Thursday, April 30, 2009

But I'm not tired

Both Rachel and Sam refused to take naps this afternoon. Sam was able to last all day in a fairly good mood, but he played inside all day. Rachel, on the other hand, spent two and a half hours in the pool this afternoon. She had to be bushed but she refused to stay in the Pack'n'Play so she didn't take a nap, at least, not when I put her down for one.

I found her on the couch sound asleep about an hour and a half after we got home.


Sam and Jacob were playing nicely together and all the girls were busy with homework and reading so I took the opportunity to have a little nap myself.

Not to brag or anything, but after I woke up it took me a half hour to make dinner, help Rachel go to the bathroom twice, clean up a big mess she made by getting off the toilet herself after a BM, change her clothes after she partially wet her pants, and get her a post-nap snack. It was probably the most productive half hour of my whole day!

Barnyard Dance

Today was much better than yesterday, granted I still have a good 5 hours until Andrew comes home...but it's already been a lot better. ReRe was here so I was able to ditch Sam and spend some one-on-one time with Rachel at the Maadi House pool. (ReRe took him to the Maadi House on Tuesday).

Yesterday Rachel and Sam were a toxic combination; today they were actually pretty cute together. Sam has a lot of Sandra Boynton's books. My two favorite of the ones he has are Barnyard Dance and But Not the Hippopotamus. The kids seem to enjoy them all. Here they are doing their own version of the Barnyard Dance. Not only do you get to enjoy their sweet dance moves, you also get to watch Rachel being a bully. If I had a nickle for everytime I said "Rachel leave Samuel alone!" (or vise versa) I'd be rich.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm in a bad mood

The sounds of toddlers squawking and squabbling are echoing off the walls. "Don't push me!" "Bive me dat!" and "MINE!" reverberate through my bones and make my brain ache.

Every now and then a tower of blocks comes crashing down, each piece clinking against the next until one child's masterpiece is reduced to a pile of rubble. There's a moment of silence while the head architect processes what happened, and then the screaming starts again, followed, shortly after, by the giggling of a young demolition expert.

Maisy is playing, completely neglected, on the television. Still.

Paper and bits of crayons are strewn across the living room. Pre-evolutionary caveman-esque drawings cover each scrap of paper. Several crayons have been broken in half over and over again, as if they were earthworms and expected to regenerate, and only tiny stubs remain.

I'm ignoring it all, too exhausted to even get up and turn off the television. I think I'm going crazy.

I needed a break so I assigned Sam and Rachel to make a red tower and leave me alone for 10 minutes. Writing makes me feel better so I sat down here and resolved to not write about children. Unfortunately we write about what we know and right now I know children, so this is the best I could come up with.

I tried desperately to think of something interesting to write about life in the Middle East but the best I could come up with was the topic of water. And it doesn't even count about not being a story about little kids because it involves Megan, who was brushing her teeth. Jacob caught her rinsing her toothbrush in tap water and immediately began yelling at her,

"MEGAN! You used tap water! The tap water isn't safe! You could get sick! You could DIE!"

Let me tell you something about Jacob. He's not at all melodramatic. Oh, wait. Yes, he is. Megan, on the other hand, while also a bit of a drama queen is her own class of ditz.

She answered, "But I never knew that!"

Now, rinsing your toothbrush in tapwater is about as likely to kill you as slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt is likely to keep the swine flu from making its way here. It's traveling person-to-person now so the only way to keep it away from Egypt would be to get rid of the people. And that sounds more deadly than letting the disease make its rounds. However...there is no possible way that Megan could not have known that. The Lewises have lived here for 10 months and for all of those 10 months they have brushed their teeth with bottled water. How Megan could have missed that is beyond me.

While the Lewises brush their teeth with bottled water, we brush our teeth with tap water and have for a long time. Technically the water in Maadi is potable, though it is highly chlorinated and sometimes comes out looking or smelling less than appealing. We don't drink the tap water; we used bottled water for drinking, just to be on the safe side. We do, however, use tap water for washing our fruits and vegetables, washing our dishes, and bathing, besides for rinsing our toothbrushes.

Rachel drinks the most tap water out of all of us. She thinks that the bathtub is her personal resevoir and I find myself constantly trying to convince her not to slurp it up.

We've come to accept the occasional tummy bug as both normal and expected.

This post took me the whole day to write. Andrew is home now and he verified for me that I'm not going crazy. Rachel and Sam really are more annoying than usual today. More demanding. More whiny. More noisy. More bothersome. More troublesome. More argumentative.

Oh, and Sam took the liberty of taking off his pull-up during his nap and wet the bed. So that was a lovely way to cap off a wonderful day. Dinner is on Otlob tonight. Thank goodness!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Carrots are for suckers

This evening when I was making dinner I decided to shred some carrots into the taco meat. Not in the "I-love-these-kids-so-much-so-I-want-to-help-them-be-healthy" way but in the "ha-ha-ha-take-that-suckers" way. I was almost cackling with glee while I shredded that carrot.

Sometimes the dark side takes over me.

After shredding for what seemed like an eternity and I had just the right amount of carrots disguised as bits of ground beef and taco seasoning I stopped shredding. I still had about a half of a carrot left in my hand and it needed to be used so I cut it into 7 carrot sticks and put them in a little bowl.

Andrew explained to the kids that they didn't have to take a carrot stick. Tonight vegetables were optional for kids; they were only required for cool people.

Much to my surprise the kids eagerly passed the bowl around the table and each took a carrot. Even Rachel ate a carrot (without spitting it out after she chewed it)!

That kind of took the wind out of my evil-genius sails.

Couldn't they have been at least a little bit upset about eating carrot sticks tonight? That would have made my efforts seem worth it. Had I known I wasn't going to get any complaints about them I wouldn't have bothered to shred them into the taco meat.

Curses! Foiled again! *Sigh.*

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Track Mind

Getting 6 children ready for bed is somehow a lot more work than getting one child to bed. Since Rachel and Sam are really the only 2 not capable of completely readying themselves for bed we tend to neglect them until the end while we herd the rest of the children through the process. We figure that since they don't have school it doesn't matter if they get to bed exactly on time. Not that we've ever successfully gotten all 6 of the children to bed at exactly the same time or exactly on time.

We had most of the kids completely ready, except the youngest 3, yesterday night. Megan was busy brushing her teeth and we were just getting Sam's toothbrush ready when Rachel walked into the bathroom.

"Teeth!" she said, bringing her index finger up to her mouth and swishing it back and forth like an imaginary toothbrush, "Teeth! Teeth! Teeth!"

Unfortunately I had to disappoint her, "Rachel, your toothbrush isn't in this bathroom."

"Teeth!" she insisted.

"This is Sam's toothbrush. Go find yours."

"Teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth!" she chanted mechanically as she wandered around the house looking for her toothbrush.

