Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest post: Gorilla Greetings, part II

In the words of my father-in-law...

Last night, towards the late, late hour of 9:30, my family and I were peacefully relaxing from the stresses and strains of the day. The grandchildren were both asleep—finally. My son and daughter-in-law, Nancy, were working in their office upstairs. They were most grateful for the children who were sleeping.

Then came a knock at the door.

Typically, at night, it should be the husband’s task to answer the door. But, you need to know how my son’s brain works. He was so focused on his homework that I doubt he even heard the knock, nor did he notice when Nancy left the office to see who was coming to see us so late in the night. Now you may ask why I didn’t get the door. Well, my wife and I have been banished to the basement to accommodate my son’s young family, so it is rare that we can even hear a muffled knock on the door.

So abandoned by her husband and us, Nancy went to the door to see who had come a calling.

Being semi-responsible home owners, we have a peep hole in our door to give us the ability to determine whether the person knocking is worthy of us allowing them to breach our security. Nancy made sure to avail herself of the peep hole, but when she looked through, all she saw was blackness. Not like looking into the night sky blackness, but an odd, fuzzy type of blackness.

As she strained to attempt to make sense of this strange image, she heard some grunting. Clearly, there was someone on the other side of the door but the view through the peep hole did not enable her to get a clear idea of who it could be. So, being the brave person she is, she slowly opened the door to better determine this person’s identity.

To her shock and bewilderment, on the other side of the door stood an ape.

An ape!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gorilla Greetings

The doorbell rang so I went to answer it.

Being the cautious person that I am, I looked through the peephole first but I couldn't really tell who it was, even though the porch light was on. It seemed to be someone wearing a mask, holding something. I needed a better look.

Being the cautious person that I am, I decided it was safe to open the door since the visitor hadn't opened the screen door (which is notoriously impossible to open).

I opened the door and came face to face with a gorilla.

"Ummm...hi," I said nervously.

The gorilla grunted.

"Ummmmm....?" I grunted back.

I looked at the stack of papers he held in his hands. The top page was a rainbow-coloured sign with "You are awesome!" written on it.

"Ummmmmmmm...are you...?" I asked, cracking the screen door open, "I'll go get the bishop."

The gorilla grunted and nodded his head enthusiastically.

I left the gorilla (and, unbeknownst to me, a whole horde of people hiding out of view of the doorway) with the door ajar and got Reid and Karen, who were in the basement. Reid is the bishop of a singles ward (a congregation made up entirely of single students attending BYU and UVU) and sometimes the kids in his ward like to come and...visit...him.

And sometimes they dress up in gorilla suits.

This morning...

  • I reversed a $60 charge on my credit card, quite easily (when I signed up for the marathon through a third-party company I was automatically signed up for a "trial membership" and since they had my credit card information, when the "trial membership" expired I was automatically charged for the real membership—super lame, but I guess they reverse charges all the time because the lady I talked to didn't ask any questions).
  • My children slept in until 8:45 this morning.
  • My children worked together to unload the dishwasher without being asked.
  • My children are currently playing. Together. Nicely!
Is this for real? Or am I still sleeping?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BYU Traditions Ball 2011

Last night we went to the ball. It took a little bit of effort on my part to convince Andrew that he could neglect statistics for three hours in order to focus on me. Not that I'm high-maintenance but, seriously, how many hours has he neglected me in favour of statistics? A whole lotta hours, that's how many. I realize that he is slugging through school so that he can (one day) be a good provider for our family but, let's be honest, grad school is a real drag. 

He really is hard-working and high-achieving, though, and I really appreciate that. Rachel said to me one day, "My daddy sure is a long-worker because he works for so long! But that's okay because if he works lotsa time then we will get lotsa money."

And then I told her that we were paying lots of money to have him work lots of time. She was like, "What? That doesn't make sense!" But that's grad school for you. 

Anyway, we went to the ball and had a great time.

Rachel said I looked like Cinderella, and although I don't really agree with that (Cinderella dressed in black?) I will admit that I felt a lot more glamorous than I have in a long time, thanks to the help of Sarah and Jody and everyone else who was so excited for us to go. 

I ended up borrowing one of Sarah's formal dresses from a high school dance. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out like a lion

Dear March,

Remember when it was officially spring—like four days ago? 

Let's go back to that. Because today I didn't want to do any of this:

Learning to read

Last night after the girls had been put to bed we could hear them arguing about something in spite of their hushed tones.

"Give it to me!"


"Give it to me; it's mine!"


"Baby, I said to give it to me. Do it now!"


Daddy intervened.

