Monday, January 31, 2011


There have been some questions floating around about the LDS community in Egypt. Not all my friends left in Egypt are LDS but naturally many of them are. With the recent evacuations, I think most of them will be leaving Egypt this week, but perhaps I'll share a few anonymous-like stories.

The LDS humanitarian (not proselytizing) missionary couple are leaving Egypt this week. The mission office has decided that this will mark the end of their mission, instead of sending them back when things stabilize over there.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More on Egypt

What felt all-consuming before is now absolutely mind-boggling.

You just have to wonder about Mubarak—what did he tell his thugs to do? They all seemed to have turned at the same time and are now looting the city, trashing museums, terrorizing citizens. In my mind I picture him saying, "This is the end: take whatever you want," as if it is his to give.

They've smashed two mummies in the Egyptian Museum—they only had like five mummies to begin with—in addition to smashing several other items, though apparently nothing has been stolen.

They've wreaked havoc in downtown Cairo.

The scariest part is that I can no longer tell Rachel that "our house" is safe. It probably isn't. The thugs—who seem to mostly be upper-division police officers and security officials for the National Democratic—are now entering upperclass residential areas, including Maadi. Apparently Carrefour is ablaze, Maadi Grand Mall and Road 9 are being looted, and residences are being broken into as well.

There's absolute chaos everywhere.

Snow Camel

Even though going out into the cold makes me feel like this:


I ventured outside to play with my girls in Tuesday’s fresh snow. We decided to build a new snowman beside the remnant of our last snowman, but when we rolled the first ball of snow to rest beside the icy remains of our late snowman we decided we could perhaps be a little more creative.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Home is...

Today when the girls and I were walking home from playgroup we ran into one of our neighbours.

"Good thing you're back from Egypt!" he called out, "They're really messed up!"

"Things are pretty tense," I agreed.

"The whole region is going crazy! The world is going crazy!"

"It is, it is," I agreed.

Sometimes it's hard for me to discuss politics with our neighbours, who welcomed us "home" with open arms from our "trip" to Egypt. They don't understand that it wasn't a trip—we lived there; it became part of us; Miriam has an Egyptian birth certificate. Egypt was our home. We love Egypt.

She's a tricky baby

For Christmas Rachel got some princess magnets. She would play with them on the filing cabinet, making them go to balls and castles and things, she took them to my parents' house a few times when they babysat her so that she could play with them on her fridge. She lost them a while ago, though, and has been missing them ever since.

Yesterday she demanded that I find them.

"I don't know where they are," I told her, "We can look for them but we've cleaned your room several times and haven't seen a trace of them. I don't know what else we can do. Sorry."

She started wailing, which is something I've had enough of in the past few days.

"I want my princess magnets! I want my princess magnets! I want my princess magnets!"

While Rachel was droning on and on about her magnets, Miriam left the room. A few minutes later she toddled back in, singing a little song, and clutching...the princess magnets!

I wonder where she was hiding them.

It was a good hiding place.

She's a tricky baby.


It happened again.

Miriam got locked in her bedroom during her naptime. Unfortunately, I didn't discover it until after she had woken up. I had been working on a project in the kitchen with Rachel when I heard Miriam fuss so I walked back to the bedroom and tried to open her door. It wouldn't budge.

"Noooooo!" I wailed.

"What's wrong?" Rachel asked.

"The door is locked. Again." I said.

"Well, it wasn't me," Rachel quickly pointed out. She then provided her alibi: "I was out here the whole time."

"If it wasn't you then who was it?" I asked.

"I don't know. Maybe it was Miriam."

"Miriam is stuck in her crib."

"Oh. Well...ummm...I just like to turn things. And I try to remember which way is locked and which way is unlocked when I stop playing but it's hard to remember."

"How about just not playing with the locks?"





"You can unlock the door! I know you can!"

"Thanks for your support."

Thursday, January 27, 2011


My heart goes out to Egypt today.

Last March, shortly before we left Egypt, Mubarak got sick. Of course, the word on the street was that he had gone on a little "vacation." Luckily, we had access to international news and it didn't take us long to confirm that he had gone to Europe for gallbladder surgery (with rumors of more). While he was recuperating we had several conversations with people about what would happen if he died while we were there. I feared the political unrest. Would there be a military takeover? Would his son start ruling in his stead? What would happen?

