Saturday, December 31, 2011

But Behind That Fair Façade I'm Afraid She's Rather Odd

2011 was, in a word: odd.

I went to the beach wearing flip-flops and short sleeves in winter. I bought a house instead of renting and did all the odd things that come with home-ownership.  I came face to face with a cheetah, a wolf, and a panther. I discovered I love blood oranges. I learned how to iron. I swam with leopard sharks and a sea lion. I discovered I love hanging laundry on a clothes line. I found myself in yet another manipulative relationship (how do I get myself into these things?) but actually managed to get myself out. I got chickens. I went scuba-diving. I bought an ocean kayak. I went to a horse polo game. I got beaten up by a goose. I ate several goose eggs. I drove an all-electric car.

Acouchi died. Chicken Juliette died. Jasmine died.

I've had two major life crisis this year. One in May, in which decisions were made that I don't think I will ever get over. It's odd to think that the big "If only" moment of my life happened this year. The second major life crisis happened, well, last week. I'm actually still working through it. I'll let you know how that one turns out.

I know this sounds odd, but I feel like my frontal lobe finished developing this year. Really. I've had a millions and one epiphanies this year. I've come to understand so many things about myself and those around me. I feel like I can finally see the big picture. I really feel like I've made tremendous progress this year. 

I didn't complete all my 2011 New Year's resolutions. I didn't published a novel and sell more copies than the seventh Harry Potter book. I didn't save the CEO of a major international airline from a burning car and get a golden tickets to fly anywhere in the wold. But I did win NaNoWrimo. I did make some new and wonderful friends. I did buy a house, make a clothesline, foster a litter of kittens and travel quite a bit.

I can't decide the word I want to be able to describe 2012. Maybe I just want 2012 to be a surprise. Okay, 2012: surprise me. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

You Have a Good Heart, Kenneth. I Hope You're in a Car Accident so That I Can Have It

Yesterday Drek and I dropped Ash off at a babysitter's house and headed down to the temple with Drek's parents. As is common on Sunland Freeways, the traffic was moving at normal speeds, then stopped, then moving at normal speeds, then stopped. During one of those "stopping" phases, the car in front of us didn't think he could stop in time (I assume) and moved over into the shoulder. Drek saw the cars stopping and so he came to a gradual, gentle stop. The car behind us was not so alert. After a very angry squeal of tires and brakes, we were slammed from behind. Because that car in front of us had moved off to the side, and because Drek had stopped to give him plenty of room to get back on, we didn't hit the car in front of us. It was a simple two-car accident.   

But it was still a nasty accident. Everyone was "fine" (I put it in quotes because most of us had headaches and my neck was on fire yesterday and today I mostly wish I had been decapitated, but no broken bones, no blood, you get the idea...) but both cars were totaled. 

It's the best of a terrible situation: no one was seriously hurt, Ash wasn't in the car, and everyone has good insurance coverage. So hooray. 

And yet, Jasmine is dead. She would have lasted at least two more years. She was such a good car. And now we have to get a new car. If buying Jasmine five years ago taught me anything, it's that I HATE car shopping. Seriously. 

If you ask me what I want, I'll tell you I want an electric car. Or a car that runs on water. But I'm forced to buy a gas powered car. Which is stupid. 

I have no preference as to which gas-powered car we get. They are all gas guzzling, world polluting, money draining, death traps. 

So, anyone have any suggestions? Jasmine was a Saturn, but they don't make Saturns anymore. I grew up with Toyaotas, but I hear there was recent scandal with Toyota brakes? I do have a preference for Fords. Does anyone have a car they love that they can suggest? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Christmas

We had a party on Christmas Eve Eve; a simple potluck with delicious food and lots of games of stuffed animal dodgeball. We sung some hymns just to make it Christmas-y and called it a night. It was a great party spent in wonderful company.

Christmas Eve was also wonderful; we had a delicious dinner and had a beloved family over for dinner. We opened a few gifts and then Drek Ash and I got in the car to go look at Christmas lights. We came back and put Ash down for bed, then snuggled up for a game of scrabble. We fell asleep around ten, looking forward to Christmas Morning! 

And midnight Ash woke up unable to breathe. She had a terrible cough. Ben got up with her and I looked up Insurance and Emergency Room info. Her breathing wasn't great, but it wasn't quite bad enough for a trip to the ER. We went back to sleep, but she woke up about every thirty minutes. Every time we decided it was bad enough to go the hospital her breathing would get better and she would fall back asleep. And then thirty minutes later she would wake up again. It was a miserable night. Finally, around six, she fell asleep and stayed asleep. So did Drek, but I was up. I made a big Christmas breakfast, cleaned a little bit, watched a Christmas movie, read a Christmas book and then sat around going "now what?" 

I called Ash's on-call doctor. He said it was croup, and it sounded like a mild case. He told me what to watch for and that was that. 

Drek and Ash finally woke up around nine. We had a very low-key Christmas which ended early do Ash could take a nap. 

I did laundry. I talked to my family. That was about it. 

Ash is doing much better now. She'll still bark every once in a while, but she's sleeping at night and she's no longer contagious. 

And there's always next year. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

You are Hereby Called to Serve as a Missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are Assigned to Labor in the Boston, Massachusetts Mission

Two days ago I was setting up a portable heater in our house (It gets very cold at night and not only do we  not know if our furnace works, but we're not sure we want to find out) when it bounced back and hit be in the face. My tooth went through my lip. That was the extent of the damage; a swollen, bloody, cut lip.

Until four in the morning, when I woke up with some severe nausea. I spent the next twenty four hours with  flu symptoms; freezing to death while running a high fever, muscle cramps, not being able to move...

Drek stayed home from work to take care of me and our little one. He is so great. He read a book to me. In the book was a women with polio who had spent the last thirty years inside an iron lung. She had contracted polio at seven months pregnant and actually gave birth inside the iron lung. Amazing, no?

Anyway, instead of being inspiring as was intended, it scared me to death. "Drek!" I moaned. "What if I have Polio? What if I have to spend the rest of my life inside an iron lung?"

He wasn't very sympathetic to my wild ideas. "How in the world would you have gotten polio?"

"From the heater! My tooth! My cut lip! I must have contracted the virus on the plane coming back from Hometown, harmless enough, until my tooth cut my lip, giving the virus direct access to my bloodstream! It just happened to be the one single virus that bypasses my polio vaccine! I'm dying!"

But, this morning I woke up just fine. My fever had broke and after easing my tummy back on to solid foods, I'm feeling great.

I was finally able to call my sister, Mei-Mei, and tell her congratulations on her mission call! She got it yesterday and opened it while I was on Skype, but I wasn't very responsive because I was dying of not-polio.

So, Congratulations, Mei-mei! We are so excited for you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

You Know What Would Pick Up the Morale in Here? Flip-Flop Fridays. You Can Feel the Breeze in Your Toes

I just got back from a visit to Hometown. Mei Mei graduated with her associates degree so I also took a trip up to Burgville to see her walk.

I didn't stay long and had very little time, but it was still fun. Fun but cold. Very very cold.

