Saturday, April 30, 2011

Waterfalls, nails, and monkeys (April 29)

Ho (the villagish city where we’re staying) is the capital of the Volta region—the incredibly green and luscious area around the Volta river and lake near Ghana’s eastern border with Togo. In the mountains that form the border between the two countries is Wli, West Africa’s highest waterfall.

There’s a little village at the trailhead, full of freely roaming goats, chickens, and even a huge ostrich. I picked up some leaves and attempted to be brave and feed it, but it started snapping, so I totally panicked and dropped them all on the ground. Silly me. :) Some kid came up to rescue the scared American, although the ostrich started biting him too. He didn’t mind being mildly attacked by a gigantic bird, though, oddly enough.

Forward, ho!… to Ho (April 28)

Just as I was kind of getting oriented in Accra, we had to leave for a fun weekend of tourist stuff today. We spent the morning taking care of lots of the mess of the bus theft. We left the hotel and took the people who lost their passports to the US embassy so they could start the replacement process.

While we waited for them we went and visited the offices of Acumen Fund. The purpose of our trip is actually three-pronged: (1) see cool touristy things, (2) work on our projects, and (3) visit nonprofits and NGOs to get a taste of real development work. (Did I really just do a list with parenthetical numbers? This business writing stuff is getting to me… grumble… :) )

Client visits and the temple (April 27)

Our plan for today was far less touristy than yesterday, followed the schedule far more precisely, and involved far fewer incidents with the police or thieves (none). Phew.

We started off by driving one whole block to the LDS church temple compound, which has a temple (obviously), a temple hostel, a stake center, and the area authority offices.

Dress ups

My aunt Marie sent the girls a package full of wonderful surprises: flamenco dresses from Spain and a set of costume jewelry. Rachel is a finicky dresser-upper. Sometimes she loves it and sometimes she doesn't; when we opened the package she was excited but it took some convincing on my part to get her to try the dress on. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pinewood Derby

I've never been to a Pinewood Derby before, though I have been to several Kub Kar Rallys. They amount to basically the same thing. A bunch of excited 8, 9, and 10 year olds bring cars that their parents helped them make and send them down a little racetrack to see whose car is the fastest. 

We had some great looking cars and every excited boys. It's fun being the wolf leaders during the week but teaching the bear den at church—that way we know all the boys when we get together at pack meeting. 

Part of my assignment was to make numbers for the boys to wear around their necks so that we could remember which boy went with which car. We combined with another pack so we had about six boys that we simply didn't know by name or by face, thus the introduction of the number system. 

We made an announcement that all the boys were to come over to me to get their numbers and the boys started crowding around me. I told them that I needed them to line up so they started forming a neat little line—they were not even close to military standards with all their pushing and fidgeting but it was a nice enough line. Suddenly, though, their formation broke. 

Boys went scattering left and right. At the epicenter of the havoc stood a lone little boy, who was busy vomiting impressive amounts. First it was just a little bit—that caused the scattering—but then he just kept on going. He heaved again and started spewing out a waterfall of throw up. 

Ghana, Day 1

Our original itinerary for our first day in Ghana had us taking a grand tour of the main sites of the Accra. True to third-world form, nothing went as planned today. Nothing.

The four hour delay at JFK put us behind our tour schedule before we landed. After clearing customs, reporting someone’s missing suitcase, and loading up the little 20ish passenger tour bus, we drove to the hotel to meet the other half our group. There are 17 people on this trip: 2 professors (one with his wife and youngest daughter), 1 TA, and 12 MPA students. Six people flew out a week early to spend some time in a tiny island village named Big Ada—location of one of the first Empower Playgrounds. Beyond the terrifying food (fish soup and oysters, complete with heads and eyes and other nastiness… every single day), they had a blast and regaled us with tales of horrifying seafood as we had a brief orientation at the hotel.

After checking into our rooms at the hotel we headed out to lunch at some super local restaurant. They had fish heads. I didn’t eat one. I ate this instead:

1

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gone to Germany

My dad left for Germany this morning. He'll be doing an internship with the Department of Defense in Heidelberg as an Equal Opportunity Assistant with the Army. He did a similar thing with the Hill Air Force Base last year. He'll be in Germany until October so we spent a lot of time on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday over at my parents' house in order to get in some good "Bumpa time" before he left.