Eventually she found Megan in the hallway bathroom. Megan was still brushing her teeth; she has this amazing ability to take any 2-minute task and turn it into a 10-minute one, especially if it involves water in any way. After a few minutes I went off to find Rachel's toothbrush for real (since I knew where it was and that she didn't know where it was) and Andrew went to find Rachel.

She was still in the bathroom with Megan and was acting like she had a robotic glitch. She was reaching for the counter with her arms stretched up above her head, looking at the ground and still chanting, "Teeth! Teeth! Teeth!"

Every time she said "Teeth!" she'd take a step forward and hit her head on the cabinet.

I smoothly intervened by shoving her toothbrush in her mouth during a step-away-from-counter moment.

"Teeth!" she crooned and started brushing up a storm.

Sometimes she just gets stuck on things.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Roadblock

On the way to church yesterday we were stopped by our self-proclaimed "eccentric" Polish neighbour. Eccentric may be an understatement. She was running down the street in her pyjamas, screaming.

"Big problem! I need help! Big problem!"

We could tell without even using a breathalyzer that she was hopelessly drunk. Again. And it was 9:15 am. She had left the door to her apartment hanging wide open so we thought perhaps there really was a problem. We stopped to see if we could help her.

"I need block off street!" she slurred, breathing heavily, "Mubarak comes, visits me. Here. Today. Mubarak. You understand Mubarak?"

"The President?" Andrew asked.

"No!" she corrected, "His wife, Sylvia."

"You mean Suzanne?"

"Yes! Suzanne! I need block the street! I already ask guards [she indicated violently up the street toward some military police] if they can help and they laugh at me. You see? Big problem. Mubarak. Here. See me. I need block the street!"

"Oh, I don't know..."

"Here. I phone with Polish Premier. You speak Arabic? Please talk him for me! Polish Premier."

"Uhhhh...doesn't the Polish Premier speak Polish?"

She thrust the phone at Andrew. It was ringing a man named Taha. I can almost guarantee he's not the Prime Minister of Poland.

"Yeah, I actually don't speak Arabic very well," Andrew lied, handing the phone back to her, "We should probably get going."

"If you go," she warned, "You might not make it back. The whole street will be blocked. You will not be able to come back home. Mubarak is visiting me in my home! Today!"

That was a risk we were willing to run. Mostly because there was 0% chance that either Mubarak or his wife would come to our neighbourhood, let alone our apartment building, for a friendly Friday morning visit. When Suzanne attended the opening ceremonies at AUC the campus was closed to students and the roads to campus were cleared for hours beforehand.

I'm afraid our neighbour was all worked up to a tizzy for no reason. Of course, we'll never know if she got her visitor or not since we were at church all morning and into the early afternoon. Suzanne could have come and gone and we would have been none the wiser. I highly doubt, however, that she did come.

Also, this morning the same neighbour stopped by wearing her bathrobe...and I'm quite sure only her bathrobe (she is Polish, after all)...to ask to borrow 200 LE to pay her housekeeper. The first time she did this we actually lent her the money because she said it was an emergency. This time her housekeeper was right there and said it was alright if she didn't get the money until next week. So we said we were going out of town and didn't have that much cash on us.

We're not really out of town...but we aren't staying in our apartment, so that's kind of like not being in town, right?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flashback Friday: Funeral Potatoes

My friend Josh claims to have never had funeral potatoes, ever. Not in his whole life. I wondered aloud how this was possible since he's been a member his whole life. Even his wife questioned the truthfulness of his statement. So we described them to him, just to make sure. Hashbrowns, cream-of-something soup, sour cream, cheese, all baked together and topped with corn flakes and more cheese. That's got to sound familiar.

He denied it, saying that it's a "Utah dish." Granted, it probably is kind of a "Utah dish" but Josh is a Layton. His middle name is Layton. He descends from Christopher Layton. His family is from Arizona. How could he never have had this dish?

His answer: It sounds like a casserole. My dad basically banned my mother from ever making a casserole.

My thoughts: If Andrew ever bans me from making anything, he'll starve. If I want to make lentils and sweet potatoes for dinner, I'll make lentils and sweet potatoes for dinner, and he'll eat it or volunteer to make dinner before I start. I actually did make this for dinner last week and it was good. Even Andrew thought so after I made him try it.

Our answer: Yeah, but they serve it at funerals and things.

His answer: My brother and sister were sick a lot. We didn't go to church functions.

Our answer: Uh, a funeral isn't exactly a church "function." It's a funeral. You didn't ever go to a funeral?

Seriously, how could he live his life without having funeral potatoes? I just don't see how that is possible. I wasn't raised in Utah, either, even though I'm also a Layton, but I've had funeral potatoes several times. And outside of the state, too.

So I spent a few days thinking about funeral potatoes. I kind of like them, truthfully. And I remembered a story involving funeral potatoes that I think is basically hilarious.

In all fairness this is more a story about my cousin Elizabeth than it is about me. But I was there and I was involved and to this day I still find it hilarious, so here it goes.

Elizabeth is probably one of the most picky eaters I've ever met in my life. At least, she was. She's really branched out in recent years. Growing up seems to do that to most people. But she, seriously, was a picky eater. She would only eat butter on her spaghetti, but not just any butter--spray butter. She wouldn't eat any other kind of butter. And that's just one example. The poor girl liked nothing.

When she was in high school she realized that she was missing out on a lot of things and decided that she should try everything at least once. (She went so far as to go to China to teach English for a semester. CHINA! They eat chicken leg soup and fried monkey brains over there, among other things, and she decided to go to China! (I tried to convince her to at least go to Russia where the cusine was a little more tame.--there she would eat potatoes, beets, cabbage, cabbage, beets, and potatoes--but to no avail)).

Anyway, this brings us to Aunt Lillis' funeral. Aunt Lillis is my grandma Conrad's sister. She died August 14, 2001, a little over a year after my family moved down to Utah. Two years previous, when she was 84, she visited my grandma up in Canada and we went down to see my grandma at the same time so that we could see her, too. She was so spry and spunky, I though she was going to live forever. She had red hair, at least she dyed it red, if that says anything about her personality.

"I'm not 84!" she'd quip if anyone tried to do anything chivalrous for her like give up their chair or help her down the stairs, "I'm 48 in reverse!"

It was kind of a shock to me that she died at 86, only 68 in reverse, which is still kind of young. I thought for sure she'd at least wait until she was 89 so that she'd be able to die at the ripe old age of 98 in reverse.



But she didn't wait that long, so we ended up going to a funeral just 2 years later. At family funeral the cousins all tend to bunch together afterwards while the "grown ups" do their thing. We'd remininsce in our way and they'd reminisce in theirs. And so it is that I ended up sitting at the same table with Elizabeth.

