Monday, December 31, 2012

End Of Year Review

Last year in my year end review I wrote this: "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."

And it did. In the very last few days of December 2011 we were in a car accident that totaled out car: Surprise! So we bought another car that I LOVE. Getting a new car was something I didn't expect.

The last few months of 2011 I was hit by severe depression. In January, I was told what would fix it: a diet of no milk, no cheese, and no sugar. So I tried a vegan diet and was surprised by how much I loved it. Also, that it worked. That was also a surprise.

I surprised myself by becoming a beekeeper. I was surprised to discover I have sea legs and that I LOVE being out on the ocean (at least in a cruise boat, that's my only experience thus far) but I'm not really a fan of snorkeling.  I surprised Drek by getting a job.

I read a lot of surprisingly good books this year. I fell in love with Shannon Hale's writing and her series Books of Bayern. I loved Scaramouch, Unbroken, the Poisonwood Bible and David Copperfield.

Hopefully someone coming to our house will be surprised by how much we've fixed it up this year: Painting, new windows, new shutters, new trees, a garden, and such.

I threw a surprising amount of parties this year: A surprise birthday/princess/limo/makeover party, Pi Day, Passover, several Halloween parties, a Saboteur party, an end-of-the world party and a New-Year's party.

I was surprised by how many trips to hometown we took this year: Four. Goodness gracious. We've done a heck of a lot of traveling this year and it's been to the same place. Must branch out more in 2013. Well, not all to the same place. Drek and I went on a cruise, we took a family trip up north to my twin cousin's wedding and we went down south for Thanksgiving. That is a surprising amount of travel.

I was surprised by my little sister going on a mission and my older sister having a little baby boy! My dad surprised us when he announced he has been cured of his incurable cancer. I gained a sister-in-law (finally!) a niece, and a darling little nephew. The best surprise was having my mom, my dad, and my sisters all in the temple together. That was wonderful.

Drek and I didn't ever really expect to raise an only child. And yet,at the beginning of this year, we were facing that very real possibility. In March we finally accepted it: Surprise! We can't have any more kids. Let's just focus on the benefits of having one. And then, in July, Surprise! We are pregnant. That was a shocker.

Once again this year I was surprised by how awesome by husband is, how wonderful family is, and the love God has for me.

In 2013 I want the motto to be: cut the excess.

 Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Day is in Our Grasp, so Long as We Have Hands to Clasp. Christmas Day will Always be Just as Long as We Have We. Welcome Christmas While we Stand, Heart to Heart, and Hand in Hand

Christmas oranges were a big deal for my family growing up. Everyone always got an orange in the toe of their stocking. And then somehow tower the years they became chocolate oranges. To this day, the taste of orange chocolate is the taste of Christmas for me. Christmas is not complete without a chocolate orange in my stocking. 

This year I saw an opportunity to create a new tradition for our family. It started with the revelation that oranges are actually harvested in December. Really. I had no idea anything was harvested in December. 

Anyway, the orange tree in our backyard grew a few oranges this year. Some were picked early by over-eager little children, but on Christmas morning there were three ripe oranges just waiting to be picked. 

So right before Christmas Breakfast, we all went outside and made a big deal of picking the Christmas oranges off the tree. One for each of us. We brought them back inside and ate them with Christmas breakfast. It was perfect. I hope we can do it every year. 

And Drek still put a chocolate orange in my stocking. 

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

And I Feel Fine

A few weeks ago Drek casually mentioned something like "Hey. We should have an End of The World Party."

Ok! Any Excuse to throw a party! December is a tricky month to make schedules coincide  and the twenty first is so near to Christmas that most people would already be out of town, but we didn't let that stop us. We invited around forty people, and (thankfully, our house is small.)  only about eighteen adults showed up. Eighteen adults and around twenty children. It was a fun night!

As soon as the guests showed up they were given a face mask (or a surgical mask,  or a doctor's mask, or whatever you call them). Everyone brought snacks and we had some very delicious food while the kids played a zombie game. Once all the guests arrived we were ready to play our first game! I stole the game directly from the Zombie Saboteur we played in September:
 Each Survivor is assigned a number on a die. They wear that number on their front for this game. As a group, Survivors are asked trivia questions about survival (i.e. A 27 year old male has been hiking out in 80 degree weather all day. He complains of nausea and dizziness. His skin is hot and dry, he can't walk without staggering around and he no longer responds to questions. What is the diagnosis? A) Dehydration B) Heat Stroke C) He's turning into a Zombie )
For every correct answer, Survivors avoid zombie contamination. For every wrong answer, the die is rolled. The corresponding survivor is now A ZOMBIE!! They must mark a "Z" on their face mask.

The players were actually very good at this game. I asked almost all of my questions before we had the minimum number of zombies required to move on to the next game: Cracker Smacker. With Zombies.

Zombies vs. Survivors. Everyone takes 1 “smacker”, ( a stick of foam)  one cracker and one string. Tie one end to the cracker, and one end to your belt loop. Zombies start on one side, survivors start on the other. When the game starts, zombies and survivors battle each other. The point is to break other’s crackers so there is nothing hanging from a string while protecting your own. Last Man standing wins.

It was a awesome. The party was a huge success and we even managed to end early enough for most of the kids to be home by bedtime. And I'm blogging about this so the world didn't end; another perk. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Another Life, Mr. Holmes, You Would Have Made a Excellent Criminal. Yes, and You an Excellent Policeman

I love birth stories. I love hearing them, I love reading them.

Last week, on 12/12/12, by friend has her baby. She had a very exciting birth story and invited me to come visit her at the hospital the next day.

