Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Middle East friends

Speaking of good company and flat-sharing, when we lived in Egypt we heard a young couple was coming out for a program at AUC and they hadn't yet secured a place to live (it is (or at least was) virtually impossible to do so without having a swanky job—you have to (or at least had to) wander around the streets asking random boabs if there were vacancies in their buildings) so we offered to host them in our apartment until they could find a place of their own. 

We had some friends in common on Facebook—a friend from high school had married a former student employee of mine (from Special Collections), who'd happened to serve her mission with the wife of this couple—so we figured they couldn't be terrible people. 

And they weren't. They were great!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Good company

Years and years ago, before there was a Alexander or Zoë or Benjamin or Miriam, or even a Rachel, Andrew and I went to Jordan for a summer to study Arabic. Technically Andrew was studying and I was simply a "trailing spouse" but I consider it "our" study abroad (just like I consider his PhD "ours"; I get that it's not but it certainly feels like I put in enough work to earn an honorary one).

It was a wonderful newly-wed adventure, but I probably would have gone completely stir-crazy had we not happened upon the most wonderful of flat-mates, another young couple and their super adorable two-year-old son. 

Crystal became one of my best friends that summer. We somehow managed to go from strangers to confidants in a matter of weeks (days?). We shared a bathroom, a washing machine, a kitchen, a house—all without driving each other too terribly crazy (at least, I hope not). Crystal taught me a lot about how to be a good wife and mother and friend. 

And then study abroad ended and we found ourselves back in the States, separated by thousands of miles. Harsh. So we've been stuck blogging (and instant messaging) to keep in contact.

At least we're both Mormons, so, naturally, have ties continuously pulling us back to Utah (though neither of us grew up there). We've met up in Utah several times over the past eleven years. The most recent time was just a few days ago (lucky us)! Her family was down visiting their extended family for Thanksgiving so they took some time to come visit us. 

We let our ten children play together:

Gingerbread turkey

On Thanksgiving morning we had the kids put together the gingerbread turkey kit Grandma got. Unleashing six small children seemed like a bad idea, so I tried to stagger their entry, but we ended up with six (well, five) small children working together anyway.

Here's Auntie Emily admiring their handy work; she was a pro at wielding the icing bag as well.

Zoë was rather protective of the candy bowls

Saturday, November 25, 2017

From Uncle Patrick's Baby Book

I'm going to get to Thanksgiving, I really will, but first I have to write a bit about this evening when we went over to my parents' house with leftover pie because, well, Uncle Patrick got out his baby book so that we could look at some pictures to see whether or not Alexander looks like him because my mom has been saying that he does.

And it's really kind of true; Alexander often has that same quizzical expression on his face (not annoyed, like Zoë's face always seemed...just perplexed (or like he's trying to withhold judgement)):

Uncle Patrick

Uncle Patrick (August 1989) and Alexander (November 2017)
(so about the same age)

So many pictures

A few years ago we brought these three little ones together for the first time:

Riley, Maren, and Zoë (July 2015)
Two and a half years later we got them back together:

Riley, Maren, and Zoë (November 2017)

Cheaper by the dozen

The last time we took Heiss family pictures (about three years ago (December 30, 2014)), there were five grandchildren. Rachel and Kayl were seven, Miriam was five, Benjamin was two, and Gavin was one. In the last three years we've added seven more grandchildren (like rabbits, I tell you) and for the first time ever we had all twelve grandchildren together (with seven children under the age of three) over Thanksgiving this year.

Friday, November 24, 2017

But...the tomatoes...

When Andrew was much younger than he is now, he and his sister Katherine were sent out to clear out the old tomato plants from the garden. Now, forcing siblings to work together can yield several results: they can turn the task into a game and have a lot of fun working together, they can fight with each other and get nothing done at all, or they can turn the task into such a fun game that they get nothing done at all. From my experience, the last two options occur most frequently.

Andrew's not a very high-conflict person, so on this occasion, like many times before, he managed to turn cleaning up tomatoes into a game. Unfortunately, this game fell into category three and instead of ridding the garden of tomatoes, Andrew and Katherine made things worse. They started throwing rotten tomatoes at the house.