"Hey, what's going on in here?"


My own personal March Madness seems to be the number of posts I've written in March. I've written a whole lot this month. Unfortunately, Andrew doesn't think I'm being completely fair to the narrative. He says that I do silly things all the time and I never blog about that; I only blog about the silly things that everyone else does.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of being the narrator.

It's called self-preservation.

Andrew says that anyone reading this blog will think that I'm always serious and he's always silly and that our children fluctuate between being monsters and angels. And all of that is true, except that I'm not always serious.

And thus, you get another story, as per Andrew's request. He thinks it's hilarious. I think it is mediocre at best, which is why it probably didn't make it onto the blog yesterday. Well, anyway, here goes nothing:

Yesterday afternoon while Miriam was sleeping, Rachel and I had started a little game of scare-and-seek, which is almost like hide-and-seek, except that instead of merely cowering in a corner, waiting for someone to find you, you hide out with the intention of springing on the seeker when they least expect it. It's terribly entertaining.


This is a subject I have to dance around lightly but Andrew insists this story be recorded for posterity. While I seem to have no problem discussing babies and children going potty I do take issue with discussing adults' bathroom habits. Nevertheless, today's bathroom story is about me. Kind of.

I was in the bathroom, and already on the toilet, when I noticed that the toilet paper roll was empty. Not only that, but there was no other toilet paper within reach.

"Rachel!" I called out.

Within seconds she was at the door, ready to do my bidding.

"I need you to go into your bathroom and get me a new roll of toilet paper."

She walked into my bathroom and made a grab for the toilet paper.

"But Mommy! You don't have any toilet paper."

"I know. That's why I need you to go into your bathroom and get me a new roll of toilet paper."

She ran off to her bathroom and returned a few seconds later with a single square of toilet paper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Better days

These past few days have been better. Rachel finally earned her prize and has been diligently working on earning another one—she came home from school today and started unloading the dishwasher without being asked. Of course, it was Miriam's idea.

Miriam loves to help with the silverware but it bothers Rachel to no end that Miriam just tosses it in the drawer helter-skelter, so whenever Miriam is working Rachel has to be right there working along with her, making sure she does it correctly. It's hard enough for Miriam to get the silverware into the drawer at all, let alone correctly.

Never wear mauve at a ball...or pink...

I am no fashionista and since there is a ball on Saturday—a ball that I've been looking forward to attending since I found out we'd be moving back to Utah—I need some fashion advice. Sometimes if I'm really in a pinch and I need fashion advice I think to myself, "WWLD?" or, "What would Layla do?"

She has a fashion icon.

I just learned how to remove mascara, if that tells you anything.

I was probably the only twenty-five-year-old in the world who googled "how to remove mascara." Make-up remover exists, folks. Who knew? Also, Vaseline will work in a pinch (or, in my case, not in a pinch simply because it's way cheaper than make-up remover).

Don't gawk at me! I've had plenty of people offer to help me put on make-up but no one has ever shown me how to get the darn stuff off! I was far too busy actually applying myself academically in high school and college to bother learning how to properly apply (or de-apply) make-up. 

And where did that get me? I'm a 4.0-achieving nerd googling "how to remove mascara."

Talk about life skills. Sheesh.

Layla, you are my fashion icon because you have a fashion icon. 

I have three almost-options for the ball, if we can indeed still find tickets and a babysitter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mouse...or the Heiss house

Andrew's aunt Nicki just posted on facebook, in a mortified tone, that she has a mouse living, eating, and pooping in her pantry. We also had a mouse living, eating, and pooping in our pantry and we didn't even discover it until the closet started smelling funky.

There was a big bag of bird seed in the pantry and somehow it got a hole in it and the seed spilled all over so we cleaned it up and got rid of it, thereby cutting off the food supply for our own little mousy (who we assume was somehow of the hole in the bag). When the mouse no longer had any bird seed to eat it must have found some of the mouse poison that Grandma keeps hidden deep in the depths of a cupboard the girls don't play in and then found his way over to the entryway closet to die.

Pretty soon the closet started smelling of...dead mouse...but we blamed it on Grandpa's racquetball socks.

"It's not my socks!" he insisted, "It smells like something curled up and died!"

Once he said that no one was keen on accepting the unsavory task of cleaning out the closet to find out what died and where. So Grandpa told Andrew that he'd take the whole family out to dinner if Andrew found the dead critter in the closet. Andrew can't say no to good food so he quickly found the mouse, hidden behind coats and shoes. Ew.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Rachel has already thrown a day's worth of fits today. I don't know if I'm being overly censorious or if she's being overly sensitive—likely it's a little bit of both—but today has been awful.

