Thursday, December 13, 2007

you decide

Several years ago, when the emailing of Christmas cards first came into vogue, I was a fervent mocker. Did you just send me your greetings via email? I do not accept them. Your holiday wishes are invalid. Deleted! Harsh, no? And then I got married; that joyous event that changes everything. Now we have a dilemma. The card is ready to go. Shall it be printed and mailed (expensive! personal! traditional!) or shall it be pdf-ed and emailed (free!)? We are at an impasse. What think ye, Internet? Is the email card the wave of the future, like hovercrafts and dinners in a box? Or is it a cheap and tacky alteration to a time-honored tradition, like printing your wedding registry information on your wedding announcements (which, by the way, is just like asking me to not get you a gift)? Thrifty or tacky? Techno or traditional?

I have to say, by the way, that we sent our Christmas letter out via email last year, and I have felt guilty about that every since. Did you feel like I liked you a little less? Like my love was fading? Or did you think nothing of it and just stare in awe at our fabulous wedding pictures?

the hardest part of kicking a habit is wanting to kick it

Years ago, my sister gave me some marriage advice. “Before you get married,” she said, “make a list of all the character traits, habits, and mannerisms that you dislike about your fiancé. List everything that annoys you, even slightly, or that you wish wasn’t there. Be honest. And then, when you have that list, read every item out loud, and then say to yourself, ‘Self, I know that my sweetheart does all these things that I don’t like. I will not try to change him. I will take him as he is. I will not get mad at him later when he does these things because I married him knowing this about him already, and I make the choice willingly, and I will take the bad with the good.’ And then, later, when you’re married, and the little things that you thought you could live with become big things that you think maybe you don’t want to live with, remember that list. Remember how you knew there would be things you hated, but that you had already made the decision about whether or not you would tolerate the annoyances, and you are going to tolerate them.”

I will never forget her advice, and I use it sometimes when I’m feeling annoyed. No one is perfect. No one is kind, or affectionate, or happy, or patient all the time, especially with people we see every day. Staying in a relationship is hard. Making it work is hard. It’s work.

This is kind of leading, at least in my head, to a friend I’ve been thinking about a lot, and a quote from Grey’s Anatomy tonight. “The thing about addiction is, it never ends well. Because eventually, whatever it is that was getting us high, stops feeling good, and starts to hurt. Still, they say you don't kick the habit until you hit rock bottom. But how do you know when you are there? Because no matter how badly a thing is hurting us, sometimes, letting it go hurts even worse.”

I think we have all had our share of bad relationships, and, sadly, some of us made it out of them with more scars than others. I know what it is like to look at my life, and the person who is supposed to love me, and feel anger and hurt and disappointment, but then not walk away because I think that I can take this kind of hurt because when things are good they are really good. I know all about making bad decisions and compromises in the name of “making the relationship stronger”, when somewhere not-so-deep inside I just feel broken and incomplete. I hate who I was then and the choices I made. So, what makes us stay? Worry that if we don’t take this one that there will never be another? Confusion about what love really feels like? Concern that this is the best we could get?

My friend, she is a good person. The kind of good person that I’m quite sure I will never be. She is smart, and talented, and funny, and beautiful, and works hard, and lives right, and just wants the kind of happiness that the young women’s program promised. For several years she has been dating this boy who, apparently, will never decide to marry her. And she has put her whole heart into this relationship, into making him happy, into fixing his problems, into somehow making this work, and now, now when there isn’t even a façade of working, she is falling apart. She doesn’t think she is strong enough to leave him, because, as she says, she is addicted to him. She is addicted to the high that comes when you feel loved, and she is ravaged by the hurt that comes with the lows of compromise and unfulfilled expectations. And sometimes, now, when I talk to her, I am surprised by her fear and her doubt. Sometimes she speaks like a person that I don’t know. He has stripped her confidence and optimism. She feels weak and alone, and my heart aches for her because I know, I KNOW, what that feels like. I know it isn’t easy. And I know it won’t ever get easy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, or that you can’t do it.

I just want to shake her. “Oh my lands, leave right now!” But how do I help her with that? I can’t be there to take the phone when he calls, or to distract her when she is lonely, or to put my arm around her when she hurts.

So, Friend, this is me, reaching out to you across thousands of miles, putting my arms around you, and saying, “You are better than this. You are strong enough to walk away. If you can’t see any other light in the darkness, see this one: I love you. You are strong enough to walk away.”

Did any of these stories come together? I guess my point is that you go into marriage knowing that the person you love isn’t going to be perfect, and isn’t going to please you every moment, and is probably going to occasionally do things that make you angry. And before you get married you should know that, and accept it. But you shouldn’t get married if the things that make you unhappy far outweigh the things that you love. You shouldn’t get married if, after your dates, you cry. You should not continue to date and then marry someone who points out your flaws and says that they won’t be really happy until you change them all. You shouldn’t stay in a relationship that damages your self-worth. Those things are not habits or annoyances. Those things are unacceptable. Don’t let that relationship become a marriage. If you stay in that relationship you are going to hit rock bottom, and it is going to hurt. Yes, leaving will hurt. Being alone will hurt. Building a new life will be hard, and it will be hard for a long time. But staying? That will hurt forever. So leave. Now. Don’t even wait until tomorrow. You deserve better. You are strong enough to walk away.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

recreating a memory

The last month that Somebody and I spent in Utah was a busy one. Besides a hectic work schedule, we were trying to fit in packing, cleaning, and finding quality time to say good-byes to our friends. One evening, after completing a list of chores and errands, we decided to go to the movies. I know. Like we had all this free time. But we like the movies, and we needed to relax. We bought tickets, for, I don't know, Evan Almighty?, and then snuck in to the sold out Transformers movie. And then we held hands and giggled for two and a half hours.

We rented the movie and are watching it together tonight, holding hands and giggling. Time together. This is what a family home evening is all about.

Friday, November 30, 2007

i've got my love to keep me warm

This is the last day of the gratitude challenge. Thanks to everyone who participated and sent me the things they were grateful for--it was so encouraging to see all the blessings that we all have. Almost every email I received contained something that I am also grateful for, often worded much better than I could have expressed.

1. I am grateful for photos so that I can go back and remember events and people that otherwise might be lost in my memory.

2. I am grateful for the knowledge that I am unique in all the world, that I am loved and appreciated, that I make and difference, and that I matter.

3. I am grateful for the way that focusing on positive things can help to dispel thoughts of frustration and disappointment.

And now, for two minutes, I will list all the things that come to mind that I am grateful for. Ready..........GO
I am grateful for Somebody, my parents, my siblings and their spouses and children, my friends, my extended family, a good heritage and upbringing, membership in the church, a testimony, a relationship with my Savior, air, water, earth, airplanes, colors, chocolate, flowers, fancy purses, a keyboard with a backspace, time, a comfortable bed, books, blankets, showers, a running car, road trips, family dinners, fruit smoothies, ice cream, digital cameras, ward choir, foam pillows, Sunday naps, gentlemen, gel keyboard wrist pad, lip gloss, good penmanship, donuts, mittens, kittens, vacation days, toilet paper, snow, sunsets, people who are tolerant, luxury hotel rooms, eternal marriage, scrapbooks, email from friends, google reader, food, cell phones, OH out of time.

I hope you all had a month of grateful thoughts, and enjoy the holiday season.

"My plea is that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we 'accentuate the positive.' I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort"
--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Thursday, November 29, 2007

we may be rushing things

1. I am grateful for options. I am grateful for choices. I am grateful that I always have a choice, and that very few things are really unrealistic options. I am grateful that through a good upbringing, a good education, and a good mind, I have the option of doing almost anything I choose.

