Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's All Meaningless If I Have to Force Them to Do Anything. Why Should I Have to Step In?

2010 was a great year.

At the beginning of last year our car was broken into and I lost my iphone after owning it for approximately three weeks. Okay, so 2010 didn't start out great, but it got a million times better:

We moved to a different state with two weeks notice. I knew I wouldn't be in Burgville forever, so I made a list of everything I needed to do while I was there. I didn't cross off everything, but I did cross off most of it and a blast doing it. I went caving. I went hiking. I traversed wild mountain springs and slid into dark ice caves. I went off-roading. I caught tadpoles in a lake. I swam in hot springs. I ate at delicious (and not-so delicious) restaurants. I got within a few feet of an elk, a buffalo and a baby buffalo. I saw a wolf. I did a polar bear plunge. I went on a horse-drawn sleigh ride, I did a photo shoot on a swing set in the middle of nowhere

Besides things on that list, I did a lot: I learned how to make tortillas. I learned how to grind wheat and made lots of wheat bread, wheat rolls, wheat tortillas and wheat cookies. I finally learned to bake (It's a miracle). I discovered that CSA boxes rock and fresh cow's milk is unbeatable. I learned Spanish verbs are awesome, radiant heating is the way to go, being within walking distance of a park, the library, post office and grocery store is way better than having a car. I discovered I love running and then I discovered I love barefoot running. I discovered the joy of anti-gravity Yoga and books on CD. I wrote an entire novel. I ran a half-marathon with dad and my sister. I made a pinata from a balloon and paper-mache and a fort out of packed banana boxes. I made awesome Halloween costumes for my family and a delicious Thanksgiving-themed dinner for my Grandparents. I gave up red-dye 40 and HFCS and have gone an entire year without shampoo. Lost ended, which was not-so-great, but the ending was good.

In July we moved to Sunland. I created a new list to complete and so far have been ocean kayaking, gone to Disneyland, Legoland, the Mormon Battalion, and the zoo. I've collected seashells on the beach, walked along piers. I went to an old fashioned rendezvous and gambled in an old town salon. I've touched a giant turtle and fed sea horses. I'm looking forward to the rest of my list!

There were lots of parties. We had a Valentine's day party, St Patrick's day parties, a Pi day party, Cinco De Mayo parties, a Labor day party, Halloween parties, Christmas parties, laundry parties, Birthday parties, and lots of weddings!

Oh yeah, and I FINALLY don't have to wait for winter to end. A few weeks ago the temperature all weekend was eighty degrees. In December. It's not always amazing weather, but when it is, it's really amazing weather. And it so worth it. Finally, I have escaped winter.

The best part of 2010 was knowing that God was watching over us, guiding us, and helping us. That has been blatantly obvious this last year. I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for a wonderful year, a wonderful family, and the wonderful friends I've made over the last year.

2010 did not go anywhere near what what was planned or expected, and I'm grateful for that. Next year, when I write about 2011, I want to say I compleated all my New Year's resolutions. I want to say that 2011 was just as unexpected and awesome as 2010. Except maybe a little more awesome. Like I published my Novel and it sold more copies than the seventh Harry Potter book. Or I saved the CEO of a major international airline from a burning car and he gave me golden tickets to fly anywhere in the wold, to use as many times as I want. That would be great.

I Want Them to Help Themselves, to Know the Difference Between Right and Wrong Without Me Having to Tell Them

2010 resolutions:

-Speak fluent Spanish.
I admit, I cannot speak fluent Spanish. Even so, I don't consider this goal a failure. I made some great progress in this area: I found awesome Spanish websites, which I use. I found awesome Spanish CDs which I listen to in the car. I listen to a Spanish conference talk almost every day. I found an amazing Spanish teacher in Burgville and my Spanish improved leaps and bounds under private tutoring. Not only did she teach me Spanish verbs, a concept I had never dreamed of, but we became really good friends. One day I will go back and visit her and we sill hang out all day, only speaking Spanish.
I feel like my whole attitude towards Spanish has changed. While I set it as a goal before, I felt that it was unobtainable, that I would never really be able to speak Spanish. Now, thanks to my awesome Spanish teacher, I KNOW I can learn Spanish.
I never really though of Spanish as a beautiful language, only useful. That changed this year, thanks to one amazing episode and the incredible talent of Nestor Carbonell. Honestly I could listen to that man speak Spanish all day. All day every day. After that I love listening to Spanish no matter whose speaking. I think it's a beautiful language and I have huge respect for it. I didn't love Spanish before. I love learning Spanish now.
So, I may not speak Spanish fluently, but I'm getting there, and I did dream in Spanish, so I'll count that as a check.

