Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Christmas fell on a Friday this year, which meant that we had church in the morning, but only for an hour and at 10:30 instead of 9:30.

Andrew made us get up and open presents before he left for choir practice in spite of my warning of temper tantrums and tears. Rachel had quite the haul of gifts waiting for her under the tree and I knew that parting with any of them would unleash her crazy side.

I was right. But we won’t rub that in Andrew’s face or anything.

Miriam got to open her stocking first. Inside was pretty much nothing—a washcloth (that I put in Andrew’s stocking in 2007 and 2008) and a My Little Pony that the Lewises gave to us before they left. She was still excited about it. As was Rachel, who declared,

“I want one of those, too!”

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

For a year and a half now we’ve driven past and marveled at what we’ve nicknamed “The Easter Egg Mosque.” It looks like a pysanka (писанка )—a Ukrainian Easter egg—especially at night when it’s all lit up. I’m not even kidding.

See for yourself.

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Bad things now come in more than threes

Two days before Christmas we came home from Luxor and checked our email only to find that we had been bombarded with a slew of emails from Mint.com informing us that we had a series of overdraft charges and ATM fees, mainly from Hallandale, Florida.

Merry Christmas to us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

That’s because you’re crazy.

When I was a child I tried to treat all my toys—old and new—equally. I can still recall many names of my dolls: Faline, Thomas, and Pixie, to name a few. I had a pair of pandas named Tia and Tony. I had a teddy bear named after my sister Kelli. And I named my tricycle Elisabeth in honour of one of my cousins.

Yup. I named just about everything.

Banana Island (December 22)

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Finally, a sleep in day! The hotel breakfast closed at 10:00 AM, so everyone was up before then so that they could have breakfast. Everyone except for me and Miriam, that is.

We slept through breakfast.

Everyone came up from breakfast, lazed around, packed up their rooms for check-out and moved their things into our room (which we kept until 9:00 PM) and then got ready to go to lunch.

Miriam and I took a nap instead.

Worst thing to happen to archeology since Indiana Jones (December 21)

Before leaving Dendera for good we decided to have a little fun.

With, I might add, blessings from and pleasure for the guards who were egging us on a bit for some of these pictures.

Jacob pretended to be a sphinx…

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Dendera (December 21)

Not quite as early as Sunday we loaded back into the van and headed out of Luxor, past the city of Qena, to the temple of Dendera.

I loved seeing all the little villages along the canals. It was very rural—the houses all had farm animals in the front and little shelters made out of grass and mud.

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Luxor West Bank (December 20)

Our day started bright and early, at least for us. We loaded into the van at 8:00 AM to be taken across the Nile to the West Bank. Our driver was a happy, obliging fellow which meant that he cheerfully drove us to each destination we asked him to without pressuring us to hurry it up. Last time our driver was not so nice.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

There’s nothing quite like distributing your Christmas letter on Christmas Eve. Talk about waiting until the midnight hour…

In my defense, I finished writing the actual text long ago and was just waiting for Andrew to agree on a time and place to take a family picture. The last few weeks of the semester were just too crazy, though, and when classes finally ended on the 15th Andrew only had two short days to finish up his final projects before his dad and brother arrived on the 17th. He finished up his last paper on the 18th and emailed it to his professor from our hotel in Luxor.

So that’s where we ended up taking our family pictures. And although we were intending to send this out from Luxor, we didn’t end up doing it until today because some genius (me) forgot to put the draft of the poem on the laptop we took with us to Luxor.

We caught cold in Luxor, so I slept in all morning with Miriam and then spent quite a bit of the afternoon making those snowflakes for our newsletter in Photoshop—it was just as fun as cutting them out with scissors! Then this evening Rachel, Miriam, and I (the sickies) stayed home and watched The Muppet Christmas Carol while Andrew took his parents and Jacob out to see the Tanoura Sufi dancers downtown. That was our Christmas Adam.

Now it’s the wee hours of Christmas Eve and I’m barely getting our newsletter up on the blog. I wonder if we’ll ever get around to emailing it out this year…

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Luxor East Bank (December 19)

Our first day in Luxor was bust—we flew down after church on Friday, which was wonderful because the flight took less than an hour and was so much more pleasant than, say, an all-night train ride. Rachel was so excited to fly she could hardly contain herself but behaved wonderfully on the plane. Miriam slept.

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We braced ourselves to face the gauntlet of taxi cab drivers circling around outside

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Miriam's Blessing



This weekend was a bit of a crazy one. Grandpa and Uncle Jacob flew in on Thursday; they arrived at our house around seven o'clock in the evening. Rachel was beside herself with joy but we managed to get her into bed around eleven, I think. She woke up at 3 AM screaming and crying.

"I just want to see if they are still here! Please! I just want to see!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bushswackeling the Cucumber Cake Premonition

Yesterday marked our four year anniversary and we’re all just as silly as ever.

While Andrew was at school Karen made a banana cake—which was really just banana bread in a cake pan since we don’t have any loaf pans. He came home and hurriedly wolfed down his dinner before deserting us in favour of homework (the semester is over now, so hopefully that won’t happen again for a while).

“Oh, but there’s cake!” I said.

Andrew peeled off the tin foil covering the pan and peered inside.

“What kind?” he asked.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas crochet

I finished knitting Miriam’s stocking while Grandma was in South Africa (using the knifty knitter loom since I don’t actually know how to knit). Now all I have left to do by Christmas is embroider her name on it. That’s going to take forever—so long that by the end of it I’ll probably be wishing we had named Miriam a much shorter name, like Sue or Jill or Liz.

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Miriam is so bald in front that I feel like I need to feminize her bald head somehow. I had Rachel’s hair in barrettes by this age—her hair was so long I had to clip it out of her eyes. Miriam has a lot of hair, it’s just all in the back…so we pretty up the front in other ways. So because I don’t have many headbands to pass down from Rachel’s babyhood (due to her need for barrettes) and since I had so much yarn left over, I decided to make matching Christmas headbands for the girls. I think they turned out pretty cute, for my first try.

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(The headband pattern can be found here, the holly leaf pattern can be found here, and the holly berries are just a magic circle.)

Branch Christmas Party and Talent Show

Our branch Christmas Party was on Saturday evening. We were busy getting ready for it all day—we were participating in several numbers in the talent show, decorating and “hosting” a table, and providing donuts for dessert.

The donuts were Andrew’s idea since I had signed up to make cookies, anyway, and he was too busy to prepare much of anything for the talent show. So I told him he could make donuts.

“That’s my talent!” he said, as if he were just discovering some spiritual gift that they had neglected to mention in D&C 46.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

She has citizenship

This morning we battled our way onto the metro during rush hour to make it to the embassy to finish the paperwork for Miriam’s American birth certificate and passport.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Egyptian Culture Fair

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The Cairo American College (CAC) has an Egyptian Culture Fair every year.

O Christmas…Spy?

On Sunday evening I dragged the girls out to the Maadi Community Choir Christmas Choral Concert. We left a little late so I told Rachel we had to hurry. I didn’t have to worry—the minute we were out the door she informed me that hyenas were chasing us and we had to run or else we would die. A little morbid, yes, but at least it kept the pace up.

Language at its finest

When Daddy came home from school on Monday Rachel initiated a snowball fight with him.

She is a great thrower but not the best aimer so Andrew was able to teach her the playground chant “missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me!”

Flashback Friday: Must be Santa

When I was in grade four I was a lunchroom monitor for a younger class. We had the option to sign up to be lunchroom monitors at the beginning of the year, so a bunch of my friends and I (Sabine, Jennifer, Lindsey, and I—I’m pretty sure, anyway. I have a picture of us somewhere) decided to take advantage of that.

Since there wasn’t a cafeteria in our school each class ate lunch in the classroom at their desks. Our teacher, Mr. Low, stayed in the classroom for the first part of the lunch hour and then would shoo everyone outside to play for the duration so that he could have a bit of a break from us. The benefit of being a lunchroom monitor was that no one shooed you outside.

This was a particularly useful privilege in the cold winter months, unfortunately we moved in December so I didn’t have much opportunity to use that privilege.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

There were two on the bed and the little one said…

I put Miriam down on the bed while I was getting dressed today. She should have been perfectly safe—she was a foot away from the edge of the bed, resting against the footboard,* kind of like this:

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Maadi Mention: La Sombra

Our little Twitterverse has been abuzz with news about a new little Mexican restaurant that recently opened its doors right here in Maadi.

At first we thought it was a hoax. A Mexican restaurant? In Maadi?

