Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2012

Look at me, all writing down my resolutions before January even begins. I'm so on top of things.

Actually, my friend Amy asked the general public what their resolutions were for 2012 and it got me thinking about goals I could set. And then it got me thinking about whether I even want to set any goals. I kind of do and I kind of don't.

In 2012, I want to:

  • Survive Andrew's last semester at BYU
  • Survive the 2.5 weeks he'll be in Ghana
  • Survive having a baby & juggling three children
  • Survive moving wherever we'll be moving
  • Survive settling in and starting a new job and/or Phd program
Beyond that, I think setting any other goals is a bit too lofty of me. 

I have already entered survival mode. I therefore think that I am exempt from making any actual resolutions for the coming new year. 

There's this thing called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which any student of psychology or behavioral science or related fields should recognize—you can find multiple online tests or just calculate your score from the list on Wikipedia. When I fill out this test, looking at December 2011–December 2012, I score well over 300 points, which is the threshold for being "at risk for illness."

It's not that I'm planning on being stressed out in 2012. It's just that I'm planning on having a lot of stressful events occur in my life in 2012. And that's okay; I just don't want to add to the stress by forcing myself to learn how to sew or by making myself feel guilty if I don't clean the bathrooms every other day or anything like that. 

So, no marathon this year. No writing goals or reading goals. No cooking goals or cleaning goals.

Just survival goals. 

I might be being too easy on myself but sometimes easy is good.

New Year's Adam

This morning my mom phoned to see if we wanted to hang out today since both she and my dad had the day off of work. I said that we did because Andrew was working and I thought he'd appreciate some peace and quiet at home while he did so.

We went to the dollar theater, or as Miriam says, "Movie city-er," to watch Puss in Boots. We were not the only ones to think of this activity—the theater was packed and we had gotten there a little late. We were so lucky to find three seats together (we just held the girls on our laps).

It was so lovely outside today (like 50 degrees lovely) that we decided to stop at a park on our way home. All we were wearing was light jackets and we were fine outside for an hour. How's that for December 30th?

Festival of Lights

Spanish Fork does a light display every year and Grandma suggested we go and then one day at dinner said, "We should go today." So we did.

Rachel insisted on playing I Spy in the dark, which was a little more difficult than playing it in the daylight. At one point she said she spied something green but no one could guess what it was. Finally she sighed and said, "It's the grass!"

"I'm pretty sure the grass is brown," I said.

"Mom," she explained matter-of-factly, "Everybody knows grass is green."

"But it's winter," I explained back, "And the grass is dead."

Today when we went out and Rachel saw the grass she sighed and said, "You were right. I was less right."

"About what?" I asked.

"The grass is brown!" she said, sounding just a bit puzzled.

I suppose we're used to the brown grass being covered by snow but this year it hasn't really snowed, so...

Anyway, the lights were wonderful. They had a rocking horse and a ski jumper and some figure skaters that really moved. A frog that flicked out its tongue to catch flies. That sort of thing. The girls were mesmerized. 

We drove through twice, though the girls could have kept driving around in circles all night long.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Artistic Endeavors

This morning I told Andrew that I need to interact with my children. I feel like I've been leaving them alone far too much—did I mention I'm sick? He told me that amazing things have happened while I've been sick and my children seem to have learned to entertain themselves. I should have abandoned them long ago (just kidding).

They've been building towers out of lego, making up stories with their dolls, and also doing a lot of drawing.

Rachel watched James and the Giant Peach for the first time this week. It's a new obsession of hers. She  has actually watched it more than once this week—Andrew let her watch it by herself yesterday. Grandma said she thought it would be a little scary for Rachel, but Rachel loves it. She also will watch Harry Potter I by herself and loves it. But the new Winnie the Pooh movie? That's too scary.

Anyway, here's her picture of the giant peach. James is in the lower righthand corner. On the peach we have a ladybug, a grasshopper, a centipede, the stem, and a spider:

More holiday revelry

Last night my cousin Elizabeth and my Auntie Judy came over to play games with me and Andrew and my mom and dad and Josie. Elizabeth is living in the DC area right now but she flew out for a visit during Christmas break. She came out for about three weeks, actually (her husband flew out, too, but not for as long). 

I saw her a couple of weeks ago at my grandpa's funeral. It was nice of her (and my aunt and uncle) to come (since they're on my mom's side and it was my dad's dad that died). We told each other that we'd have to get together "for sure," but then the holidays happened and then I got sick and we never got around to getting together.

I'm so glad that Elizabeth called a couple of days ago to set this up, though! She leaves tomorrow so we were just able to manage to squeeze in some cousin time before she left.

Josie, Elizabeth, Auntie Judy
We played Catch Phrase, which was really fun, and then we tried a round of UNO Spin before we decided to call it a night. My dad got a job and it was his first day today so he wanted to get to bed so he could wake up feeling refreshed and ready to work. My mom said that him getting a job was the best Christmas present she got this year (he got the phone call on Monday). I agree! I'm so excited for him!


Grade three (1993-1994) was a very busy year for me.

First I became an aunt. Then I got a little sister.

All this before I turned nine years old.

As you can imagine, it was a very difficult year for my family—what with my mother and teenage sister expecting at the same time.

I don't remember much about my sister's baby. I know she went to live in a group home for unwed mothers because I think I remember visiting her there a few times. I think I even remember going to visit her at the hospital, though I never saw the baby. The baby was given up for adoption, which I'm sure was very hard on my sister, and we were told not to talk about it with others.

I was an aunt in theory but not in practice.

My little sister was born on April 7, 1994. My dad checked us out of school to go visit my mom and my sister at the hospital. I had always wanted a little sister and now I finally had one. And she was beautiful...and just a little bit squishy and weird-looking, like most newborns are.