Easter Sunday

Before Rachel went to bed we made the mistake of telling her that the Easter Bunny would be coming in the morning. After we put her to bed we realized that we meant to say that the Easter Bunny would be coming while we were at church because there was no way we were doing Easter baskets before church. Rachel, unfortunately, forgets nothing so we knew we were going to be in trouble in the morning when there was no Easter basket to be found.

Luckily, Grandma set out a communal basket of candy before she went to bed and Rachel found that in the morning and was as happy as a clam even though we told her that it wasn't all for her.

Church was lovely; we struggled through sacrament meeting, but the parts that I heard were nice, and then we taught primary. We sang two Easter hymns, which was nice, but seriously...what is with people here and not enjoying seasonal hymns while they can?! Why didn't we sing Easter songs last week?! I know no one will want to sing Easter songs in May, but seriously, there are so many pretty songs that we ignore for the rest of the year so I think that we should sing them all at least once during the Easter season!

Anywho...we also sang with the choir but had neglected to arrange other people for our girls to sit with while we did so. I just plopped Miriam on Phillip's lap when I walked past his family and she wasn't too happy about that so James ended up taking her into the hallway. Rachel chose to sit with my mom's cousin Burt and his wife. For some weird reason she boycotted the Gillespies and I can't understand why because she adores both Phillip and James. Whatever.

We sang There Is A Green Hill Far Away, which was fine...but, again...not an Easter song. I realize it speaks of the atonement and that's what Easter all about but I miss Easter songs. I crave them like I crave Christmas carols. Why won't they just sing them in church?

After church I herded the girls into the backyard to colour with chalk while the Easter Bunny hid their baskets.


Some of us have issues with chalk and prefer to chew on it more than draw with it unless we're drawing on things we're not supposed to, like the screen door or Mommy's back.

Easter Egg Smackdown 2011

Things were busy on Easter so we didn't do our annual Easter Egg Smackdown until Monday. Daddy didn't participate since he was on an airplane on his way to Ghana (spoilsport!) so it was just me and the girls. We did a very small bracket, competing with only four eggs, because I wasn't sure how long the girls' attention spans would last. They actually seemed to rather enjoy it so I'm glad that we did it even though keeping traditions alive is hard work.

Rachel placed two of her eggs in the competition: Miriam and Piggy. One of them was yellow and one of them was pink but she kept switching around the names and the colours so eventually I just decided for her—Piggy was yellow and Miriam was pink. It seems backwards but I think it was because it was the last combination that she said so I took it as her final word and wrote it on the bracket.


First impressions

Getting off the plane in Accra was awesome. I walked from the cold recycled plane air into a wall of solid humid heat, which instantly brought back memories of Egypt—it feels just like June or July in Cairo. I had forgotten about the constant, overbearing, debilitating African heat. I keep wanting to chicken out and hide in air conditioning, amazed that anyone can even survive in this heat, but then I remember that I survived (and loved) this crazy hot weather. We walked all over the place in the Egyptian heat. We went mosqueing in Islamic Cairo in July. We even went to the Pyramids at noon in August (stupid, yes).

Now that I’ve been here for a while (two whole days!) I think I’m reacclimatized and have fully accepted that my clothes will dripping wet for the next two weeks. I’m loving the heat again and have missed it horribly. Come on future State Department or USAID hiring staff—send us somewhere hot and exotic!

The heat hasn’t been the only thing to make me homesick for the Middle East. So much of Ghana is like Egypt. The hordes of taxi drivers outside the airport (although not nearly as many as their Cairene counterparts). Empty plots of land with “This property is owned” or “This land is not for sale” spray painted on the wall (هذا الارض ليس للبيع). Taxis and buses overloaded with local decor or religious stuff.

