Saturday, July 31, 2010

Librarian Luau

A few days before Auntie Sarah got married we went to Andrew’s work party, which was also my mom’s work party, and my brother’s work party (but he didn’t come). We joke that the library is a family affair—Andrew’s dad and uncle worked there during their undergrad; I worked there as a student as an actual staff member; my brother David took over my old job after he graduated and I quit to have Rachel, he also worked there as a student; Patrick works there; Emily works there; Andrew worked there while he was an undergrad student and now he’s working there again as a quasi-staffer. As you can see, staggering numbers of people in our family have worked there. It’s just the place to be.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Picnics is hard (but date nights is awesome)

To celebrate the 24th of July—also known as Pioneer Day—we went to a neighbourhood picnic, which was a lot of fun. Rachel, however, hasn’t seen many picnics in her day. In fact, I think the only picnic she’s ever been to was a teddy bear picnic we had in Cairo with some friends. It was pretty much a new experience for her.

We spread our blanket on the ground to claim our spot and then got in line for the food, which was plentiful. There were hot dogs and steak, corn on the cob (which Rachel loved—it was her first time eating corn on the cob and she probably had like three), salads, fruit, breads, desserts, a whole smorgasbord of dishes. Potlucks are fantastic.

Among the desserts was a beautiful strawberry cake. I took a piece, making room on my plate by crowding my actual dinner to the side. Andrew also took a piece, but he put his piece on a separate plate.

We returned to our blanket and began the juggling act that eating a picnic dinner with a three-year-old is. We didn’t even have Miriam at the time because Grandpa had walked off with her. Trust me, it was difficult enough with one child, drinks, plates, and feet to worry about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What am I doing?

I went running today for the first time in years. It was a short two-mile loop but my thighs are already screaming at me. When I walked in the door, dripping with perspiration, and panting like a dog Andrew greeted me with, “You’re back already?”

Yup. Fifteen minutes of agony and I’m back “already.” Thanks for keeping things in perspective, honey.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rachel turns 3 and Uncle Jacob turns into a missionary

On Tuesday Rachel turned three. I promised her that I would make her a cake but have I done it yet? No. And frankly I’m not sure that I’m ever going to get around to it. What was I thinking promising her a cake on the one month anniversary of us moving across the world—and a pretty, pink, pig cake that tastes like strawberries at that? I wasn’t thinking we’d be this busy, that’s what I was thinking.

With Sarah’s wedding on Friday and Jacob’s farewell on Sunday there was very little time to think about Rachel’s birthday celebrations. Uncle Jacob was set apart as a missionary on Tuesday evening as well, which meant that we were sharing that day with him, too. But although I haven’t made that blasted cake yet I think we managed to squeeze in a nice celebration, anyway.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rachel Nuggets

I almost forgot about this until this morning. Rachel is in the kitchen making banana bread with Grandma--we have a lot of leftover bananas from the wedding. Grandpa was just in there teasing Rachel (under the guise of eating breakfast) and this story came up so I thought I'd jot it down.

Shortly before Sarah got married we were all downstairs in the basement playing when Sarah came downstairs halfway and poked her head over the banister. She started gushing about this and that and that and this, as only Sarah can. Rachel still hadn't seen Sarah a lot since Sarah was working all day and spending all evening with Cory, only to return far past Rachel's bedtime, so Rachel wasn't too sure what to think about her yet.

She sat there listening to Sarah blather on for quite some time before looking up at her and saying, "You talk a lot."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Independence Day

We had a lot of fun this year I think, in part, due to the fact that we’ve just returned to the States and have been enjoying a constant stream of cold cereal. With Sarah’s wedding reception out of the way it seems our luck with continue—there were about seventy bags of cereal left over. I know this because today I made Rachel help me carry them downstairs to the storage room as part of a punishment for throwing a royal tantrum when I asked her to wash her face.