After my flight landed in Sunland I stood on the sidewalk waiting for Drek to pick me up. The sun was shining and it was warm enough for me to be in a T-shirt and be comfortable. "Oh. This is why we live here." I thought to myself.

I went to the store and bought myself a new pair of flip-flops. I wore them around all of yesterday, along with a T-shirt. It was that warm. It's so worth the exorbitant milk prices.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Now, Before we Learn How to Build the Latest in Extreme Graphic Chipset Processors, Let's Recite the Code of the Elves, Shall We?

I love how Drek's family does Christmas presents. The focus is always on the thought; not on the money. They draw names and the point it to give a thoughtful gift, not an expensive gift. Usually, the presents need to be homemade to emphasize thought over price. 

This year the gift needed to be an ornament. My sister-in-law came over last night and presented us with our gifts: 

A Christmas card holder she made: 

And little baby Jesus ornaments made out of nut shells and cloth. This picture isn't very good, but trust me, they are DARLING.

She is so creative. 

Anyway, back in November I was told I needed to ornaments for my in-laws. I loved this idea in theory, but soon I remembered a vital fact: I am not a craft a person. AT ALL. 

Remember how to years ago my brilliant idea for a a homemade gift was to make a hat and a scarf? And I worked on it for two months before giving up and handing it over to Krisling who finished it in five minutes? 

Remember how last year I tried to paint a board for my niece and failed miserably, so I had to go out to Toys R Us on a night in December to buy a last minute gift? 

So, just in case I am tempted next year to do the same thing this year: DON'T DO IT, K LA! It doesn't matter how easy Pintest makes it look, you will FAIL! 

This year I decided to collect sea shells from the beach, glue pictures inside and ribbons on top and call them Christmas ornaments. Alas, after two trips to the beach, we decided large or even medium size seashells were not "in season." We couldn't even find one and we needed six. 

On to Plan B: Buying shatter-proof clear plastic ornaments, glue the pictures to a sparkling ocean-blue glitter paper and put it inside. Add sand and tiny seashells. 
Alas, I could not find the plastic ornaments that came apart, only the ones with the removable top: There was no way to get a picture inside. 

Plan C: I returned to the craft store, bought ocean blue glitter glue, returned the ocean blue glitter paper, and spent twenty minutes arguing with the clerk who would not give me the eighty cents in change because I didn't have my driver's licence with me. 
Still, I returned home optomistic: I would write the names on the outside of the ornament in the glitter glue and fill it with sand and seashells. The name-writing went great, but the sand I got turned out to be more pebbles than sand. I decided to return to the beach. 
Three trips later, I still hadn't found the fine white sand I envisioned, so I gave up and went with fine gray sand. Not as pretty, but it would work. Alas, the seashells wouldn't stay on top of the sand, so instead of a picturesque beach snow-globe, it looked more like a ball filled with gray sand. 

Plan D: okay, start from scratch: look for ideas on Pintrest. I found a very easy-looking recipe that made Christmas smelling ornaments. The recipe only required cinnamon, elmer's glue and applesauce. It's supposed to smell wonderful, even years later. And since it looked more like baking than crafting, I decided it couldn't fail! I borrowed Christmas cookie-cutters, bought the ingredients and set to work! 
The dough was not turning into dough, so I added flour. Then more flour, than more flour. When it finally looked more like dough and less like pudding, I rolled it out in between two pieces of parchment paper. Pintrest said the top piece of paper should peel right off, and then I just had to cookie-cutter the dough and bake! 
No. Very No. The dough was way too sticky and still too liquid. I tried to peel off the top, but it just stuck together and created a mess. Exasperated I threw the whole thing a way. "Let's just buy them a nativity set," I told Drek. "No, no!" he replied. "I still like the sand-ornament idea." 

Plan E: Let Drek do it. He poured glue into the balls of sand, and then sprinkled the seashells on top. This worked great, except for some reason the glue created condensation which made the glitter-glue fall off. "Hey, I have an idea." he said. "Let's just buy them a nativity set." 

Plan F: Buy a nativity set. 

But a lot of thought went into that store-bought nativity set.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Blessed the Day When the Lamb and the Lion Shall Lie Down Together Without any Ire

I'm a vegetarian and I'm a Mormon. No, the LDS church doesn't teach vegetarianism, and no, the vast majority of Mormons are not vegetarians. I've posted before about how my choice to be a vegetarian was a very personal, very important choice to me. It came about through a long series of events. I understand that it was MY choice, and might not be yours. If you are not vegetarian, that's ok! I really don't see a problem. I don't feel the need to preach vegetarianism all over. I don't feel the need to try and convince others to make the same choice. In fact, Sometimes I'm afraid to bring up the fact that I am a vegetarian; while it's no longer a big deal to me, it can be a huge deal to others. I don't want to cause a scene or anyone to make a huge deal out of it. I don't want to offend anyone or have them think that I'm snobby or something. I really don't like to bring it up at all in church; because once you mix in the gospel, it goes from opinions about life choices to opinions about the scriptures, and that gets complicated. I try really hard to avoid the subject when I am in a teaching position because I don't want to distract from Christ by arguing about diet. When I am in a teaching position, I even try to stay from Doctrine and Covenants 89:12-15, because I think that if I read it, they will dismiss it as a biased opinion, rather than actual doctrine.

But, I still have strong opinions about it. And I think I'm right (I wouldn't have the made choice if I thought I was wrong!). If you get me started, I do have arguments and points and facts, but mostly, I just don't get started.

Today I taught my Sunday School class a special lesson. It was a lesson several months in the making, and it was a entitled "Super Plan of Salvation Super Lesson". The kids knew it was special and even prepared for it weeks beforehand. During the lesson a few of them even reminded the others to be quiet because it was a super lesson. 

We were on topic. The kids were involved, I was teaching, they were learning, things were going great! They were raising their hands and asking such great questions. We were having some really great discussions and then one kid raised his hand and asked: "Will we eat meat in the millennium?" 

I stopped dead. "Uh, you know..." I had my answer. I thought of a few quotes to back up my answer. I wanted to argue the point of eating meat before the millennium. But all I said was "you can't get an unbiased answer from a vegetarian." 

Which I knew was a mistake as soon as the words left my mouth. The kids immediately gasped and asked if I was vegetarian, to which I responded yes and suddenly we were WAY off topic. Questions rained down about why and how and what I ate and if my child ate meat and on and on. Oh dear. 

I managed to steer the conversation back to the lesson. And I managed not to voice my strong opinions. So I'll call that a win. 

The lesson itself was a huge success, I think anyway. You'd have to ask the kids. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

That's Tom Wolfe. He Uses More Exclamation Points than Any American Author

Ever since my laptop died and was replaced by a desktop with a plug-in keyboard, I have noticed an increasing number on uncapitalized I's in my emails and posts. I blame this on some weird keyboard quirk.

Last week I finally complained to Drek about it and he added that the keyboard drove him crazy because of the positioning of the arrow keys. The next thing I knew Drek and purchased a new keyboard for us and my I's were back to their regular capitalization.

Sadly, yesterday Ash decided that our new keyboard needed a bath. We dried it out best we could, but now I am noticing that I cannot type an exclamation mark or an at symbol. I can type the number one: 1. I can type the number two: 2. but when I add the shift key, nothing is typed. I never realized how much I use exclamation points.

