Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hau'oli Halalawa'eni

I don't know if that's how you wish a happy Halloween in Hawaiian, but for sure hau'oli means happy. Halloween could be transliterated a number of ways, although Halowini is probably more correct. I just liked the sound of the double "la" in the word. Any word with "-lala-" is a good Hawaiian word.

Anyway, for about half an hour today, all three of us were dressed up as Hawaiians. Rachel is wearing the dress that Andrew's parents brought back from their trip this summer, I'm wearing my mother's Hawaiian dress, and Andrew is wearing the lava-lava one of his mission companions gave to him.

Andrew is now out of the lava-lava and into his homework. Rachel is still in her Hawaiian dress, but she headed over to her grandparents' house to enjoy the Halloweening over there. I'm currently posting, but soon I'm going to be editing papers.

We did take a few minutes to treasure the occasion. Rachel and I actually took more than a few moments. She was in a pretty good mood this afternoon--my friend Kim brought over some teething tablets and we tried them. They seemed to help. Who knows?

Here's the photo shoot that Rachel and I did before Daddy got home:

And then as soon as Daddy got home, I made him put on his lava-lava and take a few more pictures of us.

We had fun for a few minutes, anyway. And I'd like to make it public that this year, so far, we've had five trick-or-treaters. It's a new record and five more than we had last year! Kim brought her twins up--one was a pumpkin and one was a skunk; and our neighbours across the hall stopped by, too--a fairy, a pirate, and some superhero/zombie/goblin creature (I couldn't tell what he was). I feel really popular, what, with having to open the door two times and everything.

In other news, our pumpkin died. The witch shriveled up and fell inside and it was all very sad. I brought the pumpkin inside today to fix it up a little. It was kind of tricky business because a spider had decided to make the pumpkin its home. I had to keep hitting the pumpkin to keep the spider from crawling out while I was operating.

The spider was very persistent so I had to hit the pumpkin quite a bit. With one of my blows, a big earwig fell from somewhere and started scrambling all over the floor. I grabbed a boot and smashed it a few times...and then went back to work on the pumpkin, trying to finish before anymore creepy crawlies decided to show up.

I think it turned out looking okay and was glad that we had a box of toothpicks on hand. Who really ever uses toothpicks for picking teeth? We usually use them for sticking jack-o-lanterns back together, or getting corn syrup out of the bottle to stick barrettes to Rachel's hair.

Happy Halloween!

Hard Day's Night

The folks I babysit for are reliably unreliable. Today this has proven most convenient.

Rachel has decided that sleep is optional. On Monday she was little Miss Fussypants from noon until midnight when she finally stopped screaming and fell asleep. She was driving me crazy! By 6 pm I was totally done being a mother. Unfortunately, motherhood doesn't really work that way and Andrew had class until 6:45 so didn't get home until after 7.

Even then he wasn't really home because he wanted to work on a big paper he has due on Thursday. So I was on Rachel duty until 10:30 pm, at which time I totally lost it. I just couldn't handle her screaming anymore--the only time she wasn't screaming was if she was nursing. Even then it was suck, suck, SCREAM, suck, suck, SCREAM! After 10 and a half hours of this nonsense, I was through.

I marched into the living room, handed Rachel to Andrew, went into our bedroom and locked the door. I then read scriptures while I plugged my ears, after which I took a nap, blocking Rachel's wails out by putting Andrew's pillow over my head.

Andrew thought he was doomed to sleep on the couch since I had locked the bedroom door. He wasn't, really. It was just a terrible day and I needed alone time, desperately.

At midnight, Rachel was still screaming and Andrew was trying to coax her to sleep. I came out of the bedroom and her face was one gooey mess of tears, snot, and drool. It was all pooling up under her chin and dripping to the floor.

I hastily wiped off her face and let her eat. Miraculously, she fell asleep and slept through the night.

Yesterday was a bit of a better day. She didn't scream much at all, although she was kind of fussy. My theory is that she's beginning to teethe. She clutches at her cheeks a lot and tries to shove her whole hand in her mouth. We took a two hour nap in the afternoon because she was acting so tired. And then she slept from 6-7, or so. Still, that's only about 3 hours of nap time.

Rachel did not go to bed until 2 am. She then woke up at 4 and didn't go back to sleep until around 6. The alarm went off at 7:21. I got out of bed around 8:30 to get ready for Emma; I was absolutely hating life. Interestingly enough, though, my nightmares weren't very bad.

