Saturday, May 31, 2008

Other Grandparents

Andrew's cousin Michelle is coming home from her mission soon--actually, she'll talk in church on Rachel's 1st birthday--it really went by fast! She's planning on going to university when she gets back, which means that Dorothy and Raymond will be free to leave on a mission, themselves.

Karen and I were talking about this while we were waiting for Andrew in the car. We mused about the thought of them being called to serve as humanitarian missionaries in Egypt. Couple missionaries typically don't proselyte--instead they do office, humanitarian, or membership work.

When Karen's parents went on their missions, her father really didn't want to do office work and his wish was granted because her parents worked with members for all three of their missions. The funny thing is that Grandpa Anderson was rather racist and all his missions kept moving him deeper and deeper into the south.

By the end of his service he realized that people are just people.

Last night Andrew and I were talking about some experiences that Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon had shared with us from their most recent mission. When we were finished with that we mentioned a friend we have who, although they've traveled extensively through the Middle East, still maintains many ideas about Muslims that are rather offensive.

I wanted to say that our friend would perhaps become more tolerant if they had more experience in the Middle East, just like his Grandpa Anderson softened up. But I wasn't sure how to clarify that I was talking about Grandpa Anderson and not Grandpa Frank, since Andrew hadn't been present when Karen and I discussed Grandpa Anderson's missions.

For some reason I didn't think of saying Grandpa Anderson. Instead I chose a rather indescriptive term.

"Who knows," I said, "Maybe they'll end up like your other grandparents and change their mind after living there for a few more years."

"I have other grandparents?" Andrew asked, puzzled.

"Yeah, your mom's parents."

"Oh," said Andrew very matter-of-factly, "They're dead."

"I know," I said patiently.

So that's why I've never met them before!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Ten long months of watching the world with wide eyes has certainly paid off for Rachel. She's become quite the little copycat lately, mimicking everything she sees Mommy and Daddy (and anyone else she watches) do.

She's taken to helping us get her dressed and undressed. Often she forgets which one we're doing and will pull her arms out of her sleeves while I'm trying to put them in, or will gladly push the arm I just got out of her shirt back into the sleeve while I'm working on getting the other arm out. It's helpful when we're working in tandem, but not so helpful when we have conflicting agendas.

Sometimes she'll even help pull off her diaper if we aren't going fast enough. She has this pee pee dance she does while we unpin her diaper that lets us know that we need to move a little faster. Often she'll step out of the diaper after we undo one pin so that she can get to the potty on time.

She actually knows quite a lot about getting dressed. She knows that pants and skirts somehow go on over her legs and that shirts and dresses somehow go on over her head. Hats are easy, those go on heads. And socks are also easy, those go on toes. I was impressed that she knows where hats and socks go since she hardly ever wears either article of clothing anymore.

In addition to getting dressed, Rachel is showing much more interest in personal hygiene. She's always loved to brush her teeth, but now she also likes to try to brush her hair.

She's been eating a lot more big people food lately, too. We still give her baby food, but she prefers to eat off our plates, ever interested in what mom and dad are eating. Sometimes I mix some of our meal into a jar of baby food to feed her. She finds baby food a little bland and loves the spicy meals we eat. She also likes to chew a bit, so we don't completely puree her food anymore. Instead we just cut it into really small pieces.

The other day she saw a banana on the counter so I gave it to her whole and unpeeled.

The little monkey turned it over in her hands a few times and then tried to peel it, just like she'd seen mommy and daddy do.

When that failed she bit through the peel and started sucking out the banana.

Rachel is just so curious about everything and studies everything around her, constantly. We went outside yesterday and Rachel became fixated on the fence. After feeling around the boards for quite sometime she found a knot that was loose, so she pulled it out, examined it, and tried to put it back in.

I'm not sure I will ever get over the speed at which Rachel processes information. One thing's for sure though, she keeps me on my toes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another 2008 Graduate

Emily graduated from high school today. It's kind of strange that we both graduated so long ago (five years is a long time ago at my age) and now our siblings are all graduating in rapid succession. Andrew's three youngest siblings are each just a year apart. That would make anything go by fast. Katharine graduated and we had a little break until Sarah and Patrick graduated. Now Sarah's graduated and Jacob will graduate next year.

Anytime I want to feel old, I just look at the pictures of our siblings at our wedding and then look at them now. Andrew and I haven't changed much in 2.5 years, but Patrick and Jacob have grown so tall and Josie is just turning into a little woman. It's crazy how fast time is flying, but we're so happy and proud of Emily! She'll be going to BYU! Yay, Emily!

We had a bit of a long day today. Emily's graduation wasn't until noon, but Andrew had to work in the morning, so Rachel and I just went to campus with him in the morning. We visited with my mom in her office, where Rachel showed off her walking skills. She loves when people ooh and ahh over her. We also played in the fountain at the JFSB and visited Uncle David's office and Special Collections.

At noon we headed up to the Marriot Center to watch her ceremonies. Rachel was a good girl, but she kept pulling out her hair and was, once again, afraid of all the people in strange hats.

My favorite speech was given by Deborah C. Taylor, who represented the Board of Education. She told a story about a time when her uncle and father were teaching her and her cousins how to fish. They showed them how to bait, and cast, and do the other things you do when you fish. I don't fish so I don't know what those things are.

They weren't too successful, but they were determined to catch a fish so they just kept at it. They caught a tennis shoe, snagged a weed or two, but really had no luck at all.

The grown ups came to check on them again and told them they were doing just fine and that fishing takes patience so they should just keep at it.

While they were walking away, she heard her uncle remark to her father, "There haven't been any fish in this stream for years, but it ought to keep them occupied for a few hours."