-Run a marathon.
I did not. But I'm okay with that. I decided my goal was not to simply run a marathon, but to become a long distance runner. When I first decided to run a marathon, I thought it would be hard, I thought I would hate it, but in the end I could have something to brag about. This year taught me that I love running. Running is the fun part. I don't care about bragging, I don't care about completing a marathon, I just love to run. I am a runner. Check!

-Write a novel, edit a novel and publish a novel.
I wrote a novel. I am edited like mad, and am still editing. I joined a wonderful writing group that I love and they are helping me edit. I've also just started another tiny writing group specifically for editing our NaNoWrimo novels. I'll get there!

-Write in my gratitude journal everyday
I wrote in it twice. Fail.

-Index 1,000 documents.
I did exactly zero. Another fail.

My resolutions for 2011:

-Continue learning Spanish; be able to have unscripted Spanish conversation by 2012.
I love Spanish. I love listening to it, I love learning new words, I love stringing those words together to form sentences. I love learning Spanish and can't wait to learn more!

-Run a marathon.
I love to run. I love pushing myself in running. I can't wait to run farther and farther until I reach marathon distances!

-Edit my novel, then publish it.
Between my two writing groups, I know I will edit my novel. I will have it all edited by April, and then I will work on publishing it.

-Write a new novel
For NaNoWrimo. I already have an idea.

-Write in my gratitude journal everyday
I can do this! I will set it by my bed, and tie a pen to the journal. It will be the first thing I do every morning.

-Index 1,000 documents.
That's eighty-four per month. No problem!

Sell, give away or donate everything I don't use. My focus will be on experiences, not on material possessions. I will not buy it unless I NEED it. I will not keep it if it's not used at least once a month. For the entirety of 2011 I will not carry a credit card.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How About You, You, You. You Can Come Too, Too, Too

Drek and I aren't fans of Christmas commercialism. In fact, Drek's least-favorite holiday is Christmas because it is so commercialized. This year we thought about what to get our one-year old for Christmas. We thought about books or clothes. We thought about a baby doll or a sled. We also thought about just giving her a giant box filled with used wrapping paper because, let's face it, that's what the kids have the most fun with, and she's only one so she won't be disappointed (or even remember the next day what she got).

Finally, we decided on a family year membership to a zoo. It's a gift she can enjoy all year long, plus we can go and spend time as a family, creating memories that (hopefully) she will remember for the rest of her life. Or, at the very least, at least she'll remember that mom and dad are fun to hang out with. I had an old stuffed Koala from my childhood, so we wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree to symbolize her gift.

And then we cheated. When our memberships came in the mail, I realized that they were not 2011 memberships, but annual memberships that start the day you buy them, and we bought ours on November 30th. That meant a whole month wasted! So we decided to open Ash's present early and go to the zoo.

It was the best thing ever!! We saw some fun animals;

We rode on the skyride;

And I got to touch a turtle!
I hope Ash is as happy with her present as I am.

Monday, December 27, 2010

She Sells Sea Shells By the Sea Shore

This year we didn't have tons of money for Christmas gifts. We also wanted go commercial-free as much as we could. I also wanted to bring home a little of SunLand to Drek's siblings. All the combined into three homemade Christmas gifts.

First off, Drek and I went to the beach several times. We walked along, finding seashells and having a wonderful time. We cleaned and sorted the seashells and made a few crafts:

This one turned out the best. I took a brand-new wooden picture frame and hot-glued a few seashells on the frame.
I put in some cute photos I took on the beach and I thought it looked great!

Some sea shells had holes in them, I assume from some sort of sea creature.
So I strung some string through them and turned it into a bookmark.
(Any guesses on that book?)

And here is my favorite craft: Take the biggest seashells,
and some tea candles. melt the wax and pour into seashells, transfer the wicks.
and you have candle seashells!
Now I know you're looking at these crafts with a winkled nose and thinking that they look like elementary school children made them. I'm not going to argue that. I will simply tell a story:

I did another craft for my niece. It was a painted wooden board with a stencil. All I had to do was paint the board using the stencil and the craft would be done. After applying three layers I pulled off the stencil and discovered the paint hand gotten under the stencil, creating horrible swollen bubble letters that made it impossible to decipher the words. It was a disaster. I am very craft-challenged, you see. The fact that these sea shell crafts actually look like the intended outcome is my greatest success.

This, compared to my amazing sister-in-law, who made us the most amazing looking magnetic board for all our holiday needs, and a super-cute compartment for Ash's carseat, so Ash has access to toys and snacks. And check out my what my sister made for Ash; Zoo animal finger puppets. Aren't they AMAZING?!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Till, Ringing Singing, on its Way, The World Revolved From Night to Day

Christmas was great fun. Christmas morning was spent opening presents and stockings and hanging out with family. Christmas afternoon we went to my parent's house and opened more presents.