Wintertime

All week long Rachel has been pining for wintertime, which she thinks is an actual, physical place not unlike the North Pole featured in such films as Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph. I tried explaining to her several times that we don’t really get wintertime here, but everyday I hear something like this:

“Are we going to Wintertime? It’s very cold there. I’ll need my coat. Egypt—us—don’t have snow. Or cold. Dada likes snow. I like snow, too.”

Or this:

“Are we going to go to Winter? When are we going to go at Wintertime? It’s going to be so cold at Winter. I want to bring my blankey. I want you to carry me there.”

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Miriam at 6 weeks

Tomorrow Miriam will be six weeks old. We met with Dr. Omar today and he weighed her twice.

“She’s 4850 grams!” he announced, handing her to Andrew and sitting back down at his desk to record the number, “Wait a minute. What was her birth weight?”

“3200 grams,” I said.

“Will you put her back on the scale for me?” he asked.

He and Andrew weighed her again. 4850 grams.

“We have a new record,” Dr. Omar announced.

Donuts

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Yesterday while I was napping, Andrew had this Brilliant Idea to make donuts…something like so that we could tell his mom that we had not only survived, we had made donuts to boot.

…Not that she doubted we would survive. Truthfully, I think we were the ones who were doubting. But look, we made donuts!

Counting’s not silly

Recently Rachel mastered how to show the number two with her fingers—like the peace sign. She’s very proud of this. She also can make a three, only she uses her pinky, ring, and middle finger for some reason. She’ll show anyone who will look.

And if you’re lucky, she might even count for you. This is a real treat.

She can count to eleven. Almost.

You’re not the boss of me now!

Lately Rachel has been on this bossy kick. A few weeks ago Andrew asked her to do something and she looked up at him and said,

“You’re not the boss! I’m the boss!”

To prove just how boss-like Andrew is, we sent her to her bedroom.

Friday, December 04, 2009

While of these emblems…

Last week the sacrament hymn was While of These Emblems We Partake (#174). After we had finished singing it, Rachel, instead of folding her arms and reverently getting ready for the prayer, exclaimed,

“That’s a funny song!”

This week we sang While of These Emblems We Partake again (only the other tune, #173). Rachel was even more embarrassing. Of course. She always manages to find a way to outdo herself.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sleep Deprived

Since Grandma's been gone there has been more screaming, yelling, crying, lecturing, and messes in our home than I ever thought imaginable. Rachel has even threatened to run away--thank you, Rudolph--luckily she can't open the front door yet. And it's only been, what, three days? Wow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Remember the cat

A while back my friend left a comment on my blog about her mother’s advice to “remember the cat.” Andrew and I have been joking about that ever since, whenever I need something. Like breakfast. Or sleep. Or not to be touched for 2 minutes of the day.

I was holding Rachel over the potty a few days ago and for some reason she wouldn’t go potty, even though she had given me all the signs that she needed to go. I was sure she had to go, she just had to relax enough to do it. Then the phrase “remember the cat” popped into my head and I had a stroke of pure genius.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Test Run

Grandma left for South Africa earlier this evening; she’s going to visit her sister, Dorothy, who is on a mission in Port Elizabeth with her husband Raymond (they work with the Perpetual Education Fund). We have mixed feelings about having her go.

It’s been wonderful to have her here, but I think we’re both kind of excited to see if we really can handle life (+2 kids) without her.

I did get the dishes washed tonight so it just might be possible.

Frankly, the only reason we are excited to see if we can handle having her gone is because we know that she’ll be coming back after a week, so it’s only a reality test run. We get her back for the rest of December, thank goodness. Perhaps by then we’ll really be ready to take the reigns. Maybe.

Rachel handled the parting better than I thought she would, although she did try to stowaway into the cab with Grandma. She knows, though that Grandma is only going for a week to visit her sister. She’ll be back soon. No tears were shed, surprisingly enough, and Rachel went to bed willingly.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes and if we end up eating something more than oriental noodles.

Have a fun time, Grandma! We’ll be counting down the days until you get back…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remember when…?

It’s amazing to me how children grasp the concept of time. They start out ignoring any and all attempts to schedule—2 PM sounds just as good as 4 AM. Slowly they begin to understand that dark means sleep and light means awake and it rockets from there.

Rachel understands that she once was littler than she is now and also knows that she’s getting bigger every day. This enables her to talk about both the past and the future in addition to the present.

“After I was a baby…” (alternatively “After when I was a baby…”) is often followed up with “I wored that shirt” or “I played with that toy” or “I spitted up on Mommy, too.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Motherhood is catching up with me

I'd like to take this moment to brag about Miriam: she slept solidly from midnight until seven in the morning. Rock on!

Now if only I could train Rachel to do that. *sigh* Don't think it's going to happen since I've been working on that project for 2+ years....

Only two days left of NaBloPoMo, thank goodness. Being under pressure to write every day this month has been kind of a daily trauma. It hasn't been a challenge in years past. I think motherhood is catching up with me...or maybe it's because I'm the mother of a newborn. That's probably it, actually. I'm sure I'll feel normal again someday.

In other news, Rachel entertained herself at the kitchen table with play-dough for about four hours today. Rock on!

Now if only I could train Miriam to do that. Just kidding. I like the newborn stage, as tiring as it is. It goes by too quickly. *sigh*

Friday, November 27, 2009

Flashback Friday: O Tannenbaum

I debated long and hard about what to do for today’s flashback—almost an entire nursing session (long time). At first I thought I’d just do a flashback to last year’s Eid al-Adha because we didn’t ever get out to see anything today (because child #2 didn’t go to sleep until 1:00 AM and child #1 woke up at 3:30 AM and stayed awake until 6:00 AM screaming and crying about this, that, and the other, and child #2 woke up at 5:00 AM and stayed awake until 7:00 AM and then we got up at 8:00 AM to get ready for church). Instead of going downtown to see stuff like this we had family naptime.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eid al-Shukr

Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha, so on our drive to the Tueller’s to celebrate American Thanksgiving we saw several herds of goats and sheep for sale on the side of the road as well as cows tied to the back of pickup trucks…all awaiting their doom tomorrow.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Miriam at one month

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More pictures are forthcoming. And probably something or other about Miriam, too. But truth be told, she decided that eating every half hour wasn’t an unreasonable request so I’ve gotten nothing accomplished this evening. Nothing.

If you ask her how bad she feels about that she just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Meh, about this much.”

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She’s not very remorseful. But she is pretty chubby…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A smile goes a long, long way…

Miriam has been practicing her grins. Most often she smiles right after eating, right before she falls asleep. Pure contentment.

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Emotional Wednesday

Sleep is more elusive some nights than others. Sometimes on the more elusive nights Daddy ends up in Rachel’s bed because Mommy, too busy with Miriam to check on Rachel herself, asks Daddy to go check on the screaming Rachel, a task he apparently understands as “climb in her bed and go back to sleep.”

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Monday, November 23, 2009

From our dinner table…to yours

Our friends Jaehee and Aden came over for dinner last night—they brought stroganoff and a salad. Karen made a jello salad and some buns to go along with dinner. She also made apple crisp.

Aden refused the jello salad on the first go-round because, he said, he wanted to save dessert for later. We informed him that the jello wasn’t the dessert.

“Wait!” Jaehee gasped, almost dropping her spoon, “There’s more?!”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Safety First

Some pipes are being replaced down on Canal Street. They even put up signs to apologize for the inconvenience and to remind us that it is a construction zone and therefore caution needs to be exercised.

The mere fact that they even bothered to put up signs is amazing since so often they don’t…

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Basic anatomy and prayer time

After I had finished nursing Miriam, I put her on my lap and began to attempt to regain some semblance of modesty before shedding my nursing cover.

Rachel: What are you doing, Mom?

Me: Fixing my clothes.

Rachel: Oh. Are you putting your breasts back on?

Me: What?!

To be first

I imagine it takes a lot of courage to be the first muezzin to start calling the adhan—a lone voice piercing the nighttime silence, setting off a domino-effect in the surrounding mosques until all that is heard for miles around is a droning jumble of voices asserting to everyone listening that God is the greatest. Allahu akbar.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback Friday: My first flight

My first flight wasn’t a very long flight but I still found it exciting. I believe that Patrick was about two, which meant that I had reached the ripe old age of six making David around eight. So this would have been the year…1992…maybe. We were heading out to Alberta from British Columbia to visit my grandparents and have a family get-together of sorts. My grandparents had purchased tickets for my mom and the youngest three kids, and while the thought of flying solo with three children seems a little daunting to me, it sure beats a twelve-hour trip with five.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One week early

I know it’s still a week before Thanksgiving, but here’s a video of Rachel singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, anyway. Merry Christmas.