I don't remember when my older sister disappeared again. She had been popping in and out of my life for a few years and, by the time I was nine, she was gone again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Un-cousins and cousins

We have loved having all the little Gillespies over. And we have loved sending Rachel over to the Gillespie's a lot. It's so great because there are so many little ones all around the same age. Rachel and A are currently four. Then Michael, who will be four in just a little while, and E are currently three. J will be three next month but right now she and Miriam are two. Then there's A—he's one—and J—who is just a couple of months old. It's great.

Rachel spent much more time at the Gillespie's than the children spent over here, but we did have some kids over some of the time and they seemed to have taught Rachel that our toys are actually fun to play with because since they've gone she's still done remarkably well with playing.

A and Michael taught Rachel how to build guns out of lego (oh, joy). They spent a lot of time shooting each other and dying and then coming back to life and shooting each other more.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing Day Play-Doh

In their stockings the girls each got five little tubs of Play-Doh, but when we were cleaning up the Christmas present mess in the living room we just grouped them all together since our [stupid] parental plan was to have them just share them all. However, they have memories like elephants and seemed to remember who got which colours. I don't know how.

We gave them chapstick, too, and I actually do remember which ones we gave to which girls—we gave Miriam Cinderella (blue) and Snow White (dark pink, aka red) and we gave Rachel Tiana (green) and Ariel (pink, aka light red). I was surprised when Miriam dug out the ones she got in her stocking from the pool of stocking stuffers that ended up on our bed.

"This blue one's mine! And this pink one!"

Considering she just grabbed them out of her stocking before casting them aside in favour of other presents I find it rather remarkable that she remembered which ones were her.

The Play-Doh, though, was a little tricker because the girls had to remember five colours that were "theirs." Since they kept fighting over certain colours I decided that neither of them could really remember whose was whose, either, and explained to them that I thought that perhaps "Santa" meant for them to share all the colours.

Christmas 2011

Two years ago we were in Egypt for Christmas and Christmas fell on a Friday which meant that we had church on Christmas day. When Andrew found out Christmas fell on a Sunday this year he was rather confused about how that was even calendarically possible until I pointed out the differing days of Sabbath observance in the places we lived at the time.

When we lived in Egypt Andrew unwisely suggested on Friday morning that we go ahead and open some presents since we were all up, anyway. We unwisely went along with his suggestion and many tears were shed when we had to stop opening presents to get ready for church.

This year we wisely decided to go Grandma's route and taped sheets over the entrances to the living room so that no one (read: children) could even peek inside. We went to church distraction-free.

I was happy to have Grandma and Grandpa come to church with us—they're usually at the BYU ward—because I was feeling so sick and Andrew was kept so busy at the organ and piano. He played for the congregation, the choir, and the primary children. I didn't get to sing at all, even though I was supposed to sing with the choir, because my voice was so totally shot. I was rather sad because I love singing Christmas carols and now we won't sing any until next December. It's like I missed Christmas!

Rachel sang with the primary, though. She didn't want to because it was "too scary." Andrew was up on the stand, though, so getting her up there was easier than I thought—she just ran up to her daddy and then he escorted her to where she needed to be on his way to the piano. Even though I know she knows all the words to this song (we've been singing it before bed every single day for an entire month) she only sang a line or two before she froze—hands clasped together, a big, fake smile pasted on her face.

The primary children finished singing and returned to their seats.

Rachel did not.

A member of the bishopric leaned over, tapped her shoulder, and invited her to go sit down.

She ignored him and remained a smiling statue.

Christmas Eve 2011

So far this holiday has been a little blurry for me. On top of being tired and pregnant I was hit with a nasty head cold—so I was tired and pregnant and tired and sick and tired. That's a whole lot of tiredness. Luckily for me, Andrew is on semester break and even though he's worked every day this break, except for Sunday, he's taken over the majority of the children tending and clothes washing and dish washing and dinner cooking that I ordinarily do so that I can do other things like sleep...and not sneeze all over other people's food. It's been wonderfully relaxing and I'm just about better and we still have a good week left of his break, which means we can maybe have some fun, too!

I think we already had some fun, actually. I know Auntie Sarah came over on Friday to visit with Diana, who is staying at our place, and I know that we played a game together. I even remember that it was called "Rolling through the Ages" and that we played the bronze age. But come to think of it, that might have been Saturday morning that we did that. I said: blur.

I know we played some other games with some other people—Gillespie people, mostly. I know that Steve was here with Jodie and their three kids and that Rachel has been spending most of her time at the Gillespie's playing with their six grandchildren and often leaving Miriam here, alone, wishing she was older so that she could go, too. Rachel's been loving it. Miriam's been loving it when all the kids come over here.

I know we had Asher over once so that his parents could finish up their Christmas shopping but I frankly don't remember if that was Christmas Adam or Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve we went to my parents' house for dinner and festivities. We chatted with Auntie Abra for a while—Miriam even sang her some Christmas songs—and then we had dinner. After dinner the girls were especially excited to act out the nativity.

Rachel wanted to be Mary. She chose a baby doll and wrapped it in swaddling clothes.

Miriam wanted to be Mary. She chose a baby doll and wrapped it in swaddling clothes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Delivering Christmas Goodies

Yesterday we delivered some goodies around the neighbourhood. Karen wasn't feeling ambitious enough to take on everybody, as she's done in the past, because she made up treats for all the "big kids" and didn't want to do all the houses in our neighbourhood, either, which I was fine with because, frankly, I'm not that ambitious, either. So we just picked a few families—families we had received treats from already, the people in our cul-de-sac, our visiting and home teaching families, and a few others.

Karen made peanut butter balls (dipped in chocolate), she covered clusters of peanuts in chocolate, and then she did the weirdest thing of all—she dipped potato chips in chocolate!

There was a bowl of Ruffles Originals on the counter and Andrew took a few to munch on.

"Would you stop taking the good chips?" Karen chastised him. "Those are for dipping. Eat the broken chips in the bag!"

"Wait—dipping?" I asked. "In chocolate?"

I only asked after looking for chip dip and noticing that the only dipping going on was the chocolate kind.