2. I am grateful for the smell of clean laundry.

3. I am grateful for a family who loves me, cares about me, understands where I'm coming from, treats me like a friend, hopes for good things for me, prays for my health and well-being, laughs at my jokes, cries for my sorrows, and will always be there for me. There is a lot of strength and confidence that comes from having people in your life who you know will always back you up, and will always take you back when you've made mistakes. I am grateful for unconditional love.

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
--Cynthia Ozick

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

he has the time for me

I have been searching for a particular photoshop template for, oh, four months now. Just about every time I get online I do a search for all the words I remember seeing on the page when I saw it last a year ago. I have tried every combination of words and topics I can think of without any success at all. I've emailed the information to friends, hoping that maybe it was familiar to them and they could help me find it. Seriously, hours of my life have been dedicated to finding this page again. Today, after so much frustration, and running out of time, I opened my computer and said a little prayer that this time I would type in the right combination of words to find the page with the template I wanted. And, what do you know? The first thing I typed in, and the third page suggested by google, and I had found this elusive template.

And then I started to cry, because compared to all the prayers offered up today, and all the needs in the world, it is such a little thing, this search I was doing. So small and insignificant, and it means nothing to anyone but me, and will benefit no one in the world but me. But somehow I am important enough to answer. And somehow want my heart needs, no matter how trivial, is important to Him. And I am truly grateful for the reminder.

the night was dark and still

1. I am grateful for slow cookers and the dinner made in them.

2. I am grateful for creativity and home made gifts. At this time of year I always find myself with more ideas for projects and crafts than I could ever have time to complete, but I am grateful that I have family and friends that I love and want to do things for. I am grateful that I have the mind and resources to accomplish at least some of the things that I start out doing.

3. I am grateful that my mom was able to stay with Heidi for a while to enjoy the first week of the new baby, and also that she is now back home safely. It only took us about 12 hours to realize that the house falls apart when she isn't here, and we all missed her terribly.

"If gratitude is due from children to their earthly parents, how much more is the gratitude of the great family of man due to our Father in heaven!" --Hosea Ballou

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

decorations of red on a green christmas tree

1. I am grateful for extra cars around this house so that we have one to use when ours won't start.

2. I am grateful that my dad was willing to take time out of his very, very busy schedule to check out my car for two days to try to figure out the problem. He is a good example of a good work ethic, and of doing everything you can do for yourself before you pass work off to other people.

3. I am grateful for the miracle of forgiveness. I thankful that our mistakes really are mistakes, and that, while we have to pay for them, we don't have to pay for them forever. I'm grateful for the way my heart feels light when I am forgiven by someone, or when I finally have the courage to forgive someone.

"Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart."--Seneca

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"
--President Joseph F. Smith

Monday, November 26, 2007

i just knew

1. I am grateful for days when I don't hate being at work.

2. I am grateful that I can listen to Christmas music without shame now.

3. I am grateful for the moments when I think, "wow, I'm smart." Or, "hey, I'm funny." Or I just am suddenly and momentarily delighted with myself. It seems so rare that I have really positive thoughts about myself and it is refreshing to have those moments when even I have to admit that I'm pretty great.

"Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, and to work, and to play and to look up at the stars."--Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, November 25, 2007

pine cones and holly berries

1. I am grateful for alone time. First, because I enjoy having time and space to collect my thoughts and do/think about anything that I choose. I never want to lose my own sense of identity or my ability to function without others there. Second, because it makes me more excited to have the people I love return.

2. I am grateful that I can come home from church to the smell of dinner cooking in the slow cooker.

3. I am grateful for the chance to substitute in other callings so that I can appreciate more the calling that I have.

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, November 24, 2007

the most wonderful time

1. I am grateful for the comfortable feeling of being at home.

2. I am grateful for music that inspires, motivates, energizes, soothes, delights, touches, and sets the mood, no matter what kind of mood I am in.

3. I am grateful for the tiny, clear voice that children have when they sing.

4. I am grateful for siblings who are raising the cutest, sweetest, funniest, most delightful children ever.

5. I am grateful for football games that keep you on the edge of your seat and then end the way you want them to.

"Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road." --John Henry Jowett

Friday, November 23, 2007

a different kind of healer

I walked downstairs to find Grace (2 yrs old), Jonah (4 yrs old) and Saffie (3 yrs old) in the playroom. Grace was lying down and the other two were looking over her in what appeared to be a "playing doctor" scene, which wasn't surprising at all for this very medically oriented family.

Me: Grace! Are you getting operated on?
Grace: Hab loab haas nosh.
Me: Oh, I see. It's pretty serious? That's too bad.
Me: Saffie, are you the doctor here?
Saffie: No. Jonah is the doctor.
Me: Dr. Jonah! Will she be okay?
Jonah. I'm not a doctor. I'm just plain baby Jesus.

it's beginning to look a lot like birthday

1. I am grateful for Somebody, who is wonderful in every way, and is celebrating his birthday today. Happy Birthday, Somebody!

2. I am grateful that my parents are okay getting up early and quietly leaving the hotel room so that we can sleep in as late as we want.

3. I am grateful for cells phones so that I can stay connected to my entire family no matter where we are or how far apart we are.

4. I am grateful for jeans that have that lived in, worn out comfort.

5. I am grateful for answers to prayers.

"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable."
--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

happy birthday, love

31 Reasons I Love You More

1. You wear your wedding ring all the time
2. You are kind to all children, but especially to the nieces and nephews
3. You know I am ridiculous, and you love me anyway
4. You introduced me to plum powder
5. You grill the yummiest pineapple, veggies, and burgers
6. You want to make friends
7. You are honest. When I ask you why you don't want me to put in the cd of me singing, you say, very calmly, that singing should be left to professionals.
8. You are strong--you moved those boxes in and out of the storage room three times now, and are still willing to go in and move them around to find whatever random object I am looking for.
9. You are so conscientious. You couldn't even sleep those nights during the storms because you worried that water was coming into the house. Good for you, because I was sleeping just fine without a care in the world for the effects of water damage. Probably because you were the one who was going to have to move those boxes a fourth time if we were flooded again.
10. You like to take walks
12. In the early morning hours you always reach out to snuggle with me
13. When I asked what you think about all the time, you said "gardening"
14. You get giddy about little things, like bike rides, and driving the golf carts
15. You laugh so easily 16. You care about looking nice, and always do look nice.
17. You always forgive me
18. You put your arm around me at church
19. You always act excited when I come home from work
20. You pick me "cheery" tomatoes
21. You get up early to start my breakfast
22. and warm up the car
23. You scratch my back and neck even though it grosses you out
24. You wear hair gel just because I like it
25. You always tell me how pretty I am
26. You never wait to say sorry
27. You know how I like my laundry done, and you do it perfectly, week after week
28. You love to shop with other people
29. You are kind and attentive to my parents
30. You are willing to do yucky things if it will help me feel better
31. You leave the window open at night because I like the fresh air, even if it means you have to sleep with your jacket on

Thursday, November 22, 2007

their case is fuzzy and circumstantial

1. I am grateful for a Thanksgiving Day meal of grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum.

2. I am grateful for a warm coat.

3. I am grateful that we got to sleep in today.

4. I am grateful that Somebody always pays attention to what I have to say.

5. I am grateful for a house full of family and friends.

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day, The heart will find the pathway home."--Wilbur D. Nesbit

"Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in."
--Phillips Brooks

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

sometimes I'm even persnicketier

1. I am grateful that our long drive through the snow (snow! all day long it was snowing!) is over and that we arrived safely.

2. I am grateful for a new niece who is tiny and perfect and arrived just before we did.

3. I am grateful for the moment on my drive home from work yesterday when I knew, I just knew, that my Savior suffered and died for me, and that He lives again.

4. I am grateful for happy tears.

5. I am grateful for books on cd because they help to pass the time on road trips.

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving." -- H. U. Westermayer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

annoy, tiny blonde one. annoy like the wind

1. I am grateful for head phones so I can listen to music at work.

2. I am grateful for my wedding ring. Although I am also grateful for the happy marriage it represents, this is more about how I just like it, and how every time I look at it I think, "wow, I really like my wedding ring" and how it just seems to match me. Also, it is very sparkly.

