Wednesday, December 29, 2010

eShakti

I'm not really all that interested in fashion or trends or anything. I hate clothes shopping. I hate trying on clothes and deciding whether or not they look good. I hate having to buy my shoes in the children's section. I hate how tall, thin, and busty I am. I just can't ever find anything that fits.

However, today I found an online store called eShakti. Their tagline is "we design, you customize."

They will change the length to their shirts, dresses, skirts, and pants. They will make the sleeves any length you want. They will make a dress trimmer at the waist and bigger at the bust line. All for $7.50.

It's like the answer to the "if only this dress were two inches longer" dilemma. Or the solution to the "this would be really cute if only it had sleeves" problem.

One day when I have $54.95 (plus $7.50) to spend on a dress, I think this is what I will spend it on. Or perhaps this.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ifta7 ya simsim

All the doors to the bedrooms upstairs have locks on them. I suppose this was a very good thing when this house was teeming with adolescents—who wrongly assumed that privacy is a right. It's not. In fact, privacy doesn't exist at all. We've know that now that we have children of our own. We also know that locks on bedroom doors are a very bad idea when you have small children.

A couple of hours after waking up this morning Miriam started acting grumpy so I decided that she might want a nap. I got her all ready for nap time and went into the girls' room to put her down. Rachel came in to "help" me by turning off the light. She also closed the door when we left the room.

Miriam cried for a minute and then quieted down.

Approximately 45 minutes later I went to check on her. I crept up to her door, stealthily pur my hand on the knob, silently twisted, and...nothing. I grasped the handle and twisted again, this time a little more forcibly. Again, nothing. I wiggled the handle in both directions. It was stuck tight.

Snow day

Let me say again how weird this weather has been. It's been weird. Very weird. 

It rained today. And it's Boxing Day. 

Not that I'm complaining. 

Andrew took Rachel outside on Wednesday to play with the snow we got on Monday/Tuesday. It was more like slush than snow when they got out in it but they played until they were soaking wet and chilled to the bone, even though it was warm enough to be melting the snow faster than you can say "Jack Robinson."

The snow was so heavy that when they were making their snowman they broke the board they were using as a ramp to get the second snowball onto the first. It just snapped right in two. They still managed to get a decent-sized snowman built, though the snow was so compact after they rolled it that Andrew had to hammer the carrot nose in with a baseball bat.

Christmas 2010

On Christmas Eve morning Rachel and I played with one of our nativity sets while Miriam was napping. I loved watching her arrange all the characters. At one point she had everybody crammed into the stable, at another she had only the animals in the stable while everyone else crowded around baby Jesus. She kept switching things up; it was cute to watch. We sang the carols from the primary songbook while we were playing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Touch me not

School is out for Christmas break which means that we've been seeing a lot more of Phillip lately. Phillip lives a couple of houses down from us and he basically grew up between our house and his. Andrew and his older brother were best friends growing up. Truthfully, we've been missing Phillip because before school started he would stop by almost every day to see if he could play with the girls (both of them adore him and since he's the youngest child, by a large margin, and both of his parents work he preferred to play at our house rather than be at home alone all day).

One day this week he was over here for more than eight hours. He discovered Angry Birds on Andrew's iPod Touch and just disappeared. We'd find him in various locations around the house, quietly working on some ramdom Angry Birds level. Around bedtime I asked if Phillip was still here but no one could say for certain until I found him in our office, bouncing on my exercise ball in the corner, still playing Angry Birds. He (finally) went home but was over again the next day.

We had Josh and Carolee (our friends from Egypt) over for dinner and after we put the kids to bed we went downstairs to play MarioKart. While we were playing Phillip came downstairs.

"Touch me!" he said to Andrew.

Looking a little nervous, Andrew slowly raised his hand to touch Phillip's shoulder.

"Not like that!" shrieked Phillip, "iTouch me!"

