Friday, March 30, 2012

Far and Wide His Love Proclaim

Normally, I am online for several hours a day. In contrast, when I am on vacation I have little to no problem not having access to a computer. If I try to go even one day without a computer at home I fail miserably, but it's not hard at all while I'm on vacation. Odd.

Regardless; I am now home again, with full use of both a computer and the internet. And thus, I shall blog: 

Drek's brother got home from serving a two year mission in the Philippines. We hadn't seen him in two years so it was a real treat to be able to spend time with him. He is such a good kid. I very much enjoyed the slideshow he gave us with all of his mission pictures and several stories. He brought back a belt for Drek and  strand of real pearls for me. I am so delighted.

My sister is now in the MTC, preparing to serve her mission. It was so much fun to spend a little bit of time with her. One morning we got up early and went to the temple together, which was wonderful. I'm glad we did that. I wasn't able to actually see her off, but since it't dropping her off in a parking lot, I'm not too bummed out about that. I wish I could have been there for her setting apart, by all accounts it was amazing and very moving and I am am fairly upset I missed it, but we were almost back to Sunland at that time. 

Both the incoming and outgoing missionaries gave their Sacrament meeting talks on the same day. Ash and I got to attend both meetings. Both talks were wonderful, although he best part of both was seeing all the family coming to support the missionary. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Translation? A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

C'ead Mile Failte! St Patrick's Day was a little different this year. Of course we had Lucky Charms for breakfast, but it was eaten with no milk out of those individual cereal boxes while on the start of a very long car trip.  Ash and I drove back to hometown with Anna and her three children. Anna had decorated the mini van windows with little St. Patrick's Day stickers and a leprechaun hid a pot of gold somewhere inside!

It was a very long drive for four very small children, and we were not going to have any sort of movies, so I wanted to make sure the children were kept motivated. We had three checkpoints along the trip. Every time we got to a checkpoint, if the child had been good, they got a gift bag filled with treats and little things to keep them occupied until the next checkpoint. They were filled with things like boxes of raisins, juice boxes, notepads, books, music CD's, whiteboards, dollar store toys, tic-tacs, coloring books and in each bag, a map to the next checkpoint.

The bags were fun, but as it turned out, unnecessary. The children did very well the whole trip. We made it safe and sound and despite the fact I did not have a St Patick's Day Party this year, It was still a fun day. Ob the drive we saw the most amazing rainbow. It was across the whole sky and vibrant! At first it was a half rainbow, but as we watched it it became a whole arc! It was so vivid we could see where it touched the ground. We were sorely tempted to chase the end of the rainbow and find the pot of gold, but we did have a schedule to keep. And we are so excited to be back in Hometown!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Airport Stairway Vehicle is the Last Vestige of the Bluth's Former Wealth. Also, That House Of Pies Went Out of Business

Happy Pi Day! 

First, A story: 

When I was in elementary school, I was given coupons for one free slice of pie at a restaurant called Frontier Pies. I can't remember what I was being rewarded for, but I got a coupon at least once a year for several years. 

We would only go to Frontier Pies when I had a coupon, and every time I would order a slice of Cherry Chocolate Pie. I thought it was the most amazing pie in the world. Alas, one time I went in and was informed that Cherry Chocolate Pie was no longer on the menu. 

A few years later the place closed (probably because they stopped serving Cherry Chocolate Pie, if you ask me) So I was unable to go in and ask them for their recipe. Subsequent internet searches have also failed.  

I have tried to imitate that pie. I've tried it using different brands of instant chocolate pudding, and Cook and Serve Jello pudding. I've tried cherry pie filling from a can, and frozen cherries. One year a baker (my wonderful boss) even made me a Cherry Chocolate Pie for Christmas. All these attempt have come close, but just haven't tasted like what I remember. 

For this Pi Day, I had it in my head to try a Cherry Chocolate Pie purely from scratch: homemade pie dough, a fresh bag of cherries pitted and cooked to turn into the filling, melted chocolate to make homemade pudding... And then I ran out of time. Also, cherries aren't in season. 

So I bought a Kroger pre-made frozen crust, can of cherry pie filling and box of instant chocolate pudding. 

Bingo. That was it. It tasted exactly right. 

but, I'm getting ahead of myself. For breakfast, we had egg pie, otherwise known as quiche: 

 Mushrooms, spinach, bacon bits, cheese, yum!

For dinner we had a vegetable pot pie. I found the recipe this year, and this is my forth time making it. It is delicious! It's super healthy (whole wheat crust!) and super easy:

In preparation for this year's pie eating contest, I made tart-size chocolate cream pies and tart sized banana cream pies:

 Finally, it was party time! Each guest brought a pie, so there were plenty to choose from:


We had strawberry, peach, apple, lemon meringue, pumpkin, mini ice cream pies and, of course: 

The Cherry Chocolate Pie. 

To start, we had our pie-eating contest:

and a winner!

Some people think pie-eating is a leisure activity: 

 After that we ate pie, talked, and then ended the night with a game of 90's trivial pursuit (because the game pieces are little pies!) It was a good thing we were playing on large teams (boys vs girls) so wasn't put on the spot. Most of time I didn't even know to what the card was referring. Girls still won, though!