Since Drek was out of town, I took Ash with me to visit the new baby. We drove to the hospital, or, what I thought was the hospital, but turned out to be a medical complex. I had to call another friend to ask for directions and fifteen minutes later we were at the correct building.

We walked into the lobby and signed in with the security guard. I clipped my "visitor" badge to my shirt and followed the directions to the maternity ward. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by another security guard, who asked what room number we were visiting.

"Oh. I was hoping you could tell me." I answered."

He replied that since I didn't know, I had to check in via camera with the nures's station on the other side of the floor. We walked over there, checked in, got the room number, but the security guard on that side said there was a strict "no kids fourteen and younger" policy, and wouldn't let us in. So I left the gift and walked back to the elevators and was greeted by that guard.

"Did you find the room number?"

"Oh, yes. But they said I couldn't take her with me." I nodded toward Ash.

He rolled his eyes and said that policy changes every shift. He said to come back tomorrow.

So we went back to the lobby where we were greeted by swarms of police officers. They surrounded a man on the floor. They had locked down the building and wouldn't let us leave. I was shown into a hallway, where Ash and I waited for fifteen minutes before being escorted to the back exit. I had to walk all the way around to get to my car, and the couldn't leave because the parking lot exit was blocked my police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.

While I was sitting in my car, the new mother called to thank me for the gift and apologize that they wouldn't let me in. She said she hadn't heard of that policy. I laughed and told her what the securoity guard told me, then tentatively asked if she knew what was going on in the lobby. She said she had no idea and asked to what I was referring.

"Oh, nothing." I answered as another police car arrived and two officers jumped out. No need to worry her.

I still have no idea what was going on. But it did make for an exciting visiting-hospital-after-birth story.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'll Gnaw Your Face Off! Every Year it Gets Funnier! Ohhh! Happy The Cheat Day, Ilko! May You Never Get the Black Lung

Today Drek gave a wonderful talk in our Sacrament Meeting. He was the last speaker so after he finished we sang a song, said the closing prayer, and started to go. The bishop stood up, asked everyone to stay put for moment while he made an announcement and then said: "I've just been informed by the police that there is a pit bull lose in the area. The pit bull has been attacking people and is dangerous. The police advice everyone to stay indoors until they can contain the situation. " I really wanted him to end with "So attend all your church meetings or a dog will gnaw your face off" but he stopped there.

I didn't stay for all my meetings, though. While there was a threat of a wild dog attack outside, I was already being attacked by my own kidney. Drek got out of his meeting to take me to the E.R. That's a place I just don't like going. Mostly because the outcome is never good: "Well, you should have come in earlier, and we don't really know what's wrong, but take these pills, they might help. If it gets worse come back or you could die. We can't give you any painkillers because you are pregnant. Have a nice day!"

So yeah! Exciting day all around!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

He was Made of Snow but the Children Know How He Came to Life One Day

I'm not a big Santa fan. It's nothing personal  or even anything I feel strongly about, I just don't want Santa in my house. For me, decorating the house for Christmas means putting up my collection of nativity scenes. This  year they filled the mantle, the bookshelves, the walls, and every available surface. There just isn't any room left for Santa decorations, which is good because I don't own any.

My Christmas shopping is all done. All the presents are already wrapped and under the tree. Santa does not bring presents to our house, and you will not find any presents from Santa under our tree.

I have never really talked to my three-year-old  about Santa. We just don't bring him up. We don't watch T.V. and I'm very particular about the movies we watch. We sing Christmas Carols during December, and I love those songs so much we never branch out to things like Rudolph the Red-Nosed-Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. Eventually I would like to branch out and read and watch The Grinch, but so far, we haven't had anything to do with that. Christmas is about Christ. Ash knows and loves the story of Baby Jesus. Right now, that is perfect. That is what I want.

Last week was Drek's company's Christmas Party. His company is still small enough (and nice enough) that it buys a present for each one of the employees' children. Last year, Santa came to give out these presents. Ash had no idea what was going on. This year, they had Santa AND Frosty the Snowman come deliver the presents. This was the reaction:

Me: "Look! It's Santa!"
Ash: "Huh"
Me: "...and Frosty the Snowman? What the...?"

I have no idea how she knows about Frosty the Snowman. NO IDEA. But she was thrilled. Frosty gave her a high-five and in return she gave him a hug. None of that for Santa, though. Basically, when he called her name, she took her present and ran.

Last night was our ward's Christmas Party. Santa came so the kids could take pictures with him, sit on his lap and get a candy cane. When he walked in (without Frosty the Snowman) I expected Ash not to care. Instead, she jumped up and down.

"Santa! Santa's here to bring me a present! Hooray!"

Oh, no. See, this is possibly why we were avoiding anything Santa in the first place. She didn't really understand why Santa didn't bring her a present, but she did love that candy cane.

Looks like it's time for her to pick out toys to give to needy children!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Remember the Day I Went Out for Cigarettes and Didn't Come Back? You Must Have Noticed

At the beginning of December I finally got the opportunity to take a road trip all by myself  Sure, Ash and I had done one just the two of us, but this one was just me. Even better; it was to Vegas! This worked out well, since Drek despises Vegas. I've dragged him there a few times and while we have fun, he really, really, doesn't like the place. I'm not really sure why I like it so much. I don't gamble, I don't drink, I HATE the porn on the billboards, buildings, and how it is just handed to you on the streets. Still, I love the lights! The excitement  The history! And especially; the standing in front of the Belagio fountains at night. I LOVE that. I could do that everyday. 

