Saturday, March 31, 2012

Conference Weekend

General Conference starts tomorrow—the girls are pretty excited about it but I know that excitement will wane quickly. Conference talks aren't known to hold children's attention so like a lot of mothers out there I've spent some time this evening looking for activities for the girls to do that will hopefully help them pay attention (at least for a little while) and also keep them quiet and occupied so that I can pay attention.

I liked this idea about collecting conference eggs because my girls are rather excited about Easter as well as conference. I did not, however, like the execution—the eggs are just ovals instead of lop-sided ellipticals and for some reason that really bothered me. So I made up my own template, using pictures from the conference squares on LDS.org. I printed off (this) basket for each of the girls to make and then made up some eggs for them to colour while they listen to conference. The idea with the "topic" eggs is that they will colour the egg when they hear a speaker mention the topic. The other sheets are simply because they need something to keep their hands busy.


Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Awards Banquet

Tonight was the 2012 Administrator of the Year/Graduation & Awards Banquet for the MPA program. We went last year because Andrew won the Garth N. Jones Writing Award (his paper is due to be published this month, actually). This year, while we certainly planned on attending the banquet since part of its purpose is to honour the graduates, Andrew wasn't planning on submitting anything to the contest because he'd already won once. But he was in a group with Jenny and Anthony and they wrote a paper together and Jenny wanted to submit it. 

So on March 12th—the day submissions were due—at 12:30 PM Andrew started chatting to me on IM. Here's our conversation, for your enjoyment. You can ignore the highlighting on "Andrew" and "edit;" those were my search terms and I'm simply too darn lazy right now to remove all those tags from the code.

12:30 PM Andrew: Yo
  You there?

26 minutes
12:56 PM me: Now I am.
  We were at lunch with your mom. [A Relief Society/Friends lunch club]
 Andrew: Ah, yeah.
  Do you want to quickly edit something for me?
  How was lunch, by the way?
 me: Sure.
  It was good.
12:57 PM The girls both developed mysterious stomach aches that disappeared the minute we agreed to go home. :)
 Andrew: They weren't having fun?
 me: Apparently grown ups are nerdy.
  And boring.
  And lame.
12:59 PM Andrew: Totally.
  I just sent you the Google Doc link.
 me: I see it.
 Andrew: We're going to submit this as a joint Garth Jones paper.
  Just for the heck of it.
 me: :)
 Andrew: The deadline is 5 PM today, so yikes.
 me: haha

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of...Durham...

After much deliberation we've settled on attending Duke and feel pretty confident in our decision. Surprisingly I'm the one second-guessing it all the time ("Are you sure this is what you want to do?") and Andrew is ready to just keep moving forward, as well he should be. He crafted a very nice letter to IUB and they were very sad to see him go (or, rather, not come). We were sad to not go, too.

Both campuses and faculty and programs had much to offer—our problem was that we could only choose one place.

Now, we've been thinking about this for a long time. I started praying that we'd know what to do after Andrew graduated long before graduation was even in our radar. I think that's why I so readily accepted the idea of going after a PhD (even though I had long ago given up on that in hopes of, you know, a job). When we had turned in all of our applications I started praying even harder that we wouldn't have to face another disappointment and that we'd at least get accepted somewhere.


Weeks after we'd applied, we got a letter from Duke saying we were accepted and they were offering us x-amount of money and other perks.

Weeks after that, we got a letter from IUB saying that we were accepted and that they were offering us x-amount of money and other perks (but 25% less than what Duke offered us while asking Andrew to put more time in to earn that money and asking us to pay out about 10% of our stipend for the privilege of attending school since Indiana state law does not permit universities to waive fees).

Andrew got back from visiting both campuses this week and loved them both.

We made dancing line graphs considering things like money, professors, program, weather, cost of living, and so forth. We drew up lists of pros and cons for each place. We talked to friends and family and professors. We fasted and prayed and attended the temple. We talked into the wee hours of the morning about...every possible variable to take into account.

In the end, while it was difficult to say goodbye to IUB and their top-ranked program (and what an honour it was to be accepted there), Duke was the clear choice.

A stick

Yesterday wasn't exactly a fun day. It involved a lot of screaming all around. But today? Today has been pretty good so far.

My visiting teachers came over this morning and it was a lot of fun getting caught up with them—I haven't seen one of my visiting teachers (my running partner Wendy) in months. Needless to say we haven't been running together in months because I wasn't into running much through November, December, January and...even now. Wendy's been sick, though, and hasn't wanted to go running, either. Turns out, she's pregnant, too (due in September), and hasn't been up to doing much. It's her eighth baby...and a bit of a surprise.

Miriam and I picked Rachel up from school and we spent a lot of time selecting sticks.