If only there had been a question about the recipe for Frontier Pie's Cherry Chocolate Pie. I would have looked like a genius.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

You Always Knew You Were Destined for More. You Were Just Waiting for Your Singular Moment of Clarity

Happy International Women's Day! I didn't know this holiday existed until a few days ago when I was informed by TopHat, but I love the history and I love the idea! 
I am, as some of you may know, female. Being female, I give a lot of thought to what it means to be female and my identity and such. I give it a lot of thought because I think the answer has been tainted and warped to the point where most females have no idea what womanhood means, or even what motherhood means.
I am not an expert on the subject, bit this is my take on it: 
Think of a superhero: Spiderman, Elastagirl, whoever (I’m partial to X-men, myself). Continue this analogy with that superhero: 
First, let's understand that there is difference between the person (Wolverine) the gift (Healing) and what the person uses the gift to (Be awesome). No one would ever say that Wolverine is just a healing superpower, because even though he does have that gift, he's also a person, with character, with personality, with strengths, weaknesses and an attitude problem.  Does Spiderman somehow degrade the identity of Peter Parker every time he uses his spider scenes? No! Using his gift will change Peter Parker, but only to make him more awesome! Not by erasing who he is.
Every superhero struggles with his identity. But in the end, no superhero decides that they are better off without their gift. No superhero decides to turn away from their gift. It’s their destiny! It’s still them, just with added superpowers!
In my view, it’s the same with women. Did you know woman have a superpower for empathy, diplomacy and multi-tasking and reading human emotions? Did you know both men and women get more satisfaction from a conversation with a women over a conversation with a man? It's true! Now, just because a hero has a superpower, doesn't mean they are the best at that gift. For instance, Professor X and Jean Grey both have telekinetic as a superpower, but the power isn't equal. Gifts are given, but still have to be developed. 
Motherhood is am AWESOME Superpower. You can create life! You can produce amazing cancer-killing, life-giving, miracle milk! You can sense when your children are in danger! You can read minds! But, like any superpower, that’s not WHO you are, it’s just a gift that you have. Yes it will change you, but to make you more awesome!!
The only difference it what the world is telling the superhero. The world tells Peter Parker that spider senses and wall climbing are incredible, unique, and cool. The world tells women that their superpowers are lame, ordinary, and even low-class. THAT IS A LIE!
Really, I have studied pregnancy, labor, breast milk, and nurturing. They are incredible, unique, and cool. They cannot be duplicated by anything else. They can’t even be explained by scientists.
Now, does that mean that the greatest thing a women can accomplished is giving birth and lactating? Heck no! That’s like saying the most Spiderman accomplished was climbing a wall. It’s a gift! It’s a tool! It’s given to a person, an individual with an identity, and that person needs to take it and use it accomplish great things. And, as with every superhero, a choice needs to be made: Will you use your powers for good...?

Monday, March 05, 2012

You Rebel Scum

So, this post was supposed to be about our new cats; Currently our backyard is occupied by a heavy force of ground squirrels, who have created an alliance with the gophers. The rabbits are also still back there (although have made it clear that they are unaffiliated with the gopher/ground squirrel rebel fighters) and all those troops make it difficult for our garden and our lawn. Thus, Drek has asked the Feral Cat Coalition to send over a couple of mercenaries to drive out the rebellion.

They were supposed to arrive last night, but the volunteer from the  Feral Cat Coalition had car trouble and canceled at the last moment. So I don't have pictures of adorable  hunting cats to post.

It does, however. give me more time to research getting an owl. Did you know that if you build an owl house an owl family might move in? I really want to build one. Our neighbor a few blocks away built one and had an owl nest complete with eggs within a week. She also said she hasn't seen a gopher, ground squirrel, rabbit or mouse since the owls moved in. And you don't have to feed an owl or change its litter box.

Also, I'm afraid the cat mercenaries have been compromised. What if that car trouble was no accident...

Thursday, March 01, 2012

There's a Storm Coming, Mr. Wayne. You and Your Friends Better Batten Down the Hatches, Because When it Hits, You're All Gonna Wonder How You Ever Thought you Could Live so Large and Leave So Little for the Rest of Us

Our house is in a quaint little location. You can see the freeway from our house, but because of all the trees you can't actually hear it. We're right next to apartments and shopping centers and on ramps and such, but our house in tucked away in a this little pocket, so you'd think we lived in the country. In order to get to our house, you have to turn down a dirt road, cross a bridge, and then turn again down a road that doesn't look driveable and dead-ends at our neighbor's house. 

I love it, but there are problems. First, no one can find our house. Everyone gets lost coming here. Second, we live in a flood area. That is, if there were ever to be terrible rainstorms and our city was to flood, our neighborhood would be the first to go. But floods aren't common here, and in the twenty five years since this house has been built there haven't been any floods. For whatever that's worth. 

A few nights ago we had a storm. The rain came down in droves and the wind was blowing down trees. The sound it kept me awake and I spent all night rehearsing what to do if our house flooded. 

Our house did not flood, not even close. But we did have a surprise in our yard when we looked out the window: 

That would be our neighbor's tree. It missed my precious orange tree by two feet. I looked out and frowned: What do we do in a situation like that? The tree would have to be cut up and hauled away and the fence would need to be repaired. How long would that take? I didn't want to devote an entire Saturday to such a lofty project!

Our neighbors were awesome. They knocked on the door that afternoon and asked if it was okay for them to come in our yard. I said yes and the next thing I knew, three guys were out there with chainsaws. Ten minutes later the tree was gone and the broken slats in the fence were replaced. TEN MINUTES. Apparently I live next door to ninjas.