For some reason she freaked out when I took the camera out and refused to do anything so I had Andrew film her from his desk while she sang to baby Miriam. She’s being a bit of a goof-off so it isn’t her very best performance. Maybe one day she’ll do a more polished version…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It’s been a while

We haven’t been to the playground since before Miriam was born. That’s a long time in the world of a two-year-old. That’s a long time in the world of a mother. And I can’t be sure but I think that’s probably also a long time in the world of a grandmother. For Miriam, it’s been a lifetime.

Needless to say, it was nice to get out into the sunshine today for some quality playtime.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Should I be worried?

Miriam has been asleep since five-thirty this morning. No joke. It's eight-thirty in the evening now.

She might have been up for, maybe, an hour an a half...total...today. That's a generous guess.

What will this mean for tonight when she's actually supposed to be sleeping?

Monday, November 16, 2009

It’s been 3 weeks…since you looked at me

Last night when I was Skyping with my family, my mom remarked how big Miriam seemed to her. And it’s true—she’s really grown from last week to this. Her cheeks have filled out quite a bit and she’s unfolding more and more which makes her seem so much taller than just a few weeks ago.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

A walk through Maadi

My friend Jeremy asked me to post some pictures of Maadi and today I finally got around to doing it. I left the house, took the camera, took pictures and remembered to blog about it. It’s a postpartum miracle! Now where’d I put the baby…?

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jingle all the way, baby!

Grandma remarked over dinner how lean the hamburger was. Obviously it’s not Egyptian hamburger (which is more grisly than anything). Rachel, trying to contribute to the conversation and stay on topic, agreed with her,

“Yeah. It’s kinda mean. They don’t like him nose.”

Lean --> mean = what all of the other reindeer are.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flashback Friday: Just go to sleep

Right now I’m so tired that I’m not sure I can even write anything coherent, let alone anything that would be interesting to read. But I guess that’s parenthood for you.

I remember not being very good at sleeping when I was younger. I often slept in my parents bed. Or floor. Or the little couch in their room. And when my dad left for work a o’dark thirty I’d climb in bed with my mom and then I’d ask her questions and things like that and she’d say, “Nancy, just go to sleep.”

And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.

You can give a child a bedtime…

We are all sleep deprived, but oddly enough the one suffering the most is Rachel. That girl!

Our goal is to have her be in bed by around 8:30 or 9:00 every night and we really don’t struggle with that goal very often. She’s pretty good about going to bed most of the time. She’s even mostly good about staying in bed. It’s the going to sleep part that she won’t do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

PKU

The infant PKU test isn’t offered in Egypt, at least, not at birth. Instead you have to have a private pediatrician order a private lab to come to your home and draw some blood from your new born baby and mail it off to Germany to get the results. All this costs around 200 USD (from what I hear).

Rachel got tested in the States and she was fine—most kids are since only 1 in 15,000 babies born inherits the disorder.

We still haven’t gotten Miriam tested.

Part of me wonders if it is worth it—forking out two-hundred dollars to get back what will, in all reality, probably be a negative test result. Two-hundred dollars for peace of mind. That’s a lot.

On the other hand, what if Miriam is the one in 15,000? Suddenly two-hundred dollars doesn’t seem like that much…

I think I’ll have Andrew set up that appointment ASAP.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You have two babies?!

After church on Friday Nic, a 5-year-old in our branch, saw me carrying Miriam.

"Whose baby is that?" she asked.

"It's mine," I said.

She looked at me all confused, "But I thought Rachel was your baby."

"She is," I answered.

"Then whose baby is that?"

"Also mine."

"You have two babies?!"

The irony of this is that Nic comes from a family of seven children so you'd think she'd understand the concept of a parent having more than one child. I explained to her that Rachel is still my baby even though we now have Miriam just like she is still her mommy's baby now that her family has Rex (who is Rachel's age). She seemed to accept that answer but I'm still not sure she believes that both those babies are mine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I’m a hippie

If you asked my father-in-law to describe me in one word, he’d probably say hippie. Or awesome. But probably hippie.

Truthfully I think it stems from the fact that broccoli doesn’t make me balk. Or it could be our parenting style. Possibly a toss up between the two.

We do some weird parenting things, it’s true, but we don’t adhere strictly to any child-raising techniques. I’ve never read up on attachment parenting or the Ferber method or anything like that. And I know I’m not a granola mom because I still shave my armpits and I’m pretty sure that disqualifies me from ever holding that title.

My handicap

Miriam, the champion-sleeper, slept from 1:00 AM until around 7:30 AM at which time I forced her awake and begged her to eat before I exploded. My milk supply, though still over abundant, isn’t quite as hyper-active as it was with Rachel which means that I can actually sleep for six hours before I feel like I’m going to explode. It’s kind of nice. Not that I slept for those six hours…

Rachel woke up almost every two hours last night and then came into our room around 8:00 AM. It was nice of her to wait that long because I heard her up and stirring much earlier than that.

I was so tired—I went to take a nap around 11:00 AM and didn’t wake up until 1:30 PM. And then I saw Andrew was online so I started chatting with him.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Don’t do that again, Miriam!

Late this morning, so late that it was almost early afternoon, Miriam and I ventured out of the bedroom. Rachel was very excited to see us. She’s often telling me how tired I am and how much I sleep and once when I came out of the bedroom after an extraordinarily long nap she exclaimed,

“Happy founding, Mommy!”

A “good morning” was definitely not called for since it was almost dinner time but she had to think of some way to greet me, I guess.

Anyway, when we came out this morning, Rachel wanted to hold Miriam so she got all settled on the couch with the boppy on her lap to help support Miriam and I handed Miriam over.

For a long time they sat peacefully and blissfully together, staring into each others’ little faces and smiling when suddenly…

Sunday, November 08, 2009

If you don’t give a 2-year-old a muffin…

“Give me my muffin!” she bellowed again, holding out her hand to further emphasize the demand that I relinquish the muffin, as if using the word “my” somehow automatically shifted ownership from me to her.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Flashback Friday: Recurring Nightmare

Yes, I’m writing my Flashback Friday on a Saturday. I’m allowed to do that because I just had a baby. Anyway…

In the defense of MOMster’s children, I will share one of the recurring nightmares of my childhood involving a beetle, and not just any beetle, but one of the most innocuous beetles known to childhood. The dreadful, the horrifying, the terrible…ladybug.

Yes, that same one featured in the nursery rhyme.

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home!
Your house is on fire and
Your children are alone.

The protagonist of more than one story in our book bin. The one plastering Rachel’s pyjamas. The one that no child is afraid of.

Yes, that one.

Friday, November 06, 2009

I’m seebing her

Everything I do, Rachel does, too.

For example, Miriam spends a lot of time in a sling (courtesy of my friend Jill—thanks, Jill!).

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Men at Work

Since I never seem to leave the house anymore I don’t have anything interesting to say, really, except that I was breastfeeding Miriam with the window open and I looked up and was met eye-to-eye with a lumberjack.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

4 o’clock isn’t so lonely around here

This morning I was nursing Miriam while listening to the ghostly echoes of various muezzins recite the first adhan of the day. Their voices twisted and glided around the streets and drifted through our bedroom window, an eerie choir unconstrained by either tone or time—confusingly beautiful at times and ear-gratingly obnoxious at others—until the last voice finally tapered off and I was left in silence once again.

It’s quite like how I imagine the Hogwarts Anthem being sung.

Like lemon juice in a paper cut

Sometimes when I’m too lazy to walk anywhere I ask Andrew to do the walking for me. Yesterday I was too lazy to stand up after changing Miriam’s diaper and so I asked Andrew to bring me the sink to me instead, in the form of hand sanitizer.

He squirted a little in my hand and Rachel noticed so she, of course, wanted some as well. She loves hand sanitizer—she calls it hanitizer—she stuck out her hands and asked her daddy if she could have some, too. He obliged and gave her a big ol’ squirt. It was way more than her little hands could possibly soak up.

Looking for a quick solution to her overly sanitized condition, Andrew noticed she wasn’t wearing a shirt. We had taken it off for dinner-eating purposes.

“Rub the rest on your tummy,” he suggested.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Are you 'rected?

Rachel and I were just looking at the family tree we put together last night. She was asking questions about everyone on the chart. When we got to her great-grandma Conrad, Rachel insisted that she met her. I went and burst her bubble.

