Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recently...

  • Rachel has been complaining about going to school. Her preschool just doesn't seem as spectacular as it was last year for various reasons. I wonder if I should have her keep going or let her quit because I'd rather that she actually looks forward to going to school since it's something she'll be doing for the next thirteen years.
  • It's been rather warm. It hasn't snowed since the last time, which was apparently 10 days ago. I could get used to this.
  • I've been avoiding cleaning the bathroom sink but today I finally did it. *pats self on back*
  • Things have been getting Christmas-ier and Christmas-ier around here. We have Grandma to thank for most of that.
  • (At least today) I can't think of much to say so I'm really glad that NaBloPoMo is almost over. Tomorrow's December Eve.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Пирожки

Yesterday we had a family gathering at my mom's house since our family didn't really get together for Thanksgiving. Rosie was the photographer for that event, so I don't have any pictures yet. It was really quite fun. My sister Kelli was there with three of her kids: Rosie, Matthew, and Andrew. I was there with my girls: Rachel and Miriam. Uncle Patrick was there, as well as my mom and dad. We Skyped with Abra, who had two of her kids over: Piper and Malachi. Andrew (my Andrew) came for dinner but then left after dinner so that he could do homework (what else?). 

I think that is the first time we've had that many of the cousins "together" before. It was fun to get to chat with and watch Piper and Malachi get to know their Utah cousins a bit better. I haven't had my two oldest sisters in the "same room" in, oh, about a decade. 

For Christmas I think it would be really fun to get both Abra (in Canada) and David (in England) on a Skype conference call when we're all at my parents' house. (Josie, by the way, was in New Mexico visiting a friend for Thanksgiving which is why she wasn't home but she arrived back in Provo at around 8:00 and my mom and I went to pick her up so I got to see all of my siblings except for David; that's pretty cool). 

Anyway, Abra and her kids were eating dinner when we called. Usually Abra doesn't have her kids on Sunday evenings but there was a freak windstorm, with speeds reaching as high as 150 km/hr (which is high enough to be classified as a class 1 hurricane) and shingles were being ripped off roofs, windows were being blown out, and trees were downing power lines left and right, school was cancelled for Monday so her kids were able to stay over an extra night. Anyway...they were eating perogies for dinner, which got me thinking that we haven't had perogies in a long time.

A Night in Bethlehem

On Saturday night we went to the Stone Gate Center for the Arts in Pleasant Grove to "A Night in Bethlehem." Rachel wanted to dress up as Mary so we got a costume together for her, complete with the blue veil she insisted Mary wears. Then she decided she didn't want to dress up alone so I dressed up with her, but not as Mary, even though she really wanted me to. I wore my Palestinian dress. She wore a dress we got for her in Egypt.

As we were loading into the car, Andrew smacked his head on the van door—he had just buckled Miriam in and was trying to stand up quickly (a little too quick if you ask me) in order to ask me to grab a pair of shoes for her. He hit his head so hard he was reeling for the rest of the night. He's feeling fine today, though, and there's no bump on his head so it couldn't have been too bad, simply bad enough.

I was surprised at how wonderful the event was, really. It was about as accurately Bethlehem-y as you could get, being in Utah. They had a stall with live animals—inside the building—a basket weaver, a potter, a toy shop with dreidels, a bread shop with hummus, a rug maker, a school where you could learn to spell your name in Hebrew, and various inns (which were all full). They even had a well in the middle of the room with a beggar woman sitting beside it. I thought it was interesting to see how everyone avoided her, even though we all knew that everyone there was only acting. People avoided her gaze, the walked huge circles around her. I even began to feel guilty that I, truthfully, was not carrying any money and had nothing to give to her.

What an interesting social experiment it would be to sit around watching people interact with this beggar they all knew wasn't actually a beggar.

Cop out post

It was bound to happen at some point or other this month—you know, writing a post about nothing because it's twenty to midnight and anything I have to say will take too long to say so instead I say nothing at all. When your husband, who has been working on homework nonstop for the entire Thanksgiving break (which he said would be "almost free" of homework) asks you to play a game and share a bowl of popcorn with him because he's completely burned out, though, you jump at the chance.

Even if it's NaBloPoMo and it means you run out of time to write an actual blog post.

And so you write a cop-out post like this one.

In other news, Andrew has completed 3 out of 4 grad school applications. The clock is ticking and we still have to figure out how to get transcripts from AUC—Egypt is having parliamentary elections right now so school is out of session.

Two thoughts on that:

1) Hi. Why don't we get days off of school to vote? I guess when you've always been able to vote it's nothing at all like a holiday.

2) Um...we kind of need people to be working so that we can get our transcripts....come on!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pizza Pit Party

To reward the primary children for a job well done on their sacrament program, our chorister hosted a party at a local gym that his family is very involved in. His wife coaches there and his kids are like gymnastic all stars (as in they get college scholarships because of their gymnastic skills). Anyway, Rachel has been talking about it for weeks now—they had to book the party when no other parties were going on so it was kind of spur of the moment this weekend—and dubbed it the "pizza pit party" because she was told there would be pits she could jump into.

When we got there she was terrified of everything. But by the time we left she was off running around by herself, jumping into pits, swinging on ropes, and so forth.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas is coming...and so are the missionary kangaroos

On Thanksgiving Eve, Rachel asked whether Santa comes on Thanksgiving or Christmas because she couldn't quite remember. I told her that Santa comes on Christmas.