Anyway, this trip would have me in Vegas for one night. When I booked my hotel online, I realized that this could be my only chance ever to spend the night on the Strip. Drek would never stay there. There's no way I would ever take Ash into a Casino, even if we were just walking through, so this was it! I booked the cheapest one ($25! See? That is why I love Vegas!)  and didn't pay too much attention to which one. Eh, it wasn't Belagio or Luxor. After that they're all the same. This one has it's own road, so it would be easy enough to find. 

I was off on my trip! I listened to an Audiobook the whole way there and had a very uneventful, very long drive. Finally, I was in Vegas. I found the Tropicana exit, turned down that road, spotted the Tropicana Hotel, parked, and went to check in. 

Except they didn't have my reservation. I panicked. It is, afterall, my very first trip by myself. What do you do if they don't have your reservation? I called Drek. After a lot of numbers, looking stuff up, and a few confused conversations, it came out that my reservation was at the Flamingo; not the Tropicana. 

I had to laugh. I'm not sure why, but those words equal the same thing in my mind. 

So I got back on the freeway, found the Flamingo exit (they BOTH had their own streets. Thus why I was so confused) and had little trouble from there. My room was super nice: Wall to wall, floor to ceiling window with a view of the flamingo exhibit below where they actually keep live Flamingos (not live Tropicanas), a giant bathroom, and a hot-pink Flamingo-colored blanket on the bed (again, not Tropicana-colored). 

It was nice! Of course, I was terrified of being alone in Vegas so I hid in my room the whole time, but it was nice! 

The next morning I made my rendezvous to pick up four children and my  solo car trip came to an end. Traveling home with four small children was filled with a lot more adventure. But we made it back, safe and sound. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi Craves Not These Things

Drek's birthday was on Sunday. This year, for some reason (Pregnancy? The fact that Drek was gone on a business trip the whole week?) I just couldn't get my act together. I mean, I got him some pretty awesome gifts, if I do say so myself, and I even painted the wrapping paper myself, but party-wise, it was a fail.

Friday night I realized my error. I emailed out the plan: Go carts! Miniature golf! Bumper Boats!

Saturday morning we were off! Were were not wearing close-toed shoes, so we couldn't do go-carts (I live in Sunland. I don't even OWN close-toed shoes) but we could do pirate mini-golf!

Drek got a hole-in-one! Well, sorta. His ball was ridiculously attached to him. At several holes he would hit it, and it would roll back to him. Over and over again. At one hole, he hit it, it came back to the start, then he hit it again from the start, and it went in! Amazing! Still, it was no match for C, who apparently played copious amounts of mini-golf as a youth and is now a mini-golf expert. 

Also, a lizard: 

After mini-golf Drek and I dueled with bumper boats.

Not exactly a duel to the death, but still. We're very competitive. 

My parents got Drek The Empire Strikes Back for his birthday, so we stayed up late watching that. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.  

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Go Away or I'll Call the Brute Squad. I'm On the Brute Squad.You Are the Brute Squad

A few weeks ago I got a call from a member of our bishopric asking to come over and talk to me. In Mormonese this means a new calling. Before I hung up the phone I asked if I could have a hint. He said he wouldn't give me one, but that Drek knew.

So began a several hour long interrogation. Drek wouldn't budge, but he did drop a few clues that made me think I was going to be extended the one calling in the church I dread, and pray I never get (I won't say what it is here, the bishop might google my blog and decided to give me that calling just to "force me to spiritually grow". Or something).

I think Drek did this on purpose. When they told me I was being called as the ward Compassionate Service Committee Leader I was so revealed I said yes without really understanding what the actual calling entailed. I'm sure that was Drek's master plan all along. Once the bishopric left I thought back to the conversation. Wait, they did say committee, right? I'm on the committee. Someone else tells me what to do?

"Nope." Drek answers. "You are the leader of the committee. You tell the someone elses what to do."


At the same time they extended me the new calling, they said I would no longer be teaching my Sunday School class. I asked if I could at least finish out the year with this class. The answer was no.

A week later I got an email from the Sunday School President:

Sorry to hear you are released from teaching a Sunday School class. As a SS Presidency, we have enjoyed working with you and you will be missed. I understand that even though you have been released you are still going to teach until the end of the year.

Which was news to me, but not bad news. I confirmed this and today I was able to teach my class! I love those kids.

So I have two callings right now. I feel I've gotten a handle on being a Sunday School teacher. I know what to do and what to expect. I have no idea how to be a Compassionate Service Committee Leader. NONE. It doesn't help that before I was called, the position was vacant and had been for almost a year. Also, my committee members were called that same week. They don't have experience either. I'm starting from scratch.

Still, this is very exciting. I've done anything like this before! It's a whole new experience! And God has to help me, since it's his fault I have this calling in the first place. I can't fail!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To Commemorate a Past Event, You Kill and Eat an Animal: Ritual Sacrifice. With Pie.

As I've stated in the past, I'm not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving. But I have been making an effort for a few years now and the holiday is getting better. This year we took my first ever Thanksgiving road trip! We went to stay with Drek's sister, along with most of Drek's fmaily. It was wonderful. A perfect vacation, a perfect holiday. Except that I had forgotten my anti-nausea pills back at home so I was sick for the majority of the time (Halfway through my pregnancy and still have morning sickness. Not fun). 

We ate our delicious feast around eleven am. 

I'm the only strict vegetarian in the family, but my wonderful sister-in-law has really delved into healthly eating this last year. She only occasionally eats meat, but it's more for the health aspect. She was in charge of stuffing this year. Several people requested her famous sausage stuffing, but she wanted to make delicious healthy stuffing, and she didn't want to leave me out, so to my delight, she made three pans of stuffing. Stuffing is my favorite, and having a pan to myself was just about the best thing ever. She labeled the pans and then took the opportunity to poke fun: 

Giggle giggle

After naps for the kids (and who are we kidding, the adults too) we decided to...go on a hike? On Thanksgiving? After eating pounds of food?  