"Of course!" she said. "You've never experienced the joy of chocolate-dipped chips?"

No. But it brings a whole new meaning to chocolate chips, doesn't it?

Heiss Holiday Humbug 2011

This year's letter was a little difficult to write. Apparently. I didn't know that when I started because I started and even finished writing it in November. But that was before we had decided when and how we were going to announce our pregnancy and before my grandpa died. After letting it sit for a few weeks, I opened it again to revise it and found that I had accidentally written the closing part to the tune of 2013.

Are you sure next year is only 2012? Because that totally threw off my rhyming scheme!

We're back on track for 2012, though so, without further ado, here's 2011's Christmas letter:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not Rachel's Day

On Tuesday morning I took Rachel visiting teaching with me. She was excited to come because I visit teach her friends' mom and because it was a little slick outside so she could pretend that she was ice skating while we were walking. She wants to go ice skating so badly—she even remembered that my mom gave me my old ice skates from when I was little last year. Not that I was little last year. She just gave me the skates last year and the skates are from when I was little.

Because I'm Canadian. And Canadians do weird things like own ice skates.

Andrew used to think this was very strange. Perhaps he still does, I don't know.

We only go ice skating once or twice a year here. In Canada we'd go skating on the lakes, skating on the outdoor rinks (that were usually free), and skating on the indoor rinks (that usually were not free). It's like a national past time. Not so much in Utah, but whatever.

"I wish I had my ice skaters with me," Rachel kept saying, "Because then I would just zoom down the sidewalk."

I love that she keeps calling her ice skates "ice skaters." It's as if her true love gave her 10 ice skaters skating, or something like that. I also love how she thinks she's a natural at ice skating even though she's never been before—it isn't as if skating involves balance or skill or anything like that, right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Riverwoods Christmas lights and Santa

We went to the Riverwoods for their Christmas lights display—it's a an outdoor shopping mall and they do a beautiful display and have a bunch of treats for the community to enjoy, such as live music, a visit with Santa Claus, and (on some days, but not Tuesdays apparently) carriage rides. 

The girls thought it was magical and, as far as outdoor winter activities go, the adults didn't mind it much, either. They have electrical heaters and fires set up all over the place. We took a lot of breaks to warm up our fingers and faces.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I've made a huge mistake

In announcing my pregnancy I inadvertently made a huge mistake.

I wrote:

The rabbit died, the wheat has sprouted, 
the ruby shines—it's time we outed.

I didn't realize until I was falling asleep that I should have written:

The rabbit died
The wheat has sprouted
The ruby's red
It's time we outed.

Grandpa Layton's Funeral

The weekend ended up being a little busier than we were thinking it would. I suppose that's what happens when you all of a sudden have to pencil "funeral" onto your calendar. Not that I minded honouring my grandfather but I basically shoved everything else in my brain out, including the fact that Rachel was assigned to recite a scripture in primary today. Fortunately, she's pretty chummy with the chorister and he helped her pick out and read a scripture. 

Friday was my grandpa's viewing. Josie and I wore matching outfits except that my colours were much duller than hers. Andrew said, "That's what happens when you get old." And then I punched love tapped him in the arm. And then he proceeded to call us "Muted Josie" and "Vibrant Nancy" for the rest of the night. You can probably guess who was called what (hint: I was not called Vibrant Nancy).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A riddle for you

The rabbit died, the wheat has sprouted, the ruby shines—it's time we outed.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Our anniversary is today. Today is also my grandpa's viewing.

So we celebrated yesterday!

Andrew put his name in the pool for tickets to the conference center for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. And he won—I guess... I'm not sure how else to say it when you have a 1 in 20 chance of getting tickets. We were happy to get to go. We haven't gone for six years—we went shortly before we got married six years ago.

We left around 3:30 so we could go out to dinner beforehand. Andrew found a Thai food place—the Thai Lotus Cafe—just off the tracks system. And it was fabulous, though a little more expensive than the Thai restaurants around here. We got there just at 5:00 but everyone was bustling about in the kitchen and no one noticed us for about ten minutes, which was kind of awkward. The upside was that we had plenty of time to look at the menu and decide what we wanted. We sat down, the waitress handed us some menus, and we said, "We know what we want." She thought we were uber decisive, which we're not.

I got a sweet and sour dish because I know sweet and sour will never disappoint. They even cut my carrots into fancy little flowers.

Andrew got a spicy cashew beef dish (there was a spicy cashew chicken dish but I just couldn't bring myself to order it because if it wasn't identical to the one at Bua Khao then I knew I would be disappointed).

The waitress brought out some sort of chip with a peanut sauce and that was really good but we had only eaten a chip or two each when they brought out our food. And it was awesome. And I was glad I got the sweet and sour dish because it was delicious and the spicy cashew dish was not the same as Bua Khao.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pepparkaka Hus

Grandma found some cute gingerbread house kits at IKEA, similar to this but all baked and stamped and everything. They came with assembly instructions and everything. They're pretty cute. But the title was in Swedish, which is fine, if not a little shocking.

"Hey, Andrew," I told Andrew, "Your mom bought two pepparkaka huses at IKEA for the girls."

"She bought what?!"

Then I showed him the box—she bought a pepparkaka hus, of course.

They sat on the counter for weeks and weeks while life got uncontrollably busy. Then on Wednesday, Grandma found some time to make up her own little gingerbread house (including baking and cutting it out). And on Thursday we helped the girls decorate their store bought kits. It was really good timing, actually, because when I dropped Rachel off at school yesterday her little friend said, "Hey, know what? We made gingerbreads houses yesterday without you!"

"Hey, know what?" she said back, "I don't care because I'm making a gingerbread house with my grandma after school today!"

Then they ran off to play together.

Friendship is so weird when you're little. I imagine that whole scene would have played out a little differently (and a little more tearfully) if we hadn't been planning on making gingerbread houses later in the day.

