Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween apples; trick or treat!

On All Hallow's Eve, eve, eve...that's October 29th, in case you lost track...Rachel had a party at school. We went to parent-teacher conferences the day before and her teacher was sure to stress that Rachel was invited to the party even though it was on a Friday, a day she normally doesn't go to school.

"I'll have to hurry and finish her costume tonight, then," I said.

"Oh, don't worry about rushing anything. We have a whole room full of costumes and she can just come and pick one out to wear for the day."

Upon hearing this, Rachel tugged off her sweater, looked up at her teacher, and said, "Can I see this costume room, please?"

Marathon Results

I think it took me five minutes for me to hobble from my bed to get Miriam from her crib this morning. Daddy-dear was long-since up with Rachel and the two of them were playing downstairs when she started to fuss, otherwise I'm sure he would have gotten her for me. I really need to stretch!

But, the results of the half-marathon are up!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

Did you know that the average American family spends $40 on Halloween candy?

Did you know that the average worker in the Central African Republic earns $25 per month?

Did you know that nationwide, $6.9 billion will be spent on Halloween candy this year?

Did you know that nationwide, the Central African Republic brings in $3.2 billion annually?

Today you gave out candy to any child who asked.

Would you be willing to give the gift of clean water to a child in the CAR?

Did you know that a donation of $20 can give one person clean drinking water for 20 years?


Today I ran that half-marathon I've been talking about. And it was hard. And it was painful. But it was so, so worth it! On the clock I finished at 2:05, which is about five minutes behind my goal time. I'm waiting to see what my chip time is because the start line was so crowded it took us awhile to cross the starting line. I'll find out about that tomorrow.

In the meantime you can help me reach my goal of $2500 for that well in the CAR. I currently have $754 to go! Every little bit helps! Please go to http://mycharitywater.org/halloweenhalf to contribute anything from $2 on up. 100% of donations go directly to water projects and all donations are tax deductible.

Happy haunting, everybody!

Friday, October 29, 2010

First snow

The day after Miriam was born we had our first rainstorm in Egypt in like...forever. This year we got our first snowfall the day after her birthday. Rachel was beyond excited. She's been waiting to experience snow for like...forever. It was a school day and she talked about her plans for the snow the whole way to school. Unfortunately, as you can see, the snow was a little scant.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hippo-hurray! Meme's one...like three days ago...

On the Sunday before Miriam's first birthday I still had no idea or plan for a party. Considering her birthday was the very next day this was kind of a sad thing. I decided to make her a stuffed hippo because I found a cute pattern and I knew she'd be getting mostly practical things for her birthday--a car seat and diaper covers from us, a snowsuit from Grandma and Grandpa. We had ordered her a magna doodle because she loves to draw but it hadn't come yet and I wanted her to have something fun to play with on her birthday.

So I spent all of Sunday evening crocheting a hippo and thinking about what to do for a cake. When I got up with one of the girls in the night, inspiration struck. I'd make a hippo cake and on it I'd write "Hippo-hurray! Meme's one today!" Unfortunately I hadn't finished I hadn't finished the blasted toy hippo yet so spent all day doing that. At four o'clock in the afternoon I finally got around to the cake. It was a bit of a rush job but turned out alright (minus all the icing on the hippo's ears).

Natural Induction

On October 24, 2009 we went to a Halloween party at the Eastin's compound. They had some bounce houses set up, along with a trampoline. I joked about jumping on the trampoline to spur on labour since my due date was three days away. Andrew dared me to do it and so I did, scandalizing all the Egyptian women present--they were certain I was going to damage my precious cargo but I'm a firm believer in the durability of my water sac because my water seems to only ever break long after the onset of labour...and after I start pushing. Anyway, I told you I'd share that video last year and I never got around to it. So, here it is today--me, jumping on a trampoline, very pregnant:



And about 16 hours later, we had this:


So, if you want to naturally induce labour, my advice is to jump on a trampoline with reckless abandon. Onset of labour guaranteed within 12 hours...at least...it worked for me.

How'd you sleep last night?