We started through the buffet line together, but I filled my plate much faster than Elizabeth did. She was still holding her empty plate, looking warily at the spread before her. My plate was full of funeral potatoes and all sorts of jello salads. Being the kind cousin that I was, I told her to stop being so picky and that I'd be waiting for her at our table.

A few minutes later she joined me. I looked at her plate and laughed. It was heaping with mounds of funeral potatoes.

"Hungry, Elizabeth?" I asked.

"Well," she started, "I thought about what you said about not being picky...and about my resolution to try everything once...and I decided that I would try a little bit of everything on the table. But there were so many things out there to try! My plate was full before I even reached the salads! But I didn't want anyone to feel bad for having no one try their casserole. I mean, there were several pans out there that no one had even touched!"

"Oh, Elizabeth," I told her, "That's because all those casseroles are the same casserole. They're all funeral potatoes."

"No! They're different!" she exclaimed, "See? This one has corn flakes on top and this one has melted cheese..."

"Yup, and underneath that, it's all the same."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Oh, no! What am I going to do?"

Without consulting the grown-ups we decided it was probably okay if she ate a normal amount of potatoes and threw the rest away (I hope that's okay...better to ask forgiveness than permission, right?) so that she could still have room to try a normal amount of salad. I found myself actually encouraging her to pace herself when trying new things which is something I never thought I would ever end up doing.

There were probably 30 different salads on the table, and about 25 of those were of the jello variety.

"Just try three or four to start out with," I coached her, "Don't get all of them at once, okay? Try a variety--one plain, one with fruit, one with whipped cream. Red jello with whipped cream on top is basically the same as green jello with whipped cream on top, so after you have one jello with whipped cream, go for something different. Get it?"

Who knew choosing jello was such an art?

I wish that worrying about which kind of jello to choose could always be my greatest concern in life. Unfortunately every last one of my grandma's siblings has since passed away, including my own grandma. I dread the day when it will be my children and their cousins goofing off (and eating more jello salad than should be humanly possible) while my siblings, cousins, and I are trying to console each other. Not that I'm trying to be morbid or anything.

Night Terror

Last night I was startled out of my sleep by a blood-curdling scream. At first I thought I was having a nightmare, but the screaming continued after I had woken up. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was Rachel--I had never heard her scream like this before. I jumped out of bed and sprinted into her bedroom.

Usually if she's had a nightmare I'll find her sitting up in bed or crawling out of bed, still crying, but not like this. I couldn't see her and she was screaming wildly. I called out to her.

"Rachel, baby, Momma's here."

No change. Her ear-piercing screams continued.

"Rachel, calm down. Mommy's here now."

When my eyes adjusted to the dark of her room I could see that she was still lying down. I crawled into her bed talking to her the whole time, trying to calm her down.

"Sweetheart, you can stop screaming now. Mommy's right here. It's okay."

She still wouldn't stop screaming and wasn't even beginning to calm down, so I reached out to stroke her face. When I did that she let out one of her famous wild-jungle roars and recoiled away from me. And then kept screaming.

By now she was officially creeping me out.

I picked her up. She was burning up with a fever and was rigid with fright. After a few minutes she stopped her mindless shrieking and relaxed into my arms screaming, "A momma! A momma! A momma! A momma!"

"I'm right here!" I almost yelled back at her, "I'm momma! I'm holding you! Stop it!"

Her screams dissolved into a more normal cry, and she started shaking. She was desperately clutching onto both her favorite blanket and a dress for her baby doll but kept trying to wrap her arms around me. The blanket was getting in the way and she was getting frustrated but she wouldn't let go. I had to pry her fingers open and rip the blanket away from her. Then she wrapped herself around me like a little monkey and buried her face into my shoulder, sobbing and shaking.

I took her into our bedroom to look through the medicine cabinet. I couldn't find the Tylenol anywhere and was having trouble holding her well enough to comfort her while searching through the cabinet. We ended up waking Andrew up (he's an amazingly deep sleeper and missed the whole screaming escapade) and he took over looking for me so that I could cuddle Rachel. She didn't want him to hold her or me to put her down and was still shaking and crying.

She didn't calm down until 7:30 am, four hours after her night terror. I ended up giving her a cold wash cloth to hold on her head to help lower her fever and she stayed in bed with us. I was so happy when she finally fell asleep. It meant that we got to have 1 extra hour of sleep before church.

If only I had known that waking up a child during a night terror makes it more difficult for them to calm down and go back to sleep, I wouldn't have woken her up. She was scaring me, though, and I didn't know what else to do. It would happen on Daylight Savings, too, so we were already losing an hour of sleep. What's 1 extra hour when you've already lost 4, right?

We woke up at 8:15 am and Andrew panicked because we were supposed to be to choir practice at 8:30 am. I told him that we weren't going to sing with the choir. How could we? Rachel was stuck to me like glue the entire day. We still had to get out of bed and get ready for church though, no matter how sluggish we felt.

Both Andrew and Rachel spiked fevers last night and none of us were feeling too hot from having been up all night long. But Andrew was assigned to speak in church today.

We had district conference and Andrew was called to be in the Elder's Quorum presidency. Since the new EQ President was out of town, Andrew had to give a talk in his place. I forgot to have him comb his hair. I hope no one noticed.

Rachel was hard to handle during the meeting. Conferences are hard. 2 hours in the same room? Ugh. All the children were going a little crazy. When Sister Cook, the District President's wife, was finishing her talk, Rachel beat her to the amen.

"AMEN!" she hollered enthusiastically, causing several surrounding families to giggle. She then announced that we were "All done! All done! All done!" and that it was time to "Go! Go! Go!"

We ended up in the hallway with Finn and Rex. Rex will be Rachel's new friend. He's two months younger than her and will be moving here in a few months. All three of those little guys were having a hard time for the last part of the meeting.

I was so glad there was a Linger Longer after the meeting. There was no way I would have had energy to make lunch. We went over to the Lewis' after and picked up some baby Tylenol and then went home to take a nap.

Nap time failed.

Poor Rachel's eyes were so puffy and tired-looking by the time bedtime rolled around and even then she didn't want to go to bed. Once she was in bed, though, she fell asleep relatively quickly. I'm hoping she stays that way all night long. I could use a good night's rest!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Imagination Station

Rachel's imagination has been taking off recently. She's already played out two very interesting scenarios today that I've listened in on.

Earlier this afternoon her play involved a little pink car, a toy cat, and a peep (like marshmallow peeps, only of the stuffed animal variety):

A cat is catching a taxi.

The cat gets into the taxi and tells it to go.

A peep sits on the taxi and squishes the cat.

Now the peep and the taxi are racing and it's very noisy.

"Peep! Beep! Peep! Beep!"

The peep catches the taxi and goes for a ride.

The end.