The way she was acting you would have thought I was forcing her to carry sandbags. In actuality each bag weighed maybe two pounds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nebulizer Baby

As I mentioned, we’ve been sick. We’re all doing much better now, thank you. Rachel is completely over her cough, Miriam is sleeping for much longer than forty minutes at a time, and my sinuses are almost cleared up. And it’s awesome.

Miriam was probably the sickest of us all. She ran a fever for a couple of days and then was stuck with this horrible, hacking cough that would shake her body from head to toes. After she finished coughing she’d whimper.

*Cough!*Cough!*whimper*

She was, in a word, pathetic. And things only got worse at night.

Four-wheel drive

We calculated the distance between our house and the chapel we attend by my parents’ house and found that it was the same distance as walking from our apartment in Maadi to Midan Victoria, a short 15 minute walk. The funny thing is that the distance between our house and the chapel is strictly residential. All we pass on our walk are houses—probably about a hundred or so of them—and we know most of the residents.

In Maadi, the walk to Midan Victoria scales residential walls to include political buildings, church buildings, schools, train tracks, stores, embassy compounds, hotels, banks, pharmacies, kiosks…just about everything we could ever need can be found between our apartment and Midan Victoria. And who knows how many hundreds (thousands?) of people lived in the apartment buildings we would pass.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A bunch of other stuff happened and then…

Sarah got married.

That’s been taking up quite a bit of everyone’s time but it was fun to help out and to reminisce about our own wedding. Sarah took out her endowments at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple, which is where I took out my own endowments and where Andrew and I were married and sealed. It was fun to be with her on that day.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Rachel the know-it-all

We played I Spy while we were waiting in the doctor’s office today—that’s right, we finally broke down and took Miriam to the doctor without insurance (dun-dun-dun!)—a game that Rachel is getting rather good at. When it was my turn I spied with my little eye something that was white.

“The wall?” Rachel guessed.

“No. The wall is white but I spy something different.”

“Hmmm…that thing?” she asked.

I followed her pointer finger to a little box mounted on the wall.

“The paper towel dispenser? Yes! That’s what I spy!”

“Mom,” she told me, kind of rolling her eyes, “That isn’t an indenser. That’s actually just a thing what holds all the paper towels.”

Oh, I so totally stand corrected.

Last Grover Day

How far behind am I? Let’s see. Our last day in Grover was June 30, so I’m only eleven days behind. A lot can happen in eleven days, but I may as well start at the very beginning—the end of our Grover trip.

We woke up early-ish to hike through Sulphur Creek. We brought our hiking backpack with us but in the end decided not to take Rachel with us and left her and Miriam behind with Grandma. We also didn’t take our camera because we had remembered the hike being rather wet.

This year, however, the water was rather low. The hike seemed so much easier than we remembered it being, probably due to the fact that the water was running clear instead of chocolate red and that it was only ankle deep instead of knee deep. We were so looking forward to getting to the third and final waterfall—when the water is high enough you can slide down the waterfall and swim to shore. That’s what we did last year. But when we got to the waterfall we saw that the pool at the bottom was only knee-deep, so instead of sliding we just climbed down.

We arrived at the visitor’s center mostly dry and hardly even exhausted, but that was alright because we still had to pack up camp. By the time we had finished loading up the vehicles we were all worn out.

It’s only a three hour drive and we stopped three times, mostly to deal with some little girls (and to switch up drivers). We stopped in the middle of no where to get Miriam settled down and while I did that Grandpa took Rachel to visit some sheep he spotted in a pasture. Then we stopped at a gas station to use the restrooms and switch drivers.

It was decided that Grandpa would drive the van and Daddy would drive the car, so Grandma and Grandpa got in the van and started driving away and Daddy hopped into the driver’s seat and went to get the keys out of his pocket but found his pocket to be empty.

He got out of the car and started chasing down the van. He caught up with it shortly before it turned out of the gas station lot and started banging on the side, but Grandpa didn’t stop. Andrew kept chasing the van all the way to the entrance of the freeway before he got Grandpa to stop so that he could get the keys.