Meh. I think "Where'd you sleep last night?" is the better question.


 And, frankly, I'm not sure I know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now THIS post is about running (and other things)

On Saturday I went for a long run with Wendy--ten glorious miles down South Fork Canyon, starting at Big Springs Park, going past the Conrad Ranch, past South Fork Park, past Vivian Park, past Bridal Veil Falls, past Nunn's Park, and finally spilling out of Provo Canyon. It was so beautiful.

A dark storm cloud was threatening to break open over us at any minute but there was sunshine at our backs, illuminating the golden aspen and red maple leaves. It was stunningly picturesque. And it was fun to run through the canyon that my ancestors once farmed. I got to reflect a bit on the past, while running in the present (and thereby prepare for the future). It was an exhilarating run.

Materialism: Lux-cessities and sneaky parenting

My hard drive is corrupted which means my computer is currently out of commission. I have a ton of things to blog about but a lot of them have to do with pictures...that I can't get to...because my hard drive is currently being fixed...or replaced. Luckily we have everything (we think) backed up in "the cloud" and on a mega-hard-drive downstairs so I'm not too worried about it. I'm just going through withdrawals. I wasn't even going to blog until my computer was fixed but so much has happened already and is going to happen that I just can't stand it any more. So...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cryptic...eeek!

Today at 4:05 PM I was playing in the backyard with the girls, singing about wanting a life of adventure in the great, wide somewhere and pretending to borrow books where fair maidens meet their prince charming but don't discover that it's him until chapter three. We're a little obsessed with Beauty and the Beast right now and by "we" I mean "Rachel." I was mostly waiting for Daddy to come home so that the girls could get really excited to see him thereby giving me a few minutes of don't-touch-mommy time. I was also singing because how are you supposed to pretend to run to the top of a hill and twirl around with a basket (in this case a plastic bucket) without your theme song playing? I don't know, either, so I sang so that Rachel Belle could play her part.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Addendum: Homesickness strikes on the trail

I totally forgot that while we were doing the Riverside Walk that one of the many times we stopped to rest we sat on a rock by a cute, elderly woman. She told us that her family had gone ahead without her and she was planning on resting until they came back to retrieve her. She was diabetic and had forgotten to bring a snack with her and the time to eat was past-due so she didn't want to push herself.

Having packed way more food than we could possibly eat, I offered her one of our granola bars.

She accepted and we proceeded to chat with her for a few minutes. We asked her where she was from--Salt Lake City--and told her that we were from Utah, too.

"Well," Rachel said, gesticulating wildly, "They're from Utah, but we're not. We're from Egypt."

"Oh, really?" the woman said slightly incredulously. "Where in Egypt are you from?"

"Cairo. But we had to move here so my dad could go to school. But we're going back to Egypt when he's done."

"Oh?" the woman looked at me for verification.

"Yes, my husband did a master's degree at the American University in Cairo so we lived there for two years, which is all she remembers, and we're at BYU now getting another degree."

"My sister was born in Egypt!" Rachel interjected, "And sometimes we like to ride feluccas or visit the pyramids! I don't like camels!"

The poor girl misses "home" so much. She's constantly having pretend phone calls with her friend, Tuesday, and recently we've been playing "fly to pretend Egypt."

Andrew's parents own the apartment we lived in before we moved to Egypt. Someone else lives there now, obviously, and they had asked Karen to fix some plumbing problem in the condo, so last week she asked Rachel if she'd like to go with Grandma to visit the apartment she used to live in.

"The apartment I used to live in?!" Rachel squealed, "Yes! I want to go!"

"Alright, let's go!" said Grandma.

"To Egypt?" Rachel sighed dreamily.

No. Not to Egypt. Unfortunately.

I miss home, too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Drinking Water

My friend and cousin, Layla, posted this movie on her blog. It's rather poignant.


Solidarités International: Water talks from La Boite Concept on Vimeo.

There are ways that you can help eradicate water-transmitted diseases. For example, you could donate money to my campaign on charity:water to help fund a well to bring clean water to people in the CAR, just sayin'.