So after lunchtime and nap time we quickly decorated a couple of pepparkakshus before Andrew and I left on our date.

All by myself

We had a rough night a couple of nights ago. Little Miss Miriam simply didn't want to go to sleep and then once she did go to sleep she never rested well and woke up several times in the night. It was torture.

Earlier, though, it was kind of cute. At 9:00 PM she was pounding on her door. I opened it to check on her and put her back to bed. 

"Hi, Momma Bear," she said. "I'm awake! I slept all night! I put my nightgown on all by myself! I just put it on me!"

Not only had she put her nightgown on, she had also put on a touque and was wearing a pair of shoes on her hands. And any and every toy within her reach was spread over the bedroom floor (which had been clean when they were put to bed).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RIP Grandpa

It was my mother-in-law who told me my grandpa had passed away.

Andrew and I were just getting ready for bed—I had even checked facebook before I shut down my computer and there was no news from anybody yet—when Karen came upstairs and asked if my grandpa had died.

"I don't know," I said.

"Well, Kelli just posted 'RIP Grandpa,'" she informed me, "So I think he has. I'm sorry."

"Oh, okay," I said, "Thanks."

And that's about how emotional I felt about it. I suppose it's because part of me has already grieved and the part of me that hasn't knows that there will be time for that later on, and also because we've been expecting it for a while. It comes more as a relief than as a surprise. I think surprise deaths are more difficult to handle.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


After tonight, Andrew will only have one final left. As he said, it doesn't seem real. Somehow it feels like he will have to continue staying up late working on rubrics and papers and other nonsense forever. I know he won't, but that's how it feels. This semester he turned in a 90-page paper, single spaced (though it included a lot of charts) and a 30-page paper, also single spaced. And that was only for two of his classes. He still had to take finals in those classes. And had papers and projects and tests in his other classes.

Needless to say, he's been busy.

Miriam was bent on being a quintessential two-year-old today but she did have some cute moments. We've been playing a lot of Christmas carols and the girls have been picking up on the lyrics. One of Miriam's favourites is The First Noel, though I'm not quite sure she knows what it's about. She went into the bathroom tonight and found her toy dolphin in the bathtub.

"Mommy! I found a whale!" she said, excitedly. "Now Jesus can have a whale!"

I was rather puzzled by her statement until she walked away and started singing.

"No whale! No whale! No whale! No whale! Born is the king..."

I suppose that, when you're two, Noel and "no whale" sound the same (especially when you pronounce them both as "no-we-wuh.")

Rachel helped me fold the laundry today. She's been practicing so hard—she can fold socks about 50% of the time and even managed to tackle a few pairs of pants and some shirts today. Every time she thought she did a decent job she would run off and show it to Andrew.

"I folded this shirt all by myself, Daddy!" she'd say.

She's been so wonderful to have around lately. I'm glad we kept her through the terrible twos and threes. It gives me hope that I'll be able to stand having Miriam around through those years, too (though so far she is much tamer than Rachel ever was at that age).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Layton Family Christmas Party

My grandpa is dying, quickly. 

The doctor said he has about a week to live. When you are old there are signs—very visible, obvious signs—that you are about to die. We learned about them when my Grandpa Conrad died eleven years ago. For example, you begin to lose your muscle tone and your bodily functions quit one by one. But perhaps the most telling sign of all is the purple colour creeping up your legs.

"After the purple passes his knees," a nurse told my grandma, "It will be any moment."

When my grandma was diagnosed with liver cancer less than three years later, she sat in her bed at home, watching her legs turn purple. Death started at her toes and slowly worked its way up to her knees. And then death consumed her. 

Was that too morbid?

I'm not feeling at all jolly today. 

Heiss Family Christmas Party

On Saturday afternoon we headed up to Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon's house for the Heiss family Christmas party. It was fun to get to see the people we should see more often but somehow rarely get around to seeing. Some we see more often than others but we certainly don't see them enough.

Like Matt and Becky—I'm so glad we got to sit at the same table with them. We haven't talked with them in ages. It was fun to see everyone, though—I'm so glad Grandma Sharon took the time to plan it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good News Sunday

This weekend has been party central. Our first party was the Reid and Karen's BYU ward party on Friday night. We spent all day on Friday getting ready—we made 400 enchiladas and two roasting pans full of refried beans. The rice was ordered from a Mexican restaurant (350 servings for $60—other places tried to charge us $2.99 a serving so this was a fantastic deal). There was lettuce and tomatoes and sour cream and salsa. And for dessert, brownies/candy cane ice cream sundaes.

Plus a fabulous talent show complete with bagpipes, dancing, world capital quizzes, magic tricks, skits, and lots of singing. Some of the kids had even written songs and sang those for us. It was great!

The girls loved running around the cultural hall flirting with all the "big kids." All the "big kids" loved having the girls run around because they don't get a lot of exposure to little kids on campus and I think they miss them. Our girls have a lot of "friends" who are twenty years older than them!

Yesterday was the Heiss family Christmas party and today was the Layton family Christmas party, each of which I'll write about in separate posts.

Today was a fabulous day.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Dead fish and lemon juice

Karen's sister Linda is in town—she'll be working the book buy-back at BYU—and she spent the night last night. Rachel and Miriam took to her almost immediately when the blow-up bed was set up, demanding that she "Watch this!" while executing various leaps and jumps onto the bed. Later Rachel took Aunt Linda into her bedroom so they could have some girl talk. While they were in there, Linda was trying to encourage Rachel to clean up a bit since her room was so incredibly messy.

At one point Rachel attempted to climb up the dresser in order to place something on top.

"Oh, don't do that, Rachel," Linda said. "It could fall on top of you!"

"Like the fish tank?" Rachel asked, obediently getting down.

"How do you know about that?!" Linda asked.

"My grandma told me that story. She remembered it all the way from when she was a little girl. I don't know how.... She can't remember anything now."

Once upon a time, see, Karen and Linda shared a room. On top of their dresser was a fish tank. Inside that fish tank lived some fish. Obviously.