And, boy, was it fun!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

We gather together...

"You can have Thanksgiving dinner at our house!" Benjamin called out, ever enthusiastic, to every person we ran into on our way home from school. "It's only two sleeps away!"

Most people ignored him.

His teacher said she would but she wasn't quite sure where his house is (then he reminded her of our address (because he had to memorize that last month) and gave her verbal directions ("You just turn at the stop sign and go straight down the road until...")).

His friend Lucy's dad mumbled an apology: "Oh, uh, well...thanks for the invitation but we've already got plans."

I have no idea how many people will show up for Thanksgiving dinner, but at least I know that my little boy is very friendly.

Would-be kidnapper

We headed to BYU for family night last night. We had to go to the library because—confession time—we hadn't gone since before Alexander was born. He's five weeks old now; it's fine.

The kids ran around like we'd released them in a candy shop, grabbing far too many books (we checked them all out), and then we decided we'd stop by the creamery on our way home since I hadn't yet been able to go and the kids felt sorry for me.

Herding a family of seven into The Creamery on Ninth on a Monday, of all days (hey, everybody–it's family night!), proved to be a little chaotic. Let's just say we weren't the only family with a handful of children to think of swinging by the creamery. There were also several FHE groups there. It was, in a word, pandemonium.

As we were heading into the creamery, with Benjamin and Zoë wildly skipping about in front of us (literally screaming for ice cream), we ran into a family on their way out, with their little ones bouncing around in a post-ice-cream frenzy, and soon found ourselves aswirl in a frenetic current of towheaded munchkins.

Parents began frantically grabbing at children, trying to stop their offspring from crashing into store displays, pulling over rope barriers, or running into innocent bystanders; trying to keep the children that should be in the store in the store while also shooing out the ones who were supposed to be leaving.

As I was reaching out to constrain a little boy, about Benjamin's age and about Benjamin's height—I swear he could have been his doppelgänger, I locked eyes with the other mother, who was also reaching out to constrain the aforementioned little boy.

I looked at her in surprise, but she just laughed, nodded her head toward Andrew and said, "He's got yours."

She was super nice about it, considering I was about to kidnap her child.

I guess she knew that with my arms all full of Alexander I wouldn't have been able to keep hold on her little boy, anyway. Plus, she probably counted up my children and figured I wouldn't purposely bring another one home! Who knows? Maybe she also made a mad grab for Benjamin?

It's been over five weeks since we've really tried going anywhere as a family; it's fine. But now that I think about it, maybe it was a little too soon for us all to take on the world...

And that's how I almost kidnapped a child yesterday.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Idaho and back again

The kids spent Friday night up in Idaho with Andrew's parents. They went swimming at the hotel and watched a movie on Friday night and spent Saturday playing with their cousins (at the Artitorium). The main event—Arwyn's baby blessing—was Saturday afternoon, shortly before they left to come home, so they didn't end up arriving home until it was bedtime.

"You might want to make them some dinner," Reid told me. "We didn't stop for dinner so all they've had is candy."

So I started scrambling some eggs.

"It's time for dinner," Andrew told Benjamin.

"We already had dinner," Benjamin objected, "And it was awesome!"

After eggs and toast and bath time we got the kids all tucked into bed—rather late. Still, we were surprised when we woke up this morning and all of our kids (five out of five) were still asleep. Granted, Alexander had just fallen back to sleep after being up, but having all five children asleep while we were awake felt like a grand (albeit eerie) accomplishment.

Zoë and Rachel were sleeping on the couch, so obviously they'd been up a bit earlier. Rachel said Zoë climbed into her bed around 7:00 and she had managed to convince her to cuddle.

Friday, November 17, 2017

First and Second Zoë haircuts (and other stories)

Since Alexander was born, Andrew's made an effort to stick around—at least for a few minutes—in the mornings to help get the kids up and ready for school. Quite often he's gone before they leave for school, but he'll usually have them all up and dressed and at the breakfast table by the time I get up, which really only gives me an extra fifteen minutes of sleep or so (but believe me, that fifteen minutes is so precious).

