Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wow! Airplane!

Rachel's at the stage where she likes to examine her poopies after going potty to see what shape they're in. Usually she declares that they look like bananas.

"Nana poopoo!" she'll say.

The other day, though, she pooped a mighty poop. When she looked in the potty she didn't see a mere banana. What she saw was much, much bigger than a banana. She thought for a moment before speaking, probably trying to think of the word for the biggest thing she knew.

"Wow! Airplane!" she said in amazement.

At least she's doing her airplane-sized poopies in the toilet...

Some things are just bigger than expected.

Like last night when we were reading in the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 50 took us a few nights to read. We found it too long for a two-year-old to sit through in one evening, so we broke it up into a few sections, which is really easy to do in the D&C. Since everything is already nicely divided in the chapter summary we don't have to go through all the work to find a good, memorable stopping place.

We opened the scriptures and looked for where we had left off on page 93 in the most recent edition (1981, printed 2006) of the triple combination. Verse 44 goes like this,

"Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall."

That's the last verse on page 93 and it was where we had ended reading the night before. We thought we had finished the section.

"Well, we finished this section last night," said Andrew and, turning the page, he began reading section 51.

I looked over, though, and noticed there was some writing above the section heading. 3 little lines of text...of the previous chapter. We had missed reading 28 words of section 50. If only we had turned the page when we were "finished" reading instead of just putting the bookmark in.

Some things are just bigger than you expect, I guess.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

19 week appointment

My cell phone rang at around noon today.

"Hello," I answered.

"Hello?" the person on the other end said.

"Hello,"

"Hello."

"Hello."

"Hello, I am wanting to speak with Mrs. Nancy."

"This is she."

"This is Degla Medical Center. You have appointment today at 1 PM. I just want to remember you."

"Thank you."

I am flattered that they just wanted to remember me. It's always nice to be remembered. And I know I sound just like that when I speak Arabic (and any other language). Still, it's a cute mistake to make, I think.

When they got to the clinic, a nurse informed me very matter-of-factly that I am expecting.

"You are pregnant." She stated with no inflection.

"Yes, I am," I agreed because I was pretty sure that she meant to put a question mark in there.

"You need to take urine," she said, pressing a cup into my hands.

This is the only clinic I've ever been to that is strictly BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper) and I always forget that. Luckily they believe in paper towels.

The appointment went well. This was the first time that Rachel didn't start crying when she saw Dr. Tarek. I think she's officially figured out that the appointments are for me and not her. She cheerfully greeted him when we entered the room and then we all sat down to chat for a few minutes before the nurse came in to help me onto the examination table.

As part of an experiment, I decided to wear full-length pants today. Last time I wore short pants/floods/capris/whatever and I was covered in a sheet. I thought maybe it had to do with my ankles showing. I was wrong because today I was completely covered and then got covered again. I guess it's just something that happens here no matter what.

Everything's fine. Fundal height is normal, BP is normal, and the baby has a strong heart beat. We're scheduled for an ultrasound next week, so keep guessing!

Friday, May 29, 2009

We are now accepting guesses...

Do you believe
In the one big sign--
The triple-striped design
Proving a girl is next in line?

Or, do you believe
That we'll break out in blue--
The Old Wives' tales are true
And it's a boy for number two?

Is a she kicking my rib cage?
Is a he joining our brood?
Is this baby a dudette?
Or will we call the kid dude?

We are now accepting guesses...
For this beautiful...
Pending Heissling

I know I already wrote a Flashback Friday post and that this is really a post calling for gender guesses, but when I was in elementary school my friend Nadia and I would always write parodies to songs. We thought we were pretty clever. My favorite was "Let's talk about Sesame Street," based on a certain song by Salt-n-Pepa, which I don't think I ever actually heard in all my whole life and will remain unstated to protect the innocents who read this blog...but it was released in 1991 when I was six years old, just 3 years before Nadia and I wrote a parody of it. That was enough time for the "melody" (if hip hop has such a thing) and lyrics to circulate around an elementary school. It was a controversial song. Controversial songs tend to circulate.

Let's talk about Sesame Street
Let's talk about Big Bird's feet
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things Oscar eats.
Let's talk about...Sesame Street.

Yeah, we were just that cool and I had so much fun that I actually never stopped writing parodies. Kind of a lame hobby, I guess, but it's also fun. Sometimes I still think I'm rather clever and I force my lyrics onto other people, like today. (It was a song by Cake, in case you didn't recognize it).

We have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. We still don't have an ultrasound scheduled but are planning on finding out the gender and since I'm coming up on 19 weeks we figure that will probably happen sooner rather than later. I haven't actually really looked at those Old Wives' tales--I don't know if I'm carrying higher or lower; I've felt sicker (I think) with this pregnancy; I crave sweet and salty about equally (maybe more sweets, to be honest); I like sleep--so I don't actually know if they're applicable or not.

We are happy either way.

I put a poll on the side so you can guess there and/or leave a comment including more details (day, weight, time, etc.). If you're right we'll say congratulations...that's all we're promising.

Flashback Friday: Cheers!

We spent our honeymoon in Italy--Rome, mostly. I had already purchased a ticket to Europe when Andrew proposed to me and some very nice people at Reid's work chipped in to buy Andrew a ticket so that we could go together. It was definitely a honeymoon on a budget.

To clarify how much of a budget we were on, we didn't only rely on the kindness of donations for airplane tickets. We relied on much, much more than just that. We also spent several days in Vicenza (in Northern Italy "by" Milano but much closer to Verona and Venice, both places we visited) housed in the Eldredges' basement. During our layover in London we visited my friend Andrea, and it was a good thing, too, because I don't think we could have afforded a bite to eat if we hadn't been invited to dine at her place. More than one night was spent lounging sleepily on airport furniture while waiting for our red-eye flights (because those are cheaper).

Honeymooning in Europe might sound romantic, but honeymooning in Europe on a budget was not, let me tell you.

Ostia Antica-10Us in Ostia Antica

When we were in Rome we splurged, even though there were several families that we could have stayed with, and booked a double room in Two Ducks Hostel, a relatively cheap stay compared with an actual hotel. Since we had booked it through a separate company we ended up getting a better deal than what is offered on their website. It was cheap and was advertised as a private double room with continental breakfast. We had to share a bathroom, but we could live with that. We booked it.

Oh, boy!Me front

Finding the hostel was easy as pie. Andrew had spent about 15 months of his mission in Rome so had gotten to know the city fairly well. The hostel is within walking distance of the Termini train station on Via Calatafimi. We walked straight there after a rather awkward run-in with some of Andrew's missionary buddies at the train station. Termini happens to be the main hub for transfers to take place and we happened to show up there on the 2nd transfer after Andrew returned home. We weren't as confused to see so many missionaries there (once we figured out what was going on) as they were seeing model-of-goodness Elder Heiss in street clothes, holding hands with a girl.

Future companions in RomeAndrew and Anz. Durand Us in the Forum

Andrew and companions in Roman Forum

Us in the Roman Forum

The hostel wasn't quite what we were expecting. It consists of a cramped and dank apartment on the second or third floor of an apartment building, run by Romanians. We aren't picky when it comes to hotels, though, so we went to check in, anyway, assuming that we would get our private double room we had booked.

The "desk" manager, a young man who sat behind a desk that blocked so much of the hallway that we had to turn sideways to slip past, led us back to our room and explained the intricacies of forcing the door to open, turning the air conditioner on and off, what time breakfast would be served, and where the bathrooms were located (across the hall). Everything looked in order.
As the young man was turning to leave I noticed a little cot in the corner of our room.

"What's the extra bed for?" I asked.

"That is my bed," he answered.

"But we asked for a private double room." Andrew said.

"This is private. I sleep here. You sleep there. I have a key. You have a key. It's private, see?"

"But we're on our honeymoon," Andrew explained.

Needless to say, our room was vacated and we spent our first Christmas together at Two Ducks Hostel in relative agony--sleepless and uncomfortable. The beds were nothing more than glorified cots, which we could have dealt with just fine (since glorified cots are much more comfortable than airport chairs) if it hadn't been for the noise. They were nothing like the well-decorated rooms we saw in the pictures, but we could also deal with hideous orange quilts.

Hostel-2Andrew on Two Ducks Hostel bed

Say what you will about Americans as tourists--they are loud and obnoxious, etc., etc., etc.,--and I will probably agree with you but, honestly, as bad as Americans are, I think Australians might just be worse. There was a group of Australians staying at the hostel the same time we were and they brought loud-and-obnoxious to a whole new level. We could hear every word they said all night long.

One conversation, between the desk manager and a drunk(?) Australian girl, was particularly memorable. She had used the word "cheers" when talking with him. He was confused about it so she was attempting to teach him how to say it. Since she was Australian, though, she didn't pronounce the letter r the way the young Romanian gentleman was expecting and "cheers" came out sounding like "ches," more approximate to the French "chaise" than the American English "cheers."

