Monday, February 28, 2011

The beginning of the end

I started reading Peter Pan last night. It's a charming story; it makes me feel nostalgic for my own childhood because I really did jump around my bedroom as a youngster, convinced that at some point I would stick to the sky instead of plummeting to the ground. But then I learned about gravity and stopped trying.

Andrew seems to have solved the problem of our nightly visitor—Rachel—who wears out her welcome rather quickly with all her kicking, squirming, talking, and wiggling. We have a magnet board for her and when she does something good she gets to move a magnet up to the top of the board. When all the magnets are at the top then she gets to choose a prize. She can watch a movie, go to Macey's for an ice cream cone with Daddy, have Mommy do her nails, or earn a toy or book.

She's been rather motivated by this. Do the dishes? Sure. Put the dirty diaper in the pail? Sure. Clean up my toys? Sure. Ask for things politely at the dinner table? Yes, ma'am. Share with my sister? You bet.

Yesterday afternoon when I asked her to get a fresh diaper out for Miriam she said, "Sure! And when it's time to go to bed can I get a nighttime diaper ready for her, too?"

I realize she was only after another magnet but it's nice to have her offering to do things instead of me having to force her to do everything. And eventually the external motivation will turn into internal motivation, right?

Anyway, a couple of nights ago Andrew told her that staying in her own bed was a good thing to do and that she could earn a magnet by staying in her own bed. At 2:00 AM I woke up to Rachel scrambling over me and into the middle of the bed. Apparently she simply didn't think one magnet was worth the stress of ignoring all the monsters that come out at night because the next night Andrew upped the ante. He offered her three magnets for staying in bed.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

All children, except one, grow up

Rachel and I were talking the other day and I mentioned how I wished a certain someone would find someone special to marry. On the scale of bad to awesome, married life is pretty awesome so I wish this for a lot of people, actually. For some people I wish for it extra hard, though, because I know they want to get married and settle down but haven't been able to. Anyway, Rachel got all melancholy with the mention of marriage.

She put her hands on her heart and sighed.

"I wish...I wish I could find someone who wanted to marry me...because Xandre just won't do it! He doesn't want to be my prince, Mom. He doesn't even want to be Batman!"

I'm so glad that she feels she can confide in me. I did my best to console her.

"You'll find someone soon, enough, Sweetie. I wouldn't worry about it too much at your age."

This little lady wants to grow up so badly. The other day she asked when she was going to be a grown up. It was right around bedtime so I wrongly assumed the motivation behind her desire to fast forward through the next twenty years was so that she could stay up late. I asked her why she wanted to be a grown up.

"I just want to have my own baby," she told me.

"Why do you want your own baby? Babies are a lot of work."

"Well, I want my baby brother to come and you aren't making him come here so I'll just do it, myself!"

Talk about pressure.

Maybe I'll tell her that if she can sleep in her own bed, convince her sister to give up night feedings, and guarantee a job for her dad after he graduates then she can have a baby brother.

Or at least a baby sister.

(Gender not guaranteed).

It's just like promising a puppy, right?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Egyptian meal

Today is February 25th which means it's been exactly one month since January 25th. Obviously.

The reason it's significant, though, is that January 25th was the start of the Egyptian Revolution. I'll admit that that might not be significant for you, but it is significant for our family. So we decided to celebrate.

We got out every pot we own and made koshari. I know it doesn't technically need to involve every pot you own and when I learned how to make this from a very cute, elderly Egyptian woman she only used one pot. But we were already hungry when we started cooking and wanted the koshari to cook three times faster so instead of cooking the lentils and then cooking the rice and then cooking the noodles we went all in and cooked the lentils, rice, and noodles at the same time. In different pots.

We also made sauce and caramelized onions and hummus.

So we'll probably finish doing the dishes by sometime early next year. Thanks for asking.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the sidewalk, on the ground

On the way to school this morning Rachel tripped and landed on her forehead. I'm not even kidding. How she manages to do these things I will never know. She was trying to beat me to school, see, so she was running and then she hit a crack in the sidewalk and went flying. There was an audible *konk* when she landed on her face and she came off the sidewalk with a nice red circle in the middle of her forehead.