This morning, however, Andrew was in Michigan. That meant I was left to get all the kids moving on my own. And, because I'm a genius, I scheduled visiting teaching appointments this morning as well, which meant that in addition to getting the kids off to school on my own I also had to get Zoë, Alexander, and myself ready to leave the house. Smart, right?

So instead of getting an extra fifteen minutes of sleep, I woke up fifteen minutes before the kids got up so that I would (hopefully) have time to get everything done. And I did. I got all the kids out the door, I pumped, I fed the baby and changed his diaper (twice (for both the feeding and the diaper changing), I wrangled the wee ones into clothes, and I got out the door. And I was only, like, five minutes late to my first appointment. So...boom!

Here's Zoë saying good morning to Alexander:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

One Month: belly stickers and park pictures

Enfamil sent me some "belly stickers" for Alexander (because they love me, obviously (and they also want me to buy their products (which, I'm a milch cow, so...yup))) and he turned a month old on the 14th and they're sitting on my desk, untouched. 

I should probably give them to some other mother who can keep on top of that kind of thing. One who actually remembers to stick a sticker on her baby's belly on the same day, every month, for an entire year...and snap a picture of it.

I'm not that kind of mother. 

I'm not saying a mother who remembers to stick stickers on her baby's belly is a better mother than I am. Nor am I saying that I am above sticking stickers on my baby's belly. I'm not a Sneetch.

I'm just saying I'm not that kind of mother.

But, here is a picture of Alexander that I happened to snap on the 14th (his one month...birthday):

Sunday and Monday

As promised, I put Miriam's hair in rags Saturday evening. I didn't manage to get a picture of how lovely her hair looked on Sunday morning, but it did indeed look lovely and she was very satisfied with its sproinginess.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

1950s Daddy/Daughter Night

Last time the girls had a Daddy/Daughter Dance at the school I kind of bombed it and sent my girls to the dance wearing casual clothes when I should have had them gussied up. In my defence, I was newly pregnant and exhausted and had the worst morning sickness of all five pregnancies. So the fact that I got them out the door at all is to be commended. Still, I felt bad that they were so...plain...while all their friends were so fancy.

Thank goodness I got a do-over last night! 

This year their (new) school chose a 50s theme for the Daddy/Daughter Date Night (which involved more than just dancing—there were hoola hoops and other fun "stations"), so while we were waiting for Daddy to get home from work, the girls and I put costumes together. And we crushed it.

Miriam's costume was pretty easy because I'd made a poodle skirt for her school musical last year. Rachel's was a little more difficult because I didn't have (wasn't about to make) another poodle skirt. After looking through some "google images" results for "1950s fashion" we rolled her jeans, threw on a plaid shirt (of mine), and put her hair up in a handkerchief. 

After looking up hairstyles, the girls let me experiment with some pin curls. 

Friday, November 10, 2017


A week and a half past Halloween is a great time to write about carving pumpkins, right? Because they're still nice and fresh and sitting on our front porch and everything. 

Andrew went grocery shopping with the kids a few weeks ago (several weeks ago, if we're being honest, because it was before Alexander was born) and came home with an entire family of pumpkins: a daddy pumpkin, a mommy pumpkin, four little pumpkins, and a wee baby pumpkin.

Then a couple of days before Halloween, Jaker's Jack-O-Lanterns (by Harward Farms) came to the school and gave every single child in the school a pumpkin—and not just a piddly pumpkin, either; these were hard-to-carry-home size (but the kids did it)—so by Halloween we were basically drowning in pumpkins. 

Before we get to pumpkin carving, I'll show off Miriam's character pumpkin for school (which, if you're keeping track, means that she (1) carried her pumpkin home from school, (2) carried her decorated pumpkin back to school, (3) carried her decorated pumpkin back home so she could carve it—talk about a work out):

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Zoë talks

Recently Zoë has become rather interested in saying prayers, which interestingly enough coincided with a rapid increase in vocabulary and complex sentence structure. Her language skills made a huge jump around the time Alexander was born (coincidence or necessity?). So now instead of ending her prayers with "Jss. MORE!" she ends them with "name Jesus Chist. The end."