And just for kicks I'll share a silly story about my main man, Andrew. When he was 14 or 15 his family went hiking to Timpanogos Caves. At the trail head there was a sign that read "NO DRINKING WATER ON TRAIL." Andrew, an astute rule-keeper, made note of the sign and tucked his water bottle safely away.

A while later his Aunt Becky pulled out her bottle of water and took a swig. Andrew stared at her, slack-jawed, before mustering the courage to enforce the rules of the trail.

"Hey, there was a sign back there that said no drinking water on the trail," Andrew told her.

Everyone cracked up at this because, of course, the sign meant that there was no potable water available on the trail not that you weren't allowed to drink any water on the trail. Silly boy.

We're so lucky, though, to have clean water, though. I thought about this while I was on my long run a few weeks ago. Wendy and I didn't even bother bringing water bottles with us because there are drinking fountains every few miles down the canyon to home. I think we had four water breaks over the course of our seven miles. And all of it was just free, clean water. We are so, so lucky.

There are more movies on the charity:water website. I particularly like this one as it helps put it in perspective for those of us who have never had to go without clean water:


Jennifer Connelly in charity: water Public Service Announcement from charity: water on Vimeo.

And don't forget to make a donation! Thanks!

Anderson Reunion, day 2 (Friday, Oct. 15)

We had a wonderful pancake breakfast by Aunt Susan and Uncle Morris’ RV. It was freezing cold and rather windy. I joined Stephanie by the griddle and we toasted our hands above the eggs and pancakes while they were being cooked. It was that cold.

IMG_9780

After breakfast we packed up to go hiking in Zion National Park. We all brought sweaters, of course, and just as we got to the visitor’s center the sun popped out from behind the dazzling plateaus and we soon began to wonder why we had brought sweaters along. We ended up stuffing them in our backpacks and packing them around all day, which is rather unfortunate when you’re already trying to pack around children.

Our first hike was to the lower Emerald Pool, which is where Rachel saw the monkeys. She loved the hike, and we didn’t just see monkeys, either. We saw a lovely green caterpillar on the trail, too.

IMG_9748

Rachel and I followed the path right under the waterfall, which Rachel thought was really neat.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, “This is like a waterfall!”

IMG_9754

A man walking past us overheard her and said, “This is a waterfall.”

IMG_9755

When we were finished standing under the waterfall we sat down for some lunch.

IMG_9758

On the way back we spotted a wild turkey…

IMG_9766

And a squirrel…

IMG_9768

…who did squirrely things like foraging for nuts and stuffing them into his cheeks. 

IMG_9774

When we got back to the trailhead we stopped to rest while we waited for Grandpa to find us. He had taken some of the older cousins to the Middle or Upper Emerald Pools. I don’t remember which. All I know is that I didn’t go because I was carrying Meme and it sounded too far to go with them.

IMG_9778

When the rest of the troupe had caught up with us we headed over to The Lodge to finish our lunches on the lawn, then we piled into the shuttle to head to the Temple of Sinawava to do the Riverside Walk, which was beautiful…and completely overrun by squirrels.

IMG_9784 IMG_9787

There were so many squirrels, in fact, that we changed the name from Riverside Walk to Squirrel Walk. Some of us still walked in the river—like girl-whose-name-I-can’t-remember, Garrett, Grandpa, and Megan—but most of us walked with the squirrels.

IMG_9789

There were fat, lazy squirrels everywhere you looked. They were obviously very well-fed, despite the authority’s attempts to get the tourists not to, and just wouldn’t get out of the way. I almost stepped on one while I was giving Rachel a piggy-back and Grandma touched one that was just sitting on the wall staring at the hikers. He wheeled around in a frenzy and almost bit her…but she came out of it with all her fingers intact.

IMG_9886

Rachel was a little terrified wary of the squirrels, but what else is new?

IMG_9880

About halfway through the hike we found the Kleins/Andersons who were picnicking in a little alcove off the beaten path. It was fun to keep running into our family on the trail with our matchy-matchy backpacks.