She started crying about the pain, and about how now she'd never be able to beat me to school, and the pain, and how she'd never be able to beat me to school, and the pain. And somewhere amidst all that howling we decided it would be funny if we made up a song. And because I lack originality we just took the song Rain is Falling All Around and changed the words a bit, to make the song "more appropriate" for this "specific occasion."

This is our song:

Rachel's falling all around
On the sidewalk, on the ground.
Rachel falls out of her bed
And she lands upon her head.


Rachel thought our song was so silly that she soon forgot about her noggin and ended up beating me to school, anyway. I asked her teacher to watch her for signs of loopiness in case she hit her head hard enough to cause a concussion or something. I don't think it was that bad of a bonk but you never know.

So far her teacher hasn't called but you have to admit that it's got to be difficult to recognize signs of loopiness in a three-year-old, especially three-year-olds who are habitually loopy. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Children are so entertaining

We were getting ready to go to Pack Meeting this evening—the "Blue and Gold Banquet," I know, fancy stuff—and Andrew asked Miriam to "find some shoes."

She wandered off to do his bidding because she hasn't entered that defiant stage yet and is blissfully obedient in every department. She came back into the room carrying my running shoes.

"Very well done," he told her, "Those are shoes. But those are Mommy's shoes. You are going to need your shoes. Find Miriam's shoes."

She looked up at him with a look that said, "That makes so much sense!" and then scurried off to find shoes for herself.

The fancy Blue and Gold Banquet was an indoor picnic, a dangerous idea. Everything was going fine (for us) until Miriam started running around the room with the other babies. Then she started tripping on picnic blankets left and right. Her greatest spill happened on our blanket.

She stepped on the blanket and it slipped out from underneath her (because the flooring is wood) and she face-planted on Rachel's plate. Luckily she landed on the brownie. Unluckily the brownies had toothpicks with the scout logo in them. Luckily Rachel had already removed that and in so doing prevented Miriam from impaling her forehead with a toothpick. Equally luckily, I was able to gymnastic myself over to her quickly enough to grab her before she rolled into the puddle of ketchup beside the brownie. We ended up with a squashed brownie and a toppled water bottle, which really isn't bad considering what could have happened.

Rachel didn't think it was good at all.

"She fell on my food!" she wailed.

We were kind of embarrassed about the whole thing until I noticed my friend Reenie's husband folding up their blanket. It had a huge wet spot on it telling me that we weren't the only ones to have a picnic mishap. Thanks, Reenie, for having children as messy and entertaining as mine!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Presidents Day

This weekend was a four-day weekend for Andrew. Monday was a holiday since it was almost George Washington's birthday—his birthday is technically today but presidents day never falls on his birthday anymore, which I guess is fair because we've had a number of good, great, and not-so-great presidents who, I'm sure, would also like to be honoured. 

Andrew didn't have classes today and was, instead, supposed to spend the day looking for internships. That's right, folks, a whole day dedicated to looking for internships. I won't even start complaining about how unfair it is that the MBA students get a whole stinking week to do the same thing. Instead I will be graciously thankful for the one single day that the MPA students get off. 

Last night I spent my time editing several application essays down to 250 words. If you knew how easily my husband's papers turn prolix then you would understand what a chore that was.

He spent the morning doing homework, but in honour a day well-spent applying for several internships we took the afternoon off to spend some time together as a family. We have passes to Trafalga so we thought we'd go mini-golfing at the ever-patriotic fun center in Lehi, it being George Washington's birthday and all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You know what I *do* like?

During choir practice, Rachel was getting friendly with Sister LeBaron. First she just sat beside her and then she moved onto her lap and the next thing I know, Sister LeBaron is digging through her purse looking for something to give to Rachel. She found a cough drop and gave it to her.

Rachel ran over to me to see if that was alright.

I told her it was because we're all coughing up a storm here still anyway.

So she ran back over to Sister LeBaron, popped the cough drop in her mouth and settled in for a good snuggle. After a while Sister LeBaron asked Rachel if she liked the cough drop.

"Not really," Rachel said honestly.

"But it's cherry! That's yummy!"

"Yeah, but my daddy has some other ones that are better."

"Oh."

"You know what I do like, though?"

"Hmmm?"

Rachel turned so that her back squarely faced Sister LeBaron.