I'm glad I'm not there because I'm stressed out enough from here.

Andrew, on the other hand, yearns to be part of something historical, something revolutionary. He wants to be there to see it happen.

In all our discussions about "what would happen if Mubarak died" we never once suggested that perhaps Mubarak wouldn't die—perhaps there'd be a national uprising against the government. I don't see why we didn't think of that. Egyptians are passionate enough, brave enough, oppressed enough—and here they are, making it happen.

At least, I hope they are making it happen.

I've been watching the #Jan25 feed on twitter every spare moment I get since, well, January 25th, watching things unfurl. Now, though, the government has plunged the country into a media blackout: there's no internet, no cell phone service, no contact with the outside world...for anyone.

Like I said, I'm glad I'm not there because I'm stressed out enough about it from here.

It's so hard not knowing what is going on. Seeing pictures of Midan Tahrir swarming with people, police, tear gas, and anger and recognizing landmarks is rather surreal. I've used that metro stop. I've been to the restaurant. I let my girls run amok on that sidewalk. There's the Egyptian Museum, AUC campus, the mugama. We have so many happy memories of the place that it doesn't seem possible for it to be taken over with an angry mob.

Once, my brother and I tried to catch a taxi from Midan Tahrir to the Khan, during ramadan—we couldn't because the area was mia'b'mia empty. There were no cars or people as far as the eye could see. That, itself, was odd because Tahrir is usually bustling. We took a minute to meander on the square—in the middle of the road—just because we could, while we tried to figure out the best way to find a cab.

That calm, peaceful evening is such a contrast to the pictures I've seen of people lining the streets, praying, shouting, walking, fighting—thronging, thronging, thronging—trying to pressure the government to give it up and get out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Medical stuff

I'm really excited to be insured—perhaps a little too excited, really. Last week went something like this:

Monday: Cairo party at the Cummings', FHE
Tuesday: Dentist appointment, running
Wedneday: Josie's play
Thursday: Running
Friday: Yoga, doctor appointment, temple
Saturday: Running
Sunday: Day of rest (plus 3 hours of church, 2 hours of scout meetings, 1 hour of choir...etc.)

I was really, really frazzled by the time Saturday rolled around. And then Andrew pointed out that I had gone out every single evening except for Monday. So that would explain a lot since I don't usually go out that often. Not that I'm a hermit or anything, but I just don't usually go out that often. I'm a stay-at-home mom, which, by definition, means that I stay at home. A lot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Be Loyal Scouts

As of today I'm officially a den leader. I just printed out my Youth Protection Training certificate (which, by the way, claims to be "suitable for framing" so you might just see it on my wall...or not) and I feel like I'm completely jumping into the fire. We have a "pack meeting" on Tuesday and a "den meeting" on Wednesday. And we had two committee-type meetings today.

I'm completely out of my league here. Not only have I never been through scouting but I grew up watching my brother go through the Scouts Canada program, which is a completely different system, dutifully sewing on his badges and longing to join the boys on their adventures (they did really cool things; and I only sewed his shirtsleeves shut a handful of times, but that was only because most of his badges went on his sash and not on his shirt).

We were sitting in our meeting this afternoon discussing the 2011 budget and the topic of belt loops came up.

"We'll continue to buy badges and beads for all the boys but we won't be supplying belt loops anymore. They're just too expensive, so we'll have to let parents know that they will have to supply belt loops for the boys if their boys want to earn them."

The whole time I was thinking, Why don't they just put belt loops on the pants in the first place?!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black Socks

This morning we were on time for church. Barely. Still, let's give credit where credit is due.

We. Were. On. Time.

For some reason our children can wake up bright-eyed an bushy-tailed on a Saturday morning at, say, seven o'clock in the morning, but on Sundays we literally have to drag them out of bed—usually by 8:00 in the morning, sometimes later. I have kind of come to think of them as natural alarm clocks, but they've recently been rather defective, waking up when I want to hit snooze and sleeping in when I need to be woken up. And climbing into bed with us.

We only have one other alarm clock that does that.