This has created a small problem in that tone isn't expressed in written form, so when I say something like:

Great We can't wait to see you

It comes across as more sarcastic. Huh. Is

Great exclamation point We can't wait to see you exclamation point exclamation point 

any better? Maybe we just need to go back to uncapitalized I's for a while.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I Don't Know Half of You Half as Well as I Should Like, and I Like Less Than Half of You Half as Well as You Deserve

My wonderful husband turns thirty years old today! A big happy birthday to my wonderful Drek! 

I wanted to make this birthday especially special. All the gifts were thirty-themed: 

So he got the three movies of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the first movie of the Star Wars trilogy (Thanks to my wonderful parents who decorated the package below!)a thirty dollar gift card to his favorite store, and thirty thirty-minutes massages. I also wrote out thirty cards, each with a reason why I love him and a one dollar bill. I hid them around the house. He is looking for them right now! 

I also made eclairs. From scratch. They turned out so very perfect: 

I made them for him to take to work to share with his co-workers, but he forgot them and was too busy to come back home during lunch. So, sorry co-workers. I tried.

Ash and I made him a banner with a lot of help from my nieces and nephew!

And tonight we are going laser tagging and eating birthday cake! Proving that just because you're thirty, doesn't mean you still can't act like a college kid. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Would a Child Go to the Zoo?

The end of November means the end of our season passes to the zoo. We got them as Ash's Christmas present last year. We've gone about two dozen times and boy, was it worth it! We have loved every zoo trip! Sadly, we will not be renewing, as it's just a little too far to keep driving twice a month. 

We went for the last time today. It was an amazing experience; we happened to be there when they were walking a cheetah, but this time the staff actually stopped to talk to us. I was only two feet away from a cheetah for about five minutes. I could hear it purr. It was AMAZING. 

But it hasn't been my only amazing experience at the zoo. So, for this post, I present my top zoo moments (not necessarily in order): 

Baby Hippo water ballet: 

The best exhibit in the zoo: The otters. I LOVE this exhibit:

Actually seeing a red panda. Because every time I go to the zoo it's always hiding. When this one was actually out and eating it's lunch, I nearly had a heart attack:

Watching a Cheetah run seventy miles per hour

Sunday, November 27, 2011

When Your Opponent's Sittin' There Holding All Aces, There's Only One Thing Left to Do: Kick Over the Table

Thanksgiving vacation was wonderful!

It started off on Wednesday; Drek had to go into work and I wasn't expecting him hope until five or six (that is not the wonderful part). Ash went down for a nap around noon, so I sat at the computer, furiously typing away a scene in my novel. I was in the zone; thoroughly captivated by burglars breaking into a dark house, guns abounding, and people being locked inside dog kennels. Right in the middle of this, the back sliding door opened and a man walked into my house. I must have jumped five feet. I gasped at flailed around.

Drek paused for a second: "You okay?"

"You scared me! I thought you were a burglar with a gun coming to lock me in a dog kennel!"

"I just came home from work early."

"Well, why didn't you use the front door?"

 Drek shrugs. But hey, he was home from work early! We played for the rest of the day. That night I went off to a girl's musical night. We watched Robin and the Seven Hoods.

Thursday morning we got up and played some Frisbee golf. I didn't actually start cooking until an hour before dinner. We went to a wonderful dinner over at our wonderful neighbor's house. The food was wonderful and the company was fantastic. After dinner we went over to a friend's house to eat pie and play games: We had twelve pies: Banana Cream, French Silk, Lemon Meringue, Cherry, Cherry Cream, Buttermilk, Pumpkin, two pecan and three Dutch Apple. For more variety we had a Pumpkin cake and little sweet potato tartlets, plus ice cream, whipped cream, and cool whip. Sadly, everyone had a huge dinner (and we had eaten a few slices of pie already) so the pies were mostly left for the next day. Still, the night was wonderful. We played some great games and had a wonderful time! 

Friday morning we played some Frisbee golf, then went on a short hike for the most spectacular view! Then we decided it was time for Christmas; we bought a tree and Christmas lights for our house. The rest of the day and most of Saturday was spent decorating our house for Christmas, listening to Christmas music and just having a great time together. My good friend came down to visit for a few hours and that was wonderful. Ash was sleeping and Drek was out at a movie with friends so we had a lot of time to talk. It was wonderful. Saturday we went to the beach and spent a lot of time outdoors because the weather was just so perfect!

I am so thankful for the wonderful time we spent together! I am thankful for my family and for such good friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon

And I'm done. 

With NaNoWrimo, not my novel. My novel is coming along nicely, but is not yet finished. I think I'm a bit more than half-way. 

I'm going to admit right now; I cheated just a little bit.  During NaNoWriMo you're supposed to write 50,000 words of your novel. Most days, I was in the flow and the frustrating thing was that I couldn't find time to write. However, there were a few days (towards the end, or course) where I was hit with Writer's block. So, to get my word count for the day, I wrote character description. These really helped me to solidify a few plot points. it also really helped clarify things and bring more character to my characters. It was also a good cure for writers block so I could keep writing in my novel. However, on November 23, when my word count his 50,090, I took out those character descriptions and realized that I had just lost 8,000 words. 

But, it was only November 23. You can't officially win NaNoWrimo until Nov 25, so I thought I'd keep writing and replace the 8,000 words from my character descriptions with 8,000 words of my actual novel. 

Yeah, since then I've averaged 500 words a day. And now Thanksgiving is over and everything for Christmas needs done NOW, so I'm out of time. That's okay though. I did end up with a final word count of 50907, and if some of that is character descriptions, that's okay. I'll keep working on my novel, but right now I need to do the things I've been neglecting all November. Like: cleaning my house, eating vegetables, actually talking to my husband and yes, posting on my blog. 

I am going to give myself a new goal: I need to write 5,000 words a week until the first draft of my novel is completed. That's not a lot compared to what I've been doing (my goal was 2,273 words a day) but it's still enough to make me sit down and write during my toddler's naptime. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We All Do Extol Thee, Thou Leader Triumphant, And Pray That Thou Still Our Defender Will Be

Last year I started thinking a lot about why I hate Thanksgiving so much. I love Holidays. I use any excuse to throw a party and often make up Holidays just because I want to. So why don't I like Thanksgiving?

There are many, many reasons, but I wanted to focus on what I could to like it more. What could I do to make Thanksgiving fun not only for me, but for my child, whom I don't want growing up hating Thanksgiving.

Last year I made a Thanksgiving themed meal a few days before Thanksgiving. I decided to do that again this year. I did it on Monday. We had the missionaries over for dinner, so it was a good excuse to do a really fancy dinner.

We had Rolls and stuffed mushrooms and cranberry sauce. Everything was from scratch except the cranberry sauce, which Drek loves from a can, in the shape of a can. 

I made a delicious juice drink made with apple juice, cranberries and pumpkin pie spice!

Dessert was an amazing lemon meringue pie made from real lemons from our friend's tree. So delicious! 