And then my dad and mom left to go the emergency room because they thought my dad has a blood clot in his leg and maybe his chest. He didn't, but in order to prove that the doctor exploded a vein in my dad's arm. They were in the hospital for about four hours before they could come home.

The day ended with a marshmallow gun fight.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Surprise When I Open Up My Eyes to See a Hippo Hero Standing There

Ah, Christmas Eve:

The gingerbread houses are all decorated, the presents are wrapped under the lit tree, the stockings are stuffed and hanging, tomorrow's breakfast is all ready to be popped in the oven, the baby is sleeping, and Drek and I are sipping hot chocolate and playing Scrabble on his iphone (he take so long to play. But he is beating me by over a hundred points so I guess it works for him).

I've decided to give this blog a little Christmas present: I'm enabling comments. They'll be moderated, but viable.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up In Strings, These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Here's a fun fact: In the U.S., the annual trash from wrapping paper and shopping bags totals over four million tons.

I despise buying wrapping paper. On the other hand, I love wrapping presents and having colorful presents under the tree Christmas morning. So this year I did this:
Sometimes when I'm mailed packages, instead of packing peanuts the shipper used brown paper. That brown paper makes awesome wrapping paper. Add a bow and it's beautiful! That's my favorite thing to do.

I also like using and re-using Christmas boxes and bags since they add so much color. I save them year after year. They're always good.

The red bag with green polka-dots is actually a reusable fabric gift bag. It's the perfect thing to wrap gifts in because it encourages the receiver to save a tree next year!

This year I bought some Christmas themed fabric for a Christmas craft, and used the extra for wrapping paper! Very colorful.

The beautiful blue package in the back is wrapped in wrapping paper from last year. It's not normal ripping-paper. It's made from cellophane or something. It's very exciting.

So, here is another fun fact: If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper, reused bags, or fabric, it would save enough paper to fill forty thousand hockey rinks.

Don't think I'm an eco-saint or anything. While I was looking up these fun facts, I also found this one: The amount of Holiday card sold in the U.S. in one year would fill a football field ten stories high and requires the harvesting of three hundred thousand trees. Yeah, I helped murder THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND TREES. Next year, I will stick to Christmas emails.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, Good. What Will I be Doing? Well, Pooh, You'll Be Sitting in Your Thoughtful Spot, Thinking as Usual

When I am disgustingly rich and have vast amounts of money to throw away, and there are no more charities or poor people in the world, I will build a room in my house that looks like this:

And I will have a hallway that looks like this:

But most importantly, I will have a window with this view:

And I will sit at that window with Ash on my lap and stare for hours at a time, just like I did today, because that window is my new thoughtful spot. It has to be one of the very best spots in the whole world.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh, That's Terrific! It Will Be Nice Working With Proper Villains Again

The post office opened at 8:30. I got there 8:10 hoping to avoid December lines, but to no avail; the line was already out the door. Thankfully the line was for the actual post office, and I needed to use the automated post office machine so I only had to wait a few minutes. I zipped through the machine and was back to my car in less than ten minutes. The post office hadn't even opened yet!

And then I realized I locked my keys in the car. Actually, I had locked Drek's keys in the car since my keys had been lost for a few days. It's a good think I had the baby on my back and not locked in her carseat.

So I called Drek, who couldn't really do anything. We do have a spare key for events such as this, but I lost that key a few months ago. Yeah, I bring these things upon myself. Drek did give the number for the sheirf's department, but SunLand Police cannot be bothered with trivial things like serving the public, so Drek got me the number for our car insurance company.

Miracle of miracles, our insurances covers roadside assistance. The girl called a locksmith for me, who came out in no time. He was polite, but focused. He didn't talk much so it took me a second to pick up on his accent. It sounded European, but it was hard to tell since he didn't say much. He pulled out his tools (which is just a glorified coat hanger) and set to work. He jammed a wedge into the window and stick the wire down into the door to fish for the lock. After a minute, he gave up, threw the tools aside, and pulled out what looked like a blood pressure cuff. He jammed it in the door, inflated it, and then stuck a thick pole with a right angle into the car and maneuvered it to press the "unlock" button. It took about thirty seconds. That's five minutes from the time he pulled up and less than two minutes once he got to work. He was a really pro. He was so good I almost asked him to join gang of car thieves that I'm creating because he just inspired me. Just give us an hour in the parking lot of a Target and we'd make a killing. How does one get into professionally breaking into cars anyway?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Are We Lost? No. I Think We Are

I got sick in November and stopped running. I figured I'd start back up in January (excuses excuses), but last week I discovered our stake was having a 5K race today. I wanted to do it, but one week didn't give me a whole lot of time to prepare. Last Saturday, after over a month no running, I ran four barefoot miles in fifty one minutes. That is not great, but at least I ran. Monday I walked with Ash for two miles. I was supposed to run, but I was so very sore. Wednesday I ran two miles in twenty nine minutes. Thus, my goal for today was to run my very first barefoot race ever, and my very first running 5K ever, and my very first trail run ever, and my third race ever, in under forty minutes.

