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.