Rachel ran ahead of me and Miriam to get to the corner first where she picked up a stick and announced, "I think the best way to keep away from screaming is to just pick up a stick now and not put it down until we get home."

I told her I thought that was a great idea.

We ended up bringing armfuls of sticks home.

The girls made a couple of "campfires" (on the deck and on the sidewalk out in the yard) that they were rather proud of.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's brown and sticky?

This morning Andrew and I went to the temple, which meant the girls had the morning with Grandma, which meant that Grandma had to get Rachel off to school. We were home in time for Miriam and me to walk over to the school to pick her up and she was (initially) very excited to see us.

Rachel and Miriam ran down the hill and around the corner laughing and playing. Then they got to a house with a big tree on their lot—one of those big, messy trees that is forever dropping twigs and things on the ground (my girls love it but I can only imagine how much maintenance it requires) which we had to stop and play with, of course. The girls picked up twigs and started casting spells at each other and when they got bored of that they started whacking pole of the street sign to make some beautiful "music." They would have stayed there all day but eventually I said that I wanted to eat lunch eventually so it was time to be on our way.

My sweet, cooperative children obeyed and followed me down the sidewalk.

When we were just about at our very own corner Rachel realized that Miriam still had a stick. She immediately turned green with envy—not only did she also want a stick but she needed a stick and she needed it now. It just wasn't fair that Miriam had taken a stick from the neighbour's yard when Rachel had not.

I pulled the nice mom card and told her to run on back and choose a stick. Miriam and I would wait for her at our corner—Miriam was already tired of walking and was asking to be carried so I didn't want to make her walk/carry her all the way to the end of the street and back again; besides she was much too interested in using her stick to poke the bush we were standing by (she discovered a water bottle was lodged inside the bush and was very amused by this).

Rachel excitedly tore off for the opposite corner of the block. She stooped and picked up a stick then threw it down, only to bend over and examine a new one. This went on for several minutes.

"What are you doing?" I hollered. "Just choose a stick!"

"I can't!" she yelled back. "I need help!"

"No, you don't!"

MPA Graduation Details

Graduation season is upon us once again! 

Last night I whipped up an announcement to send to our family members and realized that I totally neglected to do that the last time he graduated (in my defense, no one would have been able to come, anyway, but I suppose it would have been nice). Fortunately he graduates frequently enough that I could make up for my neglect by making him an announcement for this graduation.


Three graduations down, one to go!

And where we're going nobody knows. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Partying, partying, yeah!

Yesterday we went to the park.

No! A new one!

On the way we walked past a lawn that had recently been aerated so there were little dirt pellets all over the lawn (and sidewalk). The girls both initially thought that they were doggy doo-doo. I was only able to convince Rachel that they were just dried chunks of dirt. She picked one up and used it like sidewalk chalk. She wrote her name, which got us onto the topic of names. We talked about names for a long time.

What a wonderful world this would be

There's this song that I always thought was original to Herman's Hermits...but apparently it's by Sam Cooke...it's called "Wonderful World." What really made me think of the lyrics was that my geography is a little bit sketchy so after I had Rachel stand on North Carolina and Indiana so that I could take her picture I had to come home and double check that I had her on the right states. And I'm proud to say I did.

Rachel found Utah all by herself. I thought that was pretty good.


There are a few lines of "Wonderful World" that I thought pertained to our situation rather well:

Don't know much about geography.
Don't know much trigonometry.
Don't know much about algebra.
Don't know what a slide rule is for.

But I know that one and one is two!
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be!

We still aren't sure where we'll be headed at the end of the summer. 

Will it be North Carolina?


Or will it be Indiana?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lunchbox notes II

Rachel just ran out of bed, yelling, "Hey, Mom! Mom! Mom!"

"What?" I sighed because, honestly, it's been a long day.

"Just...when you leave a note in my lunchbox make sure it has a picture of space on it."

"Space?"

"Yeah. Like Mars. I'd like a picture of Mars."

"Yeah...okay."

"Good night."

"Good night."

She closed the door. And then opened it again.

"Oh, and Venus," she added. "Mars and Venus."

"Yeah. Mars and Venus. Got it. Good night. I love you."

"Love you, too, Mom."

So...Mars and Venus, huh? I might have to redo my note...


Friday, March 23, 2012

Lunchbox notes

Today when we were walking home from the park, Rachel was skipping along beside me, swinging her lunchbox.

"Mom?"

"Yes."

"Why don't you ever leave me notes in my lunchbox?"

"What?"

"All the other kids at school get notes in their lunch and I never do. Like Cole and Ezra and Corbin and...everybody. They all get surprise notes from their moms in their lunch and I just never do. Can you do that for me one day? Just send me a note to school in my lunch as a surprise?"