The main course was Orange You Glad It's Thanksgiving soup. I made a few modifications from last year, but had problems because I didn't follow the recipe last year and didn't write down the changes I made. So, for my use in future years, I will include my own recipe in this blog post. 

The dinner was great. Like last year, I had a wonderful time both making it and eating it. It didn't take tons of prep time and, while I was in the kitchen for a few hours, it wasn't ALL DAY.

I also wanted to focus on what I think Thanksgiving should be about; That is, being thankful. At the beginning of November my toddler and I made this:
Everyday at dinner we each wrote something we were thankful for on a leaf and taped it up to our tree.

While I cooked in the kitchen, I made a you tube playlist of songs about Thanksgiving; hymns, melodies and such. I enjoyed that quite a bit.

I liked my little way of celebrating: No pilgrims, no turkeys, no traveling. Lots of good food (but not too much) lots of good music, more gratitude and more family time. I'll try to improve on it next year.

The other interesting thing is since I did the dinner on Monday, I feel like Thanksgiving is already over. it's odd that people are still preparing for it. Another benefit is that since Drek has Thursday off from work, I can spend the day with him instead of in the kitchen. And actually, we are still celebrating Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving, but I put Drek in charge of Thursday, so we'll do whatever he wants to do.

Orange You Glad It’s Thanksgiving Soup 
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped
1 baby butternut squash, peeled and finely chopped
1 orange
Salt and pepper
1 cube vegetable bouillon
3 cups water
Grated nutmeg

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter has melted, add the onion, squash, sweet potato and carrots and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze with the juice from the orange and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or a blender. Puree the mixture until smooth, then put into crockpot. To mixture, add water and bouillon and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning. before serving, grate some fresh nutmeg and stir to combine. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped  orange zest.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm Calling to Celebrate a Momentous Occasion. We're Now Officially Moved In

Yesterday was 11/11/11 and it was quite a magical day. First, I hit the 25,000 words mark in my novel, meaning I am halfway through NaNoWriMo, so I can post on my blog, right?

It also marked a momentous occasion:  I finally unpacked the last box. Now, it's official. Ha, ha, ha.

The last box had been sitting in a corner, all by itself, ever since I finished unpacking all the other boxes. What was in the last box? Books, of course. I couldn't unpack them because I had no where to put them. That is, until yesterday, which is reason number three yesterday was such a magical day:

I got bookshelves! I got two matching ones off of Craigslist. They are seven feet tall and three feet wide and can hold a lot of books. They can hold so many books, after putting them up and stuffing them with all the books we own, there are still a few empty shelves. Hooray!

From what I could tell from the women I bought them from, she inherited the bookshelves when she bought the property that used to be a library in a neighboring town. So I guess my bookshelves used to be actual library shelves. That's pretty cool, right?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Well, See Ya On The Other Side

And it's November! I'm off to do NaNoWriMo again this year.

Two years ago I wrote my first novel, last year I edited  (read: rewrote it) it. A few months ago, when my laptop exploded, so did the novel. So it's gone and lost forever, which is good, because they always tell you your first novel should be tossed anyway.

This year I'm writing a new novel, the first in a trilogy (Or that's the plan anyway, we'll see how reality pans out).

Wish me luck!

I'll blog again when I win, or in December, since this is my first NaNoWriMo with a toddler (gulp).

Monday, October 31, 2011

If You Think Being a Ninja's Hard Work, Try Being a Mom

Happy Halloween! 

On Saturday we went to a Halloween party. They had a place for us to take pictures in our Halloween costumes. This year we are a Ninja family! Here we are using our ninja skills and posing for the picture: 

Giggle giggle. Get it? Because we're ninjas you can't see us. Actually, Ash and I went trick-or-treating at some local businesses. We went into a chocolate store (that was NOT giving away chocolate to trick-or-treaters but plain old tootsie rolls. So sad) and the girl behind the counter said "You! Ninja! I can see you! You're not being very ninja-y!"

Oh, but I suppose you really do want to see our costumes. Well, ok:

The downside of being the shutterbug in the family is you have tons of pictures of other people's costumes, but none of your own. Just take my word for it that my costume was cool. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

You Actually Go Outside in These Things? Well, What Would You Prefer? Yellow Spandex?

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween? I LOVE Halloween. My favorite part is the costumes. I love homemade costumes the best, and I love themed costumes even more. This year so far, I've mostly loved toddler costumes, as it was a big part of my life this year. I've also noticed that here in Sunland, people dress up their dogs for Halloween. A dog in a costume is always adorable: no matter how store-bought or homemade. 

This year i made our Halloween costumes. Here we are: 
A family of ghosts!

Bawahaha. Ok, ok, these are actually homemade Halloween decorations I made for our house. They look pretty scary at dusk!

What? You didn't actually think I would unveil our costumes before Halloween, did you?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This is War, Peacock. Casualties are Inevitable. You Can Not Make an Omelet Without Breaking Eggs, Every Cook Will Tell You That. But Look What Happened to the Cook!

I do love CLUE. It's my favorite board game: it always has been. I love it so much I have four variations of the CLUE game. I read all the books when I was a twelve or thirteen and I haven't just seen the movie, I have it memorized.

I also love How To Host A Murder parties, and have been dismayed for several years that there was not a CLUE version of How To Host A Murder. So this year, I decided to write my own. This was do mostly to the fact that Rissy and I have been wanting to do another Saboteur game, but we are not in the same state, which makes things difficult. So, instead, we decided to write a How To Host a CLUE together.

At first, we tried to make it so it had the same element as How To Host A Murder; namely, enough real life, real time facts that through logical thinking and the process of elimination, you could reason the identity of the murderer, but also have it be like the board game clue; namely the murder weapon, location and murderer would change each game.

This brought be a whole new respect for the board game CLUE. It is such a perfect game. it's so simple, yet very complex. It's efficient, yet fun. It's... unrepeatable. After puzzling over it for a month, we gave up. We'll keep working on it, but I'm not sure there IS a way to merge the two.

So, we settled on a set murderer, weapon and location and went about writing the game.

I played it with a wonderful group of friends last night. The party was awesome. Not only did the game turn out rather well, but the players were just wonderful. I wish i could have given out awards: best dressed, best hair piece  best reaction, best thinking-on-your-feet, best line, best answer, best cover-up. But then I would have to think actually did those things best, and I wouldn't know.

There were some great lines. I had a hard time falling asleep last night, re-playing all of it in my mind. Everyone just did Such. A good. Job.  I had a wonderful time, I hope everyone else did too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Presidents of the Church Lesson 30: Preparing for an Eternal Home

Remember how I was complaining about needing a forum to help me with my Sunday School Lesson Plans? I still haven't found such a forum, but I did discover more reasons why I need one:

I came across lesson thirty in which it gives a great idea:

 Have the necessary items ready to use in the activity, including the wordstrips. You may wish to give the wordstrips to class members, and, as you name a particular “ingredient,” have the class member holding that wordstrip bring it to the table and place it in the mixing bowl.  Put on the apron and hat, if you have one, and act out the following recipe using the large bowl, mixer, spoon or spatula, and ingredients (wordstrips). As you mix, say the following: 
 These are the ingredients for a heavenly home. First, at the very beginning, invite the Holy Ghost to your home to stay. Crush Temptations and Sin and set them aside outside the bowl. Blend in one Temple Marriage, one Mother (who loves Dad), one Dad (who loves Mother). Gradually add Children. Quickly stir in Living the Gospel: Scripture Study, Prayer, and Meeting Attendance. Sprinkle liberally with Courtesy and Communication. Garnish with the Word of Wisdom: Exercise, Proper Diet, and Rest. Pour Love over everything. Serve with Unselfishness. 