I am plagued by nightmares and usually wake up petrified at least 5 times a week. Last night I dreamt about having nightmares. When I "woke up" from my nightmare, I wasn't in our house, but I "woke" Andrew up anyway, and he helped calm me down and checked the doors of my dream house with me. Then I went back to "sleep." I dreamed I was sleeping. Is there something significant about that, or was I just protecting myself from having to wake up?

Anyway, Rachel got up at around 8:30 as well, wanting to eat. So, I'm sitting here, feeding her, and the phone rings. It's the family I babysit for.

"Is it alright if Emma doesn't come today? I have the morning off."

Is it alright? Is it alright? I can go back to bed!

"Yes, that will be fine."

So, now I'm off to bed. Rachel just fell asleep--convenient, isn't it?

Somehow I need to make sure neither of us naps too long so that Rachel can (hopefully) go to bed at a decent time tonight. Nine o'clock sounds good. The bedtime regimen usually starts around 7 and she's in bed by 10--I'm not sure what's gone awry these past few days. Perhaps we'll try some teething medicine sometime. She really likes it when I rub her gums, but still I feel no teeth-like bumps, just little blistery things that go away after a while. I don't know what to do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saran Wrap, Zippers, and Knowing Everyting

Long before my parents got to that awkward stage where they didn't know anything, I began realizing that grown-ups weren't perfect.

It was my Auntie Colleen who shattered my image of adults by confessing to me that she has trouble with her coat zippers. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't zip up my coat, but I was a little girl. I thought that all grown ups could zip zippers, but here was Auntie Colleen, struggling with her zipper right before my very eyes.

Not too long after this discovery, I entered my teenage years where I, of course, knew everything.

I have a theory of why most teenagers go through this stage. When you're little, you believe that your parents have the answers for everything, and that all grown ups are simply fountains of knowledge. They know everything, they can do anything; they are just perfect.

But then you start to notice that they don't actually know everything. There are some things that your parents don't know. There are things they can't fix. There are questions that remain without answers. This is a hard concept to accept. Someone has to have all the answers, right?

So, to combat the internal turmoil caused by this discovery, teens attempt to become the ones who know everything. Very often, the only ones they trick into thinking this are themselves, but everyone is very obliging and lets them think that they have all the answers.

Most people go through the know-it-all stage. The idea is to get out of it before you make any serious choices that can mess up your life for a long time.

I'm still getting out of that stage, myself--everyday with Rachel is an adventure, and she helps me become more and more humble. We play a lot of guessing games to find out what she needs. More and more grown-up situations are arising in mine and Andrew's life that force us to ask for advice. And I still can't rip saran wrap.

Very occasionally I rip the saran wrap and it is perfect. More often, it will rip fine for an inch or two and then I will end up stretching and pulling until the end when I come out with a very skewed piece of saran wrap that I have to unwrinkle before I can use. The ratio of the perfect rip to the latter kind is probably 1 to 19. Pathetic, I know. I think it might have something to do with a wrist flick that I just haven't mastered.

Rachel's going to grow up thinking that crumpled triangular-ish sheets of saran wrap are normal. I'm afraid she will never aspire to the clean cut rectangles that, in my mind, all successful adults can accomplish.

I was bemoaning my flaw to Andrew after putting the leftovers away (involving some sad attempts at covering things with awkward pieces of saran wrap), and consoled myself by telling him that my aunt can't zip her own coat. We then started trying to think up something that he can't do but, by definition of being an adult, should be able to.

He seems to check out on everything, but I'll get back to you if I think of something.

What's something you still can't do perfectly?

Here's the criteria:

1) It has to be something you grew up thinking all grown ups could do. This varies from person to person. My cousins grew up knowing that not all adults could zip their coats; I did not. Rachel will grow up knowing that not all adults can rip saran wrap, while I grew up thinking this was merely a childish flaw.

2) You can't have a valid reason for not being able to do it (for example, because you are too scared/ticklish/lazy or any other reason). You must simply and genuinely not be able to do it.

3) It must be a mundane, everyday thing. I can't scuba dive or fly a plane, but these things aren't "life skills," so to speak.

I'm interested to find out...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Baby Cousin

Yet another little cousin for Rachel was born today. Now Rachel has 9 immediate cousins. How fun for her! Kayl is grandchild #2 on Andrew's side.

Here he is, Mr. Kayl Jay Tangreen, born at 12:04 PM, 6 lbs. 15 oz, 19 inches. So, he's a half pound lighter and half an inch shorter than Rachel. That makes his stats easy to remember.

He's a few weeks early, so he probably would have been a little chubbier if he were born closer to his due date. Katharine's glad that he came early though. Not that I blame her. He certainly was giving her a lot of grief.