She sighed and said, "And you're sure tomorrow's only Thanksgiving?"

We've been talking about Christmas decorations for weeks now—I think Grandma decided to put up a little bit of her train this year—and the girls are getting excited for Christmas. Miriam doesn't quite understand what presents are and when you ask her what she wants for Christmas she'll tell you she wants pink. She was going around yesterday telling everyone what colour they were going to get for Christmas. She was mad at Grandpa so he was assigned brown. Rachel, on the other hand, was in a favourable light at the time and Miriam said she'd get "pink—same a' me!" 

Uncle Patrick told them what he actually wanted for Christmas—wool socks, a poncho, and a rolling pin (I didn't understand the rolling pin at first but today he explained that he wanted it for physical therapy not for making pie crusts). Rachel looked up at him and said quite thoughtfully, "Well, we're going to a place where there's lots of Santa's workers and things—and maybe even Santa will be there—and Grandma said that you can tell them what you want for Christmas. So maybe...if you come with us...then you can tell them what you want Santa to bring to you."

He declined. But it was quite thoughtful of her. The Shops at the Riverwoods does some neat stuff at Christmastime—they have Santa's village (with Santa visits) and carriage rides and pretty lights. It's fun. We'll go...sometime.

Anyway, today we set up the Christmas tree. Rachel and Grandma did most of it, I think.

The picture that wasn't

Grandma got the girls these cute ladybug outfits and I convinced them both to wear them today. Rachel didn't take any convincing. Miriam cried because her shirt "not look like a dress!" you know, because it's a shirt. She got over that though when I had her show off her outfit to a few people and they told her how cute she was. 

Having accomplished this goal of getting the girls in matching outfits, which is something I rarely can do—and I mean that in every sense of the word, as in having their outfits match each other or having their outfits match at all—I was next determined to take a picture of my girls together. That didn't happen.

They were off playing with some of the BYU students for most of the afternoon and I was more than happy to allow them to do so. Rachel came upstairs at one point and said, "Mom, the big kids [that's what she calls college kids] would like to know if they can watch a movie."

The football game was playing downstairs but the kids had been talking about watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which I didn't know existed until today, but it makes sense since there's A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and I knew about those) because it's a tradition in some of their homes to watch it on Thanksgiving. Apparently it was on TV today.

I told Rachel that they could.

"Ummmm...can I...watch it...with them?" she asked.

"Sure," I told her.

Andrew went downstairs to help them set up the movie since it's a little complicated (at least I think so). 

"What movie do you guys want to watch?" he asked.

"Movie?" one asked. "We have to leave soon. I told my parents I'd Skype with them at six!"

Yeah. Rachel orchestrated that whole situation like a master manipulator. Well played, Rachel. Well played.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner

We had Thanksgiving dinner with Andrew's parents, some kids from their BYU ward, my parents, and Uncle Patrick. Rachel got shipped off to my parents house, where she spent the late morning and early afternoon waiting for dinner while the rest of us worked on the meal. Miriam and I took naps, though mine was much shorter than Miriam's. Grandpa and Grandma set the table (with Oma's "everyday" china) while we were sleeping and Miriam was very excited to see it when she woke up—her spot was set with a glass plate and a glass cup! 


She was a little nervous about falling into the fireplace but managed to get through dinner just fine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LOL

Last night before we went to sleep I was telling Andrew about our—as in the girls' and my—day. I had walked Rachel to school in the morning and just as we got to the corner of our yard our next-door neighbour came outside with their new puppy, unleashed. This new puppy bounded over to us and started prancing around us in circles, silently begging us to play. Rachel flipped out and started screaming and trying to climb into my arms. I picked her up and tried to hush her while also trying to calm the puppy. It was not the most graceful moment in Rachel's short life.*

"It wasn't even as if the puppy was barking or doing anything threatening. His tongue was just lolling out of his mouth and..."

"What?" Andrew asked.

"What?" I asked back.

"What was that last part you said?"

"His tongue was lolling out of his mouth."

"Lolling?" Andrew repeated with his eyebrows raised in incredulity.

"Yes. It was lolling."

"Like that's even a word," he said.

"It is."

"No, it's not."

"Yes. It. Is."

"What does it mean then?" Andrew asked.

"Like, hanging out. His tongue was lolling—hanging out—of his mouth."

"Prove it."

"Excuse me?"

"Look it up and show me."

I grabbed his iPod and did a voice search: "Define: lolling."

Andrew doesn't have Siri but he wishes that he does; instead he has a Google voice search app. Unfortunately my voice is so high pitched that computers don't pick it up well—phone messages that are cued to start playing when the person on the receiving end says hello do not start playing when I say hello until I lower my voice. I have been told by more than one elderly person to lower my voice—pitch-wise not volume-wise—so that their hearing aids will stop buzzing. And when I use voice search it rarely, if ever, understands anything I say.

"Define: wallowing," Google tried.

"See?" said Andrew. "It didn't even recognize the word."

"It didn't even recognize my voice," I said, pulling up the keyboard and typing in the word.

Much to his surprise, lolling popped up on the screen.