"I really like it when people, like, tickle my back or scratch my back."

Oh, children can be so embarrassing!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tired Ballerina

One of my ballerinas usually has plenty of energy:

Russia mini-union

Last week, I had Emily and Esther over. We went to Russia together in 2004 to teach English; in June of this year we will have been home for seven years! It's funny to think that seven years ago we had all just met and were still getting to know each other. We were all young women, lost in a foreign country. We had our share of adventure, to be sure, and several misadventures as well. 

Seven years later and we've all gotten married, though some of those marriages have, sadly, ended. Between us all we have eight children—we had half of them over at our house on Friday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring-morning, winter-afternoon

Late yesterday morning it was 56 degrees! We went to play outside and although it didn't last for even an hour (we're all still sick here) I think it did us a world of good. 

Rachel really wanted to blow bubbles, so we did. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am not a pessimist

As I stood looking out the window,
Spring melted away the winter blues
With fresh green leaves emerging
From buds conceived in a womb of frost.
The sound of melting snow trickled
Down the roof and through the gutter, while birds,
Hopping, singing, building, flying
Through the sun-kissed, pink-and-purple sky,
Flirted with me. I noted the grass bravely
Shook off its white robes of mourning,
While the wind, gently stirring the
Busily-emerging verdure, breathed life
Into each of its outstretched fingers.

The trees are getting their leaves!
I remarked to my husband.

They will all die later this week, he said.
It is supposed to snow on Thursday.

And he calls me
A pessimist.

Monday, February 14, 2011

BRAT diet

On Saturday morning after Rachel threw up she wanted to eat breakfast. First of all, I don't know why she threw up—no one else has. I think it might be because she woke up with a high fever and didn't want to eat breakfast so I gave her some tylenol. It must have hit her empty stomach wrong. Upon emptying her stomach she declared she was feeling much better and wished to have breakfast. I told her that she could go find her daddy and tell him that she was allowed to have toast for breakfast, but nothing else, because she had just thrown up.

She obediently went and did so. 

Yesterday morning Rachel woke me up and felt my forehead.

"You're so hot, Mommy!" she told me—I was running a temperature of 102°F. "You can only have toast for breakfast."

She then felt Andrew's forehead and declared, "Daddy feels just fine. He can have whatever he wants for breakfast!"

Her forehead was next.

"Oh! I feel just fine, too. That means I can have whatever I want for breakfast today, too. And I don't want toast. I want cereal!"

Somehow she seems to have missed the point that she was put on a toast diet due to throwing up, not due to her fever. And it's not like she was stuck on toast all day, either...she only had to keep it down to prove she didn't have stomach flu. Silly girl.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Warning: Ask a doctor before visiting the Heisses

I don't really know how Andrew survived this week—he only slept in one day, causing him to miss one class.  It's a miracle, really, considering how awful I feel. Andrew's been absolutely wonderful and has let me sleep pretty much all day yesterday and today. Somehow he managed to get the flu without getting a fever. The girls and I, on the other hand, have just been burning up.

I think it might have something to do with how much Dayquil/Theraflu he's been ingesting.

When I started feeling sick I quickly made a call to the doctor to see what he suggest I take. I knew the course of this illness would be awful because Andrew has been acting so pathetic all week. Unfortunately, the doctor never got back to me so I've been suffering through the flu with ibuprofen, cough drops, and orange juice. I'm still nursing, see, so I never know what I can take because everything seems to have a warning label these days: if pregnant or breastfeeding, ask a doctor.

The last thing I want when my little baby is sick is to have my milk run out and so I just continue taking nothing. I wish, instead, that they would list on the bottle what would actually happen if a nursing mother were to take the medicine. Taking aspirin is discouraged because the aspirin can pass through the breast milk to the infant and potentially cause Reye's syndrome or internal bleeding. However, my ibuprofen bottle also says to "ask a health professional before use," because I'm breastfeeding.

Friday, February 11, 2011

He's gone!

Today was a momentous day in history—Mubarak abdicated his presidency at 6:00 PM, EET.

That was the first thing Andrew told me this morning and I quickly went to Al Jazeera to watch the jubilant celebration in Midan Tahrir. Rachel joined me.

"That's Egypt," she said, "Are the people still angry?"

