Monday, March 31, 2008

Personal Information

Andrew has been drowning in homework and work-work the past few weeks. To help him stay afloat I corrected the last assignment for his design class. As part of the assignment, his students had to attach 5 examples of business stationary (letterhead, envelopes or business cards), along with a critique of the design.

One student had attached a scholarship award letter from BYU, along with a critique of the BYU letterhead. This student took the time to black out their address--some sort of percautionary measure, I suppose. It made me giggle because, even though the student had blocked out their address, anyone student, staff, faculty, or alumnus of BYU who saw their name on the paper could look up their address on Route Y, anyway.

At least that student had made some sort of an attempt at privacy, though because I almost died laughing when I came across an assignment of a student who had submitted, not one but, two bank statements from different banks (along with the necessary critiques). This student hadn't bothered to cross out their account number, their current balance, or any of their very personal information.

If any other student, staff, faculty, or alumnus of BYU happens across those papers, I hope they are very honest.

I was very tempted to write across the top of the paper: Do you want to have your identity stolen?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rachel's Eight Month Non-Checkup

It's official. Rachel is now as big as I was when I was a year old.

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday for an ingrown toenail that has been plaguing me since before Rachel was born. Gross, I know.

The toenail part of the appointment didn't take very long and since the doctor always asks if there's anything else he can do for us I take him up on that. I realize that talking to your doctor about concerns other than what your appointment was made for puts him behind in his schedule, but since my toe took like 2 minutes I figured I could ask a few questions that were completely unrelated to halluces.

I first asked the doctor about moving to Egypt. He made a few recommendations about vaccinations, although I need to find a good travel site and double check the information since my doctor admitted that he's not really an expert on foreign travel. Go figure--he's not an expert at everything.

He also suggested finding some Permethrin to ward off mosquitoes and other pests. Apparently you can spray down your clothes with it and it will last for 6 weeks or so.

After he finished telling me everything he could and I felt that I had milked my $15 for all its worth, I asked if we could weigh Rachel, which turned into a discussion of how breast feeding was going.

With all that extra talk, my appointment still only took about fifteen minutes. And we found out that Rachel now weighs 18 lbs. 4 oz.

I measured her when we got home and she is 29.5 inches tall. She's one tall baby! She's in the 95th percentile for height and between the 25th and 50th percentile for weight.

Utah Lake Pictures

There is a girl in one of Andrew's classes who asked if we wouldn't mind being models for her. She's an amateur photographer and wanted to practice taking pictures of people--she usually does landscapes but is trying to branch out. We, of course, said that we would be willing. So on Saturday evening we headed out to meet her and drive out to the castle behind the mental hospital. Apparently it costs $15 to take pictures up there, a fact that we weren't aware of before and since we are cheapskates we chose to find somewhere else to take pictures when the "parking lot guard" informed us of the fee.

Our substitute location was Utah Lake. Surprisingly enough neither Andrew nor I had ever been there before. I had only ever heard bad things about Utah Lake but it was actually quite beautiful--probably because Geneva was closed down years ago and the lake has had a chance to recover a bit.

It was so windy and cold! Rachel, our little wind-lover, thought the weather was great...for about five minutes. Then she got rather grumpy. Even she has her limits when it comes to being cold.

Lindsey also took some pictures of just mommy and Rachel, and just daddy and Rachel.

After Lindsey took some family pictures of us--and we wrapped Rachel in a blanket--she let us use her camera. That was like a little slice of heaven. Her camera is so fancy and takes excellent pictures! We've since added it to our list of impossible desires, along with an Mac Book, and an iPhone, and a car that you can't hear coming a mile away, and a full-ride scholarship to AUC. All in good time, I suppose.

We're thinking Utah Lake might be a fun place to go later on in the spring or summer when it is perhaps a little warmer and less windy--of course, having no prior experience of Utah Lake, we're not sure if it ever gets warmer or less windy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Silly Baby

Here are a few silly pictures of Rachel from the fast few days.

She's lately become a big fan of her car seat, which is nice because she never used to like to be strapped into it. I think she's realized that if she's getting into the seat it means that we're going somewhere, possibly somewhere exciting, so she'll let us put her in. That doesn't stop her from pulling against her restraints the minute the car stops, though.

I'm ready to go!

You're upside down, mom.