3. I am grateful that I can fall asleep while Somebody reads in bed. I think we tried this arrangement at the beginning of our marriage and it didn't work out, and he was banished to the living room. But now I think it's working and I like that he is there when I fall asleep.

4. I am grateful for the long weekend coming up.

5. I am grateful for nieces and nephews, and that I'm going to have one more niece tomorrow.

"Thank God every day when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know." --Basil Carpenter

Monday, November 19, 2007

you need to go see the wizard. ask him for some guts.

1. I am grateful for mornings that are warm enough that I don't have to scrape ice off my car windows.

2. I am grateful for a vcr so that, even though I wasn't able to take time out last night to watch The Race, we can watch it tonight for FHE.

3. I am grateful for ward members who are willing to help me fulfill my calling.

"Find the good -- and praise it."--Alex Haley

"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people." --Sir John Templeton

Sunday, November 18, 2007

it's dessert for dinner tonight

1. I am grateful that I feel like this ward is "my" ward. I am so glad that I actually look forward to going and that I have made so many friends at church.

2. I am grateful for fleece blankets.

3. I am grateful for leftover birthday cake.

"There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind than gratitude. It is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance."
--Joseph Addison

Saturday, November 17, 2007

if you're asking me to the prom again, the answer's still "no"

1. I am grateful that Somebody and I enjoy being together in the kitchen. It is so nice to have two brains and four hands getting the work done.

2. I am grateful for yummy recipes that make staying in just as fun as going out to eat.

3. I am grateful for the laughter of my nieces and nephews.

"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say 'thank you?'"
--William A. Ward

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
--Thornton Wilder

Friday, November 16, 2007

i'm so impressed you fit a pony into my room

1. I am grateful for clothes that I feel pretty in.

2. I am grateful for my hair. I like it quite a bit, and it usually behaves. I'm getting it cut tonight. Short. And coloring it much darker. Although remember last time I said I was going to color it brown, and then I was all, "hey, look at my brown hair," and you were all, "um, it's still blond?" Whatever. I'm still grateful for my hair, and for the fact that I still have some.

3. Last night we read this scripture: "And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away." (1 Nephi 12:21) I am grateful that even though I could be one of the people that Nephi saw, a generation passing away in wars and rumors of wars, that I do not live in a place where the sights, sounds, and fear of war threaten me every day. I'm grateful that I feel safe enough to leave my house every day, to plan for a future that I have no doubt will happen, to have faith and hope and excitement for tomorrow. I'm grateful that people are passionate about defending freedom and are willing to dedicate their lives to keep me free and to preserve this way of life that I enjoy so much.

"Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present -- love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure -- the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth." --Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thursday, November 15, 2007

i believe cartoon birds braided your hair this morning

1. I am grateful for the hope of something better.

2. I am grateful for examples of good leadership, good management, and good character.

3. I am grateful for yummy new recipes.

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude."
--Denis Waitley

"Gratitude is of the very essence of worship. … When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives"
--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

murphy's cinnamon ice cream

I tried a few new ice cream recipes this summer (fruity, light, and fresh) and loved them, but we had packed the ice cream machine away for the winter. I mean, who makes, or eats, ice cream in the winter, right? Crazy people. And me. The idea of a cinnamon flavored ice cream, though, appealed to the "fall" side of me. Enter Murphys Ice Cream (I always knew I liked Ireland) and their request for bloggers to try their recipes and give feedback. Well, twist my arm.

The recipe:
MURPHYS CINNAMON ICE CREAM
Ingredients:
130g Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
220ml Cream
200ml Milk
1 Cinnamon Stick

What to do:
1. Put the cinnamon stick in a saucepan with the milk.
2. Bring the milk to a simmer.
3. Remove from the heat.
4. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow.
5. Remove the cinnamon stick from the milk.
6. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.
7. Pour the mixture back into pan, and place over low heat. If you want a strong cinnamon flavour, add the cinnamon stick back in.
8. Stir until the custard thickens (around 60C).
9. Remove the cinnamon stick.
10. Allow the custard to cool.
11. Whip the cream and fold into the custard.
12. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, then cover and place in the freezer.

Don't be afraid of the measurements being all metric. I used a very basic measuring cup and it had the metric measurements that gave me quantities close enough to accurate that everything turned out just fine. (Although, if you copy this recipe and send it to your mom for a grocery list, you might want to attempt to convert it so that she doesn't cry in the store.)

I followed the recipe exactly as written and opted to leave the cinnamon stick in longer for the stronger flavor. I thought it was the perfect amount of cinnamon flavor and would do it that was again. My only disappointment with using the cinnamon stick was that the color of the ice cream was an even vanilla--I would have liked some flecks or other indication that it was flavored.


My big complaint about your average homemade ice cream is that it a) coats your spoon and your throat in an unappetizing way, and b) has a funky, bitter aftertaste. This ice cream had neither. It is rich (from it's custard base) and creamy, but just tastes smooth--not artificial. We ate it over apple pie and everyone (all ten of us) loved it. A definite hit. I would make it again, to serve with pie, for sure. This is a great compliment to fall flavors.

Murphys Ice Cream

oh, right. that's a harp, and that's a dress

1. I am grateful that Joanne told me that The Amazing Race had started this season so that I could tune in to watch this week. Man, I love that show. Thanks, Joanne.

2. I am grateful for sunglasses.

3. I am grateful that I can read the general conference talks in the Ensign this month. I find much strength in the testimonies of the apostles and leaders of the church.

"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated."
--William James

"When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears."
--Anthony Robbines

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

book club and apple pies

One of the things I have enjoyed since moving here is joining the ward book club. This month was only my second month, and, of course, I had volunteered to host. As I was going over possible treats to serve, Somebody finally said, "You know, this isn't a baking competition." Oh, how wrong he was. A bunch of women from Church? This was nothing if not a baking competition. Because the store was out of fresh blueberries, I decided on apple pie and ice cream. I'm not really an apple pie fan, but I had stumbled across this recipe with this challenge. Who am I to turn down a request to test a recipe? I decided on the cinnamon ice cream because, well, it sounded the best, and took the suggestion of the recipe to pair it with apple pie. The recipe here is adapted from this recipe, but I opted to make little individual pies in a muffin tin instead of hand pies. I'd made the hand pies before and thought it was too much crust for the amount of filling, plus, the look I was going for here (rustic) made sealing the crust easy--I opted to not seal the crust. These recipes made the perfect amount of crust and filling for twelve muffin-size individual pies.
The crust:
Although I have a pie crust recipe that I consider to be the best in the world, I opted to try something new this time and opted for a cream cheese crust. It mixed up really quickly and turned out flaky, so it might be another option to use in the future.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons powered sugar

Blend the butter and cream cheese for 30 to 45 seconds on medium-low speed.

Sift the flours and confectioners' sugar into a medium-size mixing bowl. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture about 1/3 cup at a time, blending after each addition.

When the ingredients are combined, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently 3 or 4 times, and then form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours, until firm enough to roll.

After it had chilled, I rolled out the dough and cut it into circles big enough to fit inside the muffin cups (about four inches wide). I also cut out enough smaller circles (about two inches wide) for the tops.

The filling: (again, the original recipe is here, but below is what I used)
3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped up
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl, and whisk until combined. Combine with chopped apples. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Top with small dough circles. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon/sugar. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. Let rest for five minutes.

Top with cinnamon ice cream. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping. Enjoy.

Somebody had the one remaining leftover the next day and he said it was even better after the filling had time to sit and thicken.

