Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Christmas fell on a Friday this year, which meant that we had church in the morning, but only for an hour and at 10:30 instead of 9:30.

Andrew made us get up and open presents before he left for choir practice in spite of my warning of temper tantrums and tears. Rachel had quite the haul of gifts waiting for her under the tree and I knew that parting with any of them would unleash her crazy side.

I was right. But we won’t rub that in Andrew’s face or anything.

Miriam got to open her stocking first. Inside was pretty much nothing—a washcloth (that I put in Andrew’s stocking in 2007 and 2008) and a My Little Pony that the Lewises gave to us before they left. She was still excited about it. As was Rachel, who declared,

“I want one of those, too!”

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

For a year and a half now we’ve driven past and marveled at what we’ve nicknamed “The Easter Egg Mosque.” It looks like a pysanka (писанка )—a Ukrainian Easter egg—especially at night when it’s all lit up. I’m not even kidding.

See for yourself.

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Bad things now come in more than threes

Two days before Christmas we came home from Luxor and checked our email only to find that we had been bombarded with a slew of emails from informing us that we had a series of overdraft charges and ATM fees, mainly from Hallandale, Florida.

Merry Christmas to us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

That’s because you’re crazy.

When I was a child I tried to treat all my toys—old and new—equally. I can still recall many names of my dolls: Faline, Thomas, and Pixie, to name a few. I had a pair of pandas named Tia and Tony. I had a teddy bear named after my sister Kelli. And I named my tricycle Elisabeth in honour of one of my cousins.

Yup. I named just about everything.

Banana Island (December 22)

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Finally, a sleep in day! The hotel breakfast closed at 10:00 AM, so everyone was up before then so that they could have breakfast. Everyone except for me and Miriam, that is.

We slept through breakfast.

Everyone came up from breakfast, lazed around, packed up their rooms for check-out and moved their things into our room (which we kept until 9:00 PM) and then got ready to go to lunch.

Miriam and I took a nap instead.

Worst thing to happen to archeology since Indiana Jones (December 21)

Before leaving Dendera for good we decided to have a little fun.

With, I might add, blessings from and pleasure for the guards who were egging us on a bit for some of these pictures.

Jacob pretended to be a sphinx…

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Dendera (December 21)

Not quite as early as Sunday we loaded back into the van and headed out of Luxor, past the city of Qena, to the temple of Dendera.

I loved seeing all the little villages along the canals. It was very rural—the houses all had farm animals in the front and little shelters made out of grass and mud.

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Luxor West Bank (December 20)

Our day started bright and early, at least for us. We loaded into the van at 8:00 AM to be taken across the Nile to the West Bank. Our driver was a happy, obliging fellow which meant that he cheerfully drove us to each destination we asked him to without pressuring us to hurry it up. Last time our driver was not so nice.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

There’s nothing quite like distributing your Christmas letter on Christmas Eve. Talk about waiting until the midnight hour…

In my defense, I finished writing the actual text long ago and was just waiting for Andrew to agree on a time and place to take a family picture. The last few weeks of the semester were just too crazy, though, and when classes finally ended on the 15th Andrew only had two short days to finish up his final projects before his dad and brother arrived on the 17th. He finished up his last paper on the 18th and emailed it to his professor from our hotel in Luxor.

So that’s where we ended up taking our family pictures. And although we were intending to send this out from Luxor, we didn’t end up doing it until today because some genius (me) forgot to put the draft of the poem on the laptop we took with us to Luxor.

We caught cold in Luxor, so I slept in all morning with Miriam and then spent quite a bit of the afternoon making those snowflakes for our newsletter in Photoshop—it was just as fun as cutting them out with scissors! Then this evening Rachel, Miriam, and I (the sickies) stayed home and watched The Muppet Christmas Carol while Andrew took his parents and Jacob out to see the Tanoura Sufi dancers downtown. That was our Christmas Adam.

Now it’s the wee hours of Christmas Eve and I’m barely getting our newsletter up on the blog. I wonder if we’ll ever get around to emailing it out this year…

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Luxor East Bank (December 19)

Our first day in Luxor was bust—we flew down after church on Friday, which was wonderful because the flight took less than an hour and was so much more pleasant than, say, an all-night train ride. Rachel was so excited to fly she could hardly contain herself but behaved wonderfully on the plane. Miriam slept.

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We braced ourselves to face the gauntlet of taxi cab drivers circling around outside

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Miriam's Blessing

This weekend was a bit of a crazy one. Grandpa and Uncle Jacob flew in on Thursday; they arrived at our house around seven o'clock in the evening. Rachel was beside herself with joy but we managed to get her into bed around eleven, I think. She woke up at 3 AM screaming and crying.

"I just want to see if they are still here! Please! I just want to see!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bushswackeling the Cucumber Cake Premonition

Yesterday marked our four year anniversary and we’re all just as silly as ever.

While Andrew was at school Karen made a banana cake—which was really just banana bread in a cake pan since we don’t have any loaf pans. He came home and hurriedly wolfed down his dinner before deserting us in favour of homework (the semester is over now, so hopefully that won’t happen again for a while).

“Oh, but there’s cake!” I said.

Andrew peeled off the tin foil covering the pan and peered inside.

“What kind?” he asked.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas crochet

I finished knitting Miriam’s stocking while Grandma was in South Africa (using the knifty knitter loom since I don’t actually know how to knit). Now all I have left to do by Christmas is embroider her name on it. That’s going to take forever—so long that by the end of it I’ll probably be wishing we had named Miriam a much shorter name, like Sue or Jill or Liz.


