Monday, October 31, 2011

Feisty Fours & Terrible Twos

Our ward's primary presentation is in two weeks. Rachel was asked to give a talk. This means that she gets a full thirty seconds (or however long it will take her to say the talk that I keep making shorter and shorter) of glory in front of a microphone. And the entire congregation.

It's that last part that she's worried about.

She's so worried about it that she cried all through sacrament meeting. And all through the first hour of primary when we were practicing the songs. And all through the second hour until she got up to say her part.

It was a little agonizing for her. As her teacher said, "I wish they'd have put her first so she could just get it over with."

Rachel is, apparently, a worry wart. She just sat there getting more and more nervous the entire day. It was pitiful. I almost started crying watching her be so nervous.

Fortunately we have another couple of weeks to get her nice and ready. Unfortunately, crying for three hours in the morning kind of broke her for the rest of the day, which she, for the most part, also spent crying.

"I'm just so nervous about my talk! I can't stop crying!" she'd sob.

It was a long day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adventures in Idaho: Pumpkin Painting, Halloween Concert, Straw Maze and more!

This weekend we went on a whirlwind trip to Idaho. Emily was playing her cello in a Halloween concert and it sounded like fun, so we tagged along with Andrew's parents and hightailed it up to Rexburg. We left at ten in the morning and were able to get to Emily and Morgan's house by mid-afternoon. We spent the afternoon painting and carving pumpkins and visiting. The girls had fun but I should have come armed with smocks for sure. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween costumes and Shadowbrook Mansion

My mom invited us to go to a play with her and my dad at the Valley Center Playhouse in Lindon. They always do a couple of Halloween shows that are cute and fun—we've been a couple of times but in no way would I call it a tradition of ours. Americans are pretty picky about what age children can attend plays and things so I went online to see if my girls would be allowed. I looked around their website for a bit to see what I could find out. 

"Spooky fun for the whole family," they claimed. "Costume parade at intermission. Wear your costume to compete for prizes!"

That looked promising. 

I checked the FAQs to see if it mentioned anything about children there. It didn't. So we decided we'd be safe to bring the girls. 

The girls were so excited to get to wear their costumes. Let's be honest: they're always excited to wear costumes. But I was going to let them wear their costumes out, like out of the house, out of the yard, out of the neighbourhod, out on the town! What could be more exciting? Probably nothing.

I finished Rachel's Princess Leia "wig." It's more like an ear warmer with buns on the side but that was completely what I intended it to be—Halloween's going to be cold! I used a pattern for a headband I found online and then winged the buns. It turned out better than I expected, though Rachel was a little disappointed it was only a headband and not a full on wig. She got over that when she looked in the mirror though!

Miriam has been waffling between a couple of ideas. A butterfly. Dorothy. A pink princess.

Then, because Rachel had a wig, Miriam decided she needed one, too, and pulled out the old Rapunzel staple—a yellow scarf we got in Egypt for less than a buck. It's been tucked into many, many ponytails to add extra length since Tangled came out last year.

Because this is Halloween and we wanted her Rapunzel wig to be special, I twisted it all pretty and added some hair scrunchies. She was quite pleased with the results and wore it for hours today.

The crown keeps the scarf on her head and can also double as an ear warmer for when we're trick-or-treating next week.

And so that was that. We were set at like 5:00 and the play didn't start until 7:30 so we definitely had some time to kill. The neighbours patched up the fence this morning so our backyard was dog-free, which meant that I was able to convince the girls to go into the backyard for a little photo shoot.

I don't know how people ever choose only one picture to show—I narrowed it down, but come on! I love looking at the story the pictures tell as I'm coaxing my children to "Smile! Smile!" and "Look at the camera!" and "Tilt your chin up a bit!" They're so funny. And I seriously have no idea how professional photographers get children to look at the camera and smile naturally. That's just one reason I'm not a professional. Anyway...

Miriam's holding a frog in lieu of Pascal, who is actually a chameleon. Rachel is holding a water gun in lieu of Leia's traditional "blaster." I just called it a ray gun when I was asking Andrew what it was called. He is currently mocking me. I'm not exactly what you'd call a Star Wars buff. Or fan. Or anything.

This is the sweetest—and perhaps unlikeliest (Rapunzel and Leia together?)—pair of princesses I've ever seen.

Rachel was like a statue. I tried to get her to strike a bold Leia pose. This is all I got:

At least she moved her arms, right?

I love how Miriam has to hold up the dress to walk—it's huge on her (I use a hair elastic to gather it in the back so it doesn't fall off of her)—I think it makes her look very regal. When I asked her to strike a pose, though, she grabbed "Pascal's" hand and made him wave to me.

Then, since we had more time to kill, the girls insisted that I get out a costume for myself. I got out my shalwar kameez—it's from Pakistan but we bought it in Jordan at Global Village. I just couldn't pass it up. Besides, it's Diwali! You never know when you might need a special shalwar kameez for Diwali!

