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.