Now we're eating lunch. It's a little late for lunch considering it's past 3:00 but since we didn't wake up until 11:00, it's probably alright. We're having oriental noodles and canned corn. We also had a little can of peaches. We haven't gone shopping in a while and have absolutely no fresh produce in our house. I don't intend on going shopping for a while because we've been invited to dinner tomorrow night and we'll be babysitting the Lewis children starting on Saturday. Going shopping seems a little pointless to me right now. Plus we have all those canned goods from Lydia. Anyway...

The noodles say "Ssssssssssssssss!"

Most probably they are snakes. I served my daughter a bowl of snakes for lunch because I'm cool like that.

She was very excited when I brought out the corn. She loves corn. The corn and small bits of noodles are babies. I'm assuming Rachel is a monster or something because every time she comes across a "baby" she says,

"Mama! Oh, no! Hep me! Waa, waa! Oh, no!"

And then she pops it in her mouth and chews it while making chomping/growling noises.

Those poor little babies. Their mamas never helped them. This is probably Rachel's interpretation of what happened earlier today when I wouldn't give her a cookie at 5 AM. She cried out for help and I just sent her back into the mouth of the destroyer (ie: her bed).

Now the noodles (or, as she says, loolodles) are jumping off the rim of her cup and screaming, "Weeeeee!"

And I'm just boringly eating my lunch. What's wrong with me? When did I grow up?

It's 5 o'clock in the morning

"Momma! Momma! Momma! Momma!" Rachel yelled before she started pounding on the door.

"MOMMY! *POUND* *POUND* MOMMY!" Apparently she's desperate now.

What is the point of her learning how to open up her bedroom door if she won't do it in the middle of the night so that I don't have to get out of bed and do it for her?

"What's wrong, sweetie?" I asked, opening her door so she could run into my arms. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. "What do you need?"

"A coo-coo," she sniffed innocently.

Translation: I want a cookie.

"Well, that's too bad because it's 5 o'clock in the morning. That means it's still the middle of the night and I don't hand out cookies in the middle of the night."

She looked at me and sniffed sadly again and repeated herself, "A coo-coo."

"No cookies. It's time to be asleep, so hop back in bed."

"A momma," she tried.

Translation: I want momma.

"Do you want to come in bed with momma, then?" I asked, afraid that if I had to squat while holding her any longer I was going to fall flat on my face, completely squishing her in the process.

"Yeah, a momma!"

"Alright, but you have to be quiet and go to sleep," I warned her.

Famous last words. Rachel is a wriggle worm, if I've ever met one. She spent the next hour squirming around the bed, stroking my face, wrapping herself around me like a monkey, taking up my whole pillow, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, I kicked her out of bed. She insisted she had to go potty before she got into her own bed, so we did that, and then she climbed back in bed.

"A coo-coo," she tried again.

"No cookies. It's time for sleeping."

So she snuggled down with her Pooh Bear, Pound Puppy, and Baby Doll and I didn't hear from her until 11:00 AM.

When she woke up she didn't even ask for a cookie. Amazing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Rachel is thankful for

We discussed prayer for our Family Home Evening lesson last night. These lessons sure are getting interesting now that Rachel is coming up with her own answers.

I mentioned that Rachel was probably old enough to start helping saying prayers because her vocabulary is big enough to, so we started going over the basics using I Pray in Faith as a template.

After discussing how to open a prayer we started listing things that we could say we're thankful for.

"Are we thankful for our family?" I asked.

"Yes!" Andrew and Rachel answered.

"Are we thankful for our food?" I asked.

"Yes!"

"Are we thankful for our toys?"

"Yes!"

"Are we thankful for the scriptures?"

"Yes!"

"What else are we thankful for?" I asked.

Rachel sat still for several minutes. We could tell she was thinking hard. Finally she gave her answer,

"Red!"

"You're thankful for red?" I clarified.

"Yes!" she squealed excitedly.

That's her favorite color of the week. She also asked for the opening song to be "red" but we sang Book of Mormon Stories instead because I couldn't remember all the words to Primary Colors. I told her, however, that it would be alright if she thanked Heavenly Father for red. I've never thanked him for red, myself, but it really is a beautiful color.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Medical Records

I just read my medical records from my pregnancy with Rachel. They use some pretty strange wordings. They described her delivery as normal and spontaneous.

It's like I woke up that morning thinking, "Today is a pretty normal day. Oh! I think I'll have a baby a little later on! That will shake things up!"

And I was happy to learn that all sponges/sharps were accounted for. Phew. Because the last time a scalpel was left inside me...ew, no.

I was admitted and examined at 3:31 PM. My "admittance history" was completed at 3:52 PM. Rachel was born at 5:22 PM. Yeah, that did go fast, for a "22 year old Para 1."

Wow. I think I know more about myself now than I ever really wanted to know. I'm going to stop reading now and just pass them on to Dr. Tarek. After all, I have no idea what my AFI or GA BPD are. These will prove much more useful in his hands, I'm sure.

Our plan for this pregnancy is to get to the hospital before we have the baby. Dr. Baxter chastized me for waiting so long to come in with Rachel and warned me that if I didn't get in sooner with the next one we'd probably have an accidental home birth on our hands.

Truthfully I'm a little worried about that. Or worse, having the baby on the way to the hospital. The hospital we're planning on having the baby at is in Roda, a little island in the middle of the Nile. It isn't that far away; it's only like 6 or 7 metro stops. The only upside I can think of is that we wouldn't have to battle traffic the whole way there if we rode the metro. And I'd probably be offered a seat if I really looked like I was about to spontaneously deliver a baby. And it only costs a pound to ride. We could save a ton of money.

Andrew is dreaming of catching the first taxi on the street, giving him like 50 pounds, and telling him to get us to the hospital as soon as possible.

That is not something I've ever dreamed of. What is he thinking? Has he even been in a cab here? They're nasty and uncomfortable and smell bad--no place to spontaneously give birth. And 50 pounds is way over-paying.

Obviously the method of getting to the hospital has yet to be established, but we're not really all that worried about it yet considering we only enter the second trimester tomorrow. 13 weeks down, 27 left to go. Or thereabouts. I'm definitely looking forward to having more energy and peeing less.

I'm totally rambling, but I just wanted to say that my friend Kristin had her baby on Saturday. [I caught Kristin's bouquet at her wedding and a few months later married Andrew. That's just a random fact that has nothing to do with this post. At all.] I guessed on the 16th that she would have the baby on her husband's birthday (the 18th) and she did. You might consider it cheating to guess the date she'd have her baby on after she was overdue, but I think it's completely legitimate. She wasn't going to be induced until tomorrow so I could have guessed wrong. And I'll bet she is very happy that she had the baby on the day I guessed and not later, otherwise she might still be pregnant.

Anyway...I kept a few notes about this pregnancy from before we were telling so that I wouldn't forget because some rather ironic and strange things happened.