"Sure. I can do that."

"It's just hard to never get a note from your mom when everyone else does, you know?"

"I didn't know everyone else was getting notes from their mom. But do you know what? They can't be surprised by a note every day! If it happens all the time then it isn't a real surprise, is it? So I'll surprise you with a note one of these days, but not every day or you'll expect it and then it won't be a surprise anymore."

"You mean it will be a better surprise than what the other kids get because it will be a real surprise that I don't know about?"

"Exactly."

"Hooray!"

I turned my status around from Worst Mom to Best Mom in one short conversation. Not bad.

Picnic at the park

The kids are downstairs watching a movie and here I sit, ignoring the mess in the office, and wishing that Andrew was online. He is. But he's not actually there. He's probably going out to dinner again (*sigh*). Last night his hosts took him to a Middle Eastern restaurant and he saw a BYU Arabic professor there—they both did double takes because why would a BYU professor see a BYU student in a restaurant in North Carolina in the middle of the semester? Turns out she was there for a conference on teaching Arabic. We all know why Andrew's there.

It seems like he's loving it out there so far but I'll wait to write about it until he gets back.

But I will say that when he was in Bloomington he went to a restaurant, which he described as a hippie restaurant, where every dish was prepared from 100% local things. They told you the name of your cow and what field s/he grew up in. They told you the name of your fish and what river s/he was caught in. They told you where your lettuce was grown and where your tomatoes came from. It reminded me of Portlandia. Anyway...

Today was supposed to be a lovely, warm day, but it ended up being overcast and windy. But still warm enough. The girls spent the morning destroying the house while they changed clothes and played with the dress ups and danced in the living room. There are clothes scattered all over their room (and the office) and yet Miriam is sitting downstairs in her underwear watching the movie. Silly girl.

I told the girls we could go to the park after I finished cleaning the bathrooms.

I'm a realist when I make my to-do lists (at least when I'm pregnant) and today's list said: toilets and towels. My friend said on facebook, "Yay! I got two things crossed off my to-do list," and I was like, "Ha! I only put two things on my to-do list!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sand angels

9:45 PM There. Kids are in bed. Perhaps they'll sleep in tomorrow.

This morning we got up and rushed Rachel off to school. Miriam and I went visiting teaching and Tracy offered to have Rachel over for the afternoon since it's been a while since our kids have played together. Score! I realize that service should probably go the other way around. But, as Tracy pointed out, this helps both of us. I don't have to entertain Rachel. Rachel entertains her three-year-old. Win, win, win.

Miriam and I took an early nap so that we could pick Rachel and Asher up to go to the park. It was a beautiful day today and tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. It's like spring is here already (but I'm really not going to get my hopes up quite yet).

So, we picked up Rachel and Asher and then stopped to pick up Tyler on the way, too. His mom was outside doing yard work and since Tyler is in my Sunbeams class and hates coming to class I thought that if I could get him to come to the park with me it would be a good start. Walking four kids to the park was a little insane—more than one person thought I was insane, I'm sure. One mom at the park asked if I was supermom. Haha...no.

No one asked if all the kids were mine...they probably didn't dare to since technically I suppose they all could have been. One four-year-old, two three-year-olds, one two-year-old, and a pregnant belly. Yeah...no thanks. I'll keep my two and the pregnant belly.

Auntie Katharine and Kayl showed up at the park to play, too, which was a nice surprise!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rendezvous in Utah

We geared up for another daddy-free day today. Wednesdays are usually daddy-free so it wasn't too much of a change from our regular schedule. Andrew was technically "home" but I didn't know if the girls would get to see him so I didn't let them get their hopes up. I told them that he'd probably get to say goodnight to them and that's all.

This morning the girls played a lot. Here is Miriam building a block tower. Rachel asked that I take Miriam's picture because "Miriam has a real talent for building towers, don'tcha think?"

Andrew's visit to Indiana

Andrew arrived home at around midnight last night positively raving about Bloomington. He's here for a quick little tryst—we chatted for two hours last night before going to sleep and then I violently woke him up at 7:10 this morning ("You have to leave in twenty minutes!") so that he could go to school for twelve hours (he has to do his law reading and go to law class (the one class he didn't want to miss this week), go to his other classes, polish up a group paper, take a midterm (isn't it a little late for midterms?), meet with the study abroad office to coordinate visas for everyone going on the study abroad to Ghana, etc.) so that he can come home and kiss his children goodnight before running off to the airport again.

Talking until 2 AM and then getting up at 7 AM has this funny way of making you feel exhausted the next morning—especially when you have to get up to use the bathroom three times in those five hours and when the baby in your tummy decides that he's actually a bouncy ball and when your husband spends the whole night blurting out random sentences:

"Now that's an acronym!"