I'm pretty sure she doesn't think "amen" is a legitimate word.

On Sunday she was being a bit of a pill during sacrament meeting and kept telling me, "Gook me—nope!" (translation: "Look at me—nope!") because if I didn't look at her I couldn't catch her being naughty, right?

She also kept telling Andrew, "Call me—nope!" meaning that he shouldn't say, "Zoë," in a disproving tone, obviously.

Today Benjamin and Zoë were playing LEGO in Benjamin's bedroom when I went in to tell them that I was going to take a nap with the baby. Often (probably even usually) the kids jump to use this as an opportunity to ask for screen time and often (probably even usually) I will consent to turn on a show for them because...sleep.

Zoë surprised me, however, by quickly saying, "Me 'atch show—nope!"

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

First snowfall

We had the first flurry of the season today and we all survived it (though we may have been comically overdressed compared to the...locals).

Here, for example, is Alexander on the first snowy day of his life:

Must be...Zoë

There's a song we like to sing to Alexander, which I sang to Benjamin as well (because it really only works well for boys). It's sung to the tune of Must Be Santa so has the added benefit of getting on Andrew's nerves (when it's not the Christmas season (but it snowed today so I'm pretty sure we can count the Christmas season as on)).

"Who's my little baby boy?" I sing.

"Baby Xander!" Zoë will answer.

"Xander is my little baby boy!" I sing back. Then I ask, "Who brings our family lots of joy?"

The answer, of course, should be Xander (or Alex; we're still torn), but this morning Zoë smiled impishly and said, "No, Zoë! Zoë bings joy!"

That she does. But unfortunately, girl doesn't rhyme with I never sang this song to my girls.

I suppose I could sing it to her now because while girl doesn't rhyme with joy, it does rhyme with twirl (and while Zoë wasn't so great at twirling when she was a baby, she's a pretty talented twirler these days).

Who's my precious little girl?
Zoë is my precious little girl!
Who likes to run and jump and twirl?
Zoë likes to run and jump and twirl!
Jump and twirl! Little girl!
Must be Zoë! Must be Zoë!
Must be Zoë, Zoë Heiss!

The Longest Day

I found the mother's lounge on Sunday, not because I wanted a secluded place to nurse my baby (I'm totally cool with nursing in that when your baby has a poop-splosion while nursing in the middle of Sunday School it gets all over your lap and the chair you're sitting on (but you just keep on nursing while your husband uses a burp cloth to mop it all up because if you stop nursing the baby would start screaming, bringing more attention to your slightly disruptive, poop-covered family (not that I know from experience))) but because baby's big sister wanted a closer look at baby...but then lost her balance and face-planted on baby's face.

He was not happy about that so I fled the chapel before he could really start crying.

Big sister, likewise, was rather unhappy so Andrew scooped her up and fled the chapel as well.

Tears all around!

I ended up in the mother's lounge, rocking Alexander. Another mother was in there trying to nurse her baby (who had reached the curious stage and wanted to eat but explore (life's one big conundrum)). She ooohed and ahhed over how new and tiny Alexander was, but also mentioned not missing that stage.

"They grow so fast!" she said. "It's like you blink and they're six weeks old and out of that newborn stage. Of course, that could be because everything is a blur. It's like a six-week-long day where you never really fall asleep and never really wake up."

And that feels pretty true. Alexander has been up every two hours (at least) for the past three weeks. But last night? Last night he slept for four hours without a break. So we're both feeling pretty great this morning (but still, as always, ready for a nap).

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Baptism, A New Birth

Today was our double-whammy celebration of Miriam's baptism and Alexander's blessing and, continuing with the theme of our life recently, it sure was a whirlwind of a day! 