I'm not one to argue throwing out current Thanksgiving traditions so I was all for it! We packed everyone in cars and drove to the mountains. The hike was a bit strenuous, especially since my lungs don't really work like they're supposed to while I'm pregnant, but we had a good time. Coming back down the mountain we spotted a creature in the brush. The creature's nose was pointed away from me and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Was it a monkey? One of those symbol-playing monkeys? Out here? 

But then it turned and sniffed the air: not a monkey. It smelled the pear my father-in-law was eating. The creature ran up to him and grabbed the pear. He took it a few steps away before devouring it.this gave me time to get out my camera: 

Any guesses on what it is?

Our best guess is a Snookum Bear.

Friday, November 16, 2012

May I Point Out That You've Completely Demolished the Roof of My Car! And There is Very Little Difference Between the Blizzard Out There and the Blizzard In Here

When our house was built they used the cheapest (and thinnest) possible windows. So thin, and so cheap, that they are illegal today. Our windows do nothing for heat, cold, or sound.

When we moved in, our bedroom window was cracked, and it went on our "to fix up" list. Mostly it's been on the bottom of the list, because the window is so thin anyway, it really doesn't matter if it's cracked.

Changing topics: Drek I have lived next to roosters before and it was fine. We actually liked being woken up at seven in the morning by a cheerful rooster. It made us feel all farm-y. Currently, the neighbors to our side own a rooster, but that one only crows sometimes, always during the day.

But then there is THAT rooster. He crows all. Freaking. Day. It's not a cheerful crow either; He sounds like he's being strangled. He belongs to our backyard neighbors. Yeah, remember her? This rooster has a name. I don't know what it is. I don't care. She LOVES this rooster. She is sure this rooster will win her a blue ribbon at the county fair in June. That is why she has him.

I hate this rooster. He crows starting at 2:40 in the very early morning and crows an average of five times per minute until about six in the afternoon, when he finally goes to bed. You can hear him from every single room in our house.

In the summer, we dealt with this by putting fans next to each of our heads during the night, so that the noise of the fan would drown out the noise of that rooster. That worked very well. But now it is too cold to use fans. It was a temporary solution anyway, as once the baby comes we will need to hear any movement or changes in breathing, and any white noise could be dangerous.

Last week, when that rooster woke me up (yet again) before the sun was up and I was unable to go back to sleep, I came up with an idea.

Hey! How about I use my paycheck monies to replace our cracked, cheap, thin windows with thick, heavy soundproof windows?!

Several hours later, once the sun came up and companies opened, I called around and got three guys to come over and give me quotes. They tried to tell me about energy efficiency, but I replied with something like: "Uh-huh. Sure. But what about noise? Will it silence THAT noise?"

They could hear it. That rooster never shuts up.

The answer: "No question that a new window, ANY new window will help with the noise level. They don't even make windows that thin and cheap anymore. But yes, with some dual paned, heavy duty windows (that come with a very high price tag), you will be able to sleep at night."

They will be installed in two weeks. Hooray! But, sadly, I can't afford to put these new windows in every room of the house. Not that it would help; the experts told me that since the other bedroom windows face the rooster, no windows will silence the direct sound waves.

Lying awake night after night, Drek and I have come up with a few imaginative solutions.
- A shock collar
- A high pitched alarm that hurts the rooster’s ears that is activated for a few seconds every time he crows
- Obedience school
- Vocal cord removal surgery
- Injecting the rooster with laryngitis
- A soundproof rooster house
- Blinding the rooster, so he thinks it's always night
- Attaching a blinding light to a rooster cage, so he thinks it's always day, crows non-stop, then looses his voice.

Mostly I'm hoping for a daring Coyote. Or a chicken thief to come and decide that a rooster would make a mighty fine Thanksgiving dinner.

Any other ideas?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can I Give One More Suggestion? No. How About Curtains? No! Manly Curtains? Oxymoron. What Did You Call Me?

I'm loving audio books. They allow me to read a book and listen to a different book at the same time. And, since I am an auditory learner, I can remember quotes with much greater accuracy then if I simply read it. I listen to them while driving, which I feel is a fantastic use of time.

I've grown to love audiobooks so much that when I finish one, and have to drive around without one, I feel sad. The news? The radio? How boring! I need an audiobook!

Today an audiobook I've had on hold at the library finally came in. I went and got it, and as I was checking out I read the cover to find out if it was unabridged. This information cannot be gleaned from the library catalog, and I can't stand abridged versions, so I've had to return some audiobooks the same day I check them out. Anyway, this one said: "Unabridged Selections".

Um...does that mean abridged? Unabridged selections? Isn't that an oxymoron?! What good is that?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mommy Was Very Bad

My front room is filled with snow. A light dusting of snow; all over the couches and floor.

A few weeks ago I set down my crockpot and it cracked in half. It was very traumatic. Because I make crockpot meals once or twice a week and use my crockpot for other things (beans, bread, drinks) once or twice more in addition to that, I decided a crockpot was a necessity and went out and bought another one. It came packed in those styrofoam pieces that are molded to the shape of the crockpot. I took out the crcokpot and have been using it, while the styrofoam and box were in the laundry room.

Today, Somehow, Ash got a hold of that styrofoam. She scratched it with her fingernails and to her delight, tiny little white balls resulted. I saw her doing this. My reaction: "Hey. Will you please do that in the middle of the floor instead of on the couches?"

But she's three, so of course it took five more minutes and a lot more asking, reminding, counting and commanding before she actually moved off the couch and onto the living room floor. By that time the couch was covered.