"Cheers!" she said, much too chipper for 3 AM, "It's like how we say ta-ta, or goodbye! You know, cheers!"

"Ches," he repeated, "Like ches for mouse?"

"No, not cheese," she giggled heinously, "Cheers!"

Cheese. Cheers. What's the difference?

Andrew and I burst out laughing in our room. She had obviously muddled the poor man's brain. Now he was under the impression that Australians bid each other a fond farewell by saying cheese. The way she said cheese and the way she said cheers was completely indistinguishable to his ears and barely distinguishable to ours.

We still quote that, by the way. Just today when we were having lunch after church Andrew offered me some cheese.

"Would you like some cheese?" he asked in what was either his best Romanian or best Australian accent, "Like cheese for mouse?"

Us in Ostia Antica

So our honeymoon wasn't as romantic as we may have been hoping for, but who needs romance when you're making memories? It's too bad we lost so many of our pictures. Andrew reformatted his laptop after we had downloaded our pictures but before we had backed them up and we're missing a large chunk our our honeymoon documentation, including a picture of us kissing on a bridge in Venice by a sign that said, "Cheeser." Or something like that. I can’t remember, quite, because we don’t have the picture. But you get the point. We were laughing about it then and we still laugh about it now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nilometer, Umm Kulthum, and Fresh Fruit

This semester has been so busy and crazy—we’ve hardly had time to do anything fun (in Cairo). Between all the time Andrew spent writing and all the time I spent sleeping we had no time left over. Andrew has a two week break before the summer semester starts, a good portion of which we already spent while we were too sick to do much.

Today we decided that we should (finally) get out and do something, so we headed off to Roda. Andrew wanted to get his ISIC so that we don’t have to haggle to get the student rate at tourist sites, so that was the first item on our itinerary. I had already been, so I took him right there without getting lost or anything. He was impressed that we made it because I have no sense of direction, but I am good at recognizing landmarks so it all works out.

After we did that, we headed out to visit the Nilometer and the Umm Kulthum Museum. Roda is a relatively small island so everything is fairly close and we were able to walk from the metro to all our destinations. I was tempted to go find the hospital just so that we’d know where it was, but we didn’t.

The Nilometer is in the same complex as the Umm Kulthum Museum. It costs 8 LE to visit, at the student price, and was pretty cool.

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There is a roof over the Nilometer and the ceiling is absolutely stunning, as most ceilings here are. It was destroyed by Napoleon and then rebuilt in the Farouk-era (sometime before the 1950s).

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Getting a picture of the ceiling was a little difficult since the Nilometer is essentially a huge, gaping hole with stairs circling down to the bottom and a huge column in the middle. To make guests feel more secure about looking down such a tremendous depth, they've gone through the effort to construct a rickety guardrail around the Nilometer. Since it shook when Rachel was leaning against it, I didn’t feel very comfortable bending over it to look either down or up.

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The column is marked in cubits to show the level of the Nile. Enough rise in depth was cause for celebration because it meant their crops would be watered and they’d have a good harvest; too much rise was cause for panic since it meant that flooding would most likely be devastating.

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We read afterwards that we could have bribed the guard to go all the way to the bottom, which would have been really neat. We’ll have to do that next time, although it’s quite a long ways down to the bottom and there is no railing so I don’t think I would want Rachel going up and down those stairs.

She kept calling it a swimming pool, even though it hasn’t been in use for almost a century and is as dry as a bone. She also called the Nile a swimming pool. We went and sat in the shade by the Nile behind the Nilometer after we’d gone inside.

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Rachel was fine if she was standing on the ground or sitting on my lap while I was sitting on the wall, but when we sat her on the wall by herself she got a little nervous.

“Ahh! Hep! Fauning! Bid swimmin’ poo!” she screamed the whole time she was on the wall. “Ahh! Help! Falling! Big swimming pool!”

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Even though the wall was a good 3 feet wide, she was sure she was going to fall in, poor girl. At least she knows that she can’t really swim yet!

IMG_9453 When we were all fully rested and hydrated, we wandered back to the Umm Kulthum Museum, which was a real treat, not because the museum was anything to write home about, per se, but because it was nicely air conditioned.

Umm Kulthum is a rather legendary Egyptian singer/actress. People still love her, worship her as a star, and listen to her music. There is a street named after her on Zamalek. Everyone knows who she is, even small children. And she died in 1975 so it’s been a while since she’s done anything new.

The museum was a small tribute to her, housing a few of the gowns she performed in, some scarves and sunglasses, awards, records, contracts, pictures, phonographs, and instruments of hers.

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IMG_9503Music was playing the whole time, which we discovered came from a room showing clips of her singing. Some of her songs—songs, mind you, not performances—were over 2 hours long. I can’t imagine singing for that long!

Rachel couldn’t even sit still for a picture…let alone listen to a whole song that long. She was a blur in every picture we tried to take! Andrew wanted to turn the flash on but the conservationist inside me told him he’d better not. This museum, although small, was clean and they seemed to at least be making efforts to preserve the artifacts, which is more than I can say for other museums we’ve seen here.

There were some statues in the yard surrounding the museum. Some of them were interesting, others rather ugly. Our favorite was one that looked kind of like a treble clef, only made of a music staff. One side had Arabic writing on it, the other side had English.

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We crossed the Nile by the museum because there was an interesting-looking bridge, and because we figured that we could just walk along the Korniche to get back to the Malek al-Saleh metro stop, which is where we got off to come to Roda.

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The Nile is so pretty in Roda. I guess it’s kind of pretty in Maadi, too, but Roda seems to have better landscaping along the banks. Maybe that’s because there aren’t a bunch of restaurant/tourist traps that dump all their rubbish into the river instead of letting it go directly to Garbage City. It was much more lush and tropical. We enjoyed looking at the trees and watching the storks from the bridge.

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When we were on the bridge, however, we realized that we’d have to walk all the way to the bridge you see in the picture (and beyond) to get to the Malek al-Saleh station. We wondered if Mar Girgis wasn’t as close, if not closer, from where we were.

We ended up following some guy, who said he was headed that way, through a residential area where we got bombarded by children playing soccer. Sometimes young teenage/pre-teenage boys are the worst people to run into.

Andrew was walking ahead of me, carrying Rachel, and trying to keep pace with the man we were trying to follow. I was dawdling behind in that “I’ve been walking all day and did I mention I’m 18 weeks pregnant” way. The boys started waving their hands in my face and pulling on the backpack I was wearing and on Rachel’s sippy cup, which I was holding.

After I’d made my way through most of them, one of them pelted the soccer ball at me. It whizzed past me, barely missing my head. I turned around and glared at them and was about to shame them by pronouncing a pox on their household or something like that when a nice man who was sitting on his front porch (read: strip of sidewalk less than 1 foot wide, on which he was precariously balancing a stool) stood up and berated the boys on my behalf. They all ran up to me and apologized profusely before going back to their game.

He probably did a much better job at telling the kids off than I would have. The only “mean” thing I really know how to say is “Ya haram!” which basically means “Oh, for shame!” or “Shame on you!”

Yeah, that would have showed ‘em not to mess with me.

Other than that, it was a nice, quiet walk. I would have loved to take some pictures but we didn’t want to lose our guide; we’ll have to go back. There were dogs standing on roofs, buildings that had crumbled to a pile of ruble and were now being used as garbage dumps, a bright blue mosque, and many other interesting things.

We ended up crossing a bridge and landing right in Coptic Cairo, just meters away from the Mar Girgis metro station. It took hardly any time at all and we didn’t have to cross and highly congested and dangerous roads.

Since we still had a half hour until Coptic Cairo closed, we went into the gardens and let Rachel play around for a while before catching the train home.

Next time we have company we definitely plan on doing Coptic Cairo and the Nilometer (and Umm Kulthum, too, for the music aficionados) on the same trip. Who knew they were so close and connected by such an interesting walk?

We got off the metro a stop early so that we could buy some fruit on our way home. They finally have local grapes available for sale. Foreign grapes are so expensive but you can buy local grapes for $1.50-$2.00 per kilo, depending on which kind you buy (some are more expensive than others).

We were wondering when the grapes were going to show up!

Andrew suggested that perhaps they didn’t actually grow grapes here. I told him not to be ridiculous. They have many local dishes that use grape leaves, so obviously they grow grapes. He then suggested that maybe they export all their grapes and keep the leaves to use locally since no one else wants them.

I agreed that no one else probably wanted the grape leaves—grape leaves are right up there with mulukhiya; my taste buds don’t exactly enjoy either—but I voiced how ridiculous I thought the notion of exporting the entire good-tasting part of the plant was.

Our fruit vendor, The Tree, had local grapes available today. We didn’t know that, though, so we bought them (probably overpriced) at Metro Market when we stopped to recharge our phone minutes. We’ve been eating them all evening, though, and they’re so good and relatively inexpensive so we’ll have to go back to get more!