IMG_9808

They were being pestered by a lame squirrel. And I mean that in the sense that the squirrel really was lame—he was dragging his front paw and just looked so pitiful. But he wouldn’t leave anyone alone! Seriously they should fine the animals for stealing food from humans instead of fining the humans for feeding the squirrels because these little guys are vicious beggars.

IMG_9810

Aside from being accosted by squirrels at every turn, the walk was really quite beautiful.

IMG_9793 IMG_9794

Zion National Park is a rather popular destination so the trails are pretty much constantly swarming with people which meant that we were often forced to walk single-file in order to allow foot traffic from the opposite direction to pass. Rachel had a blast running between me, Grandma, and Sarah. She would grab someone’s hand and then let go and run to the person ahead and then run to the next person and then backtrack to the beginning of the line again. As she did it she chanted, “From my mom…to my grandma…to my aunt…from my mom…to my grandma…to my…ummm…ummm…ummm…”

Her mind had gone blank. I helped her fill it in.

“Fruit roll-up bum!”

IMG_9795

Oh, have I not told that story yet? Sarah begged me not to…but I told her I would, anyway. Sometimes her “no” means “please, do.”

The previous evening we were sitting in the pavilion having a short family meeting before departing for bed. Rachel had been eating a fruit-by-the-foot, which, if you don’t know, is three feet of sticky, sugary “fruit” rolled up on three-feet of wax paper. It’s only about an inch wide and is incredibly difficult for preschoolers to eat.

Rachel had given up eating it and had left it, sticky with saliva, on a camping chair. The very camping chair that Sarah chose to sit on. Needless to say, the fruit-by-the-foot (which we invariably call “fruit roll-up” because it is just as rolled as actual “fruit roll-ups,” if not more) adhered to her rear end.

She carried Rachel back to the hotel for me while I carried Meme. While we were walking she felt something hit the back of her leg.

“Did I drop something?” she asked.

We stopped and looked behind her and found the yucky, soggy fruit roll-up that Rachel had been working on.

“Oh, Rachel must have dropped this,” she said.

We went into the hotel and got the girls ready for bed. Rachel asked Sarah to lie down with her and Sarah obliged. It was then that I noticed an odd blob on Sarah’s rear.

“There’s something on your pants,” I told Sarah.

“Where?” she asked.

“On your bum,” I said.

She reached behind her and pulled off a large blob of fruit roll-up and then proceeded to be very embarrassed about how she had made the walk from the pavilion to the hotel with a fruit roll-up tail and wondered how many people noticed but didn’t say anything.

It was really quite hilarious. We joked the next morning about packing our lunches by sticking them to Sarah’s rear end. She didn’t find it as funny as the rest of us.

Anyway, it was a fun walk. Did I say that already? It was. At least on the way there. Both the girls were content to gaze at their new surroundings. Miriam sucked her thumb a lot.

IMG_9797

Rachel took some pictures of herself…

IMG_9801

And of me…

IMG_9877

We enjoyed the hanging gardens on the sandstone cliffs…

IMG_9821

And in the end we played in the river with our cousins Leah and Adrian. For some reason the children seemed to really enjoy this part even though the water was freezing cold.

IMG_9842IMG_9857IMG_9868IMG_9856IMG_9847

Everyone else stayed high and dry.

IMG_9869IMG_9859

When we were finished playing in the river Rachel asked if we would be taking the bus back to the hotel. I told her that we would be.

“Okay, will you wait for the bus with me?”

“Of course,” I told her.

She put on her shoes, climbed up the stairs from the riverbank to the trail and sat on the wall.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

“Waiting for the bus,” she smiled.

“Oh, no. The bus doesn’t come here. We have to walk all the way back to where we got off the bus before we can get back on it.”

Rachel started wailing.

Needless to say, the walk back to the trailhead was…less fun.

IMG_9888

Auntie Sarah offered to carry Miriam, though, which was nice. Miriam’s only 19 lbs. but after carrying her around all day it starts to feel like she weighs more like 50 lbs.

In spite of the slow, whiney pace we were keeping we managed to make good time and caught up with Grandma’s sisters. We snapped a few pictures with Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Susan while Rachel slammed her head into Grandma’s leg and Miriam screamed for me.