"There!" I said triumphantly. "Loll: to hang loosely. Also, to act or move in a lazy way."

"Okay, in my defense," he began, "I thought you were using LOL as a verb and I couldn't really see how a dog's tongue could LOL. I mean, I suppose a dog could LOL but can a tongue really LOL?"

I suppose it's true that the correct present tense of LOL would be lolling. Perhaps one day that definition will make it into the dictionary but for now its integrity as a word is still being debated. I don't think I've ever used the LOL sense of the word in my life until right about now...

We lolled about this while lolling in bed until tears ran down our cheeks.

*To be fair to Rachel, I completely understand where she's coming from. Even though the dog wasn't threatening in any way, shape, or form, it was still a dog. Thus, it was threatening. She's got a genuine dog phobia—something I also suffer from (but less so now that I'm an adult and can distinguish between harmless puppies and rabid wolves). It doesn't matter if the dog is fenced or leashed or smaller than a rat...it's a threat. And once that fight or flight response kicks in there is little you can do to control it when you're four years old. I am still learning to control my fears so the fact that she can't doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it's kind of funny when she freaks out and climbs me like a tree because I totally remember doing that to my own mom when I was her age.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vampire-free zone

Rachel helped make garlic bread last night. She's done it before so I didn't give her exact instructions this time around. I simply handed her the shaker and said, "Put a little of this on each slice."


Apparently she decided it wasn't coming out fast enough and so she turned the lid from the "sprinkle" setting to "pour."


We won't have to worry about vampires for weeks.

Dinosaurs at Breakfast

We had an early morning after a late night, which meant that we had an interesting day—Miriam napped for over two hours and Rachel put herself down for a nap after declaring that she "can't handle this anymore!"

But breakfast was hilarious.

Rachel had made oatmeal for herself  but Miriam wanted to have cereal, specifically she wanted "Rasin Bran—it's Grandpa's cereal!" Rachel then decided she wanted cereal instead of oatmeal and asked if she could change her mind but I told her that she couldn't because she had already fixed herself oatmeal.

"Mom! If you don't let me have cereal right now then I'm not going to be your child!" she threatened.

I just shrugged and told her she still had to finish her oatmeal. I'm pretty sure they don't let four-year-olds sue for emancipation because their mother asks them to eat their oatmeal. Just sayin'...

Later after she had finished her oatmeal and was enjoying a bowl of cereal she turned to me and asked, "Does meat come from plants?"

I thought she said wheat. We were eating cereal after all.

"No. Not wheat. Meat. Where does it come from? Does it come from plants?"

"No. Meat comes from animals," I told her.

"Like dinosaurs?" Rachel asked.

"No. Not like dinosaurs," I said.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Andrew's craziness

This past week has been a little crazy—I, for one, am looking forward to Thanksgiving break. I think it's kind of funny that although my schedule was basically the same as it is every week I still felt the craziness of Andrew's schedule affecting my schedule. It was a little crazy at our house so it's no wonder that our pre-bedtime clean-up took probably three times as long as it usually does.

After a full day of classes on Tuesday, Andrew flew out to Denver, Colorado to interview for the Presidential Management Fellowship. His sweet Aunt Lynnea and Uncle Clark picked him up from the airport and he stayed overnight at their house, which helped keep our expenses down. The interview was on Wednesday afternoon and it went as well as Andrew could tell.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I wonder if she bleeds blue, too...

Last week my mom, Miriam, and I went to see Beauty and the Beast at the local junior high school. There were a couple of girls from my mom's ward in it and a couple of girls from my ward in it and it was certainly fun to see them perform, if nothing else. They had great costumes, too, and the kids really did a fabulous job...but it was a junior high performance, so just keep that in mind.

We left Rachel at home (since she was throwing up) and Miriam was thrilled beyond belief that this time she was the one going to the play while Rachel was the one staying home. That experience we had at the Valley Center Playhouse just about broke her little heart—she came to me the next morning and sniffed, "No can noisy babies watch a show. Meme's not a baby but Meme not can stay at play." It was so sad.

So you can imagine she could not stop talking about how Miriam was getting to go to a play with Naanii and Mommy while Rachel was at home, sick in bed. She loved it.

This week Andrew and I have left the kids home two nights in a row while we've been off at church functions. We had an Elder's Quorum dinner last night, which was fun, and then this evening was the adult session of stake conference. Grandma and Grandpa let the girls stay up both nights to watch a show and have a popcorn party before putting them to bed for us (we're/they're so spoiled).

Tonight, though, Miriam wasn't in bed when we came home. She was downstairs watching football with Grandpa. I went in the bedroom to put some stuff away before going to get her but before I could, Grandma came to get me.

"I have a surprise to show you!" she said, leading us into the girls' room.

She shined a flashlight on Miriam's bed, illuminating what the smell had already told me—Miriam's bed was covered in vomit.

Blue vomit, to be accurate.

And it smelled horribly.

We had had nachos for lunch. Karen had found these BYU tortilla chips at the store—they're blue and white. We figured they were blue corn and white corn chips mixed in the same bag. It wasn't until we started eating them (and noticed each other's blue-tinged lips) that we realized that what we thought were blue corn chips were actually white corn chips dyed a sickening shade of navy blue. I don't know how much dye they had to use to get the chips that colour but it must have been a lot because everything in Miriam's bed was blue.

