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!