She continues to be a big help in the kitchen. She's become very efficient at unloading the dishwasher. Too efficient, really.

Since she was so good at that, we've designated her the putter-awayer of pots and pans as well.

Today I put the baby gate up between the kitchen and the hallway so that I could get some work done without any little fingers getting in the way. Rachel was not thrilled.

When she finally realized that she couldn't get over, under, around, or through the baby gate she threw a terrific fit. If ever she loses her temper or hits her head, such as in this case, we have three options: play the piano or look out the window or feed her. I have been trying to break her of the "I'm hurt--feed me" mentality so that leaves us with the two former options.

The piano works well but the window has a more immediate effect. She loves to pound on the glass and wave at people (and rocks and birds and clouds and cars--mostly just pounding and waving at anything will do), especially at daddy when he's coming home from or leaving for school.

I wonder what new skill tomorrow will bring for such a busy baby!

Moving Boxes

I realize that it is incredibly early to begin packing. After all, we still need to live here for 5 more months. However, we're trying to be as organized as possible for this move since we are going to be storing our things for two years. Andrew is even writing a program to keep track of our stuff for his final project in one of his computer classes.

He brought home some empty paper boxes today and Rachel had a grand ol' time playing with them, as did Andrew. (She's topless because she had just finished eating dinner. She ate dinner topless because she's started to stick her hands in her mouth before clapping. Food gets everywhere).

We forgot where we packed things when we moved back from Jordan and we were only gone for four months. One of the things we lost was the griddle plug. We unpacked everything and we couldn't find the griddle plug, our cooling rack, a little non-stick sheet, and a kitchen towel. We eventually found the cooling rack and the non-stick sheet. They had fallen underneath the oven and Karen wasn't sure if they were ours when she found them, so she put them in her kitchen so she could ask us when we got back.

The griddle plug was a pain. Andrew loves that griddle. He's just no good at making pancakes in a pan so after four months of not using the griddle his was rather anxious to start flipping away. We pulled out the griddle soon after arriving home but we couldn't find the plug anywhere.

We put the griddle aside and finished unpacking all the kitchen boxes. It was still no where to be found. In the next little while as we finished re-moving in to our apartment we looked through everything. No griddle plug anywhere.

After a month or so we eventually just purchased a replacement plug online so that Andrew could use his precious griddle again.

Wouldn't you know it, shortly after the new plug arrived in the mail we found our old plug in a box that we hadn't opened because I could have sworn that the box only had one thing in it. Well, as soon as we opened that box and I saw the griddle plug in there I remembered putting it in there myself.

So now we have a back up griddle plug. I don't know why they don't just make that little grease drawer big enough to store the plug in. And I don't know why I didn't just pack the plug with the griddle in the first place.

As for that kitchen towel, it is still AWOL. It's a shame because it was whoever gave it to us had crocheted on a nifty little thing so that we could attach it to the oven door, which would come in handy now that I have Rachel around to continuously pull the towel off of the door.

Needless to say, we're bound to forget how and where we pack things in the two years we'll be gone since we lost some (very important) things after just four months. Thus the reason Andrew is making the tracking program. And the reason I'm trying to organize things now.

I figure the sooner I start, the less likely I'll be to just jumble things into any old box at the last minute. I've almost finished packing our first box.

I was going to put our winter things away, anyway, since we're finished with winter here and have decided that we're going to try to visit Upper Egypt in the winters instead of heading up north (thus we won't need winter gear while we're abroad, saving us plenty of suitcase space), so I got out a bin and put our coats in the bottom.

Then Rachel went into our bedroom and pulled all the books off of the second shelf of the bookcase so instead of putting them back on the bookshelf I put them on top of the coats. They were all language books and I just don't think that I'll be brushing up on Korean, Japanese or Spanish while I'm trying to learn Arabic. That helped to squish down the coats, but now the box is really heavy and it isn't quite full so I'm still trying to think of something light to fill it up.

And that's why we need the tracking program. It looks like box # 1 will hold coats, language books, and towels or something. How am I supposed to remember all that?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In which Andrew almost has a heart attack

I've been spending a lot of time researching details about our move to Cairo. There is a lot that we need to do and even though we kind of know what to expect because we've lived in the Middle East before, Rachel presents a new dimension to the equation.