"All the kings are coming. All of them. They're all coming!"

I kid you not. Andrew said something positively ridiculous about every half hour or so. I have a hunch he might be a little sleep-deprived as well.

But it sounds like he's in love with Bloomington. He had so many good things to say about it that "almost [he] persuadest me to be a [Hoosier]" (see Acts 26:28).

Let's see...

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Rachel has been worried about St. Patrick's Day since her Leprechaun party at school on Thursday. I don't know why since she came home bursting with gold (chocolate) coins and facts about the holiday.

"So, what did you learn today?" I asked her on the walk home.

"Nothing. We had a party. All we talked about was St. Patrick's Day. We didn't even do worksheets or anything."

"You can learn without doing a worksheet, you know," I told her—she's just used to focusing on a letter each week and doing daily printing exercises but they finished Z a couple of weeks ago so now their curriculum is different, I suppose (though she does need to practice writing her numbers so they could do that). "What did you learn about St. Patrick's Day?"

"Well, you have to wear green or else you get pinched. But if someone pinches you and you're wearing green then you get to pinch them back a million times!"

"That's a lot of times," I told her. "We'll have to be sure to find something green to wear. What else did you learn?"

"You have to go to sleep early on St. Patrick's Day."

"Really? Why?" Anytime Rachel talks about going to sleep early is naturally intriguing.

"Well, my teacher said that bad people come out on St. Patrick's Day and the only way to avoid them is to go to bed early."

In the sun they...

Melted. Yes. 


This is why I think spring is wonderful. We went from 6+ inches of snow and a 6 foot snowman to grass peeking through the snow and a 6 foot snow caterpillar in a matter of hours. I'm not sure when they collapsed—this picture was taken around 5:00 this afternoon.

Tomorrow we're supposed to bounce back up to warm and sunshiny. By Friday 70 degrees. Bliss!

Wunder Weather

There's a storm system making its way across the country—from crazy snow storms to flooding and tornadoes to crazy warm weather, there isn't a corner of the nation that will be left untouched.

And that's exactly the thing I want to hear when my husband will be taking four different trips across the country this week. Perfect timing. He said they left the SLC airport late last night because they had to be deiced before taking off. Hopefully his flight home will be as uneventful as the flight to Indiana.

The night before he left (so Saturday night) we were checking the weather before going to bed. I really enjoy checking the weather. My top five cities to check are Orem, UT; Cairo, Egypt; Bloomington, IN; Durham, NC; and Lima, Peru. Jacob's on his mission in Peru and the reasons I check the other places should be rather obvious. Anyway, Andrew went out on Saturday night to fill up the car so that we'd have enough gas to get to the airport. It was warm out and it was nearly midnight. And we hadn't seen a drop of rain.

We were beginning to wonder if the forecast was going to change. That's why we looked it up.

"It's 52 degrees outside right now," Andrew said.

"Wunderground said it was 49 degrees," I said.

"Wunderground?" he said. "You mean...Weather Underground?"

"Yeah...that..." I said.

You know when you call something the wrong name in your head even though you know no one else calls it that and it's completely wrong? This was one of those times. Like The Mikado? I always refer to it as The Minnekado in my mind—because I grew up by a nice forested area called Minnekhada. One day I'm going to say something like, "I love The Minnekado!" and everyone's going to marvel at how stupid I am. Anyway...

"Wunderground...that's, like, German," Andrew said.

"I know!" I said.

"You do know their URL is 'double-u' underground, right?"

"No way!" I gasped. "That totally makes sense. I mean, it is Weather Underground so I can see how they'd get W-underground from that. But I've always just said it wunderground."

And I probably always will.

Last night we got at least six inches of snow—on the grass. It wasn't that deep on the cement or deck, which was fortunate for Miriam because she's afraid of the deep snow (and dislikes snow in general). It took quite a bit of cajoling before Rachel was able to convince Miriam to join her in a romp through the backyard. I hear that up in the mountains they got several feet of snow—I have a friend skiing up at Sundance today and he reported on facebook that they had 37 inches of fresh powder (I have no interest in verifying that claim so you can take it or leave it).

Miriam had put shorts on this morning. I said, "Miriam! It's so cold and snowy outside! You need pants today!" She said, putting her shorts on, "No. Just not will I go outside. It is okay!"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Date night

Yesterday I convinced Andrew to go on a date with me—like, one where we actually leave the house and don't just watch a movie downstairs or play a game at the kitchen table. That kind. It was rather spur-of-the-moment and I didn't even ask him until after the girls were sleep. Then we took advantage of the fact that we live with his parents by asking Karen to "babysit" our already-sleeping children, grabbed a 2-for-1 coupon to Menchies and sneaked out of the house.