Linda was little and wanted to see the fish, so she climbed up the dresser to get a closer look at the fish. With too much weight on its front, the dresser had no choice but to topple over on top of Linda (after putting up a valiant fight to stay upright, I'm sure). The fish tank broke and killed everything in its wake.

Except for Linda (thank goodness).

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Colds, cold, milk, and snow

I've tried to piece together a few posts in the past couple of days but nothing has really come to fruition. I'm just tired, I suppose. Rachel threw up last night. And Miriam was throwing up on November 30. So since November 3rd—basically one month—my girls have managed to squeeze in six separate episodes of throwing up. Lovely.

Fortunately (or not; I can't decide), last night's issues were due to too much coughing instead of due to an actual stomach bug. So it was a completely isolated incident—at least, we can be pretty sure the stomach bug won't make the round through the family again because this isn't a stomach bug. It's a coughing bug.

We're in a bit of a cold snap, for Utah, at least.

On Tuesday it was -10°C (or around 15°F) in the morning. We had run out of milk inside and the girls wanted cold cereal so that meant I had to go out into the garage to get the milk from the outside fridge. I brought it inside, opened it up, and held it over Rachel's cereal bowl. Nothing but a small trickle came out.

The milk was frozen.

Fridges, it seems, aren't designed with heating elements so when it gets colder outside then the inside of the fridge gets colder as well.

We had to rush through breakfast in order to spend more time bundling up, which meant that after holding the milk over Rachel's bowl for five minutes so enough milk could drip into it, Miriam and I decided to skip breakfast and just start getting our warm things on. I suppose I should be grateful for the cold weather. It helped me teach my children what every good Canadian child should know—how to layer.

Miriam later opted to cry loud enough to wake up Grandma so she could stay home instead of venturing out into the cold. She freaks out when things cover her mouth because then she "can't talk," which is tragic, I know. When I tried putting a scarf on her she just about died.

It took a minute, but I convinced Rachel to don two pairs of pants, a t-shirt, a sweater, a jacket, a coat, two pairs of socks (her choice), boots, mittens, a hat, and a scarf. For the finishing touch I made her put the hood of her coat on, too.

I was dressed in a similar fashion. I am a huge wimp when it comes to being cold. I won't even tell you what I wear when it gets to be -40°C. I will tell you that we weren't too cold on the walk to school, so that's a plus. I think it might have to do with all the clothes we were wearing.

Anyway, when I got home and the milk had thawed enough to be pourable, Miriam and I had breakfast together. She screwed up her face as the milk slowly chunked into her bowl.

"Is there snow in my bowl?" she asked.

"It's not snow," I told her. "It's just milk. It's frozen though."

"Oooh! Ice cream!" she said.

She really enjoyed her cereal that morning.

The horrible thing about all this cold is that there's no snow to go with it, which means my kids don't want to go outside to play because it's just horribly cold—not horribly cold yet slightly fun. The nice thing about having no snow to go with this horrible cold is that we haven't had to shovel the driveway yet. With how busy Andrew's been, this is a huge blessing. I hate shoveling snow...mostly because it involves being outside where it's cold.

There is no snow in the forecast for the foreseeable future, which means we won't have to shovel the driveway for several days, at least. Now if I could just get my kids to stop throwing up...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Who's got a great big cherry nose?

I do. 

Or at least, I did. 

We went to the Santa parade in Provo today. Yes, we're that crazy.

I bundled the girls up in their snowsuits, which I thought was going to be overkill but I'm so glad I made them wear them, anyway. I guess I didn't really make them wear them; I merely suggested that they do so and they were more than happy to comply. Can you believe it's only snowed like three times this season? There was a light dusting of snow when we woke up this morning, but that's all. Not that I'm complaining. But the girls were sure excited to get to wear their snow pants!

The parade was fun, but definitely cold. 

Not tested on animals

Modeling the bow tie bib today is Miss Miriam. It fit her teddy bear so nicely that I was a little nervous the neck part would be too small for an actual baby. Miriam volunteered to try the bib on to make sure that it would fit a baby.

And she was more than happy to do so.

"Smile!" I said.

"Not I can smile!" she said.


She just saw these pictures on the screen and said, "Why is that baby crying?"

I said, "That baby is you. Why are you crying in that picture?"

"Not that is me," she said. "That baby is crying because that baby is sad."


When we told Rachel we were going to the baby shower she decided she wanted to come, too. Originally I had only planned on taking Miriam because Rachel had kicked her out of their bedroom for "alone time" and Miriam was feeling a little sad about that. But they both ended up coming. 

Rachel was a little confused about how Sister Crisanto could possibly have a baby when she's not pregnant. That's because her friend Spencer's mom is pregnant and is due next month; we just saw her yesterday and discussed what "pregnant" means. I could see the wheels in Rachel's head turning as she tried to compute this information.

Spencer's mom is very round in belly. That's because there's a baby in there.

Sister Crisanto is not round in belly at all. So where is this baby coming from?!

Grandma told Rachel that the Crisantos would be adopting their baby—like how Uncle Jacob came to be in our family. Again the wheels in Rachel's head started whirring. 

"So," she posited, "Will this baby have a different colour of eyes then?"

She is so funny about that. Uncle Jacob has green eyes and the rest of the family has blue eyes and Rachel swears this is because he's adopted. Now, this is probably true...however, it's entirely possible to be full-blooded siblings and have different colours of eyes from one another. She just can't quite grasp that concept. 

Anyway, it was a beautiful shower. I'm really excited for the Crisantos and can't wait to meet their sweet little boy!

Bow tie bib

A sweet couple in our ward will be adopting their first baby soon—they were selected a couple of months ago and the baby, a boy, is due the end of December. There's a baby shower for them tomorrow.

I made this bib, finally breaking open one of the books of patterns that Karen gave me for Christmas last year. I've been meaning to use them more; I've actually attempted a few projects but so far they've proven a little complicated for my amateur hands. I found this bib pattern—that was actually supposed to have a mouse on it—and it looked simple enough.