Middle Eastern vehicles are plastered with Islamic sayings (الحمد لله, الله اكبر, Praise the Prophet, etc.); Ghanaian vehicles rival their Islamic counterparts with phrases like “Victorious Triumphant Jesus,” “O Lord Deliver Me,” “Holy Ghost Fire,” “God is good,” and other evangelical Christian phrases. Members of the Church even get into it—some members’ cars have “Priesthood” or “Book of Mormon” decalled on the back windshield. Like the Middle East, even corner stores get into it. We drove by the “Satan is vanquished” cell phone store today. Awesome.

The interior of our little tour bus is even identical to the big AUC commuting buses, which is kind of uncanny.

Unlike the Middle East, there is almost no visible police or military presence. No police with ancient AK-47s picking their noses while guarding speed bumps. There is also far less visible corruption. I have been asked for tips, but it’s nothing at all like the stupid Middle Eastern baksheesh. I’m sure there are required tips for getting official government documents, but I doubt its as extensive (and painful) as the Mugamma.

On the other hand, the poverty in Ghana is overwhelmingly worse than Egypt. It actually seems to break my theory my statistical research from last semester, where we posited that good governance drives economic growth. In our measurement of governance (which ranged from -12 to 12; -12 meaning horrible governance and 12 meaning fantastic governance), Egypt scored stinking -2.5 while Ghana almost scored a 1. Although it’s better governed, Ghana’s economy performs horribly compared to Egypt—its 25 million citizens are by far poorer and less healthy than the 80 million Egyptians up north.

And you can definitely tell. The outskirts (and the inskirts(?) too) of Accra are filled with village-like slums with open sewers, tons of livestock, and unpaved orange dirt roads. The rooftops aren’t covered with satellite dishes—just antennae. It’s like if every tiny village in Upper Egypt were transplanted into downtown Cairo and were 10 times poorer and less developed.

Slum outside coffin place Slum outside coffin place

The poverty here is incredible.

Accra also feels less safe than Cairo, Alexandria, or Amman. Every relatively well-to-do compound has walls covered in razor wire and broken glass. Our bus got broken into in broad daylight. There seems to be more of a visible problem with drug and alcohol abuse (which I’m sure goes on in the Middle East, but is far more muted since it’s haram and everything…).

I’ve heard from a few people that Accra is their least favorite part of the country, so I’m excited to see some more of Ghana. It’s a fascinating place and I’m totally jealous of all the diplomatic and development expats here. Someday…

The Journey (April 25-26)

The flight to Ghana was initially pretty uneventful. My dad drove me and Matthias up to the airport at 5 stinking o’clock in the morning and we met up with a couple other people from our group in SLC before boarding the flight to New York. I entertained myself with Despicable Me and Pirates I, all the while ignoring the book I’m supposed to be reading for this trip/class. Oh well… plenty of time for that later :)

I was kind of worried about getting to JFK on time—we only had a little over an hour before our flight to Accra and CNN (now rebranded as HLN apparently) was reporting one hour delays for flights going into New York. Eek.

Idaho Sandwich: The filling

On Friday we went to the Idaho Falls Museum, which was surprisingly amazing. The main attraction was BODIES: The Exhibition, which was obviously quite amazing, but their regular displays were put together very well, as well. I was very impressed.

I was a little torn over BODIES; some parts were fascinating. The display of the circulatory system, specifically, was awesome. To see every single blood vessel in a body, perfectly preserved left me virtually speechless. I knew our bodies were complex, but that just blew my mind. And then I read about how they injected the blood stream of a cadaver with a silicone mixture and then dissolve the rest of the body, bones and all, and I was a little bit mortified. Still, it was very interesting to see how complex we really are.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gone to Ghana

Today I came across the adage "May the best of your yesterdays be the worst of your tomorrows."

This was certainly true for us today. While today wasn't great, the worst part of today was probably on par with the best part of yesterday. As long as we're improving, right?

Andrew made it to Ghana—I may as well spill the beans since he chose to sleep instead of blog—and is all in one piece. I pray it stays that way because he went on a tour of Accra today with his cohorts and the tour bus company said they could leave their personal items on the bus, assured them that the bus driver would stay with the bus with the doors locked, etc., and so forth. So they stopped for lunch and everyone disembarked, many people leaving their belongings behind.

Well, they got back to the bus and, much to their dismay, found it completely empty.