Her point was that there are so many things in life that waste our time--fishing in a fishless pond. But there are also many things in life that are never a waste of time. She listed four of these things:
  • Family: Spending time building healthy familial relationships is never a waste of time.
  • Faith: No matter your religion, if you live by its principles you will be rejuvenated and uplifted. Acting contrary to what you believe causes heartache.
  • Love: Don't act out of anger. Instead learn to act out of love. Acting out of anger only causes problems.
  • Learning: Be a lifelong learner. You should never stop learning. Learning makes you a better person.
And that was pretty much her speech. Short, simple, to the point, and very profound, I thought. Perfect for a graduating high school senior to listen to, and perfect for me to listen to. Who thought I would learn so much from a high school graduation speech? Apparently I've been thinking about fishless ponds a lot lately because I drew my similar own allegory from a croquet game today.

Anyway, we took so many pictures, it was hard to decide which ones to put up, so if you want to "steal" any of these, let me know and I can send you the full quality pictures.

Crochet, Croquet, what's the difference?

After Emily's graduation party the few of us left behind played croquet.

I haven't played croquet for a long time. And almost every time I played it previously was in my grandma's backyard in Raymond with my siblings and/or cousins. We were almost always being completely goofy so didn't follow the rules of the game. Thus, I never really learned the rules of the game.

Andrew's parents were out taking Rachel on a walk, so Jacob tried teaching us how to play the game properly. He set the wickets up helter skelter, just like we would do when we were kids, and then he started explaining that we would go through certain ones on the way there, skipping several wickets, but then getting them on the way back; that you could move your ball in order to hit someone else's ball; and any number of rules that just didn't make sense to us.

So we made up our own rules and played two games that way. Jacob only played through the first round and then got frustrated and went inside.

When we were in the middle of our second round, Jacob came out with the phone.

"James!" he yelled as he walked outside with the phone, "The phone is for you! Your family's called three times! Just go home!"

Of course, we had no idea the phone had been ringing because we were outside, so we were wondering why Jacob hadn't answered it. He had been reading and was wondering why we hadn't answered it since he yelled "PHONE!" Naturally we didn't hear him yelling for the same reason we hadn't heard the telephone ringing in the first place. We were outside.

"Hey!" said James when he got the phone, "Yeah, I'm playing crochet in the backyard with Andrew and Nancy."

There was a pause on the other end where we'll assume his mom said something along the lines of, "You're playing what?"

"Crochet...or what's it called?"

Andrew and I started laughing, "Croquet, James! Yeah, we're having a nice round of crochet."

"Shut up!" said James, "I mean, sorry...uh...yeah...okay...yeah...okay...yeah."

He hung up the phone, "Phillip's coming over. I'm in charge."

His little brother ran over, "Mom and Dad are leaving. You're in charge of me. I'm going to Ian's! Bye!"

And with that we were back to our crocheting, er, croqueting, with James in charge. The game was rather confusing and pointless and we, like Jacob, were getting frustrated.

Then Karen wheeled Rachel into the backyard. When she saw our set up she exclaimed, "What are you doing?"

She taught us the rules and amazingly enough, croquet suddenly seemed a lot more entertaining. We no longer felt like we were aimlessly hitting balls around the lawn, but that we actually had a purpose and could strategize.

Let this be a lesson, Rachel (and future children), following the rules can actually make life more interesting and less restrictive. Go figure. It's a hard lesson to learn, but if you can learn it from croquet instead of from real life you'll be much better off in the long run.

Andrew really enjoyed himself. I enjoyed myself, too, but Andrew really enjoyed himself.

"We should take this to California with us and play on the beach!"

"Have you ever tried to golf in sand?" I asked. I haven't, but I hear it's difficult.

"That will just make it more exciting! We should take it with us to Grover, too!" Apparently Andrew finds croquet more fun than horseshoes.

Rachel had fun playing the backyard, too. The balls were so heavy that she couldn't lift them with one hand. She would pick them up with both hands and try to throw them to Grandpa, but more often than not would just drop them on herself. She never gave up trying though!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Condolences

Dear Egyptian Consolate,

I regret to inform you that the Heiss family intends to relocate within your borders. Please accept our sincerest apologies, believing that we commiserate with you fully.

Inconsolably yours,

The American Consoler

This weekend we took the time to fill out visa application forms for all three of us. We have to get a tourist visa to enter Egypt and then Andrew will be issued a student visa once we're there and he can prove that he's registered for classes and we do a bunch of bureaucratic junk. Rachel and I will ride on his visa.

Filling out forms can be so confusing, but this form was actually pretty straight forward. Rather impressive since it was translated from a foreign language.

Since Monday was a holiday we had to wait until Tuesday to get a cashier check from the bank. Andrew was the one to do that.

"I need a cashier's check for $45," Andrew said.

"Who do I make it out to?" asked the teller.

"The Egyptian Consulate," Andrew responded.

The teller made out the check and handed it to Andrew.

He didn't look at it until after he had left the bank. It read, "The Egyptian Consolate."

A simple mistake, yes, but just think of what that implies.

If you cantaloupe

A bunch of us housebound women were waiting for the mailman to finish sorting the mail. Actually, there were just three of us.

Maria and I happened to be outside with our babies when we saw the mailman drive up. Sister Sorensen was out waiting for her grandson to meet her. Maria knows Sister Sorensen fairly well since they live in the same breezeway, but I don't really know her all that well.

See, Sister Sorensen doesn't go to church because she's apparently allergic to the stuff that they use to refinish the wood floors. That might be a valid argument except that our building doesn't have wood floors.

Anyway, Andrew knows her. He takes the sacrament to her quite frequently, at least he did when Ryan was the coordinator for that.

Maria and Sister Sorensen were talking and I was standing there politely eavesdropping when Sister Sorensen turned to me.

"And what's your name, dear?"

"Nancy. Nancy Heiss." I felt like James Bond, minus the junior bit.

"Andrew's wife!" she gushed, "And this must be your new little baby, though she's not so new anymore! My, how time flies! So, you're off to Egypt soon! I'm so excited for both of you! You know, I just adore your husband..."

She seemed to know everything about us--and many other people in the ward. Amazing, since she never goes to church or any church function at all. I always thought the Relief Society were the gossipy ones but apparently the Elders who take the sacrament to the housebound are far worse.