He's a cute little guy and has quite a bit of hair and long fingers, just like Rachel. We think the fingers must be an Anderson trait, and the hair, well, it must just have something to do with being born in 2007. Every baby seems to have hair these days!

Welcome to the world, Kayl!

Fall Photos

The mountains are quickly turning from gold to grey, so our family set out to the mountains to take some pictures before all the leaves disappear. I've been wanting to take some fall-ish family pictures for a while. Our plan was to have another family come with us like Esther did, but since I only came across this idea last night, it was a little short notice for our friends. Instead we went with our tripod in tow.

Taking family pictures with a tripod proves exceptionally difficult. We had Andrew sprinting, jumping over ravines, and ducking branches to join us. I suppose I could have set the timer every once in a while, but he insisted that I wear a skirt since I wanted him to wear a tie. Running through knee-length grass in a skirt is difficult, so I held the baby and modeled for Andrew while he set up the shots.

A lot of our shots didn't turn out because Rachel was more interested in trying to eat trees than she was in looking at the camera. It's possible we have more shots of her with twigs in her mouth than with a smile on her face.

We took several family shots--Andrew had a tough time getting in all the pictures, but I think he did a great job getting in there and looking pretty in the 10 seconds that the camera gave him.

We took a few pictures of just the two of us but they kept turning out looking like engagement pictures so we quickly gave up on that idea.

We also took a few pictures of Rachel by herself, but she's hard to pose since she can't sit up on her own yet. She didn't really like how crunchy the leaves were and absolutely howled when we tried to pose her with a tree.

We also took pictures with each of us and Rachel. These were probably the easiest to arrange, aside from trying to get Rachel to look at the camera. This one is my absolute favorite:

For more pictures, click here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


After letting it sit in our living room for a month and a day, we finally decided to carve our pumpkin.

We got a little pattern book that came with some carving tools for pretty cheap, so we flipped through the book and found a cool pattern that didn't look too difficult. Since our pumpkin is huge, I had to enlarge the pattern a little bit.

I put it on the scanner and did the preview scan. It looked good, so I took the book off of the scanner and then hit the scan button. Oddly enough, my scan came up empty. I was puzzled. I knew I had previewed it and it looked okay. Why did it come up blank?

I checked the scanner bed. There was nothing in it. I had misplaced the book between previewing it and actually scanning it. I couldn't remember doing anything with it. I tell you, motherhood will do that to you!

Andrew eventually found it and this time he did the scanning. With that out of the way, we commenced carving.

The pumpkin was really pretty thick so it was hard to get through. It was pretty hollow though, so scooping out all the gunk didn't take very long at all. We told Rachel that this goopy stuff is what she'll be eating in a few months. She didn't seem very impressed, but soon after our mentioning "eating," Rachel decided that eating was a good idea and began to get a little fussy.

That left Andrew to do the majority of the work. The hardest part was using the little pounce wheel to transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. The tool is smaller than my thumb and was rather difficult to hold and control. I transfered about half of the pattern and carved out the flame under the cauldron before Rachel decided that absolutely could wait no longer, so I had to sit back and watch Andrew work.

I was so nervous the whole time because he kept saying, "Ooh!" in a very earnest voice.

"What?!" I would ask, afraid that he'd broken some essential part off or cut himself or something else tragical.

"Nothing," he'd say casually.

We ooh-ed and what-ed each other for about twenty minutes or so when I finally stopped paying attention to Andrew, due to paying increased attention to the baby. He was a little miffed when he gasped his 'ooh' and got no response from me. Talk about the boy who called wolf! Is my husband starved for attention or what?

He ended up doing a splendid job; the pumpkin looked mighty fine and he was beaming.

We were so excited about our jack-o-lantern that we put a candle in it and started switching off all the lights. Just as we turned off the last light, I realized that we had neglected to clean up after ourselves, had left three knives laying on the kitchen floor, and were about to venture off across the knife-laden floor barefoot. So we turned the lights back on, cleaned up, and then enjoyed our freshly roasted pumpkin seeds by the flickering candlelight of our jack-o-lantern.

We stared at it for so long and took so many pictures--we couldn't decide which ones were our favorites. We're big fans of them all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Like mother, like daughter

Having determined that most of the faces Rachel makes belong to Andrew, and that she sleeps very deep like him, and a lot of her mannerisms are simply Andrewesque, I set out to find something that Rachel does that is similar to things that I would do...because she really is just a mini Andrew in the feminine form.

She fell asleep on the floor today and got herself into this position:

Does anyone remember when I would sleep like that, with my bum sticking up in the air? I did it for years and years. I fail to see how it could be comfortable now...but I apparently I did back in the day because I slept like this for a long time, even when I was in grade school.