I woke up this morning at around six o'clock and thought I was paralyzed—I tried to turn over but couldn't move. It only took me a moment to notice that I had a child resting in either nook of my arms. (I don't even know how these things happen). I had Andrew help me move them back into their own beds and then we went back to sleep until our alarm (the one on Andrew's iPod) went off shortly after 7:00.

Both of us were dressed before we even woke the girls up.

"My socks don't match," I commented to Andrew, "but I don't care because I'm wearing my boots to church so no one will see them."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blueberries, blueberries....

One of Rachel's favourite YouTube videos is this one:

She likes to say, "Blueberries, blueberries..." in a demented voice and then hit her face on anything nearby. She will also sometimes say, "Cucumbers, cucumbers..." or "Cereal, cereal..." or anything else if we don't happen to have blueberries around. We don't often have blueberries around, actually, but we do have blueberry yogurt.

The girls split a blueberry yogurt the other day and they were getting quite silly and creative with it.


On Wednesday night I went to see Josie play in Antigone.

Antigone is a difficult story to portray; asking a group of high school students to pull off a Greek tragedy centered around incest, death, and tyranny is a lot to ask. There were some deep and disturbing themes that were unavoidable but overall they did a great job. It was an interesting interpretation to be sure, with puppetry and voice-overs and odd things like that. Josie was in the chorus, which was an incredibly awesome chorus, if I do say so, myself. And I do.

At one point in the play, Antigone explains her motive for flouting the law by burying her brother. It was an interesting explanation, one that I think naive, but perhaps that is what Sophocles was going for:

Yet am I justified in wisdom's eyes.
For even had it been some child of mine,
Or husband mouldering in death's decay,
I had not wrought this deed despite the State.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Believe in Lasterday

Time is a concept completely lost on children. I think that's part of the reason life is so frustrating for them. Like most children her age, Rachel has been working on understanding time but she just can't quite get it.

If I tell her, "We're doing that tomorrow," she inevitably asks me, "Tomorrow-today?"

Tomorrow-today? What is that even supposed to mean?

"Tomorrow-tomorrow," I tell her, "As in you have to go to sleep and then wake up. That tomorrow."

I think she thinks tomorrow simply means "later" so she is wondering if we will be doing something later today. But then sometimes I think she thinks today means "now" because if I tell her that I'll do something later she'll throw a fit, demanding that it be done "today."

Forget trying to tell the child to "wait five minutes."

The concept of yesterday is equally lost on her. Just the other day I caught her asking Grandpa what he did "lasterday."

Lasterday I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner and Rachel wandered into the kitchen wearing nothing but her skivvies. She had been wearing a t-shirt over a leotard over some pants and apparently had to take it all off to visit the bathroom.

"You need to put some clothes back on," I instructed her, "It's too cold to run around in your underwear."

"I know, Mom, but I was wondering if I can put on my jammies. It's getting dark outside and I am getting a little sleepy and we already had dinner, so is it almost bedtime?"

"Sure, you can put on your jammies." I'm not going to say no to that one. "And it is almost bedtime but not quite. We'll have story time after I finish the dishes and then we'll get Daddy for scriptures and prayer."

"Is that how you tell time?" Rachel asked.

"Is what how you tell time?" I asked back.

"Well, because it's dark then it's almost bedtime," she said.

"Oh, sure, that's almost how you tell time. But not quite."

As competent as I am with earthly time, I know I am as incompetent as a three-year-old when it comes to heavenly time. I'm sure this makes me seem impatient, and perhaps a little whiney, when I pray.

"Hi. It's me again. I know I just asked lasterday for this blessing but if I could get it tomorrow-today instead of tomorrow-tomorrow, that'd be great."

No More Molars for Miriam

That's a plea.

Please, let's take a break from teething.

Miriam is not good at dealing with pain. She wakes up every few hours and has been, consistently since...November? October? I can't really remember. All I know is that I haven't had a good block of sleep in months. First it was her front teeth. Then I discovered her top molars, which, by the way, haven't made it all the way through yet. Yesterday I was feeding her and she stopped eating, let out an painful, angry yelp, and started slapping her face.

"What's wrong, baby?" I asked.

She nodded her head.