My favorite thing about the local produce is that when it is in season it tastes so good. The tomatoes taste sun ripe and garden fresh. The grapes taste like the grapes that grow on my parents’ backyard fence—sweet and warm. We buy our bananas off a huge cluster that hangs by the fruit stand. Nothing’s been picked early and left to ripen in a box while being shipped halfway across the country only to sit in the grocery store for weeks under florescent lights until someone buys it.

Our fruits and veggies are fresh and sit out ripening in the sun all day. That, of course, also has its drawbacks. The fruit doesn’t last long, sometimes the root vegetables taste a little too “earthy,” and the imported fruit seems to be of the lowest available quality.

When the fruit’s good, it is very good indeed, but when it is bad, it is horrid. *

We also bought some Lebanese cherries which we need to try. Soon.

While we were walking home I made Andrew stop and take a picture of this tree because I thought it was pretty. It’s absolutely huge and is covered in bright red-orange blossoms.

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Today was a good day. It’s days like today that make me remember that living here isn’t that bad, even without a dishwasher, and that I’ll be able to survive another year.

* Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Allo? Allo?

More often than not our land line phone remains silent. Sometimes I forget that we even have it...and then it rings and I remember. I'm always a little apprehensive about answering it because, unlike with my cellphone, there is no way to tell who is on the other end. Or if we'll be able to communicate anything worthwhile.

I answer the phone like this,

"Hello?"

That's a fairly normal way to answer the phone in most places and in most languages, I think. Technically I suppose I should say "Allo?" because that's more universal but "Hello?" is pretty darn close to that and branch members seem confused when I say "Allo?" and they're on the other end.

If it does happen to be an American on the other end, the speaker will usually say,

"Hi! This is so-and-so. I was wondering..."

And the conversation continues without anyone getting frustrated.

If it's an Egyptian on the other end, though, both parties end up pretty short fused. I just don't know how to have an Arabic telephone conversation because I expect the person calling to start the conversation because, after all, they're the ones who called.

"Hello?" I answer.

"Allo?" They respond with an equally questioning tone.

Maybe they didn't hear me. I repeat, "Hello?"

"Allo."

"Hi."

"Allo."

"Yes, hello."

"Allo."

"Allo."

"Allo."

"Hello."

"Allo."

By this time I'm ready to hang up. And yet I keep going. Since we conduct business over the phone there is a slight possibility it could be someone important. What if it's the doctor's office or something? Clearly, I can't hang up, but I do need to find out what the speaker needs to tell me. How do I get the information out of them?

Usually I do this by asking questions that seem rude to me.

"Who are you?"

"Degla Medical Center calling, ma'am."

"What are you calling about?"

"We need change appointment."

Why on earth didn't you say so 50 salutations ago?

It makes me feel rude to have to pry information out of callers. You'd think they'd be willing to at least tell me why they're calling. But they aren't. It's my job to pry out every little detail and basically give them permission to speak. Didn't I already grant permission by picking up the phone? Do I need to say, "Hello. Permission to speak granted. Please state your name and business."? That just sounds awkward.

Do you know what is even more awkward? Sometimes they act like this in real life, too.

Yesterday the telephone repairmen came over. Again. When your telephone wires are twisted together outside and are held together with masking tape you tend to need the repairmen a lot. Why? Because I'm not willing to climb around our rat-infested balcony looking for where the wire is broken.

They showed up at my door and knocked, ever so softly. I answered, "Hello?"

We stared at each other for a long time.

Finally I broke the ice, "Who are you?"

"We are telephone repair man."

"Come in."

Hard to know who you should and shouldn't invite into the house when your husband's not home if they're dressed in street clothes. Of course, the fact that they were carrying a plastic bag from some random store (full of supplies) and a Winnie the Pooh notebook probably should have tipped them off as telephone repairmen. Very professional. They could have been anybody.

They spent the next hour asking permission to do everything.

Before they'd come through the doorway from the kitchen/bathroom area of the house to the rest of the house they'd call out to me.

"Ma'am?"

"Yes,"

"Ma'am?"

"Yes, what?"

"Ma'am?"

"Yes,"

"Ma'am?"

"What do you need?"

"May I come?"

"Yes."

And then they'd come into the living room. By the time they were ready to leave I was almost gritting my teeth while talking. Their English was worse than my Arabic, yet they laughed whenever I said anything in Arabic. It's a good thing I know what window, chair, door, balcony, and wire are in Arabic. If they thought they were speaking English...they were very mistaken.

When they were almost out of the door, one of them handed me his cellphone. Apparently there was someone on the other end with whom I had to speak. I'll spare you the allos. I don't know who I was speaking to, but they also wanted to deal with me in English. I think that the repairmen were under the impression that the man on the phone spoke better English than they did. Here they were mistaken, again.

"Phone work?" the man asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Good. Money?"

"Yes, how much?"

"Money. We fix phone."

"Yes, how much?"

"Pay money."

"Bikam?"

"20 guinea."

That's like $4. When's the last time you paid a repairman $4? Probably never.

Don't think we're all that lucky, though. When's the last time you went to the store and there was no brown sugar? Or sour cream? Or tomato sauce? Or some other item that is normally in stock but just wasn't there? Probably never.

Life is no bag of chips anywhere.

I've been feeling a little blue lately, thinking about all my friends (seriously all my friends) moving back to America. And I'm a little jealous. I'm homesick for a washing machine that actually cleans my clothes. And a dryer would be so nice to have sometimes. Hanging up clothes isn't exactly hard, but it is a pain and it's so dusty here that the clothes usually end up a little grity once they're folded and put away. And there is at least one day each week where I wish with all my little heart that I could just put all the dirty dishes in the dish washer, turn it on, and forget about them instead of them piling up in the sink while I put off doing them yet again. *Sigh.*

At least Andrew solved the telephone mystery for me. He asked some of his friends on campus about it and found out that you're basically supposed to "have tea," so to speak, with the person on the other end of the line before they get to what they wanted to say. That makes sense.

Life is allowed to move slower here. As a "Westerner" I want to cut to the chase. I want them to tell me what I need to know so that I can get on with my day, which is fine when another Westerner is phoning me. Even if we know each other we keep the frilly nicities of chit-chat to a minimum.

Egyptians, and perhaps Arabs as a general rule, rather enjoy chatting. They make their point slowly so that they can enjoy their tea/your company longer.

Maybe next time I should swallow my instinct and, after our initial hellos, say, "Hello, how are you?"

Of course, then I might be on the phone all day...

The Book of Mormon in 40 minutes

Just so you know, it's possible to recap the entire Book of Mormon to a 2-year-old in 40 minutes. I know because we did it last night for FHE, quite unintentionally.

I decided that in addition to giving lessons from the nursery manual, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to also go over scripture stories. We read scriptures together as a family, but let me tell you how well Rachel listens during scripture time. Oh, she doesn't.

She might repeat a few words we say here and there. We've tried giving her turns reading. We've tried pretty much everything. She'll sit still for about 2 verses and then she's off in Rachel-land, riding camels and horses on the couch and spinning never-ending circles. I'm quite sure she gets very little out of the tortured time we spend trying to maintain a pithy degree of reverence while reading half a chapter before calling it quits. *Sigh.*

So last night I got out the Gospel Art Picture Kit and we decided we'd go over the story of Nephi using the pictures.

Rachel got to choose the opening song. She always chooses "Jesus" and we don't really know what song that means so end up singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam or Jesus Once was a Little Child; or she chooses to sing Book of Mormon Stories by putting her hands together to make a book. Once she chose "temple" so we sang I Love to See the Temple.

As you can see, we sing the same songs, often...so we try to have singing time during the lesson so that she can learn more songs and hopefully pick up some of the lyrics so that she can ask for them.

Anyway, last night Rachel, fittingly, chose Book of Mormon Stories, which we sang, and then after saying a short opening prayer, proceeded to tell some of the stories from the Book of Mormon.

Putting the scriptures into Rachel-talk was quite interesting, but she was very into the pictures and the story and didn't want to stop. We had to end FHE with her throwing a fit for more stories. It wouldn't be FHE without a fit and since she sat so nicely through the lesson it was only fair that she would lose it when FHE was over.

I don't think Rachel had ever seen a picture of a weapon before, at least not "primitive" weapons, so when we got to the picture of Enos kneeling with his bow and arrows, Rachel started describing the picture first.

"Guy. Sad. Stick. Hand. Stick. Poky."

I recapped the story of Enos for her, how he wanted to be happy so he prayed all day and all night long to Heavenly Father. He repented (said sorry) for everything he had done wrong and Heavenly Father said that he forgave him. And then Enos kept praying. He prayed for his friends and family and then he prayed for people who weren't very nice to him, too.

"Stick. Poky." said Rachel, pointing to the bow.

"Yes," Andrew said, "That's a poky stick. It's used to shoot even pokier sticks, like this..."

Then he jabbed her while making "pew-pew-pew" noises.

Swords are also poky. There are a lot of pictures of swords in the illustrations of the Book of Mormon. Ammon carries a big sword and cuts off people's arms. Andrew graphically demonstrated how this might be done on Rachel, using his arms as swords and her arms as arms.