I think she would have gotten sick even if we hadn't eaten blue chips for lunch though. She was fussy all day...and it's really her turn, isn't it? Rachel's had the stomach flu three separate occasions this month; it's only fair that Miriam would get it now.

Poor Miriam didn't know what hit her. She wandered out of her bedroom, with her hands dripping in goo.

"What's wrong?" asked Grandma.

"I has a booger," she told Grandma, who had already come to examine her hands.

"Oh! That's not a booger!" Grandma said. "You threw up!"

All night long Miriam's been repeating the story—through her bath, through putting on new pyjamas,  through cuddles, through everything.

"I coughed and had a booger. I threw up! Mom! I threw up!"

Having her tell me about it fifty times before I put her back to bed is exactly what I needed to give me a queasy stomach.


Secretly I had wished we would go a full week without having to deal with throw-up but I guess it's a good thing I never voiced that wish or I'd be eating my words right now. And, chances are, if I had to eat my words I'd probably end up vomiting them up later. I have a feeling this stomach bug is just starting the rounds in this household.

(sarcasm) I can hardly wait for my turn (/sarcasm).

Transposition Cypher


When Miriam went down for her nap today, Rachel made a card for one of her primary teachers who sent her a card in the mail telling her what a great job she did on the primary program. She had me help her spell everything and wrote it out just about perfectly.



Can you read it? You kind of have to snake your way through it. Left to right, then right to left, then left to right, then right to left. It's a rudimentary transposition cypher.

Shopping for Free

This morning we were greeted by the season's first real snowfall. While I'm grateful for the novelty of the snow today I don't expect my feelings to remain welcoming all winter long. Chances are winter will wear out its welcome long before spring decides to show up. The girls had fun playing out in the snow for a few minutes, though this morning we were still lacking some snow essentials: boots for Miriam and a hat for Rachel that doesn't feel like it's squishing her brain to smithereens. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Hermione Granger Day

Rachel is feeling much better today—she was up a couple of times in the night but not to throw up. Her explosive bodily fluids have moved south, so to speak. But she's much more cheerful and spunky than she was yesterday. 

I braided her hair on Wednesday but we just left them in all day Thursday because she was sick. We took them out this morning and she was thrilled with the results. It helped that Miriam said, "You look like 'Mione!"

"I do! I do look like Hermione!" Rachel beamed. "When it's Halloween will you braid my hair and take it out so I can be Hermione? I look just like her! I don't even look like I'm in our family anymore because I just look so much like Hermione?"

I told her I would braid her hair next year. If she remembers she wanted to be Hermione by then I'll be really surprised because she already decided upon being Little Red Riding Hood and then quickly abandoned that idea in favour of Hermione. The chances of yet another charming character coming along and stealing Rachel's heart in the next eleven months are high.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Outvoted

Apparently I was outvoted on Proposition 1—We Should Have a Good Day Again—because instead of being greeted by happy children this morning I was greeted by a throwing-up Rachel.

Fortunately Miriam assured me that she's happy.

This is round three of the stomach flu, folks. Round three!

A better day

Today was a much better day at our house. So much better, in fact, that I can look back and think it was pleasant, enjoyable and, at times, even humorous.

After breakfast we went visiting teaching, which is always an adventure. At one home we ended up with six kids running around, at another only five. But we did manage to get some discussion in and the children all enjoyed playing together (for the most part).

The afternoon was a jumble of lunchtime, nap time, movie watching, dancing in the living room, and silliness.

Rachel was rather funny today. At dinner we were talking, for some reason, about when she would get to go to college. She's always rushing to be an adult (I don't know why). I told her that college was a long way off—she still had kindergarten and elementary school and middle school and high school before college.

"What's high school?" Rachel asked. "Is it just for Heisses?"

"No," I told her. "It's high school, not Heiss school. It's for everybody."

"Oh," she said, like this was the biggest blow I had ever delivered to her ego.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ugh

As far as being a parent goes, today certainly didn't rank in my top 100. Rachel woke up grumpy and seemed to only get grumpier as the day progressed. Today it was my turn for the Sunbeam Swap, which meant that she had two friends over to play (the third couldn't come today, which probably was a very, very good thing) after school. Rachel was downright cruel—kicking, hitting, yelling, stealing toys, twisting arms, bossing, etc.

She spent most of the three hours they were over in time out, screaming all the while. 

She screamed about just about anything and everything after they left, too. 

She screamed so much, and so prolongedly, that Miriam didn't end up taking a nap. Or if she did it only lasted for twenty minutes or so. 

So I put the girls to bed early tonight. 

And then Rachel cried from her bed while Miriam pounded on the door. 

Finally I went in there, hastily put Miriam back in bed and hissed at them, "I don't want to hear another peep out of either you!"

I think I would have handled an iffy bedtime a lot better today if I hadn't spent the past 7.5 hours listening to Rachel scream about everything.

For example:

I want to watch a show. I don't want to do the dishes. If you don't read me another story I'm not going to brush my teeth. I don't want to put on my pyjamas. Why did you take away my dinner? I'm still hungry. No! I don't want to finish my cookie. I'm full. I want a snack. Of course I washed my hands! Get me a drink. Where is my blanket? I hit Miriam because she was playing with the toy I wanted to play with. It's not my fault. It's hers. You're a bad mom. Don't laugh at me. I want the pink cup. Open this door right now! Turn my nightgown right side out! Where's my baby Norah? Give me ice water. I don't want to pick up my crayons. I want to watch a movie! That's not fair. It's too hard!