When you have finished with the ingredients, uncover the cookies or other food that you prepared before class. Let each class member take one. Tell them that just as the good taste of the cookies (or candy, etc.) can last, the success in a marriage can last forever if the ingredients are all included. 

 What a delightful idea. But it's kind of sad to put wordstrips into a bowl. How about I put the wordstrips on actual ingredient containers and put real food into the bowl?! We could actually make cookies! What a wonderful lesson to keep the attention of teenagers!

So I searched the internet for an actual cookie recipe that goes along with this lesson. I needed a cookie recipe with the same amount of ingredients, two eggs, and that didn't take much time to bake.

I could not find a recipe. I cannot be the first person ever to change this lesson into an actual cookie-making session. I cannot possibly be the first person to make not-pretend cookies. I found a few blogs referring to family home evening activities where the above lesson was used but none of them actually made the cookies out of the recipe. They just read the recipe and then brought out cookies. Again I cannot be the first person to want to connect the two.

And yet I found myself making up my own cookie recipe to fit the above description and even tweaking the above description to fit my recipe. SO: For all you twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Teachers who find this blog post because you want to make actual cookies: YOU ARE WELCOME.

I printed out the recipe card for each student. The recipe said this:

Recipe for a Happy Home
 “It’s possible to make home a bit of heaven. Indeed, I picture heaven as a continuation of the ideal home.” David O. McKay 

First, at the very beginning, invite the Holy Ghost to your home to stay 
Mix in Scripture Study, Prayer and Meeting Attendance 
Create a temple marriage by blending together one Mother (who loves Dad) and one Dad (who loves Mother). 
Beat together the Temple marriage and unselfishness. 
Add Word of Wisdom. 
Crush Temptations and Sin, and add. 
Stir Temple Marriage mix in with dry mix.
Gradually add Children 
Sprinkle with Courtesy and Communication 
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets and bake in Love 

And on the back I had this:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour = Holy Ghost
1 teaspoon baking soda = Scripture Study
¼ teaspoon baking powder = Meeting Attendance
1 teaspoon salt= Prayer 
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened = Unselfishness
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar = Mom (who loves Dad) 
3/4 cup packed brown sugar = Dad (who loves Mom) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract = Word of Wisdom 
1 teaspoon nutmeg = Courtesy 
1 teaspoon cinnamon = Communication 
2 eggs = Temptations and Sin 
2 cups Chocolate chips= Children 
1 small mixing bowl = Temple Marriage
Bake at 375-degree for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown = Love

 I did have class in the kitchen and we did actually make the cookies. Beforehand I had re-labeled the ingredients to look like this:

 At the beginning, I had each student pick out an ingredient (or two or three). I read the recipe out loud and every time we used an ingredient the student read the label out loud and then added it in. To make the labels I used what was in the manual but sometimes I thought the manual was dumb. Other times the manual didn't have anything so I made it up. Had I had more time (read: Had I not had to make everything else up on my own) I would have had a scripture or David O. McKay quote on each label. As you can see with some labels I just got lazy (Meeting Attendance is labeled: It's important)

If I had my forum where I tell other teachers how my lesson went I would say something like this: WARNING: You know how you are not supposed to use the church ovens to bake anything? I thought that was just because they didn't want you to burn the church down so I baked the cookies in the oven anyway. As it turns out you're not supposed to bake anything because the wonderful cookie smell goes through THE ENTIRE CHURCH and your whole ward will come in asking for cookies and asking if you actually baked in the ovens even though there is a sign right above them telling you not to.

But this activity really did hold the kid's attention. And they did listen and have a great discussion. And the cookies were delicious.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trying To Make Breastfeeding Normal

A girl in my ward had her baby shower today. She kept telling me she'd send me a list of things she still "needed" for the baby, but she never did. The day of the shower I still had no gift, so I was left to my own devising. 

I devised this: 
It's a Breastfeeding Basket. I saw the idea on Lactating Girl's blog. It's a great gift for baby showers to help the mom-to-be prepare for breastfeeding. in my basket I included a water bottle (to stay hydrated) lots of protein bars (for easy snacks) Mother Love nipple cream, Mother's Milk Tea, Fenugreek pills, and these things called Booby Tubes I found that help with engorgement and mastitis. I also included a flyer for a free babywearing class in the area, and a breastfeeding support group. I wanted to include LLL's paper on breastfeeding after a C-section, but I don't own a printer. So, instead I emailed her that information and stuck in a little index card with her local LLL group's info.

I don't really think she liked it: She's not really big on breastfeeding (she is, after all  electing to have a C-section. It's already been scheduled and she's already hording the baby formula samples the hospital and her OBGYN office gives out). Usually I spend around ten or fifteen dollars on gifts, while this collection cost me almost fifty dollars.

It would be more normal for me to give her a set of baby bottles or pacifiers. But that's why I wanted to give this gift so badly. I want supporting moms to breastfeed be a normal thing in our society, instead of setting up all the booby-traps.  I would have LOVED a gift like this and I felt good giving it. And maybe it will help her to choose to breastfeed, or at least help normalize it in her mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Thing is True of All Governments - Their Most Reliable Records are Tax Records

I got our first Property Tax bill yesterday. Property taxes are weird. The government sets a fixed percentage for most taxes, then sees what revenue flows in, but for property taxes the city government sets the exact revenue it wants to collect, and then works out what percentage to charge each existing property to get that revenue. It's weird.

Also weird are the odd fees added on to my bill. The actual amount I'm paying in property taxes is about a thousand dollars less than the total bill. That's because I have so many added fees: Unified School fee, Community College fee, both of which I understand, but are useless to me. Then all the charges for water: Metro water fee, not to be confused with the metro water standby fee, and different from the water availability fee. All these are separate from the sewer service fee. And keep in mind I pay the water company twenty dollars a month on top of my actual water bill, for things like "water cleaning" and "pipe maintenance cost."

But then we get to the fees I can't figure out: Mosquito surveillance fee? Vector disease control fee? Rabid Raccoon Zombies prevention fee? Ok, I made that last one up. But the other two are actually on my bill. Do I really pay some guy to sit around watching mosquitoes? Is that a good job? Does he make enough to own a house? Does he pay a Mosquito surveillance fee with his property taxes?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Transformation Central! Reformation Central! Transmogrification Central!

Remember how out house is twenty-five years old? The garage door is just as old. It's been estimated that the springs were replaced about fifteen years ago, and the bottom board of the garage door was replaced when we moved in because it had became a favorite meal of termites, but other that than, our garage door was wooden, manual, creaky, and according to some, likely to collapse at any time.