Primary Ramblings

Sometimes I don't really know what I'm doing in this calling. Most of the time, really.

Sister Nelson is so energetic and enthusiastic. She could get anyone excited about doing anything. She gets things done. Snap, snap, snap. The woman has an action plan for everything.

My most enthusiastic attitude cannot even compare to the enthusiasm Sister Nelson holds for something she is not even enthused1 about. And I'm afraid that my decision making skills will never be honed to the level hers are at. I can't decide what dental floss to buy--they all cost around 97¢ and, for crying out loud, it's dental floss! She can have a problem placed in front of her, solve it, and delegate each part of her plan in less than 3 seconds. Did I mention she can sing? She can sing really, really well.

Sister Zundel2 should probably actually have my calling. She is one of the most organized people I know. I've only ever been in her entry way, but from the way she talks I imagine that her basement would make a good rival for the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. In my mind, her basement is an archivist's dream, complete with compact shelving (which for some archivists is a nightmare, but it does fit many more shelves than if they were stationary). "I just pulled this from my files," she'll say.

It's good thing I married Andrew. My files have a tendency to look like the top of my desk: chaos. I am more prone to find something if I leave it on the floor...while Andrew's dream house probably has an archive. I'll have to ask him about that.

Sister Gurney seems relaxed. Always. While the rest of us are agonizing over a decision (except for Sister Nelson, who rarely attends meetings because she's the music specialist and doesn't have to), Sister Gurney will be the one to say, "I don't think we need to spend much time on this." She seems to be the type of person who just flows through life. You could throw a million balls at her and she'd catch them all just because she's fine with putting other balls down. She'd never drop the ball--she just simplifies things and makes everyone calm again.

Sister Baxter is what Sister Zundel calls a "froo-froo"3 lady. She is very detailed-oriented. She brought 6 table cloths to try on one table. She made 4 pans of apple crisp for our meeting tonight and says, "Well, it's just as easy to make 4 as it is to make 1." She brought disposable baking pans so that she could share the left-overs with others without having to lend out her baking dishes. She brought windex, lemon wood polish, rags, super glue, removable glue tape4, fall garland, two treasure boxes, a framed picture, and 6 table cloths to help us prepare for our meeting. In fact, she probably brought more things. It was like Relief Society.

As you may have guessed, Sister Baxter is the pie lady. For me, it isn't "just as easy to make 4." I get sick of baking things. Cookie dough can sit in my fridge for a full week before I'll succumb and make that last dozen cookies.

Now, I know that there is pride in comparison. I also know that I don't have the traits these women have and I would like to develop them. I had to compare to figure that out. I'm just a little worried about trying to be like Sister Baxter and Sister Gurney at the same time. I'm not sure it's possible...if it is, it might be like having schizophrenia.

Anyway, these women are simply amazing and I often just feel that I am frazzled. All these other women seem so well suited for their calling. I just feel out of it sometimes.

The good thing is that when you do your best, the Lord does the rest. So technically, I don't have to worry about anything because I am only the instrument. I don't need to know the notes. I don't need to know how to play. I am being worked I just need to be a good instrument.

Being a good instrument does take a bit of work. I have to study and work hard still. It's just that if I don't know something or lack the ability to do doesn't matter. The Lord will play His tune through me. I'm not in charge of the tune. He is.

I realized this today while I was doing a "breakout session" with all the primary secretaries in our stake, which was a little overwhelming for me. I had read up on things. I had prayed. I had prepared the best that I could. But truthfully, I haven't had that much experience in primary, unless you count the time I spent in primary before I turned 12.

So there I was, in a room full of women expecting to be taught. I was the "expert"--the one standing in the front of the room. Things were going fine, but then someone asked a question and I didn't know the answer.

I looked in the handbook and read what it said. It didn't really make much sense to me but I thought that I'd try to explain it anyway. I opened my mouth and out spilled the most beautiful, understandable, perfect answer.

I was amazing. Oh, wait.

Not really. I can't really take credit for that at all.

I am not sure that I've ever really noticed a time when the Lord worked through me, but I've heard of missionaries relating such stories. That was the first time that's ever happened to me. I noticed as it was happening--that I had no idea what I was saying, but I said the perfect thing.

It made me cry over my calling for the second time today. The first time was before the meeting when I was feeling like I wasn't cut out for this business. The second time was just now when I realized that perhaps I really am supposed to be in this calling.

And that is the end of my ramblings.

Except for my footnotes.

1-technically not a word.
2-This is pronounced ZUN-dle, but I always want to say Zun-DELL so I just call her Bonnie. It simplifies things.
3-Apparently a non-offensive term.
4-I'm not really sure what this even is.