She always nods her head when she's asked a question—any question—so a certain Grandpa of hers has taken to asking if she's a poor, neglected child, to which she always answers with a curt and solemn nod of agreement. Sheesh.

Nothing was obviously wrong on the outside of her mouth so I forced her to let me feel around inside.

Her bottom gums were badly swollen.

More molars are trying to break through, this time on the bottom.

It will probably be a few days, at best (a few weeks, at worst), until they erupt.

I may as well give the child an IV of Orajel.

Last night we gave her tylenol, which helped her sleep mostly through the night (she only woke up twice between midnight and seven) but Rachel was having a fitful, nightmare-filled night and the sump-pump was going and Miriam had turned the speakers in our room on and my cellphone was interfering with them and making that awful noise. With all that going on I don't think I slept a wink.

I'm ready for a good night's rest.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like a good night's rest is ready for me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Silly Girls

I’ve been accruing a rather large number of undocumented photographs on my camera. Mostly they are just of the girls being silly.

Miriam has been getting stuck a lot lately. This evening she was crawling around on Rachel’s bed. When she decided to sit down and have a rest she fell off the bed and wedged herself between Rachel’s mattress and her crib. (As you can see she wasn’t too upset about it).


Midway Ice Castles

This afternoon we went on a trip (or a fwip, as Rachel would say) to Midway, Utah. Midway isn't particularly far away but we were getting out of Orem to do something entirely fun (instead of the errand-running we usually try to fob off as an adventure). Emotions have been running high in our household lately, particularly in the three-year-old population, so it was doubly nice to get out of the house and out-and-about for a while.

Her mood improved immensely when she learned that we were going to see a castle!


An ice castle, that is.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Hit by a parked car

I usually go running at night after the kids are in bed—but only at the track where it is warm, well-lit, and dry. Thursdays are the most difficult day to go running because Andrew gets home just in time to have scriptures and prayer as a family before we tuck the girls in and hope they go to sleep. Then I'm out the door.

Last night I was waiting for Wendy, my running partner, to pick me up so we could go to the track and I was chatting to Andrew while I waited since I hadn't seen him all day. He said something about the weather.

"It must be pretty warm out," I casually remarked. "It's raining."

"Yeah, it's raining," he agreed, "But it's cold."

Wendy drove up and I said goodbye to Andrew and blew kisses to Rachel, who was still awake, and headed out the door. The deck was wet with rain but it wasn't icy so I figured the driveway wouldn't be icy, either. 

I was wrong.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm terribly funny

"You're a tortfeaser," Andrew told me last night.

"Um, what?" I asked.

"I'm just practicing my vocabulary. A tortfeaser is someone who commits a tort. A tort is some sort of injustice done to someone, either deliberately or through negligence. So that," he explained, lightly punching my arm, "would be a tort."

"And would this be a retort?" I asked, punching him back.

Sometimes I can be really funny.

"I wonder if tort shares the same root as torture," I said (it does).

That got us on the topic of torture which eventually led us to discuss terrorism, which is something we've been discussing at length recently, trying to determine whether the recent attempted-assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and massacre of onlookers could be classified as terrorism or not.

Terrorism as it stands is a fairly new concept. Its usage skyrocketed after 9/11 but it's still a rather shaky, ambiguous term so it's hard to say if any "isolated incident" should be considered terrorism or not.

"I wonder if terrorism is really a word of mixed origin," I mused, "Perhaps it is most commonly used to describe acts of terror perpetrated by Muslims because it uses the Latin root terror and the Arabic root ism. That gives you terrorism: something done in the name of terror."

Andrew thought that was clever.

Sometimes I can be terribly funny.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

A few weeks ago Rachel and I were having breakfast and she asked me, "Mom, is it just going to keep getting coldier and coldier?"

I told her that spring would eventually come.

But recently it does feel like things are just getting "coldier and coldier."

Today when I walked her to school it was 7°F. That's -13°C!

I shouldn't really be complaining about that since my former home (or, if you want to get technical, my former, former, former, former, former home (have I really lived six different places since leaving there?))* of Calgary, is sitting at a chilly -7°F (that's -22°C).