We've been looking at portable beds for her and haven't found many that we've been very happy with. Pack 'n' Plays are much too bulky--if we got one it would take up a whole suitcase worth of our luggage allowance. Then we were looking at these little PeaPod things but I'm not sure that Rachel would enjoy sleeping in one--it's much too cramped for her, I think.

Today I decided that since we'll be living there for two years it's probably something we can just worry about when we get there. Egyptians have children, so I'm sure we'll figure out some sort of sleeping arrangement for Rachel. Until then she can sleep in our bed or in one of the big suitcases or on the floor or something.

I decided to inform Andrew of my decision so that we could both stop worrying about it. It's late though and I'm having trouble coming up with words. That always happens after 10 PM.

"I don't even know if we have to bring Rachel..." I paused trying to think of what it was we didn't have to bring for her.

Andrew sat on the couch, his mouth agape, his eyes blinking.

"...A bed." I finished.

Andrew let out a huge sigh of relief, "Ohhhhh!"

"What?" I asked, puzzled by his response. I was worried he was thinking that I was worrying too much about everything, which is probably true, but it wasn't what he was thinking.

"You paused way too long after you said Rachel."

No, no, no! We have to bring the baby! We just don't have to bring her a bed!

Monday, March 24, 2008

FHE Playtime!

Rachel was an extra-busy baby today. I got very little accomplished because although Rachel took three naps they were only about ten minutes a piece. She was very demanding in between naps wanting to eat, eat, eat and play, play, play and heaven forbid I should do the dishes or make lunch for myself.

By the time Andrew got home I was exhausted. I made dinner and we sat down to eat and Rachel was still hyper. I took her to the little park by our house but they were painting it so the only thing we could do was swing, but there were quite a few children there who wanted turns so we just came home.

We had a family home evening lesson and she was hyper all through that, whining because we wouldn't join her. She kept whining and getting into things after FHE and I just watched her, too exhausted to move.

Finally Andrew got up and retrieved her car seat.

"We've got to go to a park or something," he announced upon my questioning, "Are you okay? You look like you're going to cry."

I must have been incredibly grateful to have him volunteer to take us to the park. I was so tired and Rachel had already used up all of my energy for the day and I just didn't know how I was going to entertain such an energetic baby until bedtime, which was still two hours away.

So, ignoring the two books Andrew is working on laying out, 100 pages each; and the two papers he has due, one 10 pages and one 5 pages; and the website he needs to have finished soon; we got in the car and drove to a cute park that I had seen while Rachel and I were out walking. It took us a couple of tries to find it because it's tucked away between some houses. The entrance to the parking lot looks like it should be a driveway. We had to turn around twice before we actually found our way in!

The park is really pretty neat. It had some super tall slides and plenty of swings. There were four families there while we were there and we all had plenty to do. We're planning on going back frequently during the summer and hope that we can find something similar in Egypt to wear Rachel out come bedtime.

We love babies!

This morning Rachel pulled out the December 2007 Liahona and flipped open to the presidency message, These, Our Little Ones. There's a picture of a baby on the verso and she got so excited when she saw it. She gave it kisses!

And then she, of course, tried to poke its eyes and ended up crinkling the page and almost ruining the magazine in her efforts to show further affection. I had to dry it off before we could put it away because it was absolutely slimed.

First Annual Easter Egg Smackdown!

March Madness is going on right now. Andrew and I procrastinated filling out a bracket so long that we didn't end up filling one out at all. I am not very into the sports thing so this incident didn't really bother me. Andrew was a little upset by it though.

Then I read Natalie's blog and I knew it was fate.

We've started a new Easter tradition--The Annual Heiss Family Easter Egg Smackdown--thanks to Natalie. Andrew got in his need for a bracket and we both had a lot of fun.

I tend to get attached to things a lot easier than Andrew does. My eggs, if I dare say so myself, are a lot more detailed and have much more creative names than Andrew's. It was hard to convince myself that I should let my eggs suffer such a fate. When I was little I always wanted my eggs to be the last to be peeled and eaten--I remember crying over an egg or two over the years.

This year my favorite was Stumpy. He's the little mouse in the top left-hand corner and I think he's rather cute. He has paws and a tail, too, but you can't really see them in this picture. I hated to choose him because I wanted him to be the last one to turn into egg salad, but I just had a good feeling about him, so he was put on my team.