Oh, and I totally rocked the baking competition.

the best way to spread christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear

1. I am grateful that even though I am a thousand miles away, I can still tune in and listen to the BYU devotional. I never thought I would miss those, but now I kind of do.

2. I am grateful for my sister-in-law, Miriam, who is celebrating her birthday today. Happy Birthday, Miriam!

3. I am grateful for the Pilot G-2 05. I could write checks all day with that pen.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." --Melody Beattie

Monday, November 12, 2007

rude and interesting are not the same things

1. I am grateful for couches that are comfortable to sleep on. They are long and wide, and sometimes seem more comfortable than the bed.

2. I am grateful that those I love are so patient with me.

3. I am grateful that I don't have to go to work today. Also, I'm grateful that I'm going to work late tomorrow because I have a couple of job interviews. Yeah!

"Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary."-- Margaret Cousins

Sunday, November 11, 2007

you've never seen me very upset

1. I am grateful for band-aids, because they cover up and protect injuries, like when you are washing the glass blender and it slips and smashes apart and the glass shards slice across your wrist. Using a band-aid makes it look just slightly less like you tried to kill yourself. But only slightly.

2. I am grateful for clear broth and jell-o.

3. I am grateful clocks. I really like knowing what time it is.

"Gratitude is a state of appreciation, an act of thanksgiving, which causes us to be humble because we recognize an act of kindness, service, or caring from someone else which lifts us and strengthens us." --Elder Robert D. Hales

Saturday, November 10, 2007

histories don't happen overnight

1. I am grateful that this morning Somebody asked me what I wanted for breakfast, because then I could hand him the recipe that Emily just sent me for the best pancakes ever. Ever.

2. I am grateful for Chex Mix Trail Mix, which is one of my very favorite snacks, and I'm grateful that Joanne packed it into our travel bag when we left Utah or I never would have discovered it.

3. I am grateful galoshes. I don't own any, but I like the idea of them. And I like pictures of kids wearing galoshes splashing in rain puddles.

"Of all the 'attitudes' we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing." --Zig Ziglar

Friday, November 09, 2007

fester, fester, fester. rot, rot, rot.

1. I am grateful that when I mentioned that I had forgotten to pack my blow dryer, curling iron, and hair brush, Somebody drove all the way back home just to get them for me. (And I'm sure he'll want you to know that I don't just "mention" things, that it's more like I whine and complain and moan. Whatever.)

2. I am grateful that my meetings ended early today so that I could have a few hours at home before our evening plans.

3. I am grateful for modern medicine, and for the hope that someone can tell me why some things hurt and how to make the hurting stop.

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." -- Buddha

Thursday, November 08, 2007

celebrating my birthday



i'm very pleased and scared to be here

1. I am grateful for people who are willing to help. I was racing to finish a project at work and three of my coworkers happily joined in so that I could finish in time. I know they were busy and could have filled the time with their own responsibilities, but I could never have finished on my own and so am grateful that they noticed and helped.

2. I am grateful people in the church who magnify their callings. I'm on a quest to find a job that makes me happy and I met with the ward employment specialist this week to get ideas on what I can be doing differently. He, with only one day's notice, came with multiple print-outs of resume samples, websites of local companies, interviewing ideas, and networking tips. He also spent an hour with me going over what exactly I was looking for and talking through places and people I can contact. And not once did he say, "You know, it might help if you stopped wearing a ponytail, because you certainly don't look professional."

3. I am grateful that my mom is also my friend. I am staying downtown in a hotel during work meetings and she was able to come and meet me for dinner tonight. Not that we don't have dinner together almost every night, but we are not usually alone and it was nice to be out together. I am so glad that we enjoy each other's company and that we are similar in so many ways.

"Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality."-Alfred Painter

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

this is not all there is

1. I am grateful for parking meters that have time left on them. The library here has a parking lot full of meters (Can you believe that? In the library parking lot? I KNOW!) and I found one today with time left on it. Hurray! But then, around the corner, I found another one right next to the sandwich shop with only 11 minutes left on it and thought I would make it back out in time. Nope. And, lucky me, a meter cop was right there to ticket me no more than two minutes after the meter expired. You can't win them all. But I'm still grateful for the first meter so that I could check out my book for free.

2. I am grateful for birthday coupons that get me Coldstone ice cream for free. Yum. Even though I got completely mixed up finding the place, and drove up and down one street for ten minutes before realizing it was on a completely different street. Still. Yummy ice cream makes a lot of things better. (For those of you from sunflower land, how could I confuse 23rd with Mass.? It's crazy! For those of you from Happy Valley, it would be like confusing Bulldog with University Ave. You know them both, and drive on them all the time, and then, when your ice cream depends on it, you mix them up.)

3. I am grateful for friends who are willing to ask me honest questions, and that the life experiences that I thought I went through for no good reason other than to cause me pain might actually come in handy in empathizing with those I love. So, two gratitudes there. First, for friends that have questions, and, second, for the experiences that gave me the answers.

"There is no better opportunity to receive more than to be thankful for what you already have. Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow your way."
--Jim Rohn

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

to have the things that mean the most

1. I am grateful for good music. One of my ward friends plays with the Kansas City Symphony and gave us tickets to attend the opera she was playing for last night. The music was lovely, the performers were amazingly talented, and we had a lovely time.
2. I am grateful that I feel loved all of the time.
3. I am grateful that most mornings my dad makes hot cereal for breakfast, because I love to eat it but I never schedule in enough time to actually make it.

"Seeds of discouragement will not grow in the thankful heart."
—Anonymous

"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable. Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration.
--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Monday, November 05, 2007

give you a little peace of mind

1. I am grateful for opportunities to serve in the church. They help me feel like I belong in the ward and give me a chance to meet people.
2. I am grateful that the nearest temple is only three hours away, and not ten hours like it used to be. It's still just slightly less convenient than having one ten minutes away, but still so worth it when we make the effort to go.
3. I am grateful for eternal families.

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some."
--Charles Dickens

Sunday, November 04, 2007

if the weather holds, we'll have missed the point

1. I am grateful for all five senses.
2. I am grateful that I live in a free country.
3. I am grateful the we have a stocked pantry at home, and that I never have to worry if we are going to have food to eat.

“For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.”
--Clarence E. Hodges

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
--Brian Tracy

Saturday, November 03, 2007

i'd like to know your fate

1. I am grateful for family traditions.
2. I am grateful Canadian accents. One of the guys doing our tech demos this week was from Canada and I loved listening to him talk. I'm grateful that we have accents in general, because it makes listening to people talk much more enjoyable. What if we all talked like people from Utah? Or Texas? Or Boston? Or Australia? Boring. We love to hear them because of the variety, right?
3. I am grateful for pretty jewelry, and for good people in my life who buy me pretty jewelry.

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
--Saint Ambrose

“Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love. We can live in thanksgiving daily by opening our arms to those around us. When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone who has always been there for you, someone who has sacrificed for you, someone whose heart has always been filled with hopes and dreams for you? When was the last time you unselfishly reached out to help another in need? Every time we cheer another’s heart, every time we ease another’s burden, every time we lift a weary hand, we show our gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are.”
--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

have not aged a bit



Friday, November 02, 2007

this is going to be suck

Birthdays are a big deal to me--specifically MY birthday. Some people don't want any attention, and don't want anyone to notice them, and don't really want to celebrate. Not me. Bring on the parties! Shower me with affection! Tell me how much you like me! I’ve been pretty bummed all week thinking about how quiet this birthday is going to be—no party, no lunch with the ladies, no balloons at the office, nothing. And then this morning I started feeling kind of sick on my way to work, and I had to leave my meeting this morning because I started throwing up. Good times. Thankfully, my boss came out to my desk right after and asked if everything was okay, and when I told her that I wasn’t feeling well and that I was throwing up, she felt my forehead and said, “well, you don’t have a fever, so you aren’t contagious, so you can stay at your desk and get your work done.” Really? Thanks for that. This is my new favorite way to spend the day before my birthday. Seriously. This is going to be suck.

i'm smart and i know it

As KP knows, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

At her suggestion, I took this fun color quiz and found out I am pale turquoise #AFEEEE

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is low - You stay out of stressful situations and advise others to do the same. You may not be the go-to person when something really needs done, but you know never to blow things out of proportion.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.