"No. They're very happy. They're celebrating."

"It looks the same as when they're angry," she pointed out,  "They're lighting fires and yelling."

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Build something useful

Our first week of cub scouts—our trial week, if you will,—was discussing the food pyramid and healthy eating, exercise habits, and the like. Not only was it easy, but we had the old den leaders holding our hands and showing us the ropes. At the end of the meeting they handed us the manuals and wished us luck.

After a few days I cracked the books open to see what we were supposed to be covering the following week: tools for fixing and building!?

They didn't tell me I'd have to build stuff when I took this job!

Couldn't I just teach the boys to crochet? No? Darn.

What makes things even more difficult is that the requirement isn't "hammer a bunch of boards together in a haphazard fashion and call it art;" it's "make...something useful."

Their first suggestion is a birdhouse. A birdhouse?! You have got to be kidding me. There is no way I would let a living creature set foot in anything I construct. There is also no way I am supervising six boys while they try to properly assemble a birdhouse. Especially not after today.

Today was building day.

Last week we decided to take it easy and simply discuss tools, exhibit tools, and practice using a hammer and screw driver. Rachel got out her own toolbox and pretended to work along with us. All the boys were really cute and took turns playing with her and quizzing her on the names of her tools.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Questioner Beware

Miriam is not discreet; she doesn't beat around the bush. If you ask a question, expect a direct answer. 

She was such an oral explorer as a little baby—and she is still an oral explorer today. Therefore, a question she has heard a lot of in her short life is: What's in your mouth?

She answers honestly, every time:



And since everyone finds her answer so overwhelmingly humourous, Rachel likes to copy her to try to squeeze a few more laughs out of the dinner-table audience.



By the way, Rachel is on her fourth outfit of the day. I was really excited for the day when I could say "Go and get dressed!" and have my children disappear into their bedrooms and then magically reappear, fully clothed, moments later. Her shirt is backwards and her outfits rarely match...and I knew that would happen. I didn't realize, however, that having one child dressing herself would quadruple my laundry load.


At least they're cute.

Monday, February 07, 2011

I hate bedtime

Some parents love bedtime so much that they put their kids to bed at five, six, or seven in the evening. If I tried that there'd be a Heissling revolt, guaranteed. Instead I try to have my kids in bed by eight.

Oh, and I loathe bedtime.

The past few months have been a living nightmare.

Living. Nightmare. Got that?

My children don't fall asleep no matter the number of bedtime stories I read or lullabies I sing. They just don't fall asleep.

"More! More! More!" they chant.

When I tell them that I am done, done, done, done for the day then they start in on the excuses. Miriam mostly whines and thuds her legs rhythmically against the mattress, but she does use the few excuses she knows.

"Momma, Momma!" is one such excuse. Another is potty. And yet another is nursing.

Rachel, on the other hand, has a whole repertoire.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Everything ██is█████ ████ ████fine ███ █ ████ love. ████ █████ the ███ Egypt ███ ████ government

A friend on Twitter recently...uhhh...tweeted*...that she spoke with an expat friend who had been in Cairo but recently returned to the United States due to the revolution. She said that it "sounds much worse than they all let on."

I think that's definitely true—now that my friends are returning to the States I'm hearing a lot more about what was going on in their lives I'm seeing the same trend. When they were in Egypt still they were so...silent. Part of that can be blamed on the internet blackout, I'm sure. But after it was back on I expected more facebook updates, more blog posts, more tweets, more...anything.

I received a couple of emails from friends but most of my friends waited until they were standing with two feet firmly on the ground before they gave the world an update of how they were feeling. Many of them were still distressed at having to leave a loved-one (in most cases the husband and father of the family) in Cairo, but the relief they expressed was almost palpable.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pretty as a princess

The day before the riots started in Egypt—that's my time gauge right now; everything seems to have happened either before or after...naturally. But it's kind of like defining life before children verses after children. Anyway, the day before the riots started in Egypt my girls spent the afternoon playing dress-up.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Newsflash: I am not magnetic

Rachel was experimenting with magnets this afternoon—determining whether or not any given object was magnetic by placing one of her princess magnets on the item. This worked well enough in proving the door wasn't magnetic but the pole of the floor lamp was. Since those objects are vertical it was easy to see magnetic power at work—if the magnet stayed then the item was magnetic; if it fell then the item was not magnetic.