That mark on my forehead was my attempt at a bindi. I didn't have any red lipstick, though, so it's kind of brown instead, and I put it way too high. I have such a big forehead that I'm never sure where to stick it—technically it's supposed to go between, but a little higher than, your eyebrows. It's difficult to gauge "close to the eyebrows" when your forehead is like four inches tall. It's close...ish.

The Spanish Fork Krishna Temple is celebrating Diwali on November 5th and 6th. I kind of want to go—I haven't been since Andrew and I were engaged. Andrew was making fun of me (that's pretty much all he ever does) for wearing my shalwar kameez and dressing Miriam up as Rapunzel because our friends, the Palmers, in Sharja just did a post about Diwali and their daughter Magdelena is also dressing up as Rapunzel using a yellow scarf as a "wig." 

I promise we're not copying everything you do on purpose—it's just that you're like, what, half a day ahead of us. Sheesh. Actually, I think it's kind of funny. It reminds me of The Office, where Pam and Angela are both planning on naming their babies Phillip and kind of cat fight it out about announcing it. 

Anyway, Grandma surprised us by coming upstairs in her Halloween costume, too! The BYU ward is having a big Halloween party on Monday and Reid and Karen are going. Karen had a nun costume already so she found a priest costume for Reid to wear. The girls were excited to see her, although their excitement is not showing in this picture.

Well, it helped kill time until my parents came to pick us up at any rate. My girls were going crazy. But Naanii and Bumpa and Auntie Josie finally showed up and we left for the playhouse. When we got there, Sister Renstrom tsked her tongue and shook her head.

"No, no, no, no, no!" she said. "We don't allow babies."

"She's not a baby!" my mom insisted. 

"Well, how old is she?"

"She's two."

"That's a baby. Our policy is that children under five can't attend our shows because they are too disruptive. They make noise and talk and cry and it makes people angry—at the mother, of course, but I get the brunt of it! So we don't allow children at all."

"I looked online and couldn't find anything about that!" I said. "It said it was a family friendly play."

"Oh, it is family friendly," she said (—just not for my family, I suppose—) then continued, "But our policy is firm. No children under five. It's printed right here in our program."

In the end I called Andrew and had him pick up Miriam to take her home. No one was very happy about this—she would have just sat on my lap and sucked her thumb the whole time. It didn't seem like Sister Renstrom was very happy about having Rachel attend, knowing that she was only four, but, frankly, Rachel behaved just as well as, if not better than, the cub scout troop that was in the audience, or the five-year-old girl who came with her family. 

There were only twenty or thirty people there anyway since, in the words of Brother Renstrom, it was an "off day." They don't usually do plays on Wednesdays but since they have two shows running in Halloween they throw in a couple of extra nights. 

Miriam took the disappointment like a pro, but I think the Valley Center Playhouse needs to change their policy. They are missing out on a lot of revenue—I know of several families who would probably take their whole brood out to see a play but who wouldn't dream of leaving half their kids at home to take the older kids out. And, in my opinion, if you call something "family friendly" it should be family friendly. But I also hold the opinion that infants have every right to scream their lungs out on a plane—just as much as my seat companion has the right to snore or the guy in front of me to let his seat back or for the flight attendants to try to feed me every half hour. My opinion is that if you take children to plays and concerts then they learn how to behave in plays and concerts. I also happen to know that adults are just as likely to talk through a performance as children are. 

They could at least designate some performances as truly family friendly and others as children intolerant. I re-checked their website when I got home and, lo, on the "tickets" page it does say that children under four would not be admitted, it said nothing in the FAQs (which is where I usually look for answers to my questions) or on the main page, where it touts its "family friendly" atmosphere. Also, um, four. Not five. They can't even seem to decide what age limit their "policy is firm" about. Because their program certainly says five while their website definitely says four. 

Anyway, we saw Shadowbrook Mansion and it was good. A couple of my mom's students from BYU were in it. The most impressive thing of all, though, was when Marlene Arnold, who must be in her seventies and has been doing the show for at least six years, did the splits. I kid you not. She was dancing and singing and at the end of the song she sank right into the splits and then got right back up again. It was, like...whoa.

It was fun to go the the playhouse again and see some of the same people we've seen acting in plays for years—Ken Norris, I think, has been in just about everything. My uncle did plays at the Valley Center Playhouse for years before my family even moved here, so although the playhouse isn't exactly a tradition for our family it does have a special place in our hearts. We've been going to plays there (occasionally) since the nineties. 

I remember it being a very family friendly place. I think we took Josie to watch that hillbilly show - Possum City USA - Uncle Bruce was in way back in the day and she certainly wasn't five then. Just sayin'...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Rachel did end up winning a chocolate bar for her costume. My costume went completely unrewarded but a girl with a white sweatshirt (on which she had placed some black blobs, calling herself a cow) won free tickets to a show. Everyone who dressed up got free tickets, except for Rachel, who chose the chocolate bar, and me. Not that I'm bitter. And not that I could even go to a show if I won tickets because I wouldn't be allowed to take my kids.