Today marks the momentous occasion of our new garage door! It was installed a few hours ago. It looks awesome. It makes our house look less... abandoned. Really, it makes the outside of our house look so much better. Now all we need is a lawn! And a new exterior, but those are minor details.

Jasmine has been living in the garage for a few months now, and last month Drek was awesome enough to clean and organize the entire garage, so Jasmine had a very comfortable home. Now it has the much-desired accessibility feature: we can open and close the garage door with the touch of a button. I could not be more thrilled.

Don't you just love when you've been saving and looking forward to something for months, and then it happens and it's even better than you expected? Hooray!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You Know How it is When You Get Those Manly Urges and You Just Gotta Kill Somethin'... Fix Things, Cook Outdoors...

Last Sunday in Relief Society we had the Elder's Quorum secretary come in to make an announcement:
"Yes, so...the Elder's Quorum is having a camp-out this week, Friday night to Saturday morning. We leave at four so if your husbands come rushing home at three thirty yelling for a sleeping bag and claiming they have a ward thing, it's legit. You might want so set out their sleeping bag for them. Maybe even remind them."

A woman raised her hand and asked if they would be taking the kids. The Secretary cringed and said something along the lines of "Elders only. There are absolutely no  children allowed. We'll be shooting guns and driving around cars and have fires." He hinted at things exploding.

So Drek left yesterday for the camp-out. I stayed home with Ash and fixed my clothesline and re arranged the furniture. I got to babysit my little niece for a few hours. She is only four months younger than Ash and they are good friends. I packed them in the bike trailer and went for a ride. One of them would laugh because the bike trailer is a fun ride and then the other one would laugh because the first one was laughing, and then the first one would laugh because the second one was laughing. It was a wonderful and very giggly bike ride.

After putting the babies to bed I stayed up way too late watching stand-up comedian routines. It's wasn't things exploding, but I still had fun.

Drek came back this morning with all his digits intact. He said they picked up a car and turned it to face a different direction. He also said part of his sock turned to powder. Hmmm...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Been Momentarily Misplaced...

I found my keys; they were in my apron. They must have been there since the last yard sale. I also found ten dollars and a bunch of coins. Hooray! 

Today I went to the zoo. I took a backpack filled with snacks and water. We saw a few animals: 

I took my phone out to check the time. I rearranged a few things and we headed off again. While Ash was occupied at the playground, I searched for my phone once again. I could not find it. I searched through every pocket, dumped out all contents and repacked it, but there was no sign of my phone. I sighed, thinking it had to be by the gorillas. I was too lazy to walk back there, so we just came home.

During lunch I heard my phone ring. It was coming from my backpack. I quickly dumped everything out to find it. As it turns out my phone had buried itself in my bag of chips.

Mmmmm, cell chips.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

And I Just Can't Wait Until Next Halloween Cause I've Got Some New Ideas That Will Really Make Them Scream

Oh, how I love October! I love Halloween, I love Halloween parties, music, movies, books, decorations, food, costumes and especially traditions! One of my (many) favorite Halloween traditions is painting pumpkins together as a family! We did it early this year because I'm SO excited for Halloween! Drek brought home pumpkins a few days ago and I went out and got some new paint supplies yesterday. Last night we listened to A Nightmare Before Christmas and sat around the table painting our pumpkins!

Here is Drek's: 


 And Ash's:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

They Pitched their Tents Round About the Temple, Every Man Having his Tent With the Door Thereof Towards the Temple

We just finished a wonderful General Conference weekend! True to the form of King Benjamin, we set up our tent facing the prophet. 

It was set up inside out living room, and by facing the prophet I mean facing the computer, but it worked out quite nicely: 

I had a grand idea to live off of nothing but our 72-hour kits during the 48 hours of General Conference, but after the first two meals I discovered something starteling: MRE's are gross. Which is good to know. I now have a shopping list of what we need in our kits (things like forks) and what we need to replace (MRE's with edible food). Not that the MRE's aren't fantastic food storage, I just think if we are ever in need of our 72-hour kits, we'll want comfort food, not survival food.

I thought Conference was especially amazing this year, and the announcement of a second temple in Provo is particularly exciting! I can't wait for the talks to be uploaded to so I can listen to them again!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Take it From an Old Spectator. Life's Not a Spectator Sport. If Watchin' is All You're Gonna Do, Then You're Gonna Watch Your Life Go By Without Ya

Last night Drek took me to to live performance of Stephen Schwartz songs (isn't he the best?!). We've been on several live-theater dates before, but this one was definitively the most...odd.

Their performances were about what we expected; not professional, but fun and the variety of singers made it better. The songs were a little surprising: They sung almost every single song from Wicked (including As Long As Your Mine. I'm not going to lie, I love listening to that song, but watching it performed is...awkward. I had a hard time watching that scene when we went to go see the professionals perform Wicked. I had an ever harder time watching this performance. Why would you chose THAT song?) and had a huge chuck left over for Children of Eden. One song from Pippin, One song from Pocahontas, one song from Prince of Egypt, one song from Godspell, one song from Rags and one song from Hunchback of Notre Dame (Stephen Schwartz did Hunchback?!). So why did Schwartz do so many religious-themed musicals? Anyone know the history there?

But that wasn't the odd part. The odd part was the audience. It was clearly comprised of friends and family of the performers. There was a surprising number of cheers when certain people were on stage and even a few catcalls. When one girl finished a solo someone in the audience started selling her autograph.

During intermission, the theater sold plastic cups of wine and raffle tickets for an enormous bottle of vodka. The winner of the raffle and he broke open the bottle during the second half of the performance. Since most of the audience had those plastic cups left over, it was easy to share. Needless to say the audience during second half was a bit more rowdy than the first. I didn't realize an audience could be that vocal.

I think the audience cheered up the performers a bit: they were a lot more energetic during the second half than in the first. But really, I thought they did a good job in both. I highly enjoyed the night and liked all the performances.

Walking back to our car we saw a raccoon scamper across the street. Yeah, a raccoon. A real one. That was possibly my favorite performance.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Did You Make All These Things Yourself?

It seems fixing up our house comes in waves. We'll do a lot, then nothing, then a lot, then nothing, then a lot. Or so it seems, anyway.

Drek had Friday off of work and was anxious to get some projects done around the house. I took Ash out for our normal Friday-morning activities. By the time we came back for Ash's nap, Drek had built shelves for his office and cleaned and organized his entire office. Ash took a nap while Drek went out to the garage and when Ash woke up I took her to the park. When we got back, a few hours later, Drek had built a table for the garage, installed a shelf in the garage, and organized and swept the entire garage. He also built me an actual clothesline.

I think the moral of this story is that next time, Ash and I will go to Vegas for three days and when we come home, Drek will have built a new house

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Would You Like Some? Wait, Before You Answer That, Are You a Fan of Delicious Flavor?

We met my parents in Vegas so we could celebrate birthdays! Once again, for my Dad's birthday, I attempted to make a Tunnel Of Fudge cake. I'm sure you all remember last year's debacle.  This was my fourth year attempting to make this cake. I hoped to get it perfect. 