We went on and on and came to the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. She noticed that everyone had pokies and began to shield herself from Andrew's fingers. She was a little surprized when he didn't poke her.

I told her that the people in this picture had done a lot of bad things and had hurt a lot of people but, because of Ammon (who carries a big poky and cuts off people's arms) and his brothers, they turned into good people.

"Then the people took all their weapons..."

"Poky!"

"Yes," I started again, "Then the people took all their...uhhh...pokies...and put them in a big hole and promised to never use them again."

Truthfully, it felt a little funny to use the word poky so many times while talking about the Book of Mormon, but Rachel loved it.

My favorite part of the evening, though, is when she called the liahona the "lia-honey pot."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

He is such a guy

We're all feeling much better today, although the house is still in complete disarray. Hopefully I can get that all sorted out by tomorrow at 10:30 when my visiting teachers come over, although if I just leave it messy and continue to act really sick maybe they'll just clean it for me...

Andrew seems to already have his energy back (I don't; of course, that may have been because I had none to begin with) and he even did one of his infamous home improvement projects this morning.

The florescent bulb in our bathroom went out a few days ago and we've just been ignoring it since Andrew fixed the little incandescent one over the sink. We had enough light to brush our teeth and "uneat our dinner" and did not have enough energy to worry about finding a replacement bulb, so we just didn't bother.

Early this afternoon Andrew was brushing his teeth and I was eating some lunch. He came running out of the bathroom, grabbed the tape measure, and ran back into the bathroom.

I heard the tape measure whirring as he pulled it out and then heard a *GURGLE* *OW!* *GAG!* *CRASH!*

"Please tell me you're not brushing your teeth and measuring the light bulb at the same time...some things shouldn't be multi-tasked." I guessed from the table. Andrew loves planning out strange things to multi-task just so that he can tell me he did them.

He stumbled out of the bathroom, toothbrush in mouth, tape measure in hand. "Oh, it gets better," he hinted.

"What, did you pee at the same time, too?" I asked sarcastically.

"No, but that would have been cool. The light switch was turned on and I didn't notice and stuck the metal end right into the light socket when I was measuring. Whoa! What if I peed while electrocuting myself while measuring the light bulb while brushing my teeth?"

Well, that explains the ow and the crash. The toothbrush explains the gurgle and the gag. He is such a guy. But at least our bathroom has enough light to take a shower again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just a bunch of sickies

Rachel's new words to describe vomiting:

Throw up
Throw out
Cough up

Her daddy is an amazingly loud thrower-upper. I think this very well may be the only time he has been sick to his stomach since we've been married. I don't recall him being this loud, at any rate. It's really nasty to listen to him and the toilet have it out. I'm not saying that it's pleasant to listen to me throw up, but he's a cougher and a gagger.

Thus, Rachel's term of "coughing up."

She was sitting on the toilet last night before bed when she leaned over and started fake-coughing.

"What are you doing?" Andrew asked.

"I cough up!" she said proudly.

We've been poor examples lately, I'm afraid. She thinks it's the cool thing to do.

The phrase "cough up" evolved from her previous words for it.

The first time she threw up this week she said, in a rather shocked way, "Wow! I throw out!"

Yup, yup, you did.

We thought that time was a fluke. It was Monday night and she had been wrestling with Andrew. And then she spun around in circles for about 15 minutes singing "Husha, husha" until I said, "WE ALL FALL DOWN!" to make her stop.

That's when she threw up.

It wasn't much. We just thought it was the dizziness.

On Tuesday morning she woke up screaming for a cup of water at 7:00 am.

She stumbled out of her bedroom, wailing. The child thinks it's a travesty if she has to open her own bedroom door in the morning. Poor thing.

I got her a glass of water, and then another, and then another.

I pulled off her pants so we could take off her diaper and noticed an ant in her pants. She kept saying "owie" so I thought the ant had maybe bitten her, but instead it was her toenail. It was bent completely backwards and was bleeding and did, indeed, look painful. I fixed it up the best I could and we played until Andrew woke up for the day. Then I sent the two of them to the shower so that I could go back to bed for a few minutes.

I woke up to the sound of puke splattering the bathroom floor. It was all water so we blamed that one on drinking too much water too quickly.

Thursday was no fluke, though. I woke up feeling sick, which isn't actually all that unusual. Although I'm not a throw-uppy pregnant lady, I haven't been feeling top-notch with this pregnancy. Rachel and Andrew had cereal for breakfast. I sat on the couch and debated about what to eat, finally settling on a PB&J with a glass of milk (gotta get calcium somehow).

I took two bites of my sandwich and a swig of milk. I couldn't finish. I could hardly move.

Andrew and Rachel finished my glass of milk for me. There were chunkies at the bottom, which Andrew thought explained why I was feeling ill. I didn't think it fit the bill because he and Rachel both seemed fine and had consumed far greater quantities of milk than I had. We wrote it off as pregnancy-related.

I sent Andrew and Rachel out into the world. Kevan wanted to go to AUC campus, so Andrew was escorting him, hoping to actually get him on campus. He failed, by the way. I'm not even going to say how silly I think that is and how sometimes rules seem so pointless and annoying to me because I've been saying that a lot lately. Anyway, on the way there, Rachel let the contents of her stomach go all over their car.

To make matters worse, the day before she peed all over their living room floor. And when I say "all over," I mean that she left a trail from the dining room table to the bathroom.

Andrew and I started visitng the toilet several hours later and have been sick ever since. We didn't even go to church today. I could hardly lift my head off my pillow this morning. I slept right through church. I didn't get out of bed until 1:00 pm and that was only to move to the couch. And then I went back to bed until 4:00.

Needless to say, this doesn't seem very pregnancy-related. Unless both Andrew and Rachel are having sympathy pains.

What I want to know is how Rachel threw up once and was just fine when Andrew and I threw up multiple times and still feel...ugh.

Andrew's been a real trooper, though. Baby kept me awake kicking all last night. I think it was doing the "feed me" dance, which is akin to the rain dance. It was rather violent, for a 100g fetus, and I could hardly sleep. Andrew got to feel it kick a few times when I was finally able to wake him up. I was up all night long with this baby and it's not even here yet.

It seems to be a lot calmer now that I've started eating soup.

Andrew waited on me, hand and foot, all day today. He got up with the ever-cheerful Rachel (apparently free-range of the house is equally good for child's mood as it is bad for the actual cleanliness of the house), made dinner. Yeah, that was about all. He didn't do too much, either, but that's okay becaus he's also sick.

In his words, "You're sick and pregnant. I'm just sick. You're further down on the totem pole of being able to help." And that's why I love him. He can prioritize.

Flashback Friday: Sick

I've been trying to think of what to write about for today's flashback. Most of my flashbacks in the past few days, oddly enough, have been about times when my head has been bent over the toilet bowl. The last time I remember throwing up was, ironically, when I was pregnant with Rachel. That, again, was due to a stomach bug, not because I'm a throw-upper when I'm pregnant, because I'm not (although I'm really sorry for those who are).

The time before that was when we lived in Jordan and I was sick for about 2 months straight, which is about half the time we lived there. It wasn't throwing up as much as...other issues, also involving the toilet. Let's just say that before we moved out here we went to the doctor and loaded up on medicine for traveler's diarrhea. Oddly enough, we haven't touched it.

Then there was the time my family went on vacation right before my brother, David, left for his mission. We drove down to Mesa Verde which is in, places of all places, Montezuma County. We stopped by Arches National Park to do some hiking on our way...unless that was another trip... I remember that Josie was rather sick at Arches. We had emptied an ice cream bucket full of grapes and she was using that to throw up in.

And then I got sick for the rest of the trip. I hardly survived the hikes that I did go on, but spent most of the hiking hours cooped up in the hotel room.

The only bonus was that I got to ride shotgun on the way home, with the seat tilted back. Blech.

There was another time when we had gone up to Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving, I think. I'm pretty sure because we had a Thanksgiving dinner at Kathy and Bary's. But it could have been American Thanksgiving. We like to celebrate Thanksgivings. We're fun like that. Anyway, Josie and...someone else...got sick on the way home and I sat in the middle seat and passed the bucket back and forth between them while they alternatively puked. It was...lovely.

I've come to the conclusion that it must have been Canadian Thanksgiving because that was the year that she got her pig costume for Halloween. And she threw up on it. Also, it must have been the year Piper was born because Abra still lived next door to our old house, and I walked home from the high school willingly after visiting my friends. So it had to have been October because I don't walk anywhere willingly in November in Alberta.

When we lived in High River I got so sick during Christmas once that my siblings opened my presents for me. I had no clue what was going on.

When we lived in Calgary we all got Beaver Fever after swimming in Sikome Lake, which is weird because their water is treated. Patrick and Josie got it the worst and my mom happened to be in charge of helping plan the family reunion that year...which meant that we had to go anyway. That was fun.