Lucky for both of us she had preschool this morning. So she's not here.

She lost approximately twenty magnets this morning. She threw a fit about her shirt not fitting right. She threw a fit over not being able to pull up her pants after going to the bathroom. She threw a fit over breakfast. She threw a fit about her hair being brushed. She threw a fit over just about everything.

When she stomped off to her bedroom screaming, "I HATE YOU!" for the billionth time I did the unthinkable: I took a magnet away from her.

When I plunked it on the bottom of her chart a bunch of magnets from the top fell onto the floor.

Obviously I wasn't plunking very gently. I have about zero patience left in me—I was wringing out patience at 8:10 this morning and by the time I was shuffling around magnets it was 8:48 and I was spent.

"Hmmmm...should I put these magnets back at the top or should I put them on the bottom?" I mused aloud.


I put the fallen magnets on the bottom of the board. At this point I didn't feel like rewarding her one bit.

When all the magnets get to the top of the board, see, she earns a prize. And there is no stinkin' way I'm giving her a prize in the near future. Not after yesterday and today.

So she screamed and growled and thrashed her little limbs and gnashed her little teeth.

"Do you need me to call in sick for you today or can you get ready for school now?" I asked.

She decided to get ready for school.

While we were getting our shoes on in the hallway she apologized. I accepted.

"Can I have my magnets back now?" she asked.

"Nope," I said, "You'll have to earn them back."

"But that's not fair! I only had three left to earn and now I have a lot!"

"Well, you shouldn't have misbehaved."

"But I said I was sorry."

"If you want to earn a prize today you'll have to be my little slave and work hard for me all day."

"I AM NOBODY'S SLAVE!" she screamed at me, tearing at her hair and clothes in biblical fashion.

"Oh, put on your shoes and let's go," I sighed.

The funny thing is...I don't think she even knows what a slave is. All she knows is that she's in trouble so it's gotta be bad, right? Considering I've been her personal slave for the past 3.5 years, I don't think one day of servitude will really damage her.

Now, let me think:


What else?

Monday, March 21, 2011

First day of spring

I couldn't be happier to have spring be official. 

Rachel and I went outside to take pictures of Grandma's crocuses because Rachel was on a photography kick today. We each took a picture of the flowers and a picture of one of Grandma's garden ornaments.

Here are Rachel's pictures:

(These are crocuses, right?)

(croak! croak!)

And here are my pictures:

Welcome, Spring!

The Stuff of Family Home Evening

For Family Home Evening we talked about the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. We sang the song, we built a sure foundation for one of our houses talking about the things that Christ did for us and how he is our foundation, that he gave us the gospel, which is the rock

Then we built a tower out of blocks beside the house, naming commandments that Heavenly Father has given us: honouring our parents, paying our tithing, keeping the Sabbath day holy, obeying the Word of Wisdom, being kind to others, etc. Each time we named a commandment we added a block to our tower.

I asked Rachel what happened to the foolish man, who didn't listen to Jesus and who didn't keep the commandments we had just listed, when the rains and floods came. 

"His house washed away," she answered, quoting a well-loved primary song.

We pounded on the floor, pretending to be the wind and rain and floods. The house on the rock stood still and the house on the sand washed away. 

That pesky lamp

Today was a hard day. The morning was great—Katie (Rachel's friend from Cairo) and Mirza (Katie's mom and my friend from Cairo) came over to play and/or chat (depending on whether you are Katie and Rachel or me and Mirza). Katie and Rachel spent about 0.2 seconds being shy and then ran off to play together. Those girls are two peas in a pod.

No, the morning was fine. It was the rest of the day was hard.

For example, our floor lamp got bored with standing by the window and decided to browse the fiction section. When it realized it was stuck, it petitioned to the blinds for assistance. The blinds tried to help it back to its proper spot using its pull-cord as a lasso.

Unfortunately, the blinds haven't been working out as much as they used to and weren't able to pull the lamp up before I got into the room. I straightened them out and told them both to stay put.

At least, that's what I'm assuming happened because no one else in the house seems to know anything about it. Even though there were two little girls in the room when it happened they didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary and "weren't even playing by the lamp..." *sigh*

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Want. Cereal.

We had soup for dinner.

I spooned some out in a little bowl for Miriam and blew on it and carefully checked the temperature before giving it to her.

She looked at it with disgust and then picked up her bowl and dumped it on the table.

"Miriam!" I gasped, "We don't dump our food on the table! That's bad! We keep food in our bowls!"