That's alright. We're going to a couple of other shows this weekend—Auntie Emily's concert on Friday night and a musical fireside on Sunday night at the Hale with Naanii—that actually are 100% family friendly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say you're the only bee in my pocket!

This afternoon while Miriam was napping, Rachel was playing in the backyard with her friend Emily. Somehow they had gotten a glue stick outside. They were trying to make a telescope. Anyway...

Rachel started screaming and then ran inside the house.

"I'm just going inside without you!" she screamed. "Whatever you do, stay outside!"

I rushed to see what was going on.

"There's a bee in my pocket!" Rachel wailed. "And it's all Emily's fault!"

"What?! How is that Emily's fault?"

"I just asked her to hold the glue stick and she said no and then a bee flew into my pocket!"

Yeah. That makes sense.

I'm glad we got that cleared up.

Miriam's Two!

Miriam's birthday celebrations started bright and early this morning. Rachel was easily 10 times more excited for Miriam's birthday than Miriam was and insisted that they run out to the kitchen to see the decorations right away—Grandma has a number of birthday banners that she's put up for every birthday for years and years. She put them up last night so the girls were not disappointed when they raced into the kitchen at full speed to make sure Miriam's birthday had not been overlooked. 

"But where's her crown?" Rachel asked, "Grandma put a birthday crown out for me on my birthday!"

All things being equal...that's my Rachel.

While Miriam munched on her cereal, Rachel serenaded her with the Happy Birthday song. Then I left Miriam with Grandma while I ran Rachel to school. When I got home, Miriam and I got to work on decorating her birthday cake.

Because Miriam was helping so much—mostly by tasting the icing—she was nearly naked and covered in icing. She was still that way when Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon stopped by. I just rinsed her off and let her visit in her undies. Word on the street was that Grandma Sharon had picked out an outfit for Miriam to wear, anyway, but the first thing Miriam unwrapped was a teddy bear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hair curling

Yesterday Rachel earned a session of hair-curling by yours truly. She did her dishes without crying and then helped clean the kid bathroom without whining so I let her choose a prize. 

"Will you curl my hair?" she asked.

So I told her I would. And then I did.

"You're not very good a curling hair," she told me. "Grandma's really good at it because she does it everyday. Maybe if you curled your hair everyday you'd be better at curling my hair."

When Andrew saw Rachel's hair he mentioned, once again, that I had never used my curling iron on myself. And that I had only used it twice since he gave it to me for my birthday in June—once to curl Josie's hair and once to curl Rachel's hair. 

Today I curled my own hair, just to stick it to him. And it was hard—no wonder I hardly ever do this! I have no idea what the back looks like but it must look alright because no one has said otherwise. Andrew even noticed my hair and complimented me on it...right before hitting the books again. I don't think I'll be curling my hair again until we have a night out planned. But then again, I certainly could use the practice beforehand.

Here's a rather unflattering self-portrait to prove that I used my curling iron on myself:

You're welcome.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Miriam's Pre-Birthday Party

"We should do something fun for Miriam's birthday!" I suggested to Andrew when he got home from school. "Let's go to Trafalga—we just got Rachel's new card. It's free!"

Much to my surprise, Andrew didn't moan and groan about how much homework he had to do and instead said, "Yeah! Let's do it!"

I guess he was ready for a fun break.

Miriam's birthday isn't until tomorrow, technically, but Tuesdays are always hard days for Andrew so today was a much better day to go off and have fun. We did our FHE lesson in the car on the way over—Rachel has to give a talk in sacrament meeting for the primary presentation in two weeks so we had her practice that. 

We didn't tell the girls where we were going so they were really excited when we arrived at Trafalga. We hadn't been since March, I think, and they had wanted to ride the merry-go-round so badly, but it wasn't running yet (they turn on the "outside toys" in April; I'm not sure when they turn them off). Miriam had guessed we were going hiking and Rachel had guessed we were going to a playground. They were both pleasantly surprised.

They hopped on the merry-go-round first thing. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blacks & the Priesthood and Beard-growing Contests

I'm really excited for my primary lesson tomorrow. It's on the story of Cornelius in Acts 10 & 11. One of the enrichment activities was to have the kids match some super-stereotypical facts to their countries. Like, "In what country would you see someone wearing a kilt?" or "In what country do people eat lasagna?" Instead of doing that we're going to have the kids match translations of texts to the right language. We're also going to discuss the Official Declaration–2 (specifically we're going to President Hinkley's talk about the restoration and Andrew's going to talk a bit about the church in Ghana).

Crazy Kids & 'Tato Heads

Today I got to babysit my friend's children while she went out to dinner with her parents and siblings. James, our neighbour, is leaving for a two-year mission to Chile in a couple of weeks. Diana, his sister, who is married to Andrew's cousin, flew out to spend the weekend with him before he leaves. She's here. And Willy's here. And Michelle's here—she just moved here, actually. The other kids are always here. The only one they're missing is Steve. Anyway, they wanted to go out to eat unhampered by fussy children so Michelle's kids came over to play.