I always scoffed at the fear inflicted in the Young Women at Girl's Camp. We weren't allowed to touch the pond water for fear of contracting giardia. It was a little ridiculous considering that some of the camps I went on before moving to Utah we discussed how to filter/purify water and then actually filtered/purified water to drink. We always went swimming and ran around in our bathing suits at Girl's Camp. We slept in tents, even. We were pretty rogue.

That said, Bever Fever isn't a whole lot of fun, so maybe it's best that they kept us away from the pond.

Anyway, all this thinking about times I've been sick is making me feel queasy again. My head aches and my house is a mess. Apparently having both parents sprawled across the couches (and running to the toilet every few minutes) while an almost two-year-old runs feral for two days isn't the best way to keep up a house. I'll bet she's getting pretty sick of eating crackers and soup, too.

But she started it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For 45 minutes

The second time Andrew's alarm went off this morning, we realized the power was out. That totally explained the repressive heat. The power was out for 45, the first time.

I didn't want to get out of bed yet so I just lied there, thinking about what I was going to do about everything in our freezer if the power didn't kick on soon. The fridge stuff would probably be alright. Eggs aren't sold refrigerated here so we've become less frantic about getting them into the fridge the minute we get home from the grocery store. Our "poo milk" can last almost for forever and we definitely have the ability to finish off our bootleg real-live cow milk before it goes sour. The "poo cheese" can last forever; the real cheese could probably last for a day. Maybe two. The bread is only in there so it doesn't go moldy on the counter. Jam, ketchup, mustard? All good.

Our only real worry was the yogurt.

And the stuff in the freezer.

I wondered if anyone in the branch would think it was weird if I asked them if they had room for the whole contents of our freezer in their freezer until the power came back on. Frozen vegetables, frozen cheese, frozen milk, frozen chicken. All that stuff pretty much needs to stay frozen until we're ready to use it and we aren't ready to use 25 servings of chicken today.

Luckily I only worried about it for 45 minutes, until the power came back on and I fell back asleep. And then the power turned back off and I worried again. And then it came back on and I fell asleep again. It's been on for the rest of the day, so our freezer food is safe.

So instead of worrying about what to do with our perishable food, I spent the day fielding questions from Rachel, mostly about going swimming. This girl has an impeccable biological clock, either that or she just felt like too much time had gone by since the last time she went swimming with Finn.

"Swim! Finn!" she said/asked/chanted.

"Well, I don't know about swimming, but I definitely know we won't be playing with Finn. Finn moved."

"Finn...?"

"He left on a plane."

"Finn...plane...?"

"Finn is all gone."

"Oh. Otay. Swimming?"

"We'll see. Why don't we get dressed, first?"

And thus went my day. She was really stuck on the whole swimming idea. About 45 minutes before Andrew got home she asked me, again.

"Rachel, wait and see what Daddy says when he gets home, okay? Don't ask me again or the answer will be no!"

I wasn't in the mood today to take her swimming by myself. And by not in the mood I mean I was tired and wanted someone to pass her off to in the water. For 45 minutes she left me alone and it was great. And when I say that she left me alone I really mean that she didn't ask about swimming; she still acted as my shadow for the entire time period.

When Andrew walked through the door, Rachel squealed with excitement and greeted him with,

"Hi, Dada! Swimming?!"

Seriously? She remembered to ask him about swimming the very minute he got home? What did she do--sit around worrying about whether or not she'd be going swimming for 45 minutes? Who'd she get that from?

Oh, me. I can also sit around and worry quietly about something for 45 minutes, easily.

We went swimming, but first we went to Road 9 to run some errands. It had to happen in that order because if we went swimming first I wouldn't want to go to Road 9 to run errands, but if we went to Road 9 first, I'd still want to go swimming.

We did end up swimming and it was a blast. Rachel was so hilarious the whole time. She just loves water. She started blowing raspberries almost constantly for some reason; it really worked out great because we could dunk her several times before she'd stop spitting and take a breath. When she did accidentally inhale water she'd spout it back out on someone. She only choked once or twice, which is really pretty good.

She kept screaming out for who she wanted. She actually says "want" now instead of "ah," at least most of the time. I think it just hit her one day when Andrew said, "I get it! Ah means want!" and Rachel responded, "Yeah. Want!"

"Want! EMMA!" she'd yell (because Emma came with us). Or DADDY! Or MOMMY!

And then she'd kick her legs and paddle her arms and we'd move her along and she'd pretend she was swimming. We also threw her a lot. The Maadi House pool is great, but they have the stupidest rules.

As a former lifeguard, I feel I have the right to say their rules are stupid.

They don't let little children anywhere near the deep end, even if they are with their parents. They often ban jumping, just whenever the mood suits them. No splashing. And they have this rule where the last quarter of the hour is "adult swim" time, which in theory is nice but in practice is ridiculous.

I'm sorry, but when playgroup is there and there are only moms and babies in the pool because it is the middle of the day...it does not make sense to clear the pool for 15 minutes. What purpose does that serve? The moms can swim, but the babies have to sit on the deck, what?

Anyway, a rule they do not have is a "no throwing" rule, which is silly because I have seen so many people get hurt being thrown or being landed on by people being thrown, etc. However, throwing is kind of fun...so we threw Rachel a lot.

She wasn't sure whether to claim she was flying or swimming.

She did a lot of jumping, bubble blowing, and even rode around on my back. She usually hates riding on my back, but Emma was riding on Andrew's back so obviously it's cool now.

We swam for an hour and 45 minutes.

And I'm totally rambling...so I'm going to go to bed.

There's a monster in my closet....er...toilet

Not last night but the night before I woke up in the middle of the night for an ordinary pregnancy reason: I had to go to the bathroom...again. I walked through the dark of the living room and flicked on the bathroom light. I hate going to the bathroom in the dark here because of the cockroach factor. We really don't have much of a problem with them since we plugged our drains, but there are some drains that you just can't plug, like the toilet, and I always just worry that I'm going to come face to face with some huge, hideous beast of a cockroach.

Of course, it would be dark, right? So I wouldn't actually know that I'd come face to face with a cockroach I would just know that I came face to face with a something. Coming face to face with a "something" in the dark is even scarier than coming face to face with a gigantic cockroach.

That's why I turn on the light. So that just in case there is a cockroach it can run away and hide from me instead of the other way around.

With the light on and no scurrying motions detected, I walked over to the toilet and peeped in. Why? Because I'm totally afraid that a cockroach (or even a rat) might just be swimming around in there. It doesn't really help a whole lot when I do this at 3 AM because I don't put on my glasses at 3 AM for anything short of a life or death situation, ergo I'm basically blind.

Luckily (or not) I can still see blobs of contrasting color, even without my glasses on, so when I peered into the toilet I could tell that something was in there. Something about as big as my index finger, only wider, and darker. I leaned closer and squinted to see if I could tell what it was. Then I leaned even close and squinted even more. Then I...

To make a long story short, when I was just about kissing the toilet seat I realized that I had come face to face with my nemesis--that huge, hideous beast of a cockroach I had been dreaming about for months was floating around in my toilet.

Unsure if it was alive or dead, and unwilling to investigate by myself, I went and prodded Andrew until he woke up.

"There's a cockroach in the toilet and I really have to go...!" I whispered urgently.

Without grunting or complaining or explaining to me how it was possible to "go" even when there was a cockroach in the toilet, Andrew got out of bed and came to the bathroom with me. That's just one of many ways I know he loves me. He confirmed the cockroach was dead and, after several failed attempts, flushed it away.

It must have died swimming around the pipes in our apartment building and decided our toilet would be a nice location to make its final viewing. I hope that wherever you end up, dear cockroach, that you don't end up back in my toilet. RIP.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

17 weeks

17 weeks down. 23 weeks to go.

My belly is already rivaling the 25 week belly I had with Rachel.

Prego pic 1

Rachel felt the baby move today. Andrew asked her what it felt like and she said, “Tits.” That’s how she says kick. I think she was just repeating what I told her because when I feel the baby move (and I only feel it occasionally) it feels more like it’s rolling over and trying to get comfortable than like it’s battling things out with my insides. But I told Rachel that what she was feeling was the baby kicking.

We’ll see if this baby stays calm or not. It’s hard to know right now because it’s still so small and chances are I’m missing a lot of the movements.

Rachel was all over the place, all the time, it seemed. I was shocked when I saw her on the ultrasound because she was moving even more than I could feel and I could feel her moving all the time. She still can’t sit still worth beans…unless she’s watching a favorite show or it’s sacrament meeting or she just woke up from a nap.

Part of me feels bad about comparing this pregnancy to Rachel’s so often. I feel like a mean mom for comparing my children before I even have two in my arms…but at the same time it doesn’t really feel like I’m comparing them. I think it would be impossible for me to go through another pregnancy without thinking about my previous one(s). I love both children.

They’ll be different. They’ll have different temperaments, different talents, different ideas, different ways of learning and expressing themselves, etc., etc., etc. I fear I’ll have to relearn everything I thought parenting was, but I’ll love them both.