"No!" she said and pushed her bowl away, further smearing her food all over the table, "Want. Cereal."

"You want cereal?" I asked.

She nodded. "Ah, ya ya ya!"

Andrew had promised her cereal for lunch but that didn't end up happening and I guess Miriam was more attached to that idea than we had thought. Since he had promised her cereal earlier in the day he got up to get her some cereal. When he showed her the box she nodded her head and said,


"Well, since you said please," Andrew told her.

"Wahoo!" Miriam said, raising her hands high above her head in "touch down" position.

Like I said, we had soup for dinner.

Miriam, on the other hand, had three bowls of cereal. With milk.

Apparently I just breed spunky children. Or Miriam is learning by example.

Rachel, the example, spent the afternoon at Naanii and Bumpa's house.

More on they guy I know as Charles "Pat" O'Neal

The mystery of Charles F. O'Neil keeps getting more and more mysterious.

Unfortunately, the more I find out about him the lower my opinion of him sinks.

That makes me sound rather judgmental, but family is family. And he's mine.

My Uncle Tom went to a Duggar reunion in Georgia a couple of months ago and found out a lot about this drifter, Charles F. O'Neil. He just sent me an email, which I'll share now, along with some information from my grandma. I'm really new to this whole family historian/quest for ancestors business so if anyone out there (ahem, Kate, ahem) wants to help out you are more than welcome to.

The initial F. does stand for Fitzpatrick, which is why he went by Pat, at least when my great-grandmother, Mary (Gladys) was born.

Fitz is a prefix for the Anglo-Norman patronymic naming system and means "son of." So, it's possible that Charles is the son of Patrick. However, the Irish name Fitzpatrick doesn't necessarily mean this. In fact, it's the English translation of the name of a clan in Ireland: the Mac Giolla Phádraig clan. So it's also possible that Charles was just in this family-clan and his father's name could have been anything.

It is interesting that he put his birthplace as France on the 1910 census since his wife, Gladys, and family were under the impression that he was from Ireland, and they kept that impression forever, it seems, since my grandma had quite the shock when my dad broke the news that her grandpa was from France.

"It can't be!" she said, "It just can't be!"

St. Patrick's Day (and some random pictures)

On St. Patrick's Day we hunted for Leprechaun gold in the backyard. Grandma had given us a little St. Patrick's Day basket she made and it had about five gold coins in it so I just took those and hid them and then convinced Rachel that I saw a Leprechaun drop some gold. 

When we went outside to find it, Miriam was all over the searching part. She found a piece of gold right away, while Rachel was still twirling around in a bewildered state. 

Once Rachel noticed that Miriam had found something she came and snatched it away from her.

Long run

This morning Wendy and I got up dark and early to go running. Nighttime was still lurking in the sky—the moon looked swollen, about ready to burst out of its place, fighting its own eminent setting. The moon was unnaturally large, really, because it's supermoon time—when the moon is at it's perigee and passes by the earth so closely that you feel you could reach out and grab it from the sky to see if it really is made of cheese. Tonight it's actually supposed to be at its biggest in 18 years (since 1993) but it's all overcast and dreary outside so it's completely obscured.

Lucky me, though! I got to see it this morning!

Wendy and I ran 20.25 miles today. We ran up the canyon to Vivian Park and back home. It was actually quite a nice run. Long. But nice.

When I finished I was tired but I felt that I could go the next six miles. I didn't even feel like I was going to cry (or die) this run...unlike last week...and I'm hardly sore at all. My legs feel tired and used but I think by tomorrow I'll be just fine.

I was worried the whole time about running into a bear because I am the biggest worrier in the world. But instead of a bear I ran into my friend, Steve.

It was funny because I was just telling Wendy about how stinking fast he is and then we crossed paths (he and his crew were coming out of the canyon while Wendy and I were heading in).

Steve is so much nicer than a bear.

He smiled and waved instead of eating me.

Wendy and I were a little worried when we got to Bridal Veil Falls park because it said the park was closed. Other people were running on the trail, though, so we decided we could, too. The trail was nice and clear until just past the falls and then we learned why the park was closed.

We had to jump over fallen trees, work our way past boulders that had fallen onto the path, dodge patches of deer scat (and what looked like wolf scat, but just a bit of that), slide across ice, crunch through a foot or so of snow and, at one point, even had to pick over the yet-unmelted aftermath of an avalanche. It was like an obstacle course. But we did it!

And then we turned around and did it all over again because...well, we had to get home somehow!

We are so hardcore.

Even though we walked up the big hill on the way home. 