I set up all the ingredients: 

I read and re-read the recipe. I checked it several times while making the cake and even set the used ingredients to one side to make sure I added all of them (especially flour).  I put the batter in the oven, crossed my fingers and...

 Look! It looks like a cake! That was a very good sign. 

Alas, I did not grease the inside circle of the bunt pan properly, so the cake didn't slide out as hoped. The outer circle slid out, but the inside circle stayed in. So the presentation of the cake was not perfect.  I tried to hide that as best I could: 

We sung "Happy Birthday' and cut the cake. To my delight, inside was a tunnel of fudge. It worked! I made a Tunnel of Fudge with an actual tunnel of fudge! Hooray! 

It was delicious. Also, as a note, it is even better the day after, and even more delicious the day after that. Which is good, because this cake is so rich you can only eat a little bit at a time. So unless you have twenty people eating the cake, there will be leftovers. Delicious leftovers. 

And next year I'm sure I'll get the presentation perfect. There's always next year...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten Oughta Do It, Don't You Think? You Think We Need One More? You Think We Need One More. All Right, We'll Get One More

Just got back from a wonderful vacation! While there we had an adventure I thought I'd share:

Thursday night my parents were wonderful enough to put Ash to bed and stay with her while Drek and I had a night out on the town. And what better town than Las Vegas?! Out hotel was only a few miles away from the strip, so we took the hotel shuttle. It dropped us off at the Caesar's Palace and Drek and I walked next door to pay a visit to one of my favorite places in the world: in front of the Belagio at night, watching the fountains dance (To frank Sinatra's "Luck Be A Lady Tonight", but that part just makes it perfect, it's not critical).

This time, the song playing was "Proud To Be an American" and the fountains danced with power and height and oomph. What a grand sight.

We then decided that more than anything else in Vegas, we really wanted to see the Body World exhibit at the Luxor. So we walked all the way to the other end of the strip. The exhibit was amazing. I can't tell you how much I loved it. The first thing I looked at was a leg bone with a few muscles attached and had the word "tensor fascia lata" written on it. I was delighted. I haven't heard that word since school. I was immediately flooded with memories of my awesome anatomy class taught by my awesome anatomy teacher. Flooded with happy memories, I skipped over to the next display: the actual bones of the inner ear. I think I actually squealed.  They are the smallest bones in the body and the first ones I memorized. I don't think I had ever seen them before. They are so tiny! And it just got better from there. Really, it was a magnificent experience. So worth it.

After we left the exhibit we walked all the way back down the strip. Once again we stopped in front of the Belagio and watched the fountains. This time they danced to Clare De Lune with grace and delicacy. It was beautiful. And so appropriate, since Drek and I had just watched Oceans 11 the night before. It's one of our favorites.

We rushed back to the shuttle stop with just a few minutes to spare. We boarded and to our surprise the shuttle was a lot more full than when we rode it before. Every seat was taken and almost everyone had someone on their lap. There were a few places where six people were crammed into two seats and there were even people sitting in the aisle. We sat in the aisle and then a couple got on behind us. The shuttle was packed.

Luckily, everyone was either in a very good mood, or drunk. People were laughing and making jokes, shouting out to each other and to the shuttle driver. It was a very lively ride back to the hotel. A perfect end to a wonderful date, and to a wonderful vacation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And Called Us With an Holy Calling, Not According to Our Works, but According to His Own Purpose and Grace, Which was Given Us in Christ Jesus Before the World Began

I like my calling. I teach the twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Class. There are a few fourteen year olds in there as well. Usually I have fourteen people in my class, but if we have visitors it can be more. That is a lot of teenagers to have in one room, and I am not the best at keeping order. In fact, I'm really bad at discipline. But I'm working on it.

Here's the thing: As of December 31, 2010, there are 28,660 LDS wards and branches in the world. I have no idea how many of those wards and branches are English-speaking, but it is not a small number. Now, take into account that not all of those English-speaking wards have a twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Class (because they are singles wards or just don't have the youth) and you are left with, what? It's got to be around 10,000 English-speaking teachers called to serve as their ward's twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Class teacher.

One of the amazing things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is how universal it is: Every twelve and thirteen year old Sunday school class teacher teaches from the same manual: The Presidents of the Church. There is even a lesson schedule, so all wards are on the same lesson, give or take a ward conference. Most teachers are called for more than one year, so they teach the same lessons multiple times, depending on how many years they have this calling. So, on any given Sunday, I'm guessing that there are around ten thousand people teaching the same lesson I am teaching, to the same age group I am teaching. Some with more experience than me.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It connects all sorts of people. I'm thinking the Internet should connect me to those ten thousand people. Seriously, how is there not already a forum for us to be like: "I had a great idea for lesson 33!" or "I tried this with my class, but they did not take it well. I would suggest going with out the..." or "For this last class I did this and the kids responded so well!"

Is there something like out there? Please say yes. I so desperately need some help with my lesson plans.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to You!

Two years ago today, the best thing ever happened. 

It changed my life completely, and made it so much better.

For two years now my life has revolved not around me, but around my little one.

And I wouldn't want to live life any other way. 

Happy Birthday, my little princess!

I am so glad you are my daughter

and I am your mama.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As Advertised, Lots of Needles and Cold Exam Tables. I Heard You Had Some Excitement

I got suckered into getting a tetanus shot this week. That was no fun.

I went to the doctor to get a prescription for an infection I have (unsuccessfully) tried to fight for an entire month. She was really nice, gave me the prescription and then asked when I had last been tested for TB.

"Never? Because I do not live in the eighteen hundreds?"

"Not even when you were pregnant?"

"No...does pregnancy give you TB?"

It was odd. She asked if I wanted to be tested. Again, what an odd question. Who answers yes?

And then she asked when I last had a tetanus shot.

"...Um, when I was ten? Maybe seven?' I thought about getting one when I was eighteen, does that count?"

She said that me getting a shot would help protect Ash. Grrr. I hate when herd immunity works against me.

So I let her give me the shot. And I was trying to be all cheerful about it because Ash was watching.

"Look! How fun! The nice nurse is going to give mama a shot! Hooray!"  While whispering to the nurse: "Hey, so, I'm deathly afraid of needles so please don't let me see it, or I might pass out."

Good times.

The nurse warned me that my arm would hurt the day after. She was not kidding. I was also so very tired all of yesterday. That might have been because of the antibiotics, but last night I dreamed it was because my tetanus shot actually gave me tetanus. Luckily, that does not seem to be the case as I am back to normal energy levels today. Maybe It was TB.

Friday, September 09, 2011

It's Not Enough to Survive. One Must be Worthy of Survival

Yesterday afternoon the power went out. I didn't know how widespread the blackout was, so I thought I would hop in the car and drive over to Drek's work. Maybe we could hang out in his air-conditioned office for an hour, or maybe his power was out and he could come home early! 

His work is only five miles away. It usually takes ten minutes to drive there. Traffic was much worse than normal (all the traffic lights were out) so when I got to Drek's office, thirty minutes later, and discovered his power was out and he had gotten a ride home, I was a little upset. It then took me forty minutes to make it back home. That was when I learned the blackout was widespread, and there was no timeline given to when power would be restored. 