IMG_9892

Aunt Linda just laughed at us. I’m sure she was just happy she didn’t have to drag two screaming children to the trailhead.

IMG_9893

Rachel fell asleep on the ride back down the canyon. She was plum tuckered out. When we got to the hotel, though, she quickly gathered her wits and demanded that I take her swimming. Jana’s kids were already in the pool and Rachel was only too happy to join them. Daddy showed up while we were swimming and came to hang out with us at the pool. We were happy to finally see him!

IMG_9900

Before dinner Aunt Marci and cousin Therena broke out a bouncy house. The kids had a great time and were even pretty good about taking turns. They wouldn’t get off when it was time for dinner so they deflated it while the kids were still inside. Leah had to be dragged out because even though there was nothing left to bounce on she still didn’t want to leave.

IMG_9902 IMG_9907 IMG_9910

In the evening we held a talent show—Anderson idol! It was one of those things where no one really wanted to participate but everyone did, anyway, and it ended up being a lot of fun.

Grandma, Dorothy, and Linda were the backup singers for Susan. They lip-synched the Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” and it was quite the act.

IMG_9916

Grandma really got into her part.

IMG_9917

I took charge of our family’s number since no one else wanted to. Andrew said we would just quietly not participate but it would have been really embarrassing if we hadn’t gotten an act together since they announced everyone’s family to call them onto stage. Everyone else had something ready—Dorothy’s family sang Popcorn Popping and other families did little things like that—so I was glad we did, too.

We did two skits, the Bumble Bee skit and the Important Papers skit.

IMG_9922

Uncle Morris awarded everyone with glow sticks.

IMG_9926

Rachel and Miriam loved them.

IMG_9930

Rachel fell asleep hugging her glow stick and when she came into bed with Andrew and I in the middle of the night she managed to bring four glow sticks with her. We quietly threw them out the next day after they had lost their glow…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anderson Reunion, day 1 (Thursday, Oct. 14)

We spent the past few days at Zion National Park for a family reunion on Andrew’s side of the family. I went up a day earlier than Andrew and I was very glad I did. I was afraid it would be a little awkward because there are a few people in Andrew’s family that I hadn’t ever met (there are still a few left, actually, that I’ve yet to meet, even after the reunion). I had already met almost everyone there, though, and the ones I was introduced to were very nice.

Go figure.

IMG_9739

Andrew’s cousin Ashley apparently follows our blog (hi, Ashley!) and knew so much about us that it made me feel famous...so it was especially fun to meet her! She had her mom, Aunt Therena, bring down a big bag of yarn for me (that she was planning on giving away anyway) because she knew that I crocheted. It was so sweet.

Rachel was in “friend” heaven. There were so many 2, 3, and 4 year-olds running around it was hard to keep them straight. Rachel was especially fond of Adrian and Barrett. She called them her '”boy-friends.” I tried to convince her they were her cousins but she didn’t believe me.

“How come I’ve never met them if they’re my cousins?”

“Well…because we’ve been living in Egypt…and they’re really your dad’s cousins’ children so they are your second cousins.”

“Mom, we’re just friends, okay?”

Whatever.

She was really open to the idea of having so many new aunts and uncles, though.

IMG_9741

We didn’t do much on Thursday but settle into camp. Some families brought RVs. The rest stayed in the hotel adjacent to the RV park. We were part of “the rest” and it was the most comfortable camping experience I’ve ever had.

IMG_9745

Rachel spent quite a while with Grandpa down by the river. I think it’s the Virgin River but it might not be. The Virgin River flows through the canyon, I know…so it would only go to figure…but I could be wrong. She was really nervous about the fish in the water, particularly the “peanut-butter fish.” When we were packing up at home Grandpa told her there would be a river so she started asking if there would be jellyfish in the water because she hates jellyfish and wouldn’t want to go swimming if there were jellyfish in the water.

Grandpa gets all smart and said, “There are no jellyfish in the water…but there are peanut-butter fish.”