And then she made a mess. A huge, messy mess. But she was happy doing it, and I was happy that she was playing by herself. And now our front room looks like Christmas.

And that's kind of how our November is going. I've been blindsided by my new job; instead of the few hours a week I was expecting it's turned into several hours per day. I'm not complaining, It's just that now I'll take advantage of anything that distracts Ash for a few seconds. For the same reason I had no hope of doing Nanowrimo this year, and that is sad.

But, on the happy side, Drek took me to go see Skyfall, which I have been dying to see. It was amazing. Granted, I haven't had any time to watch movies lately, and I've only been to the theater a handful of times since Ash was born, but I haven't been that jubilant when walking out of a theater since...Casino Royale.

Ok then, who wants to build a snowman out of tiny styrofoam bubbles?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My dad's doctor had news yesterday about his incurable cancer: It's...cured? At the very least, there is no evidence of cancer anymore; He is NEC, which is what you want to be for as long as possible if you've ever had a bought with a cancer diagnosis.

Very, very good news.

Monday, November 05, 2012

I Ain't Been Droppin' No Eaves Sir, Honest. I Was Just Cutting the Grass Under the Window There, If You'll Follow Me

Our window coverings came with the house. I assume the have been here since the house was built, back in 1986, because when we moved in they were black. After a lot of scrubbing, face masks and dusting, lo and behold the blinds were actually off-white with that ugly wood texturing. You could tell they were bought cheap from a store rather than made to fit the windows: they were too long for the windows, making them too heavy, so every single one of the blinds was non-functional. Some opened halfway, most didn't open at all. And then, of course, same slats were broken or cracked or missing. 

For over a year now I've been saving up for an extravagance that I REALLY REALLY wanted for the house: Plantation shutters. During the summer I called five or six companies and had them come out and measure, offer opinions and give me quotes. It took until August for me to save the money, and then it took another six weeks to get the shutters made and installed. But finally the wait is over. 

I wish I could describe how awesome they look. Every time I walk into my front room I think "Wow! It does not look like we are squatting in an abandoned warehouse anymore! The new shutters added to the painting we did back in August really make the front room look like a new place.





 And from the outside it looks like this:
Look how well my flowers are doing!!



And the best one was the sliding door. Before, we had no sort of window covering.

Now, we have this:

It slides open.

I'm not sure what is better: the way the look, or how I can actually open and close the blinds. I do love the fact that these shutters keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and add an extra sound barrier (although we can still hear that hateful rooster, all day, everyday).

In short, definitely an upgrade, definitely worth the wait.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Now It's My Turn. I'm Thinking of Something Dark and Mysterious. It's a Fish We Don't Know. If We Ask it Directions, It Could Ingest Us and Spit Out Our Bones. What is it With Men and Asking for Directions?

Rissy's itinerary said she would arrive Monday afternoon. Sunday after church I got an email from her that her flight had been delayed a few hours, but she was finally boarding the plane. I puzzled over this email. How long was the flight again? Ten hours? Sixteen hours? Either way, it puts her in way before Monday afternoon. Was there something about the time change I was miscalculating?

I emailed her back and told her to call me the second her plane landed, just to make sure I was there. That night, just as I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed with a book the phone rang; her plane had just landed! A whole day early! As it turns out, her itinerary was simply wrong about the time change.

I jumped in the car and drove the two hours to the airport. I was only fifteen minutes away when traffic on the freeway came to a stop; A traffic jam.  At ten at night. What were all these people doing??  It didn't last too long and soon I had found Rissy and was loading bags into my car and heading home. Hooray! Rissy was here!

Another traffic jam. This one much worse. Apparently they had decided to close down a freeway. An hour later we were finally taking the exit ramp and following the detour signs. As I drove we talked. And talked and talked. An hour later, I started getting impatient  Wasn't this road we were turning on have the same name as the ramp we exited from? Doesn't this street look familiar? Ok, I KNOW I've seen that Dell Taco before. Apparently the detour signs had taken us in one giant, hour-long circle.

So we did some creative navigating and fifteen minutes later were back on the freeway headed home. Rissy is a brilliant navigator.

Sadly, the traffic nightmares did not stop there. Tuesday night, on the way to the ward Halloween Party, traffic wasn't moving. A trip that usually takes twenty minutes took us forty. We arrived at the party ten minutes before it ended, and no one got to see the costumes I had worked so hard on.

Thursday we celebrated Rissy's birthday and went to get an ice-cream cake. The freeways were stopped in both directions, so we took the side roads. Sadly, they weren't moving either. We gave up and turned around five miles from our house. Alas, it took us forty-five minutes to drive that five mile span. And that was on side streets!

The good news is that it gave Rissy and I A LOT of time to talk. The bad news is I'm sure she thinks Sunnland has horrible traffic all the time. I've not really had problems before, but after this week, I just might agree with her.

She is driving back home now. I hope traffic is much better for her all the way home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Burke. It's 12 days north of Hopeless and a Few Degrees South of Freezing to Death

Most people would leave. Not us; we're Vikings. We have stubbornness issues. My name's Hiccup. 

And ... Astrid: 

The ultimate prize is the dragon no one's ever seen. We call it the Nightfury. 

(Insert picture of me in my Toothless costume here. I would do it myself, but I can't take a picture of myself and somehow, no one else ever takes pictures of me. No matter how many times I ask him. Hint Hint.) 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You Crazy? You Don't Just Sneak Up on People in a Graveyard. You Make Noise When You Walk. You Stomp or... Yodel

Our final phase for our yard involved making all new tombstones! Now that I knew the technique  it was time to turn our front yard into a Halloween graveyard:

Add some pumpkin lights along the walkway: 

and a scary whost hanging from the corner of the house:

And then, of course, the indoor decorations!