That was rather comical and we thought that the rest of the trip would go off without a hitch. We were wrong.

When we were about an hour away from home Rachel started complaining that she had to go to the bathroom.

“We just stopped like twenty minutes ago and you went then,” I told her.

“But I only went pee pee, and now I need to do poo-poos!” she wailed. “My tummy hurts so bad!”

“Can you hold it until we get to the next town? There is no where to stop here.”

“I have to go right now! Please!”

By now she is crying and carrying on but we make her wait until we make it to Nephi and then we pull off and Andrew rushes her into a restaurant to use the restroom.

There she perches on the toilet and a wicked grin spreads across her face. “I didn’t really have to go,” she giggled, “I just wanted to get out of the car!”

Andrew told her that she was in big trouble and that he was going to put her back in the car and that he didn’t want to hear a peep out of her until we got home. She was very remorseful and when he put her in the car her head was hanging in shame. She reached over and grabbed her favourite blanket from my lap and pulled it over her head and sat like that for the entire hour ride home.

Granted, she fell asleep, otherwise I don’t think she would have been able to maintain her silence, but still.

It was a good camping trip, we’ve been home for nearly two weeks now and have been battling constant colds the whole time, which probably explains some of the lack of blog posts.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Little Nursing Strike

Since I hadn’t had any problems nursing Miriam since birth (except for oversupply but I was already used to that from Rachel) I thought it would be smooth sailing from here on out.

I thought wrong.

We’ve had a lot of changes in our family recently. For starters, we moved halfway around the world. Need I even go on from there? I’m sure if you don’t know firsthand about all the changes that involves that you can use your imagination.

Due to the stress or the plane ride or mere happenstance, both Rachel and Miriam caught a nasty cold and they just can’t seem to kick it. Fevers, chills, coughs, throw up, diarrhea. And we don’t even dare go to the doctor because we aren’t insured yet, thanks to the glorious free-market economy and the “fabulous” idea of letting private companies run the “business” of health…but I’ll spare you a political rant for now.

Anyway, things were fine until yesterday morning when Miriam latched on to nurse and instead of sucking she bit me.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Calf Creek and Fremont Falls II

I’ve only ever been to Calf Creek once, and that was while Andrew was still on his mission. Ever since then I’ve been too tied to children (ie. nursing) to take off and go cliff jumping for hours on end. I’m alright being holed up at the cabin though because cliff jumping? It’s really not my thing.

So Tuesday morning Andrew headed out to Upper Calf Creek Falls with everybody else while I stayed at camp with the girls and Grandma and Richard and Michael and Katharine and Kayl.

The hike down to Calf Creek only takes about fifteen minutes but coming back up takes at least a half hour. It’s a barren hike with little other than juniper bushes to provide shade and the blazing sun deep-fries everything within its reach, including the backs of some less-than-fortunate members of our family. *cough*Andrew*cough*

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The good jumping spot is a little farther upstream where the water is as icy as ever and the height slightly terrifying. For me. Others find it thrilling. Like little Matthew Wight who, two years ago cried for 2.5 hours of a hike after scraping his knee, jumped 34 times just to beat last year’s record of 33 times, proving himself much braver. Andrew jumped a couple of times and then spent quite a while capturing everyone else jumping.

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Even Grandpa jumped in. I don’t recall this happening when I went five years ago. But here’s photographic evidence that he did.

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I think he’s even catching a Frisbee midair, which is only one of many tricks attempted. People were doing 360s, some even dove in, while others, like Andrew, merely attempted to dive in. The Zander boys are on swim teams and dive teams so diving off a 15 foot cliff was like diving off a 15 foot platform. Andrew hasn’t ever dived off anything other than the poolside so for him to decide to attempt a dive off a 15 foot cliff was a little…unstable.

After standing on the ledge of the cliff for an hour or so and really scorching his back, Andrew managed to pull off a spectacular belly flop. I admire his bravery but not so much the stupidity. He is still in pain from the sunburn, though I think the sting from the flop has worn off.