She seemed excited that our ward meeting time and location is changing. We'll now be meeting at the stake center at 9 AM instead of at the other chapel at 1 PM, which is so much better for naptime! I wonder why she was so excited though since the stake center does have wood floors that get refinished.

I was glad for the opportunity to talk to her, though, because she reminded me how much I love my husband. He's pretty much amazing! He's funny and charming and to tell the truth, Sister Sorensen is not the only older woman to be smitten with him. Sorry, ladies, he's mine.

He's still making me laugh everyday, just like he promised he would.

Today at dinner I decided to help him live longer. He's kind of nice to have around. We were eating pancakes, and although he was eating them with applesauce and strawberries, I thought he might need some prodding to eat some fresh fruit.

"Have some cantaloupe," I said, "It's good for you."

"If you cantaloupe," he said in his most sardonic voice, "Just get married."

"Oh, brother," I moaned, "Did you just think of that?"

"No," he reached for the cantaloupe, "It's an old joke."

"Huh, I've never heard it."

Andrew cut into his pancake and started eating it. I started laughing.

"What?" he asked, "It wasn't that funny."

"What are you doing?" I ignored his comment about the joke. It really was more lame than funny.

"I'm eating a pancake," he said patronizingly.

"You're holding the cantaloupe,"

"I am?" he looked, as if there was no other way to tell if he was or not, "I AM!"

When I said to have some cantaloupe, I meant to eat, not to hold. Andrew did end up eating some cantaloupe, much to Rachel's chagrin. She loves cantaloupe. She'll eat piece after piece, shrieking when she's finished. She just can't get enough.

She's a new soul

Today in the library I was counting Rachel's steps. When I got to twenty I stopped counting. What else was I going to do? I had run out of fingers and toes but she kept on going.

So, she's officially walking. Crawling is a lot faster, so she still likes to do that, but she walks a lot, too. It's kind of creepy, actually.

I was in the bedroom getting dressed and she was playing in the living room, or so I thought until I heard a pitter-patter in the hallway. I looked at the doorway just as she came into sight. It was so strange to see her just standing there and then turn to walk towards me.

She walked so much today. She fell a lot, too. When Andrew came home he noticed the scratch on her nose, and her knees, and the tops of her feet, and her hands, and... Walking is hard to get the hang of, but she's doing it!

To commemorate this day, we tried to make a movie of her walking, but she was rather uncooperative. It was late--past supper, past bath time, and right before bedtime--and she was extremely tired so she's acting a little like a drunken sailor. Rachel gets out-of-control hyper before bedtime, laughing, playing and falling all over the place. Needless to say, she's falling all over the place in this movie. We'll get some actual walking footage tomorrow when she's less sleepy.

By the way, New Soul is my new favorite song. My mom introduced me to it last Friday and Andrew went on yesterday to buy it for me--he spent a whole $0.89! Isn't he sweet?

We thought it was a fitting song for a video of Rachel falling over and over and over again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


"Come and look at this!" Andrew called excitedly from down the hall.

I spat out my mouthful of toothpaste foam and walked into the hall.


There on the wall was a huge, ugly spider. Bigger than the last one, anyway.

Andrew got the fly swatter and smacked it. It fell off the wall and onto the floor. He picked it up in a Kleenex and showed it to me.

"See, it's just a little guy," he mused.

Having curled it's sickeningly long legs up in their rightful rigor mortis position he really did look like a little guy. No bigger than my pinkie fingernail. Don't let that fool you though because he looked huge on the wall.

"Do they have spiders in Egypt?" I asked. Of course, I knew they had spiders in Egypt. I just wanted Andrew to tell me that they wore clown suits and danced around.

"Of course," Andrew said. He left off the part about clown suits and dancing, though, so I was still worried.

"What kinds?" I asked.

"Normal ones, I think," he said. "Except they've got 'tude," he added seriously.

"What's tood?" I asked, thinking it was some Arabic expression for deathly poisonous venom.

"Attitude!" he said like he was some kind of hip hop star.

Okay, Andrew, no more staying up late.

I researched the spiders found in that region today. Most of them are okay. There's a white widow spider, which isn't as common or as poisonous as the black widow. And then there are camel spiders, which aren't spiders and aren't even poisonous. Still, I don't think I'd ever want to meet one if it wasn't in a glass box.

Only Daddy goes to work

Sometimes I worry that we don't really have a schedule. Rachel gets up between 6 and 10 in the morning. She naps...sometimes. She goes to bed between 7 and 10 at night. It's a good thing we're not really schedule-based people. We do, however, have routines and when we do something backwards Rachel is sure to notice.

This morning she crawled off of my lap and onto Andrew's during family prayer. When the prayer was over he explained to Rachel that he had to go to work.

"Say bye-bye," he prompted her.

She looked at me, giggled, waved her hand and mouthed, "Bye-bye!"

(For some reason she rarely says bye-bye--she only mouths it or whispers it very softly).

"Oh, are you staying home with Daddy today? Okay," I said as I headed for the door.

She giggled a little bit more and continued to wave bye-bye and blow kisses. It was a little bit silly to be saying goodbye to Mommy so early in the morning. She kept waving and I kept walking towards the door.

She was still smiling and waving when I opened the door, but when I stepped outside she went absolutely ballistic.

Screaming, she pushed against Andrew, trying to get away from him. Hitting, kicking, spitting, lunging, and more screaming and pushing ensued.

We hadn't meant to make her so upset; we were just being a bit silly. I came back inside and picked her up.

"Mama," she said, giving me a bear hug and a big, wet kiss.

Then she put her big, happy smile back on.

"Bye-bye," she whispered to Daddy, alternatively waving and blowing kisses until he had closed the door behind him.

"Mama," she said again, leftover tears still glistening in her eyes. I was awarded another big, slobbery kiss. Then she pointed to the window.