I'm so glad someone took a picture of this so I can post about it!

A few weeks ago, BYU hosted a huge career fair. I decided to make a token visit. I always get depressed at these--professors always talk up their importance for getting a good, high paying career, making it seem like the recruiters hand out jobs. I've been to a few and have yet to be given a job, or even find one that interested me.

I did talk with the NSA people last time, which actually got me interested in working for them and led to my 3 day series of painful, tortuous interviews.

This time I walked by the "intelligence row," passing the FBI, CIA, DoD, and all the other government agencies, hoping for a free job. I stopped in front of the Navy Intelligence booth and looked at their recruitment poster, which had the phrase "Do you speak my language?" translated in several different languages. Normal recruitment advertising, right?

Take a look at the Arabic sentence:

For those who don't speak Arabic, it is written completely backwards and unconnected (Arabic is written with a cursive script from right to left). If it was English, it would say EGAUGNAL YM KAEPS OUY OD." The Russian is okay, as was the Italian, Spanish, French, and everything else.

And we wonder why we're in the chaos of Iraq?! We can't even EGAUGNAL RIEHT KAEPS!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

3 am

3:00 am has been Rachel's favorite hour recently. It's certainly not mine.

She was doing so well at sleeping through the night...and then she learned how to roll over. I think that this has stunted her sleep patterns because she used to be such a good sleeper. The other night I walked in to get her because she was screaming and I could hear the crib rattling. Rachel was on her stomach, holding her head up (kind of). She was so close to the crib bars that she couldn't put her head back down--every time she tried she slammed it into the crib bars.

No wonder she was crying.

She's done something similar the past few nights so has spent her nights in our bed from 3 am until whenever we wake up. Sometimes I have good intentions to put her back in her own bed, but I usually just fall asleep with her and then wake up to her giggles at around 7 am. She always wakes up giggling.

Last night, though, she slept in her own bed until 7:oo! She didn't go to bed last night until around midnight, so we had a little nap together until 10:00--that felt so good...I haven't slept that long in a long time!

Truthfully, I find it odd that Rachel has been waking up in the night because she sleeps so soundly--like her father. She will talk in her sleep (already, yes) and can be moved around without being waked up. Loud noises hardly make her stir. Quite frankly, if those two were sound asleep and the world caved in on them, neither one would notice.

She sleeps in rather awkward positions. I think this is her fetal position...with the head sticking out like that. Yeah, that looks like it feels familiar.

She's recently taking to snuggling with anything she can grab. I'll wake up sometimes and she'll be holding onto my shirt or my arm or the sheets. Here she is snuggling a pig.

And what kind of post would this be without a shot of her wild bed-head?

Here's hoping our 3 am curse has been lifted for good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

No kidding around

Once when I was visiting my Auntie Colleen's farm, we went to see the Laytons. The Laytons are my cousins--but we're not really sure how because they are the "5th cousins, thrice removed" kind. Before we left, Bro. Layton called my cousin Heather and me over.

"Have you ever seen a buffalo nurse a goat?" he asked.

We honestly could answer no, so he brought out a nanny goat and an orphaned baby buffalo. The baby buffalo then proceeded to nurse on the nanny goat. I have never felt so sorry for an animal in all my life. I don't know if you've ever watched kids nursing...but they aren't gentle.

Now, imagine that, only with a baby buffalo as big as its poor surrogate mother. Goats are often used as surrogate mothers. Poor, poor creatures.

This is kind of how Rachel has been treating me today. I'm not sure what all the head-butts are for because I can hear her gulping away, and yet they continue.

She's really not half as bad as the kids in the video though...but I'm still not sure I would want to be a surrogate mother to any animal, especially not one that was as large as me or that nursed in the fashion of these kids.

I did have an ancestor who nursed a baby deer, but I'll have to let my mom fill you in on that story.

Wild Fires and Drug Busts

There are many places that I would like to live. Most involve palm trees, beaches, and having approximately the same temperature all year round. One of my dream locations is Southern California. Another is Mid to Southern Italy. Another is the UAE. Hawaii wouldn't be too terrible, either.

My Auntie Arlene lives in La Mesa, California, which is right by San Diego. I love everything about the area except that it's a huge, unnavigable, non-pedestrian-friendly city. Oh, yeah, that, and it seems to have more than its fair share of wildfires.

Welcome to the view from my aunt's balcony:

That almost looks warm and cozy, but somehow not very inviting. Frankly, I'm not very envious at the moment. Most days I think at least once how it would be so nice to live in a nice, warm, tropical-ish area. Today I didn't. At least not about California. I might have been envious of all people on Hawaii today though.