Imagine a continuous stream of that for seven hours (at full blast) accentuated by a bit of foaming at the mouth and flailing of the limbs. Add in one grumpy toddler who missed her afternoon nap. Subtract one father who is in Colorado for an interview. 

Now ask me how my day went...

Fortunately, I haven't heard a peep out of either of them. 

I think that was the first time Rachel was obedient all day. And it was probably a good decision on her part.

I just went to check on them and they're both sleeping like angels. Before 8:00? They really must have been tired!

Nothing

Yesterday Andrew returned from campus and deposited his stuff in the office, which had been perfectly clean when he left for school in the morning. When I saw him standing in the kitchen I gasped and asked him if he had been into the office yet (because Rachel had been using his desk and had scattered papers and crayons and junk all over it. I had meant to have it cleared off before he got home).

"Yeah—I just dropped my backpack off in there. Why?" he asked.


Oh, no reason.

Just paper and crayons and dress ups and Barbies, ponies and staplers and glue sticks and markers...

You know...nothing.

Now I know not to worry about what state the house is when he comes home because he won't notice.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pilgrims

Today the girls are being pilgrims. I'm the storekeeper so they keep buying things from me—blankets and clean water and bottles for their babies. I don't quite have the heart to tell them that the pilgrims didn't have a store to buy things from because they're playing together so nicely. 

Rachel's first primary presentation

As I've mentioned a couple of times in the past few weeks, the children's primary presentation was today. For those of you who know what a primary presentation is, you know it can be very nerve wracking for those poor little primary children. For those of you who don't know what a primary presentation is, I'll tell you. That was you can be equally aware of how terrifying it is for children.

Once a year the primary children in our church (children ages 3–11) are asked to give a presentation in front of the entire congregation. The primary presentation gives the primary children the opportunity to bear testimony to their families (and the entire congregation) about what they've learned about the gospel throughout the year. They sing songs, recite scriptures, and give talks. In front of the entire congregation.

It's that last part that is the scariest, I think. I remember walking through the church halls when I was little, trying to make my way through the sea of legs to find my parents. I knew who a few adults were—my teachers, the bishop, my friends' parents—but beyond that everyone else was stranger-danger.

Rachel was as nervous as a girl could be—crying through rehearsal, needing her mommy, mumbling through her talk—but when she got up to give her talk today she marched up to the stand brimming with confidence and started her talk without any prompting from me.

"Today I want to talk about temples," she said, "The Nauvoo temple. Because my family went there for a fwip [trip] and saw many places that were special to my ancestors."

She was on fire. I only helped her a few times. I was so proud of her.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stomach Flu Revisited

The night before last I was up with children from 1:30 AM until around 4:00 AM. Miriam woke up at 7:20 AM. Rachel woke up at 7:30 AM. Last night I was up with children from midnight until 3:00 AM. Miriam woke up at 8:00 AM. Rachel woke up at 8:40 AM.

Oddly enough I'm actually feeling a lot better today than yesterday. I guess 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep is one of those wonderful things you can't go without.

So Miriam has diarrhea. Rachel has diarrhea and has been throwing up.

It's been glorious.

This morning when we were all still snuggling in bed, we reminded Miriam to be gentle with Rachel because Rachel is sick(est).

"Rachy's not sick!" Miriam insisted. "Rachy's just sad! Me make Rachy feel happy!"

Then she hugged and kissed Rachel over and over again, repeating, "I'm loves you, Rachy. I'm loves you. I'm loves you, Rachy. I'm loves you."

It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

You know, in comparison to full throw-up buckets and the like.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day: World War II vets

My grandma's brother Leo served in World War II, from April 1942 until January 1946. "Leo landed on Juno Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was at Caen, France, when it was captured from the Germans. He was also at the battle of the Falaise Gap and was in Ghent, Belgium and fought into Holland."* My grandma's mother died on July 2, 1944, when my grandma was sixteen years old. Uncle Leo wrote this letter home to my grandma and her sister, Ila June, the following month, on August 31, 1944.
Dearest Sisters,
Hi kids. I'll write you a little private letter to-night. I wrote so much to our dear Dad that I can't think of much more. I'm sending you a few stamps Pearl, I couldn't find any of the ones I wanted to, they had old Hitler's face on them, and I have only seen a few of them over here.
Well I sure hope you are not working too hard altho [sic] I know you have lots to do. I hope it won't be long before I'm home and then if any one bothers you all you have to do is tell me and I'll stop them in a hurry. And I sure hope I'll be able to help you in every way possible. I sure hope that you can manage and go back to school this fall Pearl. Well I hope you are both well and happy. I'm well and safe as possible. I'll say cheerio for now. Keep smiling. 
With loads of love. Your loving brother, Leo.*

As good as a rest

Today I read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins—the whole thing, from cover to cover. It was the kind of book that I knew I had to read completely before I'd be able to go to sleep. Not that it ended on a terribly happy note. Now I need to read the third book before I'll be able to sleep well. I suffer from nightmares.