We went and waved bye-bye to Daddy from the window, banged on it for a bit, and then got ready to go ourselves.

We were going to go to storytime at the library, so I got out the big stroller, and gathered up our books and the diaper bag. Then I faced the dilemma I always face: how do I get the baby and her paraphernalia, the books, and the stroller down the stairs?

Usually I just leave Rachel in the house, crying, while I carry everything else. Then I go back up and get her.

Today, however, she was a little more sensitive than usual about being left in the house without mom. I tried going outside by myself and she immediately threw herself on the floor, wailing and thrashing her limbs.

So I came back inside.

I tried to go outside again. She sat down, hard, and stared up at me, her lower lip trembling.

"Mama!" she cried, her tears starting to flow.

I realize she would have been alright for the two minutes I was carrying all the stuff down the stairs, but it was just too pitiful to bear.

So I took Rachel downstairs first and rang the Wilson's doorbell.

"Can you watch Rachel for a few minutes while I carry the stroller downstairs?" I asked Taber while his girls waved happily to Rachel. I'm sure she was much happier to be playing with her friends than she would have been stuck up in our lonely apartment.

To add to our hard morning, she fell off my lap during storytime while we were doing some finger play and landed right on her face. Ironically I can't remember the words to the finger play except that she toppled off my lap when we said,

"Be careful not to fall..."

Embarassed, I had to carry her out, screaming, in front of twenty other moms, all of whom had managed to keep their babies on their laps.

In happier news, though, Rachel is walking. It's pretty much official. She was toddling all over the library today. Chasing after other kids, walking from shelf to shelf, leaving piles of books in her wake. I guess that's happy news...she's still pretty slow and can only go so far before she has to stop and catch her balance. I have a feeling my life is about to get a lot more busy though. It's a good thing only Daddy has to go to work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


A change has come about in Rachel's reflection, and I think it's a change she likes because she shows it off at any opportunity she stumbles upon.

She used to be rather reluctant to show her teeth off to anyone and would clamp her lips closed if you tried to get a peek. Now that she's noticed her pearly whites, however, she has a new smile that shows them off wonderfully. She scrunches up her little nose, bares her teeth, and grins!

She smiles all the time. She smiles at strangers. She smiles at mommy and daddy and at grandma and grandpa. She smiles to herself when she plays. She smiles at the people sitting behind us at church. She smiles at all the grandmas in the grocery store. She smiles all day long.

It's the cheesiest, goofiest grin I've ever seen.

These pictures are from Sunday after church when Rachel kept trying to climb into her stroller. She would have done it, too, if it weren't for that pesky dress!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Describing Rachel

Everyone is always trying to describe Rachel for us. Rachel is such a character, I don't blame folks for trying to stick adjectives on her.

Sister Williams, we know, thinks that Rachel is fun. And today Sister Kitchen also described Rachel to us.

"She's very alert," she started, "Although that's not quite the right word. She is always watching, trying to figure things out. She's not very active...and what I mean, because I know she's active, is that she doesn't just run around screaming for no reason like other babies. Everything she does"

"Purposeful?" I suggested. Deliberate. Calculated. Pre-meditated. They all work.

"Yes! She always thinks things through before doing them. She doesn't get into things just for the sake of getting into things."

"But when she does get into things she does a very good job," I added.

It's true. Our baby is curious and thoughtful. She wants to know how everything works. And she already imitates adult behavior.

Sometimes she holds the keys up to the doorknob. She tries to climb into her stroller when she wants to go for a walk. She likes to lie down on pillows like mom and dad. She likes to try to get dressed and undressed.

If she wants to climb up somewhere she will study out the "best" possible route, which doesn't always happen to be the best route, per se, but it is a workable route.

She saw the Q-tips in the drawer one day while I was holding her and when I put her down she crawled over the drawer and opened it up again. She felt around, ignoring the cord to Daddy's razor, the toothpaste, and the toothbrushes. And then she felt it: the Q-tip box. Just what she was looking for. She pulled it out of the drawer, spilling them all over the floor.

This morning I was visiting primary at the Country Springs branch and so Rachel was at home alone with Daddy. He had given her a whole (half of a) banana this morning for breakfast which she joyfully smashed all over herself and the table, so he cleaned her off and turned her loose while he cleaned up the table.

She wandered into the bedroom and found a box of Kleenex. He saw her pulling tissue after tissue out of the box and inspecting each one.

Sometimes it is more fun to see what she's going to do than it is to stop her, so he just watched.

She pulled out a tissue, looked at it, pulled on it, and threw it aside. She pulled out another tissue, looked at it, pulled on it, and kept it. Apparently this tissue was the best tissue of all the tissues.

She carried it over to my nightstand and started dusting it off.

When he took her back into the dining room she immediately crawled over to the garbage can, pulled out a discarded tissue, and began dusting a chair.

What can I say? When you're in a mood to clean, you're in a mood to clean.

So, yes, our daughter is a fun one to pin adjectives on.

Today we heard that she was busy, fun, energetic, normal, alert, and very deliberate.

How would you describe our baby?

A Lesson from the Patriarch

The stake patriarch, Val Jackson, spoke in church today. From what I gathered, his talk was very good. Most of my attention was focused on Rachel, so I'm not sure how much I really gleaned. She was rather, fun. I mean fun. Sister Williams said we should say she's fun.

I sat with Bonnie today because we were both "widowed" for sacrament meeting, with Andrew at the organ and Matt up with the bishopric. Rachel and Amy had fun playing for a little while, passing soothers, books, toys, and germs back and forth. Whatever the other one had was infinitely more interesting so they fought over quite a few items.

Then Damien got in on the mix. He lives in the apartment underneath us and Rachel likes to watch him ride his tricycle.

He gave Rachel a lotion tube, which she managed to get open and squirt all over Bonnie, Amy, me, the bench, and herself. Bonnie and I lathered the lotion on each other and on our babies and handed the lotion back to Emi. It was nice to have Damien there, though. He was a nice toy-picker-upper and he entertained Rachel for quite some time.