Here is what my aunt had to say about it:

We are okay here - am sending a couple of pics that we took from the top of our house at 2:30 this morning. Schools are all cancelled for the week & everyone is supposed to stay indoors - the air quality is very bad.

Yesterday morning Lance took a crew up to Fairbanks Ranch to work on a house in a gated community of very expensive homes. The area was just starting to evacuate and Lance had to talk the guard into letting them in to get the tools we had at the jobsite. (The guard was worried about looting)....

Yeah, I really can't say that I'm very jealous about their situation. It snowed quite a bit (okay, like an inch) on Sunday and I thought that was pretty bad, but I'm kind of thinking that snow is better than this. I rarely think that snow is better than anything.

Our neighbourhood is no tropical paradise, but for the most part it is pretty tranquil and the neighbours are amiable. Sometimes when Rachel is screaming bloody murder and I can find no cause for her anguish, I take her outside and point things out to her.

From the backside of our breezeway, we can see into the backyards of some houses. One of them is beautifully landscaped with apple trees, a vegetable garden, and luscious green grass. Their patio looks freshly painted, their house does, too, and they may even have a little latticework back there. It's very pretty.

The house next door is another story. I try not to point the items in this yard out to Rachel. Somehow showing my baby a bird in an apple tree seems like better parenting than pointing out an old couch with springs poking out of the cushions. Or how the grass is perpetually brown and/or weedy. Or the broken dog kennel. Or the house that looks long overdue for a paint job. Or the piles of junk all over the yard--and not just junk, but trash. Broken bottles, garbage, garbage, garbage. The fence is in bad repair. It's just an icky yard.

I have no idea who lives there and I don't really know their circumstances (although the picture filled in a little more today) so I spent the majority of my time pointing out apples and flowers and birds in the other neighbor's yard, instead of focusing on why their yard was such a disaster.

Fast forward to this evening. I had a primary meeting, which Rachel and I walked to. The weather has warmed up since Sunday, so we're back to that lovely fall sweater weather, just perfect for a nice stroll. The meeting went well. But in the middle we heard a whole bunch of sirens. Really, really close sirens, which we pointedly ignored. Eventually the sirens stopped and we continued our meeting undistracted by anything (except for Rachel's antics which distracted us almost continuously).

After the meeting, Sister Baxter insisted on giving us a ride home since it was cold and dark and "no problem at all." We turned onto the street behind our house and saw a little cluster of police cars surrounding this ill-kempt house. Naturally, we slowed down enough to take a little shufti.

There were police officers from the K-9 force going through a car parked outside the house. They had their big, scary German shepherd police dogs sniffing all around the place and they were pulling little packages out of the car, as well as things that I can only guess were drug paraphernalia.

How interesting to think that, as I sit here and write, there is a drug bust going on just over the fence.

And this has nothing to do with the post....But, these are the clothes that Rachel was wearing as we walked past the scene of the drug bust on our way to the meeting, before we knew it would be the scene of a drug bust. And I happen to think it's a very cute outfit.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped make this outfit possible: Auntie Kelli for the shoes, the overalls, the jacket, the hat, and the mittens; Auntie Em for the socks; our neighbour Britnee, Casey Greenland's older sister, for the onesie; Emily, who went to Voronezh with me, for the beautiful handcrafted blanket; and us, for providing Rachel with a diaper.

And here's another picture of her, half awake, after shedding her outerwear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pump and Sucking-stance

It may be a little too soon to celebrate but I think we've graduated from the nipple shield. Rachel's just growing up. She is getting to the stage where she wants to try new things. She watches as we eat with verifiable interest, her mouth opening and closing in sync with ours as we bring each bite to our mouths. She took a bottle. She doesn't fight the pacifier as much anymore. And just tonight I tried not using the nipple shield and she nursed for a good half hour without any fussing at all. In fact, she's already in bed, sound asleep.

The nipple shield was incredibly helpful. Without it I wouldn't have been able to feed Rachel for the last 3 months and 2 days. But I was so worried that she'd never be weaned from it. Instead of taking her teddy bear with her to sleep overs, I was afraid she'd have to take the nipple shield. My worries of an ever present oral fixation are waning now.

Don't get me wrong, I was very appreciative of the nipple shield. Rachel and I had our share of problems when we were starting out. Andrew was pretty nervous about it. In our prenatal class we had discussed how it was best if the baby nursed within an hour of being born. Andrew's mind translated this into "the baby must eat within one hour of birth or it with never desire to eat ever again and will shrivel up into a raisin-like creature."