And my favorite: 

(The Raven says Nevermore. Ah, I love it)

We are so ready for Halloween!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and the Guilty

Friday night was our big How To Host a Murder party. Drek had picked the one entitled: The Good, The Bad, and the Guilty. Bet you can't guess it was a western theme. In some ways, it was the funnest one I've played, just because the Wild West was such a familiar theme to everyone, and because a few players could sport some dang good accents. But, then, as the story unfolded, it became apparent that this was the dirtiest How To Host A Murder game I've played. So Let's advice away form this one, okay? 

While getting things ready, the outside door had been left open, and for some reason, even if this happens for a single second, twenty flies have suddenly stormed our kitchen. I noticed this and thought "oh! How authentic!" But then decided I should probably get rid of them before dinner. I assigned the task to Drek, who happens to be a fly assassin. Drek's costume for the party included a tomahawk, and for some reason he decided this was a good weapon against flies. He sneaked up on one, then struck! Hitting the fly with the blade of his plastic tomahawk. It was an amazing feat. Those flies didn't stand a chance against him. They were all gone by the time the guests arrived in fantastic costumes: 

The company was wonderful, the food was delicious (everyone brought a part of our Western-themed dinner) and the game was A LOT of fun. The only disappointment of the night was after everyone went home, I went into my room and realized my black elbow-high gloves that I had bought specifically for this costume had been on my bed the whole time, instead of on my hands. Sigh. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Glad You Showed Up. You See, I'm Having a Really Bad Day

Today I took Ash to her Gymnastics class. It's held in a gymnastics gym where the secretary seems to run the show. She is not a nice lady. I've had a few run-ins in with her before.

There is a little play area with toys in the gym, so that the kids can play while waiting for their class to start or while siblings have their class. Today Ash had trouble staying in her class; she wanted to play with the toys. I told her she could play with the toys after class. So, after class, I let her play with the toys. Five minutes after her class ended, the secretary came in, saw us, and announced she was locking up, and we needed to get out. In my rush to leave, I grabbed my kid, her water bottle  my book, and my phone, and headed out to the car, followed very closely by the secretary. We reached our car, and I realized I had stupidly left my purse in the gym, which, of course, held my car keys. I quickly turned around to locate the secretary; she was just getting in her car. I ran over and yelled that I had left my purse in the gym. I'm not sure if she heard me or not, but she promptly shut her door, started her engine, and drove off, paying no attention as I chased her out of the parking lot, waving my arms.

So, there I was, locked out of the gym and my car. Thank goodness I had my phone. Too bad I have a husband who doesn't answer his. Ten minutes later I got a hold of a neighbor who graciously agreed to come pick us up. We were able to get home, eat lunch and go to the bathroom before we headed back out the door to take the bus back to the gym, which according to their schedule, should open again after a three hour lunch break.

Things have really cooled off here in Sunland, so it was a perfect day for a walk. As we walked to our bus, an elderly woman began walking with us, commenting on how cute Ash was. This was our conversation:

Her: "Look at those eyes! Are you babysitting?"
Me: "Oh. No. She's mine."
Her: "Oh! Is she adopted?"
Me: "Uh, no. She's my blood."
Her:  "Oh! She doesn't look anything like you! She's so beautiful. So! I see you're having another baby!"
Me: "Yes. Baby number two."
Her: "When are you due?"
Me: "Not until April."
Her: "Oh, wow! So you're having twins?"
Me: " Just one baby in there."
Her: "Oh!" awkward pause "You're so big already, I thought it would have to be twins."
Me: "Nope. Just the one."
Her: "Well, here's my stop! It was fun talking with you!"

Yeah, I didn't really enjoy that conversation. We made it the rest of the way to the bus stop in peace, and after a pleasant bus ride and another long walk, made it back to the gym, where I found my purse waiting for me, safe and sound.

Thank goodness for the little things.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Four Months Ago, a Man Walks Into Our Offices, Says "Help me, I'm a Lycan." Gus is Like "You're Made Out of Seaweed?"

Last week Rissy drove up from Hometown to spend a day with us before she left for Japan. We threw a party in her honor; everyone brought Halloween/Fall treats to share and we played several rounds of Werewolf.

It went really, really well. Rissy arrived right on schedule (very impressive) and we promptly embarked on a  forty five minute drive in search of Goma dressing. We found it, bought a bottle, and three days later it was empty. Goma dressing doesn't last long in this house. Thankfully, Rissy says she can buy it cheaper and in much, much, bigger bottles in Japan. She promised to bring some back for me. Thank goodness.

We arrived home, then went on another adventure to find helium balloons and dry ice. We found the balloons, but it took longer to find the dry ice. We finally did, and the cashier went of to get us some. While she was gone, I told Rissy the story of the time I bought dry ice just so I could be carded (because I had just turned eighteen or nineteen or something) and the cashier hadn't bothered to card me. It was sad. Just as I finished this tale, the cashier came back with the dry ice and asked to see my I.D..  I was so excited I must have thanked her four or five times. It's never too late.

Home again, Rissy used the dry ice to make homemade root beer, while Drek made homemade donuts. I took the balloons out to the front yard for phase two: making ghosts that slowly drift about. Sadly, helium is a push-over. It can't hold it's own against...anything. Not against a white sheet, not against cheese cloth, not against white tulle. Really, you can't drape anything over a helium balloon and expect it not to sink like a rock. Ah well. Instead, Drek strung adorable little pumpkin lights along our walkway to get our guests into a Halloween mood.