Misadventures on the highway

Fifty years and ten days ago my mom's cousin Mary married the love of her life. Today Mary's children threw a party to celebrate that day and we were invited. At first Rachel didn't want to go because she was watching a basketball game and "jimmering" off the couch, making a lot of "goals."

Clearly the girl knows nothing about basketball—BYU wasn't even playing and one makes baskets or points or something in basketball, not goals...right?—so it was pretty easy to convince her to go to a fancy party, complete with desserts.

Me: But we're going to a party!

Rachel: Will President Obama be there?


Rachel: Aw, nuts.

Me: But there'll be dessert!

Rachel: When do we leave?

Miriam: O-ba-ma. O-ba-ma. O-ba-ma.

So, we got all loaded into the car and zipped on down to the freeway. We were just merging on when a truck just about creamed us. For some reason he was moving over into our lane—the merging lane—moments before it ended. I don't really know what he was thinking but he seemed rather annoyed that we honked at him. 

About fifteen minutes down the road there was a click and a clunk and a rattle and a bump. Andrew limped our wheezing car to the side of the road, rattling like a maraca.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A little help...

My amazing friend Kate found Mr. Charles F. O'Neil in the 1910 Census.

Question 16 asks whether the person is naturalized or alien. Charles O'Neil is the only person with anything listed in this column and even though it looks like "Na" and that stands for "not applicable," I'm going to assume that, in this case, it means that he's a naturalized citizen.

Nearly everyone else listed on the page was born in Florida. Charles O'Neil was not. Unfortunately, I can't read the name of the place that he was born. I only wish that he had specified a year of immigration. And that I could read the census-taker's handwriting.

Now, it looks to me that the first letter in the name of the place that Charles was born is an F.



Or is that an I-R...

Ireland doesn't really seem likely because there is no loopy /l/ as the handwriting suggests there would be. It looks so much more like France which doesn't even make sense with a name like O'Neil.

And then there's the little note beside each entry (for the place of birth of Charles, his father, and his mother) that's just a little too faint to make out.

Let me know if you have any luck deciphering this...

Kiss me, I'm Irish

I've been delving into my family history again—not too deeply, mind you, because what's done has been done well and what hasn't been done is left blank with good reason. My dad's middle name is Neal. He was named after his grandmother, Mary Gladys O'Neal.

This being St. Patrick's Day, I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Mary Gladys O'Neal's father was Charles F. O'Neal.

That is where the mystery begins.

No one is quite sure where he was born. Was he born somewhere in Ireland and then immigrated to the United States when he was a young boy? Or was he born in Florida (specifically Wetumpka)? No one is quite sure when he was born, though most figure he was born sometime around and between 1876 and 1878, somewhere around and between Ireland and Florida.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chinchillas and bird feeders

Reason # 548 I will never have sextuplets: cub scouts.

Need I say more?

Of course I need to say more. It's me.

Having six eight-year-old boys for an hour is exhausting enough. I can't imagine having to raise six boys all at once. When the boys leave the house I literally sit down and sigh. It's just a little too wild pour moi. 

Today we learned about pets and birds, which meant that we finally got around to making that birdhouse I've been talking about. Notice I said "make" and not "build." That's because, instead of using wood and nails, we merely refashioned some milk jugs into bird feeders. It was much easier and the boys were just as excited about it as anything else and their moms probably won't feel too bad about tossing/recycling the bird feeder after it has run its course because it's technically already garbage.

I helped Rachel make a prototype this morning so that we could show the boys what they would be making. She wanted to make hers pink so I handed her a pink permanent marker and let her go to town. She coloured the entire milk jug pink—it took her close to 45 minutes. I was impressed with her dedication to the project.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It's Tuesday already!

I can't believe how fast time is going—there is only one month until the end of the semester, one month until I run a marathon, one month until Miriam goes into nursery, one month until Andrew leaves for Ghana! It's all coming up so fast!

The end of the semester is yet another cliff-hanger for us. We're rushing to our doom, full speed ahead, unsure of what we'll find when we step over the edge: will we fly, fall, or find a hidden bridge? It's yet another leap of faith for us. Nothing terrible is due to happen, except nothing (which isn't terrible at all since we have secure jobs for the summer whether we stay or go), but there are other more alluring options that might come knocking and we kind of wish they would.

For now we're ready to stay or go at a moment's notice, but to keep myself from getting my hopes up I'm developing a list of fun things to do over the summer, filling our time with "Utah adventures" just in case we don't have any other adventure to run off to.