When she moved onto horizontal surfaces, however, things got a little more confusing.

"My bench is magnetic!" she declared.

"No, it's not," I told her.

"Yes, it is!" she insisted. "Watch this!"

She dropped her magnet onto the bench. The magnet appeared to stick to the bench; at least, it didn't fall off the bench...because the bench is a horizontal surface.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

In Tahrir Square

I still feel guilty for writing about anything else when people are being shot at, run down, and beaten up. The world is still spinning but somehow I'm stuck on #Jan25 and even though the future looks grim and unbearable I can't look away. Here, life seems surreally calm.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the...wait! The birds are singing!?

The birds are singing and Miriam is rather excited about it.



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Food Storage

I just heard from an Egyptian man who belongs to our church. He bore testimony of the principle of provident living:

I am so gratful to Gordon B Hinckley. I stored food and medicine for a month. I hope the branch to stay in Egypt.


Shortly before we left Egypt we had a fireside about provident living—living within your means, setting money and supplies (food, medicine, clothing, etc) for a "rainy day," learning first aid, and so forth. We talked about how important it is for those living abroad to have a three month supply of food and water and things. In North America we're encouraged to have a year's supply but when you're living in a tiny apartment it's pretty difficult to store enough food to last your family for very long.

A letter from Egypt

For some reason the internet is back on in Egypt. No one quite knows why—things are getting rather violent today! Still, at least it is something. I was able to hear from several friends still inside Egypt, whether by their own choice or because they have no means of leaving. Here's an [edited] letter from a friend who is married to an Egyptian:

Hello Nancy!!!
YOU got out in a good time. LUCKY YOU!!!

It is so great to have Internet back again. Thanks for your concern about us here in Cairo. We are just staying home as much as possible and staying off the street. Most of the families in our already small branch have been evacuated and so we are down to 4 ladies and the husbands of many of the families that left. ( me, ———, ——— and ——— ). It is quite sad really. I think that if things calm down then in a month maybe some of those families will come back to Cairo. I hope and pray that happens.
As for school we have not been evacuated and it didn’t seem like the administrators were planning to do so. Even if they did, I was not hired from abroad so I would not be included in those that could get evacuated. I will just hang tight with my family here and keep a low profile and out of harms way as much as possible! We do have small protests happening in my neighborhood and they have caught several thieves or men that were trying to break into places. We have a neighborhood watch out every single night, which consists of the men in the neighborhood armed with long sticks, baseball bats, kitchen knives and poles. They have the streets blocked off with anything that they can find to make a roadblock. Mostly fallen trees, old pieces of wood and piles of bricks. Between the men guarding the streets and the blocked streets, we feel pretty protected.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

While you were [supposed to be] sleeping

Between Miriam's teething, Rachel's nightmares, a bout of croup, and the stress of the Egyptian revolution I think it's pretty safe to say that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in months. For a while the girls were both sleeping relatively nicely but now I am once more so sleep deprived I feel like I could fall asleep anywhere. It's like having a newborn or something.

It's not only the night-wakings that are killing me. It's that the girls won't go to sleep when they are put to bed and insist on waking up at seven o'clock in the morning, anyway. Rachel stays up until 10:30 or 11:00. Miriam stays up until 9:30 or 10:00. Then they both have me yo-yo-ing out of bed all. night. long. 

A couple of nights ago, this is what Rachel did when she should have been sleeping:


She got blocks and horses and ponies and books and curlers out and built a fortress. She did it so quietly, too. I didn't think the child had it in her, being quiet, I mean—who knew she could behave so silently? 

This morning when I went into their room to do something (I don't know what it was but it wasn't to wake Rachel up since she got in bed with us at around 2 AM and then pitched a fit when I tried to return her to her own bed at 4 AM so ended up staying in our bed on the risk of waking up the baby) I noticed the castle had been completely rebuilt. This time it houses finger puppets instead of horses.

Luckily (or not) the server for my job is down. And Miriam is down (for a nap). And Rachel has a play date immediately after school so I don't have to pick her up or anything. 

Looks like I'm going down for a nap as well.