And it worked. We had a wonderful turn out, ate some amazing treats, and played many, many rounds of werewolf. It was a perfect night. We played until it was way too late and finally everyone left and we all went to bed.

The next day we hung out with Rissy all day before having to take her to the airport. She'll be in Japan a few weeks before coming back and staying with us a few more days. I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Fingers Like Snakes and Spiders in My Hair

Today I had a terrifying experience. Here, let me share my terror with you. It is, after all, October.

Today was Harvest Honey From Our Bees Day! I was worried about the harvest because I had noticed what looked like tiny white dropping near our hive. When I peaked in the entrance to the hive, I saw the same things on the floor of the hive. Now what could possibly be small enough to get inside the hive, yet big enough to leave those droppings? And what could climb up to our hive? It would take quite the acrobatic feat.

Anna came over and I showed her the mystery. She called our relative expert while I paged through a bee keeping book. I found that beetles sometimes invade beehives. Beetles! Small enough, big enough, and fantastic climbers! Getting rid of them would be complicated, but doable.

Anna hung up the phone with a worried expression on her face. "He said he didn't know because he can't see, but he thinks it's a specific fungal infection. If he's right, There is no cure. We'll have to burn the whole hive."

"Huh." I said. "I think it's beetles." I showed her the book. She thumbed through it, then excitedly shouted "Chalkbrood! It's a fungus that attacks the bee larvae  The larvae become dried and chalk-like. The worker bees pull them out and drop them to the hive floor, the move them out of the hive, dropping them all around the hive. That MUST be it!"

And since Chalkbrood is easier to treat than both our earlier theories  we both heartily agreed it was chalkbrood. With that in mind, we opened up the hive.

After going through each individual frame and finding the queen (hooray!), healthy larvae  and eggs, we found a single frame with unmistakable signs of chalkbrood. We found no signs of beetles or of that dreaded other fungus.

In order to help cure the hive of chalkbrood, we needed to clean out the bottom of the hive; help those worker bees out. We pulled off the beehive, leaving only the base, and froze: Moths. A lot of them. A huge nest of them. With larvae. Giant, Scary worm larvae: Wax moths;  A common affliction to beehives. We caught them in the early stages (thank goodness) and began to clean clean them out.

This leads me to the terror part. As we cleaned up chalk brood and wax moths, we found another infestation: Spiders. Huge, scary, waxy spiders. A lot of them. And their many egg sacks.

I freaked. Poor Anna, who is not a big fan of spiders herself (and let me emphasize these were particularly ugly, shiny, big spiders) had to squash and clean them up herself. Gah. I'm freaking out just writing about it.  But she did, and we scrubbed the foundation then put the beehive back together.

We got exactly zero ounces of honey. And who can blame our poor bees? Battling fungus, moths and monster spiders.

The good news is the bees did a great job of making honey for themselves. They are healthy, with a healthy queen. They are now strong enough to battle off chalkbrood and wax moths, so those shouldn't be a problem anymore (but of course we'll keep a close eye on it). We expect a lot of honey next year. That is, if we can figure out a way to keep the spiders out of the beehive. Any suggestions?  And for that matter, any suggestions on how to keep the spiders out of my nightmares?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet, To Guide Us in These Latter Days.

When I was a child, I remember looking forward to conference only in hopes that they would announce something life-changing over the pulpit like; "God has revealed the end of the world will happen next August. Get ready." or, "All saints are commanded to migrate to New Zealand." Something like that. Such an announcement obviously never came, but that didn't stop me from getting my hopes up every six months.

Last conference there was quite a big announcement. I was delighted with the news that the Provo Tabernacle would be rebuilt into a Temple, making Provo the first city in the world to have two Temples. Even though it was a very exciting announcement, I found myself over that stage in my life. Instead, I look forward to conference for (gasp) the talks.

So the announcement that was made Saturday morning came as a shock. My reaction went something like this:

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19."

Me: "Huh. How exciting. That's great."

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "...We have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve."

Me: "Gasp! Oh my gosh! Be quite! Listen! LISTEN!"

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."

Me: "WHAT?! Oh wow! Did you hear that?! Did you hear?! Nineteen! Nineteen! Two years earlier! How wonderful! Oh! That is so great! Oh my goodness. Oh wow. Oh my goodness.Ash! Did you hear?! You can go two years earlier! You'll be back before you're twenty-one! That is amazing! Oh, that is so great!"

It was a great moment; The moment in conference I had been looking forward to as a child.

Later, as I thought about the impacts that change would have, I was awed by what a wonderful change this is, in so many ways, for so many reasons. And then I had a sobering thought:  This will really date me. This announcement is equal to the changes of making church a three hour block meeting on Sundays, instead of spread out through the whole week. Or that missions would be limited to two years instead of two and a half or three. Someday I will be asked if I went on a mission when I was nineteen, and I would have to explain that when I was nineteen, the age limit was twenty-one. And then whomever I tell that to will gasp and their eyes will get really big and they'll say: Wow! You are SO OLD!"  Just like I did to those people who went to church over the course of a week, or served a three-year mission.  Ah, well. I suppose it's poetic justice. And well worth it.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How Can This Be? Playing With My Memory. Don't you see? There'll Be Nothing Left of Me

Yes. As the last post hinted, I am pregnant. Please don't congratulate me on the pregnancy. There are few things I hate worse than being pregnant. I'm very excited for a new baby. Very, VERY excited. But for me, being pregnant is just awful.

It's not just that I'm more than four months along and still throwing up. It's not just the extreme tiredness, the headaches and the pregnancy pains. It's the fact that I'm a different person when I'm pregnant. And I really find myself loathing Pregnant Me.