For a couple of hours I had a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a(n almost) two-year-old, and a one year old. Things were pretty crazy around here. The one-year-old was only happy when we were squeaking squeaky toys in his face, otherwise he was screaming for his momma.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

BYU day

We had some errands to run in Provo today—errands that Rachel had to be there for—so the girls and I spent the day playing on campus while we waited for Daddy to finished with school and work. 

"You're going to spend all day on campus?" Andrew asked.

I told him we were. There is a ton to do on campus—we didn't even get over to the Widstoe building to check out the aquariums in the basement and we still managed to fill our whole day. 

Our first destination was the Bean Museum. We had to wait for the light at a crosswalk on our way over and before we could cross, a police officer stopped us. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to be a mean mom in three easy steps

Step one: Form and impose ridiculous, hard-to-follow rules, such as, "No drawing on the furniture."

Step two: If your ridiculous, hard-to-follow rules are broken, inflict a form of cruel and unusual punishment on the perpetrator. For example, have them scrub crayon off the furniture.

Step three: Rinse and repeat.

While I was sweeping the kitchen floor after dinner, the girls were playing with cars and other such things. Or so I thought. One of those children (*cough* Miriam *cough*) was running a black crayon along the bench instead of a toy car. Do you know how similar crayon-on-bench sounds to car-on-bench? Very. I should know—I listened to cars being driven on benches all day long and couldn't tell the difference between that and crayon scribbling until I looked up from my pile of dirt.

I gasped. "Miriam! That's naughty!"

She started crying. We discussed, again, the proper function of a crayon. Then I handed her a sponge. She started sobbing and scrubbing and was so remorseful and cute that I decided to get the camera. 

"Sweet!" she thought, " Mom thinks I'm cute! I'm totally off the hook! Happy dance!"

Seasons come and seasons go

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons—summer being my favourite, I think.... I'm not very good at choosing favourites. But I like everything about autumn, actually, except that it leads to winter. 

I like it when the leaves turn fiery red and, in turn, transform the green mountains into a golden-hued peaks. I like it when the sun sets and turns everything a brilliant, burning orange.

I like the First Day of School and Thanksgiving and Halloween and Thanksgiving (again).

I like wearing sweaters and socks (but not shoes—ugh) and having the air be crisp and cool. It's a reason to enjoy hot apple cider and warm pumpkin pie. I like those things, too.

I don't like it at all when the trees fling off their leaves and stand around naked. 

How do they decide to do this? It doesn't make any sense. 

Here are two trees—the same kind—side by side. One has fully embraced the inevitable winter while the other is desperately clinging to our dying summer. 

Personally, I'm a clinger. But I've already broken out the sweaters, I also a mutineer?

A couple of weeks ago when it was really cold—last week?—I whined to Andrew that fall was a useless season.  "It's just the gateway to winter!" I pouted. Then lied, "I hate it!"

I don't hate all of fall. Just the part where it morphs into winter. 

"Perhaps," he suggested, "If you thought of winter as the gateway to spring, winter wouldn't seem so bad."

I don't know. Winter and I aren't very good friends. Maybe this year I will try to be a little more welcoming, but I don't think I'll ever embrace it with the same reckless abandon that the trees do.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Slide stopping

The girls and I headed to the park after dinner to enjoy the last bit of sunshine before bedtime. The air was cool and crisp but just warm enough that we didn't feel chilly. Miriam watched intently as Rachel climbed up the tube-slide—she wasn't quite sure how to manage it and kept sliding down after making it up half-way.

It's the...eye of the tiger!

Today was a beautiful day brimming with imagination.

First, the girls disappeared into their bedroom to ready themselves for the ball. Even though they closed the door I wasn't too worried because they had just had me do their hair (also in preparation for the ball) and they walked into their room with armfuls of costumes. There was no fighting and they were taking a long time, but I didn't want to interrupt them when all I was hearing was happy noises...and I had just heard them dump out the blocks so maybe they got sidetracked on the way to the ball. 

Then they emerged from their room fully powdered.

Hidden within their armfuls of scarves and sequins was a bottle of baby powder.

All princesses use powder when they get ready for balls. Didn't you know that?

The girls had baby powder in their hair, all over their faces, all over their dresses, all over their toes, and all over their carpet. Fortunately it was baby powder and not garlic powder. Everything smells absolutely lovely. 

After dancing for a while, the girls decided they wanted to play Rapunzel. They immediately set to work creating frying pans. Rachel had drawn a frying pan on an empty cereal box—it actually looked somewhat like a frying pan. Miriam drew a frying pan on a piece of scrap paper—it looked nothing like a frying pan but we told her it was a beautiful frying pan, anyway. After asking me to cut out her frying pan, we traced it and cut it out again, and then Rachel began gluing and taping the two pieces of cardboard together—to make it less bendy. 