Andrew dug the iPod out of his pocket and handed it to Phillip. Phillip flopped onto one of the couches and quickly dissolved into the world of Angry Birds. We hardly knew he was there.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Story of the Christmas Orange

This is a story that will be told for years to come, I am sure, and I'm not a bit ashamed to admit that I was the mastermind behind it. It was a bold move but I was confident from my interactions with Morgan that he could take the joke.

Back in November before Emily and Morgan had gotten married they decided that they'd spend Christmas at our house—"our" mostly meaning "Grandma and Grandpa's house"—though with the condition that Morgan, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Idaho boy, receive a chocolate orange in his stocking since that is one of his family's traditions.

Emily timidly approached Karen with Morgan's request and Karen told her that such a simple thing wouldn't be a burden. I must have had chocolate on the brain from watching Karen make chocolates all month long—she made red chocolate hearts and white chocolate temples to set out at Emily and Morgan's wedding reception and it took her from the time Emily got engaged to just a couple days before Emily got married to do it.

"What we should do," I suggested, "Is dip an orange in chocolate and then pretend we had no idea what he meant when he asked for a chocolate orange."

There was a bit of debate about how, exactly, this was to be done (should the orange be peeled and then dipped, should we tie a string around it and dip it?) but everyone agreed that it should be.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

She needs another hug (or "Farm boy, fetch me that pitcher.")

The night before Emily's wedding it started snowing. It snowed and it snowed and it snowed. It snowed all night long. When we got up in the morning it was still snowing. Power was out in parts of Provo and Springville. There was more than a foot of snow outside.

We started wedding preparations, anyway. Emily's friend Monica came over to do her hair and makeup.


Rachel watched with wondering awe the whole time so Monica offered to do Rachel's hair, too. Both girls ended up looking beautiful, though Emily was absolutely glowing. We were the last ones to leave the house—we were a little nervous about getting to the temple on time since the roads in Orem were so bad but once we were on the highway things cleared up nicely and we had no problem.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas at the Riverwoods

Emily moved home on Friday and since she's getting married on Tuesday we figured this was our last opportunity to party it up with her before she becomes Mrs. Craner, so on Saturday we went out to pizza and stopped at the Riverwoods mall to see the Christmas lights. 

They were actually much cooler than expected. They had fire pits scattered throughout the plaza where you could stop to get warm, they had a live band in a gazebo playing Christmas songs, they had a little Santa's cabin to explore—Santa wasn't there but that didn't stop the kids from loving it.

Go away; I'm teething!

Pretty girl

Due to the influences of her older sister, Miriam has taken to imaginative play much sooner than I expected. One of her favourite things to do is to put on fancy clothes. Here she is wearing a hat and scarf that Aunt Katharine made. She got them out and put them on all by herself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frankinsmyrrh

Today is the last Sunday before Christmas. It was, by extension, also the day we taught our primary class the Christmas story. They already knew so much about it, naturally, so we made good on our Middle Eastern costumes and simply had them act it out while we narrated it.

It was mass chaos.

Every girl wanted to be Mary so at one point we had two different scenes going on with two separate Marys and two separate Jesuses because we simply didn't have time to run through the story three times.

When I asked the kids to tell me what they had learned one of them responded, "In the real story there is only one Mary but we used two at a time. But there's only one. Just one Mary."

We also talked about the wise men—we brought in some beautiful boxes full of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold was mostly fake but the frankincense and myrrh were real. We bought some when we were in Turkey. The kids liked the smell of myrrh but weren't too fond of frankincense.

"What gifts did the wise men bring to baby Jesus?" I asked during our review.

"Gold!" the children answered.

"And what else?"

The room was silent until one brave boy ventured to answer.

"Frankinsmyrrh!" he blurted out.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The next five years

In the past five years we have:
  • had two children
  • lived in three different countries (USA, Jordan, Egypt) on three different continents (North America, Asia, and Africa)
  • visited England, Italy, Austria, Turkey, UAE, Canada, Spain, Morocco, and Israel (and I went to Greece without Andrew)
  • earned two bachelor's degrees and 1.25 master's degrees
  • owned and sold one car
  • been employed doing 10 or so odd "college" jobs
It's funny to think that five years ago (on October 18th) we were sitting in a little start-up shop eating liquid-nitrogen-blasted ice cream and toying with the words "we," "us," and "future." We joked about traveling to Italy together to climb the Scala Sancta on our knees and all sorts of other things and ended our conversation deciding that we wanted to be "exclusive." Neither one of us imagined where that exclusivity would take us.