Try the quiz... I'd love to hear what color you are!

a billion stars for my witness

1. I am grateful that my commute, while 40 minutes long, is down a winding, country highway, and that the scenery is green and beautiful.
2. I am grateful for ice water. It is new to me to work in an office where everyone except me drinks coffee (gallons of coffee), and then lots of soda, and then, at work socials, alcohol, and sometimes it is really lonely to sit in the lame section where they place me. And yet, I LOVE ice water, and am happy to drink it all the time.
3. I am grateful for fruity Halloween candy.

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."--Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thursday, November 01, 2007

illusions of a brand new start

Two stories and a list from the workplace.

1. One of our association members uses both her maiden name and her married name—Elizabeth Snoddy Samuels. She is actually not just a member; she sits on the board of directors, and will be the president of the association in 2009. She is the chair of several committees and is very well known in the professional world. Today my boss sent an email to the CEO of another professional organization, and it began with, “I was talking to Elizabeth Snotty Samuels today…” This from the woman who once said to me, “We only do A+ work here, Jennifer. If your work isn’t perfect, it’s not good enough.” Right. Perfection. That’s what we’re going for. How about let’s start with spelling?

2. The guy who came to do our tech demos today was great. He was smart and funny and was, um, a fashion forward tech-y. And I was sitting there, interested for the first time, confused about why I was so happy listening to this guy, and then realized that he was quite a bit like a geeky Richard. You guys know what I’m talking about? It was Richard! Doing my demo! It was awesome. I wanted to take him home in my pocket so that he could have dinner with me and Somebody.

Things that smell bad
1. Coffee grounds
2. The candle in her office. Strangely, it’s scent is “Magic Fairy.” What? A more accurate name would be “Dead Fairy.”
3. Cigar smoke, like the kind the guy from the office next door smokes outside our door every day during lunch. Yuck.

defying gravity

Okay, are you guys watching Ugly Betty and getting goosebumps every time they show scenes from Wicked, or play the songs? Oh my gosh, I need to go see that play again. Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go.

attitude of gratitude 2007

Well folks, the trees are changing colors, the days are getting shorter, and you can just smell autumn in the air (also, if you live where I do, you woke up this morning to a thick layer of frost on everything--like winter is trying to sneak in early.) It's time for jackets and pumpkins and the November Attitude of Gratitude Challenge. Participation is completely voluntary. For those of you who have not played before, the challenge is outlined below.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: Each day during the month of November you will list three "things" for which you are grateful.

Definition of "things"- the term "things" is used here to encompass a myriad of stuff including, but not limited to: a certain set of circumstances, an event, an inanimate object distinguished from a living being, possessions or effects, a deed or act, a product of work or activity, an idea or notion, a piece of news or information, a person, a memory, anything that makes you smile. *

The challenge is to come up with three ORIGINAL "things" each day. Try not to repeat entries.

WARNING OF POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS!!
Please note that challenge participation may result in any or all of the following:
- you will be surprised at all the Lord has done for you
- angels will attend- you will feel help and comfort
- you may find yourself singing as the days go by
- your doubts will fly

To get you started, here is my list for today, November 1.
1. I am grateful free lunches provided by the office (even if I have to sit in seven-hour training sessions to get them.)
2. I am grateful for a reliable car that gets me safely to and from work every day.
3. I am grateful for nights when I fall asleep quickly.

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. -Margaret Cousins

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

testing my memory

Somebody and I were emailing back and forth today about the ingredients for dinner and whether or not we had them. After going through a few ingredients, we got to the water chestnuts.

Me: Do we have a can or two of water chestnuts?
Somebody: No.
Me: Really? Not in the pantry, immediately as you go in, on the right, the far, far right, the shelf above the cake mixes, in the back?
Somebody: Ok, you are right. We have those.
Me: Do you think I'm the smartest person ever?
Somebody: ...

Sometimes I scare even myself with my knowledge of the pantry.

Also, the recipe is for the best dinner in a pumpkin ever. You might have tried other recipes, but this one absolutely takes the cake. You are invited over to sample. Tomorrow. Seven o'clock. Costumes required. Homemade donuts available upon request.

the long weekend





pictures from denver--long overdue

My room. Surprizingly uncomfortable bed. Cool linens.The bathroom with the framed mirror Somebody wants.
I loved this bear. I have no idea what the sculpture was for, but it was awesome. Do you see how big it is?
The hotel had the most amazing light fixtures all over the place.
Great sculpture in the lobby.

this is the way it's done in kansas



Thursday, October 18, 2007

ch-ch-ch-changes

My life has gone through a lot of changes lately. I’m talking, of course, about new email addresses and a new phone. What? You thought I was referring to changing jobs, changing wards, changing states, changing homes, or changing friends? Silly you. Those things were no big deal. What is a big deal is trying to get family and friends to start writing me at a new email address. Sheesh. You'd think I was asking them to run around naked what with all the resistance I'm getting. Mostly it's along the lines of "Wha...? You have a new address?" or "Wait, which one am I supposed to be using?" Yeah, so I might have aided in the confusion, but now that I have it all sorted out I just wish everyone else would catch up. I might have emailed everyone right after we moved and given them all a few choices of email addresses. But then. Then, Internet, I found out that my old work address wasn't going to be functioning much longer--in fact I can't send messages from that account anymore. And if that wasn't enough, my new work address, the one I had just received and was so excited about, is not to be used for personal messages. Oh, it's not that they ban them or anything. It's that they READ them. Oh, yeah, you read that right. Someone has the job of going through all email messages and searching the content for...um...the secret recipe for Bush’s baked beans? Racy pictures? High treason against the crown? What? I have no idea. But just knowing that they are being read is enough to make me steer everyone I know away.

It's true. I talk smack about my employer. I do it all the time, sometimes multiple times a day. And because some of the friends I vent to are thousands of miles and a few states away, I have to send said rants via email. You think I want the powers that be to get a hold of one of those messages? Or see a response that refers in any way to me not being perfectly happy at work? Heck no. Anyway, in the interest of self-preservation I've created a gmail account (Oh, sweet google, you are taking over my life. You manage my email, blog, calendar, and photos. You could erase my identity if you wanted to.) Trouble is, I already had a gmail account, but with my maiden name. And because I'm putting my email address on my resumes and cover letters (you think I want to stay with this email-reading company?) I need something that has my current name. And that is how I ended up with seven email addresses.

Okay, so I set up the new account. But now I'm all frustrated and busy learning how email with the new program works. See, it's not the same. I like the same. And it's taking me a while to learn the quirks of the program and see all the happiness it offers.

And then there is the phone. Oh, the new phone! It is so small. And pretty. And soft. But different. It's so different. There is no handy tip calculator. There is no record-your-neice-singing-and-then-save-it-as-your-ringtone. There is no removing the pictures. It also does this weird thing where, when someone calls, the caller ID alternates between flashing the caller's name and Verizon!. At first we thought this was a handy feature identifying the carrier of the caller (you know, in case I was low on minutes.) How nice would that be! But, alas, it is just Verizon asserting it's influence. Dude, I already picked you as a carrier--you can stop wooing me with your logo and commercials. Yeah, so the adjustment has been hard. Also, this phone doesn't have a plug for an ear piece. It's all fancy and has Bluetooth only, which sucks because I have no such fancy, expensive do-dad and talk a lot while I'm driving. My life is so hard.

