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?