It wasn't terribly difficult but it still took me several hours to make because I kept having to unravel and re-crochet parts until they looked right. Or at least decent. Apparently it was a trickier pattern than I thought. Still...I finished it and I think it's kind of cute.

I don't have any boys so I don't know if this is something that's at all trendy or even if it's something that I'd put my child in. I sneaked into the girls' room to grab a teddy bear to model it and he looks pretty handsome in it, I think.

Meeting Santa

It seems a little early for Christmas parties yet but our ward Christmas party was tonight, so we went. I always enjoy ward activities and kind of wish we did more of them—as a primary teacher, I don't get a whole lot of socializing in at church because I'm always busy chasing around children (either my class or my own). It's nice to get together and

Near the end of the evening we sang some Christmas carols and then started singing some Santa songs to herald in the man himself. My children were among those in the first row, happily singing Christmas songs. They did not, however, join the mad dash to Santa. Rachel timidly made her way to the other children, who were by then thronging the jolly old man. 

Miriam took off running in the opposite direction at a killer pace.

She's been excited about Santa coming to our house. She's been talking about what she wants him to bring her. She's been singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. But apparently that was before she had any idea what she was talking about. One glimpse of Santa and the look on her face read, "I'm not so sure I want this guy coming down my chimney, after all."

Rachel took her turn without crying or kicking (Hallelujah! She's growing up!) but she was still rather shy of him. Even though it's just Brother Longson under all that hair.

I don't know what she asked for this year because there were too many excited children around for me to hear, but earlier she told me that she wished that Santa would bring her a dollhouse. I told her she already has a dollhouse—and that's partially just happens to belong to Grandma. Since we'll be moving in a couple of months (hypothetically speaking) I don't want to have to lug around a dollhouse. I asked her what else she wanted and she said a candy cane. I told her that we could probably manage that one.

I held Miriam while the 10 and 11 year old girls (all three of them) hung around me, trying to convince Miriam to go to Santa. Then Rachel wandered by, toting the goodies she got from Santa—each child got a baggie of candy, including a lollipop. That was the selling point for Miriam. 

She consented to sit on Santa's lap (with Trinity acting as a buffer) in exchange for a lollipop.

I don't think she told him anything but she was pretty happy about that lollipop!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A taste of Christmas at our house

Grandma's been hard at work decorating the house for Christmas. I find myself wandering into the living room to stare at the Christmas village. It's enchanting. The girls love it and have done remarkably well at remembering to not touch either the tree or the train, which comes somewhat as a surprise.

Praying with Children

Miriam will only get ready for prayer if she is the one acting as the voice. It's kind of a new thing with her.

It's also kind of distracting for dinner prayers and family prayers and any other prayer except for her own personal bedtime prayer because she assumes that if you ask her to get ready for prayer you've asked her, by obvious extension, to also say the prayer.

"Get ready for prayer, please, Miriam," we'll prompt.

She'll quickly fold her arms and bow her head and start praying.

"Dear Father. Bless a day. Name of Jesus Christ. AMEN!"

"It's not your turn, Miriam. Fold your arms, bow your head, and be quiet."

"Dear Father. Bless a day. Name of Jesus Christ. AMEN!"

"Miriam. We just want you to fold your arms and bow your head not say the prayer!"

"Dear Father. Bless a day. Name of Jesus Christ. AMEN!"

Last night it was my turn to pray and I could hardly do so because we were all laughing so hard. Meanwhile, there's Miriam chattering on and on like a broken record. "Dear Father. Bless a Day..."

At one point Rachel, almost crying, begged for me to say the prayer because "Miriam [wasn't] praying for [them] to have good dreams," and she can't go to sleep unless someone prays for good dreams. Never mind the fact that we say bedtime prayers like ten minutes after family prayer and she can pray for good dreams then.

Today it was Andrew's turn to say family prayer. He managed to pray over Miriam's chanting (he only giggled a few times).

Truthfully, it's funny. And endearing. But, oh, it's distracting.

And that poem my mom used to always recite...

We close our eyes
And bow our heads
And fold our arms
While prayers are said.

...doesn't help much in this situation, either, because it doesn't say anything about quieting our little mouths or kneeling on our little knees and not purposefully falling over so we knock into the person kneeling next to us (*cough* Rachel *cough*) or having a general mien of reverence or anything like that. Maybe I should write another verse or two.

We shut our mouths—
Don't say a word,
Pass gas, or burp— 
While prayers are heard.

And if into
Your sis' you fall
You're kneeling wrong.
Sit still y'all!

Does that cover my bases?

Probably not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


  • Rachel has been complaining about going to school. Her preschool just doesn't seem as spectacular as it was last year for various reasons. I wonder if I should have her keep going or let her quit because I'd rather that she actually looks forward to going to school since it's something she'll be doing for the next thirteen years.
  • It's been rather warm. It hasn't snowed since the last time, which was apparently 10 days ago. I could get used to this.
  • I've been avoiding cleaning the bathroom sink but today I finally did it. *pats self on back*
  • Things have been getting Christmas-ier and Christmas-ier around here. We have Grandma to thank for most of that.
  • (At least today) I can't think of much to say so I'm really glad that NaBloPoMo is almost over. Tomorrow's December Eve.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Yesterday we had a family gathering at my mom's house since our family didn't really get together for Thanksgiving. Rosie was the photographer for that event, so I don't have any pictures yet. It was really quite fun. My sister Kelli was there with three of her kids: Rosie, Matthew, and Andrew. I was there with my girls: Rachel and Miriam. Uncle Patrick was there, as well as my mom and dad. We Skyped with Abra, who had two of her kids over: Piper and Malachi. Andrew (my Andrew) came for dinner but then left after dinner so that he could do homework (what else?). 