We got our ice cream and sat chatting about our life and our future, reenacting one of our first dates. Just six days after he got home from his mission we held hands for the first time after going to the temple, then went out for ice cream (at SubZero, not Menchies...same difference). We sat and talked about "our future" and that was the first time we'd ever really used the terms "us" and "we" and "our." We didn't make any real plans over ice cream, just silly ones like, "We should go to Italy!"

"I'm going to retire in Pescara," Andrew joked—he loves that city. "Want to join me?"

"Sure," I said. "I love Italy."

He asked me to be his girlfriend as he was dropping me off that night but didn't kiss me until several days later. And then several days after that he asked me to marry him...sorta. And then a few weeks after that we got married and honeymooned in Italy. So perhaps we made some real plans after all.

Anyway, sometimes it's still fun to go out for ice cream and chat about "our future," whether it's a serious chat or (like in the case of our first ice cream date) a hypothetical one. Last night's chat was serious (in that it was real since we have some potentially life-altering decisions coming up...such as where to go for his PhD) but still lots of fun. We didn't decide anything official but talked about each location in detail—he leaves tomorrow for his grand tour: Indiana the first half of the week, Duke the second half. We'll be making the decision sometime after he gets home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another park day

Today was forecast to be as warm as yesterday, but we went to the park this afternoon (about the same time that we went yesterday) and, let me tell you, it was much warmer than yesterday. The sun was shining and only a gentle breeze was blowing (instead of being completely overcast and windy) so that probably contributed a lot to the difference in temperature. I would certainly believe that it got to be in the mid-60s this afternoon. Yesterday was a completely different story. There is no way it was in the mid-60s.

On our way to the park we picked up a stray friend, which was nice because she helped keep Rachel entertained. We actually were already planning on babysitting this friend later in the day but I didn't mind taking her to the park as well (because she helps keep Rachel entertained and because her mom took Miriam all morning while Rachel was at school which meant that I could go back to bed (which was wonderful because our neighbour's dogs were up barking all night long)).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

22 weeks and a name!

We think we have a name for our little boy. We have gone through a ton of names in the past week or so—a ton of names—but couldn't come up with anything we agreed upon. And then, against my better judgement (due to its trending popularity), I added Benjamin to the list. We tried it out for a few days and it just felt right. So Benjamin it is. Benjamin Thomas.

3.14

My parents invited us (the girls and I—since Wednesday is one of Andrew's late days) over for Pi Day. Dinner would be involved and, of course, pie. The girls and I went to the park before heading over to Naanii's house and it was a lot colder than we thought it was going to be. The girls had been dressed up in spring clothes all day long because it was so sunny out but I'm glad that I made them put on pants and sweaters before we left the house. We were freezing!

We still had a good time at the playground, though. Miriam loved the swings and stayed in them for at least half an hour. Rachel practiced pumping on the big-kid swings—she's getting pretty good at it.



Rachel asked me if I could climb a particular tree. I told her that I probably could but that I didn't exactly feel like doing it with my burgeoning belly. So instead I helped her climb up. She was terrified and elated at the same time—and, yes, her shoes are on the wrong feet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?

Being the main contributor to this blog has its perks—perhaps the one most commonly mentioned by my husband (and a few other family members) is that the blog, while abounding in ridiculous stories of others, is severely lacking in ridiculous stories about myself.

The role of blogger is one of omniscient hindsight.

Most everything I write about has already happened. I know what details of our experience I have found too intimate to expound upon. I know exactly how much I can say without embarrassing myself. I can laugh at our mistakes because I usually only share things that don't bother me to share (otherwise I probably wouldn't share them). But sometimes I forget that perhaps That Funny Thing My Husband Did might actually be freshly awkward and embarrassing for him. He is a dear, though, and takes everything in stride.

But why am I talking about him? He saw the first line of this post and said, "That's going to be about me, isn't it?" and then typed a bunch of random numbers to throw off my train of thought. I assured him this blog post would be about me. And it is.

It's a freshly awkward and slightly embarrassing tale about me and you are welcome to enjoy it (and laugh at me, if necessary). Be forewarned, my fifteen-year-old niece claimed to almost have wet her pants when she heard this story. It's just that good.

And now, without further ado...The Story.

As you may or may not know, we went to the park today. Rachel knows her way to the park and will often run ahead to relish that sense of freedom you get from being out of the reach of your mother's ever-loving arms (or for some reason I'm unaware of). She's allowed to cross a few streets along the way all by herself, barring the main road. She's typically pretty good about remembering to look both ways before crossing since she's terrified of being hit by a car (living in Egypt will do that to you).

So, we were on our way home from the park and Rachel had just raced ahead of me in order to cross the street independently.