Meanwhile, back at the camp…

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The girls and I hiked up the hill, also known as the “steepest mountain” to some two-year-olds in our company, to play at the forts, also known as “The Diamond Castles” to aforementioned two-year-olds, that Daddy helped build when he was younger. We spent a long time “magicking” away bad guys, cows, deer, and wolves with our wands that looked a whole lot like sticks.

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Disclaimer: The only things we saw were cows and, occasionally, deer. No bad guys or wolves were actually involved in our play.

When we (Rachel) got sick of that game we went back down to the cabin and played puppies. Rachel was the owner and I was the mommy puppy and Miriam was the baby puppy. That meant that I spent about twenty minutes trying to prevent Rachel from maiming Miriam who was not as willing to play puppy as you might think.

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Rachel was happy when Kayl and his mommy returned from their drive and when Michael and his daddy returned from their hike so that she could run around with her cousins. Both the boys had taken their shoes off in the cabin while we were having lunch and Rachel ran over to me to ask if she could, too, because she wanted to be “just like her cousins!”

She wasn’t actually very successful at making good friends with her cousins this trip. Unfortunately both those boys have rather large personal space and Rachel doesn’t. She kept trying to hold their hands and hug them and kiss them (and pull or push them in the direction she wanted them to go). She’s not entirely malicious about it but I think the bully inside her kind of enjoyed the power it gave her to make them upset.

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When Diana was explaining to someone that Michael was upset because he has this “bubble” of personal space that Rachel was invading, Rachel walked up to Michael and started poking him with her finger.

“I’m popping his bubble!” she laughed, “Pop! Pop! Pop!”

We’ve been working on respecting other’s personal space for quite some time. I guess it’s something we’ll have to keep working on.

That afternoon after the Calf Creek troupe returned we headed out to Fremont Falls again so that Rachel, Miriam, and Michael could get some more adventures in.

I actually think that the next two pictures are from Monday, not Tuesday. Our cameras’ timers are still set to Egypt time so the dates on our photos are all messed up. And Andrew looks far too happy to have sustained second degree burns all over his back. Clearly these were taken before that incident.

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These pictures are from Tuesday, though. You can tell because Grandpa is wearing his new BYU hat that he got for his birthday (I won’t say how old he is, but I will say he’s twice my age) on Monday evening after we had been to Freemont Falls and in the other pictures he’s wearing, what I believe he refers to as, his “goofy hat.”

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Rachel had a lot of fun playing in the shallow water and wouldn’t let me get anywhere near the waterfall. Instead we played in the mud and built dams in some feeder streams. Miriam just sucked her thumb—it was getting late and she was getting sleepy.

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Watching the sun set over the red rock in Southern Utah is amazing, just sayin’.

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Hmmm…I think this photo is from Monday night as well…Andrew and Jacob were rather excited that they started the fire using only one match.

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We made s’mores with “Giant Roaster” marshmallows. Those things are huge. Apparently they are the same size as four large marshmallows combined, which in my opinion is far too big. They seemed to get all cooked on the outside before the inside was melty, which isn’t very good for s’mores. Rachel didn’t care, though, since she was much more interested in roasting the marshmallows than eating them, which is just as well since it was so close to bedtime and Rachel gets visibly more hyper after consuming sugar.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hickman Bridge and Fremont Falls

Since we slept in so late we only had time for a quick hike on Monday morning before the rest of the crew arrived. Grandpa took us to hike Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge found in Capitol Reef National Park. I’d never hiked it before so I was excited. So was Rachel who didn’t ever quite catch on to the concept of “natural bridge.”

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Andrew carried her in the backpack and she chatted to him on the way up about the Nile and how it would run under the bridge and how people would be standing on the bridge and would wave down to us and how we could walk over it and get to the other side. She was pretty excited about it even though we explained to her over and over again that it was a natural bridge—carved out of stone by an ancient river—and that the Nile was in Egypt and we were not.