By the time we got to the race today I had lowered my expectations slightly to just starting the race. Not even finishing, just starting. I was terrified. I can't really explain why, but I was way out of my comfort zone. There were only ten other runners, mostly male, and all of them older than me. I did not blend it at all. Also, I was the only one without shoes, and that got quite a few comments. Back in July, I wanted so badly to run a 5k and dazzle everyone with my effortless three mile run. I imagined I would soar to the finish line in under half an hour, and not even be out of breath. Alas, not training for your goals tends to make goals dreams instead of reality. My reality was I was about to run a 5k very unprepared, out of shape, and scared.

But the race started and off I went. The course was marked with hidden and undistinguished orange cones. There were lots of turns, forks, and curves, and three minutes into the race the guy in back said the leaders were going the wrong way. Most of us turned around to follow him, but a few of the lead runners got lost. That was not the only confusing turn, and as we got more spread out I really don't now if I took the same turns that the other runners took. I fell behind the lead group, then behind the second group, but I kept going. I mean, really kept going. I ran. I did not stop, and I pushed myself harder than I ever have before.

At the end of the race I like to sprint. I like to put everything I have into the last few hundred yard. I love sprinting to the finish line, adrenaline taking over and run finding strength I didn't know I had. Because the course was so ill marked, I had no idea where the middle of the race, was, much less the end. I came around a corner, expecting to go another half mile, and that was the it: the race was over. I had just crossed the finish line. I didn't sprint because I had no idea I was so close. It was very anticlimactic.

And then I looked at my time: twenty five minutes minutes.

WHAT?! I may have been second to last, but I sure beat my best time by a whole lot. Are you kidding me? The answer: maybe. Because the course was so bad, no one really knew if we actually ran three miles. One runner had the pedometer that said it was closer to two miles, but he was in the middle and no one knew if they took the same route he did.

So, yeah. I ran a race today. I don't know how long it was, or if my time was good, but I started and I finished. And I'm running again. So, hooray.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

She Told Me It's Just Beyond the Meadows of Joy and the Valley of Contentment

I am actually mailing out Christmas cards this year. In the past we've done an email and we still will do email for most, but I got free Christmas cards from Shutterfly so I decided to be domestic. Mostly, I will hand-deliver our Christmas cards. It's much better that way. If I have to pay for postage, I'd rather just send an email, but in this case I am actually snail mailing a few. In order to do that I had to collect a few addresses. I decided who got cards and who got emails by a simple competition: first ten people to respond to my address requests get a card. I like to keep things simple.

Drek and I addressed the cards last night. I paused when I came to the address: 555 Nonesuch Road. I rolled my eyes and shot back an email: You do not seriously live on Nonesuch Road.

Yes I do.

No you don't.

No, really, I do.

So I looked it up on Google maps. He actually does live on Nonesuch Road. There is a road called Nonesuch road. I'm not joking. The name has not been changed in this post. It is, actually, officially, named called Nonesuch Road. Why? Why would you do that? Who names roads anyway?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Oh, Free Parking. Which, Coincidentally, is the Best Thing About Zombieland

We were lucky enough to be able to celebrate Drek's birthday on Saturday with a trip to:
(where we've never been) for the minimal fee of $12 for parking and the gas it took to drive there. Oh, I suppose the $3 for the ice cream cone we shared, but it was a big cone.

It was a good day to go; not to cold, not to hot, no long lines. There were small lines, but they were small. Sometimes we wore jackets, sometimes we took them off. It was nice.

The park was all decorated for Christmas.
And there were fish:
The fish were not made out of legos.
The Lego faces were so accurate that the camera thought these were real faces
Miniland was to much fun. Since we went at Christmas, they had added a few little things:

I really loved these guys:

They did this amazing super complicated version of the cup game.

Seriously, that is so cool. I really want to get a bunch of people together and play the cup game and learn how do this game with buckets. So cool.

Friday, December 03, 2010

If the Only Thing Left of You Was Your Smile and Your Little Finger, You'd Still Be More of a Man Than Anyone I've Ever Known

My husband rocks. I love being married to him. I especially love being married to him on his birthday, because then we can celebrate how great he is!