Speaking of running, I ran 19 miles on Saturday. It was the longest run of my life. The first half went by pretty smoothly; I ran to BYU and it was beautiful outside. I did a couple of miles around the track, went back outside to run home, and was just about blown away by a nasty spring zephyr. I was running into the wind the entire nine miles home. It was hard. And, oh, so cold...especially when it started raining.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Revolutions, success, and failure

I think it's interesting when so many events in my life blur together.

I read the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy in January and started reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea right after. It was amazing to see the similarities in the two books and realize that the world portrayed in The Hunger Games, a world I thought was too fictional to exist, exists. Minus the whole gaming part. But seriously, North Korea is in a bad way.

And while I was plotting in my little mind how to shout out to North Korea: Hey, you guys! There's a whole world out here! (And we have the internet!) You can be free! You all just need to join forces and pull down the regime. That's all...

(That's kind of where my message fizzled because I don't really know how to overthrow a powerful government so could offer North Korea no good advice on the matter.)

Anyway, while I was plotting in my little mind about how to overthrow North Korea, Egypt started its revolution. And I thought to myself, "If only North Korea could do this, too!" It seems that almost anyone who saw anything about the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and who were fed up with being oppressed by tyrants, decided that overthrowing the government was the thing to do in 2011. If only North Korea knew about it; I'm sure they would have hopped on the band wagon, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A beautiful day to go to the park

Yet another gorgeous day! Perhaps spring is here to stay!

This morning I was walking Rachel to school and she said, "Today looks like a beautiful day to go to the park! I hope it never gets to be winter again! Can we go to the park after school?"

I told her that we definitely could. And so we did.

Though this time we went to a park with wood chips instead of sand. Miriam likes to put those into her mouth, too, but she usually ends up spitting them out. Wood chips apparently aren't quite as savory as sand.

One day we're going to live somewhere where the weather is perfect all year long, where snow is only a short trip away so we can play in the snow if we want to, and where all you ever need is a light jacket.

Teething any?

I don't even know how long we've been waiting for this tooth to come in. Miriam's poor gums have been swollen and uncomfortable for weeks—likely upwards of six. I'm not even kidding. This girl is the slowest teether in the universe. 

We're finally making progress, though, and the molar on her right side has ruptured her gums! Today her mouth was bleeding so much that she was drooling blood, the poor thing. 

She has picked up some serious talents while teething, though. For example, she can shove her whole fist in her mouth and still manage to talk. Or at least babble.

And if nothing else works out for her she'll at least be able to find a job removing (hopefully lead-free) paint. 

For the sake of my sanity and her crib railing, let's all hope we get a break from teething soon!

Unfortunately the same molar on the left side is still giving her plenty of grief—her gums are all swollen with no clear sign of any pending rupture. As I said before, "Poor thing!"

Mashing bananas

Mashing bananas is probably one of my least favourite tasks, so now that Rachel is old enough to do it for me making banana bread just got awesome. 

As promised...

Here's the video Andrew (and his team) made for a class project. I filmed the outdoor scenes. Try not to marvel too much at my amazing cinematography skills. I can't decide whether my favourite part is when Andrew, blinking, steps into the sun or when he appears with his "beard."

The Career Development Cycle from Andrew Heiss on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Hobo Baby

Contrary to how dreary the sky looks it's actually quite warm out. It snowed quite a bit on Monday evening and was a little chilly yesterday. Today, however, we were back up to the fifties and tomorrow we're creeping into the sixties. I couldn't be happier. Surviving the winter and making it to spring—while retaining my sanity—is a real feat for me. I was made for sunshine and sunshine was made for me. Being cooped up all winter long really cramps my style.

We went to the park this afternoon and played for a long time. For a while we were the only ones there but then kids from around the neighbourhood started joining us. At one point we had five girls (and one boy) taking up all the swings and there were other children sliding, digging, and climbing. I haven't seen a park so well-utilized in a long time.

After a winter-long hiatus, Miriam rediscovered sand. Apparently she hasn't lost her taste for it because one of the first things she did was shove a handful into her eager little mouth. I chastised her and emphasized how terribly yucky sand is and she seemed to get my message.

A BYU day

Yesterday Andrew and I gave the Brown Paper Bag Presentation at the HBLL—it's just an informal lunch gathering where someone (hopefully someone interesting) comes to talk to any employee who wants to share their lunch hour. We had a decent turnout but only because so many people in the library love us; it's like our second home (and I'm not even kidding).

We talked about Egypt, which was naturally fun for us. I hope it was as fun for everyone else.