"Well, maybe you met her in heaven before you came to live in our family. She died before you were born."

"Oh," she said, kind of disappointed by that, "Mommy died, too."

"No, I didn't die."

"You didn't die?"

"No. I'm not dead."

"Oh, are you 'rected?"

"No, I'm not resurrected, either. I'm just plain, old alive."

Rachel is now acting like my position on the cool-chart just went down 10 points because I am neither dead nor resurrected.

Modesty on the Metro

I took my last metro ride as a pregnant lady the night before Miriam was born. It was an impromptu ride so neither Andrew or I were really dressed for a jaunt downtown. When we leave the expat-world of Maadi we both prefer to dress a little more conservatively, meaning long pants for both and long sleeves for me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Recap of today

My toes are cold; we’ve plummeted from 100°F to 70°F since Miriam was born. I put away the fan this afternoon and I’m even considering wearing socks full-time, at least while in the house. It always seems chillier in the house than outside during the winter.

Maadi is a wonderful neighbourhood to live in because there are so many trees to shade the streets. It’s absolutely fantastic in the summer and even nice in the winter, except that our jaundice-walks aren’t working very well. Not only is it difficult to find a sunny patch of sidewalk (or street) to stand in, locals would think I’m a terrible mother for having my baby’s bare skin showing in this "cold, cold" weather.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

One week

Last night we finally finished that game of Hand and Foot that we started the previous Saturday. It took us a full week to play the last three rounds. We must have been busy with something else.

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Miriam. We were busy with Miriam.

Two children

Having two kids is certainly more difficult than having only one. If nothing else it is far more confusing for everybody.

I’m pretty sure Miriam thinks her name is “Rrrr…Miriam.” We just can’t seem to spit out any name other than Rachel. Sometimes Andrew tries to recover by saying, “Hello little Rrrrrachel’s little sister, Miriam!” It’s pathetic, really—there are only two of them and you’d think that after a week of having Miriam around we’d at least have her name down.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

This is the embassy calling…

This morning I was having a post-wake-up nap with baby Miriam while Andrew did homework and Rachel played with Grandma. Rachel had woken up earlier than she has been and came to snuggle with us in bed. Snuggling in bed with two babies makes for a lot more crowding than snuggling in bed with one baby and I was so tired that I eventually got sick of protecting Miriam’s head and kicked Andrew and Rachel out of bed. Rachel’s idea of getting too close to Miriam is a lot more lenient than my idea of getting too close to Miriam.

Andrew left his cell phone on the dresser.

Pretty Little Pumpkins

Halloween is pretty low-key out here in Egypt. It’s not really a holiday here so the reasons for that are pretty self-explanatory. Except for the fact that Egyptian teenagers have decided that buying hundreds of eggs and throwing them at stuff (cars, houses, apartments, bawwabs, other people) is a worthwhile and fulfilling holiday activity…

This year we sent Grandma out to find a pumpkin while we all stayed home and played and did homework and slept. I think Miriam and I did most of the sleeping, Rachel did most of the playing, and Andrew did most of the homeworking.

There were no big parties in the street this year (thank goodness) and we didn’t go out to visit friends or anything exciting like that. But we’re not entirely boring….

Friday, October 30, 2009

First day at church and other tales

We ventured out today for church—all three hours of it. I was exhausted by the time we got home, but it was nice to get out of the house and have somewhere to go. Besides, it was the Primary Presentation today and I didn’t want to miss that. (No, I didn’t walk; I got a ride).

Last time I had a baby I had to miss a big primary thing and I was bummed about it, so this time I decided to go, anyway. I didn’t help out or anything, just sat back and enjoyed the children’s songs and sweet testimonies. It was lovely.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Big day today

Miriam’s umbilical cord fell off. I think it’s kind of cool. They leave them rather long when they send the babies home—it’s like a half-inch long at least—so I can see all the little veins and arteries dried up inside. It makes diaper changes so much easier!

Andrew successfully got Miriam’s birth certificate. Well, at least the Egyptian one. We still need to translate it into English and get her American one. And Canadian one. And her passport. And entrance stamp. And…there might be more Egyptian bureaucracy to deal with. I can’t remember.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some pictures of today

I’m rather tired and I should be sleeping, but we wanted to put some pictures up for our family back in the States (and elsewhere).

Today was just another lazy recovery day for me. Miriam and I slept and slept and slept. My milk’s coming in so we’re doing a whole lot of eating, too. The first time she got a good mouthful of milk Miriam’s eyes got all big. When she finished eating she delatched, gave a satisfied smack of her lips, raised her eyebrows and got this look on her face that said, “That? Was incredible!” She was much more alert and vocal today; still pretty calm, though!

El Nada Hospital

Nestled on a busy street corner of Manial Island and sandwiched between a fast food restaurant and cramped living quarters lies el Nada Hospital, three full storeys of a semi-sterile environment in the midst of the crowded, polluted chaos called Cairo.

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Not everyone can say they were born in Egypt. Not everyone can say they were born on an island in the Nile. Not everyone can say they were born above McDonald’s and saw a donkey parked out front.

Just Miriam.

(And a few of her little friends…and the thousands upon thousands of babies born at this hospital…but now I’m making it sound less exciting…)

Part of a complete breakfast

The hospital food really wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great, but hospital food rarely is. My only complaint is that everything was so oily. There was oily vermicelli and rice for both lunch and dinner with an oily side of vegetables and meat. Lunch even came with an oily soup that I didn’t finish; it congealed into a solid lump of lard after sitting on my tray for an hour.

Dinner came at 5:00 PM on Sunday. We were hoping to be told we could go home, but instead we were told that we would be spending the night. I almost cried. Andrew ran out and bought some more juice and water and a few snacks.

Home again, home again, jiggy-jig-jig!

Yesterday when we brought Miriam home it was raining. Her first day out in Cairo and it rained! I was totally expecting sunshine but I suppose it has to rain sometime or other—it was only sprinkling by regular standards, but it was raining by Cairene standards.

Monday, October 26, 2009

For those of you who are update-starved…

Nancy and Miriam are sleeping. I'm off to bed now, too, finally, after translating Miriam's hospital "birth notification" from English into Arabic. Why they couldn't do it in Arabic in the first place I'll never know… We're in Egypt…

We've got several posts coming down the pipe, but we're a little slow right now. My mom just posted some pictures on her blog—check those out while we get ours up :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The birth story

Disclaimer: contains discussion of bodily fluids and other icky things. Reader discretion is advised.

The triage room was puzzling. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. There was a desk and some chairs but considering the three-minute interval between contractions office chairs somehow seemed inappropriate.

There was also a bed of sorts. More like a steel-framed table coated in faux-leather, bent at an 80 degree angle. That seemed inappropriate as well, so instead I stood in my nightgown, leaning against a chair, and wondering, quite loudly, when in the world we were going to be admitted.

The beginning…

I’m not quite sure where to begin Miriam’s birth story; there were several interesting, fun or horrifying events leading up to the actual point where I woke up in the middle of the night and frantically calmly told my husband that the time had come.

Miriam al-Noor Heiss



She's here! Check out our initial Facebook pictures or the PDF of the announcement.

Nancy started "real" labor at 4:15 AM, we were at the hospital at 5:30, Miriam was out at 7:45. Super fast!

Nancy and Miriam are just fine (sleeping now). Grandma is bringing Rachel later today. I'm sitting listening to the chaos of Cairo outside the window.

Beautiful times!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A marvelous work

Two very exciting things happened this week—for me, at least. First, Elder Russel M. Nelson dedicated a meetinghouse in Voronezh, Russia on October 20th. Previously the church had been renting out buildings to hold their meetings, so it’s very exciting to have one of our own.

I remember bussing out to Lipetsk when I lived in Voronezh to sing at the dedication of the church building there, or what I thought was the dedication of it…now that I think of it, I’m not quite sure what it was. No apostle was present, I’m sure, but something went on and our Voronezh choir combined forces with the Lipetsk choir to do a special musical number.

Sometimes when you live in a foreign country you end up not fully understanding what you’re doing all the time but you still go ahead and do it. At least…that’s what I find.

Flashback Friday: Octuplets

Yes, I’m still pregnant, which means that I’ve been spending a lot of my time wishing this weren’t so. It also means I’ve been spending a bit of time reading some books on the Bradley method of natural childbirth, not because this is my choice of methods for natural childbirth but because I happen to have access to some books and it can’t hurt to be familiar with his theory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

3 years from now you might see this…only bigger...