His birthday was yesterday. I woke up early to make cherry cream crepes; his favorite breakfast. He ate two, but was too full to eat the third one I made for him, so he decided to take it to work with him. Before he left he opened his first little present; little candies to take to work. I think he liked them.

I drove him to work today (he usually rides his bike because he is that awesome) and as he buckled the baby in the car, he put his plate on top of the car. That was the last we ever saw of the plate or the crepe.

I brought him Panda Express for lunch, along with a giant eclair from a bakery. I also brought in mini eclairs for his co-workers. Apparently, it was a very good day at the company, thanks to my husband being a genius.

We went out to eat dinner just the two of us. We had a wonderful time at the restaurant and came back home to have birthday pie with friends.

We sang to him and he blew out his candles. We ate a lot of pie and talked. Afterward I gave him my present: a huge tool set, and Ash gave him her present; more candy!

The real celebration comes on Saturday: We are going to Legoland for his birthday! I think I'm more excited than he is!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Can You Flip It Right Now? We're Gonna Flip It Thursday. Or Friday. Or in November. Can You See It From Where You're At? Can I Come Down and Flip It?

SunLand lied. LIED.

It's supposed to be sunny! It's supposed to be warm! This is not warm! For the last week it has been cold. COLD!
I admit; it's not freezing, nor is it snowing, but I can see my breath when I walk outside and I have been wearing actual shoes for the last few days. All this would be fine, and perfectly bearable (I freely admit this is not nearly as bad as Burgville, or even HomeTown) but is made worse by a simple fact: My house is freezing.

It's designed to keep cool; in the summer we never used air conditioning and in the fall it was colder inside the house than outside. Now, it's cold outside and freezing inside. We didn't want to turn on the heat for two reasons: We didn't want to pay the bill and hello, we're in SunLand! We shouldn't HAVE to use heat. It's the principal of the thing!

So we nailed blankets over the walls to insulate, threw a few extra quilts on the bed, got out the heating pad, sweatshirts, fuzzy socks, and warm pajamas. We put Ash in thermals under her pajamas and banned short-sleeves. Even so, by Saturday, we were cold. VERY cold. So cold, I was longing for my awesome Burgville house with its radiant heat and toasty warm temperatures. In other words: it was so cold I wished I was in Burgville. That is freaking cold.

So we decided to turn on the heat. We looked around at the odd contraptions on our walls, puzzled over the fact that we never noticed we didn't have a thermostat and asked how to make it warm. The answer was basic: call the energy company and ask them to turn on the gas. So we did. They were very polite, agreed to come out, agreed not to charge us anything to come out, and then told us they would be here Wednesday.

"Wednesday? Um, can't you come sooner? It's really cold."
"Wednesday is the soonest we can come out to light your pilot light."
"Oh, is that all you do? Can we light it?"
"NO! Absolutely not! We must do it! We will be out Wednesday!"
"But it's cold now!"
"Maybe you should have thought of that four days ago."

The good news is today is Wednesday and the guy came while I was out taking Drek to work. He left a sign on the door that said he was there, and that he lit the pilot light. There is a new sound coming from the odd contraption on our wall, so I believe the sign. The bad news is I still have no idea how to make it warm. And maybe now I'm used to the cold so I don't want to! After all, this is SunLand. Maybe it will warm up soon...

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Things You Own End Up Owning You. It's Only After You Lose Everything That You're Free to do Anything

I had a Live Journal once. I created it back when I started this blog so I could comment on Live Journal posts. After a while, I started answering some of those questions that are supposed to inspire posts. Nothing deep, nothing extensive. I stuck with Blogger because Live Journal has mandatory ads, and with Blogger ads are optional. I really hate ads on the Internet. Actually, I hate ads period (commercialism is completely out of control. I cannot believe how attached to material things we, including me, are). I can't stand being bombarded with orders to buy things every time I turn on the radio, drive down the road or watch Hulu, but on the Internet, it's ten times worse because all the ads are of scantily clad "objects" and flashing banners. It's horrible.

About a year ago, I stopped posting on Live Journal, because every time I switched to a new page, a video playing a commercial would pop up that I had to watch before it "returned me to my live journal experience" and that was freaking annoying. But I kept my account and still commented on other's posts.

A few weeks ago I erased my LJ account completely because when I looked at any one else's LJ, it would show me that video. Hello! I don't have TV for a reason! I hate commercials! If I'm reading about other's lives, why do I care about Toyota technology? Anyway, I realized if I deleted my account, I could read Live Journals without the commercialism.

This left me without an account, and unable to post comments. And yet, I never remember that, so I'll write the comment, hit publish, and then it will come back and tell me it hates me because I hate it. It's a hate-hate relationship that works for us.