Passports, money, cameras, computers, everything...gone.

Today Rachel asked, "Mommy, why is Daddy in Ghana if it's not gone?"

"Because he's gone-a Ghana!" I said.

"But it's not gone if he's there," she pointed out.

Anyway, Andrew was telling me this story over IM and I was getting a little nervous because...remember Rome and The Great Financial Crisis of 2010?

I do.

So by this point in the story I was finished with the suspense and told him to just tell me the bad news and get it over with already.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heissatopia Street

The word of the day is "manipulation." Elmo wants you to say manipulation. If you do not say manipulation Elmo will scream and yell and threaten to disown you. How can you resist such a cute, furry monster? Elmo is only a little monster and cannot know everything, so you should say manipulation with Elmo and then give Elmo a cookie, otherwise Elmo will hate you forever. Say man-ip-u-la-tion. Say it! Say it, now! And then read me a story while I eat the cookie that I conned you into giving me. Or else.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Idaho Sandwich: The bread

We took a quick trip up to Idaho to visit Auntie Em—or as Miriam calls her, Emmy. The drive up was amazing; we didn't stop once and the girls were remarkably well behaved (thanks in large part to the portable DVD player). We drove straight to Emily and Morgan's house where we chilled for a while, until we could check into the hotel. I worked; Rachel watched The Land Before Time; Miriam ran around getting into stuff; everyone else played games. 

Around 3:00 we left for the hotel, leaving Rachel behind to bond with Emily and Morgan. Morgan gave Rachel a lesson on his drum set—I'll have to get the pictures/video from Emily. Rachel had a blast.

We checked into the hotel, got Miriam settled down for a nap, and left Grandma to work while we (Andrew and I) went to the temple. We hadn't gone yet this month and this was kind of our last chance. As happenstance would have it, we were sealed in proxy for a Mathias Heiß and Maria Winter. Andrew has an uncle named Matthew, but this was obviously not him since Mathias Heiß was born 23 September 1852. Still, it was interesting to run into a mysterious Heiss from Germany—neither progeny nor progenitor is listed on the record I found for Mathias. 

Andrew's family is a bit of a mystery, as well. His great-grandfather, Frank Joseph Heiss, was born in Bavaria, Germany 2 October 1904 and immigrated to the United States sometime before 4 February 1928 (I know this because that's when he married Great-grandma Gertrude in Chicago. 

I think Great-grandma Gertrude has kind of a ring to it. She could have gone by GG or GGG but I know she went by Grandma Heiss. She was from Germany, too, but also immigrated to America. She tried her very first banana on the boat ride over. I know this from reading family history; something I should apparently do more of. 

Anyway, Great-grandpa Frank's mother was Therisia Maria Heiss, and her mother was Rosina Heiss, and her father was Joseph Heiss. And that's where it ends. I'm actually a little clueless as to where the mystery begins and why both Therisia and Rosina passed their maiden names onto their children, but there you have it: another family history mystery, rife with scandal and illegitimacy and lies (much like my own family tree). 

Seriously though, who needs soap operas when you have family history?

The temple isn't too far from the hotel we stayed at, but we drove there because it was so cold, windy, and the threat of snow was very real. Too real, as we found out the following day by opening the blinds and being blinded by the early morning sunshine glaring off the snow-covered fields.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Does the hotel have a dishwasher?

We're leaving for a little post-semester/pre-Ghana trip tomorrow, a fact I feel I can broadcast since not everyone in the household will be going (so the house won't be left empty (take that, hypothetical thief-stalkers)).

Rachel didn't want to go to bed (and is actually still wide awake...but in her room and in her bed and relatively quiet, thanks for asking) so I told her that she needed to go to bed, anyway, because we had a big day ahead of us.

"It's not really a very big day," she told me, "Because we're going on a trip so we don't have to do any jobs."

"We still have to do some work, even on vacation," I told her.

"But we won't have to do house work because we won't be at our house."

"But we'll still have to work (ie. do "unpleasant" things), even if we aren't at home."

"Oh," she sighed, obviously saddened by the thought that she might actually not have 100% super-fun the whole time we're gone. "Can you just tell me...? Do you know...? Ummm...?"