I knew I was pregnant before we actually found out. Andrew didn't believe me, but I knew it. I knew it days before a pregnancy test would actually have worked. For some reason instead of buying a pregnancy test and holding onto it for when it would work, we waited. Maybe Andrew didn't think I had enough restraint to wait long enough and would waste the test in my futile attempts to prove to him that I was pregnant.

Finally, ye olde testing day came and I begged Andrew to buy a test for me at the pharmacy.

"Can't," he said simply.

"Why not?" I whined.

As luck would have it, the first day that we could viably test to see if I really was pregnant there was a national pharmacy strike and all pharmacies were, therefore, closed. For a week. I sat at home all day stewing over the fact that we'd have to wait a whole nother week. As if that would have killed me. I can be horribly impatient sometimes.

Andrew surprised me, though, when he came home from school with a pregnancy test in hand. He's always full of surprises. When he got off the bus he saw that a pharmacy near our house was open. Apparently the pharmacies were opening at random hours so that people could rush in and buy their necessities (like heart medication...and pregnancy tests).

I used it the very next morning. And it showed up negative. So I went back to bed.

Andrew woke up about an hour later and woke me up again.

"Are you going to take the test?" he asked, excitedly.

"I already did," I said.

"And...?" he asked.

"It was negative." I answered casually.

"And you're okay with that?" he asked.

I was upset, sure. I even cried a little. But I was still pretty confident that I was pregnant so mostly I was just a little baffled that the test was negative. I told him that we'd wait a week and try again. Oddly enough, the week-long pharmacy strike was called off that day. So it only ended up lasting one day--the one day that we wanted so desperately to find out whether or not I was pregnant. How ironic.

We bought two tests a few days later and used those a little less than a week later. They both showed up positive. Getting those two lines on the pregnancy test is always a little surreal. With Rachel I was excited and terrified at the same time and I expected to feel similarly this time around. Instead I felt vindicated. It was a wonderful I-told-you-so moment.

Our hunt for an OB/GYN started right then. Dr. Tarek has been haranguing us to get his hands on my medical records since the first time we stepped foot in his office, which was a different experience...

I hate having pelvic examinations, as I imagine most women do. But I suppose they're a necessary evil.

In America I was always shown to a room, handed a sheet, and a nurse would tell me to undress. And then she'd leave the room and let me get ready. Dr. Baxter would knock before he'd come in with the nurse and it was all very modest and comfortable. At least as comfortable as something like that can be.

Here, a little less comfortable but equally modest, I suppose. There was a dressing screen dividing the room. I stepped behind the screen with the nurse and she held up a sheet.

"Take off." She said, nodding her head toward my lower half.

She sounded brusque, but I don't think she was meaning to. She just doesn't have a strong enough grasp on English to be more prolific. Still, it didn't sound like I should argue with her, so take off I did.

While I was doing so she began wrapping the sheet around me. Modesty is highly valued here, even in the gynecologist's office. I would have felt more modest, though, being alone behind the curtain and not having her cover me up while I was trying to strip down. After she had sufficiently covered every inch of skin, she helped me up onto the examination table and proceeded to strap the sphygmomanometer to my upper arm. I thought for sure she would be taking my blood pressure herself, but she didn't. Nurses here don't really do much of anything. I'm fully convinced they have no medical training.

Even I know how to use a sphygmomanometer. We all learned how to in the Community Health class I took in grade nine. I took Community Health instead of a regular health class because I'm a socialist and I was raised in a social democracy and we do things socially. Truthfully it was really just a regular health class but I couldn't convince my counselor of that when we moved down to the States so I had to take health again in grade 10.

"Community health," she informed me, "Is vastly different from personal health."

Heaven forbid I be trained in First Aid in addition to knowing how the reproductive cycle works. Those scary socialists! Training their teenagers in CPR!

Anyway, instead of the nurse or myself taking my blood pressure, Dr. Tarek joined us behind the curtain. He was the one who took my blood pressure, which he announced as perfect. Not that I'm bragging or anything but I'm perfect. I have perfect blood pressure.

And it's written down on my "pregnancy card." That's right. I already have a copy of all my medical records here. I'm supposed to "keep it with me at all times." I thought those instructions were a little strange, but they completely explain why Dr. Tarek thought it was odd that I had never seen my charts from my previous pregnancy.

But now I have. And I had perfect blood pressure back then, too. I know I said that I wasn't keen on reading my own medical records, but at least all I have are the records of the tests that I took. I'm sure you're not interested in knowing that I have in my possession the actual slide from my most recent Pap smear. Seriously. I don't know what the clinic expects me to do with it. I think it's part of my "pregnancy card" or something but I certainly don't plan on keeping it with me at all times, no sir. I don't know anyone who carries that around.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ain Sokhna, part 2

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was eat some cookies. And then I packed up what I could without waking my still-sleeping family. As you can see I was kind of kicked out of bed. It wasn’t only Rachel. It was a combination of Rachel and flies.

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Now that it’s spring the flies are back in full force and they are annoying. They seem to strike only when the sun is up. I don’t know what they do while it’s down (sleep?) but since we haven’t had Daylight Savings yet the sun comes up at like 4:30 AM. That leaves a lot of time for the flies to dive bomb us before we actually want to be out of bed.

We used a quilt for a pillow since all the pillows looked a little mildewy (there was a pillow case on my side, too, but I had already taken it off to pack it). This condo is strictly BYOP.*

When Rachel woke up, we went outside to play bubbles. She had a blast, as did we. It was so nice to have a quasi- fenced yard with grass where she could just run around and be a kid. We’re going a little picture heavy because it’s late and I don’t know what to write. Plus she was having so much fun!

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You might have noticed there aren’t a lot of pictures of both Rachel and Finn together. That’s not because we didn’t let them play together. It’s because we didn’t let them play together while one of the parents was behind a camera lens. It took all 4 of us to referee those two. Turn your back for one minute and you’d find that one of them had tackled the other and had them pinned for the count.

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After a lovely breakfast of French toast, and after waiting for the plumbers to leave, we headed off to the beach again. Morning is definitely the ideal time to hit the beach. Although it was, once again, strewn with dead jellyfish, the sandbars were back and it was empty and calm.

Rachel and I made another mosque, although I think it looks more like an octopus than a mosque.

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We had fun playing in only the most shallow of the shallow water.

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And threw some mud at Daddy.

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I tried to show Rachel how much fun Finn was having swimming with his parents but after we got into the water past her ankles she went ballistic, made me pick her up, and wouldn’t let me put her down.

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Eventually she went to Melissa, who vowed to keep her safe from the water, and Andrew and I snorkeled for a little bit. The Masons have their own snorkeling masks and they lent them to us so that we could try them out, not that there was really very much to see.