Changes. I'm not good at adjusting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

take a look, it's in a book

For the first time in my professional career I find myself without friends to have lunch with. This is bad because I like friends. It's good though, because I'm not as tempted to go out to lunch (oh, the money I save when I bring my lunch!) and because I have an hour each day to read. I love reading and have always wished I could find more time to devote to pure pleasure reading. Here are the books* I've been able to read the past couple of months, kind of, sort of, vaguely in the order that I liked them.

A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

Peter and the Star Catchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck

The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush, by Ann Gerhart

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Eclipse, by Stephanie Meyer

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting Rich in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser

The Innocent, by Harlan Coben

What Do You Do All Day, by Amy Scheibe

Why Do Men Have Nipples, by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle


And sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be read in the next week, are:

Peter and the Shadow Thieves, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver (which I am really excited about because I loved her book The Poisonwood Bible)

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread, by Kate DiCamlilo

Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon (I have actually started this one, but it keeps getting pushed aside so I can read other books.)


I would also like to say that I have discovered a love for the public library. In Orem, we really only went to the library to get books on cd, and even this I never felt comfortable there and didn't enjoy the time we spent there. The library here is completely different. It's tiny, first off. Sometimes I think I could just fold it up and take it home in my pocket, it's that small. What do you expect, though, from a city as small as the one I live in? Anyway, the beauty of this library is that they have everything I go there for. And what they don't have? They run out and get it for me. Then they email me to tell me that they have it waiting there for me. Oh, the joy. I never knew reading all the books I ever wanted could be this easy.



*You might notice that most of these are recommendations from the amazing Janssen. Some day I'll read as fast as she does and be able to recommend good books to her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

original air date: tuesday, september 25

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but forgot to post it and then forgot I wrote it. Eh. So, here you go. It's like a trip back in time. For free.

  • I stopped at a local bakery this morning to buy a treat for one of my co-workers. She is the girl at work that I like the best, and the only one that I would actually miss if I could ever stop working here. Anyway, her birthday is tomorrow so I stopped at what I know is her favorite bakery. Unfortunately, I had no idea what she actually liked there. I finally settled on an apricot scone because, well, I thought it looked yummy. It is. Not that I started eating it when I started feeling silly for stopping and because I didn’t know how to say “happy early birthday” and because I need some comfort after being lectured as if I was an idiot by my boss. Nope. I’m sure she’ll like the bite I saved her.
  • Rainy days make me want to listen to the Weepies. Luckily, this morning I could. I had to turn the volume way up to hear the music over the loud, hard rain, thunder, and lightning cracks. But don’t worry, because I sang my way to sunshine.
  • My dad says I have a problem with my job because I have a master’s degree. He says that people with master’s degrees expect their ideas to be considered, and don’t like being told what to do, and want to have final control over things. But doesn’t everyone want that?
  • Somebody and I gave talks in church this past Sunday. For some reason it was a difficult talk for me to write, and even after hours of reading and preparation, I still was at a loss for the best way to structure things and say things. It was getting late on Saturday night and I was frustrated with how things were (or, more accurately, weren’t) going, and my back was sore, and my other sores were sore, and I was tired, and I went to iron my new shirt. My mom’s iron kind of sucks and has a tendency to not only not remove wrinkles, but also to drop dirty water on clothing. And those water spots were the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I lost all patience and threw my shirt on the floor and then went down to my room to cry. After a few minutes of that I decided to find my iron in the boxes of our stuff in the storage room. The box with the iron was conveniently located at the back of the stack, underneath several other boxes. It was probably really good for my back that I was lifting those boxes around. Anyway, when I went back to ironing with my own iron my mom came in and asked if I was mad at her. Um, no, I’m mad at an inanimate object. How lame am I? And then, when I was done, I came down to my room and just got in bed and cried. It was just one of those times when even though I knew I was acting like a complete idiot, and even though I knew I was taking out my frustrations on those I loved, and even though I had things to do, I just needed to be upset and cry for a little bit. Nothing else was going to make me feel better.
  • I never got back out of bed but got up early Sunday morning to finish the talk. Not surprisingly, a good rest made a boatload of difference in my attitude and I was in a much better spirit for talk-writing. I pretty much rewrote everything that morning but actually felt really good about things. I felt much more like I was saying things I was supposed to say as opposed to things that I wanted to say so that I would be sound impressive and people would like me. And, wouldn’t you know it, people decided they liked me anyway.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

moments

I am curled up by his side; his arm is beneath my head and I am snuggled close to him. I know I can’t actually sleep deeply in this position, but I can’t pass up a chance to lie close and be quiet together. I drift in and out of the edges of sleep. At some point in the night I wake up and know by his breathing that he is asleep. I turn to switch positions and, without waking, he reaches out and pulls me closer.

I am home.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

i'm more the way i used to be now than i was when i used to be the way that i am

I used to be afraid of…being alone. Now I enjoy the times when I am on my own, but that might be because I am so aware that even when I’m in a room by myself I am never alone.

I used to hate…eating yogurt. I even had coworkers open the container and mix it up for me because having to do that was so revolting that then I wouldn’t be able to eat the yogurt at all. Then, this summer, I discovered fresh blueberries and Activa vanilla yogurt. Now it is the highlight of my lunch.

I used to refuse to eat…beets. Then I discovered them looking all fancy at a salad bar and gave them another shot. They aren’t so bad. And then I went to dinner at my friend Ann’s house, and she made the yummiest beets that didn’t even need salad dressing to help them out. Yum. And now I will eat them whenever they are served.

I used to dream of…being chased through a corn field by people who wanted to kill me. I haven’t had that dream in years, but it was so terrifying, and so common in my youth, that I can still remember it vividly.

I used to be friends with…some of my former roommates. But living with me didn’t turn out to be the non-stop party that they thought it would be and things ended badly. I wish that I could go back and behave differently, and make more of an effort to be nice all the time, but I can’t. And, unfortunately, those people will never come back into my life, and I will never be able to tell them how sorry I am.

I used to get angry when…Somebody didn’t follow my strict rules of where things go in the bathroom. It would annoy me when his toothbrush was on the wrong side of the sink, or he didn’t put the gel away, or for any number of tiny details that I get uptight about. And then I heard a talk at a stake conference and the women was talking about a very similar situation in her house where her husband would leave things out and she would get angry at him every day for it. Basically her resolution was, “Do I want this annoyance to go away so badly that I want him to go away?” And the answer, obviously, is no. No, if having a clean countertop meant that Somebody wasn’t in my life, then I want a dirty countertop every day. Thinking that has made a big difference and has released me from my bad habit of wishing he would just change the way he did things. Now I am much more likely to just notice an out of place item and smile and be glad that he is there to mess up the bathroom.

I used to believe…that the opinion of others mattered. And then I graduated from high school. Now I know better than to try to hide who I am to fit in and be accepted by others. And besides, I think we all know now that high school doesn’t mean anything at all.

I used to avoid…taking out the trash. It is one of my least favorite jobs. I would always beg my roommates to take it out. One time, at a charity auction, I even bought the service of someone coming to my house for a week to take out the trash. Then I lived on my own for a while and was forced to take out the trash because there was no one else to do it. And then I got married and I was able to pass that chore along to someone else again. So now it’s not so much that I avoid it, it’s more of a trade-off in responsibilities. He takes out the trash, and washes the dishes, and cleans the floors, and I make yummy dinners and give him lots of kisses.

I used to think love was…all about making the other person happy, even if it meant not being true to who I was and what I wanted. It meant insecurity, doubt, and games. Now I know that love is all about security and trust. And doing things to please the other person comes naturally because you know what makes them happy, and seeing them happy makes you happier than you could make yourself without them.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the mama, the mama! tradition!

I've been reading on various blogs today about calling out the lurkers, and I feel a little guilty because if lurking means "check every day and read every post but really don't know quite who you are because I found your website from following a link on a friend's blog, and I never comment because I don't have anything to say other than 'I find you fascinating and are you sure you're not creeped out by strangers reading about you?'" then, yes, I lurk. Multiple times a day. It's an addiction, really.