Unfortunately I don't have the third book on hand. Oh, well.

Today was rather nightmarish, even without the book. It shouldn't have been, really. Rachel was gone from 9 AM–3 PM today and Miriam and I had a peaceful day at home but Rachel started crying before we'd even left her friend's house, she cried the whole way home, and alternated between crying and screaming for the rest of the day until I put her to bed at eight. I even tried to be fun and make some crafts—hand turkeys and a Thanksgiving wreath—I fed her a snack because she had eaten her school snack and her after-school lunch both during snack time so didn't eat lunch (even though I know she had a snack at her friend's house), I read her stories, Grandma ordered pizza for dinner. Nothing we tried could really douse her anger. She fell asleep relatively quickly though, and that was a blessing because Andrew wasn't here for bedtime. Having her drift off to sleep without the usual fight meant leaving me time to just relax and read without having anyone jump on me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A nice, but chilly, fall day

Before it got cold I had decided that, this year, winter would be different. I was going to take my girls sledding! I was going to have snowball fights! I was going to make snow angels and snowmen and do all that "fun" winter stuff before winter disappeared because last year I fully intended on introducing Rachel to the joys of sledding but kept waiting for it to get "just a little warmer." And all of a sudden, before I knew it, I had waited all the way until it was spring and the snow had melted away. 

That's my idea of "just a little warmer."

But Rachel likes winter. She enjoys playing in the snow. And some small (very small) part of me feels that she deserves to go sledding at least once this winer.

Unfortunately my resolve is already faltering.

It is so cold outside that I don't even want to venture outdoors at all. Miriam feels the same way, it seems, and has been requesting to "stay home a-Grandma" when I start bundling up to fetch Rachel from school. There isn't even snow on the ground—it's still crisp fall weather—but it's getting to be a little too crispy for my liking and I usually put on a coat over a sweater just to keep warm.

Today we had playgroup at the park once again. We're still trying to give our kids time run-around-in-the-sun time. I'm glad about that because I think sunning and running are very important things to do. The sun just isn't cutting it in the warmth department, though. We were freezing at the park. 

Then we stopped by my parents' house and had lunch with my dad and Auntie Josie (who was home sick from school) and stayed to visit for a while and by the time we went back outside (at nearly 2:00) it was finally warm enough to shed our coats. I insisted the girls stay in their sweaters, though. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankful Tree 2011

Yesterday for Family Home Evening we talked about the first Thanksgiving in Utah. Then we went around and said some things that we were thankful for. When it was Miriam's turn she paused to "hmmmm" before saying, "I am sankful for mine samily!"

It was very sweet. Her family loves her, too, that's for sure!

Then Miriam decided she was cold and climbed into my sweater.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The good, the bad, the ugly

There was one day this month that Andrew was not available to interview for the PMF position. One day. Out of thirty! On that particular day he was scheduled to deliver a guest lecture at Weber State University. It's been on our calendar for months. So when Andrew got his interview date for the PMF was it any surprise that it was on the very same day? Not really. Murphy's Law, right?

Fortunately, Weber State was gracious enough to reschedule his lecture for the following day.

When Rachel started complaining that she didn't feel well on Thursday she mostly mentioned her head hurting, but she had a fever, refused dinner, and has a long history of throwing up for absolutely no reason. After I helped her into her jammies and tucked her into bed I decided that I would give her a throw-up bowl, just to be safe. She started throwing up around midnight.

Fortunately, Rachel is now old enough to effectively wield a throw-up bucket—she didn't miss a single time which means that I didn't have to do any emergency sheet-changing in the middle of the night!

The days are getting shorter. Winter is coming—the wild geese know! They've had a long fall and it's time to go... There isn't really any way to avoid it and yet we keep trying to switch around the time. My friend on Facebook posted a quote, apparently by a Native American/First Nations/Indian, who said, "Only a white man would believe you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket." Daylight savings time never used to bother me, though I must say that I always preferred falling back to springing ahead—because it meant an "extra" hour of sleep!

Unfortunately, my children can't read clocks.

They were falling apart at "bedtime" yesterday, which was an hour later than their little bodies were expecting (because they got up at their regular time yesterday morning, which was an hour "early" by the clocks) and then this morning managed to get up an hour "early" once again. It's sadistic to inflict "jet lag" into the schedules of young families across the world.

Fortunately, we'll get over it. We always do.

Thumpkin, bumpkin, diddle-diddle dumpkin, pumpkin!

This week we turned the girls' jack-o-lanterns into several beautiful pumpkin pies—I made three pies today and ended up freezing the rest of the pie filling to use later (it should make two more pies). 


I thought Rachel would be opposed to the idea of cutting up, baking, and pureeing her jack-o-lantern but she surprised me.

"Are we going to make a pie?" she squealed.

"Actually, yes," I said.

"Then, yes!" she said, shoving her smiling pumpkin into my arms. "You can have it!"

Saturday, November 05, 2011

An Evening of Percussion, matinee-style

Today we went to BYU's Evening of Percussion, only we went to the matinee show instead of the evening show so I suppose it was technically a Late Morning of Percussion for us. My mom had originally bought tickets for our little family of four and for my dad and Josie, but then Josie bailed out to go to a sleepover and my dad got sick and Andrew decided he was too busy to go. That left us with three extra tickets, so after calling around for a bit I finally convinced my friend Tracy to come along with two of her boys.