Miriam is so bald in front that I feel like I need to feminize her bald head somehow. I had Rachel’s hair in barrettes by this age—her hair was so long I had to clip it out of her eyes. Miriam has a lot of hair, it’s just all in the back…so we pretty up the front in other ways. So because I don’t have many headbands to pass down from Rachel’s babyhood (due to her need for barrettes) and since I had so much yarn left over, I decided to make matching Christmas headbands for the girls. I think they turned out pretty cute, for my first try.

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(The headband pattern can be found here, the holly leaf pattern can be found here, and the holly berries are just a magic circle.)

Branch Christmas Party and Talent Show

Our branch Christmas Party was on Saturday evening. We were busy getting ready for it all day—we were participating in several numbers in the talent show, decorating and “hosting” a table, and providing donuts for dessert.

The donuts were Andrew’s idea since I had signed up to make cookies, anyway, and he was too busy to prepare much of anything for the talent show. So I told him he could make donuts.

“That’s my talent!” he said, as if he were just discovering some spiritual gift that they had neglected to mention in D&C 46.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

She has citizenship

This morning we battled our way onto the metro during rush hour to make it to the embassy to finish the paperwork for Miriam’s American birth certificate and passport.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Egyptian Culture Fair


The Cairo American College (CAC) has an Egyptian Culture Fair every year.

O Christmas…Spy?

On Sunday evening I dragged the girls out to the Maadi Community Choir Christmas Choral Concert. We left a little late so I told Rachel we had to hurry. I didn’t have to worry—the minute we were out the door she informed me that hyenas were chasing us and we had to run or else we would die. A little morbid, yes, but at least it kept the pace up.

Language at its finest

When Daddy came home from school on Monday Rachel initiated a snowball fight with him.

She is a great thrower but not the best aimer so Andrew was able to teach her the playground chant “missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me!”

Flashback Friday: Must be Santa

When I was in grade four I was a lunchroom monitor for a younger class. We had the option to sign up to be lunchroom monitors at the beginning of the year, so a bunch of my friends and I (Sabine, Jennifer, Lindsey, and I—I’m pretty sure, anyway. I have a picture of us somewhere) decided to take advantage of that.

Since there wasn’t a cafeteria in our school each class ate lunch in the classroom at their desks. Our teacher, Mr. Low, stayed in the classroom for the first part of the lunch hour and then would shoo everyone outside to play for the duration so that he could have a bit of a break from us. The benefit of being a lunchroom monitor was that no one shooed you outside.

This was a particularly useful privilege in the cold winter months, unfortunately we moved in December so I didn’t have much opportunity to use that privilege.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

There were two on the bed and the little one said…

I put Miriam down on the bed while I was getting dressed today. She should have been perfectly safe—she was a foot away from the edge of the bed, resting against the footboard,* kind of like this:


Maadi Mention: La Sombra

Our little Twitterverse has been abuzz with news about a new little Mexican restaurant that recently opened its doors right here in Maadi.

At first we thought it was a hoax. A Mexican restaurant? In Maadi?


All week long Rachel has been pining for wintertime, which she thinks is an actual, physical place not unlike the North Pole featured in such films as Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph. I tried explaining to her several times that we don’t really get wintertime here, but everyday I hear something like this:

“Are we going to Wintertime? It’s very cold there. I’ll need my coat. Egypt—us—don’t have snow. Or cold. Dada likes snow. I like snow, too.”

Or this:

“Are we going to go to Winter? When are we going to go at Wintertime? It’s going to be so cold at Winter. I want to bring my blankey. I want you to carry me there.”

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Miriam at 6 weeks

Tomorrow Miriam will be six weeks old. We met with Dr. Omar today and he weighed her twice.

“She’s 4850 grams!” he announced, handing her to Andrew and sitting back down at his desk to record the number, “Wait a minute. What was her birth weight?”

“3200 grams,” I said.

“Will you put her back on the scale for me?” he asked.

He and Andrew weighed her again. 4850 grams.

“We have a new record,” Dr. Omar announced.



Yesterday while I was napping, Andrew had this Brilliant Idea to make donuts…something like so that we could tell his mom that we had not only survived, we had made donuts to boot.

…Not that she doubted we would survive. Truthfully, I think we were the ones who were doubting. But look, we made donuts!

Counting’s not silly

Recently Rachel mastered how to show the number two with her fingers—like the peace sign. She’s very proud of this. She also can make a three, only she uses her pinky, ring, and middle finger for some reason. She’ll show anyone who will look.

And if you’re lucky, she might even count for you. This is a real treat.

She can count to eleven. Almost.

You’re not the boss of me now!

Lately Rachel has been on this bossy kick. A few weeks ago Andrew asked her to do something and she looked up at him and said,

“You’re not the boss! I’m the boss!”

To prove just how boss-like Andrew is, we sent her to her bedroom.

Friday, December 04, 2009

While of these emblems…

Last week the sacrament hymn was While of These Emblems We Partake (#174). After we had finished singing it, Rachel, instead of folding her arms and reverently getting ready for the prayer, exclaimed,

“That’s a funny song!”

This week we sang While of These Emblems We Partake again (only the other tune, #173). Rachel was even more embarrassing. Of course. She always manages to find a way to outdo herself.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sleep Deprived

Since Grandma's been gone there has been more screaming, yelling, crying, lecturing, and messes in our home than I ever thought imaginable. Rachel has even threatened to run away--thank you, Rudolph--luckily she can't open the front door yet. And it's only been, what, three days? Wow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Remember the cat

A while back my friend left a comment on my blog about her mother’s advice to “remember the cat.” Andrew and I have been joking about that ever since, whenever I need something. Like breakfast. Or sleep. Or not to be touched for 2 minutes of the day.

I was holding Rachel over the potty a few days ago and for some reason she wouldn’t go potty, even though she had given me all the signs that she needed to go. I was sure she had to go, she just had to relax enough to do it. Then the phrase “remember the cat” popped into my head and I had a stroke of pure genius.