Heaven forbid we have a bendy fake cardboard weapon in our home.

"I need you to rip just one more piece of tape for me so that I can put it across here to make it more frying-panner," Rachel said. I did so, and then she did so and announced, "There. Now that's Rapunzely!"

Frying pans. Who knew?

You've been ghosted

Start time: 1:00 PM
End time: 10:00 PM

The last time I made sugar cookies with the girls was in February, right before Valentine's Day. I think it's safe to say that it will be at least another eight months before I take on a project of this scale again. 

Nine hours of cookie-making? Yikes!

First we put Miriam down for a nap. 

Then we got the butter out to soften it. Then we creamed it. 

Then Rachel and I watched The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina (the creaming wasn't going so well).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pirate Party!

This afternoon my mom and dad volunteered to take Rachel and Miriam to the park to give me a break. It's as if they could tell we'd had a difficult week. The girls had a lot of fun and even got to see some ducks by a pond—people were feeding the ducks but weren't counting on Miriam's lightning quick reflexes. She apparently snatched a piece of moldy bread off the ground before any of the ducks could grab it (or before my parents could grab her). My dad ended up digging it out of her mouth. Silly baby.

When the girls got home we finished rifling through our dress-ups and dressers to find all our pirate gear.

Ye be sorry, matey!

My friend Annik is getting married today and for her reception she's having a pirate party—at least, I'm assuming she's having a pirate party since the invitation was in Pirate (the language) and we were encouraged to show our "inner sea-dog." Rachel has been so excited for this—she's been asking about it non-stop. This morning we scrounged around for piratey things and then made swords out of cardboard.

We decided that the swords would be much more realistic if we wrapped them in tinfoil. This turned out to be so much harder than we thought. I'm not sure why.

All in all the sword project alone took us a good forty-five minutes.

Rachel was happy with her sword for all of three minutes. And then in bent. And she went ballistic.

"I hate this sword! You did a bad job, Mom! This sword is the ugliest, stupidest sword I've ever seen! Why did you even make it out of cardboard! You should have used something stronger—like metal! I hate it so much! Now I can't even be a pirate and it's all your fault because my sword is bending! Swords don't bend! I hate this sword! Why couldn't you just make a good sword? This sword is so, so bad and I hate it!"

After a few minutes of this, Andrew sent her to her room and told her to sit by herself until she could apologize. She came out of her room after she had calmed down and gave me a hug.

"I'm sorry..." she said sincerely, "That your sword is a little bit bendy."

Apology...accepted. I guess?

I mean, it was sincere and all but I can't figure out what exactly it is that she was apologizing for—the fact that she threw a horrible fit after I had invested so much time helping her make a sword or the fact that my sword-making skills are apparently sub-par.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Looking up

Like I said, Tuesday was a bad day. It was so bad that I cried. But not until after I had gotten home from Rosie's play and sat down and realized that I still had to do the dishes. It was so bad that on Wednesday morning I still wasn't feeling like having a lot of fun. So I took the girls to the park and told them to play. 

And then I read. 

Like three whole pages in my book before being interrupted. 

"I want to swing! Will you push me?"

"Help me climb this ladder!"

"I want a snack!"

"I want a drink!"

"There's no one to play with!"

"I found a rock!"

"Watch me do this!"

So I helped them get a snack and a drink and watched them do their cool tricks and helped the climb up the impossible and pushed them on the swings. It's the last part that killed my spurt of energy. 

Shakespeare and Choirs

Tuesday was a bad day—by the time I was getting ready to go to my niece's play it had been decided that Rachel and Miriam would be staying home and going to bed. Miriam was pretty okay with that idea. Rachel was not. She screamed from the minute I walked out of the house until she fell asleep two hours later. And, actually, she screamed before I walked out of the house, too. That's why it was decided that I would be going without the children. I needed a break.

Sometimes it's weird for me to think that I have a niece in junior high—but she is and she's in drama and went to the Shakespeare Festival this past weekend in Cedar City. So did Josie. Josie got to watch Rosie perform there but she was the only one in the family who got to. I went to Josie's one-act play (Julius Caesar) last week with my parents. It was so funny, which is odd because it's a tragedy, right?

Well, in act II, scene I after all the conspirators have finished planning their repulsive crime, Brutus says, "Peace, count the clock." Cassius answers, "The clock hath stricken three." And then Trebonius declares, "'Tis time to part."

My mom burst out laughing.

"What?" I whispered.

"I thought he said," she wheezed, "'Tis time to fart!"

Pretty as a picture

As promised, here are some of Miriam's drawings. This first one is a picture of Rapunzel. Obviously.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You'll get it, or you won't

Andrew was nominated to compete for a spot in the 2012 PMF program. It's a government program so it's a mysterious acronym, of course, and many of our friends and family have been wondering what it stands for since we've been talking about it a bit.