It ended up being a wonderful concert and just perfect for children. The various percussion groups showcased music from around the world. We first listened to a Vietnamese percussion group called the Go Group. They actually did a "table piece" by a French composer, which is played on...a table.

"This is incredible!" Rachel whispered to me. "They don't even have an instrument but they're still making music!"

And that's exactly what the percussion professor told us—that if you can strike it or scrape it or shake it then they can play it. That's percussion!

Next up we a xylophone piece with marimbas, a glockenspiel, and vibraphones that was originally written for piano. Something about a...doll. I can't remember the title and they didn't hand out programs. It was good, though.

Then they moved all the xylophones off stage to make room for Bintang Wahyu, the Gamelan group my mom is in at BYU. Dr. Grimshaw taught the audience what their Balinese names would be—there's a simple formula for figuring it out.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A new pair of mittens

The elastic on Miriam's mittens isn't very elasticky anymore and all the mittens in our "winter stuff" box are too big for her. And so I decided I'd try to make a pair of mittens for her by myself. I found a pattern online that looked easy enough and went to work. It took me two days to make them—one day for each mitten, though I certainly didn't dedicate my whole day to mitten-making—and I think they turned out nicely.

Parallel Play

When Rachel is sick she is much more mellow than when she's healthy. She's more content to cuddle—though she's never been much of a snuggler—and will even lie on her bed, by herself, listening to primary music, or whatever. She speaks softly and kindly and plays gently with her sister. I'd think it was wonderful if I didn't know it was because she was feeling so awful.

Late this morning/early in the afternoon (it was a lazy kind of day) Miriam and I were downstairs playing with the toys and Rachel was upstairs resting in her bed. She came down and joined our game. I relinquished my side of the house to Rachel and retired to my crocheting, happy to watch my girls actually getting along.


Miriam is at the height of parallel play right now so isn't very interactive, but she does set up her house and make her little people do things like go to bed or eat dinner or use the potty. Rachel's games are a little more involved—she needs a storyline and person-to-person connection—but she quietly played alongside Miriam for quite a long time.


And then her tylenol kicked in. I could tell the moment it had because she started to get a little feisty again and her play became less gentle and more commanding. 

"Miriam, let's close the house because it's nighttime—put your people to bed now and we'll close the house."

"Noooooooo!"

"Miriam, I'm going to ring the doorbell and then you answer the door. Ding-dong! Now open the door. Open the door, Meme! Open the door!"

"Noooooooo!"

Eventually she shouted, "If you can't play the game right then I don't want to play with you at all! You can't use the house! I was here first! It's mine!"

"Rachel," I interjected, "You weren't here first. Miriam was here first and she kindly gave up half the house for you when you came downstairs."

That only made Rachel angrier. So I got out the fire station and suggested that one of the girls set up house there, going so far as to mention that since Rachel had taken over Miriam's space that she should be the one to move out. When I said that, though, it got Miriam thinking that she wanted it—she couldn't stand to let Rachel have the new toy.

"No! Me wants a fire-tation! It's mine new house!" she squealed.

When she said that, Rachel's eyes flashed with envy but I told her to settle down and keep the old house that she had wanted badly enough that she threatened to evict her own sister. Then I made Rachel give Miriam all the furniture Miriam had been using on her side of the house. And then they proceeded to set up house on opposite ends of the room from each other. 

 

Rachel was happy to have the house so she could set things up properly—with a nursery and a kitchen and a living room. Miriam was perfectly happy with the fire station so she could set up house out of the box—with sleeping quarters on the roof, for example.


And then they played happily, in parallel fashion, for quite some time. Rachel's growing out of parallel play—as you can tell by the way she demands interaction—but I suppose if it frustrates her enough that Miriam won't interact that she enforces parallel play then I guess it keeps them both happy. Rachel thinks she's in control and is "punishing" her sister by banishing her to the other end of the room and yet Miriam thinks they're playing just the right way. Close, but not too close. Similar, and yet completely uninvolved.

It's perfect. For now.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Rachel's Smamish

Rachel's been asking me to put a video of her up on the blog because lately all the videos I have uploaded have been of Miriam. I suppose the reason for this is that I'm always frustrated with the videos I get of Rachel—she over performs and acts like a goof or is completely uncooperative. Like so:


An extra warm November day!

Today Rachel had school, and then Sunbeam Swap so she went over to Asher's house for the afternoon, making Miriam my only child all day long. It's nice to get a little one-on-one time with her because when Rachel's around she always has to share me, naturally. Neither of the girls like sharing me, though, so it's nice to get them on their own. 

Miriam kept dragging me off to her bedroom. 

"Come on, Mommy! Play me!" she'd say.

We played with blocks and trains and Mr. Potato Head and Pop-Ons and read stories and pushed decaying pumpkins around in the doll stroller before Miriam set off to play with Grandma. After a few minutes she wandered back to me saying, "Where's a cutters, Mommy? Where's a cutters?"

"Do you want to colour?" I asked. "They crayons are on your desk."

"No! Not crayons! Cutters! Up dere!" she pointed to the scissors on my desk.