So, I've been writing this blog, sometimes more regularly than other times, for about a year and a half. And if statcounter can be trusted, which I thought it could, I get approximately zero readers each day. None. Nada. Zilch. No one is lurking around. Is it because I'm inconsistent? Oh. It's that that I don't have an original layout or design? You hate that I use a plain template? What can I say? I like vanilla.

Is statcounter wrong? Please, tell me he is wrong. Because if he is correct, the life of this blog is going to be pretty short.

A question to spur a comment:
What is one tradition that you loved as a child that you will absolutely pass on with your own children? (Even though we mostly associate traditions with Christmas, it does not have to be Christmas related. Maybe it's something you always did for birthdays, or other holidays, or the start of school, or other special days.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

come on, lucky number five

Jansseb tagged me. Good for her. Sometimes I need help with things to say.

What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago: Wow. Ten years ago? Let’s see, it was 1997, so I was at BYU and had just finished my first summer work for Sports & Dance camps (who knew how that would stick with me.) I also had just changed my major from Elementary Education to Recreation Management, one of the best choices I’ve made. I switch from Elementary Education for three reasons. First, my roommate and good friend Melissa told me that she would never let me teach her children because I was sure to warp young minds. Second, the El Ed program kind of sucked, and they were constantly changing their minds about what courses were required and what classes they would count. Third, I had just discovered my love of conference planning, a career that I previously did not even know existed.

What Was I Doing 5 Years Ago: 2002? Good grief. Well, I was in the middle of my masters program at BYU, and was working full-time, not for Sports & Dance camps. I could be wrong, but I think that summer was one of the best summers of my college days—it seemed like there was always something going on and always someone to hang out with. Oh. The Committee. Good times.

One Year Ago: I was newly married and not sleeping at all. All those movies that show people snuggling up together to sleep, and waking up in each other’s arms, well, they are lies. I would wake up every time Somebody shifted, or moved, or reached over and touched me in the night. And while I thought that it was just the sweetest thing to have him reach out for me in the night, it woke me up each and every time. I don’t think I slept for more than 20 minutes at a time for the first five months we were married. And then I only got to sleep after I implemented a “don’t touch me” rule. Yeah. That’s always a good one. It sounds so loving, doesn’t it? But, seriously. Totally necessary.

Yesterday: I slept in a little, and then got on a plane and came to Denver. I’m here all week for business meetings. I’m in one right now, actually, on a break. I’ll be posting this later in the day. Um, back to yesterday. After arriving in Denver we checked into a really nice hotel with a surprisingly uncomfortable bed. We prepped for our meetings all afternoon, went to a freakishly expensive (yet disappointingly unappetizing) dinner. Then I talked to Somebody on the phone and missed him terribly. Then I tried to sleep in the tiny expanse of the king bed.

Five Snacks I Enjoy:
1. Trail mix
2. Grapes
3. Jelly beans/gummi bears
4. Pita chips
5. M&Ms

Five Things I Would Do With One Million Dollars:
1. Pay off all our debt
2. Buy a house, and possibly a new car
3. Take my family on a trip (probably a cruise)
4. Go to Europe with Somebody. And Africa. And back to Asia.
5. Invest the majority of it. I’m no sucker.

Five Places I Would Love To Run (Away) To:
1. Boston
2. Switzerland
3. Montana
4. Seattle (I’ve never been, and I hear it is fabulous)
5. Park City

Five TV Shows I Like:
1. Ugly Betty
2. Grey’s Anatomy
3. The Office
4. The Closer
5. The Amazing Race

Five Things I Hate Doing:
1. Cleaning the floors
2. Driving in traffic/looking for parking spaces
3. Washing dishes
4. Walking outside barefoot. I find it especially disgusting on cement, and my least favorite place to be barefoot is at a water park.
5. Snapping back a harsh response without thinking things through

Five Biggest Joys Of The Moment:
1. Talking to Somebody on the phone
2. Making new friends in our ward
3. New babies for several of my friends (Ginet, Melissa, and McKenzi)
4. A nice hotel room
5. Knowing the outfit I’m wearing looks professional. Also, I’m glad that I did not take the advice of my boss and did wear my peek-toe heels, because they are hot.

And a new last question: Five Ridiculous Things I Am Fanatical About:
1. I will only use Colgate toothpaste because it cures canker sores. I will never use another brand.
2. I can’t not return my shopping carts to either the store or the designated return spots. I just can’t walk away.
3. I have routines, and I like order. I do things in the same sequence every day, and get really thrown off and frustrated when something happens that interferes with my routine. One day a few months ago, Someday saw me pick up the hand towel that hung on the left (we have two hand towels that hang side-by-side.) He stopped what he was doing and said, “I thought that was my towel.” “What?” “Well, I thought that you had assigned us towels, and I’m always careful to use the left towel because I thought the right towel was yours and you would be annoyed if I used it.” He was wrong about me assigning us towels, but had I assigned towels, which, he’s right, is something I would totally do, he was also right about the fact that I would have been annoyed if he wasn’t following my secret order of things. I’m fun to live with.
4. I must always be able to see a clock. I get very anxious when I don’t know what time it is. I have been known to put upwards of four clocks in a room so that I can see one no matter which direction I am facing.
5. If a salesperson talks to me in a store then I have to leave that store.

Did I say last? Five Things I Have Always Wanted to Vent About:
1. Movies are not for babies. Sometimes they are not even for children. And you, you person with the baby, should leave the theater immediately if your child starts to make noise. I don’t care if you’ll miss parts of the movie. Get a babysitter. If you can’t afford a babysitter then you need to wait and rent your movies and watch them at home.
2. The expression, in case you were wondering, is “I could not care less.” Oh, how it bothers me when people say, “I could care less.” And every time I hear it I want to ask, “Just how much less do you think you could care?” Come on now, get it right or don’t use the expression.
3. People who are late should not expect people who are on time to save their seat, pick up their items, or otherwise take care of them. If you want good things, be on time. If your time is more important than everyone else’s time, well, that’s just rude, and you deserve to sit on the front row of the movie theater.
4. How do so many stupid people have jobs? Shouldn’t they have been weeded out of the work force at some point? But no, they get promoted to managers and CEOs. I don’t understand it. And why do I keep getting these people as my boss? It’s SO frustrating, and poor Somebody hears daily how much this annoys me.
5. There is no good reason, not even one, to answer your phone while rushing out of the middle of a church meeting. Not. Even. One. You shouldn’t even have your phone on while at church. Are you a doctor? Because they have pagers. Also, women should not wear men’s hats, shirts, or ties to church. It’s just wrong. And there should be some rule about how shoes are required.

Jansseb, you should probably provide your own answers to the two new questions.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

better than never

Many events have kept us busy this past six weeks, with most of them involving eating dinner, watching tv, and going to bed. Yeah. We’re bundles of fun. Being in the Sunflower State has put a serious kink in our social life. Things aren’t helped by the fact that I work all day (and I fiddle when I can) and have a 45 minute commute. I get home just in time to kiss Somebody goodbye (Sometimes. Sometimes he leaves before I get home) on his way out the door to his evening classes. Bummer, right? We have opposite schedules, we live with my parents, we don’t know how to make friends, and, yet, somehow, we have very little to complain about.