My eggs: Stumpy, LoveBird, Chickie, and SpongeBob
Andrew's eggs: Yellow/Green, Gross Purple, Pink, Green w/ Sticker

After lining up our eggs in rank and pairing them with their contenders, we made up a bracket.

Then we got down on our hands and knees on the kitchen floor and slid our eggs at each other. Whichever egg received the least amount of damage was the winner of the round. As you can see, my eggs totally dominated. I like to chock that up to my tender lovin' care as I decorated them.

When we first started out we slid our eggs across the floor, hard enough to collide but not hard enough to create havoc. As the night wore on, though, things started getting a little crazy. We were whipping them across the room and they would smack into each other and spin out of control, spraying shell and bits of egg white as they went. I think half of our battle wounds happened after the eggs hit each other and ricocheted into furniture or our feet.

SpongeBob went through his first round without a scratch, and although he pulverized LoveBird she did have the chance to mess up his face quite a bit when they were in the ring.

By the time SpongeBob entered the final round, Stumpy tore him in half. There was carnage everywhere.

Even though Stumpy is now resting in millions of scrambled pieces and I mourn his cute mousy face, I'm glad that I picked him to be on my team. We totally kicked trash!

This is definitely something that we'll be doing year after year--it was much more fun than either of us anticipated. However, if we have a child that is like me and who gets rather attached to everything we will have to prepare them for the Smackdown weeks in advance. That child will have to decorate an egg specifically for the Smackdown, thinking the whole time that they are decorating that it is going to be destroyed, otherwise there will be tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Kissing Cousins

We said our final goodbyes to Diana and baby Michael today. Richard left for Seattle last week and Diana and Michael are flying out tomorrow. Rachel will miss seeing Michael--she really loves babies! As per her usual, the first thing Rachel wanted to do when she saw him was give him a big, wet kiss and then try to poke his eyes.

Be soft!
We all passed Michael around. He's so cute and so new! And we had to compare his feet and hands to Rachel's--he's going to be a big, tall boy! Of course with his parents, who are both well over six feet tall, he doesn't have a chance of being short. But just look at how their hands and feet measure up, keeping in mind that he is only five weeks old and Rachel is eight months old.

Hands: Rachel's on the top, Michael's on the bottom
Having Richard and Diana move away makes me think about how hard it's going to be to leave our family when we move to Cairo. No more family dinners, no more cousins, no more relying on our parents...

That's both an exciting and scary prospect.

I think moving away will help us--force us--to become a more solid family unit.

We will have to lean on each other for support. I won't be able to phone home just whenever I want to or need to hear my mom's voice because our waking hours will hardly overlap. We will no longer be able to hop in the car and take the fifteen minute ride half-way across town to visit our families because we're moving half-way across the world.

We will have more opportunity to develop our own traditions and values, that's for sure. Exciting and scary, both.

As I watched Diana walked down the street to her parents' house I thought,

"She's crazy--moving so far away from family with a brand-new baby!"

And then I realized that I'm the crazy one...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rachel's First Easter

When Rachel got up this morning she was so excited to start looking for her Easter basket. She looked everywhere and couldn't find it so when Dad opened the fridge, Rachel climbed right on in and started poking around. She walked back and forth along the shelf, still finding nothing.

My basket's not in here
She was happy when she finally found her Easter basket. She actually got to find it twice because she had kept me up all night long; when she woke up in the morning, Andrew took her so that I could sleep in for a little bit. He let her open up all of our Easter baskets and didn't even take any pictures of her. So when I woke up about an hour later I reassembled her basket. She was just as willing to get into it a second time.

She got a lot of books and a few toys, but no candy. Her basket was supplemented with a few things from Grandma, like the baby harness/leash thing and some teething toys, which Rachel quickly started breaking in and carried them off to church with her.

After church we went to Andrew's parents' house for some Easter dinner (potato pancakes) and to make sure we got to see Diana one last time before she moves away. Rachel loved all the attention that everyone gave her, at least until baby Michael showed up and took some of it away...but then she was equally willing to dish some attention out to him, too!

After dinner we took her onto the patio to play with the bubbles that she got in her basket. She had a great time chasing the bubbles around, trying to eat them and figure out where they went after they popped.

She had some pretty tough competition getting close enough to pop any of the bubbles with Emma and Jacob around, but she ended up getting drenched with bubble solution anyway.

She was so exhausted that she went right to bed when we got home. I love it when that happens!