Sometimes all you need is a little perspective. I'd take a positive seven over a negative seven any day, though right now it's 22°F/-5°C in Voronezh and 27°F/-3°C in Moscow (and it's 8:00 at night) so maybe I'd rather be in Russia right now. Cairo sounds like the best option: a yummy 63°F/17°C (at 7:00 PM). Or we could try someplace new. Abraham Bay in the Bahamas? 82°F/27°C. Uppington, South Africa? 93°F/33°C.

Right now I feel like I'd rather be anywhere than here (with the exception, perhaps, of Jukutsk, Russia where it's -47°F/-43°C) but I think that's just my winter depression talking.

For now I guess I'll hole myself up in the office with my heater and get to work. I'm already behind from yesterday and I'm not even sure how much I'll be able to work today. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Miriam slept "all night" on my stomach (all night meaning from 5 AM until 7 AM). Other than that we basically just didn't sleep, at least, between tending to Miriam and tending to Rachel I didn't sleep.

Perhaps where I really want to go is Dreamland.

*Calgary to High River (1) High River to Orem (2) Orem to Russia (3) Russia to Orem (4) Orem to Provo (5) Provo to Orem (6) Orem to Orem (7) Orem to Jordan (8) Jordan to Orem (9) Orem to Egypt (10) Egypt to Orem (11)

So that's eleven moves but only six different cities.

Proper care and feeing of your polar bear/koala/seal/sea lion/child

Our girls have croup. At least I think they have croup because if I didn't know there were children tucked in bed behind their door I might think their room was full of sea lions. They both have that notorious croup cough that sounds like a seal's bark: "Ar, ar, ar!"*

Yesterday we suggested that Andrew take the girls home after sacrament meeting but Rachel really wanted to go to Sunbeams so we scrapped that plan and instead dug up some cough drops for her. We rifled through the medicine cabinet and found some lemon-eucalyptus cough drops. We told her that it was medicine but that it was so good it was going to taste like candy. We may have played it up too much because the minute she popped a drop in her mouth she screwed up her face and announced, "This does not taste like candy."

"Oh, but it's good! It's like a lemon drop!"

"No, it's not. I want to spit it out."

"Oh, but it's got eucalyptus in it! Do you know what animal eats eucalyptus?"


"A koala! You like koalas—they're so cute and fluffy—and you're eating what they eat. Isn't that cool?"

"No. I want to spit it out. It's a-gusting!"

"It's not disgusting! Koalas love this stuff!"

"It's a-gusting. I want to spit it out."

Saturday, January 08, 2011

There were 10 in the...

Rachel hasn't really been a problem at night lately. There was a week or so after Andrew got back to DC where she was coming into bed with us every night but she's been great at staying in her own bed (at least until Daddy leaves for school) for at least a month now. Wednesday was obviously an exception.

The problem sleeper has been Miriam. She's teething and is about as miserable as can be.

She's been working on her eighth tooth for, oh, six weeks now. That means six weeks of drooling, fussing, screaming, and nightly wakings. She's always been a bad teether but to have this much pain and agony over one little tooth was getting to be a bit ridiculous.

And the little one said...

On Wednesday night Rachel climbed in bed with us at 2:00 AM. When I tried waking her up for school the next morning she said, "I am too tired to wake up because I didn't get a good night's sleep. Your bed is too squishy!"

"That is exactly why you have your own bed," I told her, "My bed is not made for three people."

"It was fine after Daddy left," she noted.

She's a silly little thing.

Friday, January 07, 2011


Miriam has turned into quite the little monkey recently. She can climb onto the toy chest all by herself. The toy chest functions as a bench when the lid is closed but you can pull the back of the bench down to make a desk. When the desk is open she can climb onto the bench part and then onto the desk. She can climb onto the fireplace ledge, the coffee table, and is doing her best to pull herself over the baby gate (though she hasn't managed that quite yet).

To get into the top drawers in the kitchen she pulls out the bottom drawer and climbs inside, which makes her tall enough to reach the top drawer.

The only problem with all the climbing she's been doing lately is that she's terribly acrophobic—even the most dainty degree of altitude makes her tremble with fear. She's too afraid to attempt getting down from anywhere (and I mean anywhere) by herself so instead, when she's ready to disembark, she calls out for me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Eight-cow Wife

When we were engaged we were dirt poor—well...we had money in the bank (I had money in the bank; Andrew didn't, not much, anyway) but we had big plans with that money (a study abroad to Jordan, for example) so in essence it was already spent, making us dirt poor. Not unlike now, really.