After convincing Andrew that making crepes for a party of 30 people would be altogether too much work for Friday evening, we decided on simple things like muffins and cookies from Costco and soup. Andrew wasn't entirely on board with the soup because he thought it was too early in the day for soup and this was going to be a brunch-type thing, but I pointed out that (a) it's fall so soup is a totally rational meal choice and (b) 11:30 is close enough to actual lunch that having soup wouldn't be frowned upon. Plus, Wikipedia categorizes soup as a brunch it's basically official.

Then, after convincing Andrew that we would certainly not have time to prepare everything in the morning (we have five kids to get ready—FIVE!), we stayed up late making soup, cutting up fruit, and deciding which tray would hold what food. This was a very good thing because the morning ended up being quite rushed (from my perspective). I was so busy doing hair and putting clothes on people and changing diapers and bathing children and nursing and so forth that I hardly even made it downstairs before we dashed out the door.

Alexander wore the same outfit that Benjamin wore on his blessing day (I used the word "whirlwind" for his blessing day as well...huh...maybe life is just always complicated). The kids really wanted him to wear a bowtie, but all of Benjamin's bowties look ridiculously huge on him so Rachel dug out a red hair bow and we clipped that on his shirt, completing his dapper look:

Friday, November 03, 2017

I've got this...or not...

Last night I grabbed my toothbrush and squeezed some toothpaste on it. As I was raising it to my mouth I happened to glance at the toothbrush holder and toothbrush.

My mind started going a million miles an hour...

"Wait a second," I thought to myself, pleased that I had caught myself before brushing my teeth with someone else's toothbrush (one of the worst feelings in the world (not that I know from experience or anything)) but a little confused because I could have sworn that I grabbed my toothbrush.

Indeed, the toothbrush I was holding was my own. But the toothbrush still in the toothbrush holder was also my own.

Oh, that's right. I replaced my toothbrush the night before with a new—but identical—one. Had I forgotten to throw my old one away? No, I distinctly remember tossing it into the trash, which means...

"Ew!" I squealed, jerking the toothbrush away from my half-open mouth.

"What?" Andrew asked.

"This is my old toothbrush," I said. "The one that I threw away yesterday!"

"That means...ew..."

Yes, that means that one of my well-meaning and oh-so-very-helpful children dug it out of the garbage can and returned it to the toothbrush holder.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

This girl

Zoë had cereal with her older siblings this morning. And then when I finally started getting breakfast for myself she started getting cereal for herself again. So she ate that, but I made oatmeal, so she had to have oatmeal, too. And then while we were I was cleaning up she decided she wanted to have another bowl of cereal.

I was not on board with this idea because she'd already dirtied three bowls with three different breakfasts and it was time to stop eating and move on with our day. 

But she was in a particularly sour/defiant/crankenheimer mood this morning and did not appreciate being told what to do. So when I went upstairs to get a load of laundry, she helped herself to the pantry. 

At least she listened to the part where I told her that I didn't want her to dirty any more bowls...

This is Halloween

"You're going to be here in the morning, right?" I asked Andrew last night. "Because I can get the kids ready for school and out the door on a regular day just fine, but I'm not sure I can do Halloween on my own."

My children have never worn their Halloween costumes to school before. Their old school(s) did a "Mathquerade" event every year...after school...and well before Halloween. 

While getting my children into costumes before school seemed like a hassle I'd prefer to not to experience, I was happy that this year we were invited to a grand total of zero costume parties before Halloween: no trunk-or-treat or ward party, no school parties, and the one Halloween party didn't require costumes (score). And why did that make me so happy?

Because...who has two thumbs and finished making Halloween costumes last night?


Truthfully, the older girls put their costumes together pretty much on their own (just a little bit of guidance on my part), Zoë landed a lovely hand-me-down costume, and Alexander wore a little monster sleeper, so it was mostly just Benjamin's costume I had to worry about.

Andrew assured me that he'd be around in the morning to help with the kids—and thank goodness for that because little miss Zoë stumbled out of her room feeling cranky and...never quite got over that.

Here she is having some morning snuggles with the A-Team (Alexander and Andrew):