I think that is the first time we've had that many of the cousins "together" before. It was fun to get to chat with and watch Piper and Malachi get to know their Utah cousins a bit better. I haven't had my two oldest sisters in the "same room" in, oh, about a decade. 

For Christmas I think it would be really fun to get both Abra (in Canada) and David (in England) on a Skype conference call when we're all at my parents' house. (Josie, by the way, was in New Mexico visiting a friend for Thanksgiving which is why she wasn't home but she arrived back in Provo at around 8:00 and my mom and I went to pick her up so I got to see all of my siblings except for David; that's pretty cool). 

Anyway, Abra and her kids were eating dinner when we called. Usually Abra doesn't have her kids on Sunday evenings but there was a freak windstorm, with speeds reaching as high as 150 km/hr (which is high enough to be classified as a class 1 hurricane) and shingles were being ripped off roofs, windows were being blown out, and trees were downing power lines left and right, school was cancelled for Monday so her kids were able to stay over an extra night. Anyway...they were eating perogies for dinner, which got me thinking that we haven't had perogies in a long time.

A Night in Bethlehem

On Saturday night we went to the Stone Gate Center for the Arts in Pleasant Grove to "A Night in Bethlehem." Rachel wanted to dress up as Mary so we got a costume together for her, complete with the blue veil she insisted Mary wears. Then she decided she didn't want to dress up alone so I dressed up with her, but not as Mary, even though she really wanted me to. I wore my Palestinian dress. She wore a dress we got for her in Egypt.

As we were loading into the car, Andrew smacked his head on the van door—he had just buckled Miriam in and was trying to stand up quickly (a little too quick if you ask me) in order to ask me to grab a pair of shoes for her. He hit his head so hard he was reeling for the rest of the night. He's feeling fine today, though, and there's no bump on his head so it couldn't have been too bad, simply bad enough.

I was surprised at how wonderful the event was, really. It was about as accurately Bethlehem-y as you could get, being in Utah. They had a stall with live animals—inside the building—a basket weaver, a potter, a toy shop with dreidels, a bread shop with hummus, a rug maker, a school where you could learn to spell your name in Hebrew, and various inns (which were all full). They even had a well in the middle of the room with a beggar woman sitting beside it. I thought it was interesting to see how everyone avoided her, even though we all knew that everyone there was only acting. People avoided her gaze, the walked huge circles around her. I even began to feel guilty that I, truthfully, was not carrying any money and had nothing to give to her.

What an interesting social experiment it would be to sit around watching people interact with this beggar they all knew wasn't actually a beggar.

Cop out post

It was bound to happen at some point or other this month—you know, writing a post about nothing because it's twenty to midnight and anything I have to say will take too long to say so instead I say nothing at all. When your husband, who has been working on homework nonstop for the entire Thanksgiving break (which he said would be "almost free" of homework) asks you to play a game and share a bowl of popcorn with him because he's completely burned out, though, you jump at the chance.

Even if it's NaBloPoMo and it means you run out of time to write an actual blog post.

And so you write a cop-out post like this one.

In other news, Andrew has completed 3 out of 4 grad school applications. The clock is ticking and we still have to figure out how to get transcripts from AUC—Egypt is having parliamentary elections right now so school is out of session.

Two thoughts on that:

1) Hi. Why don't we get days off of school to vote? I guess when you've always been able to vote it's nothing at all like a holiday.

2) Um...we kind of need people to be working so that we can get our transcripts....come on!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pizza Pit Party

To reward the primary children for a job well done on their sacrament program, our chorister hosted a party at a local gym that his family is very involved in. His wife coaches there and his kids are like gymnastic all stars (as in they get college scholarships because of their gymnastic skills). Anyway, Rachel has been talking about it for weeks now—they had to book the party when no other parties were going on so it was kind of spur of the moment this weekend—and dubbed it the "pizza pit party" because she was told there would be pits she could jump into.

When we got there she was terrified of everything. But by the time we left she was off running around by herself, jumping into pits, swinging on ropes, and so forth.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas is coming...and so are the missionary kangaroos

On Thanksgiving Eve, Rachel asked whether Santa comes on Thanksgiving or Christmas because she couldn't quite remember. I told her that Santa comes on Christmas.

She sighed and said, "And you're sure tomorrow's only Thanksgiving?"

We've been talking about Christmas decorations for weeks now—I think Grandma decided to put up a little bit of her train this year—and the girls are getting excited for Christmas. Miriam doesn't quite understand what presents are and when you ask her what she wants for Christmas she'll tell you she wants pink. She was going around yesterday telling everyone what colour they were going to get for Christmas. She was mad at Grandpa so he was assigned brown. Rachel, on the other hand, was in a favourable light at the time and Miriam said she'd get "pink—same a' me!" 

Uncle Patrick told them what he actually wanted for Christmas—wool socks, a poncho, and a rolling pin (I didn't understand the rolling pin at first but today he explained that he wanted it for physical therapy not for making pie crusts). Rachel looked up at him and said quite thoughtfully, "Well, we're going to a place where there's lots of Santa's workers and things—and maybe even Santa will be there—and Grandma said that you can tell them what you want for Christmas. So maybe...if you come with us...then you can tell them what you want Santa to bring to you."

He declined. But it was quite thoughtful of her. The Shops at the Riverwoods does some neat stuff at Christmastime—they have Santa's village (with Santa visits) and carriage rides and pretty lights. It's fun. We'll go...sometime.

Anyway, today we set up the Christmas tree. Rachel and Grandma did most of it, I think.

The picture that wasn't

Grandma got the girls these cute ladybug outfits and I convinced them both to wear them today. Rachel didn't take any convincing. Miriam cried because her shirt "not look like a dress!" you know, because it's a shirt. She got over that though when I had her show off her outfit to a few people and they told her how cute she was. 

Having accomplished this goal of getting the girls in matching outfits, which is something I rarely can do—and I mean that in every sense of the word, as in having their outfits match each other or having their outfits match at all—I was next determined to take a picture of my girls together. That didn't happen.