"Hey! Good looking!" I yelled out to her, since she had remembered to look both ways and all.

Why I chose that exact moment to praise her is beyond me because when I reached the corner a few seconds later and looked both ways I noticed that there was a guy standing on the sidewalk opposite of us (it was a T-intersection so he was on the sidewalk across the street beside us, not on the sidewalk Rachel had just crossed to) and he was staring at me quite quizzically.

No, sir. Not you. I was talking to my daughter.

I didn't really want to explain the whole situation though so I did the only thing I could do: blush...and just keep walking. Because "when life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do? ... Just keep [walking]. Just keep [walking]. Just keep [walking, walking, walking]. What do we do? We [walk, walk]."

Thank you, Dory, for helping me know what to do.

In which we turn into socialites

The girls both wore "Princess Leia" hair to church on Sunday, in honour of the movie night they had with Dad the night before. Since I'm too lazy to actually make cinnamon bun-style swirls on the sides of their heads (not that they have enough hair for that, anyway) I just pull their pigtails through halfway and call it good. They're happy. I'm happy. We're all happy.

After church Miriam was admiring the bracelet that I wore so I pulled out a little baby bracelet that Rachel's friends Isabelle and Eliza gave to her before we moved to Egypt. Rachel never wore. She's never been too fond of jewelry. Miriam, on the other hand loves jewelry and showed it off to everyone.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pssst! Wanna buy a...dryer sheet?

I remembered one of the funny stories from last night. I knew I would. I'll probably remember more as the day goes on. That's the fun thing about funny stories—you just remember them randomly throughout the day and break into a smile even if there's nothing to smile about otherwise. Not that there wasn't anything to smile about this morning—my girls are the sweetest cuddle bugs in the morning and apparently if I'm not there to put them to bed they are even more cuddly.

Anyway, we'd just arrived in Salt Lake and were in a parking garage, fiddling with Sarah's dress. She hadn't worn a slip so her dress kept sticking to her nylons—that blasted static cling.

We had just passed a little wall when a woman ran out from behind it and said, "Pssssst! Hey, you!"

We all stopped, turned around to look at the lady, and then exchanged glances as if to ask each other if anybody knew her. Nobody did.

"I have something for you," she said.

In her car. Around the corner. Behind the wall. That sounded like a trustworthy proposition. Not.

We all just kept staring at her. She looked wholesome enough—she was wearing jeans and a pink sweater and a big, helpful smile.

"For your dress," she explained. "I have a dryer sheet in my car. You can rub it on your nylons and then your dress won't ride up. Sorry—I couldn't help but notice everyone trying to fix your dress and I just happen to have one so you're welcome to it..."

We followed her to her car and she dug out her temple bag and pulled out a sheet of fabric softener in a ziplock bag and handed it to Sarah.

We all—including our Good Samaritan—had a good laugh about our awkward exchange. 

Girl's Night Out

BYU-Idaho's choirs and orchestra collaborate every few years to produce what they call a "Sacred Music Service." They have a whole program written out—with scripture and narration and original score—and then they go on a little tour with it. This year our own little Emily was in the orchestra and part of their tour included Temple Square and so Karen got four tickets and invited me and Sarah and Katharine to go see it with her.

Me, Sarah, Emily, Karen, and Katharine
We left all men and children behind (except, as Sarah pointed out, the baby in my womb, which broke two rules since it is a man-child) and struck out on the town to have a wonderful night out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Art Tales!

Rachel loved this class so much and has asked to be signed up for another one. She listened attentively to the lecture, raising her hand to tell everyone that she's been to a mosque and naming animals that live in the desert and so forth. She was very patient—I was impressed. She'd just raise her hand and smile politely until she was called on. She had a lot to say but kept getting called on since she kept saying relevant things. Rachel knows a bit more about Islamic culture than the average four-year-old living in Utah County.

Right now at the museum their main exhibit is Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture. Andrew went around examining all the Arabic since he's the one who did that part.

Rachel listened to the story while Miriam climbed on pillows and looked out the window at the band children toting their instruments—there must have been some sort of competition going on.

Since we were talking about animals and fables today we played charades and then after we'd guessed whatever animal it was that the child was acting out we went around the exhibit to find that animal. While we were listening to our guide tell us about a statue of a cat I ran into my friend Kristen—I haven't seen her in ages—and started talking to her and Andrew and I kind of didn't even notice that Rachel had volunteered without being called on until the guide said, "Oh, and I guess Rachel's coming up here, too."

It worked out. But we'll definitely remind her (once again) that she needs to wait until she's called on before she rushes up to the front (this is a major problem in our primary with all the children so it's kind of something we talk about weekly).