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20100703 - 019She refused to get out and walk until we made it to the “holes” and Grandpa promised her that she could have a snack. It took her a long time to warm up to exploring but eventually she agreed to wander around a bit, but only under the condition that she hold my hand so I traded Miriam for Rachel. We walked up on top of the little bridges and underneath them and all around.

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We found a “seat” for Rachel that was covered with mud handprints that reminded us a bit of Eid al-Adha. She wasn’t terribly thrilled with us forcing her to have her picture taken.

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Rachel was sorely disappointed when we got to the bridge. It wasn’t at all what she was expecting. Andrew asked her if she thought it was cool.

“No,” she answered flatly, “It’s not.”

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But then Daddy taught her about echoes and she brightened up.

And screamed her lungs out.

I’ll admit that it’s no Delicate Arch but I thought it was pretty cool (so take that, Rachel).

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Rachel walked around the bridge and all the way until it got all hilly. Then she went up in the backpack.

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It was a short hike, but it was fun and we, of course, enjoyed the landscape. We saw Pectol’s Pyramid, which Rachel easily identified, as well as Capitol Dome.

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When we got back to the trailhead Grandpa asked Rachel if she wanted to put her feet in the river. She didn’t and complained that it wasn’t really a river since it isn’t big like the Nile. I suppose when you’re used to having one of the largest rivers in the world just down the street any other river seems insignificant.

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We went back to camp where Aunt Katharine and Kayl, Uncle Jacob, Richard and Diana and Michael, and James and Phillip had arrived and were busy setting up their tents. We had some lunch and played around a bit before the Wights got there. Then we left for Fremont Falls.

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The Fremont River runs through Capitol Reef and there is a lovely waterfall just off the highway (where we watched the flashflood two years ago) that we enjoy playing in.

Rachel didn’t want to do anything more than wade in the shallows, which was fine because that’s all Michael, Kayl and Miriam wanted to do, too.

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The waterfall is slowly causing the pool at the bottom to get deeper so it’s getting harder and harder to get back behind the waterfall. I’d actually never been back there but Andrew has and he kept insisting it was a must-do. The only problem was it seemed quite the impossible task.

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Uncle Jacob braved the raging waters and managed to climb behind the waterfall somehow—I’m not sure how since I was busy nursing a baby while he did it—and then began hoisting people up behind the waterfall with him.

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Eventually Andrew convinced me to join in.

Getting up was the easy part. For me, anyway. All I had to do was swim/rock climb over to Jacob and grab onto his foot. Then he bent over and lifted me up in a bear hug and passed me to James who helped me get into the cave behind the falls. I’m smaller than both Jacob and James. Andrew is not and ended up pulling Jacob in accidentally instead of having Jacob pull him up onto the cliffs.

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Being behind the waterfall was a cool experience. It’s more of a ledge than a true cave and I sat there for a long time while I was getting the nerve to jump. Jumping’s really the only way to get back down from the waterfall and it’s kind of against the rules…and I kind of don’t like jumping from high places. It was so cold behind the waterfall, which was a good thing because I had originally thought that the water was a little chilly. Sitting behind the waterfall with cold air surrounding me, though, made the water feel plenty warm but I still couldn’t manage to make myself jump. I sat, shivering with Diana, for a long time.

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Finally after watching Phillip and Matthew jump I decided that I could do it, too. Diana went soon after me and apparently even Andrew jumped in, though I didn’t see him get up the waterfall or jump back down since I was busy calming Rachel (who was overjoyed to see me return from the falls alive).

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It was fun but I made a solemn promise to never do it ever, ever, ever again. Grandpa told Rachel that there was a water monster and that it ate me…or something like that…so when I was putting her to bed she asked me if I would promise her to never visit the waterfall monster again because she was so scared while I was gone.