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Our path room got plumped

For the longest time we’ve only had one functioning bathroom. Technically our apartment has two and so technically they both should work since technically rent is higher for apartments with two bathrooms rather than just one.

When we first moved in we naively made a list of everything “wrong” with the apartment so that our landlord could either fix it or at least not charge us for it when we move out.

We told him about the leaky toilet and sink in the spare bathroom—and not leaky in the annoying, but common, drip-drip-drip way. No, our toilet and sink leaked onto the floor and when you flushed the toilet water literally sprayed across the room. So we turned off the water to the toilet because we were tired of having our floors be wet all the time…and we asked our landlord to fix it.

His solution: You are only two people. You don’t need two bathrooms; one will do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One week

I think I’m officially the most pregnant lady I know of now. Everyone else has gone off and had their babies leaving me pregnant and wishing. I’m trying not to be too impatient, honest! After all there is still a week left until my estimated due date, which is a rather poorly defined date to be counting down to since the baby isn’t tied to a schedule at all. Still, I can’t help but think of how nice it would be to have Miriam on the outside.

She doesn’t seem to understand that as her quarters get cramped she’s supposed to move less. Instead she decided to kick it up a notch, quite literally. But at least I don’t have to worry about my cervix getting jabbed anymore since her head has effectively plugged off all access to that area; her flailing limbs can’t reach there anymore. That doesn’t mean I’m comfortable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anxiously Engaged

Yesterday marked the first day that Miriam could come without causing too much extra and undue stress.

For starters, Andrew got our passports back from AUC who had to expedite them from the mugama with our new visas. We turned in our passports quite a while ago—before the swine flu closure and before eid and before our visas expired. They expired the last day in September and we haven’t heard a peep from the visa office at AUC so Andrew went to nag them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guest Post

Today I'm being featured as a guest writer on my friend and (step-)cousin-in-law's blog, The Grass is Greener, while she's off gallivanting the European continent. And she just got back from Hawaii, too. I tell you this girl never sits still! She's awesome and I was so excited to be able to write a little something for her.

And a high of 102°F

Rachel has been so excited about the coming winter. She’s been pulling out sweaters and hats for weeks and trying them on—getting ready for winter. Ever since we hit our “cold spell” earlier this month she’s been waiting for “our winter.”

It was still 80 to 90 degrees by day and 70 to 80 degrees by night and she insisted that it was cold enough to wear pants, long sleeves, socks and shoes. And frankly, it did feel good. We took the fan out of her room because she was getting too cold at night. We started sleeping under the top sheet. It certainly did look like winter was upon us.

But this past week we’ve been back up in the high 90s and low 100s. Today’s high is 102°F (39°C)! Need I mention it’s the middle of October?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday: Once I skinned a badger

I’ve always been a bit of a conservationist at heart. My friend Emily and I started an “Earth Club” when we were little and would do clean-up projects in our neighbourhoods. Just little things, like picking up all the discarded flyers around the mailboxes.

I collected bugs, both live and dead. My mom’s cousin Don had an extensive bug collection and would invite me over sometimes to look at it. He taught me a lot about collecting bugs. My collection disappeared when we moved to Utah. Weird how those things happen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Like a hamster wheel…only for ants…

Rachel and I were colouring this afternoon amid the left-over ants from lunch. The fact that we’ve been invaded with ants again is entirely my fault.

I thought the ants had gone away for the “winter” so I put the honey container back in the cupboard—it had been quarantined on our counter all summer long because for some reason the ants can’t find their way onto this one particular counter we have—and the ants found their way to it. So when I got it out for lunch it was swarming with ants and I didn’t even notice until I had set it on the table and they scattered everywhere.

Communication Black Hole

Andrew’s cell phone sat on top of my dresser all day today; he forgot to grab it when he left for school this morning. That’s not a tragedy, really, except that my uterus is a ticking time bomb.

I didn’t even notice he had forgotten his cell phone, but he did. It serves as his clock on campus where they are apparently morally opposed to clocks—Andrew says there are no clocks in any classrooms and no clocks in the library—and more recently he feels it is important to have it on hand in case he should get “the call” from me.

Hospital Test Run

I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of screeching tires skidding on sand and a loud *THUNK!* It always surprises me how dense the sound of metal crashing into metal is: thick, heavy, final. For some reason I always expect it to sound more tinny.

The short silence of the aftermath was followed by an eruption of angry Arabic. I didn’t understand much of it except for “!عامل ايه؟” which in this situation can be roughly translated as “What do you think you’re doing!?” (pronounced ‘aamil ay).

Voices and shuffling footsteps gathered around taking sides and making sure the verbal fight didn’t escalate into a physical one while the two drivers involved in the accident continued yelling at each other. Human curiosity got the better of me, too,

Monday, October 12, 2009

I loves you, Momma!

Rachel still loves to cuddle, which I love, too, even though she’s a great big two-year-old instead of my tiny, precious baby girl.

Right now she has to curl herself around my tummy while I rock her and it’s a little bit awkward, but I love it. While I was singing to her the other night, with her half-squishing, half-supporting her baby sister, I looked down into her eyes and she looked up at me. I recognized that face immediately—I had seen it several times before when she was younger—she was staring at me so intently, her darling blue eyes focused on my own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TMI, probably

*Sigh* I’m still pregnant. It’s not exactly like I was expecting to not be pregnant by this point, but my friend Amy had her baby on the ninth and my friend Natalie is scheduled for a c-section tomorrow.

This wouldn’t bother me, but I’m not due until the 27th. Natalie’s due date is technically the 23rd. Amy’s due date was the 20th. So while they should have been my comrades in pregnancy still, they aren’t. As of tomorrow I will be the only one pregnant, with no end in sight—except for the knowledge that eventually the baby has to come out.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Flashback Friday: Gullible

When I was younger I was quite fleeceable. Pulling the wool over my eyes was no difficult task and thus made me the obvious victim for any pranks my older siblings wanted to play. I was so gullible that it’s possible they weren’t even trying to trick me at all; off-handed remarks and sarcasm were often taken very seriously by me and once I reacted to anything they said they would take the ball and run with it.

So it’s not entirely their fault.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Eleven little pumpkins sitting on our couch

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I wonder if, when you already have other kids, part of nesting is suddenly coming up with projects to do together so that you can spend some quality one-on-one time before another little person enters the scene. Either that or it’s leftover guilt from the first trimester when all I did was sleep all day, neglecting any and all parental and housekeeping responsibilities.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Corn!

When Andrew was learning how to drive, his dad would constantly lecture him about watching for things straying onto his path (kids, balls, deer) and how he should react to that.

One day when they were out doing driving together, Reid started giving Andrew the same lecture he’d heard several times before. And then, in the middle of the lecture, Reid yelled,

“CORN!”

Andrew slammed on the breaks and momentarily freaked out.

Crafty Day

Rachel was in a bit of an exploratory mood today and I really wasn’t so instead we did crafts and played school. She got to learn about the world around her and go exploring in that sense and I didn’t have to change out of my nightgown all day long.

In the morning and early afternoon we worked long and hard to put together a Thanksgiving* turkey.** First we painted feathers on paper and then let our paintings dry while we had lunch. Then we cut up the feathers and wrote down the things we were thankful for. Rachel was so funny when she was coming up with her contributions.

“What are you thankful for?” I asked.

“Ummm…Mommy and Daddy!” she said.

“Okay, what else are you thankful for?”

“The food,” she piped up, quickly falling back on a rote prayer answer.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Two big worries

We’re really getting down to the end here, and I’m still rather nervous about a number of things but I feel like we’re slowly getting the necessities done. Thank you, nesting instinct. I don’t know where I’d be without you. Lying on the couch, probably.

The two things I’m most nervous about right now are:

1) Recognizing I’m in labour when I go into labour
2) Changing our family dynamics

Unfortunately I can’t do much either of those things until the time comes. How do you learn to recognize you’re in labour without actually being in labor, or practice bringing a brand-new baby home to be a part of your family forever? We read about it, we talk about it, we pray about it…and I’m sure everything will work out fine, but there isn’t really anything concrete I can do to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. 

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lindsays’ Farewell

We’ve reached that glorious stage in life where we show up to a branch function and Rachel runs off to play. By herself.

It’s awesome.

It leaves us free to chat with other grown-ups, which is really nice for me since I’ve been in primary for the past…well, since before we got married. Not that I mind being in primary, but sometimes it’s nice to remember that there are people in this world who are older than six years old.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Running Commentary

Ever since Rachel was born we’ve narrated life for her. While it’s important to talk to babies, it’s almost impossible to know what to say to them—so we started narrating and she’s grown up hearing a running commentary on her life.