She got to act out a griffin (with three other children). If you think she was pleased with that assignment you'd be grossly underestimating her excitement. Need I remind you about Gryffindor House? While their emblem is a plain old lion there is still that magical connection to the griffin and Rachel certainly picked up on that.

Anyway, after guessing, finding, and discussing several animals in the exhibit we went to the art room to create our own work of art. The kids got to make animal mobiles—they painted animals with water colours and then attached them to a crescent and put sequins on it. My girls have never seen such a smorgasbord of art supplies all at once in their life—glue and scissors and paint and markers and sequins and pencils and ribbons and paper and all at their disposal. It was like heaven.

Rachel painted a griffin, a turtle, and a rabbit.


Stories from this week

How did it get to be Saturday again already? We have a fairly busy day planned—if I can ever get the whole family out of bed, that is. Rachel has a "class at BYU," which she's been looking forward to (both anxiously and excitedly) for weeks. The Museum of Art at BYU does "Second Saturday" classes for children and they're doing an Islamic exhibit right now (for which Andrew did a lot of the signage) so we signed Rachel up. It would have been a good thing to know about earlier but I guess we'll just take advantage of it from now on.

The rest of the week was fairly quiet. Since Monday I've been fairly unmotivated to go outside—it's only ever warm enough between 2 and 3 PM, which is right in the thick of nap time—aside from the walks we take to get Rachel to and from school.

Miriam has been a little chatterbox lately. We were snuggling in bed yesterday and talking about all sorts of things. She accused me of stealing one of Rachel's blankets but I explained that it was a blanket I got for Christmas when I was a girl. Miriam wanted to know if I had gotten it from Santa. I said that I couldn't remember but it was either from Santa or from my mom.

"Who is your mom?" Miriam asked.

"I don't know. Who is my mom?" I said.

"Ummm...ummm...ummmm...Naanii!" Miriam said.

"That's right! And who is your mom?"

"Fancy Nancy! You is my mom and is your name Fancy Nancy!"

I think it's hilarious that she tacks on the fancy part, though about fifty percent of the time it comes out as Mancy Mancy and the other fifty percent of the time it comes out as Fancy Mancy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Transfiguration

Josie was in another play at school this past week called Transfiguration by Ernst Toller (alternately translated from the original German (Die Wandlung) as Transformation). It's not really a play that's suited for two- and four-year-olds so I left the girls at home with Andrew and went out with my parents on Saturday night. Josie's teacher tends to choose interesting/challenging/thought-provoking plays more often than happy/go-lucky plays. This one was no different.

First of all, they did it in the round, which I don't think I've ever seen a high school do. Second of all, the subject matter was deep.


Toller, who was once relatively famous but who fell quickly into obscurity after his death, wrote Transfiguration while he was a political prisoner (shortly after WWI ended, Toller was part of the uprising known as the Bavarian Soviet Republic; he made some leadership errors and was eventually ousted by the Russian communists (led by Eugen Leviné), who were eventually ousted by the German "White Guards of Capitalism." Leviné was executed, apparently without trial, which upset the people. So although Toller was eventually captured and imprisoned he was not executed but instead given a relatively light sentence (5 years)). So, Toller survived the revolution and became a smashing success in the theater.

Baby #3: The Ultrasound

"I don't usually tell people I'm 100% sure," the doctor said. "But this baby is leaving nothing to guesswork."


Monday, March 05, 2012

Yoga baby

Miriam loves doing yoga. The other night she was showing off some of her yoga moves (when she was only halfway into her pyjamas). She gets very serious when she's trying to balance and can balance for quite a long time.


I asked her if she could smile and balance at the same time. She tried but it broke her concentration, I think, and she soon lost her balance. 

Happy children

On Thursday at lunch the girls were being "best of friends" again—their term. This time they were still friends by the time I got the camera and no one was elbowing the other one in the face or anything like that.


They played babies in the living room while I made dinner. Rachel created a crib for Miriam out of the laundry basket, with a couch cushion over top and a blanket draped over the rest. Miriam was completely content to suck her thumb in her cozy little bed—when I first walked into the living room (at Rachel's behest) I wasn't even sure where she was. Rachel had to show me.

Lion vs. Lamb

Springtime in Utah is predictably unpredictable. Thus it was that on March 1st we spent the afternoon outside in the snow—at least, that's where the girls spent their afternoon. I told Rachel she could struggle through building a snowman by herself because I just didn't feel like going out in the snow (I'm kind of over winter). It was a good learning experience for her.

She experienced some failures—this snowman was actually about as tall as she was but its center of gravity was way off:

Perpetual Education...Fun.