We bought our wedding rings at Wal-Mart. Frugal, I know. We purchased two wedding bands and an engagement ring. It took them forever to get fitted but eventually they came in. Andrew picked them up and tried to surprise me only he had forgotten to think of a plan of how to surprise me beforehand so ended scrambling in the car for props when he pulled up to my house. He quickly found a Hershey's kiss in the car, unwrapped it, nibbled off a bit of chocolate around the bottom, replaced the nibbled-off chocolate with my ring, and rewrapped it.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I spent the last month gathering up junk from around our house. A sweater I haven't worn since grade eleven. A few stuffed animals no one seems to play with (or know of their origin). An Anne Geddes print my gymnastics coach gave me for Christmas ten (or more) years ago. A pair of boots my little sister gave to me when she grew out of them five years ago. A pair of cords that just don't seem to fit my post-pregnant body like they did my pre-pregnant one. That kind of thing.

I even made Andrew help me go through our bookshelves to winnow down our collection. I meant to do this earlier when my sister was collecting books for a group of underprivileged girls in New York (I think) but I never got around to doing it. We found about 25 books that we felt we could part with—though most of them were college-level textbooks we hadn't been able to sell back and I'm not so sure teen girls from New York would appreciate outdated college textbooks for their liesure reading. Just a hunch.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I have been in primary a long time. This year we're teaching the nine-year-olds and, let me tell you, teaching four nine-year-olds is a heck of a lot nicer than teacher nine four-year-olds. And I don't even usually say "heck" so that says a lot right there.

I think I've been back in primary since I was 19 (with a few breaks (our summer in Jordan...and that might be just about it)). I'm now 25. That's six years of primary, and the funny thing is that if I had been a Sunbeam when I started I would be in the nine-year-old class now, which is where I am. Maybe in three more years I can graduate from primary. We'll see.

Senior primary, though, is awesome. We walked into class with some ground rules but we didn't even really need to because the kids listed off the rules before we even told them what they were. It's like they've already spent several years being formally educated or something. They all sat down in their chairs the whole time, raised their hands before giving answers, and when they asked if we brought treats and I told them, "Treats are for babies; if you want a treat you can go back to nursery," no one cried.

I think I like nine-year-olds.

Sure, they had their annoying moments but it was nothing compared to herding four-year-olds all day.

Pretend Play—at the library

Yesterday I neglected Rachel and Miriam while I read Hunger Games, the entire thing. I can't even remember the last time I've been able to read a book in a day. In large part I'd like to thank my husband and in-laws for watching my children/allowing them to run around rampant while I did so.

For a good hour the girls played library while I read. They used the toy stroller Miriam got for Christmas from Aunt Katharine as a book cart and would wheel it into their bedroom, load it up with books, and then climb up on the toy chest/desk to read them. When they were finished they would go and get a new load of books and read those, too. 

Happy 2011!

It's the New Year, obviously. Today in church the opening hymn was Ring Out, Wild Bells and if that isn't a clear sign it's a new year I don't know what is. The lyrics aren't half bad but the melody is really quite a dirge. I realize the song talks about the year dying, but it also talks a lot about "happy bells across the snow," and "ring out the false, ring in the new," and "ring in the Christ that is to be." Shouldn't that mean the song is a little happier than a funeral march? Sorry, Crawford Gates, I suppose I just don't understand what you were going for, though we were grateful the song took so long to sing because, due to a mechanical error (the alarm on the iPod didn't go off) and to a baby who was up all night screaming (Miriam), we didn't wake up until 8:10 this morning so it was rush, rush, rush until we walked into the chapel during the final strains of the first verse of your song. 

If it had been any other song we would have been more notably late, I'm positive. It worked out well enough and we still got to sing for what seemed like five years before the opening prayer.

To ring in the New Year we went to a "friend's" dance party. I say "friend" because, frankly, I don't think I know the guy, but he worked for my mom when he went to BYU and now he lives up in Canada and he knows my cousin Beth.