Now that she’s more able to communicate back to us and understands more about the world around her, the need to narrate is waning. She asks for clarification when she doesn’t understand something—trust me, she asks—all the time she asks. Who? What? Why? When? Where? Repeat.

Answering all those questions is more complicated and confusing than washing your hair, even.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Give the girl a lawyer…she’s cheating on pink!

This morning I got up early with Rachel, at least earlier than I wanted to get up with her, so when Andrew woke up I informed him that I would be going back to bed for a while or I wouldn’t make it through the day—I had a primary meeting in the afternoon and then he had an evening class and I was already grumpy.

Rachel was being a good girl and was entertaining herself quite nicely so I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem for him to watch her while doing homework. I don’t know why it was even a problem for me; I just was grumpy today. Perhaps it’s a combination of pregnancy, phone stalking, insurance woes and general Egypt malady all combining forces against me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Self-assessment

Sometimes what I think about myself isn’t very accurate. Sometimes I think I’m not bothered by things when I really am. Like all the calls I’ve been getting from Creepy Guy. I mean, I knew it was bothering me, I just didn’t realize how much until I was sitting by the landline phone yesterday and jumped when it rang. And then I refused to pick it up…even though I was sitting right there.

Rachel’s 2-year check-up

We finally took Rachel into the doctor today. It’s been quite a while since she’s had a check-up, considering her last check-up was on July 21, 2008. We just hadn’t been satisfied with the pediatricians we’ve met here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby Pool

With only 28 days until our baby is due, I thought it would be a good time to open up a baby pool. Not that we have any cool prizes or anything, but maybe* we’ll pick something  up (ie: random piece of tourist hud) for the winner at the Khan.

Feel free to leave a guess about Miriam’s arrival in a comment:
  • Date
  • Time
  • Length
  • Weight
Our estimated due date is October 27th.**

I’m looking forward to seeing Andrew’s guess. When Rachel was born he made up the birth announcement in advance and his filler text was almost spot on. Seriously. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with this time!

* We reserve the right to renege on a prize if we forget, which is likely.
**Also, anyone who guesses too far into November will be shunned for an indeterminate amount of time.

It's all your fault I screen my phone calls

I just input the first number, of many, I'm sure, to the "screen list" on my phone. And in the last two minutes I've had two missed calls from this number. Make that four.

This is definitely a feature I like.

To make a long story short (because I think we've had enough long stories recently)...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cairo Zoo

“What are we going to do today, Mommy?” Rachel asked while climbing onto our bed. “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know,” I answered.

It’s not like we do something thrilling everyday. Sometimes we don’t even leave the house. I don’t know what she was expecting, really.

“Why don’t we go to the Z-O-O today?” Andrew spelled.

“I guess we could do that,” I said, “We’ve been meaning to take her for a while. She’d probably like that. And you know that when you spell Z-O-O it doesn’t do much to disguise the word. I don’t think she even knows what a zoo is, anyway.”

“Yeah! I do! Zoos has lions and ‘nakes!” Rachel said defensively.

Andrew reminded me that there is a 5-minute zoo show on her Little People DVD. I forgot. Oops.

And that is how we decided to go to the zoo.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hairy fruit, hairy Daddy, hairy birds

Someone needs to follow this girl around with a tape recorder. Seriously. She's a hoot.

We had pancakes for dinner to celebrate National Pancake Day, complete with real maple syrup, whipped cream, and fruit. If Andrew was in your family, you'd celebrate the holiday, too. He even has Rachel trained--she was jumping up and down with joy when we told her it was Pancake Day.

Andrew made the pancakes and put me in charge of the fruit. While I was preparing the fruit Rachel was hovering, which is not at all unusual. She's usually hovering around me. Ideally (at least by her ideals) she'd be physically touching me every minute of every day.

I was peeling kiwi fruit, a rare treat for us since it is usually too expensive to buy but was super on sale at Seoudi Market today, and Rachel was especially curious about it.

Nothin’

Last week Rachel had to use the potty during sacrament meeting, so I took her out and into the little bathroom in the hallway. The first thing she did was pull a chin-up on the sink so she could check out the soap.

“Nothin’ purple soap here!” she exclaimed, “Just ‘reen soap. I don’t like ‘reen soap.”

I told her how cool green soap was and after that failed I tried the mean-mom method and said that it didn’t matter if she didn’t like it because I wasn’t going to take her upstairs to use the purple soap.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flashback Friday: There was a great big moose

Rachel and I were reading Colours the other day, a Canadian book showing colourful Canadian things, like a red Mountie jacket, for example. For the colour yellow, the author/illustrator, Marc Tetro, chose to draw a moose with yellow antlers, even though moose don’t really have yellow antlers. I guess he gets artistic license.

When I asked Rachel what the picture was she told me it was a deer. I told her that it wasn’t a deer—it was a moose. She asked me what a moose was, so I told her it was kind of a like a deer, only bigger, and its antlers were special because they were all filled in, like a spork instead of a fork. Then she asked me if I had ever seen a moose.

I was able to tell her that I have, and on more than one occasion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In which Rachel invents the sleepover

Yesterday Rachel found a toy that has been buried at the bottom of the toy box for a while. It’s technically a door-hanging, I think, and she got it from Grandma—it’s a little pink pillow with a fluffy handle that came with the movie Sleeping Beauty. Rachel uses it as both a pillow and a purse. It’s precious to her.

When she found it she started making big plans for a celebratory event.

“I want to go to have a party!” she declared, “Everyone eats cake, plays with my toys, goes outsides, and brings a pillow!”

“What are you going to do with the pillows?” I asked.

“Sleep with them! It’s a sleep-party. We all bring pillows and sleep!”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not good for bearing sons

Our landlord was supposed to come by last night at around 8:00 PM  to fix our satellite, again. We haven’t had television for a while now; I can’t remember when it stopped working, exactly, and we haven’t bothered to get it fixed because we don’t watch all that much TV.

Still, it’s nice to have it working, so we mentioned it to Hatim when he stopped by the night before to pick up our rent money.

He was surprised that Rachel was still awake; she’s usually already in bed when he stops by. That’s because he has this habit of stopping by really, really late at night.

Snippets from this week’s FHE

It was my turn for the Family Home Evening lesson last night. I pulled out the nursery manual and prepared to teach the lesson on eternal families.

We began by describing the temple and what makes it beautiful. Rachel pointed out the flowers and then to angel Moroni.

“Jesus died on temple,” she said.

“Jesus died on the cross,” I told her, “That’s angel Moroni.”

“Angel Moroni like cross,” she said.

After failing to understand what she was trying to say we decided to move on. I pointed out the spire.

“Ooh, spire!” she said, excited to have a new word. “Spire is tiny like pyramid,” she added, drawing a big triangle with her arms.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Settling of contents

A pair of green shorts has been at the bottom of our laundry basket for a few weeks now. Somehow they just never made it into the washing machine—it was always too full by the time I got to the bottom. The shorts belong to Andrew and he decided that since I seemed incapable of washing them, he’d do it. So he put a load of darks in.

All the more power to him.


We’re not very good at separating our clothes into loads here. Our washing machine cycle takes upwards of three hours to run, so I’m not keen on separating darks, colors, and whites. We just do two loads a week—darks and lights. (Probably we will end up doing more once we’re into cloth diapers full time).
This is where we run into issues.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quarter of a Century

Andrew’s so old that we didn’t even have enough candles for his cake this year! Most boxes come with 24 and this year Andrew reached the big 2-5. He’s so old.

Happy Birthday to me!

I had plans of pampering him for his birthday, but I’m coming down with a cold and woke up feeling awful yesterday so instead of me pampering him, he ended up putting me back to bed and tidying up the house before the Home Teachers came over. Then he played with Rachel and did homework all day while I pretended to be alive.

Gee, Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Why I nap

Last night I had trouble falling asleep because my list of things I had to worry about before I let myself fall asleep has become far too long. We just realized that this baby is coming in like five weeks.

We have to figure out how to move another person into our home. Clean out a drawer or two, somewhere (?), to put all her hud, which is currently piled in her crib, which probably won’t work out too well once she’s here since she needs a place to sleep, even though most of her sleeping will likely be done in our bed because—let’s face it—I’m a little lazy, especially in the middle of the night, and don’t like getting out of bed to get the baby. And I like cuddling newborns.