Yesterday I did this exact thing to my cousin's LJ. I wrote her an email with my comment and informed her that LJ is evil, and she should switch to Blogger. She wrote this awesome comeback:

Personally, while I love Google, I absolutely hate blogger. :-P And also, your journal doesn't accept comments at all!

Bah. Good point. Touche, cousin. Touche.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum

NanoWrimo is completed. I finished, hooray me. The result? Meh. It's done, that was the goal.

November was great: I joined Drek's writing group and I LOVE it. I learned to bake! I can now make bread and rolls that are light and fluffy. I can also make perfect fried scones and honey butter. We played a lot of Frisbee golf, went to the beach a few times, and drove a lot. I worked on NanoWrimo for three hours on a good day, two and a half hours usually, and half an hour on a bad day.

Things are back to a regular routine. After dinner last night (corn on the cob, mashed potatoes with miso gravy, homemade baked beans) Drek and I cleaned the house while listening to Christmas Music; It was just about a perfect evening. After Ash went to sleep Drek and I played my new obsession: Pandemic Bio-Terrorist. I really don't think its possible to win and my it's my obsession to prove otherwise. We added an extra rule (If the terrorists is captured he skips his next turn) and even though it made the game less frustrating, it didn't get a win. Last night I cheated by having two special abilities and I wasn't anywhere close to winning. We'll play again tonight and I have a new plan...

Winning isn't everything. Besides, if we win then the fun will be gone and Drek and I won't play two games every night. Maybe I'm secretly losing on purpose...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, Raise the Song of Harvest Home; All is Safely Gathered In, Ere the Winter Storms Begin

Assume, for a moment, that you were in charge of creating a holiday. For one reason or another, you decided to make that holiday all about being grateful; for one day people can banish all greediness and for once just be thankful and generous.

Okay, now that you've decided the theme, how would you suggest people celebrate this Holiday? Maybe if they were thankful to their God, people could serve the poor, or go to church, or make little treats for the orphans in Korea. Maybe if people were thankful to their country, they could spend the day visiting the soldiers in the military, or cleaning up trash in a National Park. Maybe if they were grateful to the earth for a giving us air to breathe, or a bounteous crop, they could plant a tree or invent a new energy solution.

So what crazy deranged person decided that the best way to celebrate being Thankful, is to stuff as much crap (canned yams, instant potatoes, frozen pies) into your fat little mouth and then spend all day napping and watching football, all while blaming it on Pilgrims who massacred Indians. Am I missing something here?

Thanksgiving is a stupid holiday. Maybe it's because the smell of cooking turkey has always made me nauseous or maybe it's because I think American food is disgusting, and if I'm going to stuff myself until I explode I would much rather it be with Sushi, or maybe it's because high expectations of others and self + too many cooks in the kitchen + lazy men lounging on couch = very unhappy women, but I have never enjoyed Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to me means one good thing: As soon as the meal is over it is officially the Christmas Season!!! And that, basically, is saying that the best part of Thanksgiving is when it's over.

But enough ranting. Last week my grandparents came out to visit me, because we had planned to go to them, and couldn't. While they were here, I got it in my head that I wanted to make Pumpkin Trifle, a delicious dessert my sister made two years ago and I have craved ever since. I couldn't just make the trifle for any old meal, so I decided to make a "Thanksgiving themed" dinner: homemade sweet rolls, spiced cranberry cider, and cranberry sauce. But what would I serve for the main course?

Last year I came upon an intriguing recipe: Orange You Glad It's Thanksgiving Soup. It is made out of squash, carrots and oranges. I decided this would be the perfect time to try it out. In the end I added sweet potatoes, and left out most of the squash (mostly because peeling a raw squash is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to peel and I gave up halfway through). The result?

It was surprisingly good. I was not expecting it to be that good. It was so good, I think I'll make it again, for a normal dinner.

The trifle turned out both beautiful and delicious:

and the table looked very festive:

It didn't take a lot of effort, we went to the beach that morning and played that night. We had plenty to eat, but we didn't stuff ourselves, the company was wonderful and the food was delicious. If I have to have a meal to celebrate a holiday, I would much rather it be like that.

Although, if I had my way, I would spend Thanksgiving digging wells in Africa. That sounds like a much better way to be thankful.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wow, I am not good at this not-blogging thing. You'd think it would be easy. Huh.

Acouchi is still doing great. Maybe a little too great: treats everyday, brushes and massages when Ash naps, lots of attention, copious amounts of cuddle time. She is one spoiled cat. Now she thinks whenever I'm not standing up it is cuddle-time. Yesterday she crawled all over my lap at the dinner table and later when Drek and I were watching a movie Acouchi sat herself between us and demanded to be petted.