And maybe one day I’ll even do my hair again.

Every star is different,
And so is every child.
Some are bright and happy,
And some are meek and mild.
Every one is needed
For just what he can do.
You’re the only person
Who ever can be you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daddy Shirt

Rachel has a white-and-red checkered shirt that she inherited from her friend Jacquie.

The first time I tried putting her in it, she wasn’t very happy about it. More than simply unhappy, she acted like she was downright afraid of the shirt. It was kind of strange.

She’s since more than warmed up to it. She absolutely loves it and requests to wear it often.

She calls it her “Daddy Shirt.” I think you'll see why.

It might help to know that most of Andrew’s other shirts are also button-up, collared, and some variation of plaid.

And here’s a picture of me fresh out of the shower before I’d even brushed my hair in case you were wondering what I looked like yesterday. Thanks, Andrew, for taking that picture.

IMG_9415

Feeling woozy!

I find that the lyrics to Feelin' Groovy are very applicable to me, right now.

Got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.

....Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' [woozy]!

When I was pregnant with Rachel I remember my mom asking me, often, if I "felt faint" but I never really did. Perhaps I looked like I felt faint, but from what I remember I felt just fine through most of my first pregnancy.

I'm 17 weeks along now and still exhausted. Part of me thinks it might have something to do with the nice little heat wave that kicked in this week. And by heat wave, I mean the average temperature that will be sticking around from now until the end of October. Today we maxed out at 41.6°C/107°F (in shady Maadi--I hear that out by the pyramids it was more like 46°C/115°F).

We get no respite at night, either. It drops a couple of degrees, but stays hot by anyone's standards (except maybe Kuwaiti standards). The only way we survive the night is by having fans blasting our faces at full power. We wake up parched--Rachel had 6 glasses of water when she woke up this morning--but it's better than waking up all sweaty and sticky. We could use the air conditioning because we are lucky enough to have it, but it is so expensive to run and they are old and clunky. They are the box kind, stuck right into a hole in our wall, and sound like an airplane is taking off.

Yesterday when we decided to go to Carrefour for some shopping it was around 39°C/102°F. The taxi, of course, was not equipped with an air conditioner. Instead the windows were open and hot air was blasting through. I keep hoping, because the current weather condition is "sand," that this heat wave will blow over, but I know it's still going to be hotter than Hades next moth and the next month, and the next, and the next.

I was so glad when we got to the mall. The promise of an air conditioned building was very alluring and I hurried Rachel inside while Andrew paid the cab driver (10 LE because that's what his Egyptian friends said they pay to get out there). I wasn't feeling very good but thought that I would start feeling better once we got inside. I didn't, though.

After walking around for a few minutes I either had to find a place to sit down and rest or, I thought, I was going to faint. Everytime we stopped the cart I had to bend over and put my head down between my legs. Finally I remembered that we were in Carrefour, the hypermarket of all hypermarkets...at least...here.

We wandered over to the camping/outdoors/garden area and I sat in a display chair. Andrew and Rachel took the list and continued shopping. I was joined by a little old lady who was dropped off by her grandkids to have a little rest. We smiled at each other and said our hellos and then sat in silence.

It didn't take her long to realize that I wasn't testing the chair I was sitting on anymore than she was testing her chair. She kept staring at me, trying, I'm sure to assess what was wrong with me.

I thought about trying to tell her I was pregnant, but I had no idea how to say that and would probably end up sounding like an idiot.

"I'm sitting here because...in my stomach...there is a baby," was about as close to "I'm pregnant" that I could come up with in Arabic.

Chances are she figured it out even though I'm not really showing all that much (apparently; this is from what people say, not how I feel). When Andrew and Rachel swung by to see how I was doing, Andrew taught me how to tell people that we're expecting. He said the lady was giving me weird looks. Whatever. I have an excuse.

"أنا حامل/Ana hhaml/I'm carrying."

I got up and tried to help with the grocery part of our shopping trip, but in the end I had to head back to my lawn chair until Andrew and Rachel had finished. The old lady was gone and I was left in solitude. I'd just smile and nod at everyone who walked by. No one said anything, except one store employee who told me that it was "forbidden to sit" in the display chairs.

I stared at him blankly--I've perfected my blank stare here--and he repeated himself. I told him that I didn't understand and stayed seated. It was either sit there or sit on the floor. And he should be happy; I'm sure I was an excellent marketing tool. I was doing my very best to make the chair look comfy and I think I did a good job of it.

I really don't understand why he felt he had to tell me it was "forbidden" to sit in the chairs since no other staffers tried to stop me. I also don't understand why they even sell patio sets here since I know of like 3 people who actually have yards. Most of the general population shopping at Carrefour is not in the market for a patio set and probably never will be.

Everything is forbidden in Carrefour though. Enforcing arbitrary rules is something Egyptians love to do. You give them a little bit of power and it goes to their head and they feel like they can enforce the stupidest rules. Cameras are not allowed in Carrefour and "the eating or drinking of food or beverages is expressly prohibited within the hypermarket," among a whole list of long rules posted at the entrance to the market.

Lucky for me they were handing out free samples of mineral water. I hate mineral water, but I knew I needed to drink something so I drank my sample and Andrew's. And then went and sat back down. That was the only good thing about getting up from my chair.

After shopping, Andrew decided that we should treat ourselves to Cinnabon. We haven't had a Cinnabon cinnamon roll since we lived in Amman. It seems to be something we only consume in the Middle East. It was nice to get something in my stomach, though.

We also bought several juice boxes and I drank one of those with Rachel. Juice boxes are how I'm going to survive the summer pregnant. I freeze them and then eat them with a spoon. They're like Otterpops, only bigger.

Then Rachel and I sat in the hot sun while Andrew scouted out a taxi to go home. There's a taxi mafia outside of Carrefour and you basically can't park within a mile of the shopping center unless you agree to be part of their little scam. The scam is that you won't take people home for less than 25 LE, but you'll ask for around 40-60 LE, which is ridiculous because it only costs Egyptians 7-10 LE. We finally found a driver willing to take us for 15 LE but ended up paying him 20 LE and he still threw a fit about that.

I was just happy about getting home so that I could sit with my feet up and a fan blowing at my face.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We are a happy saminwy!

We played a little round of musical chairs while we were getting ready for scripture study this evening.

I sat on the love seat. Andrew sat on a chair.

"Come and sit by me," I crooned, patting the empty cushion next to me.

Both Rachel and Andrew raced over. I'm just that popular.

Andrew got there first and sat down beside me. Rachel was a little put out.

"Daddy," Rachel tugged on his hand, "Sit there! Little chair!"

"You want Daddy to sit on the chair with you?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah....uhhh...no! Mommy! C'mon! Sit there! Little chair!" she tugged on my arm.

I picked her up and plopped her on my lap.

"Why don't you sit on the little couch with both Mommy and Daddy?" I asked.

She didn't like that idea. She wanted only Mommy, not Daddy, and was very upset about the idea of sharing the couch with Daddy, too.

"I love Mommy, she loves me," I started singing.

"We love Daddy, yes sirree!" Andrew joined in.

"He loves us and so you see...We are a happy family!" We finished.

We had a round of hugs and kisses and Rachel changed her mind about sharing the couch with Daddy.

"Happy saminwy!" she said, settling into my lap looking very satisfied with her life.

Her voice is music to my ears.

Our first Egyptian kitchen fire

Technically, I suppose that since we have a gas stove we have kitchen fires every time we use our stove top or oven. Once upon a time our stove may have lit automatically, but it certainly doesn't anymore. We use a manual sparker, which is really quite nice compared to using regular matches since it distances us a few more inches from the fire.

I'm pretty comfortable lighting the stove top. Turn the gas on high, spark a flame, quickly turn the gas down while simultaneously yanking your arm away from the burst of fire. It's almost like second nature.

Lighting the oven is another story. I still hate lighting the oven--grateful it works, yes, but I still hate lighting it. There's this grate thing that you have to lift up to access the burner and the burner is huge, so when the gas finally catches a spark the fire really jumps out at you. My method works like this: turn the gas on high, lift up the grate, insert hand into the depths of the oven, spark a flame, yank both hands out of the oven and slam the door shut.

When I light the oven Rachel is supposed to stand in the doorway and she knows this. All I have to do is open the oven door and she runs over to the doorway and waits until I shut it again. You never know when an accident is going to happen, and if an accident ever does happen, I'd rather Rachel be standing over by the door instead of right by the oven.

Probably nothing will ever happen. At any rate, it makes it nice to not have her hanging around when I open the oven door to check on cookies.

Rachel also knows that the stove is "hot" and that she's not a allowed to touch it, but she likes to hang out on a stool by the stove while we cook. She gives a play-by-play of what we're doing at any given moment. Pot, pan, cut, stir, spoon, rice, soup, sauce, beans, lid, salt, cheese, spicy, shake, and fast are among the many, many words that Rachel uses to describe how dinners are made.