I let her practice cutting for a while. Oddly enough, while she cut she sang, "Rock. Paper. Scissors! Scissors cut paper! Rock! Paper! Scissors!" so I'm not quite sure why she was calling them cutters.

 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Alphabet Loop

If you ask Miriam to sing the alphabet she will obligingly croon out, "Alphabet!" for you in her sweetest voice. If you ask her to sing her ABCs, however, she will immediately start belting out the alphabet. There's a bit of disconnect for her there; she's not quite sure what an alphabet is and yet she most definitely knows her ABCs, which also happen to be the alphabet. She just doesn't know that.

Her ABCs are also a little distorted and she ends up singing them in a continuous loop until she either gets the ending right or until she gets tired of singing, whichever comes first. Usually it goes something like this, only a little longer, and with a few more mistakes:

A B C D E F G
I'm a J!
Emily P!
Q R S T U V
W X Y and Z!
Now wow-wow-wow
A B C D E F G H I J 

Q R S T U V W X Y and Z! 
Now wow-wow-wow A B C! 
Nesk time! Sing a me!

Before bed today she was singing it into a football microphone. And while we were in Idaho we got a cute clip of her singing in the car.




Drumroll...

Well, here it is 10:59 PM, and Andrew finally got his PMF notice. Hello, DC! It's like one o'clock in the morning for you! You shouldn't be sending out notices! You should be going to bed.

That said, thanks for not making us wait until tomorrow.

And in case you, my dear readers, are wondering...

Andrew's a semi-finalist! He'll be interviewing in Colorado this month—sometime between taking the GRE, being a guest lecturer at Weber State, Thanksgiving, and everything else. Busy month.

Too bad we have no idea what to do with our future selves.

But for right now, at this moment, we're just excited. So excited, in fact, that after I wrote "Andrew's a semi-finalist!" I took a break from typing to clap my hands. Twice. *clap* *clap*

Don't worry if you think that's weird. I did, too.

But I'm just a little happy for him.

NaBloPoMo and More Potty Training

With November comes many things:
  • Thanksgiving. 
  • Cold weather.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • And NaBloPoMo!
Among other things.

I'll be participating in NaBloPoMo again this year (I think this is my 5th year) even though I'll probably be too lazy to go grab a button or anything. Consider this my announcement. How much more bah-humbug could I get? Oh, well.

Anyway, I know I already did a post for today but I still have more to say. Are you surprised?

Last night I went into the girls' room to get Miriam up to go potty before I went to bed. I got her out of bed and walked her to the bathroom and laid her down in the hallway and started to help her out of her jammies. She started fussing, which is unusual because normally I just plop her on the potty and then put her back to bed and we're done in less than two minutes.

"Too tired-a-go potty!" she complained in a sleepy, feverish stupor. "Put me back-a-bed!"

And so I did.

I figured that if she slept through the night without wetting the bed it would be awesome. But if she didn't, then her bedding is due for a wash anyway.

She woke up dry this morning!

I've been debating all evening whether I should let her try sleeping through the night again or whether I should wake her up to go potty. Taking her potty is much easier than washing the sheets, but she has to learn to hold her bladder the whole night through at some point.

Dilemmas, dilemmas...

Like everybody else we've got a dream

It's November already. I knew it was coming, but it still doesn't seem possible that the year is almost over and winter is knocking, even pounding, at our door. I'm so not ready for winter. And I'm so not ready for next year.

I suppose if we had a plan in place I'd feel better about next year. Half of me is excited for next year...at least, half of me was excited for next year. Graduation! No more school! A job...

But then Andrew came home from school last week and said, "What if I said I still wanted to try for a PhD?"

And I squealed, "I say go for it!" even as I was trying to stop those words from tumbling out of my mouth. I was like, Oh, no! Words are coming out! Then one half of my brain (the sane half?) screamed at the other, "What are you saying?!"

Truthfully, though, I think I said those words because I was supposed to say those words. I surprised myself by how quickly I jumped on the PhD train—I've been bugging Andrew about getting a job for months now. And we've been looking, trust me. We made a spreadsheet where we compile information about jobs he needs to apply for. I felt productive doing this, like I was taking charge of the future. If there was an opportunity out there, we'd know about it because I was combing through USA Jobs and PublicServiceCareers.org every day, among other sites. Lots of other sites.

But then that crafty PhD dream that we'd so unceremoniously shoved into the closet fell out and hit us on the head. I guess with so many dead and broken dreams hiding in our closet there just wasn't room for that one. We've dusted it off and fixed it up a bit and now that dream is looking rather alluring once more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hallowe'en 2011

"Guess what?!" an excited little someone shook me awake half an hour before my alarm was set to go off said. "It's Halloween!"


"Oh! And I woke Miriam up to tell her, too!"

Even better. Because we might as well all be up early.

And then for the next half hour my children fought with each other until I growled at them to cut it out and find some cereal bowls. Happy Halloween, right?

Miriam had a doctor's appointment today. Aren't I a genius? Her appointment went well enough but it ended with three shots and by mid-afternoon she was completely miserable and feverish. She's on the small side—at 23 lbs. she's in the 7th percentile—but the doctor just chuckled and said, "I wouldn't worry about it—she looks happy and healthy. Besides, somebody's gotta make up the bottom percentile!"