I realized this is not the first time I have been faced with huge medical bills that we just can't pay. So I did what I did last time: Screw the doctors. There has to be a better way.

Little research has been done with natural pet cures, but a lot has been done on natural hyperthyroidism in humans, and a lot of people have natural thyroid supplements for cats. So that's what we're doing. I'm not holding my breathe for a miracle; but even if it will help her be healthy and happy for an extra few months, I'll gladly take it. It also helps because I am doing something, I'm just not sitting around waiting for her to die. And I'll keep researching; see what else I can do.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The fleas are all gone. Gone from the house, gone from the porch, and best of all: gone from Acouchi.

She is so much better. SO much better. She cuddles, she purrs, she runs, she chases, she climbs, she eats, she drinks...she's so much better. She's back to her normal self. I am so much better now too.

Her blood tests came back: Her kidneys are just fine, but her vet wants a urine sample, just to be sure ($40). Acouchi's bilirubin levels are high, which means liver problems, so the vet wants to do an ultrasound ($350) to see what's up. It might be liver cancer, but more likely it's just damage from her thyroid, so if we fix the thyroid, her liver will fix itself. Her thyroid level is 17. That's bad. The vet wants to do a Thyroid scan ($395) to get a more detailed picture of her thyroid problem. All this, keep in mind, is just tests: not a cure. The cure is another RIT treatment ($3,500), which will leave her radioactive, and unable to live with us for a month since we have a toddler, and our apartment is too small for the minimum quarantine. That means thirty days of boarding her at an animal hospital and on top of all that, there will be a lot more blood tests and check-ups. Combined, it's $5,000 minimum.

I can make excuses, I can give reasons, I can show you our budget and recite the animal heath care crisis in America today, but the bottom line is this: We can't do it. Period. We can't do anything close to that. Even if we skip the tests and go straight to the treatment, even if we do board her for free. It's just not possible.

How do I deal with that? Right now: Acouchi is happy. She's not in pain, she's having fun, and life is good (it could be better if she was healthy but...). Eventually, though, this problem will kill her. It could be in ten tears, it could be next year. But when she dies, whenever that is, I will know that I could have saved her. Can I live with that? Will I look back and curse myself for not strapping a toddler to my back and walking into businesses with my massage table (illegally, because I'm not licenced in this state). Will I wish I had own nothing that is worth that much. I don't think all my possessions combined are worth that much. Wishing I had blood? Over and over again to earn the money? Actually, they won't buy my blood so it's a moot point.

Does anyone have any other ideas? Anything I haven't thought of? Should I just let it go? Accept that she is just an animal, and animals die? What do I do?

Friday, November 05, 2010

They'll be Singing a Different Tune. Double the Taxes! Triple the Taxes! Squeeze Every Last Drop Out of Those Insolent - Musical - Peasants

I'm done with my NaNoWriMo count for the day, so I get to blog.

Acouchi is sick. Again. I don't even know where to start.

Hey! Did you know that SunLand has a really bad flea problem? Every pet here has fleas, unless they are on monthly prevention medicine. Also, the fleas here are not only uniquely resilient to cold, heat, and...everything else, but have also developed an immunity to most flea poisons. You need the latest and greatest "wave" of flea treatments to keep you pet (and house, and bed, and clothes) flea-free.

GROSS!!!! Why don't they warn you about this when you move here?! But that is last week's news. Acouchi is now flea-free.

I took Acouchi to the vet today. I thought I had my mei tei and a stroller but I later realized both the Mei tei and stroller were in the car that Drek took to work.

I lashed the baby to my front with a wrap I haven't used since I got a Mei Tei. I wore her diaper bag/backpack on my back. I packed Acouchi up in the cat carrier and laid it in the jogging stroller, and then pushed the back down, so she would be level. And then I walked to the vet and back. I'm sure we were quite the sight.

So, the news is not good. Acouchi has never weighed so little. She's super skinny, and very lethargic. For the last two weeks I haven't seen her walk, let alone play.

It's the hyperthyroidism again, but now it could also be her kidneys and her heart. Today the vet says she has a heart murmur.

We did a blood test, we'll find out on Monday. If it's her heart and kidneys and her thyroid, there's nothing we can do. If it's just her thyroid, there is a clinic that does the RIT treatments, but last time I paid for it using the money I got from winning a massage chair. I don't have that money this time. I don't have any money this time since I don't have an income. As far as Drek's income goes; there's no question. We were making more back in Hometown, now we live in SunLand with a decrease in pay, and a HUGE increase in cost of living. It's not a question of extra money, we don't have any money.