There were some little fish and a few hermit crabs, but the water was so shallow that we were really just swimming around looking at sand. There are reefs around though. We know because there was a ton of coral washed up on the shore. That and the Red Sea is famous for its good snorkeling views. We really want to plan a real snorkeling trip sometime since neither of us has ever been.

It was fun to try out the masks, though. Even though Melissa reminded me to breathe slowly I think I was still hyperventilating some since I kept seeing spots and feeling dizzy. I’ll have to practice some more.

The masks reminded Rachel of Wall-E and she was very excited when we put them on. She had been carrying them around the condo all weekend, affectionately crooning out “Wa-wee! Wa-wee!” and trying to find and Eve look-alike, to no avail.

We ended our beach trip at noon again and hurried back to the condo to eat lunch and clean up before we left. We thought our ride was coming at 1:00 PM, at least, those are the arrangements we discussed with the driver who dropped us off, so we did a marathon cleaning job and hurriedly scarfed down our sandwiches.

And then we sat around waiting for our ride, playing Phase 10 and watching Wall-E, until after 3:00 PM. Rachel napped the whole way home, which was nice. It’s only an hour and a half away from Cairo, but it’s much nicer to endure an hour an a half with a sleeping, sweaty baby on your lap than with a screaming, sweaty baby on your lap.

We had a wonderful time and definitely look forward to going again!

*Bring Your Own Pillow, in case you didn’t figure it out.

Ain Sokhna, part 1

Since we left for our vacation on Friday after church, Friday was basically a travel day. We intended to leave at 3:00 PM, but the driver didn’t show up until around 4:30 PM. There was a mix-up and the transportation company thought we were leaving the day we wanted to come home. I’m just glad they got it straightened out because we invited the Masons to come along with us and we haven’t had great luck traveling with the Masons in the past.

We arrived a little later than we intended and were quite surprised at the amount of sand that can accumulate in a house left untended for six months. Granted, Ain Sokhna is basically in the middle of a barren desert and there is a lot of sand to blow through all the little cracks you didn’t know you had in your door jam and windows.

It took us quite a while to get everything swept up and in order.

And then Andrew turned on the water. Yikes!

A pipe in the master bathroom ruptured and water was gushing out, flooding the bathroom, and spraying the walls. He turned off the water after Melissa discovered where the water was coming from, but the water kept spraying all over the place. Luckily, we found a security guard nearby and he came in and shut off the water to only the sink so the rest of the bathroom would still be usable, and called a plumber for us.

It was an interesting way to start our vacation, but these things happen right?

By this time it was getting late, so we started on dinner. We brought the ingredients for a pancake dinner (Andrew’s favorite) and Andrew did most of the work while I laid down to rest.

Everyone, especially Andrew, was so nice about letting me rest whenever I wanted, which was great! Rachel isn’t so keen on letting me rest, but with Finn around to play with and no other distractions for Daddy, I got a lot of resting done. Sometimes a pregnant lady just needs to kick her feet up, I think. But I’m spoiled so I’m not sure how much my opinion counts.

We ate dinner, put the kiddos to bed, cleaned up, and played games until we wanted to go to bed. It was a very relaxing evening. For me. And I think everyone else enjoyed it as well.

Neither Rachel or Finn slept very well that night, so all the grown-ups were fairly groggy in the morning, but we decided to hit the beach, anyway.

The condo isn’t technically right on the beach and the resort is huge so it takes about a half hour to walk to the beach. Luckily there is a little bus that goes around to shuttle people to and from the beach. It’s open-air and had park benches instead of seats, but when a free ride is offered, you take it without complaint.

We were excited to finally get to the Red Sea. Truthfully, both of our previous Red Sea experiences (Aqaba and Hurghada) were a little lame. We were a little wary of what we would find so set our expectations rather low.

The great thing about setting low expectations is that they are easily exceeded. Ours definitely were. The beach was amazing!



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I was a little worried, at first, about all the jellyfish carcasses scattered on the beach but since we didn’t see any in the water I relaxed some. I still looked very carefully before I stepped anywhere or let Rachel down to play, which is probably a good thing because Patrick ended up stepping on a rather spiny shell and it got stuck in his foot.

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Still, I was nervous about meeting a jellyfish since most of the stories I’d heard about jellyfish encounters were somewhat dramatic. Mostly I’m recalling some story from the Reader’s Digest that I read years ago. Some species of jellyfish really can kill you, but since this was a private beach and no one else was concerned about the jellyfish I figured that I shouldn’t be, either. Plus, Melissa said she had been stung by several jellyfish and it hurts a little but it’s not too bad. Her parents used to bring meat tenderizer to the beach because that, apparently, helps relieve the sting. Who knew?

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I did end up being touched by a dead jellyfish that was washing up to shore during high tide later in the evening. And I survived and everything.

I spent a good part of the morning, however, munching on animal crackers instead of playing. Rachel and Finn were both rather afraid of the water, so they sat with me and ate crackers for a while.

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Eventually the water called to us, though, and we waded out. The tide was so low and Rachel and Finn were able to walk out several hundreds of feet without the water passing their bellybuttons. Or they would have, had they let us put them down.

There were big sandbars far off shore that we could play on. Rachel didn’t like the waves at all, but once Andrew showed her that she could play in the mud she was as happy as a clam.

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They built a mosque together. Rachel is fascinated with mosques and builds them all the time. Anytime she builds a block tower or a sand castle and you ask her what it is, chances are high that she’ll answer that it’s a mosque.

Their tower building soon gave way to mud flinging.

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And then this…

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I’m not sure who came up with this game, but they were both really into it. They’re pushing the sand/mud. And they found it thrilling. I guess it’s one of those things you just had to be there for because I don’t see the appeal. I was just the photographer.

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We had fun but we were all exhausted (from Rachel and Finn not sleeping very well) and headed back to the condo for lunch and naps. That’s a great thing about staying so close to the beach. You don’t have to feel guilty about leaving in the middle of the day to take a (much-needed) break.

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Rachel and Finn and I slept for about 3 hours. I think Melissa might have taken a nap as well, but I wasn’t keeping track of her. Andrew and Patrick went off on an adventure to get the new beach cards for 2009 since we had the beach cards from 2007 and essentially sneaked onto the beach. Oops.

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Rachel slept on a cot for about half of the night (each night), as well as all through her (singular) nap. I was impressed that she didn’t fall off the bed once. I put towels down on the ground to soften the blow in the event of a fall, but she never did. She did wake up and demand to join us in our bed, but she never fell. I think that’s thanks to how deeply the cot dips toward the center.

After naptime we blew bubbles until our daddies came back to the condo with the new beach cards. Then we struck off for the beach again.

Rachel and Finn were even more concerned about the water this time. The tide had come in and swallowed our sandbars and the waves were much more violent than they had been that morning (though still pretty mild).