When we were finished I took the girls to the Bean Museum to waste away the afternoon while Andrew attended his afternoon classes. The museum was crawling with young mothers and little children doing exactly the same thing. It was fun!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Double, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Grandpa picked up some bubble bath at the store the other day (at least, he's the one taking credit for it) and today the girls got to try it out after dinner. I can't remember the last time they've had a proper bubble bath (ie. one using actual bubble bath solution instead of having Daddy pour half a bottle of shampoo in the water). It's been a while for Rachel and I really don't think Miriam has actually ever had one.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dinner with the Greats

We went to dinner at Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon's house today. Grandma Sharon has been working on cross-stich baby announcements for the girls; it's something she did for each of her grandchildren (Brock, Grant, Lindsey, and Dana) before she married Grandpa Frank and inherited a whole gaggle of grandchildren (well, nine more, anyway). She decided when Rachel was born that she would continue the tradition with her great-grandchildren and began working on Rachel's birth cross-stich right away. And then Kayl was born. And then Miriam. And then Talmage. And Grandma Sharon began to realize she may have gotten herself into more than she bargained for.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Running and stuff

This morning I got up to go running before anyone else was up. I was sitting on the floor, tying up my running shoes, when Rachel stumbled out of her bedroom and asked me to hold her. She climbed onto my lap and I held her close.

Something smelled fishy. Or, to be more precise, like vomit.

I gave her head a good sniff.

"Rachel! You smell like throw up!" I exclaimed.

"That's funny," she said, "Because I didn't throw up."

"That's funny because you have chunks of throw up in your hair!"

"I do?"

"You do! Did you throw up last night?"



We were driving in the car today and came to a four-way stop. Even though we were the only car at the intersection, Andrew dutifully came to a complete stop.

"I was first!" he announced.

"And last," I pointed out, "So who knows if you can really go or not?"

"I was also third," he said, "So I can go now."

"But you were also forth."

"And seventh."

"And sixteenth."

Sensing a pattern, Rachel joined in.

"You were also twoth, Daddy!" she said gleefully.

Andrew and I started laughing and instead of getting offended Rachel started giggling, as well.

"What did I say that was funny?" she asked.

"Well, it isn't twoth," I told her. "It's second."

Friday, March 04, 2011


This morning the girls were colouring together and Miriam inadvertently drew a complete circle. Rachel immediately flew into a tizzy.

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Miriam drew a circle! She didn't just scribble, Mom! She drew a circle! Look! Here's her circle! Look at it, Mom, look! It's a circle! Look at Miriam's circle! See? A circle! She drew a circle! A circle, a circle, a circle! Look!"

"Wow, that's so nice," I said.

"Circle!" said Miriam importantly.

Because of this little incident I've been looking at circles all day long. Miriam has been scribbling on every piece of scrap paper in the house and then thrusting the paper in my face so I can adore her circles, which most of the time aren't even circles.

Since she can say circle we're now trying to teach her what it actually means. It's a little over her head but eventually she'll get it.

On a side note, if they ever have auditions for Dora: The Musical, I think I'll have Rachel try-out. She'd be perfect because she can't say anything—it must be yelled.

Life is good when you're growing up

When I was growing up we had the Care Bears Movie II at our house so whenever I think of Care Bears I think of that movie. There's a song in that movie—besides the Care Bear Cheer—that comes to mind a lot. It's about growing up. I really can't believe that I can still sing it after all these years; after all, the movie came out when I was Miriam's age. Perhaps that's testimony of how many times I watched it when I was a child.

Growing up, it's something you can measure
Growing up, it happens every day
Being young is something you can treasure
But life is good when you're growing up!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

"It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly."

This evening before bedtime we read a few books about birds—we'll be learning about birds in a couple of weeks for cub scouts so this week we checked out some books from the library to study. Rachel asked if she could get a pet bird and, being the mean parent that I am, I said no. Instead she morphed into a bird and showed me how she could fly.

Bravo, Rachel, bravo!

She flew into the bathroom to retrieve the dirty feathers she took off before she got in the birdbath and instead of tucking her into bed I opened the door to her cage and put her in. She tweeted goodnight and I've hardly heard a peep from her since, though Miriam is still chirping away in her crib.


We went for a walk yesterday afternoon; it seems the fifties are here to stay (at least for a while). Rachel found and picked a bright yellow dandelion.

"What is this?" she asked me.

"It's a dandelion," I told her.

Apparently she missed the yellow blossom stage this summer and only experienced the white fluffy stage because she got really excited and started trying to blow the dandelion apart. After letting her get winded and a little light-headed I informed her that the dandelion was not ready to blow on quite yet. She drooped a little bit and dejectedly held the flower out to me.