However, Rachel is rather energetic and doesn't focus on much of anything for too long. She was up and down and all over the place.

At one point during Patriarch Jackson's talk, Andrew had come to sit with us and Rachel was sitting on his lap. She leaned forward, grabbed the top of the bench in front of us, jumped off Andrew's lap and just dangled from the bench, as happy as could be. She kicked her legs in order to make herself swing a little bit.

She thought it was great fun.

The second time she tried it was not so fun. She bonked her face and was quite upset about it. She held her breath in preparation for an outburst. Andrew cuddled her, hoping to calm her down before she started screaming. I could tell it wasn't going to work and started to reach her her, but just a minute too late. I grabbed her and ran out of the chapel, Rachel's wails echoing off the walls.

We went to get a drink from the drinking fountain and she was "all better" in seconds.

Sacrament meeting continued in this wild and crazy fashion, as it does every week. I always feel rather disruptive and irreverent.

After the meeting, Patriarch Jackson came up to Bonnie, Ruth (who was sitting in front of us with her little guy) and me.

"I was watching you girls and I want to talk to you," he said.

Uh-oh! I thought, He noticed how terrible Rachel was today.

"I want to tell you a story," he said.

Oh, maybe this won't be so bad, I thought.

"I knew some girls in Arizona who befriended a rabbi and his wife. They would make them cookies and take them over and visit. One day the girls were singing in church and they invited the rabbi and his wife to come and listen to them sing, so they did. The girls were suddenly very aware of all the noisy children and squirming babies and were very embarrassed about how noisy sacrament meeting was, with all the screaming and throwing and whining going on.

"They made another batch of cookies after church and took it over to the rabbi's house to apologize for how noisy the meeting was.

"'No need to apologize,' said the rabbi, 'That is how it should be. Families worshiping together.'

"He and his wife went on to join the church. So I just want to tell you girls that your children are behaving as they should be."

Phew! I thought, So swinging from the benches like a monkey is normal behavior!

Sometimes it's just nice to know that most people don't care that my child behaves like the chapel is her favorite playground.

Learning to walk

Sometimes I wonder if we aren't all still learning how to walk. It seems to me that Rachel is just adding a few steps every time she tries. First it was one, then it was two, then three, then four. Today she went eight!

She just let go of Andrew's hands and walked over to her Grandpa like she'd done it a million times.

We tried to get her to show off a little bit later, but she wouldn't take any more than three steps.

Still, eight steps is a lot of steps for a little girl. I wonder when she'll take nine.

It almost makes me want to break out my pedometer just to see how many steps I took today. Then I can brag about it to everyone I see.

"10,678!" I'd say.

"What?" they'd say.

"I took 10,678 steps today! And I didn't even fall down! Of course, I had to stop and rest a few times, and I almost lost my balance once or twice, but still, 10,678 is quite a lot of steps for a girl my age!"

"Uh, yeah," they'd say, trying to placate me, "That's nice."

"But yesterday I only went 10,503 steps. I'm getting a lot better! This walking thing is really exciting! You know, I'm so excited I feel like I could hug something. Anything will do. You...or...this couch!"

The person would walk away, a little disturbed, while I would snuggle my face into the couch, just like Rachel does when she reaches her goal.

Perhaps it would be a little old to celebrate one more step--I'm sure we'll eventually lose count of how many steps Rachel can take (like when she really takes off running, which will be any day, I'm sure)--but maybe we are all still learning to walk. You never know when you could just forget how one day.

Mystery Laundry

Last Sunday Rachel peed a great pee during stake conference, and she happened to be sitting on Andrew's lap at the time, lucky for me. Needless to say, Andrew's suit pants got a little wet in the process. However, since we had some other engagements requiring Sunday dress, he stayed in his Sunday clothes all day--hey, they air dried on the way home, okay?

Today when we were getting ready to go to the temple, Andrew couldn't find his dress pants anywhere. Finally he remembered that Rachel had peed on him last Sunday and came to the conclusion that they were probably in the dirty clothes basket. So he wore his dry-clean only suit pants, figuring he would be safe since we were leaving Rachel behind to be tended by Auntie Josie and Uncle Patrick.

When we came home this evening he put a load of laundry in, which I appreciate, even though it completely throws off my Mondays.

Monday is laundry day. I don't know why his Sunday pants didn't get washed this week. My only guess is that they were crumpled up on his side of the bed when I did laundry on Monday and I forgot to look before I did the laundry, so when we finally cleaned our room on Thursday, Andrew found his pants and upon realizing they were still dirty put them in the basket. Unfortunately, aside from diaper loads, I only do laundry one day a week so the pants just sat in the basket until now.

Not only did Andrew do one load of laundry, he also put that load in the dryer and then put a load of whites in. My husband is so amazing sometimes!

When the buzzer for the dryer went off, Andrew was working, so I went to get the clothes out. I wanted to get the whites into the dryer because I really needed to do a load of diapers. Those must be washed every other day or they just get too stinky.

I carried the biggest armful I could manage into the living room and dropped it ceremoniously on the floor, hoping that Andrew would notice. He looked up, and I smiled at him. Then I went to get the clothes that I had dropped along the way. I found two black socks of Andrews and a shirt. I folded the socks together and dropped them and the shirt on the pile of hot, clean clothes, smiling at Andrew again, partly because I wanted him to fold the clothes and partly because I wanted to see if he would notice that there was a pair of folded socks in the laundry if he happened to decide to fold the rest of the clothes for me.

He's a quick one and figured out that when I smiled it meant, "You should take a break and fold these clothes for me while I deal with the stinky, stinky diapers."

That, and he loves the feel of warm clothes fresh from the dryer. Who doesn't, really?

So, while I was moving the whites from the washer to the dryer, Andrew began folding the clothes. I had just finished moving the laundry over and had started transporting the dirty diapers, holding them out at arms distance with my nose turned away, when Andrew came into the laundry room.

"Ummmm," he began, "Did you fold a pair of socks?"

He looked really confused. My plan had worked--sometimes I just get a kick out of confusing Andrew on purpose.

"Yes," I smiled, and then laughed at him.

"Okay," he laughed, looking relieved, "I was worried that I washed a clean pair of socks!"

Like that even would have been a big deal...

Cute little feller

As per our usual, Andrew read scripture to Rachel and me while we sat in the rocking chair and nursed before bedtime. We're in 2 Nephi right now, just finishing up with the Isaiah chapters.

We got to chapter 24, verse 7-8:

The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing.

Yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and also the cedars of Lebanon, saing: Since though art laid down no feller is come up against us.

"What did you say?" I laughed.

"What?" asked Andrew.

"No feller is come," I clarified.

"That's what it says," Andrew defended himself, "I didn't just pull a Matt Parks, honest."

"What are you then? Some sort of hick talking about a puppy?" I asked. Then I put on my best redneck voice and said, "Aw, ain't he just a cute little feller!"

Andrew gave me a weird look before laughing, "You thought I said fellow? I said feller! We're talking about trees here!"

It took me a minute to remember that it was, indeed, the trees who were speaking when the word feller was used. Suddenly everything starting making a whole lot more sense.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I never liked junior high

I pulled my hair into a ponytail today while Rachel was sitting on her potty. More often than not, motherhood is easier with a ponytail.

As I was wrapping the hair elastic around my fistful of hair I noticed something hard and crunchy in my hair. I stopped to feel around for a bit. In my hair I found a lollipop stick. Lovely.

Ordinarily Rachel is, by default, blamed for any foreign objects in my hair. However, I knew she was not guilty in this case because she doesn't eat lollipops yet and we have no lollipops in our house and I don't even know where she would get a lollipop, or even a lollipop stick, for that matter.

I picked the stick out of my hair, thinking back about when and where I would get an icky, sticky lollipop stick stuck in my hair.

All the reasons why I hated junior high school suddenly flooded back to me. I hated junior high school so much that I refused to go. My mom let me home school for the next two years until I started high school, which, truthfully, wasn't that much better.

Today I braved going to junior high again, along with my mom (we also brought Rachel--although it was only her first time going to junior high), so that we could watch Josie's one act play.

We sat through a few skits waiting for Josie to get on stage and midway through one of the skits I felt something hit the back of my head, followed by a chorus of boyish giggles. I learned early in life that the best way to deal with boys is to ignore them, so I did. I'm quite sure they were the cause of the lollipop stick getting stuck in my hair.

It's amazing to me how boys grow up to be men.

I'm sure those boys had good intentions though. They were probably just trying to flirt. I'm often mistaken for a teenager. How were they supposed to know I'm a full-fledged member of the grown-up society?

Forgetting about the obnoxious, hormone-crazed gentlemen sitting a few rows behind us, I settled in to watch Josie's little play.

It was called "The Babysitter" and featured a number of very naughty children. My mom was sure to tell Rachel that this performance was an excellent example of how not to behave.

Josie jumping on the couch

She did a good job! It's always fun to watch her perform. I also enjoyed watching several impersonations of Gollum and the many skits where boys pretended to fight and shoot each other, though not nearly as much as watching my sister on stage.

Rachel liked looking at the lights and trying to communicate with another baby she saw on the opposite side of the auditorium. She had a lot of fun sitting with Auntie Josie and her friends--they were giving her jewelry, cellphones, and other little gadgets left and right.

Rachel and Auntie Jo at school

I'm so glad I'm not in junior high anymore. So very, very glad. The hour I spent in junior high today was enough to last me for the next few years. My hat is off to junior high school teachers. I wonder how I ever survived the two and a half months I taught junior high. I can't believe I thought that I would actually enjoy that...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spider Whisperer

Being married has really brought out the wimp in me. I really can't stand spiders anymore--I won't even kill them. It's just become Andrew's job to get rid of them.

I was exhausted when I finally got Rachel down for her nap yesterday. She didn't take a nap until after 4:00 in the afternoon and since she had gotten up for the day at 7:00 AM and woke up in the middle of the night to scream for a while, I was well ready for a nap by then.

So I went to go lie down in our bed. I took off my glasses and climbed into bed. My eyes saw a blurry something move on the wall. I squinted to try to bring the blob into focus, but I still couldn't see what it was so I grabbed my glasses and put them back on again.

A big, ugly spider was right above my head. I jumped out of bed and ran to the hall closet to get the fly swatter.

I went back into the bedroom and got all ready to kill it, but then I thought that if I missed it would probably fall onto our bed, and that would be gross.

So I grabbed a tissue and got ready to squish it, but then I thought about that horrible squishing feeling and the popping sound that it makes and I just couldnt' do it.

I napped on the couch in the living room instead.

When Andrew got home I told him about the spider.

"And you just left him in our room?" he asked.

I nodded.

"So he's still in there, alive?" he asked.

I nodded, "Will you get it?"

"I don't know where it is," he said, "Had you killed it when you saw it, it would be gone."

"I know...but will you at least check to see if he's in our bed? Pleeeease?"

He walked into the room with a tissue. He's not afraid of the squishing feeling and the pooping sound.

"Here, spider, spider, spider, spider. Here, spider, spider, spider, spider," he coaxed, "There you are!"

He came back with the remains of the spider.

"Not in the bed, but on the wall." Andrew said. That silly spider just crawled right into sight.

That's my husband, the brave spider whisperer!


We spent Sunday afternoon at my parents' house. Auntie Josie took Rachel to the park, we had a yummy dinner, and, unfortunately, we had just started playing games when it was time to go to Emily's seminary graduation.

The game of choice was Malarky, and we had time to play one round before we had to go. Andrew had never played the game before so we explained the rules to him rather quickly and, for the sake of time, rather poorly at that.

Basically what we said was that the game is kind of like Balderdash, which we knew he could play because we played that on our second date in high school, but you have to think up an answer instead of a definition. One person has the real answer and everyone else just has something silly written on their card. You will know if you have the real answer or not.

Patrick read the question, which was something along the lines of, "How did the zipper get its name?" and then we passed around the cards, read them, and thought up our answers quickly.

I, thank goodness, was first in line and was able to give my brilliant answer that the word zipper is onomatopoeic. Zzzzzipper! Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought that was the answer because a serious of groans sounded around our circle.

"What if she said my answer?" Asked Garion.

"You have to make up something new to say," we answered.

"And what if my answer was the right one?"

"You have to make up something new to say anyway and then when we vote, you'll still put the black piece in your hand, but will also vote for the person who gave the right answer."

Andrew was next.

"Zippers make a zipping sound when they go up and down," he said.

"That's what I said," I said.

"You said 'Onomatopoeic,'" said Patrick.

"Onomatopoeic means that the word sounds like the noise it makes," I said.

"I know," said Andrew, "But you took my answer."

"Then think something else up," I said. He looked really nervous so I whispered a lie to him, "It's the initials of the inventor. Z.I.P."

"It's the, uh, initials of the inventor. Z.I.P. Zachary Ichabod Peterson."

We continued around the circle with everyone giving their made-up answers. When it came time to vote we reminded everyone how to do it. You vote for the person who you think gave the right answer, unless you had the right answer. Then you vote for yourself. If someone gave the right answer before you could you vote for yourself and that person.

On the count of three we all showed who we had voted for. Almost everyone voted for me. But no one had the right answer, apparently.

"Who had the right answer?" we asked.

Since everyone knew how to play the game except Andrew, we all turned on him. I grabbed his card. He had the right answer.

"Why didn't you vote for yourself?" we asked.

"I didn't know I had the right answer," he said.

"But your card had the answer on it," we said.

"But so did everyone else's," he defended himself.

I showed him my card that read, "Bluff your way out of this one."

"Oh," he said quietly.

He had voted for David who gave some elaborate schpeal about the zipper being a German word. He threw in a whole bunch of dates and things like that to sound official. Everyone else knew it was bogus. Except for Andrew.

He had the right answer and knew I gave the right answer and didn't vote for me, when almost everyone did.

We had a good laugh over that. Andrew was more than happy to excuse himself after that round.

He did redeem himself in my eyes, though, by fixing the bathroom sink with a Zip-it. Our sink has been irreparably clogged for quite some time. We had recently used up the last of our Liquid Plummer or Drain-o or whatever it is that we use and it did no good whatsoever. So we were complaining about it when we went to dinner at Andrew's parents' house sometime a few weeks ago.

Aunt Nicki was there and said that she had found these things in Target that you just shove down the drain and pull it up and all the icky gunk comes with it.

So on Tuesday Andrew asked us to stop by Target on our way home from the library to see if we could find one.

I walked straight to the bathroom/laundry/cleaners aisle and looked up and down every shelf. I couldn't find anything like it. I didn't want to ask a sales clerk because I didn't really know what I was looking for myself. Instead I thought back to that conversation.

"I found it in the back of the store by the..." I can hear Aunt Nicki saying and then everything goes black.

"In the back of the store by the... That's not a very helpful memory," I told myself replaying the memory over and over again, trying to dig deeper for more information. It didn't work.

Eventually we just gave up and went home.

Later, in desperation, we took a trip to Wal-Mart and walked up and down the aisles there. We found nothing.

"Where did Aunt Nicki say it was?" Andrew asked me.

"In the back of the store by the..." I said.

"The what?" he asked.

"That's all I've got."

"Maybe plumming?" he suggested, "That's at the back of the store."

So we walked back to the home improvement section, looking up and down each aisle. And there it was, in the back of the store by the plumming stuff.

Come to think of it, I think that's what Aunt Nicki had said in the first place.

We bought one and Andrew volunteered to do it. You know how guys are when they get those manly urges and they just have to kill something...fix things...cook outdoors...

Let me tell you, these Zip-it! things work. And I'm so glad Andrew was the one to use it and not me because we found something similar to what the lady found in this video in our sink.

So now our sink is draining nicely. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lions and tigers and tyrannosaurids, oh my!

We went to BYU's Earth Science Museum for playgroup today. It's not all that big so even though the kids had fun their fun lasted for about 10 minutes. We walked through the museum looking at all the rocks and the dinosaur bones and even got to touch some fossils.

Rachel was much more interested in touching the plastic palm trees than she was in touching any old fossil. She has this tree fixation recently.

After that one quick walk through we were done. The museum is small and it was rather crowded. A school class was on a field trip so there were nine year olds with cell phones and iPods everywhere snapping pictures of dinosaurs and jamming away. One particular student must have thought that we had come along as chaperones because she kept coming up to ask us questions.

"Do you have a pencil?"

"Where can I find the biggest mammal?"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

Eventually the needy little girl found a real chaperone and left us alone. We were amazed though at how many kids had electronic devices connected to their ears. I was amazed at how they were pushing aside our little babies to get by us. Kids these days!

After we had finished our short time with the dinosaurs we decided to go to the Bean Museum as well. We had driven quite a ways to get to BYU and weren't ready to go home quite yet.

I think the kids were more excited about the Life Science Museum than they were about the dinosaur museum anyway.

There is an amazing display up in the main room right now of lions and wolves and things donated by Ken Behring. They are displayed in a very lively fashion. Rachel just wanted to see the moose opposite of the exibit.

It was fun to see how much more Rachel was interested in the animals this time around than she was the last time we went to the museum. She's getting to be such a big girl!

If you give a baby a muffin

Rachel had a muffin for breakfast this morning. She picked it up and took a big bite, smashing half of it into her right hand. Then she picked it up again and took a big bite, smashing most of the rest of it into her left hand. The rest was left all over the table.

She really wanted to eat it but she couldn't figure out how because she had already filled her "storage units" full to overflowing.

Rachel's hands often store things for her. For later. She always reserves 1 or more pieces of whatever she was eating just in case she gets hungry later. So, if she happened to be eating Trix, she'll keep 1 or 2 in each hand as she goes about her day. At first it is hard for her to play because she has to hold onto her Trix. She'll use just her index finger and thumb and can't get a whole lot done. Then 10 minutes later she'll forget and accidentally pop open her hands, exposing her hidden treats. She'll get all excited and eat them and clap her hands, hoping for more. Ten minutes later, she'll open her other hand and surprise herself with yet another handful of treats.

We try to avoid this since it makes things sticky, but she's so good at sneaking away with handfuls of food. I can wash her hands and empty her storage units and then find her with food in them a few minutes later. She scavenges. Under the high chair. On the table. The cracks in the kitchen floor. Gross, I know.

So anyway, this morning she had filled her storage units up so full that she couldn't even risk using her index finger and thumb to grab more crumbs of muffin.

Every time I took a bite of my muffin she would whimper.

"You have some muffin right there, Rachel," I said, giving her a bit of her muffin crumbs from off the table.

She looked at me like I was talking crazy. Eventually, though, she gave up trying to hoard half her breakfast and ate (most of the) rest of her muffin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Car Seat

Our new car seat arrived today. Getting a new car seat wasn't really part of our agenda. In fact, our original plan was for Rachel to stop growing so that she could just keep using her infant seat until we left for Egypt. After all, she can technically use that seat until she's a year old and she won't even be 13 months when we move to Cairo. We totally could have done it...

Except that she already passed the height limitation two months ago--she pulls her feet up with her hands when we put her in the car so that we don't squish them against the seat. And the buckles are increasingly difficult to do up. We have them almost as loose as they can go and I still find myself having to tug and pull and say, "Suck it in, girl! Suck it in!" Her head almost reaches the top of her seat.

It was time.

Rachel was very excited when the mailman came to the door. She clapped her hands when the doorbell rang and pointed to the door. She thought this would be a good opportunity for her to get to see the outside world. It was a rainy day today and she was feeling cooped up.

Unfortunately she was eating lunch and was strapped in her highchair so I went to the door without her. The minute she realized this she threw her cracker on the floor and started screaming.

"I didn't wake the baby, did I?" asked the poor postman.

"No," I said over her shrieking, "She's just...uh...screaming. We were just having lunch."

"Oh, good. When I heard her crying I thought it was my fault. Sign here, please."

Well, it kind of was your fault, Mr. Postman. If you hadn't have come to the door she wouldn't have remembered that she wanted to go outside and then wouldn't be thinking she was hard done by and thereby wouldn't be screaming. No matter. We soon had a big, mysterious box in the living room. Rachel stopped screaming, pointed and said, "Ooooh!"

She had suddenly lost her appetite.

After somehow convincing her to finish her cracker, now twice dropped on the floor, I washed her off and let her investigate. She walked around all four sides of the box, licked it a couple of times, picked at the tape, tried to knock it over, banged on it like a drum, and scratched at some stickers.

I got out a pair of scissors and sliced open the top of the box and revealed, surprise!, a car seat. Just like the one pictured on the box.

Rachel was still surprised, and very excited. She wanted to sit in it right away. She loves small-person chairs. Don't judge us, but sometimes we have lunch in our pyjamas; it's not that we're too lazy to get dressed it's that we're too busy to get dressed.

Yes! It will do!

What do you mean, "Don't do this in the car?"

After playing on her car seat for a few minutes Rachel remembered the box. This next series of pictures I like to call "Rachel discovers box."

Hey! I think I could fit inside this thing!

Promise you won't close me in, okay?

It seems pretty sturdy.

Hey! You trapped me!

If I blow a kiss to you, will you take me out?

That's strange. Bribery usually works. Now how do I get out of here?

We played in the box all day. And since Rachel was so content playing, that means she stayed in her pyjamas all day. Gotta love days like that, don't you? One day I'm sure she'll be happy to play without me sitting there watching her. The minute I get up to do something productive she would flip out, so mostly I sat and watched her play all day, ready to take the block or ball she was handing me. Ready to give it back two seconds later. Ready to give her a reassuring smile every five seconds she lifted her head to make sure I was still there, not doing anything but watch her. Heaven forbid I should read or sew or write or go to the bathroom. Seperation anxiety is great, but you have to think outside of the box.

I happen to like being in the box, mom!

There are times I enjoy the separation anxiety thing. Like today when I said, "Okay, I need to go," and Rachel flipped out. And on Saturday night when we left her with Grandma (Heiss) so that we could go to stake conference and she flipped out. It makes me feel like she wants to be with me...and somehow that translates in my mind as doing a good job.

The times I don't like it are when she doesn't want me to hold her or play with her but she wants me close by. She wants to play alone, but I can't do my own thing. She has me all day long, and yet will scream if I leave her perphery for a split second.

I realize that this is a perfectly normal stage for children to go through, but honestly, Rachel, just because everyone else is doing it...

Spinning around in circles

Sometimes when it's too icky to go outside we have to think up ways to turn our house into an amusement park. It isn't that we don't have downtime because we do: we read stories, we play quietly with baby dolls, we sing songs and play hand games. The thing is, though, that Rachel is very active and can only do quiet activities for so long before she has to get some energy out. That is why we like the park so much.

Yesterday evening was pretty gross, weather wise. A thick cloud of dust had settled over our valley and, although we braved the dust and went for a short pre-bedtime walk, we couldn't even have our windows open. We could taste the dust in the air. It was gross.

So we stayed inside. To help Rachel get her wiggles out, Andrew spun her on our big, black rocking chair. We do that from time to time. She loves it! She'll sometimes go over to the chair and rock it back and forth or will walk around, spinning herself. It's more fun when Daddy does it, though, because she goes faster and doesn't have to work at all.

We're starting to go fast!

Yay! That's fun!

Thanks, Daddy!

And this is my favorite picture of them all. She's just so cute!

Okay, I'm ready for more!