Andrew and Patrick built a little wall to keep out the sea and invited Rachel to play behind the wall so that she would be safe.

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We coaxed her off the dry sand onto the wet sand and she sat, observing the wall for a few minutes.

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Finn and Daddy were on the other side of the wall, though, and it was soon breached.

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Rachel had such a fun time playing with her daddy, even though she was still grumpy about the water. She probably would have been more pleased if we took her to a giant sandbox; she’s so used to living in the desert. Essentially it is a giant sandbox…just a little wet.

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She wore Andrew out! He could hardly keep his eyes open while we were sitting in the beach chairs to dry off.

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As I said, the beach is nice. It’s private and so the beach chairs and umbrellas were free for our use, especially in the morning when we were practically alone on the beach. Arabs, as a general rule, are not early risers.

There was quite the array of swimwear, too, and so I didn’t feel embarrassed at all to be wearing a Western bathing suit. Girls were dressed in swimsuits ranging from burkinis to bikinis, so I fell in modest middle-ground. Boys, likewise, could be found wearing anything from skimpy European Speedos to board shorts.

That was nice, because I did feel out of place while swimming in Aqaba. But not so at the Dead Sea (see here, here, or here). I suppose the difference is that at Aqaba we swam at a cheap, somewhat-public beach, while at both the Dead Sea and the Red Sea we used resorts. More expats and rich Arabs are prone to use resorts, rather than use cheap or free beaches. Expats wear what they would wear at home and rich Arabs (dare I generalize this boldly) tend to allow more freedom from tradition.

That’s not to say that all rich Arabs dress scandalously at the beach. Several girls were fully veiled/covered while swimming, which was fine with me. And there were a few girls in bikinis, though not nearly as many as you would find in Europe or North America or South America or probably anywhere else in the world.

I saw a little girl, probably around 8, wearing a bikini and being tended by her older sisters, who were fully veiled. I thought that was an interesting thing. I dress Rachel according to my modesty standards, so she doesn’t wear bikinis, even though she’s not of age and could have run around stark naked and no one on the beach would have batted an eye. But this family, that apparently encouraged older girls to veil, felt it appropriate for their younger girls to be, in my mind, dressed immodestly. I won’t say that’s wrong, but it certainly surprised me!

One of Melissa’s favorite things were these, for lack of a better word, thugs dressed in matching tank tops. They hung around the gate to the beach all day so we’re pretty sure they were bouncers of sorts, and they did look fairly tough, so that’s possible.

They rode the shuttle with us for a little ways and Melissa couldn’t stop laughing. And she wasn’t silently snickering, either. She was laughing out loud, uncontrollably.

The biggest guy, you see, was wearing a skin-tight, black-and-white striped wife-beater. He was huge. His arms were probably almost as big around as my waist and fully tattooed. And his pecks were absolutely bulging. Pure muscle.

His shirt was decaled with a scripty English font reading, “Softball.”

His cronies, meanwhile, were dressed similarly in black wife-beaters striped in green, orange, purple, and turquoise. They lacked the softball emblem and the tattoos and a lot of the bulk, but they were all rather intimidating.

The mere idea of this burly, tattooed bouncer on a softball team, however, was cracking Melissa up. She laughed the whole ride and they knew she was laughing at them, too. Every time one of them would look at her she’d burst out laughing again.

I thought for sure they were going to follow us home and beat us up or something, but they didn’t. When we saw them again hanging around the gate at the beach the next day we were led to the theory that they were employed by the resort to maintain peace and order, or something along those lines, so beating up the residents probably wouldn’t be very good job security for them.

When we got home we all rinsed off in the showers and the Masons made a wonderful spaghetti dinner. We played more games and read books until we decided to go to bed. And we had sufficiently worn out the children so we actually go a decent night’s rest!

Fringe Benefits

We were talking about a week ago—I don’t remember about what but it was probably about how lame we were that we had no plans for Easter break, which was a week and a half long—and I mentioned to Andrew that my favorite vacation was probably the trip we went on with his family to San Diego last summer. I liked it for a lot of reasons:

1) Karen rented a condo that was (almost) right on the beach. I love the beach and we spent all day there, often.

1a) I don’t really like staying in hotels. I hate the idea of someone snooping through my stuff, especially someone I don’t know, even if they are only cleaning up after me. That was another nice thing about staying at the condo.

2) We ate in a lot, and I didn’t even help with much of the cooking because I was usually off nursing Rachel or putting her to bed while dinner preparations were going on. I don’t really like eating out (every once in a while is nice but I like eating at home better).

3) Our schedule was very relaxed. We could take off to visit my relatives or simply hang out on the beach. We did plan a few excursions, like the temple trip, Lego Land, and Sea World…but the whole itinerary was simple and relaxed.

4) Andrew’s parents paid for the whole thing. I don’t think this point needs any further explanation.

There are more reasons, but I think you get the idea. I liked that vacation set-up.

So, Andrew and I talked about that and I thought that was that. It was just something we talked about because it came up in conversation and I could probably forget about having another vacation like that for a long while because we’re stuck in Egypt and things like that don’t happen when you’re stuck in Egypt, without money, and are far, far away from both your family and Disneyland.

A few days later (maybe even the next day…I can’t remember) Andrew waltzed in through the front door waving a set of keys in the air triumphantly. He had just returned home from tutoring.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“You know how you were saying that your favorite vacation was at the condo on the beach…?” he trailed off and jingled the keys.

“Yes,” I said. Of course I remembered.

“I’m holding the keys to a condo on a beach.”

“You’re kidding!”

Turns out he wasn’t kidding. The family he tutors for rents a condo at Stella di Mare near Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea. And, get this, they hardly ever use it! They haven’t been since October!

After asking what our plans were for the break and finding that we had none, Mr. Rose ran around his house producing keys, paperwork, sheets, and towels. He told us to go “check on” the condo for them, pay any bills that needed to be paid (which he’d reimburse us for), and have a good time.

That? Totally rocks!

So that’s how we ended up spending 3 days at a beach house on the Red Sea. And since we’ve been invited to visit as often as we would like, I hope it’s the first of many times.

Everyone has a pet sin, right?

Pet sins are perhaps the most difficult to get rid of and the answer why is simple: because we like the sin. Rachel enjoys her Sin so much, you might call them buddies. She's going to have a hard time when she has to give her Sin up.

We just got back from spending the weekend with the Masons on the Red Sea. Rachel made up a new nickname for Finn, like she does for most of her little buddies. She calls him Sin and we've been joking about that all weekend.

She walks around yelling his name, "Si-in! Sin! Sin! SIN!"

At times she sounded like an evangelical preacher, but other times she sounded more like the devil that sits on your left shoulder and urges you to sin.

"Umon, Sin!" (Translation: Come on, Sin!)

And we couldn't help but make fun.