"What?"

"Does the hotel have a dishwasher?" she finally blurted out.

This is really only funny if you know that her most detested daily job is...

*drumroll*

...unloading the dishwasher.

SLC Marathon 2011

Would you believe me if I told you that I'm not sore at all? Because I'm not. 

I'm kind of surprised about it, myself, because I was sore for nearly two weeks after the half marathon. I was sore for probably a day and a half after the full marathon. Not too shabby.

It was a fun race; I stuck with Wendy the whole time, and I'm glad I did because there is no way I would have been able to finish without her. The first twenty miles were pretty standard; we were tired by the time we had finished that much but by no means worn out. After mile 21 is really when I started to feel it. We were so close and yet so far. 

A marathon isn't 13.1 miles and then 13.1 miles. It's 20 miles and then 6 miles. And those last six miles are killer.

Andrew met us just after mile 19 to take our sweaters—which we definitely needed in the early hour mornings—and running packs. It felt so good to shed those few pounds before embarking on the final leg of our journey.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Miriam at 18 months

Even though she's not quite 18 months yet I took Miriam in for her 18 month check up on Thursday. She did amazingly well through the whole appointment—opening her mouth when the doctor asked her to, showing off her vocabulary and gross motor skills, etc.—until the nurses jabbed her with a set of needles.

Then things got pretty rocky.

Having Miriam get shots, though, is super easy compared to battling Rachel under the same circumstances.

Miriam started sobbing, "Ow, ow, ow! My knee! My knee! Momma! Noooo!"

But she stayed still on the table while the nurse administered the last shot.

Then I said, "Oooh! They brought you a pretty bracelet!"

And she said, "Me, me, me!" and put the dinky, neon pink bracelet on, and tried to smile through her tears.

She had finished crying by the time we got back out to the waiting room and no one stared at us with bemused expressions as we entered. In fact, I don't think anyone knew she had gotten a shot at all.

That is never how things went/go with Rachel. With Rachel they usually call in a couple of nurses as back up just to hold the child down and then she screams bloody murder for the next half hour. Everyone in the waiting room always knows exactly how she feels about her maltreatment.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dinner with the Greats II

Yesterday we went up for dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Layton's house. My sister Kelli was there with Olivia and Sabrina and Allen. It's been a long time since Rachel saw the twins and she was very excited about this. We had been talking about her cousin Michael and how he's her second cousin because his dad and her dad are cousins. 

"Are Olivia and Sabrina my second cousins, too?" she asked.

"No," I started answering.

"Are they my last cousins, then?" she interrupted.

"No, they are your first cousins because their mom is my sister," I told her.

She's been mighty confused about first, second, and last cousins ever since. I don't think last cousins even exist...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday

There's this song that Andrew loves to hate.

You might have heard of it, unless you're reading this 50 years in the future, in which case you probably haven't. The song is Friday by Rebecca Black. Of course, the song isn't actually by Rebecca Black; she neither wrote the lyrics or the music. However, she did perform the song, which took guts, because it really isn't that great of a song. Unfortunately for her, while several not-so-great songs somehow manage to become hits, anyway, people noticed that Friday wasn't a great song. It's been a huge flop, which in essence makes it a success.

I don't know many people who haven't heard it.

It's been viewed many times at our house. So many times, in fact, that I caught Rachel walking around the house singing, "Partying, partying. Yeah! Partying, partying. Yeah!"

I blame Andrew since he's the one who insists on showing it to every Dick, Tom, and Harry that walks through the door.

Our girls know all about partying since we're still living the "college life."

Actually, it's really because Grandma and Grandpa are living the college life. Their ward has so many parties. We just go for the free food.

Last Saturday they had their closing social for the winter semester and we were officially not invited, which made Rachel quite sad. Instead we went to the library to pick out new books. While she was sulking around, selecting books in a rather unenthusiastic manner, Grandma called to invite us; we were going to campus, anyway, so that I could run on the track (because it snowed again on Saturday). Andrew and the girls may as well join them for lunch.

Andrew quickly broke the news to Rachel.

"Hey, Rachel, do you want to go to the party with the big kids?"