I have to get a list of stuff that we need/want to Karen so that she can decide what she has room for in her suitcase (whatever doesn’t fit, Brother Tueller can bring for us). It’s hard to remember what I’ll need for such a little person. How many onesies and burp cloths did I go through per day with Rachel? Will I need more diapers?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday: Busing in Russia

The first few weeks of school in Russia, my host dad picked me up from the school to drive me home. If I wasn't teaching evening classes I'd meet Alosha after kindergarten in the afternoon and we'd wait together. If I had to teach evening classes Sasha would make a special trip out to pick me up, which was very nice of him.

My host family lived on the right bank of the Voronezh river in the northern outskirts of Voronezh on Ulitsa Morozova--a fitting name for a street in Russia, Frost Street. The school and all the other teachers lived on the left bank. I'm trying to remember the address of our school, but it's just not coming to me--Dimitrova was an oft used bus stop, but I think the one closest to the school, at least for me, was Ostuzheva, although I could be way off. I'm pretty sure the school was somewhere between Ostuzheva and Dimitrova. Either way, everyone else seemed to live within walking distance or a couple of bus stops away from the school.

I, on the other hand, lived a dedicated bus ride away. If I missed the bus there wasn't any other option (like walking) to get home.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Suqs and Ramadan Lamps

We ventured out to the Ataba metro station today to look for some books that might be applicable to Andrew’s research. One of his professors had told him that there was a book store there called Ezbekiyya; little did we know, we’d walk up the stairs from the metro and immediately stumble into a  whole book suq, disheveled enough to be considered a librarian’s worst nightmare (or paradise, considering how many treasures must be hidden there).

Magazines from 1987 alongside magazines from 2009. Psychology books with general fiction. French, English, Swedish, whatever…

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We're communicating!

I just breathed one of the biggest sighs of relief of my life. Sometimes things that Rachel says don't really make sense and they can be quite perplexing, like the time we heard her saying, "Daddy kill you." Life really couldn't move on until we had figured out that what she was really saying was, "Daddy carry you." The few minutes it took us to figure that one out were a little freakish.

Lately she's been saying something else worrisome, but not anything that we felt we had to figure out right away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now something that doesn't make me cringe

Rachel went to bed last night without screaming, not even a little bit. She spent all of yesterday morning screaming so I guess it was fair that she didn't spend the entire evening screaming. And this morning we could hear our upstairs neighbour screaming for about an hour straight. We weren't bothered one bit by his noise. In fact, we were like, "Hey! It's not ours for once!"

Lately she's been begging me to do her hair, which is kind of polar opposite to what I'm used to. We went to the Houses' house last week and Bekah did Rachel's hair in braids and it's been in braids every day since then. "Where are my braids, Mommy?" she'll ask, "Put my hair in braids!" And if I happen to snag a knot while brushing or braiding she somewhat calmly says, "Ow! That hurt! But I can't move my head. Bekah said I can't move my head." It really does take a village to raise a child because I haven't been able to communicate that to her.

Rachel and I were playing catch yesterday--in the house because we do things like that when I don't feel like walking all the way to the church to play in the backyard. She made a terrific catch from all the way across the room, even after I told Andrew, "There's no way she's catching this one..." But she did and then she said, "Ooh! I caught it...with my little hands!"

She's been in such a good mood today, which has been nice. I think she's finally unwinding enough from our Israel trip that she's a normal person again. Or at least getting there. Andrew suggested that we take off to the Red Sea for Eid-al Fitr but I told him that I just couldn't go anywhere. He was a little bummed because Ramadan ends and eid begins on his birthday, so we had the weekend and we could go and relax. But I really just can't go. Life is just getting back to normal and I'm feeling so pregnant. I don't want to go through all the work to pack up all our stuff, go all the way out there, and then have to restart Rachel's "schedule" when we get home.

He was understanding. I told him I'd still make him a cake. Just to take the edge off shooting down his idea.

But now that he's technically off of school until the beginning of October it almost seems a waste to not go anywhere or do anything. That, however, is back onto the topic that is making me cringe. Still, it does make going somewhere sound appealing.

It’s iftar somewhere…

Egypt has this magical way of doing whatever it wants whenever it wants regardless of what consequences it might have.

For example, the end of daylight savings was magically moved to Friday, August 21st this year, which happens to correspond precisely with the first day of Ramadan 1430—or the 22nd of August, 2009. The idea is that they’ll get to iftar just that much sooner, I guess. The irony is that the fasting schedule follows the rising and setting of the sun, not what hour the clock reads so technically putting the clocks back an hour does nothing to bring iftar sooner.

But, hey, it’s iftar somewhere, right?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interrupted sleep

Early this morning the very bizarre dream I was having was interrupted by the sound of tweeting birds. I lifted my head off the pillow and squinted at the clock. Still early.

Not knowing why I heard birds, but realizing my bladder was particularly full, I got out of bed to use the bathroom, thinking all the while about what a good night's rest I had had. Usually I feel like I'm sleeping on a spit:

Sleep for an hour. Get up, use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my left side. Sleep for an hour. Leg cramp--get up, stretch it. Use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my right side. Sleep for an hour. Rachel wakes up crying. Get up, make sure she's alright. Use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my left side. Sleep for an hour. Another leg cramp. Get up, stretch it out, and use the bathroom (because if I don't I'll probably just wake up in another hour). Try to coax Miriam back to sleep. Fail. Stay awake while she kicks my innards to death. Finally fall asleep....Wake up with Rachel two inches from my nose. Lift her onto the bed and drop her on Andrew. Inform him that I'm sleeping in and he's helping her get breakfast. Go back to sleep for an hour.

My nights have been...restless...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

She's using numbers and stuff

Andrew was cleaning up some of Rachel's playthings and she was adamantly asking him not to.

He picked up a little pink broom and she said, "No, not my sweep-it!"

Then he tried picking up her teddy bear, but she stopped him with, "That's my tebby bear!"

Friday, September 11, 2009

Petra (August 26)

Almost immediately after arriving in Eilat I looked with longing across the tiny Gulf of Aqaba to the gigantic Great Arab Revolt flag over in Jordanian Aqaba. Only a mile or two away from our hostel lay the great country of Jordan—my first Middle Eastern experience. When we were in Aqaba over three years ago I looked over to the glitzy lights of the Eilat resorts wondering what Israel was like, but because of the tense political situation (resulting in war a week later), we couldn’t ever make it across the Jordan river to Israel/Palestine.

Flashback Friday: September 11th

I woke up rather early on September 11, 2001. High school started at 7:45 AM but I had to be to school even earlier for a ballroom practice; ballroom team was during first period and it wasn't unusual for us to be asked to arrive either a half hour to an hour before school started. My friend Andrea was going to pick me up on her way to school even though I lived close enough to walk; usually I would be all ready to go and would run out of the house and hop into her car. This morning, however, she jumped out of her car and ran up to our house.

"A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!" she gasped, "Turn on the radio!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Patrick’s last few days in Cairo (Sept. 4-7)

Truthfully we didn’t do very much during Patrick’s last few days here. We lazed around the house all day on Friday after church and most of the day Saturday…maybe even all the day. Our Israel trip was exhausting for everybody.

Furthermore, we went from what felt like a nice, temperate climate—one that had me wishing for a sweater some evenings—to…this. Heat and sand and dust and smog. Being in Cairo is exhausting.

Sitting around got boring after a while, even if we weren’t feeling quite up to doing much yet. Or maybe I was the only one who was feeling that way. I can never tell.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rachel Quotes

Handing me a book: "Read at me, Mommy!"

Feeling Miriam kick: "Oooh, Miriam's poppin' in there!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

33 weeks

We had a marathon of a doctor appointment on Sunday. Since we’re supposed to be going to the doctor every two weeks now and it had been five weeks since our last appointment, I’m not surprised. Plus, it’s Egypt and anything can happen, right? Especially when your appointment is scheduled for 8:30 PM.

First we waited and waited and waited. And then we got called in, asked the doctor some questions, and I got put on the examination table.

Unfortunately both OB/GYNs were in that day and the other one had the only Doppler the clinic has. So after Dr. Tarek measured my fundal height and took my blood pressure he just covered up my stomach with the sheet and left me waiting on the table behind the curtain all alone while he chit-chatted with Andrew about our vacation and repeatedly called the nurses to nag about the Doppler.

I felt a little awkward and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to resurface or not, so I just stayed put. Pay no attention to the pregnant lady behind the curtain…it’s not like the appointment is for her, anyway.

Oh, wait, yes, yes it is.

Finally, Dr. Tarek came back to tell me that he was going to send us in to have an ultrasound, anyway, since it had been a while since the last one, so he didn’t need to find the heart beat since we’d see it beating on the ultrasound.