Last night over dinner and dessert we conjectured about what the next five years will have in store for us. This (in no particular order) is the best five-year plan we could come up with:
  • graduate
  • find a job
  • find Scott
  • move...somewhere that is not our parents' house
Truthfully we had a hard time imagining anything beyond graduation (that's the light at the end of our current tunnel) because school is all we've ever known and breaking out of that realm is a little scary (due to the fact that it is completely foreign territory). Whatever happens, though, should be amazing, what with Andrew by my side.

Five years

Our anniversary was yesterday so hopefully after today I can stop talking about it. I feel like I've been talking about it all week. We've been married for five years now—that's 20% of my lifetime. Yesterday was also day five on Emily's wedding countdown as well as Sarah's five-month-versary. It was a cosmic day, though most of it was really quite ordinary.

I worked and watched children. Andrew worked on (and finally finished) his final—it only took him nine hours to write! After he sent it into the teacher we got ready to head out for the evening. Rachel went to my parents' house to play and Miriam stayed with Andrew's parents.

We had a whole list of things to do but didn't end up getting to everything on our list because we got hopelessly lost doing item #1—picking up Andrew's "present," a bunch of games I found listed on Freecycle.org. My great-uncle Clyde would have loved Freecycle. He was a penny-pincher to the very end—I even recall a story of him finding a box of cookware for Aunt Beulah at the dump that had never been used and giving it to her for Christmas. Of course, there's a chance that I am making all of this up since I haven't heard this story for a very long time. Still, if it was Uncle Clyde happened to have an affinity for junk then I'm sure he would have loved Freecycle (also, the internet).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Always good for a laugh

A few nights ago (Friday, maybe) during dinner Grandpa suggested that he watch a movie with Rachel and although he didn't specifically state it, he implied that this activity take place after dinner was over. Rachel didn't catch that though and quickly pushed her plate away.

"I'm full of it!" she declared.

A round of snickers went around the table. Even Miriam laughed, though I don't think she got the joke.

Rachel wasn't too pleased when we told her that she had to wait for dinner to actually be over before she could be excused to watch a movie with Grandpa but she finished what was on her plate.

A Christmas Carol Christmas

Last Sunday we watched A Muppet Christmas Carol at my parents' house. On Tuesday I went to A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theater. This Sunday we met at my parents' house for a birthday dinner for the two of them (their birthdays fall on the twelfth and fourteenth) and I stayed after dinner with the girls—we watched Mickey's Christmas Carol

It's been a rather Christmas Carol Christmas so I thought it altogether fitting and proper that I read the tale personally. 

I don't think I have ever read the original version. My brother gave me the Great Illustrated Classics edition for Christmas several years ago but it has been edited down to a third grade reading level so it doesn't count as being the original version. Furthermore since it's a third grade reading level that tells you just how many years have passed since I read it last. 

So I popped on over and "borrowed" a copy from Project Gutenberg. I finished it yesterday and I'm quite glad I read it though I'm not sure I have much to say about it right now.

On Monday evening we went to the Orem Public Library with my mom and sister to participate in a singing of Handel's Messiah—well, selections from it, anyway—hosted by the Utah Lyric Opera. They had a little chamber orchestra and real opera singers so the accompaniment and vocal solos were stellar. It was fun to do some Christmas caroling.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's a good thing I cancelled that play date.


We've had a few families move into our neighbourhood the past couple of weeks. In an effort to be socially outgoing I invited a little boy near Rachel's age over to play. Unfortunately when I picked her up from school she remarked that her head hurt. She grabbed my hand and we started walking home—her hands felt like ice—but after walking past a few houses she said she didn't feel good enough to walk anymore so I  hoisted her up—she's heavy—so that I could carry her. I kissed her forehead; it was burning up.