Her little face lit up with excitement. She didn't even have to answer for us to know that she wanted to go, but she still told us, approximately a thousand times, that she did want to go. Then she launched in to asking when we would be leaving the library.

Miriam felt a little left out, I suppose, because she yelled, "Party! Party! Me! Me! Me!"

I think everyone was relieved when we left the library. The girls were being so noisy—they're both little party animals!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gamelan

Last night we went to see Naanii and Auntie Josie perform with Bintang Wahyu, the BYU Gamelan troupe. Gamelan is a type of musical ensemble from Bali in Indonesia, though in this case it is an ensemble from BYU. Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw founded the group in 2008 after returning from a trip to Bali. Surprisingly, this was his first trip to Bali; he had joined a Balinese Gamelan ensemble at the Eastman School of Music where he was doing graduate coursework years previously, fell in love with it, and studied it for several years in the United States and even purchased some instruments while studying at Denison University. 

Now he purchases his instruments "from carvers in the shop of I Wayan Beratha, Bali's most revered composer and instrument builder."* Since Hindu are so open to other religion, Dr. Grimshaw asked if we could have some Latter-day Saint iconography incorporated into the decorations on the instruments; Beratha obliged his request so if you look closely at the instruments you might be surprised to find the sunstone from the Nauvoo temple or other such images.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Snack picnic

Rachel wanted to go on a picnic today but failed to announce her idea until we were already sitting down, eating lunch. We went on a snack picnic, instead, after Miriam woke up from her nap. 

That poor baby got her hand smashed in the door while she and Rachel were playing a game. She cried for so long that, after nursing, she was ready to sleep it off. She missed lunch, so it's a good thing we went on a snack picnic!

It wasn't anything fancy. I just grabbed a blanket, some bread, and some cucumbers. Ta-da!

The girls had fun playing at the park, though, despite the incoming storm. They even got hot enough from running around that they even took off their sweaters. I, apparently, didn't run around enough because I found the chill factor of the wind was something fierce; I left my sweater on.

There was some equipment left outside the school so we borrowed it. 

Ridiculous!

Can I say, without jinxing anything, that my girls have been sleeping through the night? Both of them.

It's been about a week.

It's also been fabulous.

Despite getting a full night's sleep, some of us are still rather grumpy in the morning. I am going to assume this is because some of us are not "morning people" so regardless of the amount of sleep we get we're still going to have a hard time in the morning. Or it could be that some of us are three.

This morning when I took Miriam into bed with me to have her first-thing-in-the-morning-before-she-dies-of-neglect nursing session, Rachel came, too, which is normal. Rachel also brought along this little toy mermaid and kept insisting that Miriam hold it while she was nursing. Miriam tried to ignore it, she tried pushing it away, she tried growling at Rachel (which I translate to mean, "Leave me alone; I'm eating!") but eventually she gave up and took the silly mermaid.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday, that one day

Church was both horrible and wonderful at the same time today.

First of all we were fifteen minutes late due to a certain three-year-old's dress not being "twirly" enough. I won't mention any names but I will mention that said child threw herself on the ground in a fit of passion and it took several precious minutes to get her into a suitably "twirly" dress.

To top off that little fiasco we had to walk to church. In the snow. In April.

What gives, Mother Nature?!

Sacrament meeting was horrible. Actually, it was likely wonderful but I missed that vibe due to my horribly misbehaving children.

Screaming. Screeching. Fighting. Biting.

It was awful.

Friday, April 08, 2011

These are a few of my favourite things...

1) Rachel


2) Miriam


3) Rachel and Miriam sleeping*

4) Miriam and Rachel playing nicely together


5) Me sleeping

* In the pictures, Rachel is pretending to sleep and Miriam is actually sleeping. I just thought I would clarify that in case anyone thought that Rachel was actually taking a nap. She wasn't. We're still waiting on those flying pigs... Also, that is not Rachel's bed. That is a toy box. 

Out of the pan and into the...


Miriam has ended up in some interesting places this week. So far she's been stuck in a frying pan, a bath towel (which, by the way, is one of her new words)...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Happy Birthday, Auntie Josie

This morning when I woke Rachel up she said, "I think I had a good sleep again last night."