"The Pretty Magnificent Fella award?" guessed Aunt Nicki.

Our friend Cristina sent a message to congratulate Andrew "on that acronym thingy."

My mom couldn't remember if it was the PMF, the CRS, the GSA, the NSA, the FSO or what.

I can't really blame her—he's tried for all of those acronyms at one point in time or another and keeping them all straight can make your brain dizzy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dish Duty

After dinner this evening Rachel brought a stool to over to the kitchen sink so that she could help me do the dishes. 

"It looks like fun!" she said. 

I let her wash out all the ziplock bags.

"This is fun!" she said.

Then I told her it was my turn—all that was left were the big pots and pans that didn't fit in the dish washer and those needed a good, motherly scrubbing. 

"Aw," she sighed, "I want to keep having fun!"

Instead she went downstairs to colour in Grandma's office. She came back upstairs with this picture:

You are the trip I did not take

Patience is a hard-earned trait. It needs to be cultivated and nurtured and takes years of practice to master—I can tell that I am already a more patient person than when I first became a mother four years ago, which tells me that I still have a long ways to go before my patience is perfected. And likely, just when I'm about reach the pinnacle of perfection is when my patience will be tried the hardest. 

Today we visited my grandparents and my grandpa didn't seem as coherent as he did last time. Rachel watched my grandma help drag him to the bathroom and wanted to know why. The answer is that he often forgets what he's doing—his brain even forgets to make his feet go—so he'll get stuck walking places. This happened on his solo return trip from the bathroom. We had all been visiting and forgot that Grandpa was in the bathroom at all until Rachel said, "Uhhhh...what is Grandpa doing?"

He was standing in the hall, staring off into space, halfway between the bathroom and the living room. 

Grandma went and helped guide him back to his chair. 

Later my dad asked her if she would be going to Georgia for the big Duggar reunion there. She said no and pointed out that she's not exactly in a position to go anywhere. Not with Grandpa, not without Grandpa. 

Saturday, October 08, 2011


This morning Rachel and I were getting ready to attend a baby shower for a girl in our ward, whose baby was born three weeks early and just came from the hospital yesterday. He's a sweet little guy. The present was a couple of packages of baby wipes—a very practical gift. Rachel did not think it was very neat—she turned her nose up at it and sniffed, "Mom, that's a pretty stupid gift!"

I told the new mother that when we presented her with the gift. Everybody laughed and then she made a big show of being so very happy to receive baby wipes to prove to Rachel that they were, in fact, a good gift. Rachel was quite shocked by her reaction.

After the baby shower we headed up to Bountiful to meet up with Emily and Morgan, who were down in Utah for a friend's wedding. Rachel and Miriam have been looking forward to seeing them all week—Empty Emmy and Uncon 'Organ! Grandma and Grandpa took us all out for lunch at IHOP. This was kind of a big deal for me because it was my first successful trip to IHOP. 

Andrew loves pancakes and so we've tried to go on National Pancake Day a few times to get the free pancakes they offer at IHOP. Unfortunately, IHOP is always unnaturally busy on National Pancake Day and the wait is atrociously long so I always ended up pulling the plug on the idea and suggest going home to make pancakes. Andrew will do almost anything for a pancake.

We thought it was funny when Emily and Morgan showed up at the restaurant wearing red. Rachel was dressed in red from head to toe. Grandma and Grandpa were both wearing red shirts, too. Everyone else was in blue or white, except for me (I wore purple) and Miriam (she wore yellow). Emily and Morgan sat across the table from me so I took a few pictures of them with the girls, but I didn't get great pictures of anyone else.

Friday, October 07, 2011

French Friday

This evening at dinner, Grandpa went around the table and asked everyone what they accomplished today. I said that we winterized the girls' bedroom—we put quilts back on the bed and took the summer clothes out of their drawers and replaced them with sweaters and pants. What I should have said was, "You mean when I wasn't cleaning up bodily fluids?"

I can't say what percentage of my day was spent cleaning up bodily fluids, but let's just say that Miriam went through 3 pairs of underwear and had 2 baths before I caved and stuck her in a diaper—and a disposable one nonetheless. It's not that she's un-potty-trained herself. It's just that she has a nasty case of diarrhea. 

It's been no fun for anyone.

But we did get the girls ready for winter. Surprisingly most of their stuff from last year still fits them this year—it helps that everything was slightly too large last year, so maybe it's not so surprising that most everything still fits, after all—we just need to find Miriam a bigger pair of boots and we'll be set. She was so excited to wear her penguin hat again. She said, "Meme's like a pu-en-gu-in," as she waddled out the back door to play.

The silent, sullen peoples

I'm reading The White Man's Burden right now and am just burning through it—as you can tell, because I'm all the way on chapter three and have been reading it for over a month now? Yeah. It's a good book but I do have other things that I'm reading and for some reason this book gets put on the back burner a lot. Anyway, in chapter three there's a section entitled, "I'm Hungry—Let's Invent Free Markets."