It is with a bit of a heavy heart that I announce that Andrew has been accepted at Indiana University—Bloomington (with full funding). Over the past few weeks I've fallen in love with the idea of Duke, that's all, and the other schools were taking so long to get back to us that I'd just about given up hope that they ever would. I mean, it's been ten weeks since we applied to some schools. At this point, because Andrew got into Duke (a really good school in a really great place) with full funding and Indiana (his top choice, academically) with full funding, we're really giving up on Michigan and American University.

They don't have much to offer that we haven't already been offered (by way of money, location, or academia) so we don't feel too badly about narrowing our choices before we even know if they are choices. We're rather indecisive so choosing between two things is much better than choosing between four things.

We've already decided, fairly firmly, that a PhD is the direction to go (although it was an honour to be selected as a PMF finalist).

Recently I had a conversation with someone about our future plans. They wanted to know if Andrew had gotten any jobs or internships and I excitedly announced, "Well, he was accept at Duke for a PhD program!"

This person, who probably should have been more supportive, kind of narrowed their eyes and said as if we had gravely disappointed them, "That's more school, you know?"

What I said was, "Well, it's fully funded—with a scholarship and a generous stipend and..."

What I thought was, "WHAT?! He told me PhD stood for [insert bogus expanded acronym here]!"

Examples: Public Health Director, Publicity/HR Director, President-Highness-Dictator, Professional Hair Dresser

I think I chose the better thing to say. I find that it is often better not to say the first thing that pops into your head. Still, sometimes I think that what I don't say is infinitely more funny than what I actually end up saying.

We're quite looking forward to more school, actually—especially since we've been offered full funding and because this is it: the final stretch. After this there is no more "school." You know, beyond post-docs and being a professor and all that (if that's the route we go when the time comes). Our state of Perpetual Education will draw to a close, at least formally, and we'll settle into a real grown-up routine (at least, in theory).

For now we just have to decide where we'll be at the end of the summer: Indiana or North Carolina.

There will be much discussion about this: lists of pros and cons drawn up, dancing line graphs constructed, and advice thrown our way by numberless concourses of opinion-holders.

Your input is most certainly welcome as well, especially those of you who currently live in or have lived in Indiana. Do my husband a favour and sway me in favour of your state.

PS. Friday turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The doctor's office called about 10 minutes before we were due to leave the house to announce that the doctor was out delivering a baby and so our appointment would have to be rescheduled. So now tomorrow is the big day. Someone asked me if I was mad about this, but I'm not. It takes a lot more than something like that to make me mad. But I do start to feel antsy when people who are due weeks after me are already making their announcements. We'll be 21 weeks on Wednesday and I had a friend announce who is only 18 weeks. Boo.

Friday, March 02, 2012

It's a...puzzle!

Today's the day we're finding out if baby #3 is a boy baby or a girl baby. We're leaving the girls home with Grandma so I thought it would be fun to surprise them with the news somehow. But thinking up an easy-to-execute idea was a little harder than I thought. There are a ton of ideas online—you can bake cupcakes and put pink or blue filling inside or put a slip of paper in a balloon and pop it but neither of those ideas seemed like they would work for us. I don't feel like making cupcakes and we only have pink balloons. We could run to the store after the appointment but Andrew has a three-hour midterm to take so I don't think we'll have time for that. I went to bed last night unsure of what to do.

But then, just as I was rolling out of bed this morning, inspiration struck. I could have the girls put together a puzzle. My girls love puzzles. 

I thought it would be an easy idea because surely someone would have thought about it and made something and put it up online, right? I mean, everything is online these days. I looked but found nothing to suit my fancy so I quickly whipped up my own. 

Here's the "It's a boy!" puzzle:
 Here's the "It's a girl!" puzzle:

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My water [main] broke

This afternoon the girls and I were downstairs watching "Harry Potter 1." Rachel watched about a third of it before Miriam woke up and we joined her. We finished reading Harry Potter 2 yesterday so tomorrow we're going to watch the movie. So, there we were, sitting on the couch, innocently watching Harry Potter when the utility closet, which was across the room from us, started going wild. 

There was a tremendous banging and a whole lot of shaking and all three of us flipped out.

Rachel and Miriam both started screaming and I probably did, too, though I can't remember. I do remember that I was in the middle of dragging both girls up the stairs when the banging stopped and was replaced by a mysterious whooshing and gurgling noise. 

No longer afraid that our furnace was going to explode, I allowed Rachel to return back to the couch to finish watching Harry Potter. I was shocked that she wanted to go back into the basement at all because she is often a regular scaredy-cat and that noise had scared the dickens out of us. At her insistence we somewhat shakily returned to the basement. She curled up with Miriam on the couch and I moved the table away from the front of the closet doors to peek inside.

Welcome to the interior of our utility closet:

Tari Saman

Here are two different videos of our Tari Saman performance yesterday. The first is from my own camera (again, I am fifth from the left (in pink)):