She wouldn't touch her lunch.

I called to cancel the play date.

Then Rachel asked if she could watch a movie. I told her she could but that I had to take care of lunch first. When I went to check on her I found that she had curled up on my bed and was fast asleep.

Considering the last time she took voluntarily took a nap was in the pre-mortal existence she must really not be feeling well.

And to think we just went through the rounds at our house.

*sigh*

Here we go again.

This day in history

Back in October I went to a Relief Society activity. Emily came, too, and announced her engagement to the ladies. One of the women at my table asked what day Emily would be getting married, so I told her.

"And what's significant about that date?" she asked.

I fumbled for an answer. It was not a question I was expecting to hear.

"It was, uh, just a convenient date," I started, "I mean, they were going to wait to get married in May on the day they met but that would make for a long engagement so instead they just picked a day in December."

"Well, there might not be anything significant abou it now but it will be her anniversary!" my friend Reenie observed with a smile.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Emily’s bridal shower

Dear, little Emily is getting married in 10 days.

When Andrew and I got married she wasn’t even old enough to date (the youth of our church are discouraged from dating until they are sixteen years old and Emily was only fifteen). Now, five years later, she’s in my shoes: Twenty (and a half) and counting down the days until her wedding day.

It’s a little odd that a) Emily is getting married and b) Andrew and I have been married for five years! Well, we will have been married for five years on our anniversary, which is on the sixteenth. Both of us have been so wrapped up in everything else (Emily’s wedding plans, the end-of-the-semester rush, etc.) that we both entirely forgot about our anniversary until Facebook reminded us.

No, really:

Screen shot 2010-12-11 at 10.59.52 PM

Lights at Temple Square

IMG_7165

Last Saturday we went up to Salt Lake to see the lights at Temple Square. They’re beautiful and rather worth the drive. They might even be worth enduring the cold for (though it hasn’t been too cold lately; it’s been raining instead of snowing).

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Friday, December 10, 2010

DST—Part II

Just now we were sitting in our office (yes, this late at night...I know...I'm already tired tomorrow but Andrew and I have this pact-thing and...anyway...) and Andrew was working on a paper. Even though the semester ended yesterday. He still has papers due and finals to write and...blech.

So we're sitting here and Andrew goes, "Oh, no! What's that? What the?! Did you...? No, way!"

"What?" I asked.

"There's a sock in my pants! Someone had to have planted it there! You did this!"

"Are you serious? There's a sock in your pants again? It wasn't me. For real. It wasn't."

He pulled out one of his own dirty, white socks—identical to the one he found yesterday.

"Well," he guffawed, "I found the other one!"

What am I going to do with this boy? He's so silly.

What am I going to do with our room? It's a mess.

What am I going to do with myself tomorrow when I can't drag myself out of bed?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DST

This semester has comprised of many early mornings and even more late nights. I can probably count on one hand the number of times Andrew has gone to bed before midnight. I can also probably count on one hand the number of times Andrew has slept in past 8:00. Or 6:00 for that matter. In short it has been mass chaos and this past week has been the worst.

He sheds his suit right before going to bed and leaves it crumpled up on the floor so he can step right back into it the following morning. He's had presentation after presentation, paper after paper, project after project and everything culminates today in what shall hence and forever be called "mega-presentation/paper/project day."

What is mega-presentation/paper/project day? I'll tell you.

It's a twenty-five minute powerpoint presentation followed by an open Q&A session explaining the five "phases" of a project with an accompanying 10-20 page paper per phase. That's what mega-presentation/paper/project day is—a whole lot of work.

When Andrew rushed through the kitchen yesterday, pecking me on the lips on his way to the office, and exclaiming, "Man, I'm so busy!" his sister asked if he had procrastinated. No, no procrastination here. Just business. Andrew put the girls to bed last night shortly after I left for the theater and he didn't even notice when I came home (at 10:45 PM). Seriously. He was working that diligently. It's like he's not even here. I am so happy for the end of the semester. No, really.