They were off playing with some of the BYU students for most of the afternoon and I was more than happy to allow them to do so. Rachel came upstairs at one point and said, "Mom, the big kids [that's what she calls college kids] would like to know if they can watch a movie."

The football game was playing downstairs but the kids had been talking about watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which I didn't know existed until today, but it makes sense since there's A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and I knew about those) because it's a tradition in some of their homes to watch it on Thanksgiving. Apparently it was on TV today.

I told Rachel that they could.

"Ummmm...can it...with them?" she asked.

"Sure," I told her.

Andrew went downstairs to help them set up the movie since it's a little complicated (at least I think so). 

"What movie do you guys want to watch?" he asked.

"Movie?" one asked. "We have to leave soon. I told my parents I'd Skype with them at six!"

Yeah. Rachel orchestrated that whole situation like a master manipulator. Well played, Rachel. Well played.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner

We had Thanksgiving dinner with Andrew's parents, some kids from their BYU ward, my parents, and Uncle Patrick. Rachel got shipped off to my parents house, where she spent the late morning and early afternoon waiting for dinner while the rest of us worked on the meal. Miriam and I took naps, though mine was much shorter than Miriam's. Grandpa and Grandma set the table (with Oma's "everyday" china) while we were sleeping and Miriam was very excited to see it when she woke up—her spot was set with a glass plate and a glass cup! 

She was a little nervous about falling into the fireplace but managed to get through dinner just fine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last night before we went to sleep I was telling Andrew about our—as in the girls' and my—day. I had walked Rachel to school in the morning and just as we got to the corner of our yard our next-door neighbour came outside with their new puppy, unleashed. This new puppy bounded over to us and started prancing around us in circles, silently begging us to play. Rachel flipped out and started screaming and trying to climb into my arms. I picked her up and tried to hush her while also trying to calm the puppy. It was not the most graceful moment in Rachel's short life.*

"It wasn't even as if the puppy was barking or doing anything threatening. His tongue was just lolling out of his mouth and..."

"What?" Andrew asked.

"What?" I asked back.

"What was that last part you said?"

"His tongue was lolling out of his mouth."

"Lolling?" Andrew repeated with his eyebrows raised in incredulity.

"Yes. It was lolling."

"Like that's even a word," he said.

"It is."

"No, it's not."

"Yes. It. Is."

"What does it mean then?" Andrew asked.

"Like, hanging out. His tongue was lolling—hanging out—of his mouth."

"Prove it."

"Excuse me?"

"Look it up and show me."

I grabbed his iPod and did a voice search: "Define: lolling."

Andrew doesn't have Siri but he wishes that he does; instead he has a Google voice search app. Unfortunately my voice is so high pitched that computers don't pick it up well—phone messages that are cued to start playing when the person on the receiving end says hello do not start playing when I say hello until I lower my voice. I have been told by more than one elderly person to lower my voice—pitch-wise not volume-wise—so that their hearing aids will stop buzzing. And when I use voice search it rarely, if ever, understands anything I say.

"Define: wallowing," Google tried.

"See?" said Andrew. "It didn't even recognize the word."

"It didn't even recognize my voice," I said, pulling up the keyboard and typing in the word.

Much to his surprise, lolling popped up on the screen.

"There!" I said triumphantly. "Loll: to hang loosely. Also, to act or move in a lazy way."

"Okay, in my defense," he began, "I thought you were using LOL as a verb and I couldn't really see how a dog's tongue could LOL. I mean, I suppose a dog could LOL but can a tongue really LOL?"

I suppose it's true that the correct present tense of LOL would be lolling. Perhaps one day that definition will make it into the dictionary but for now its integrity as a word is still being debated. I don't think I've ever used the LOL sense of the word in my life until right about now...

We lolled about this while lolling in bed until tears ran down our cheeks.

*To be fair to Rachel, I completely understand where she's coming from. Even though the dog wasn't threatening in any way, shape, or form, it was still a dog. Thus, it was threatening. She's got a genuine dog phobia—something I also suffer from (but less so now that I'm an adult and can distinguish between harmless puppies and rabid wolves). It doesn't matter if the dog is fenced or leashed or smaller than a's a threat. And once that fight or flight response kicks in there is little you can do to control it when you're four years old. I am still learning to control my fears so the fact that she can't doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it's kind of funny when she freaks out and climbs me like a tree because I totally remember doing that to my own mom when I was her age.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vampire-free zone

Rachel helped make garlic bread last night. She's done it before so I didn't give her exact instructions this time around. I simply handed her the shaker and said, "Put a little of this on each slice."

Apparently she decided it wasn't coming out fast enough and so she turned the lid from the "sprinkle" setting to "pour."

We won't have to worry about vampires for weeks.

Dinosaurs at Breakfast

We had an early morning after a late night, which meant that we had an interesting day—Miriam napped for over two hours and Rachel put herself down for a nap after declaring that she "can't handle this anymore!"

But breakfast was hilarious.

Rachel had made oatmeal for herself  but Miriam wanted to have cereal, specifically she wanted "Rasin Bran—it's Grandpa's cereal!" Rachel then decided she wanted cereal instead of oatmeal and asked if she could change her mind but I told her that she couldn't because she had already fixed herself oatmeal.

"Mom! If you don't let me have cereal right now then I'm not going to be your child!" she threatened.

I just shrugged and told her she still had to finish her oatmeal. I'm pretty sure they don't let four-year-olds sue for emancipation because their mother asks them to eat their oatmeal. Just sayin'...

Later after she had finished her oatmeal and was enjoying a bowl of cereal she turned to me and asked, "Does meat come from plants?"

I thought she said wheat. We were eating cereal after all.

"No. Not wheat. Meat. Where does it come from? Does it come from plants?"

"No. Meat comes from animals," I told her.

"Like dinosaurs?" Rachel asked.

"No. Not like dinosaurs," I said.