"This is for you," she sighed.

"Oh, thanks!" I said, "It's as yellow and beautiful as the sunshine!"

"Yeah!" she said, perking up, "It's as yellow as the fire hydrant, too!"

She is as romantic as her father.

Miriam has turned into little Miss Monkey-See-Monkey-Do lately and had been watching her sister with verifiable interest. She walked over to a pile of decaying leaves that had likely been sitting in the gutter since October and picked up a handful. She puffed up her cheeks with air and then blew into her hand, scattering leaves and splattering muck everywhere.

Now she thinks that picking things off the ground and blowing on them is the newest spring fashion.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Make Believe

This morning while Rachel was at school, Miriam baked a whole plateful of cookies and ate them all without sharing a single bite.

This afternoon when Rachel came home from school she got all dolled-up and attended a fancy ball.

The end.

Feature Pancakes

Not only is it March 1st. It's also IHOP's National Pancake Day, and since in the past IHOP held their National Pancake day on Shrove Tuesday we wrongly assumed that today was Shrove Tuesday. But it's not. IHOP decided to "host its free pancake event one week build buzz and excitement prior to Shrove Tuesday." Well, they succeeded because we were certainly buzzing with excitement at our house (especially after ingesting all that syrup). 

Rachel is excited for St. Patrick's Day. She said she wants to paint her nails green (so we're on the lookout for green nail polish) and I don't even know why she knows so much about St. Patrick's Day since it's the first day of March and she really shouldn't remember anything from previous years. Anyway, I decided to make green pancakes in honour of St. Patrick but then I thought that Rachel, though excited for St. Patrick's Day, might not be thrilled with green pancakes so I reserved some of the batter and dyed it pink.

I made some pink pancakes and then I made some green pancakes. Then I poured some green batter on the griddle and let it sit for a minute before pouring pink batter on top. It worked beautifully and we came out with pancakes that were pink on one side and green on the other. Then I started drawing with the batter—I made a pink pancake with a green R on it for Rachel and a green pancake with a pink M on it for Miriam.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


March has already lulled me into a false sense of spring-security. I'm so ready for it to be spring and today was beautiful, but I'm well aware of the saying "in like a lion, out like a lamb" and I'm sure things will change before we get to the end of March. Last year it was still snowing in May, so I'm told. Still, today was beautiful and we're supposed to be in the fifties for the rest of the week. 

Today Andrew had to shoot some scenes for a training movie he's making for his human resources class. His group shot most of it on campus but there were a few shots that they couldn't film there so I was volunteered to help finish the filming. I'll have to post it when it's finished—Andrew wears a kleenex beard in the later scenes so it's kind of a must-see flick.

We went to the park to finish filming. I let the girls run off to the playground while we set up our equipment around a model pioneer home. The playground was quite a ways away from where we were but I could see the girls and hear the girls, though it didn't seem like they could hear me.

The beginning of the end

I started reading Peter Pan last night. It's a charming story; it makes me feel nostalgic for my own childhood because I really did jump around my bedroom as a youngster, convinced that at some point I would stick to the sky instead of plummeting to the ground. But then I learned about gravity and stopped trying.

Andrew seems to have solved the problem of our nightly visitor—Rachel—who wears out her welcome rather quickly with all her kicking, squirming, talking, and wiggling. We have a magnet board for her and when she does something good she gets to move a magnet up to the top of the board. When all the magnets are at the top then she gets to choose a prize. She can watch a movie, go to Macey's for an ice cream cone with Daddy, have Mommy do her nails, or earn a toy or book.

She's been rather motivated by this. Do the dishes? Sure. Put the dirty diaper in the pail? Sure. Clean up my toys? Sure. Ask for things politely at the dinner table? Yes, ma'am. Share with my sister? You bet.

Yesterday afternoon when I asked her to get a fresh diaper out for Miriam she said, "Sure! And when it's time to go to bed can I get a nighttime diaper ready for her, too?"

I realize she was only after another magnet but it's nice to have her offering to do things instead of me having to force her to do everything. And eventually the external motivation will turn into internal motivation, right?

Anyway, a couple of nights ago Andrew told her that staying in her own bed was a good thing to do and that she could earn a magnet by staying in her own bed. At 2:00 AM I woke up to Rachel scrambling over me and into the middle of the bed. Apparently she simply didn't think one magnet was worth the stress of ignoring all the monsters that come out at night because the next night Andrew upped the ante. He offered her three magnets for staying in bed.