With a header like that you know it's going to be a good book, right?

In this section, William Easterly, who Andrew calls Bill because apparently they're tight like that, says, "The freedom of choice and of personal knowledge makes possible the great gains that come from specialization. If I were limited to my consuming only what I could make or do myself, the results would not be pretty. My cooking skills are limited, for example....Without markets, I would be forced to grow the wheat, beans, and rice myself, milk the cow, process the grains and beans into edible form, and make the cheese and pasta. (I have no clue how to do any of the above.) Instead, I trade on the free market my economist services...and get money in return. I use this money to select home cooking items and to order takeout" (pg. 72).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Interviews with Miriam

Like most children, my children have changed their minds about Halloween costumes several times this month already. And it's only the 6th of October (Hi, Egypt. And Israel. And Syria. You're all winners!).

Rachel first wanted to be a witch. Now she wants to be Princess Leia. There may have been something else in between; I can't remember.

Miriam's ideas have been a little greater in number. She first wanted to be Dorothy. Then a witch, then Princess Leia—she was keeping one step behind Rachel, apparently—then a pink princess, and now a happy skeleton (not a scary one).

She also decided just the other day that she doesn't like hot dogs. Andrew wanted mustard with dinner and suggested hot dogs and Miriam said, "Meme not like hot dogs!" I tried to get her to say it again but she wouldn't.

Soggy socks

Yesterday, after much harassment and nagging from Rachel, Grandma dragged the boxes of Halloween decorations out of the storage room and let Rachel and Miriam help decorate the living room. They thought it was so much fun! And then the sun went down...and it got dark...and they had to go to bed.

That was less fun.

Miriam was so spooked by the skeleton in the hallway that she could hardly sleep—she won't even walk down that hallway in the daylight today although she boldly professes that the skeleton doesn't scare her.

Rachel had nightmares about child-eaters, which taunt children before eating them—Peter, Peter child-eater! She spent the night in our bed.

It was a long night.

This morning both the girls were still feeling scared so they followed me around like ducklings and I could hardly get anything done. We were rushing to get out the door to get Rachel to school. I finally told them that they would be fine while I went to brush my teeth and that Miriam was to finish eating her breakfast and that Rachel was to put her socks and shoes on. No buts! (And no following me!)

While I was brushing my teeth, and relishing the first few seconds of not having children clinging to me, I heard screaming from the kitchen that could only mean one thing: it was the end of the world!

Since I was pretty sure a meteor hadn't hit the house creating a sinkhole in the kitchen floor that immediately filled up with turbid ocean water and man-eating sharks, I finished brushing my teeth before going to see what was causing the screaming.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Miriam put my sock in her cereal bowl and now it's all soggy with milk!" Rachel complained.

Mmmmkay. Here's a question: "How did Miriam get your sock?"

"Well, I put it on the table by her so that I could put on my other sock."

That explains a lot.

Kind of like how Miriam poked Rachel's eye this morning, also while sitting at the breakfast table. I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy for people who are attacked by someone stuck in a booster seat. Miriam can only reach so far, you know, so if you don't get within her reach she can't touch you. A million problems solved with only one answer. I'm a genius. If only I could get Rachel to stay out of her space...

Fortunately, Rachel has more than one pair of socks so this dilemma was easily solved. I'm so glad that today was not only a preschool day but also a Sunbeam Swap day—that means that Rachel is over at her friend Asher's house for the afternoon. Miriam is napping...and I think that's where I'll be headed shortly.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Willkommen: Bumpa Returns!

Today my dad flew home from Germany, where he's been for the past six months working as an intern with the Department of Defense as an Equal Opportunity Assistant. While he was there he got to go to France, as well as travel around Germany a little bit. He had a great time but he was rather tired so we'll have to let him tell us more about his adventures later.

Rachel, Miriam, and I went to the airport with my mom to pick him up. We left the house a little late so we were hoping that perhaps his plane would be a little late, too. Unfortunately, his flight arrived a half hour early so instead of us waiting for him at the airport he was waiting for us!

Letter for Uncle Jacob

This weekend we spent a lot of time talking about Uncle Jacob. During the Saturday afternoon session, Elder Anderson gave a talk about children and families. In his talk he mentioned the mission president of the Lima, Peru. He and his wife had been married for twenty-five years without children before they were able to adopt two little children. That's Jacob's mission president! 

Uncle Jacob wrote home today and after we read his letter Rachel wanted to write a letter back to him.

Princess Leia hair and General Conference

We try to leave for school at 8:50 AM. On Thursday at 8:51 AM I was hurrying to do Rachel's hair so we could dash out the door when she requested "Princess Leia hair." Let's just say that conversation ended up in tears and regular, ordinary half-ponytail.