I'm devastated. I...really, there are no words.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again. The famed NaNoWriMo is once again upon us. I'm going for it again this year, although since my baby no longer sleeps all day, I'm not holding my breathe that I'll win this year.

This will be my last post until either I do (miraculously) win, or until December first.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Halloween Tale

Once upon a time there was a Robot Technician named Dr. Pygmalion.

He worked hard every day building robots.

He worked so hard, he never had time for anything else. This made Dr. Pygmalion very lonely.

One day, Dr. Pygmalion had an idea! He would build new robots and program them to be his family! Then he wouldn't be lonely anymore!

Dr. Pygmalion went to work right away.

He worked hard until he had all the pieces ready to assemble. He created Robot Wife-a through Wife-h, none of them worked!

Finally, he made an Wife-i

She was perfect!

So he brought her to life!

She moved, She cooked, She cleaned, she told jokes, she could throw a frisbee and liked to play board games.

Dr. Pygmalion and Wife-i fell in love

Soon, Dr. Pygmalion started on his next creation.

He assembled all the pieces...

And finally created Tot Bot!

At last Dr. Pygmalion had a perfect robot family. And they lived happily ever after.

The end.

The Tot Bot costume is made with an iphone showing this website:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Darling, I love You More Than Life Itself

Today my husband and I have been married for three years, three months, three weeks and three days. I have loved every second of that time. My husband is the best husband ever and I love being married to him.

When I spent a day at Disneyland, Drek took the day of work to take care of Ash. I kind of expected to come home to find the house a mess, Ash running around naked and maybe even porch on fire or something. On the contrary, the house was all cleaned and vacumed, dinner was all made (and delicious) and Ash was not only well cared for, but I think she would much rather spend a day with her daddy than with me. Drek even took her to the park. He is such an amazing dad.

That is my amazing husband. I'm looking forward to the next three decades, three years, three months, three weeks and three days together.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Me Explain; No, There Is Too Much. Let Me Summarize

Sunday I went to pick up Krisling. There was doom. We partied on Monday. Tuesday we woke up very, very early in the morning. So early, it was still very dark outside. Okay, now that you're all caught up, lets move to the story:

I got dressed in the dark. Drek was sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the bed. I walked out of the bathroom, came around the corner and WHAM!!!!! Ran into a wall. Apparently I cut the corner a little too sharp. It's okay though: my forehead took all the force. How much force? Well, the walls shook, it echoed through the house, and Drek shot out of bed, thinking a bomb had just exploded. Yeah. I had a good sized goose egg all day. Krisling said I looked like a Klingon.

But, we got ready, jumped in the car, and drove a long way to pick up Ali. Then we drove even farther to DISNEYLAND!!!
If you'll remember, at the beginning of the year, Disney did their "Give a Day, Get a Day" thing, which Krisling and I signed up for and completed. We volunteered at the Aquarium, and in return, got free tickets to Disneyland! So today was the day we redeemed those tickets. Hooray!

Here is a tip: If you don't like waiting in long lines, you should go to Disneyland on a Tuesday morning in October, on the same day they are having Micky Mouse's Halloween Party which is a thing they do after six at night. Everyone who is going to Disneyland that day (which is not a lot, since it's a Tuesday in October) wants to go to the party, so they go in the afternoon, not the morning. All morning the lines were five minutes or less. By the end of the day, we had to wait forty minutes for Space Mountain, Ghost Galaxy! which is the normal wait time.

The lines were so short, that by noon we looked around and realized we were done. We had ridden all the essential rides. We stopped for lunch looked at each other and shrugged "Now what?" That is the way to DisneyLand.

We had a wonderful time. Disneyland was decorated for October,
the Haunted Mansion was completely redecorated with Nightmare Before Christmas,
Krisling found a pet Praying Mantis.
We got stuck in an elevator, we watched the Jedi Academy,
we saw the new Tangled attraction, we took pictures of people in awesome Halloween costumes,

and I got to ride on a lot of rides I have never been on before. I also changed my mind about my favorite ride. Before it was Splash Mountain, now it is Space Mountain. Or maybe Big Thunder Railroad. But not Splash Mountain. For one thing: I was too concerned about not getting wet to enjoy it. For another thing, I have never seen Song of the South, so I have no idea what all that animatronic stuff is referencing. All day I tried to figure out how a movie could get banned in the United States, with Freedom of Speech and all. Well the answer is: It's not banned, Disney has simply chosen to never release the full movie on video, ever. So why would you build a whole ride around it? It just doesn't make sense. They should really rename the ride. I recommend turning it into "Kuzco-topia" a log flume ride in which you go through Kuzco's palace, through Pacha's village, and, in the end, down a waterfall with sharp rocks at the bottom. Everyone would love that ride.