 We realized we don't really have a functioning radio. Luckily, our awesome neighbors next door had their radio on outside and had the volume turned up really loud. We just opened out windows and could hear the news updates. but still, we might need to get our own radio. And also maybe a generator. 

We ate a small dinner, went on a small bike ride, called my dad instead of Skyping him to wish him a happy birthday, and then looked around at each other. "What do we do now?" We couldn't watch another episode of my new obsession: Battlestar Gallactica, and our dinner plans were obviously cancelled. So how to keep ourselves entertained?

The blackout must have had an impact on our psyche, because it got a little barbaric: We went Caterpillar hunting. 

These horned cattipilars were munching on our tomato plants without authorization. So we brutally tracked down seven of them, including what we hope was the ringleader, and made an example out of them to all the other catipillars still in hiding; we fed them to the chickens. I know it was extreme, but we couldn't be lenient; Desperate times and all that. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I celebrated Labor Day by getting up early to go to the gym for a two hour Zumba class. I've only done Zumba once before. It was fun, so I thought signing up for another class would be fun!

It was only when I got there that I realized going from nothing to a two hour Master Zumba class might be a bad idea. Maybe.

But I had fun. Zumba is a lot of fun, and the teacher was hilarious. It was a great class. My knee did not have fun. The last time it hurt like that was the final three miles in my half marathon. My knee was angry.

But not as angry as my muscles are today. Three days later, I am mostly unable to walk. Ouch.

And yet, I'm hoping for another two hour master Zumba class.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Do You Realize What This Means? It Means Bankruptcy and Scandal and Prison! That's What It Means! One of Us is Going to Jail... Well, It's Not Gonna be Me!

I lose things all the time. I lost my keys back in April. I still haven't found them. It actually worked out great because it was after I gave the apartment keys back to the landlord and before Drek gave me the keys to the new house. So I only lost my car keys. Actually, Drek still hasn't given me a key to the new house. He thinks I will lose it.

I love those front doors that have keypads on it, so you don't have to carry a key around. It's great, but not ideal. My dream home would have a voice recognition lock for the front door, so I don't have to have a key or fiddle with a code.  I would come home and say "open." And the door would unlock and swing wide open for me. And the house would say "Welcome home, K La. You left your phone in the kitchen. You have three missed calls. Shall I call them back for you?" 

That house would rock. 

But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is savings; In January Drek and I sat down to do some major budgeting. We decided get rid of all credit cards, only use debit cards for emergencies, and switch to a cash-in-envelopes system. I love this system. It has worked out well for us. The point was to make money a real, tangible thing; If you have the bills sitting in your hand you can spend them, but when it's gone, it's gone. At the start of each month I take the envelopes to the bank and withdraw cash to put in the envelopes and use the cash for the rest of the month. Our envelopes are labeled "Gas Money", "Groceries", "Water Bill" and such. My favorite envelope says "Cruise Fund" and it works like this: At the end of the month, if I have extra money in any of the envelopes, say because I was so good on my grocery budget, or we went under on our water bill, I take the extra money and put it into the "Cruise Fund" envelope. If I go over in any area, I have to take money out of the "Cruise Fund" envelope. The point being that at the end of the year, if Drek and I have saved enough money in our "Cruise Fund" envelope, we get to go on a cruise! It's a great incentive to stay within the budget and keeps me optimistic about future vacation plans. 

Because this envelope gets the extra from all the other envelopes, it has a lot of one and five dollar bills in it. The envelope was getting quite fat because of this, so yesterday I decided to take it, along with all the other envelopes, with me to the bank, where I could get the smaller bills turned into bigger bills. 

Mornings are always hectic and after throwing everything in the car and dropping Drek off at work, I went to the grocery store with our bank located inside. I grabbed all the envelopes and took them inside with me. The bank didn't open for another ten minutes, but I couldn't wait because I had to meet people at the park in ten minutes. I threw the envelopes back in the car and drove to the park. I was early, so I thought that I better sort the envelopes. It was then that I realized I was missing the "Cruise Fund" envelope, with all the cash that I had scrimped and saved over the last nine months still inside. I panicked. 

I searched through the whole car. I drove back to the bank and looked around the parking lot and under cars. I went back inside and talked to the guy. I talked to the teller (the bank was now open). My envelope was nowhere to be seen and there was nothing I could do to reclaim the lost money. I described the envelope to the teller and explained what the money represented. She was very sympathetic and said she'd keep an eye out for it (or anyone depositing money from an envelope with with pink writing on it) but there was really  nothing she could do. 

I got back in my car and tried to calm myself down. After thinking things through, I decided to drive back to my house to see if the envelope had fallen out in the garage or on the way to the car. I went home and looked all over; no envelope. I then looked up where we keep all the envelopes and there it was: I had never taken it out of its spot. 

I sighed a huge sigh of relief and very carefully took the envelope to the car. I drove back to the bank and took it up to the teller.
 "You found it!" she cheered, when I showed it to her. 
"Yes, Thankfully." I said. "Can I turn these into bigger bills?" 
The teller looked at me and with a shy smile asked "Do you want to deposit it into a savings account? I'll keep it safe for you until the end of the year." 

So that's what I did. It isn't keeping the Cruise Fund tangible, but it does keep me from losing it, and that's a bit more important right now.  We'll still budget the exact same way, the only difference being that now I'm taking money out of the envelopes and handing it to a teller. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This Was My First Bus Ride

This city needs to work on it's public transportation. Time to drive to a museum: Nineteen minutes. Time taking public transportation to museum: Three hours and twelve minutes.


We live on a dead-end dirt road. We are the second-to-last house on this dead-end road. The only cars that drive passed our house are the cars belonging to our neighbor. There aren't even any lost drivers, because it's much easier to turn around before you get to our house than after. I love this about our road. It's not a great location for yard sales, but it's fantastic for a quiet neighborhood. 

Our neighborhood is also far from bus stops. It is highly impractical to ride the bus because of where we live. So i stared dreaming of biking everywhere we needed to go. Drek has a bike, and Ash has a tricycle, but I don't have a bike and Ash can't really ride her trike down the driveway, let alone down the road. 

Last week my brilliant sister-in-law gave me a bike trailer. We hooked it up to Drek's bike and it worked wonderfully. Ash loves to ride in it, stays quiet no matter how long the trip is, and begs to go for more rides. The next day I looked up women's bikes on Craig's list. The day after that Drek and I were driving down our road and were surprised to see our neighbor had a bike in their front yard with a big "For Sale" sign stuck to it. We stopped the car, glanced over the bike and then asked "do they really think they are going to sell that bike? It's not like there is a lot of through traffic." And indeed, the only through traffic would be us and our neighbors. but apparently that was all they needed because we bought the bike. It works great, it looks awesome, and this week I hooked it up to the trailer, packed Ash inside and biked to the grocery store and back. 

I'm so excited for our new mode of transportation. It is way better than a car and way better than walking. I got so excited about it that I've started planning on biking to the nearest bus station and taking the bus to places that are too far to bike. It's still not a great system, the buses really are a joke, but it does open up a few more possibilities.