here as short-term residents feel the blessings of the priesthood in their lives. Who'd have thought...a branch in Orem...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our First Car

Andrew and I have done a lot of figuring things out these last two weeks. We had to get health insurance and figure out the whole car insurance thing. Ugh. It's been good though...we've learned a lot and are finally insured people! Andrew was running around all day getting our car all registered and inspected and purchased (his mom helped, too). So, we finally have our very own car!



We also had a nice blessing come into our lives! Andrew went back to the library to see if maybe, just maybe, he could have his old job back in addition to teaching Arabic. They were over-joyed that he came back because someone had just cut their hours in half, and Andrew only needed 7 hours to be working 20 hours a week, so it worked out perfectly. We're excited because that means, not only that he'll be earning more but, that he will have guaranteed employment next semester and beyond...something teaching Arabic does not guarantee. Plus, his supervisors can stop calling him a traitor now.

Work is going well. I gave my first (and only) "lecture" for the year today. I'm the coordinator for InBio 691R so I took the first day to orientate our graduate students to all the department changes, which have been many and close between. The rest of the class periods are taken up by guest lecturers so all I have to do is attendance and organize weekly luncheons.

Andrew is still enjoying teaching. He marked his first quiz yesterday I think it gave him a bit of surge. What, being in charge of assigning grades and all. Not that it matters since most of the students got 100%--it was only a test on the syllabus.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let the semester begin!

While reading my sisters' posts about starting school my thoughts were: Ha, Ha! We don't start for another week!

Well, that week has come. Today was our first day of school and it seems that the semester will go smoothly. At least, for me it will. Andrew's course load is a little more intense! I am only taking one three credit class because, although I can take 6 credits and have a faculty parking permit I only qualify for the faculty parking permit if I only have 3 credits. I would try to explain that to you but it doesn't really make any sense to me either. I can work at BYU and take 6 credits and I get a faculty parking permit because I work here. But if I have 6 credits I'm considered a student so I only qualify for a student parking permit. So I'm only taking 3 credits. Someone needs to make some rules a little less ambiguous!

Andrew on the other hand is taking 16 credits and teaching Arabic 101. He was stressing out all weekend about how he was going to be able to teach this class, but I think he'll do just fine. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week he attended a National Arabic Teacher's Convention at our campus. He thought he was going to be training to teach 101. He ended up being at this convention with a lot of professors and PhD students. Boy, was he ever nervous when they asked him to teach a half hour lesson in front of a bunch of native Arabic-speaking, tenured professors.

He had to teach on Saturday, so on Friday Andrew and I stayed up pretty late preparing his lesson. It went wonderfully and he was even complimented on it by a number of the professors. "See," I told him, "You have nothing to worry about!"

He informed me I was wrong. For one thing, Kirk (our program director in Amman, and his new boss here) was supposed to have trained them to teach 101, but, in true Kwirky fashion, he didn't. For another thing, Kirk was supposed to have given them a syllabus, but he didn't. And lastly, a girl in Andrew's class emailed him to say that the JKB has been gutted and there are no classrooms in there and no way to get to the new annex.

Andrew and I went back to campus as fast as we could to find the classroom. There is only one entrance to the building and it is like, hard to find unless you know where it is. Being a Humanities major, and having finished all my classes before getting our new and beautiful JFSB, I knew of multiple entries to the JKB. Unfortunately all the entrances really were blocked off unless you went through the computer sciences building and then out some random door and walked pretty much all the way around. Anyway, we found the student entrance and Andrew drew a map for his students so all is well. And, in case you are interested, he did get his syllabus, hot off the press...10 minutes before class started! Phew!

He is really excited to be teaching though. He has Layla's (his step-cousin in-law...Layla and I just say we're friends because stating the relationship is a little confusing) little brother, Sami in his class, as well as an Elder from his mission. And we have a lot of cool things to show the class so he should have a lot of fun teaching.

I have been very busy at work myself. For those of you who don't know, our department split just a week before we left for Jordan, taking 1/3 of the faculty and about 1/2 of the grad students with it. That is still creating issues as we dive into this new semester. Aside from that, while I was in Jordan, the Department Chair left for a new job taking all the office staff (except for me, because I'm still there, and Diana because she moved to DC) with him.

This leaves, if you couldn't tell, only me. I'm the one that everyone turns to with their problems.
Not that the office staff weren't replaced, because they were. The new student secretaries started today. The new office manager and financial assistant started a month ago. The new Department Chair, who was on sabbatical for the last year, started four days ago. Needless to say, things are pretty crazy.

I did pull off my first banquet today. I think it went fairly well. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and no major mishaps occurred. I'm not sure that I really like planning banquets, but at least I know that I can do it!