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Later she asked if we could go behind the waterfall together when she’s as big as me so apparently when she said for me to not go to the waterfall “ever, ever, ever again” she didn’t really mean it. Perhaps she’ll even forget about it by next year.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Grover, day one

We stayed in Andrew’s cousin Ken’s trailer instead of pitching a tent. For some reason this seemed easier. By the time we had finished unloading the van and eating dinner, though, it was dark and we hadn’t been able to figure out how to get the electricity in the trailer working so we had to get ready for bed in the dark.

I held a flashlight in my hand and bent over to search through our bags to find pyjamas for everyone while Andrew wrangled the girls. When I stood up my head connected with the corner of an overhanging cabinet I had been unfortunate enough not to notice.

In short: blood, swelling, massive headache. And it was only our first day.

Other than that and the occasional bug bite…and the Zander boys popping a tire and second degree burns covering half the back of certain boys in our family (I won’t mention any names—if only, if only there was some modern invention to prevent such a thing from happening…oh wait…sunblock), a few people bonking their heads on overhanging rocks while climbing up waterfalls…nothing bad happened.

We played Rummikub with Andrew’s parents that evening after we had gotten the girls to sleep and I had sufficiently iced my head. Karen and I had a hard round—we had drawn all the tiles and still couldn’t go down. It was so sad and we begged to start a new round and because we’re spoiled Andrew and Reid gave in.

Interestingly enough Andrew’s family plays Rummikub with house rules and those house rules are virtually identical to the house rules I grew up with, which is nice. Andrew and I both enjoy Rummikub and never even discussed the rules when we started playing together. I hadn’t even realized that I grew up playing house rules until I played with some friends in Egypt a few weeks ago. That game was rather confusing for me. I think everyone should play by our house rules, except that because we play only after we’ve accumulated 50 points we apparently run the risk of drawing all the tiles and never being able to play.

That’s only ever happened to me once, though, so I still think our rules are good rules. The next round went much better.

We went to bed, freezing cold, and fully expecting to be woken up early in the morning due to sunshine or birds or babies or some other natural alarm clock, but we weren’t. Our whole family slept in until Miriam cried out to nurse. I heard Karen honk the horn on her way out of camp to go grocery shopping so I woke Andrew up to see what time it was since we were supposed to go hiking. It was 9:30!

I don’t think anyone has ever slept in until 9:30 in the whole history of Grover trips—and there have been 17 years of them. That’s right, year marks the heptadecennial anniversary of Heiss Family Grover Trips…and we spent the first morning sleeping in.

Laundry here vs. there

Today I did not one, not two, not three, but four loads of laundry—I washed them, dried them, folded them, and put them away all by myself…with a little help from my amazing husband…and an awesome Auntie Sarah who let two rambunctious children wrestle with her…and some wonderful grandparents who also helped entertained those rambunctious children.

I like these newfangled machines.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Grover

We're still alive, though life seems rather surreal right now. We spent the first part of this week camping--it was hard for us to believe that we were in Grover, Utah, when we had been in Cairo, Egypt just the week before. You'd think that they would be very different since one has a population of several million and the other a population of less than 300.* However Grover is rather sandy, which made us nostalgic for home.

Rachel kept saying things like "We must be by the pyramids. It's sandy. But where are the camels?"and she named one of the impressive rock formations "The Sphinx."

I have several stories to share but the girls are competing for my attention by seeing who can scream the longest and loudest over the most insignificant thing. It's taken nearly a half hour to get this far so clearly this isn't the best time to be writing.

I'll leave you with a most hilarious Andrew-ism. At least, I think it's funny.

While we were hiking through Sulphur Creek yesterday, Andrew and James were discussing the water purity of the creek. Since we found a deer leg floating in the water I'm going to guess it isn't great.

Andrew: I wouldn't drink the water, James. You'd probably get gonorrhea.

Me: Ummm...I think you mean giardia...

Andrew: Why?

Me: Because gonorrhea is an STD.

And now a brief message from Rachel, who has been whining about needing a turn to type...

khdxxzzhh trr
t
\
6

*From what I could find, that's the population for the entire postal code and I'm pretty certain that Grover doesn't have its own postal code so this likely contains the populace of surrounding small towns.