This evening she was out playing when I started making dinner. And I actually made dinner tonight. We didn't have dessert for dinner, unlike yesterday. I made rice with lentils, sweet and sour sauce, and vegetables (baby corn for the brave ones in the family; green beans for everyone including Andrew). We add lentils to our rice because it makes the rice more nutritious and filling, just in case you were wondering. We just boil them together. It isn't any extra work, really. You just have to remember to add the lentils a few minutes before you add the rice because they seem to take a while longer to get tender.

Anyway, I had my recipe for sweet and sour sauce written out on a little scrap of paper and sitting on the stool by the stove. I really like this recipe because its base is 3/4 of a cup of chicken broth and it only calls for a 3 tablespoons (each) of sugar, vinegar, and ketchup, while only requiring 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. So it seems to be lower in sodium and sugar than other recipes I've used that have like a half cup of sugar and a quarter cup of soy sauce. Who knows? We just like to pretend that we try to be healthy. (To finish off the recipe, in case you're wondering, I add a tablespoon of corn starch dissolved in some water to thicken things up a bit and also throw in some ginger).

I don't have the recipe memorized because this is only the second time that I've made it, so I really needed the recipe to glance at. I had, in one pot, the chicken broth, soy sauce, and vinegar. My other pot had started boiling, so I left the sauce and went to rinse the lentils. I was busy adding the lentils to the pot of boiling water, scraping them out of the strainer, when Rachel walked into the kitchen.

"I sit there!" she demanded, pointing at the stool.

"In a minute, let me finish this," I told her.

That was not the answer she was looking for. Since I wasn't going to help her she decided to help herself.

"I sit there!" she repeated firmly.

She picked up my recipe and, before I could stop her, put it on the stove...right by the burner that was on. The paper was sucked into the fire and instantly began to combust (because paper does that). Flames were licking out from under the pot. My hands were full. Rachel was staring in shock at what she had done. I screamed....

"ANDREW!!"

...and Andrew came running.

As fast as he ran, he still missed most of the action. The terror was over almost as soon as it happened. Paper burns fast, apparently.

"What happened?"

"My recipe was on the stool and Rachel wanted to sit on it so she moved my recipe and put it right in the fire. I thought she was going to melt her hands off."

Andrew looked under the pot. There were still little golden embers of paper burning away.

After we'd stopped laughing long enough to catch our breath, I handed him the colander with lentils stuck in all the little cracks, "Here. Will you empty this for me? I need to go consult my recipe."

When I came back into the kitchen, Rachel was perched on the stool.

"Hot!" she said, pointing to the stove and waving her hands in front of her body (which means "don't touch").

Hopefully she remembers the new rule she learned about the stove today. Stove Rule #2: Don't put paper on the burners.

Overprotective Father

Yesterday we weren't really hungry for dinner. We had a late-ish lunch of bagels with fried eggs and were still full from that at 6 PM. So I decided to just make lemon pie filling for us to dip fresh fruit in. Not the greatest dinner, but we weren't hungry for dinner. There's nothing wrong with occasionally skipping straight to dessert, is there?

Lemon pie filling is better when it's cold, I think, but it wasn't so terrible hot, either. Rachel called it soup and had several helpings. She'd blow on a spoonful and slurp it up.

"Man, this stuff is so good!" said Andrew, "What's in it?"

"Guess." I said.

"Lemon juice," he answered, starting with the most obvious ingredient, "Sugar, corn starch, flour..."

He had seen me add those last two or I'm sure he wouldn't have guessed them.

"Also salt," I said, "And egg yolks."

"Egg yolks?!" he choked, "Is that good for you to eat when you're pregnant?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" I asked him, "We just had eggs for lunch, including the yolks."

"Yeah! But those eggs were cooked!"

"So are these eggs," I assured him, "That's why it's hot. Because I boiled it. On the stove. For several minutes."

"Right," he said, "Keep eating."

Yoda baby, and other stories

This morning Rachel woke up at a decent hour for the first time in days (read: not 5 AM or 3 AM). It was so nice to get a good night's rest. So nice, in fact, that I kicked Andrew out of bed to get her breakfast while I slept in some more. Since I've been the one getting up with her at 5 and 3 AM I figured it was fair.

Later they came and woke me up and we all played on the bed for a while, hitting each other with pillows, and bouncing, and knocking Rachel over. It was fun.

Rachel was having a great time and then all of a sudden she stopped jumping, looked around, reached to the ceiling, and said,

"Big tent!"

We agreed with her. We have a mosquito net covering our bed and she has a mosquito net covering her bed. Our "tent" is significantly bigger. After we were through validating her observation she turned into Yoda.

"Big tent," she repeated, "Little not."

She's sounded so wise and serious and her voice was even a little creaky. It was perfect. Had her ears been a little bigger and she suddenly turned green and wrinkly I wouldn't have known who was Yoda and who was my baby girl!

Besides taking her opposites, like big and little, and her synonyms, like big and little-not, very seriously, Rachel also takes idiomatic expressions rather literally.

The other day we were going out for a walk and I told Rachel I didn't want to push the stroller so she'd have to walk as well. She then wanted "Elmo," her child-leash that is red and has Elmo on the front. I looked around in a few places that Elmo normally is but didn't find it anywhere.

"Rachel, I can't find it, so you'll have to hold my hand the whole way, okay?"

"Nooo!" she screamed, which is why we have the leash, "Want! Elmo!"

"Look," I said, "I don't know where it is off the top of my head. We need to go...now...so we have to leave without it."

My puzzling expression made her forget why she wanted the leash. Instead she was using all her brain power to figure out what "the top of my head" had to do with "Elmo" and why she had to "look" there.

She spent the whole walk repeating, "Head...Top...Elmo? See? Head top? Momma head top Elmo."

Several days later and she still hasn't figured out what I meant. We test her by occasionally saying "top of my head." Without fail she attempts to examine the top of our head while asking where Elmo is.

And this story doesn't involve Rachel at all so I don't know how to ease into it, but Andrew and I were up way too late talking last night. That's one of the dangers of going to bed with your best friend every night. We never run out of things to say to each other, or haven't yet, so eventually have to call a truce: I'll stop talking if you stop talking so we can finally go to sleep.

It only makes matters worse when we stay up until after 1 AM writing and editing papers because then when we talk it only gets more and more ridiculous as the minutes tick by.

"Stop talking and I'll say the prayer and then we will shall go to sleep!" I said.

Obviously I was tired. I used two modal verbs right in a row. Andrew noticed and said,

"Whatever you say, shall it could be would!"

This did not help us get ready for saying the prayer. His "shall it could be would" absolutely cracked me up. It sounded like he was singing Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. Can't you hear it?

Shall it could be would mechicka boola
bibbidi-bobbidi-boo...

We need to start going to bed earlier. That's the only solution.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baby Names

My friend Amy already knows that she's having a boy. Today she blogged about the name they have picked out: Thomas Adam. And now all I can think about are baby names. We don't know what we're having yet and this time we're actually prepared with both a boy's name and a girl's name. I'm not sure we're exactly set in stone, but we've been thinking about names for a while and keep coming back to one boy's name and one girl's name.

Our next doctor's appointment is May 30th and we haven't scheduled an ultrasound so I really don't know when we'll find out the gender and I was totally fine with waiting for a while. Not knowing wasn't bothering me at all...until Amy found out. And now I really want to know, too. Our due dates are so close together; it almost doesn't seem fair that she already knows she's having a boy and I still have to wait for who knows how long.

I was going to hold off on blogging about baby names until we knew the gender. I don't think we ever revealed that if Rachel had been a boy she probably would have been named Steven Conrad (which is still on our list of names; it's just been booted down the line a little).

Somehow I find sharing baby names a little risky. What if someone steals the name I put out there? Wasn't I the naive 13 year old who suggested Matthew for my nameless nephew, while holding him tenderly in the hospital, never realizing that I was surrendering one of my favorite boy names?

My friend Sara revealed her soon-to-be-born baby's name and a close relation, who was contemporarily expecting, had her baby first and used the exact combination (first and middle name) that Sara had picked out, which I think was a bold move (and a little intrusive). Sara named her baby as planned, anyway, which I think was brave and just.

We're almost baby name stealers, ourselves.

Our girl name is Miriam al-Noor.

We met and fell in love with Miriam while in Jordan. She was the sweetest little baby and had such a pretty name. It's not a family name, but neither is Rachel (who was almost named Miriam). We would want her to have someone to identify with, though, so, like Rachel, Miriam is a scriptural name.

We decided to try to name our girls with middle names dealing with "light." Kind of a weird whim, I suppose. Rachel's middle name is Anneliese, which means graceful light. al-Noor means light in Arabic, so the name would translate to be Miriam of Light.

I realize that giving her an Arabic middle name is perhaps a little brazen, but we like it and don't think it will cause her any problems down the road. It's not like we're planning on using Hussein as her middle name or anything. I have full confidence that she could still be elected president with a middle name like al-Noor if she wished; she just might be flagged in airports more often than your average Joe, but airports are a bear, anyway. Plus she'd be named after a queen, which is always fun.