He watched the clock like a hawk and since they were stitching me up for nearly an hour, we didn't even attempt to breast feed until that critical hour was almost up. Andrew was convinced that Rachel was going to turn into a raisin.

As it turned out, though, Rachel was more than willing to try eating. She tried and she tried and she tried, and I did likewise. In the end though, we needed a few crutches to get us to make any sort of connection.

I didn't mind at first. The nurses and pediatrician said that she would be off the shield in two weeks, no problem. Well, those two weeks came and went and people started telling me that the shield would deplenish my milk supply (yeah, right...not so lucky in my case). I was so worried that I would dry up like a raisin.

So, neither Rachel or I turned into raisins. We had nothing to worry about all along. Except for the million times I misplaced the nipple shield. That thing is like a contact lens--if you drop it, you'll be on your hands and knees for quite a while searching blindly, meanwhile hoping that the baby doesn't get hungry.

I don't think we've seen the end of the shield; that last feeding was one battle won but the war is far from over. At least we're now doing a combination of bottles, soothers, and shield on/shield off. That way if I lose the nipple shield long enough for Rachel to get hungry I still have a method or two of placating her.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My big strong man

Last night after the opera, while I was feeding and feeding and feeding Rachel, I asked Andrew to get me a snack. Naturally, he asked me what I wanted. Equally as naturally, I didn't know.

I looked into the kitchen from my perch on the couch. All I could see were the bananas.

"I want a banana," I said decisively. I hate making decisions.

He got a banana, held it by the stem and flicked it. Normally this would have opened the top of the banana and allowed him to peel it like a normal human being. Being a little overripe for my taste, the banana peeled all the way down to the banana butt and then flew out of the peel and careened across the floor, leaving Andrew holding a long strip of banana peel.

"Oh," he said with a hint of sheepishness and amazement in his voice, "I'll eat that one."

He then grabbed the second, and last, banana from the counter. Not wanting to repeat his previous mistake, he held the banana by the butt and pulled the stem down. Normally the peel would have separated and he could have gently derobed the banana. Using a little too much muscle power, Andrew snapped the banana in two. This banana was also a little ripe for my taste, but I ate it anyway.

I guess he just doesn't know his own strength.

What's worse?

Remember when you were little and just starting school and one of the most embarrassing things you could imagine was calling your teacher "mom?"

I don't think I ever did that; at least, I don't recall ever doing that. Andrew does. He was rather embarrassed about it at the time. I don't know if the following story has more, less, or the same embarrassment quota attached to it.

We had some friends over on Friday night because we missed their wedding receptions. Michelle, who was a missionary in Voronezh when I lived there, got married last December. I was having a rather sick pregnancy day and didn't feel like making the car ride. Nathan, one of Andrew's mission buddies, had his reception on August 31st. Instead of going to that one we spent the evening in the hospital waiting for my dad to get out of open heart surgery. Fun times.

So, because we didn't make it to their receptions, we invited them over for dinner. We made pirogies and they were good. I was going to have them all prepared before hand, but Rachel slows things down for me (I can't really put my finger on why that is) and I couldn't open our big flour bin so had to wait for Andrew to come home. We ended up making a little assembly line with our guests, rolling dough, cutting out circles, putting the filling in, pinching the dough closed, mashing the edges with a fork and then frying them. I realize it isn't really good taste to have your guests help make dinner, but it ended up being kind of fun.

Omar, Michelle's husband who is actually Hispanic and was named after his mom's secret crush, Omar Sharif, prepared a nice black bean salad to go along with our meal.

We played Mad Gab, and had a lot of fun in spite of my making the company fix their own food.

In the midst of our revelings, Michelle called out to Omar, "Will you get me a drink, mom?"

She promptly turned red and started laughing. A few seconds later her statement registered with everyone else and we all started laughing. Omar, who had not heard what she called him but got her the drink anyway, asked why we were all laughing.

Michelle could hardly choke out the words, "I just called you mom!"

That was definitely one of my highlights of the evening.

And I think I've decided that calling your teacher 'mom' is more embarrassing than calling your husband 'mom.' Andrew is such a good friend to me that if I did something embarrassing in front of him (as I do everyday), we'd both be able to laugh about it and I wouldn't be embarrassed every time I looked at him for the rest of the school year.

Then again, it was kind of strange when we started calling each other 'mama' and 'dada' for the sake of Rachel's vocabulary. I always knew that I wanted children but never really imagined myself calling Andrew 'dada,' 'daddy,' or any equivalent there of. I suppose one day I'll get used to it. Come to think, referring to myself as 'mom' is a little strange. I don't think I could call Andrew 'mom.'