First off, Pregnant Me thinks differently. Retrieval failure started before the nausea hit. Everyday I find myself stopping and staring into space; knowing I've forgotten something but just can't remember what. I'll have a phone conversation in which someone will tell me to come drop off my car. I'll hang up the phone, wait two hours, then call back and ask why they are so late in coming to get my car. I can't remember the names of the kids in my Sunday School class. Something will spontaneously appear on the counter, and I'll wonder about it for hours before I remember putting it there myself. I cannot carry on intelligent conversation because I can't remember facts correctly. Yesterday I bet Drek a back rub that the Prophet Joshua lived to be more than two hundred. I was SO SURE. And then Drek looked it up. I was wrong.

Secondly, Pregnant Me reacts differently. I consider myself an easy-going person. I try not to take offence and usually succeed. People have bad days, people make mistakes. I get that. I like to let things go. Except when I'm pregnant. Pregnant Me takes EVERYTHING personally. Pregnant Me is offended every single day. A few days ago I had the most bizarre phone conversation with a customer service person. The person actually went crazy while I was talking to them. Really, he threw a tantrum for no reason that I could fathom. Normally, I would have found it so bizarre that I would have laughed it off, and maybe blogged about it for other's entertainment. Pregnant Me spent hours and hours wishing I had recorded the phone conversation so I could send it into the company and gotten the man fired, then sent it into his wife so she see what an idiot she was married to and leave him, then post it on YouTube so he would never get a job or be respected ever again. Really, HOURS. Talk about an over-reaction. Sometimes I know that I am over-reacting, but sometimes I don't. It's gotten to the point where I have to keep everything bottled up, then explain the situation to Drek and ask if my reaction is normal or crazy. He usually responds crazy. Because Pregnant Me is a crazy person.

Third, Pregnant Me is a crappy mom. My child has watched more TV in the last three months than she has in her whole life combined. Sure, we've read more books and had more cuddle time, but my temper is short, and my energy is gone. I don't get down on the floor and play with her anymore. I don't chase her when she runs. I just yell and give angry glares.

Fourth, Pregnant Me is very unhealthy. In June, I was very excited about the fact that I was eating so healthy and cooking such delicious meals. I didn't eat meat or dairy or sugar. I was cooking everything from scratch and my family was enjoying real whole foods. And then the morning sickness left me hating food. All food. Hating the smell, hating the sight, hating the idea. We eat out a lot. We eat a lot of cereal with milk. I can't make things from scratch so we buy a lot of processed, filled with sugar, MSG and HFCS crap. Because we have to eat something and I probably won't keep it down anyway.

Fifth, Pregnant Me is ugly. I love to listen to women who think their pregnant bodies are beautiful. They inspire me. I think other women are very "cute" pregnant. I applaud that model who walked down the catwalk six months pregnant. But I just can't come to love the way by body just keeps getting bigger. I put a lot of effort into ignoring the way Pregnant Me looks, but this has the side-effect that I never wear make-up, I don't do anything with my (woefully short) hair, and I don't really care what I wear, as long as it doesn't make it even harder to breathe (my number one complaint). A few weeks ago I thew up over and over again in a few short period of time. I didn't even have to time to breathe in between. When it was finally over, I looked in the mirror and noticed something off with my face. Two days later it was still there and I realized what it was; pregnancy mask. That was possibly the worst moment I've had in front of a mirror since discovering, at nine months pregnant with Ash, that I had grown stretch marks.

So, yes! I am expecting a baby! Hooray! It's so great! But that also means that right now I'm pregnant. Which is not so great. It is, in fact, terrible.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Subtle Hint

October! Happy October! It's October! It's almost Halloween! I love Halloween! I love October!

Yes, I am a bit over-excited. I finished making Drek's Halloween costume, and I'll finish Ash's today. I decorated our yard yesterday, which I have been dying to do since last year:

(ha ha, dying, get it?) After I put the  gravestones up I thought to myself "it's a good thing we haven't landscaped our yard yet, the dead yard makes it so creepy." When Drek got home the first thing he said was "Our yard looks really creepy! Aren't you glad we haven't landscaped it yet?"  There's an upside to everything. 

That is just phase one of our yard. I have three more phases planned. I'll keep you updated. 

Yesterday Drek brought home some pumpkins so we could do our family tradition of painting pumpkins for Family Home Evening! 

This beautiful artwork was done by Drek. 

Ash did this one

And, severely lacking any artistic talent, this one is mine. 

Now where are the pumpkin cookies?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

You Can't Lift a Hammer, You Can't Swing an Axe, You Can't Even Throw One of These!

Yesterday we decided to get adventurous with our family outing and go to the local Viking Festival. Why not? we thought. I looked at the website and was pleased to note that a mere seven dollar per person entrance fee would get you a slice of bread made in their brick ovens and into all weapons throwing competitions, including archery and fish-tossing. Even though Ash would be free, all the activities in the kid-zone were free, even the bounce house! So we went. 

Well, the website lied. Everything but the bounce house cost extra. Drek later noted that the festival was merely the Nordic version of Octoberfest, which basically meant the attraction was cheap beer. So we won't be going next year, but that didn't stop us from having fun this year. We watched the warriors show off their skills: 

And a few kids whose parents were willing to shell out three extra dollars for their kids to toss a fish: 

But the best part was near the end: We were watching the weapon throwing competitions and Drek was getting frustrated with the spear throwing competitors  Each one got six tries, and four people in a row missed every single time. I couldn't blame them; keeping a spear steady with one had didn't look very easy, but Drek was sure he could do better. So we paid the money and Drek was handed six spears:

He made all six shots. It was amazing. I had no idea I was married to such a spear throwing champion. Wild Boars, beware.