Our boy name is Thomas Spencer.

We were discussing boys names a while ago, rethinking the whole Steven Conrad thing. Conrad is a family name on my side and it has been used several times. I actually can think of a lot of family names on my side that I like. Andrew's side is a tad trickier for me. I just don't know his geneology like I know mine.

Andrew's dad's name is Reid and he's always suggesting Reida (for a girl) or Reid (for a boy). My only problem with that is that I really don't like the name Reid. It's nothing personal. I don't really like the name Bruce, either, and that's my dad's name. And my uncle's name. Sorry. It's not you, it's me.

Reid's middle name is Spencer and while he doesn't like it (at least, Andrew said he doesn't), I do. At least, I like it better than Reid, so I figured that that was a family name that we could easily use without me having to spend hours researching Andrew's family history, which I should probably do sometime down the road but haven't done yet.

Andrew's middle name is Thomas, which, serendipitiously enough, happens to be another one of my favorite boy names. It always has been. My sister Kelli made a doll for me--life size--and gave it to me for Christmas or my birthday in 1994 (I think), so that's almost 15 years ago. The doll was dressed in turquoise footed jammies. All my other dolls were obviously girls and I thought it fair that this doll should be a boy since it was clearly gender-neutral. I named the doll Thomas because I liked that name.

I'm not quite sure why I liked the name then, but it might have something to do with Thomasina. (That's probably not a detail we should share with this child if it ends up beind a boy).

Thomas Spencer. I was almost giddy when I came up with that combination. It has a nice ring to it, I think. It sounds familiar somehow, doesn't it? Just rolls off the tongue?

Thomas Spencer.

Thomas Spencer.

Thomas Spencer.

Try this on for size: Thomas Spencer...Monson.

Yes, we've accidentally named our future son (if it is a boy) after the prophet, which I don't think is a bad thing (although we did laugh long and hard when we finally realized exactly why it sounded so familiar). I actually think it is a good thing.

I wouldn't think it would be a good thing if we named him McKay or Bitner or Davido. Sometimes names--family or religious--are overdone and/or need not be and/or should not be reused. There are far too many McKays and Kimballs and other weird "last names as first names" in Utah, I think. And as much as I love President Hinckly, Bitner is kind of a strange name that falls under the "last name as first names" category and in the "kind of awkward sounding" category as well. Davido's name (I seriously have a friend named Davido) really suits him and he's a really nice person, but it doesn't change the fact that his name is kind of...strange. Not strange in the same way that Bitner is strange, but strange nonetheless.

We also, accidentally, chose the same boy name that Amy picked out! What are the odds of that?!

So there you have it.

Girl: Miriam al-Noor.

Boy: Thomas Spencer.

Both stolen names. We stole from friends. We stole from family. We stole from royalty. We stole from the Bible. We stole from the prophet.

Hopefully no one minds. I like our stolen names. Besides, it's probably best that I didn't come up with a completely unique, 100% unstolen name. To quote from Darren Barefoot, "People have been naming children for thousands of years. All of human history has done a better job inventing names than [I] will."

Flashback Friday: Meeting Amy and high school English

Meet my friend Amy. I actually haven't ever met her. Not in person. But she's really nice, trust me.

We met accidentally on Facebook. See, Amy went to junior high with basically everyone I know. Seriously, everyone. At least, everyone in Utah. I didn't go to junior high with anyone I know in Utah except for my big brother, David.

I did go to high school with a lot of people I know in Utah. Amy didn't go to my high school, but Nancy Knight did. We took English from Mrs. Swenson together our junior year. I didn't care too much for Mrs. Swenson, mostly because she didn't like me very much. Now, I know that often students perceive their teachers as not liking them and their perceptions are misplaced because of bad grades, etc. I had good grades, though, and she still didn't like me.

She would always tell me things like, "You can't put yourself above the system," and "You're not as smart as you think you are," and "I guess you did okay so I'm giving you an A-. Not because you deserve it, but because I'm generous. Now I just need to figure out my grading criteria for this assignment..."

It was so weird because everyone else seemed to like her. We just didn't click for some reason or another, I suppose. It really shocked me when, at Emily's graduation, she was awarded for being the most influencial teacher (or something like that).

I still got an A in her class (even though I didn't deserve it, I'm sure, since I got a 4.0 in high school so obviously was not very academically inclined) and passed the AP English test that year without her help or the AP teacher's help. Sometimes I still want to go back and ask her what her problem was with me because I, frankly, have no idea.

She should have loved me. I was a model student. Meh. I hated high school anyway so I doubt Mrs. Swenson made it worse.

What boggles my mind is that my math teacher (I can't remember her name. Mrs. H...orton?) absolutely loved me. I was awarded "Student of the Week" in math several times. She would say things like, "I can tell you just love math," and I would stare at her with my jaw on the floor. I detested math.

Anyway, back to Mrs. Swenson. In her classroom we had to sit in alphabetical order. Ideally this does...something? Brings order to the classroom or helps the teacher learn the students' names or something. I'm sure it served a purpose. Even in grade eleven when I think students are responsible enough to and perfectly capable of selecting their own seat, I'm sure it served a purpose.

For me and Nancy Knight, it was just confusing. After K comes L, which meant that I sat directly behind Nancy Knight. That was rather annoying. Not because Nancy was annoying but because we were never sure who Mrs. Swenson was calling on.

Once Nancy and I both neglected to put our last names on a handwritten assignment. I think it was some vocabulary assignment or something. In my opinion, that's no big deal. Nancy's script was loopy and girly. Mine was, and still is, sloppy and almost illegible. So much that I could easily have gone to medical school. It's just that messy. My only consolation is that it is neater than Andrew's.

After class, Mrs. Swenson called us up and lectured us about how unprofessional it was to leave our last name off of an assignment and, get this, refused to grade them until we wrote our last names on top. Then she took points off for not putting our full name on the assignment. Clearly this was something that we should have been in the habit of doing since grade school and it was likely to reflect poorly in our grades once we got to college. Tsk. Tsk.

What I want to know is if she even batted an eye (or noticed, for that matter) if any other pupil in the classroom neglected to put their last name on their paper. I doubt it.

Furthermore, whether you put your name on your paper or not is no relfection of the quality of work.

Furthermore, I helped my mom grade tests and assignments for the college-level classes that she taught and if someone didn't put their name on, their work was still graded and no points were deducted. And then, my mom would ask whose paper was whose. Multiple students forgot to put their names on their assignments everytime my mom collected an assignment.

Furthermore, if she couldn't tell whose paper was whose she obviously needed to take a graphology class or something because, clearly, Nancy's was Nancy's and mine was mine.

Furthermore...you can probably see now why Mrs. Swenson didn't like me. I think I can.

It's not that I always have to be right. It's just that if I think I'm right and you think you're right and I happen to think you're wrong, I think I have the right to ask a few questions, especially if what you think affects me directly. Like in lowering my grade.

In short, I hated that class. But I survived. And I survived high school (kinda--I left after that year and went on to bigger and better things; who needs high school? I also left junior high early; either I'm a quitter or I get bored easily). And I even survived college (kinda--if you call a 3.96 surviving; I cried bitterly over every A-; I'm a nerd).

I got married. Nancy Knight got married. Amy got married. Not that I knew who she was, or anything.

Later, I got a job working as a secretary in the InBio department (because of all my stellar biology skills...or something completely unrelated) and met a girl named Rachel Fugal. She was one of the grad students whose life I helped manage. Oh, now I remember! I got the job because I'm good at nagging people. Ask Andrew.

She was nice, quiet, smart. Truthfully, I hardly ever saw her in my office because she was very on top of things and never needed me to write up petitions for her or show her how to add bookmarks into a PDF or anything like that.

Later, I started using Facebook and I got a friendship request from a girl named Amy Egbert. Her maiden name was Fugal. I didn't know an Amy Fugal and I didn't know an Amy Egbert but for some reason her name sounded really, really familiar. So I added her as a friend and sent her a message that said something like,

"Hi. Ummmm...so, how do I know you?"

And then she wrote a note back that went something like,

"I don't think you do. I think I added you by accident. I was looking for my friend Nancy Knight, but she got married and I don't know her married name and you kind of looked like her but your profile picture was so small so I couldn't really tell. Now I can see that you aren't her, but I went and read your blog and I think we should be friends, anyway."

And then I went and read her blog and wrote a note that said something like,

"I just read your blog, too. We should definitely be friends. I think you know everyone that I know, anyway. Do you know Rachel Fugal?"

And she wrote back to say that Rachel was her cousin (I think, I don't remember and don't want to sift through my whole wall to find the answer).

And that's how Amy and I became friends. Even though we've never met. (Amy, I think we really ought to meet someday).

And now she's pregnant and is due October 20th. And I'm pregnant and due October 27th. And so instead of mere cyber-buddies we're cyber-pregnancy buddies. And that's the perfect segue into my next post.