"I think so, too," I said. 

"Two nights in a row!?" she exclaimed with wonder. 

Sometimes I just can't believe it, either.

We did a French ponytail (or at least what my mom always called a French ponytail) in her hair this morning and then had breakfast (toast) on the run since doing her hair took so long. 


Rachel was very pleased with her look today, both her hair and her outfit.


It was good that she looked so cute because today we went over to my parents' house to celebrate Josie's birthday. She's seventeen today, which I can't even believe!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Albinos

Conference weekend was wonderful. Emily and Morgan came down from Idaho so we got to have a family lunch yesterday afternoon with Andrew and all his sisters and their husbands. We were only missing Jacob, who is still on his mission in Peru and doing great (he just became a zone leader; he's pretty excited...and overwhelmed).

It's funny to watch Emily and Morgan being so—dare I say this—young and in love.

I still feel like I'm young and in love but when I see Emily and Morgan I can tell that...they behave differently than Andrew and I do.

For one thing, I can't think of the last time I called Andrew Andrew. Usually I call him Daddy.

For another, Morgan got home from priesthood session and Emily literally ran up the stairs and into his arms. Andrew got home from priesthood session and I gave him a quick peck as I handed him the baby and said, "Let's get these kids to bed!"

Like I said, I still feel like I'm young and in love but obviously things have changed around here.

Does this mean we left the honeymoon stage without me even realizing it? Are we no longer newly weds? Are we getting *gulp* old?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Garth N. Jones Writing Award

A while ago Andrew got an email announcing a writing contest open to all MPA students. He's taking 21.5 credits this semester, which means he's a little pressed for time (hello, understatement of the year) but since there was a cash prize he figured he should enter. There was nothing in the rules about using a paper written for a class, so Andrew took the criteria for the essay contest and the criteria for one of his final papers, combined them and wrote a stellar 10-ish page paper about the managerial style of Mubarak and how it contributed to the collapse of his regime. (Click here to read it...if you want).

He never heard back about the contest, and since the awards banquet was coming up we just figured that he didn't win and we wouldn't be going to the banquet, even though it was a stellar paper and he got 100% on it when he turned it in for class (my husband is so smart). 

On Tuesday, however, he got called into the office. They had looked over the list of banquet attendees and noticed that he wasn't on it. They informed him that he had to come because he had won the writing contest. 

April showers bring...grumble, mumble, mumble

Yesterday was beautiful once again. A balmy, sunshiny 75 degrees. Perfect, in my opinion. 

We planted some peas and transferred Rachel's sunflowers from their little pot on the windowsill to the garden. There were ten sunflowers in a pot the size of a thimble and they were getting a little crowded. Okay, so the pot was bigger than a thimble; it was more like two inches in diameter, which is still a little small for ten sunflowers. 

In the afternoon a storm rolled in, which we were expecting. By the evening we were having a nice April shower. 

When we went to bed I said, "Oh, I hope those sunflowers are alright..."

Andrew said, "Of course they'll be alright. They've been through a lot already; they're survivors. Besides, it's not like it's going to snow..."

Friday, April 01, 2011

Carl Bloch exhibit

This afternoon we went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU. It was wonderful; it made us a little travel-hungry but also almost made us feel like we had escaped to Europe for a bit. Really, though, a bit of Europe escaped to us.

Perfect day for playing

Yesterday afternoon it was nice and warm outside, which was perfect since I needed to do my run during the day since I was busy in the evening. My dad came to the park with us so that he could play with Miriam and Rachel while I ran laps. He asked what she could do at the park and I answered that she mostly likes to swing and eat dirt but that she wasn't too keen on heights or sliding. 

While I was running Grandpa helped Miriam warm up to the slide. She even got brave enough that she started going down all by herself, she shoved his hands away from her and said, "No!" when he tried to help her. She's in that "I do! I do! I do!" stage.

Today it got up to about 73°F (23°C) so we went to the park again, naturally. We invited Grandpa along as well since he'll be leaving to spend the summer working in Germany at the end of the month. We need to get our Grandpa-time in while we can!

Miriam showed off her dazzling slide skills: