Thursday, July 31, 2008

Twice in one week

Disclaimer: Mom, this is not to make you feel guilty--it's just for posterity's sake.

Rachel has almost asphyxiated twice this week, both times due, in part, to my very own mother!

The first was on Pioneer Day when we went up to my Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sara's place in Salt Lake. They live right downtown, close to the Gateway, so parking is atrocious. We fed the meter coin after coin until we had paid for a half hour's visit worth, then went inside to find Josie.

It's an interesting apartment building; kind of reminded me of UVSC's campus. The cement floors were stained burnt orange and the cement walls were painted lime green. What wasn't orange or lime green was plain old grey. The pipes, which were plainly visible because there was no ceiling, were painted pink. There were black and white pictures of rusty metal things hanging on the walls.

It was...interesting.

I was happy to get out of the lobby and into their apartment, which was still orange and green, but at least had a lovely grand piano and acceptable artwork.

We sat and visited, munching on grapes. Rachel, always a mooch, was taking grapes from whoever would give them to her. She's pretty good about chewing things, but grapes are a little scary, so we try to give her only half a grape at a time, or hold the grape until she bites it in half and then give her the whole thing.

My mom was trying the latter method when Rachel sucked the whole grape right into her mouth. It seemed like she was chewing it up alright, but my mom warned me that she had some big pieces in there when Rachel started walking from her to me.

No sooner had Rachel arrived at my feet did she start gagging. There's not a whole lot scarier than watching your baby choke.

I encouraged her to cough it up so that she could rechew it, but it seemed to be lodged in there pretty deep. I watched her face turn redder and redder. Then she stopped making any noise and just stood there, her gag reflex going wild.

Hardly thinking, I scooped her up, crossed my legs, and balanced her, slightly upsidedown, over my knees. After a few good whacks on the back, she spat out the half-chewed grape (and a handful's worth of milk) into my waiting hand.

"You're an unflappable mother," my mom remarked.

Sara came over with a cloth to take away the grape/milk mess from my hand.

"Well, no, she's shaking," she said, as if to assure my mom that I actually was worried.

And I was quite worried. After all, my baby couldn't breathe. It was quite alarming then, and it was quite alarming tonight.

Rachel and I went to a pool party bridal shower for Maddie Nielson with my mom and Josie this evening. It was a fun idea, even if most of the women there sat around the pool talking about what a cute idea it was without ever actually getting in the water.

We got in the water, though. Rachel loves swimming, so we had little say in the matter. She would have gone in with or without us. There were a few others in the pool. My mom was the only one from her generation in the pool. There were several of Maddie's age in the pool, including myself. And there were plenty younger girls in the pool, around Josie's age. And a couple of babies, of course.

After a while, my mom suggested that she hold Rachel while Josie and I had a race with some of the girls.

Rachel willingly went to my mom. She just loves her grammy.

I took my glasses off and placed them on the side of the pool.

"I'm just going to leave my glasses here, 'kay, Mom?"

"They should be fine there," she said. All the traffic was on the opposite side of the pool, so they really were pretty safe.

I was just standing there, blindly, while we tried to coreograph our racing path, when Josie tapped me on the arm.

"Uh, Nan," she said, pointing to my mom and Rachel.

I looked over. Rachel was looking at me from under the water, her eyes wide, and a little bubble of air escaped from her lips.


I'm not in the habit of calling my mom "mommy" quite so much anymore, but apparently when I'm petrefied I still do. I know I just said, "There's not a whole lot scarier than watching your baby choke," but I have to admit that watching your baby being held under water is a whole lot scarier.

Let the record show that this incident was entirely accidental. My mom had Rachel on her hip, thinking that the water was shallow enough where she was standing that Rachel was above the water. It wasn't though!

Rachel was a real trooper! She didn't cry or act scared or anything (I, on the otherhand, did). She didn't even look scared under the water (I, on the otherhand, did). She just looked...fascinated. Her eyes were wide, but not with terror. Instead she was curiously watching everything from under the water, blowing her bubbles.

She obviously can't have been under the water too long because there was no evidence that she inhaled any water. She didn't come up coughing and her breathing wasn't raspy.

I just thank my lucky stars and bars that she already knew how to blow bubbles...and that we'd had some time to practice a few minutes before. She has this odd habit of forgetting which way to breathe when she blows bubbles and instead of blowing out she inhales a mouthful of water and comes up sputtering. I can just imagine what she was thinking while she was under there,

"Mommy always says to blow out when my face is in the water. Always out. Never in. So I'll just blow out. I'll just blow out. Out, out, out. Still blowing out. Hmmm...when do I get to blow in again?"

Mama vs. Dada

Andrew was rough housing with Rachel on our bed the other day. Pillow fights seem to have become one of our waking up rituals. Rachel loves them.

They were playing on the bed, bouncing, rolling around, tickling each other, and (of course) hitting each other with pillows.

Rachel was laughing her head off and egging Andrew on,

"Dada, Dada, Dada..." she'd say, gasping for air between her fits of laughter.

After I was finished getting ready for the day, it was Andrew's turn to go off and have a shower. I resumed his position, tackling Rachel on the bed.

She squealed and ran away,

"Dada, Dada!" she screamed in joy.

Then she stopped dead in her tracks, looked at me, smacked herself in the forehead, and, while slowly dragging her hand down her face, said,


She was quite embarrassed to have called me the wrong name. From that point on, our game played out the same as it had with Daddy, only Rachel was egging me on,

"Mama, Mama, Mama!"

Welcome to the Eighties

Yesterday I put Rachel into one of my old shirts. Since I got the shirt in 1985, she looked pretty authentically vintage. My favorite part is that she found a gold medal in her toy box and wouldn't part with it for the whole day. She thought she was so hip!

What completed her outfit, though, was when she found her sunglasses that we got in a spy kit from the Dollar Store.

Seriously, who wouldn't want to been seen in public with such a well-dressed chick? Of course, if anyone could pull off this outfit, it would be Rachel. She is borderline overconfident. This means that sometimes she still needs Mommy to hold her hand, but when she knows what she out!

Once she had that gold medal around her neck, there was no getting it off. I tried to take it off before we went outside, but it brought on a barrage of tears. This not being a battle I wanted to fight, I let her wear the medal outside.

I often have to think about which battles are worth fighting. Rachel has such a strong will that we get into a lot of "fights." I've never met a baby quite so tricky at getting her own way.

Just to give you a taste, a few months ago she was doing something she knew she wasn't supposed to be doing (shocker, no?). I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was something bad or dangerous enough that she needed to be stopped.

"Look at Mommy, Rachel," I told her. I often have her look at me before I tell her no. That way I know she's listening. Usually she'll look at me and I'll say, "Put it down, please," or "That's not a good idea," or, when I'm desperate, "NO! That's bad!" Usually she'll just stop what she's doing.

This time, however, I guess she either really wanted to continue her not-so-good activity or she just wanted to get on my nerves because she complied with my request, almost. Instead of just turning around to look at me, though, Rachel slowly turned around to face me with her eyes squeezed tightly shut!

I could not believe her gall. She got stuck in a timeout for that little maneuver.

From that incident she learned that Mommy means business. I learned that she is an exceptionally good listener with a whole lot of effrontery!

At least she's a good listener, though. I'm often surprised with how much she understands. She chews, sits, stands, lies down, claps, and growls on demand. She can correctly identify far more things than I have specifically taught her.

She recently learned that if she climbed up on a moving box, she could hoist herself up onto the couch. From there she can reach the light switch. Now she spends all day flicking the lights on and off and clapping for herself.

I think the relationship between the switch and the light is fairly complex, but Rachel seems to get it. When I ask her to turn the lights on and off, or if I ask her where the light switch is, she knows the answer.

She also knows where the lights themselves are. She knows what the switch does, but she understands that the switch is not the light. She really surprised me--I was expecting her to point to the light switch again when I asked her, "Where's the light?"

If only I could get her to be so happy about going to the potty as she is about turning the lights on and off. She knows how to take off her BumGenius diapers--they're just velcro. She can take off her rubber pants and tug on her prefolds. She can walk to the potty. She can sit on the potty. She can go on the potty. She knows where it is and will take me to it if I ask her to show it to me. She knows exactly what she's supposed to do in it. She just won't sometimes.

We had a 6 hour 45 minute standoff yesterday afternoon, all regarding the potty. It was a battle I was willing to fight.

She woke up from her nap at 2 in the afternoon and went potty, just as a good girl should.

Everytime I tried to take her potty after that, though, she threw a fit. She'd scream and kick at me and the potty and would refuse to sit down. She wasn't going in her diaper, though, so I kept trying to get her to go potty.

She nursed 3 times, played outside for an hour and a half, had a cup of water, ate dinner, played with Daddy, and went on a walk. I even let her run around without a diaper on for a full hour.

She would not go, although she did several variations of her potty dance.

Right before we put her to bed, I stuck her on the potty again. She started to fuss and I said something to the effect of,

"Oh, come on, Rachel! You know you have to go!"

She looked at me, gave a slight nod, and peed a tremendous amount of pee. She held her pee for 6 hours and 45 minutes just because she wanted to win our little battle. Seriously, what kind of one year old holds their pee for that long just to spite their mother?

I have a feeling I'm going to have to become very well versed in the arts of persuasion and reverse psychology in order to raise this child.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

15 sleeps

Our box supply was cut off unexpectedly when a sign appeared in Andrew's office above where the empty boxes are kept:

All boxes reserved for S.C.

Andrew's been bringing home empty paper boxes from work and hoarding them in our storage closet, but that reserve has all but dried up. And that serves as our excuse for why we haven't been packing lately.

However, with only 15 sleeps left in the US of A, it was time to do some more packing instead of just sitting around nervously watching the days tick by. We still have most of our kitchen stuff to do and some random books and things around the house. Other than that we're really almost finished.

Still, we needed more boxes, so this afternoon I went on the hunt.

I first turned to Craigslist. There were a few postings for free moving boxes. I called those first, but they were all taken. There were plenty more boxes for sale, but we aren't really in the mood to pay for used cardboard at the moment so I sat and debated about what to do.

We've had several families move into our complex recently. I'm sure they still have some boxes, but I haven't had the chance to meet any of them yet. Two of the three families had babies last week and weren't in church on Sunday. I would feel kind of awkward showing up at their door and saying something to the effect of,

"Hi and welcome to the ward! I hope you like your new place. Wow, looks like you have a lot of boxes there...we're moving soon so I won't ever really get to know you, but can I have your boxes? Cute baby, by the way!"

I'm just not sure I'm brave enough to do that, although they might have liked to have me offer to lug all the empty boxes out of their apartment and into ours.

I'll never know, though, because we next turned to Freecycle--where everything is gloriously free. Their mantra is is "changing the world one gift at a time," but I think it should be "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

The first number I called was Shaka, when the walls fell.

We hit the jackpot with the second number, though.

"Hi, I'm calling about the boxes you posted on Freecycle..." I started.

"COME AND GET 'EM!" the lady enthusiastically offered, "They've been stacking up all week!"

"I'll send my husband over on his way home from work,"

And with that, our box supply was replenished. Now all my excuses are gone. It's off to work I go...

Monday, July 28, 2008


Recently Rachel has become quite fascinated by hair. So fascinated, in fact, that we've started spelling H-A-I-R if she happens to have hers up so that we don't accidentally remind her to check and see what's in it today.

As a side note, we also have to spell E-Y-E or else she'll P-O-K-E it.

In the past couple of weeks she's started to run her fingers through my hair while she nurses. She likes to pet other babies' hair. She likes to reach up, pull her hair clips out, examine them, and then put them back on her head.

Of course, she can't really put them back in her hair, so they just balance on top, snagged on some tangle, until I notice and put it back in.

Sometimes she'll find a particularly interesting barrette or ribbon and will walk into the room holding it onto her head. Then she'll hand it to me and put her head in my lap, ready to be prettied up.

I thought since she's so interested in hair now that she'd sit still long enough for me to do some fun things with her hair. Braids, french ponytails, curlers...her hair is long enough for it! But no such luck.

The most I can get in recently is one clip, and that has to be kind of on the sly.

Her hair stays in best (read: longest) if I can do her hair when she's least expecting it, and then distract her with a new toy or a trip outside. Otherwise it's out in 30 seconds if I can get anything in it at all.

Here she is, ponytail still in tact, with an extra barrette in her hair. She can open and close this type of barrettes, just not in her own hair, so this barrette is just shoved inside her existing ponytail. She was quite proud of herself.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cuddle Bug

Something about turning one has triggered a strange, new behavior in Rachel. She's suddenly become the cuddliest baby there ever was.

She cuddles when she wakes up in the morning. She cuddles before and after nursing. She cuddles every time I take her off her potty or out of her high chair. She cuddles after sliding down the slide. She cuddles after I read her a story. She cuddles every time I pick her up. She cuddles before bed. And sometimes she cuddles just because she hasn't cuddled in a while.

It's different; she didn't used to be like this. She used to be one of those put-me-down-so-I-can-wiggle babies and when she was really little she didn't even like to let her head rest against anything. Not my shoulder, not her car seat. Nothing.

Now, though, she makes time for cuddling whenever she can.

And not just wimpy because-I-have-to cuddles either. No, these cuddles are the amazing feel-good cuddles. She wraps her arms around my neck and nuzzles her face against me, pats my back a few times, and gives me a great, big, sloppy kiss! All the while she hums or sings, "Ma ma ma ma." When's she finished, she usually dives back in for another hug.

This is a stage that you will never find me complaining about.

Friday, July 25, 2008

الجريدة الجديدة

We've slowly been continuing our Arabic lessons, very slowly. Between Rachel and packing and working and spending time with friends and family we've had little time for much else.

Last night, though, we decided that we needed to get back into it. I'm not even halfway through the alphabet yet so we have a lot of work to do in very little time. I can recognize all the letters, I just can't write them all very well.

I struggled with D a lot. Andrew kept saying mine looked like a backwards C. I told him his looked like that, too, but he didn't believe me until I told him to write the word I was writing. Lo and behold, his D turned out looking a whole lot more like a backwards C than mine did. After that I didn't worry too much how he criticized my handwriting.

His penmanship is horrible in English, so I'm assuming it's horrible in Arabic, too.

My penmanship in English is pretty good, when I want it to be, and this is the eighth script I've learned so far in my life. First I learned how to print, and then I learned cursive in English. Then I learned some Korean--most of which I have forgotten by now. In high school I took Japanese so I learned Hirigana and then Katakana. At BYU I took Russian so I learned the Cyrillic alphabet, first cursive and then printing. Now I'm learning Arabic. I think I have quite a bit of experience learning how to write.

I know that Andrew knows more Arabic than I do, but seriously, when it comes to penmanship I have the upperhand.

One of the D words that I was copying over was جديد/jadeed (or in Egyptian, gadeed), which means "new." As I write, I sound out the words.

"جريدة/jareeda," I said as I spelled out jadeed.

"What?" said Andrew.

"جريدة" I repeated again. Jareeda.

"I've ruined you forever," said Andrew.

"Why?" I asked.

"You keep saying newspaper," he said.

When we lived in Jordan we lived in a building located behind the Dustour newspaper building. It was the closest landmark to our apartment building so whenever I took a taxi I would say,

"بناية جريدة الدستور" Banayat jareedat addustour, which means the building of the Dustour newspaper.

The taxi driver would drive me up Queen Rania street towards the Dustour building and then ask where to go from there and I would ask to be dropped off by the blue bridge, al jisser al asrak.

"الجسر الازرق"

I learned more Arabic than that when I lived in Jordan, but "jareedat addustour" was one of the first phrases I learned--it was my lifeline. I could end up anywhere in the city, completely lost, but if I said those two magic words I would always end up home.

Saying jadeed is difficult for me. I start out with good intentions but it always ends up coming out jareeda.

Chicken was another one of the words I learned. Dijaaj, or in Egyptian digaag.


I can only imagine the looks I'll get when I walk into a restaurant over there and instead of asking for their "new chicken dish" I'll asked for a "newspaper chicken dish."

I'm preparing for a lot of funny looks. Besides being a foreigner, I know that I will say the wrong words at inopportune times and that the Jordanian dialect will be wont to slip out. I still struggle with the hard Egyptian /g/. I just don't like it. /J/ is much prettier, I think.

You know, we considered the name Jamila for Rachel, but since we had a hunch we'd be heading to Egypt, we opted not. Gamila just isn't as pretty.

Birthday Pictures

My friend Bonnie gave me a coupon for a free 8x10 at Kiddie Kandids a few months ago. Since it expired close to Rachel's birthday, I decided that we'd save it to get a portrait done for her first birthday. It ended up in Andrew's wallet for some reason or another. I kept remembering about it and asking him if he still had it. He always did. We just never took it out to look at it.

Finally, two days before Rachel's birthday, I asked Andrew for the coupon so that Rachel and I could walk to the mall to get her free picture.

He handed me the coupon. I looked at it. It had expired 8 days previously.

I was a little disappointed, but happily sent Andrew off on his way to work, anyway; and still determined to get some professional quality photos for dirt cheap, I busted out our camera, sat Rachel down, and started snapping pictures. To be honest, most of the pictures simply didn't turn out.

Rachel fell down the stairs at the park early last week, landed flat on her face and then flipped onto her back. She scraped up her eye and banged her nose. I had to carefully plan the shots to deaccentuate her poor beat up face. She refused to cooperate with my plans and wiggled and frowned and pulled out her hair.

We found enough nice ones to satisfy us, though and after much deliberation we chose a few to use in a collage. The top two are classic "Is this a smile?" pictures.

When Andrew came home from work, we left to visit the BYU Terraced Garden before going to Bombay house for dinner. Rachel wandered around and Andrew took a turn playing photographer. Rachel was slightly more cooperative for this photo shoot because we just turned her loose and got some candid action shots. Still, she was rather uncooperative because all she wanted to do was pick flowers, climb the stairs, and run into Mommy's arms. It was also like 100 degrees outside so she got grumpy after about a half hour and we had to stop.

All things aside, we got some nice pictures and were again able to make a beautiful collage of Rachel.

Camera-happy parents that we are, we took several more pictures of Rachel in the outfit that Great-Grandma Layton gave to Rachel for her birthday. Rachel looks really nice in that particular hue of pink, I think. I made a collage of those pictures, too, although I'm not sure yet how I feel about it...

With some practice we may never need to go to a studio ever again...not that we've ever been...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trip to UVU

Andrew checked out a book at BYU--Napoleon's Egypt--several weeks ago. He was reading it rather slowly and eventually his due date was up. Someone else had a hold on it, so he couldn't have renewed it. He debated keeping it a few days past the due date, but since a student wanted the book it was officially recalled which meant that the fine would have been $10 per day.

That's a little steep by anyone's standards, I think.

He was sure to return the book online. UVU, nee UVSC, has the book, though, so we spent an FHE a few weeks ago at the new library on campus. It's so new that they didn't have call numbers on the shelf yet so it took some serious investigation skills to find the book!

Apparently they only check books out for two weeks at UVU, so the book was due back this Monday. Parking at UVU is ridiculous. There are no free visitor's lot and the only paid lot by the library was out of commission the last time we went. To avoid the parking hassle, Rachel and I walked to UVU to renew the book.

Andrew still hasn't finished it. He's a busy man!

UVU isn't terribly far from our house.--it's about two miles--and they have some lovely lawns. Rachel and I made an afternoon of the trip.

I told her about how UVSC was when I attended the campus and we both lamented the fact that the sidewalks were terrible. Whoever planned them wasn't considering strollers or wheelchairs. We'd be walking along, happy as could be, and then we'd hit a set of stairs with no ramp in sight. Or the sidewalk would just end on our side of the street, only to start up on the other side of the street with no crosswalk in sight.

It took us a while, but after a few stops, we finally found the library. We ran in, renewed the book, and left. It took about that long. Too bad we had to do it in person--since Andrew's not a UVSC student he couldn't renew it online.

Rachel was restless, though, so I let her get out of the stroller and we played on the stairs in front of the library for a long time. She does love her stairs!

They also have some cool statues in front of the library--benches with people sitting on them, and kids playing games. Rachel was brave and walked right up to the man sitting on the bench. She took to him alright but thought that he should lose the hat. I don't know what she has against hats.

She also pretended to ride a paper airplane with the boy in this statue. She looked up at him and then squatted. Such a little copycat!

We had a lot of fun playing before readying ourselves for the treck back. UVU campus is rather hilly and we were at the bottom of a big one. After pushing Rachel up College Drive I was ready for a nap. Instead we went into the computer science building, where I had my philosophy class back in the day, and took long drinks from the drinking fountain.

We were both ridiculously hot and sweaty when we got home. I was too tired to carry both Rachel and the stroller up the stairs so instead we sat on the lawns and chatted with some moms, all waiting for their husbands to come home from work.

When Andrew got home, he helped us in and made dinner for us while we sat on the couch and relished the air conditioning. I think that's a fair tradeoff. Andrew cooks dinner and we make a four-mile library trip by foot!

On the phone

At our house, almost anything can be a phone. Rachel is on the phone all the time, and she wants me to be as well, as long as I'm pretending to talk to her, that is.

Yesterday she grabbed two rectangle blocks, handed me one, and then held the other one up to her ear. We babbled at each other for a while until she walked off to find a new phone.

She uses her toy bananas (or a toy ketchup bottle when in a pinch), she uses a fake walkie talkie, she uses rattles, she uses spoons. Anything can be a phone.

Her favorite phones, though, are cell phones. She can flip them open, turn them off and on, and dial numbers. Rachel has programed, in our cell phone, a contact named 7bg3T whose number is 1148. Grandma (Karen) has the contact "G," whose number is 11. She also has "GG," whose number is 1111.

She's dialed 11 multiple times. We're just grateful that she has yet to stick a 9 in front of that, otherwise we'd be in some trouble.

I got a call from Grandpa (Layton) the other day, saying that he missed our call. I hadn't phoned him, but since I had found the phone hidden at the bottom of the toy box, I had a good guess as to who had phoned him. No matter where we leave the phone, Rachel finds a way to get it and move it somewhere. It's never where we expect it to be.

Our little lady is on the phone all day long and she isn't even a teenager yet!

The funny part is that neither Andrew nor I use the phone all that often. We're not really sure how she got to be so addicted to phones since neither of us are!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rachel at 12 months

This morning was Rachel's 12 month check-up. We skipped her 9 month appointment because the nurse said we didn't need it, so we haven't been to the doctor for 6 months. Rachel found the whole thing new and scary.

She didn't want anything to do with the nurse. I've decided that medicine, at least for well-baby visits, is not an exact science. How can it be when the patient is squirming all over the place?

I sat Rachel on the scale and she screamed and hit at the nurse while she was weighed.

She's 19 lbs., 12 oz. now, give or take an ounce or two, which means she's in the 25th-50th percentile.

"That's close enough," said the nurse.

Now I know why they invented digital scales. One of those would have been useful for Rachel.

Getting measured was just as difficult. Rachel just did not want to lie down, and certainly didn't want that nurse around. She's 30.5 inches long, give or take, which means she's in the 95th percentile.

Our doctor, Maynard Olsen, came in soon after the nurse left. Rachel didn't like him one bit, either, although he tried to be nice.

"Should we listen to you with this?" he asked, showing her his stethoscope, "Let's listen to mommy first."

He put the stethoscope on my arm, then on my knee, then on my head.

"Mommy sounds good. Now let's listen to you!"

He put the stethoscope on her arm. She screamed and slapped it away.

He put the stethoscope on her leg. She kicked at him, still screaming.

He put the stethoscope on her chest. She threw a fit.

The appointment continued like that. I don't think I've ever seen Rachel so upset.

When the doctor left, Rachel still didn't calm down. She wanted out of that room. She went up to the door and stood on her tip toes and reached for the handle. She pounded on the door. She screamed and she screamed and she screamed.

Finally, I opened the door. There were some kids in the hallway waiting for their mom. Rachel played with them until the nurse came, loaded up with all her shiny needles.

We went back into the room and Rachel immediately started screaming. I put her on the table and tried to get her to lie down. She refused. She kicked. She screamed. She arched her back.

Our nurse called for backup. It took three of us to hold Rachel down while she got her shots. She was not happy about it at all.

She cried until we were out in the waiting room. There, she put on her most pitiful face and pouted at all the patrons, tears still glistening in her eyes.

"Shots today," I explained.

Everyone nodded sympathetically. We had to stop by the desk and pick up a copy of her immunization record from our nurse. When Rachel saw her, a new wave of tears started. She screamed in terror until we were outside.

It was quite ridiculous. I'm glad we won't have to go back anytime soon.

Other than screaming, here are some things Rachel enjoys doing now that she's a year old:
  • Singing the Itsy-bitsy Spider. She can do all the actions.
  • Saying prayers
  • Hissing like a snake
  • Walking up and down (and up and down and up and down) stairs
  • Using the phone
  • Taking leisurely naps
  • Kissing baby boys
  • Playing outside
  • Poking herself
  • Swimming/bath time
  • Climbing on everything
  • Pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards
  • Jumping on the bed/the couch/trampolines
  • Petting kitties
  • Dancing
  • Taking everything out of Daddy's wallet

She's such a fun baby! We can't wait to see what next year brings!

Happy 1st Birthday, Rachel!

Well, it happened. My little baby girl turned one today. I am not sure that I ever really believed she would get older when she was just brand new. Part of me had to have known that, but part of me kept wishing that she'd just stay my little baby forever. She's really growing up, though.

Her birthday started nice and early, promptly at 6:00 AM when our alarm clock went off. We had to be ready to go to Wales by 7:30 AM, thus the earlier-than-usual wake-up call. After nursing for a few minutes, Rachel slipped off the bed and found a pile of ChapStick.

(We bought a big package at Costco to take to Egypt with us, and left them on our bedroom floor, along with other items we had be gathering for our preliminary suitcase packing last night.)

She was instantly in baby heaven. She loves ChapStick. She loves the stuff inside, of course, but she also just likes to play with the tubes. She picked up as many as her little hands could hold--2 or 3 in each fist--and stumbled off into the living room.

In addition to our preliminary suitcase packing, we also blew up a lot of balloons last night and left them on the living room floor. To be fair, I only blew of 4 and Andrew blew up 32!

Rachel also loves balloons. Her face went into shock when she saw all the balloons. She looked at her hands, full of ChapStick. She looked at the balloons. She stood there, bouncing up and down while deliberating her next course of action. Upon making up her mind, she threw the tubes of ChapStick behind her and ran to play in the balloons.

6:23 AM and already it was a happy birthday.

After getting home from Aunt Dorothy's, we made our final preparations for Rachel's party. We didn't think she needed a big party with friends and games since she's so little still. Further more, we felt it was important that we invite our family that lives in the area since we'll be moving...and we have a lot of family in the area. Our apartment was bursting at the seams! We wouldn't have had room for any of Rachel's friends!

Both sets of her grandparents came, both my parents and Andrew's; her uncles Patrick, David, Jacob and Todd; her aunts Sarah, Emily, Josie, and Katherine; and her cousin Kayl came; as well as her great-grandparents Heiss and Layton. That's 18 grown ups and 2 babies, including our family.

So, I know I said that we didn't plan any games, but did end up playing an impromptu version of musical chairs because we didn't have enough sitting room for everybody. Every time anyone got up to do anything, they'd come back and have to sit somewhere else: on the floor, perched on the arm of the couch, or on a freshly deserted chair.

One day we'll have a place big enough to throw a party without it feeling so cramped.

First we had cake and ice cream. Rachel's cake this year was in the shape of the number one. I've been working on it the last couple of nights after she's been in bed. It's a bit of a challenge to do things like that when she's awake... I think that it turned out nicely, even though I was half asleep wile making it! It's my first try doing a "shape cake."

Rachel needed a little help blowing out her candle this year. She was more interested in grabbing the flame than she was in blowing it out. Maybe next year she'll be able to do it alone, but this year I just did it for her. I did it on the first try, too, to prove to everyone that I could.

Grandma Sharon was kind enough to supply us with three different kinds of ice cream and some yummy lemonade! Thanks, Grandma Sharon!

After dessert we opened up Rachel's presents. She did well this year; she got a card with money from Andrew's parents, and several cute outfits from her great-grandmas (and one from us).

We also gave her some crayons and a notebook to draw in. She was really confused when she opened the notebook because there were no words or pictures inside. She kept flipping through the pages like she was looking for buried treasure. No matter how many pages she turned, there was not one illustration. Poor girl.

She got a Dr. Seuss book from Grandma Sharon, and a big book about vehicles from us. Those books had pictures in them, and that put her at ease.

Her most popular gifts, though, were the toys. Grandma Sharon bought her a baby doll and Rachel's face lit up when she saw it--she's been coveting her friends' baby dolls for quite some time. She couldn't even wait for it to get out of the box before loving it.

We got her a set of blocks in a wagon from Ikea. She saw it last night before I wrapped it and started playing with it--she was quite upset when I took it back so that I could hide it until today. The wagon got kisses as soon as it was unwrapped, still in the shrink wrap. Her favorite blocks are the little round ones with holes. She was carrying them around all evening.

Rachel had so much fun playing with her new toys and I think everyone had a fun time watching her play!

When people started leaving, though, Rachel decided she wanted to go outside as well. She ended up playing at the park with Grammy and Auntie Josie, neglecting her other guests. When Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Frank were driving away, though, they stopped by the park to say goodbye and to watch Rachel in the swing. She giggled her giggliest giggles for them, and I think that made them happy.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Rachel, dear!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Family of Missionaries

On Thursday, Andrew's cousin Michelle (Miller) returned home from her mission in London. She served in the same mission as Sami, Layla's brother. Everyone serving with them joked about the two of them being related even though they're about as unrelated as it gets. Michelle really is Andrew's cousin, but Sami is Andrew's step-cousin's wife's brother. No relation at all to Michelle. We like them both the same, though.

We went out to dinner with all of Andrew's aunts and all of Aunt Dorothy's children on Thursday before everyone (except us) went to the airport to welcome Michelle home.

Sunday, though, was the big get together. It was our last chance to see all of the Anderson cousins before leaving for Egypt, and unfortunately, we visited instead of taking pictures of Rachel playing with her little cousins. It was so nice of Rachel's aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to help keep track of her! We get so tired chasing her around all the time!

She just had a great time chasing all the older kids around. I don't know what it is about this girl, but she always wants to be older than she is. She idolized Leah, John's current youngest child, who is about 6 months older than Rachel. Leah kept running away from Rachel, but Rachel was persistent. She just really wanted to play with her...until Leah closed a door on Rachel's little finger. Then Rachel didn't want to play with anyone. Luckily that happened when we were getting ready to go, so it was kind of convenient that she didn't want to play anymore.

There are just so many fun things to do at Aunt Dorothy's house that I wasn't sure Rachel would ever want to leave. There were animals all over the place. She paid some nice visits to some kitties, puppies, and a horse. The horse and the puppies were a little scary for her.

She got to jump on the trampoline and play with lots of little cousins. I was excited to meet a lot of cousins that I'd never met before--especially two of Richard's siblings, Michelle and Michael. Andrew's mom's side of the family is fairly large. It's so hard to keep track of everyone; I think I've met most of them now!

Michelle was gracious enough to share her limelight with a few other people.

In the morning, right before church, Dorothy and Raymond (Michelle's parents) opened up their mission call. Raymond wanted to go somewhere foreign. Dorothy was okay with going foreign as long as it wasn't too foreign. And she didn't want to proselyte. She's been so nervous. Their call came on Thursday but they waited until Sunday to open it so that everyone could be there.

They were called to the Capetown, South Africa mission as CES missionaries. So, foreign, but not too foreign. And they probably won't have to do much proselyting.

And Grandma made a cake especially for Rachel since it's her birthday!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Indian Food

"You like Indian food," Andrew told me, completely out of the blue.

I don't remember what we were talking about before--his statement was so random that I completely forgot our previous conversation and instead found myself wondering why he thought to inform me of my apparent love of Indian food.

"Yeah?" I asked.

"I just figured that out tonight," he said, "Because you ordered Indian food."

"So? We ate at an Indian restaurant--you ordered Indian food, too."

It wasn't that I was contradicting him for contradiction's sake. I do like Indian food. I just wanted to know why his little epiphany occurred last night.

"You ordered Indian food last night and that one time we went to California Pizza Kitchen, you ordered an Indian pizza."

I didn't remember what kind of pizza I had ordered there.

"That mango tandoori chicken grossness," he prompted.

"Oh, yeah! That was good!"

"See? You like Indian food,"

Okay, you've proved your point. I like Indian food. So sue me.

I also like Italian and Mexican and Middle Eastern and Russian and...let's just say I'm not quite as picky as Andrew is when it comes to eating.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Egypt Preunion

A long while back when we were first researching the possibility of attending AUC we stumbled upon the blog of Patrick and Melissa Mason and were instantly intrigued. They had recently picked up and moved across the world, without knowing a lick of Arabic, so that Patrick could teach history at AUC.

We emailed them and asked a whole lot of questions. They emailed back with a whole lot of answers. And thus a beautiful electronic relationship was formed.

We've since emailed back and forth several times and it's possible that Melissa and I could be considered serial blog stalkers, bringing up each other's blogs and virtually introducing our children to each other.

"Look, Rachel!" I say while I scroll through a set of pictures, "That's Finn! He's going to be your friend in Egypt."

Today our virtual relationship became a reality. Melissa proposed an Egypt "preunion," so we met up for dinner at Bombay House in Provo, along with the Sharps, who will also be moving to Egypt to attend grad school and have a brandnew baby girl.

Andrew and I got to the restaurant first. We sat in the lobby and inspected each person who came through the door. Probably 5 different employees asked us if we wanted to be seated. We kept telling them that we were waiting for the rest of our party and that we needed a table for 6 (and three highchairs--we didn't know at the time that the Sharp's baby was too new to need a highchair).

We recognized the Masons the minute they walked through the door. They recognized us as well.

"You look just like your pictures!" said Melissa.

"So do you!" I said.

Minutes later the Sharps walked through the door. Somehow Lora recognized us as the right people. I don't know if it was because she had taken my advice and looked up our blogs or if she had taken Melissa's advice to look for a family of redheads. Either way, we all found each other.

"You're ready now?" asked the manager in a perfectly authentic Hindi accent.

"Yes," we said.

"It will be a 45 minute wait," he said quite seriously.

"Oh, okay..." we all said and made to get back in our chairs.

The manager cracked up laughing.

"Just kidding!" he said, and pointing at us, "These two have already been waiting forever! We have a table all ready for you!"

He led us into the restaurant and we ordered our food. While we waited we had a wonderful time getting acquainted. I feel a lot less stressed about moving to Egypt now that I know I'll have friends there. I knew that before, of course (it's so nice to belong to a worldwide church--I have a built-in network anywhere I go), but it was nice to be more reassured of this.

Rachel and Finn had a chance to get better acquainted after we had finished eating. Rachel was on my lap and Finn was across the table, squealing happily. Rachel must have liked that he was so loud since she likes to be loud as well. She started singing along with him.

Soon, Finn had moved onto his mom's lap and was now sitting right beside Rachel. She couldn't resist him. She started reaching out for him. Patting his hands, stroking his face, and then, after an initial ear grab, they were all over each other!

Rachel was making the coyest face while she was hugging him, but everytime we tried to get a picture of it, she'd turn and burry her face in his stomach. She hugged him repetitively, with both arms around his neck. Then they started kissing each other.

They planted some good ones, right on the lips even! Rachel certainly didn't want to let Finn go. She kept reaching for him while Melissa and I pried the two of them apart. It was quite funny to see the two of them carry on.

I think we'll fit into the Egypt branch nicely, and it's so reassuring to know that Rachel has a friend in Finn. I'm sure they'll both be good friends with Abby as well, but she's still a little young yet.

Oh, and good news! Melissa says that they have a little bit of a "yard" with a small "playground" at their apartment building that we can come over and use anytime. Hallelujah! I don't know what I'd do without at least a piece of a yard and something for Rachel to climb on. Go crazy, probably.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Maiden Bug

Since we're on the topic of bugs, I'll mention an interesting phenomenon for an area of the world so red: an influx of blue bugs. I'd never noticed anything in Grover other than R-E-D, and on this trip in particular I wouldn't have thought to see anything but red. I suppose the blue bugs were there just to break the monotony.

Besides the crazy long horned beetle that attached Phillip, there were a lot of damselflies out and about.

While we were setting up dinner on Thursday night, someone pointed to a damselfly.

"What's that?" they asked.

"It's a dragonfly," said Reid/Grandpa.

"Actually," I said, my encyclopedic self kicking in, "It's a damselfly."

"Must be a Canadian thing," said Reid, "What is it? A little dragonfly?"

"We do have them in Canada," I said, " And it's kind of like a dragonfly, but not quite. See how its wings fold together like a butterfly's when it lands? Dragonfly wings stay flat like moth wings. They're a lot smaller than most dragonflies and..."

I decided that was a good time to stop talking. No one really seemed to be caring...or listening. My dear husband tried to listen, but he just isn't that interested in bugs and couldn't pay attention for long.

When I was little I had a bug collection and everyone told me it was weird (except Don--thanks, Don!). Now I'm thinking that it may have been a little strange. Didn't everybody have a bug collection growing up? Didn't everybody spend their weekends by the lake doing species identification? I guess not.

Anyway, while we're eating dinner, Andrew tried to use his new-found knowledge.

"Oh, there's another maiden bug," he said, pointing to a damselfly.

"Damselfly," I corrected.

"Right," he said, "Damselfly."

I spent the rest of the weekend listening to people pointing out maiden bugs. I'm still not sure if they were making fun of me or if they were making fun of Andrew. Maybe they were just mocking both of us simultaneously. That would save time...

Oh, Phillip!

The minute we arrived in Grover, Rachel started worshiping Phillip. She walked right up to him and demanded to be picked up. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It was great for us! Rachel would follow him around. He'd carry her around, sing songs to her, twirl her around on the rocking chairs. He was the best entertainment she'd seen in weeks, I'm sure!

I think Phillip had a good time, too, because when Matthew showed up, Phillip had to be reminded several times that he needed to spend time with Matthew, too. When we got in the cars to drive to Fremont Falls, Phillip got in the backseat with Rachel. He had to switch to sit with Matthew because Matthew was bummed. I just thought it was funny that Phillip was choosing the company of a 1 year old baby to that of his 11 year old best bud.

On Thursday night (last week, in Grover) we had a marshmallow roast. We hadn't been planning on making a fire so we didn't bring any good roasting sticks and were forced to scavenge the barren wasteland they call Southern Utah. Nothing grows there. We did manage to find a few good sticks, though. I use the word "we" quite liberally, since I didn't really help.

It got nice and dark very fast, with no streetlights around to brighten things up. The stars were beautiful and the moon was full, so we had enough light to see the occasional bat fly by. And of course there were bugs, but surprisingly few. I only got one mosquito bite the whole time we were there. Rachel didn't get bitten once. Andrew, well, he got bitten a few times, but not nearly as much as we were expecting.

"Something just flew into my head!" shrieked Sarah D.

"It was just a bug," someone said.

"It was huge!" she insisted.

"Maybe it was a bat," someone joked.

We all went on trying to enjoy our evening while keeping a lookout for whatever had his Sarah in the head.

We were just discovering the joys of roasted Starbursts (seriously, you roast them on a stick, in a fire, without the wrapper and the outside gets all crunchy while the inside gets all gooey--so good!) when Phillip started screaming and pointing at his leg.

"Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!" he screamed, still as a statue.

Geniuses that we are, no one had remembered to bring a flashlight, so we couldn't see what was on Phillip's leg. Someone managed to knock it off and Phillip streaked off to the cabin, crying.

We wanted to know what had been on his leg, so I brought out the camera and started using the "aim" light to comb the ground. (I don't really know what the light is's the red light before the flash). Suddenly I spotted something twitching.

There on the ground was the biggest, ugliest bug ever.

To give you an idea of it's size, it was at least as long as Andrew's index finger, up to the second knuckle (techincally his minor knuckle, I guess). That's about two inches long! And then this little guy's antena are two or three times the size of his body! Crazy!

After we got a good look at it, Suzy went inside to Phillip and cuddled with him on the couch until he was calmed down. She's such a good sister!

I still haven't figured out what it is. It's definitely a Cerambycidae, but I can't find the actual name for the bug. It looks kind of like a Banded Alder Borer but it's spotted and not striped.

At least we found out what hit Sarah in the head. And Phillip ended up sleeping in the cabin with us instead of out under the stars--not that I blame him. I wouldn't have wanted to be hit with a bug that big, either. We were all a little jumpy that night, though I think it was more Phillip's screaming that shook us up, not the bug.