Anyway, we went to bed late last night after he had finished with everything he could finish and this morning...he slept in. Big time. He woke up when he should have been gone. So he jumped out of bed, into his suit, and out the door before I could even say "Good Morning!"  

After he was gone I got the girls up for the day, rushed Rachel to school, took out the garbage, ate breakfast, and then checked my email. There was a short message from Andrew:
So during one of our practice presentations just now, I was presenting and suddenly felt something crawling down my leg. It was freaky. I rushed through and finished my part to discover that it was a dirty white sock.
That email alone proves the chaos that reigns in our household but even funnier was the subject of his message: DST.

DST is a family joke—it stands for "dirty sock treatment." Andrew's dad has long-standing tradition of threatening to rub his dirty socks on his children's faces. And sometimes he does rub his day-old socks on his children's faces. And sometimes when they come home to do laundry he puts his socks in with their clothes so that they have to come back home again to give them back to him.

So Andrew just gave himself the DST. I wonder whose sock it was...

Free ticket to that thing you love

Tuesdays are like Mondays in our house. You might get a bad case of the Mondays but we...we get a bad case of the Tuesdays. This is because Rachel doesn't have school on Monday so it's just a Sunday-recovery day. Tuesdays, though, are bad.

Rachel has advanced enough in her school-going career that she no longer wakes up at 4:00 in the morning  all eager-beaver. She still loves school but has come to understand that no one wants her waking up the whole house at 0'dark-thirty. This morning we slept in until 8:30 which is bad because we must be out the door by 8:50 if she's going to get to school on time.

By some miracle (aka: Grandma) we made it and had a relatively blissful morning until I picked Rachel up from school. Then things got ugly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Nativity at the Bean Museum

For Family Home Evening we went to the Bean Museum with my parents and siblings. My mom knew that Auntie Josie wanted to come because she "hasn't been there for years!" Uncle Patrick coming, though? That was a surprise. Uncle David even showed up in the middle of the reptile show. It was a nice surprise to get to spend the evening with them as well.

The main reason we wanted to go was to see the nativity that is apparently an annual tradition, though I don't think it could be too annual since I don't remember it being a tradition when I worked in the Integrative Biology department—we even held our department Christmas dinner in the museum and there wasn't anything quite this festive in the museum. I think it's a wonderful tradition, though. 

When we're helping we're happy

This morning Rachel and Meme teamed up to empty the dishwasher. Miriam was taking the silverware out one piece at a time and handing them to Rachel, who would put them in the drawer. It was so cute to watch them working together so nicely.

 

I'm not sure what Miriam's main motive was, though, because she seemed rather intent on closing the bottom rack. Rachel kept having to pull it back out and demand that Miriam hand her more silverware. Miriam would then obediently hand Rachel another piece or two of silverware before trying to close the bottom rack again.

It might be because on Friday she discovered that the door of the dishwasher makes a mighty fine platform. *sigh* This girl will climb on anything. 

But at least she's helping with the housework...

Have a holly, technological Christmas!

We've been enjoying getting into the Christmas season in spite of our colds. On Saturday we went up to Temple Square to view the lights, which I will post about after I get the pictures off of Andrew's computer. He's currently working on his final project—it's due on Wednesday—and then he will be free, at least relatively free. He has two finals to take after he turns his project in but those shouldn't be too intensive. I can hardly wait!

Anyway, he had loaded up his iPod with "rockin' music," and said we were going to be the party car. Unfortunately for him, none of the songs he put on his iPod were Christmas songs so we held a vote and quickly ruled him out. Luckily Auntie Sarah was in the car with us and she knew exactly which radio station had Christmas carols playing. We never listen to the radio anymore.

On the way home we turned the Christmas carols back on.

"Daddy," Rachel requested, "Do you have Frosty the Snowman?"

Monday, December 06, 2010

Mechanical Turks

I stayed up late last night finishing up a project and I actually finished it. This is a very good thing because for the last few days my to-do list has been exactly the same. Everyday. I hadn't finished any of the projects that I started but last night that changed, which made me very happy.

Andrew stayed up late finishing a project, too.