Le nozze di Figaro

Absolutely hilarious. Need I say more? This should be everyone's first exposure to opera simply because it is hilarious, well written, and leaves the audience begging for more. It's definitely my favorite opera so far.

Had I been born 223 years ago (in 1784), I, too, would have camped out hoping to be let in to watch the premier...even of just the play. It's a good story line. I just hope that had I camped out that night that I wouldn't have been one of the three trampled to death in a vain attempt to be admitted to the theater. Seriously, three people. Those crazy Europeans; first plays, now soccer. What next?

I think that BYU did a great job putting it on. The parts were cast well, the players did an amazing job, the pit was wonderful, the supertitles were ok--I'm just glad that I understand Italian better than I did at the last Italian opera I went to. In fact, I understood so much that I was really able to get into the action on stage.

I want to go see it again, but we can't really afford a second set of tickets and being away from Rachel that long was a little difficult.

Rachel spent the evening at my parents' house.

We spent the whole week prepping her to go. We had to find a way to feed her, since we'd be separated for about 4 hours. Initially I was thinking we'd try her on apple juice, so we bought some...but then I remembered that we own a pump so I started pumping.

I still have a ton of milk. The first time this week I pumped extensively (after Rachel ate, mind you), I pumped four ounces of milk. That is enough for another feeding of a baby Rachel's age, so in all seriousness I could feed two babies with my milk supply. Just for the fun of it I looked into donating my milk to a milk bank, but Utah doesn't have one. The nearest one is in Colorado, which is fine, but they are looking for HIV free, non-smoking, non-drinking, non-illegal-drug-taking mothers of babies younger than six months. I do believe that we have a highly concentrated population of women like that in the Provo area, so why don't we have a milk bank here?

You have to donate a minimum of 100 ounces though, and pumping isn't terribly comfortable. I'm not sure that I'm ready for that kind of commitment. Pumping was nothing, though, compared to the difficulty of coaxing Rachel to take a bottle. I offered her a bottle at every feeding this week and she finally took one on Wednesday night.

I thought we were in the clear, but she didn't really eat well for my mom. She screamed for quite a long while, so I hear, and got a few lectures from the child-friendly Uncle Patrick about how screaming is not necessary and is really quite annoying and that she should cease and desist immediately. Oddly enough, his lectures didn't help and she continued to scream through them.

Needless to say, when we got home, Rachel was ravenously hungry and she ate until midnight.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. We survived being away from Rachel, although we did talk about her a lot. She survived being away from us and was relatively happy when we picked her up. I think we'll try this going out thing again sometime.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rolie Polie Olie

In addition to being one of Olivia's nicknames and a great kids' show, Rachel is now also a little rolly polly.

She's been toying with the idea of becoming mobile for quite some time, but has really blossomed as of late. I never find her in the same place that I put her down. She can roll over in under 3 minutes, get her hands free, and just tonight she flipped over from her stomach to her back (more than once).

The 3 minute roll-over

I was pretty proud of that accomplishment on her part. We were at a friend's baby shower and I put Rachel on the ground. She flipped right onto her stomach and then a few minutes later was on her back again. I was so excited...I don't know why since this means we'll have to make our house baby proof. Personally, I think she was just showing off for all the little boy babies there. Rachel and Amy were outnumbered by their male counterparts 2 to 1.

Rachel can pivot around on her blanket, too, and gets stuck under her little gym all the time. She shows very little interest in the toys hanging down over her head but loves to kick at the legs for some reason, so she'll twist around so that she can kick them.

Today when she rolled over, she also turned 45 degrees so her tail end got stuck under the bars of her gym. She wasn't too thrilled about this. It does explain, though, why Andrew asked me the other night, "Did you put the baby to bed upside down?" It doesn't take her very long to switch polarity.

Say Cheese

Rachel has realized that whenever I bring out the camera I want her to smile and look cute and attentive. I rarely have to coax her to look at the camera anymore; in fact, the minute I bring it out she puts on a little show.

I wonder what she thinks. Probably something like, "Mom has that little black box again. That means she's going to act all silly with me. It's so funny when she does that." She probably doesn't mean to smile at all--she smiles in spite of herself because she's thinking of all the goofy things we do to get her to look cute for the camera.

The other night, just before Andrew and I were ready to call it a night, Rachel woke up screaming. We sat for a few minutes, crossing our fingers that she'd console herself and fall back asleep. This time, that was not the case, so Andrew went in and got her.

She was not a very happy baby...but then she saw that I had the camera and gave us a winning smile.

She's definitely one of those babies who can be entertained just by pretending to use the camera. When she gets older, she'll probably pose for it, too!