"Uh-oh! Rachel pulled a Sin!" and "Do you love Sin, Rachel?" were just a few of the many jokes we cracked.

It's kind of a humorous nickname, I think, but I wouldn't recommend actually naming a child Sin.

This weekend Rachel also started saying "No-not," which is an infamous quote by her friend Sam, who she calls Mas. Sometimes when she's really serious she'll say, "No, no, no, no, NO-NOT!!"

We thought the timing for this was a little odd considering she hasn't seen Sam since we babysat the Lewises a week and a half ago. I happen to think it's hilarious, though, and we already know the opposite of "no-not" because the Lewises already figured it out. It's "yes-do!" So whenever Rachel says "no-not" we say "yes-do." Still, I don't know why she chose this weekend to start saying that when it's been so long since her last exposure to Sam.

Rachel also learned how to say my name this weekend. Being around Melissa and Patrick (not my brother, but Finn's dad and Melissa's husband), Rachel heard a lot more of my name than she ever has in her life because, oddly enough, Melissa and Patrick don't call me Mommy or Honey. It was a little strange to hear "Nancy" coming out of Rachel's mouth; I don't think she ever clued in that Nancy meant me but it was still strange to hear.

Also, we discovered that, like my little brother Patrick, Rachel likes necks. She spent about half of her nights at the Red Sea on a cot--and she didn't fall out of bed once, which I thought was impressive. It's hard to sleep in a new place though, so when she would wake up and discover, much to her elation, that Mommy and Daddy were asleep in the same room she was in, she would demand to come in bed with us.

There she would cup her hands around my neck until she was calmed down and then she would stroke and kiss my neck until she fell asleep. It dawned on me one night, while I was trying to get her to stop kissing me and go to sleep, that she's been doing that a lot lately, even during the day. When she's scared she grabs my neck. When she's happy she kisses my neck. When she's sad she strokes my neck. When I carry her and ask her to hold on she takes both hands and cups them around my neck...but only in the front so she's not really holding on. She loves necks.

Patrick loved necks when he was little, too.

When Rachel is alone and needs comfort, though, she turns to her bellybutton. She'd rub her bellybutton off if that were possible. She plays with it when she's bored or scared or lonely. When we put her in zippered footed pyjamas she unzips them to her navel so she can play with it in her sleep.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Day

Rachel and I woke up rather late on Easter morning. She didn’t open her Easter basket until around 11:30…mostly because I woke up at around 11:20 and put it together right before waking her up for the day. Sometimes a good sleep-in is a wonderful thing.

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The candy was all from Lydia (thanks, Lydia!). Rachel totally scored. She got both Cars eggs and Princess eggs, Candy Eggs (like conversation hearts only eggs), and some Easter-themed tootsie pops. The candy eggs were her favorite thing to eat, although her favorite thing to do was open the plastic eggs.

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She also got a kaleidoscope and some little bouncy-balls on string, neither of which she understood how to use very well. We confiscated those and are planning on putting them in her basket for next year. We’re stingy like that.

From us she got a set of bunny bowling pins. Instead of bowling she just threw the ball at the pins.

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After we had gotten up and dressed, went through our Easter baskets, and had some brunch other than candy, we went to the Masons to dye eggs for the Annual Heiss Family Easter Egg Smackdown.

Rachel was a little reluctant to look at me or smile for the camera and you might notice the tear running down her cheek, even though she’s holding a crayon and coloring on an Easter egg.

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That’s because of this little guy:

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Finn was absolutely tormenting Rachel. He was pushing her and pulling her hair and stealing her toys. He doesn’t really look the type to play the bullying part, does he?

In the end there was a little bit of role reversal and Rachel ended up dominating the play scene and pushing Finn around a bit. From watching them you’d think the two of them never got together to play with each other, let alone with any other children. In truth they play together a couple of times a week—let alone the time they spend with different friends.

By now they should be able to get along but for whatever reason they end up bugging each other most of the time. It probably comes with the age…

I’ll have to get more pictures of our Easter Egg Smackdown 2009 from the Masons because our camera battery died after doing a few mug shots. Here are all the eggs we decorated. I did Humpty Dumpty and Pooh Bear. Rachel did the egg with Rachel written on it (she wanted to dye her egg rrrrwwwwwed!). Melissa did Nemo and the Scream Egg. Finn’s egg is the blue one called Bunny. Ummm…Andrew did a #1 egg and a #2 egg. Patrick did Yo Mamma, ND, and Psych-egg-delic. The Mummy egg is Melissa’s. And the one with the star is Andrew’s I think. I’ll have to check the bracket for the other names.

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I believe ND ended up winning, which wasn’t really a surprise. Patrick seems to win every game or competition held in some form or another. Only one egg ended up splitting in half, which was kind of a disappointment, but it meant that we could salvage more of the eggs for deviled eggs.

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That was kind of embarrassing. I hadn’t realized that other people were coming for dinner and that we’d be serving the mangled Easter Egg Smackdown Eggs to the rest of the company. No one seemed to mind, though.

The Lindsays (the humanitarian missionaries serving here) came over, as well as Joseph (an Egyptian member) and David (a Nigerian member). Sammi was there as well; she lives with the Masons and it was very interesting to have her there since she is Jewish. I’ve never celebrated Easter with a Jew before.

So while we ate our ham and Sammi ate her chicken, we learned all about Seder. Then Joseph told us about how his mom would kill a chicken on Easter and smear its blood on their door and how their egg-cracking traditions worked. Then David told us about how they get two weeks of vacation in Nigeria for Easter and how people go home and spend the whole vacation with their families, if they can. And Melissa told us about the casacarones traditional in her family.

The conversation never got dull.

After dinner we played on the Wii and watched in amazement as David, who had never played a gaming system in his life, skunked us all in bowling. He said it was very similar to how he would aim rocks at trees to knock down the “balls from the rubber trees.” He certainly had a different childhood than we did! I haven’t ever seen a rubber tree, let alone thrown rocks at one for fun.

David can be a little difficult to understand for us. He has a very strong Nigerian accent and sometimes it sounds like he isn’t speaking English at all. I had to laugh when I overheard him telling Patrick,

“You have to slow down, Patrick. It is difficult for me to understand the way you speak English.”

How many times have I wanted to tell David the exact same thing!

We had a wonderful Easter with our friends and even were able to sneak off for a few minutes and Skype with our families back home.

Rachel was so tired that she fell asleep on the way home. At least, I think she fell asleep on the way home. I have a sneaking suspicion that she didn’t actually fall asleep but really wanted to be asleep because although her eyes were closed she was very helpful and cooperative about getting into her pyjamas. She offered one leg and then the other and even held her bum off the bed so that I could pull her pants up around her hips. The whole time her eyes were closed and she didn’t make a peep.  At least she wasn’t fussing!

Happy Easter, everyone!