“They stick to the roof of your mouth,” I added.

“So be sure not to try to eat them,” warned Grandpa.

IMG_9729

Rachel was as nervous as she could be at the river, worrying about the peanut-butter fish that “stick to the roof of your house.” Even though we told her over and over again that we were joking she remained genuinely terrified and screamed hysterically every time Grandpa threatened to take her closer to the water.

Miriam was less melodramatic.

IMG_9731

Later, after Grandpa went to sit up by Aunt Therena and Uncle John’s RV, Rachel got brave enough to play by the water and pretended to fish for a while. She was trying to catch her a nice peanut-butter fish.

IMG_9733

Looking at that water started giving her ideas and soon she asked if she could go swimming. I told her that we could go swimming together but that there was no way I was going to swim with her in the river. I heard that it was 50°F (10°C) but it felt much colder than that. I tried standing in it and my feet started aching and screaming to get out.

Unfortunately, the pool wasn’t much warmer, but I got in the pool anyway because I’m a nice, dedicated mother (you can thank me when you’re older, Rachel). She insisted that the water was fine but did so while her teeth were a-chattering and her skin was turning blue and breaking out in goose bumps. I didn’t get in past my waist.

Uncle Clark, though? He dove right in.

“Come on in, the water’s fine!” he yelled happily to his grandkids. Then he turned to me and whispered, “This pool is flippin’ cold!”

We stayed in until Rachel was shivering uncontrollably. Then we went to rest in the last rays of sunshine before it disappeared behind the 3,800 foot cliffs surrounding us.

IMG_9737IMG_9738

At home, before we left, I told Andrew to be sure to pack his swimming stuff so that, if the pool was still open, we could go swimming. But I couldn’t say this out loud because Rachel was around and if she heard there was a pool at the hotel and then there wasn’t…well, we would have had a major crisis on our hands. So instead of saying anything simple like, “Remember to pack your swimsuit,” I said, “Remember to pack attire for the P-O-O-L.”

“What for?” Andrew asked.

“Well, unless you want to S-W-I-M naked you’re going to need something…”

“Oh, that…” he laughed, “I thought you meant ‘a tire,’ like for a car.”

“No. I meant ‘attire,’ like for you.”

I told Grandpa this story while we were walking from the river to the pool and Rachel was there and overheard it.

“We don’t bring tires to the pool. Like, some people use them, but I like to leave my wheels on the car. Did you see the people in the wheels in the river? We aren’t going to do that at the pool because you can’t take a tire to the pool.”

She was talking about the people we saw tubing down the river (the crazies! The water was like 50-stinkin’-degrees!) but the funny part was that she had the same thought her dad had. Attire=a tire.

Either she’s a really smart for her age or her father thinks like a three-year-old…

Just kidding—I think the man’s brilliant, obviously!

Calamitously, like most brilliant people, he’s also a little scatterbrained. And thus he forgot his swimming attire. So every time Rachel wanted to go swimming in the frigid pool (which was probably only about 5 degrees warmer than the river) guess who had to take her? Me.

*sigh*shiver*sigh*

I never got in past my waist and spent as much time as I could hogging the sun. Uncle Clark  made like he was going to splash me once and I said, “Oh, don’t you dare!”

Either a) I’ve perfected my evil look, b) Clark was afraid to offend the newbie (I was the newest in-law in attendence, I think), or c) Clark’s just a compassionate person because he didn’t splash me and didn’t even fake like he was going to again. Truthfully I didn’t want him to splash me but I would have been fine if he had because I was towing Rachel around while she kicked her legs to practice “swimming” and got thoroughly splashed, anyway.

After swimming we had supper and a family meeting before retiring to our room for bed. Rachel played “musical beds.” She fell asleep with Auntie Sarah, then I took her to bed with me when I went to bed, and then at five in the morning she wound up in bed with Grandma and Grandpa. It was kind of funny…but I think I’m getting into day #2 now and I’m not ready to do that, really, because I’m exhausted and need to go to bed.

I miss looking out the window and seeing this, though:

IMG_9740

It was such a beautiful weekend!