Also, he thought I needed blood drawn to test my hemoglobin levels so that I can get on an iron supplement if needed.

Also, I had +1 sugar in my urine and he wanted to know when I ate dinner. We had just eaten at Lucielle’s and I got a Fanta with my meal instead of water; he said that in that case, he wasn’t worried about the sugar.We’ll see in two weeks.

He wrote up some papers, handed them to the nurse and she ushered us back into the waiting room to wait while she made an appointment with the technician.

The ultrasound went well. Miriam appeared to be sleeping the whole time. She was covering her face with her hands and we couldn’t get her to move them, but we got a nice shot of the top of her head, which the technician printed out for us. I’m not sure why. It just looks like a big circle and isn’t really endearing…

She kept saying “Thank God” about everything, which were my sentiments, exactly.

“The brain looks fine, thank God, and there are no abnormalities that I can see in her organs, thank God. Her lungs are showing signs of maturity, thank God, so she’ll be ready to breathe when she’s born. She’s a normal size, thank God, completely average.”

Everything is still looking fine and we are indeed grateful for that. Having heard bad news at an ultrasound, we definitely agree with thanking God that our baby appears to be completely healthy.

After the ultrasound we had to wait again to see Dr. Tarek. We talked over the results with him, he wrote on our pregnancy card, and asked if we had any questions.

“Yes,” I said, “Do I need to take that hemoglobin test, or…”

He told me that he’d call me if I needed to start on a supplement, which didn’t exactly answer my question but is exactly how they work here. In the States if they tell you they are going to tell you the results of your test they call you regardless of whether the result is positive or negative. Here no news really is good news. If you don’t hear anything you can assume that nothing is wrong.

Or, like me, assume that something got lost.

We tried paying for our visit, but the receptionist kept asking me if I needed lab work done. I thought, because of Dr. Tarek’s answer to my question about the hemoglobin test, that maybe it was an extra test they would do on my urine…even though I was pretty sure they usually draw blood to test iron levels. Anyway, turns out I did need a lab test but they had lost my paperwork and hadn’t arranged for one yet.

So we were sent back to the waiting room once again. And then I had my blood drawn and got to watch as it was labeled "Nancy Hiss," thus the reason I'm worried no news means something has gotten lost. And then we paid for the appointment and went home. We didn’t get home until after 10:00 PM.

Patrick was about ready to send out a search and rescue party. At least we had taken Rachel with us so he was only home alone, not home with Rachel!

Anyway, we’re 33 weeks along now and Miriam is still alive and kicking, ever kicking. I was feeling pretty good in Israel, but now that we’re back in Cairo I’m always exhausted again…like I get out of bed after 10:00 AM, drag myself off the couch to make lunch, and then I’m all worn out and ready for naptime.

I think it’s a combination of the oppressive heat and poor air quality. That, or Cairo just brings out the worst in me.

And here are a few shots of the bump, for those who want to see.

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The first is at the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias and the second is at Capernaum. They’re a week old already but I figure I’m about the same size still. I haven’t shattered any zippers lately, so…

Road tripping from Nazareth to Cairo (Sept. 3)

Deep down inside we were a little worried about getting all the way from Nazareth to Cairo in one day. Most of our concerns revolved around catching our 4:30 bus from Taba to Cairo, so we phoned a few cheap hotels in Eilat just to make sure there were rooms open for us as a backup.

20090908 - 001We left Nazareth bright and early. Because Rachel was still sick and grumpy I sat in the backseat and Joseph navigated. We still got lost and confused a few times, which made me feel much more comfortable with my navigating skills. We missed the road we were supposed to take so took a little windy side road marked “scenic.” It followed along the West Bank fence (the wall hasn’t made it that far north yet) for most of the way. It was definitely scenic, though. The mountains were covered in trees—pine trees, even. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of those.

Our first stop was Qumran, which is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We watched a multimedia presentation about life in the Qumran area when the scrolls were written; it was a very religious community. They suggested that John the Baptist may have lived there for some time.

We didn’t stay very long because it was hot and we were pressed for time, but we enjoyed what we saw.

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You can see the Dead Sea from the hills of Qumran, and that’s exactly where we were headed next. We stopped near Ein Gedi to use a free public beach. The changing rooms and restrooms were on a pay-per-use basis and we were running low on shekels so we took turns changing as discretely as possible in the car.

Later we were shown that discretion is overrated when you can just rip off your clothes and change right on the beach. Silly us. We didn’t realize flashing was so welcome in Israel. Yikes!

The beach wasn’t anything compared to the one we went to in Jordan, although this one was at least free and lifeguarded. Andrew got yelled at by the lifeguard for going too far out with Rachel, even though he was still standing on the bottom still. It’s not like if he dropped her she would sink, right? I mean, we’re in the Dea Sea.

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We still had fun, though the beach was small and rocky and the weather was hot, hot, hot. 45 degrees hot.

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Someone brought their dog to the beach and he bounded straight in like he had been waiting to jump in the water all day. After swimming a few yards out he turned around and hightailed it back to shore and didn’t get back in; I’m not sure he was expecting all that salt. Rachel wasn’t either. She also preferred to stay close to shore.

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We did get a little floating in before rinsing off and hitting the road again. Patrick described the water a “oily” and Rachel described it as “too salty” and “a little bit scary.” Mostly, it’s just a cool feeling to float so effortlessly, I think.

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Our last stop before Eilat was Masada, a fortress on top of a plateau. We only used the facilities at the visitor’s center, though because it was too expensive for us to rationalize a quick trip through; we were still hoping to make it across the border in time to catch our bus.

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There was a big model of the citadel in the middle of the visitor’s center that we walked around. There were stairs leading down so you could walk next to it but all the little doorways were barricaded with clothes racks and things. We pushed them aside and went down, anyway, which is when we happened upon this happy little mannequin:

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The last stretch of the Negev desert was fairly boring to drive through. To keep ourselves entertained we looked for wild camels, or at least camels wandering around in the desert without people around—I’m not really sure if they were wild or not; funny road signs; and interesting Israeli art—they seriously stick random statues and things in the middle of the desert, which is kind of nice.

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Although I tried, I was never able to take a picture of my favorite warning sign, kind of like this one. It warned travelers that the area was “firing zone” and there was to be no stopping or trespassing. Brian Regan’s voice started echoing in my mind. “Uh, shouldn’t that read: Road Closed?”

We made it to Eilat, turned in our rental car (we used Budget because they didn’t have any minimum rental time), and made it through the Israeli side of the border in record time. Israel apparently doesn’t care about Qur’ans or passport stamps on the way out of the country, so we breezed through.

Getting into Egypt, however, was a little tricky since Andrew and I were still avoiding getting stamps in our passports. Egypt has this way of acting like no one has ever tried to enter their country before and border crossings are always a little confusing.

This time the head guy was sure that we had to get a stamp in our passport, otherwise they’d have no record of us ever coming through the port. We told him that was kind of the idea…we needed to not have a record in our passport about coming into the Taba port. He ended up pulling Andrew into his office for 45 minutes where Andrew debated with him about the legality of it all. Considering there is an official form for it, it’s pretty much legal.

Luckily, the head guy’s peons were all on Andrew’s side and we remembered that Egypt is off of daylight savings (for the time being, anyway, since it’s Ramadan) which meant that we had an extra hour to waste getting across the border. A very good thing, considering we made it to the bus stop only 20 minutes before the bus left.

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It was also lucky for us that Rachel’s fever had broken and she was perfectly healthy when we crossed the border. Egypt has you fill out these silly cards at the border asking if you have any flu symptoms; I don’t know what would have happened if Rachel had still had a fever, although they did have a quarantine desk set up in a corner.

Would she have had to sit there until she got better? That doesn’t sound helpful.

Anyway, we caught the bus, which was so wonderful because after traveling around for so long I was ready to go home. My temper was short and I was beginning to need some personal space (beginning…hahaha…personal space was well overdue and I was getting snappy). We made it home by 11:30 PM. We left Nazareth at 6:30 AM. Not bad considering all the stops we had to make, and the bus ride, though crowded, wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

As soon as iftar started people got up and started passing around dates and drinks and fruit and things, and then they all settled down to eat. Rachel slept most of the way; she was still recuperating, I guess, since she usually isn’t a good sleeper.

Now I just have to write about what we did with Patrick for his last few days in Cairo…and then I won’t be writing about touristy things for a while because I don’t plan on doing anything touristy for at least several weeks after the baby is born!