This morning we didn't get up until 8:00 AM (or at least Andrew and I didn't get up; I know the girls were up and playing in their room long before that) but since General Conference doesn't start until 10:00 AM we had plenty of time to get ready for the day. Rachel requested Princess Leia hair again and this time I obliged her. I put her tails in loopy pigtails right by her ears, which satisfied her.

She's decided she no longer wants to be a witch for Halloween. Now she wants to be Princess Leia—Daddy watched the girls while I went to the Relief Society broadcast last Saturday and they had pizza and popcorn and watched Star Wars and now the girls can't wait for me to leave them alone with Daddy again.

When Miriam saw Rachel's hair and Rachel told her that it was Princess Leia hair, Miriam requested that I do the same thing for her.

And then the girls went off and put the dishes away with Daddy. Happily. Because Princess Leia would never behave otherwise.

When Andrew got his breakfast he put the jug of cold milk on Rachel's bare neck. Then he apparently forgot about that, poured some cereal, poured some milk and, fortunately, put the lid back on the jug. Then next thing I know there's a bunch of screaming and banging and stomping and then Rachel ran into where I was (which was not in the kitchen) for protection, violently lugging the jug of milk with her.

"What is going on here?!" I demanded to know.

She was trying to get Daddy back but was a little too intimidated to actually follow through with her plan. He was chasing her. Fortunately the lid didn't pop off the milk jug or we'd have milk all over our house!

After breakfast Daddy took the girls down to watch the last half of Music and the Spoken Word. I worked on the Hancock Hummer, our family newsletter, but I did sneak downstairs to check on the kids. They were snuggled right up to their Daddy.

They were too cute!

Conference was good, of course. The girls spent the whole opening hymn colouring...and that's about how long that activity lasted if that gives you any idea of how many activities I had to come up with to keep these girls occupied!

It helped (or didn't) that we had a bunch of BYU kids over to watch conference with us. The girls were showing off for them which helped to both entertain the girls while at the same time distracting them from the activities I was trying to get them interested in.

Rachel drew a Star Wars picture that makes Andrew's nerdy little heart burst with joy.

From left to right you have Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C3P0, R2D2, Chewbacca, and Han Solo.

Today I learned than Han Solo's name is Han, not Hans. My whole life I thought he was German.

Miriam drew Rapunzel over and over and over again. That's pretty much all she ever draws. Ironically I cannot find a paper with Rapunzel on it, which is odd because nearly every scrap of paper in our house has Rapunzel scribbles on it. Next time.

For lunch we had waffles with buttermilk syrup and approximately 30 BYU kids! It was a little crazy over here! My mom came with Patrick, as well, and Rachel's new friend Emily and her family came over, too—Emily's parents just moved in with their parents who live down the street and we couldn't be happier about that because they have double the population of children living on our street. We now have four kids, ages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Emily's come over to play for the last two days and she's lived here for two days so that's a pretty good track record, I think.

The second session of conference was pretty uneventful. Miriam took a nap—for the whole session—and Rachel, Andrew, and I built this marble run together. Ignore Rachel whining about not being allowed to take the picture and focus on our awesome construction skills.

We used an Archimedes-style marble run that Karen's father made (it's resting on the table) and then had the marble drop off into a funnel we built and ran it down the marble track we made. It was awesome—a little distracting, but awesome. I figure we wouldn't have been able to pay more attention if we hadn't been building with Rachel, anyway, because she'd be distracting us in some other way.

I'm so glad they put conference up online so soon after it's broadcasted because then I can read the talks at my leisure! For some reason shoving ten hours of conference into one weekend doesn't yield high absorption rates for young families.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Five Temples

Remember when the Provo Tabernacle basically burned down on mine and Andrew's anniversary? It made me rather sad.

Well, today when President Monson finally showed up to General Conference—since when is the prophet late for conference?—he announced a few new temples:

Paris, France.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Durban, South Africa.

Star Valley, Wyoming.


Provo, Utah!

They're going to rebuild the tabernacle to resemble its original architecture but they're going to turn it into a temple. I'm very excited about this, although I hear the church had to purchase a historic landmark from Provo City to get enough land for the temple grounds—I hope they keep that building and turn it into a visitor's center or something instead of demolishing it.

It will be beautiful, even with the NuSkin building behind it. I hardly noticed the NuSkin building when we'd have stake conference at the Provo Tabernacle so I don't see how it will ruin the view of the new temple.

This will make Provo the second city in the world to sport two LDS temples (the first being South Jordan). But since the first temple is called the Provo Utah Temple, what will the second temple be called? I kind of like Provo Utah Heritage Temple or Utah Valley Utah Temple for conventional names, though I'm partial to Provo Templenacle and Seven Peaks Temple for silly names.

They're in the process of building a meeting house near BYU that will be strictly for stake conferences so we won't need the tabernacle for stake conferences anymore—not that we've been using it for conferences since December of last year, anyway.

I'm just a little bummed we won't likely be around to see it be built. Maybe we'll come visit for the dedication. Or maybe we'll still be living here (but hopefully not).