Late Story #1
I got a henna tattoo. While I remain opposed to the kind of tattoos that are permanent, I have always been curious about the henna tattoo. Not only are the designs so intricate and beautiful, but the fact that it is temporary made it very appealing. Still, I couldn’t get past the price, and I’m way too lazy to actually seek out someone who could do them. When henna tattoos were offered for free at my mom’s work party, I figured it was worth standing in line for 20 minutes. Once I decided to stand in line, the big debate began. Should I really do it? What design should I get? Where should I get it? Considering that I was at a college campus, and fully clothed, my “where to get it” options were pretty much limited to my hands and arms. But what design? And how big? Oh, the drama. Poor Somebody probably wanted to smack me before we got to the front of the line. And then, surprisingly, the women didn’t even ask what I wanted. I held my hand out and she just started painting. Surprise!
I liked having this for about 24 hours. After that, it was just annoying to see every time I moved my hand. Also, it smelled like mystic tan. And I kept thinking my hand was dirty, when it was really my soul that was dirty. Ha ha. Just kidding. I’m glad I did it so that now I can stop wondering what it would be like, but I don’t need to do it again.

Late Story #2
We spent Labor Day weekend up in Iowa at my sister’s house. She is a good mom, and a good wife, and a good cook, so there was no way that we weren’t going to have a good time. But then Somebody got sick and spent every minute there dieing on the couch. And then my back started hurting, which made being alive really painful. It was sad to have to leave early, but we did, and that ended up being a good choice because the day we returned I had back pain like I haven’t had since that one time when the ambulance guys couldn’t put in an IV. I was at home for a full week, and while pony-tails and pajamas are super fun, I am happy to be up and walking and able to leave the house. But while we were there I think I finally became friend’s with my sister’s children. And this cute little one? She thinks that Somebody and I are both “DEN!” When my sister told her to give this cup to “DEN!” She walked right to Somebody. And when asked, she calls us the same thing. Okay there is a slight difference. I’m “DEN!” and he is “den?” Good times.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i never knew anyone who stayed on a rope like a puppydog

I had stopped for bagels at Einstein that morning. Standing in line, waiting to pay, I overheard the two employees talking about a little Cessna, or some other small plane, that had accidentally been flown into a building in NYC. What? That was just about the oddest information I had ever heard. When I got into the car, I turned the radio to a new station and heard more information about the accident and the people trapped in the building. Even then, before I knew what would happen later that day, I started crying.

When I arrived a work, everyone was talking about this small plane, and the damage to the building, and how surprising it all was. It wasn’t too long before we were all huddled in the conference room, watching the news unfold, seeing that it wasn’t a small plane, and it wasn’t an accident, and that the damage and death was only going to get worse.

We sat there all day, in silence except for the news announcers.

When I got home, my roommates and I spent the evening glued to the television, waiting for someone to give us an explanation, or make sense of it all. No answers came. No end to the footage of fire, smoke, bodies, and destruction.

I have never been so emotionally involved in a news event. I had never before, and have never since, spent so much time watching the news. Because I had never been to NYC, the events seemed almost unreal, almost like I was watching a movie. For Somebody, who was in NYC at the time, the events are real, and the emotions surrounding that day are still so raw that it is almost painful to watch even now.

I had heard people talk about hearing life-changing news. They would say, “I still remember where I was when I heard that JFK had been shot.” Or, “I’ll never forget the moment I heard that…” I had never had an experience like that until September 11, 2001. And now I will never forget the exact spot where I was standing, in front of the freshly-squeezed orange juice at the bagel shop, when I first heard the news about the terrorist attacks in New York City. Even though at the time I didn’t know everything that would unfold, or how those events would shape so much of how we live life “securely” today, that moment is forever frozen in my mind, and my heart aches for those people and families who lost loved ones that morning.

We are different now. I no longer feel invincible. I have had a glimpse of what it would be like to have war in my own country, and I don’t like it. I fear for my future and the future of my family and children. I worry about what the world will be like for them, and if they will feel safe. Isn’t that what we all want in the end? To feel safe? Loved? Cared for?

In memory of those who lost their lives, and those who stood as heroes during the 9/11 attacks, http://www.mygooddeed.org/ is helping people to build something good. Take a moment, and make a commitment that for every thought of fear or sorrow you will do a good deed. Change the world around one you smile, one favor, one step at a time. We can’t prevent unpleasant events, and we can’t control the actions of others, but we can do our part to ensure that those around us feel cared for. And loved. And safe.

Monday, September 10, 2007

apparently, i'm it

I have been tagged by the lovely Becca.

Four Jobs I’ve had:
1. Operations Assistant, my current job, which might cause my death to be listed as “boredom.”
2. At BYU: Program Administrator, where I didn’t know how good I had it; Program Assistant, where I had the best boss in the world; and Program Coordinator, where I spent most of the summer telling people I didn’t work for EFY
3. Receptionist at Joda & Friends, the best hair salon in Lawrence
4. Cold caller at American Family Insurance. Yeah. That was a short stint.

Four Places I’ve lived:
1. Kansas
2. Utah
3. California
4. Germany

Four Favorite TV Shows:
1. Grey’s Anatomy
2. Ugly Betty
3. So You Think You Can Dance
4. The Closer

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Tapioca pudding
2. Mussels in coconut curry sauce
3. BYU Coconut Macaroons
4. Breakfast

Four Web sites I visit:
1. Lots of blogs
2. Bank sites, because I’m obsessed with tracking our finances
3. www.allrecipes.com
4. www.IMDB.com

Four Places I’d rather be right now:
1. Utah
2. In bed
3. Reading a book on the balcony of a 5 star hotel overlooking the ocean
4. At the Washington School Inn with Somebody

Four Movies I love:
1. French Kiss
2. Sliding Doors
3. A Few Good Men
4. Moulin Rouge (although I don’t recommend that YOU watch it)

Four places I've been on vacation:
1. Boston
2. China
3. Montana
4. New York City

Four places I like to shop:
1. Target
2. Costco
3. JCPenney
4. IKEA

Thursday, August 23, 2007

it's just the way that you love me

While organizing our boxes in a storage room in my parents' basement, my dad encouraged me to go through the seven boxes that I had been storing at their house since high school. I was shocked that I had been kicked out of the Single People Who Store Their High School Junk With Their Parents club, but was actually a little excited about what I might find.


In Box One:You know you are jealous. That collection includes Belinda Carlisle! Tiffany! Wilson Phillips (back when one of them looked like a boy)! And my favorite, listened to every day, knew all the words to, Paula Abdul, back before she went insane. You remember that video that she had with the cartoon cat? Opposites Attract? Oh, Paula. Cats are not our opposites. They are an entirely different species that we don't get attracted to. And thus began her spiral into insanity. Man, I loved that tape collection. And then I threw it away, because, well, I don't have a tape player anymore.


In Box Two:
You're impressed, right? Fine wood? Fine workmanship? Yeah. I pulled craft after craft, drawing after painting, ceramic pot after wooden box out of Box Two. Every single item I held up with pride for Somebody to ohhh and ahhh over. He was all busy eating a carrot stick and mostly just stared at me like I wasn't forever his girl. And after the ninth or so item, he finally said, "You should stop showing those to me, because you are not going to get the response you want." Well, shut right up. You think I wasn't looking for eye rolling and gestures toward the garbage can? Hello, someone in this room doesn't appreciate fine high school craftsmanship. I responded with something like, "Straight up now, tell me, you think I have mad skills, don't you?" But he just stared at me blankly and then left the room. Cold hearted snake. But you think I have mad skills, right? Because I made those! I designed those boxes, picked that wood, cut it, sanded it (oh my gosh, I have horrible memories of sanding that wood for weeks), glued it, polished it, and then put it in a box for 12 years. I think maybe Somebody spent too much time studying in high school and not enough time in ceramics, wood shop, jewelry making, painting, and textiles. Poor kid. He can’t recognize a master when he sees one. He could promise the moon and the stars above, and even if he promised me the world, I just can’t throw it all away.

Oh, yeah, there were other boxes. Books. Photo albums. Toys. I purged a lot of it and ended up with only three boxes of stuff. That’s right. More than a 50% reduction. You don’t believe me? Look in to my eyes. Oh oh. I’m not telling lies.