When we finally went to bed I said, "Oh, man! Tomorrow is Monday. That means I have to work. I don't know that I have any motivation to work."

"You're working to send me to Ghana! There's some motivation!"

"Oh, goody. I get to work my tail-end off so you can go to Ghana. See how motivated I am about that?"

I showed him my best that-doesn't-motivate-me face.

"You're working to take our whole family to Washington, DC, for an internship this summer!"

Hopefully. But have I mentioned we've been passing a cold around our family? It's my turn with it.

"That's a little more motivation. But I just don't feel good."

"But you're a Mechanical Turk! You have to go to work!"

"You probably should just give up trying to compliment me," I told him, "Ever."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A visit with Santa

The ward Christmas party was last night. The main event was  a talent show in which I led the primary children in singing Christmas Bells and Away in a Manger because the primary chorister wasn't able to come. Rachel came up to sing, too, though she won't technically be in primary until January. She even got to shake some bells during Christmas Bells—she was so excited!

Later I told her she did a good job and she said, "I know. That's why I'm a big kid now."

The highlight of the evening for many children—but not for my children–was a visit from Old Saint Nick, himself. A throng of children enveloped him when he walked through the door ringing his sleigh bells but Rachel wasn't among them. She froze on her chair, a look of panic frozen on her face. 

Somehow or another we convinced her to get in line to visit him. Her past visits with Santa haven't gone well but she decided she would be brave enough to stand beside him—sitting on his lap, however, was entirely out of the question. We told her that would be fine but she was still a little nervous so when we got to the front of the line Miriam went first.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Grammar

On Monday, Andrew chatted to me over IM to let me know he'd be later than usual. He tried to use his code-word but since he was typing with auto-correct on it came out all wrong.

3:45 PM

Andrew: Eel.

Me: Eel? Now, that is a new one. I wonder if it means anything like "eek" or if it means something entirely different.

Andrew: That should have been eek.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

O Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree went up on Saturday. Rachel got to put up a lot of ornaments—mostly the boxes of red Christmas balls (and certainly not the heirloom ornaments even though she wanted to touch them so badly). When the tree was "finished" it was saturated with red balls on the bottom half. Grandma artistically moved them around after Rachel went to bed and now the tree looks much more symmetrical.

Rachel had so much fun helping, though. She'd put an ornament on the tree and then jump up and down, clap her hands, and squeal, "That looks perfect!"


Since most the the ornaments on the tree are glass (and because some are heirlooms) we have baby gates closing off both doorways to the front room. This way, we thought, we'd keep "Christmas" safe.

We're going to Antarctica

Last Tuesday it was -27°F (or about -33°C) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, making it the second coldest place on earth, next to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Antarctica. It even made it to the news.

I used to live there and I don't really understand how I ever survived because when I went outside today here it was 27°F above zero (-3°C) and I was freezing. I bundled up my girls (and myself) with sweaters under their winter coats, snow boots, hats, and mittens. And we were only walking around the corner.

Today the coldest place on earth is Chandlar Lake, Alaska, where it's -42°F (-41°C). I'm very glad I don't live there today, though I have been in the negative forties. It's just no fun.

I really dislike winter.

In Egypt we would pass off everything and anything awful that happened with a little sigh, exclaiming, "Oh...Egypt." Today I'm feeling out of sorts with America. So many things have happened recently that are absolutely nettling and about which I don't share a common opinion with my "neighbours" and so I'm feeling glum. "Oh...America."

*sigh*

Sometimes I wonder why I'm here.

But then I remember that the only other "home" I have is akin to living on Antarctica—a place I swore I'd never go but now that I know that sometimes it's on par with places I've lived like (Russia and Canada) I may as well go. Hear that, Andrew, you win: we can go to Antarctica.

During Antarctica's summer, naturally.

Because I'm not setting foot anywhere near Antarctica during the winter.

Ever.

I don't think I could sigh, "Oh...Antarctica," effectively enough to communicate my feelings about Antarctic winters. Not that I know anything about Antarctic winters. But I can imagine.