Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas recipe

Before giving you this delicious Christmas cookie recipe I thought I'd divulge my naughtiest Christmas memory ever. I've always been an impatient girl. I couldn't STAND waiting to find out what we were getting for Christmas. I often went on gift hunting expeditions in my parents room. I'd look under their bed (found some nail polish there once), and their closet. It's no wonder I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa. I probably found my Santa gift before Christmas. Anyway, once when I was young (not super young, mind you. I think it was in Jr. High) I was extra naughty. When everyone was gone for an evening (Nathan may have been an accomplice, I'm not sure if we did this together or if I was alone), I very carefully unwrapped one of my presents. It was a Mickey Mouse watch! Something I really wanted. I carefully wrapped it up again so no one would know. I put it back under the tree and was very surprised and excited on Christmas morning when I opened it.

I've gotten much better since then. We have a Christmas box of presents from my in-laws sitting half opened in our house and I haven't so much as peeked at it. We began opening it when it arrived since it was from NY. When we got it partially opened, we realized it was their gifts and we stopped. It's too big to really take with us to Snowflake so we'll open it here on Thursday night since we're leaving Friday. Patience is a virtue I'm finally beginning to get.

Onto the recipe. I made these last night. Oh man are they good. is one of my favorite places to find good food.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
Submitted by: Amy Sacha
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 640 members Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes Ready In: 50 Minutes
Yields: 24 cookies
"These are just what they say: big, soft, gingerbread cookies. They stay soft, too. My oldest son's favorite."

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. (this dough is not for rolling out or cutting into shapes. it is perfect if you follow the directions. )
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

The svithe I haven't written

It's been ages since I've written a good ol' svithe. It's kind of hard to want to do anything after church on Sundays since we don't get home until 6 pm and it's already dark. So I'm writing it on Monday when I didn't really get home until about 8:30 pm because of Christmas bustling and last minute visiting teaching (3 appointments).

This morning a co-worker and I were talking about the HR assistant position we both applied for. She told me that though there was only one opening right now that there would be another opening soon for the same position. We thought it would be fun if we both ended up filling those jobs since we enjoy working together. She then said, "We should both pray about it."

I like that she said that.

It's nice to live somewhere where people of two different faiths can pray about a common goal regarding work. We've talked quite a bit (for the little time I've worked there) about God and miracles and faith. She has such a great spirit about her and she has such a strong faith.

My supervisor talked to me today about the HR assistant position. She had me send the hiring HR coordinator an email telling her to call for a reference. I did, she did, and my supervisor gave me a glowing review. She said that the HR was impressed with what she had to say about me, and that she was going to talk with the hiring board about me. I feel good to know that someone who just met me a month ago is willing to stick her neck out for me because she sees some potential.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Out with the old and in with the new

I decided to finally take the plunge and switch to the new beta blogger thingy. We'll see how this goes...

Also, speaking of old, have any of you ever wondered why there are so many people still sporting horrendously non-flattering 80's style haircuts? Come on, you all know which hair cut I'm talking about. The poofed up, high bang/top, sprayed-so-heavily by aquanet-you'd-be-afraid-to-light-a-match- around-it hair.

I admit, I have lived through so pretty bad hair years myself. It was especially difficult trying to tame my curly hair when I didn't know was truly curly. I'm actually still trying to figure out what to do with hair in this humidity, but there are some hair styles (and clothes styles) that really shouldn't be resurrected regardless of location or time.

When we lived in UT we didn't see that hairstyle very often. There was, however, "UT hair" that Matt so detested (dyed blond with streak chunks with a bob cut that had the poof back), but that really doesn't rival some of the hair I've seen here.

In all honesty I can often take a good guess at why these people still do it. Some think they have a skinny face and want to give themselves a little more shape. It reminds some of their prime and what a fun time that was. It makes them feel a little younger though it often dates them and makes them look old. Or some people just have a hard time with change.

I often wonder if the same thing will happen to "my generation" 20 years from now with styles of "our day". If my peers will still be sporting the overly dyed (and eventually fried) hair accompanied by an orange leathery fake-and-bake tan.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Go to Girl

I've been at my new job now for 2 weeks. For those of you who didn't catch it, I'm working for the county as a temporary Property Tax helper. Tis the season for property taxes. I took this over a nanny position so I would still be available for the HR assistant position for which I've had two interviews and a test. I'll hopefully be hearing about that job shortly.

This is the first time in my life that I've worked an 8-5 job! I've been tired and I've had more headaches, but it's really nice to be busy and feel productive. My house is not as clean as it used to be, but such is life. At least I'll contribute to our bank account while I'm in a position to do so.

Apparently last year was a horrendous tax season. They started out behind and got backed up like crazy. This year is quite the opposite so far. I don't know why it's so different, but it is. We have about 10 temps helping process the influx of mail until mid-February. Right now we're getting enough mail for all of us to work until about 1:30. The majority of temps are then sent home.

I have thankfully been dubbed the official "go to girl." On my fourth day I was pulled aside by my supervisor; she told me they really liked me and were happy with my work and personality. They told me they needed someone to do miscellaneous jobs around the office to help out the full time people keep up with their work. She told me she wouldn't send me home early and would find work for me if I wanted it.

I'm happy about this for a couple of reasons.
1. I get a full 40 hours of work if I want it.
2. They like me! They really like me!
3. It gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of people and learn their jobs. I almost feel like a manager in training.
4. I'm hoping this will help with references later on.

I'm warming up to the job, and I really enjoy the people I work with. There's only one lady who's a little bitter that I've been getting to work full days. She's probably in her 70's and she will occasionally mutter things like, "I know they'll find things for you to do, but they won't find work for me." Sometimes I want to tell her, "Haven't you learned by now that life isn't fair?" But I can understand her frustration. That doesn't mean I'm volunteering to give up my "go to" status to her, however.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shark attack

Many childhood memories of my dad involve sports, ESPN 2 minute replays, etc. I'd have to say that baseball was one of the more watched sports at home. Though I enjoy watching people I know play sports, I never caught the sports fan bug that requires you to know and watch every game on the face of the planet (or TV).

Matt's never been too into sports and takes little to no pleasure watching mainstream games. We don't follow football, he detests soccer and baseball, and basketball is out of the question. HOWEVER, he quite enjoys ice hockey. More specifically San Jose Sharks hockey (the one sport my dad didn't follow!). His dad's a die-hard season ticket holder. At the beginning of the season we checked their playing schedule against the Dallas Stars here in town. No luck. All the games here were on Sunday. Or so we thought.

Raytheon periodically offers discounts for sporting events and other niceties. They had two Stars hockey games at half price for employees. One of them happened to be against the Sharks. On a blessed Monday. We bought those tickets up quickly. Some friends of ours in our ward (he also works for Raytheon) decided they wanted to go so we ended up carpoooling last night.

Matt wore his Sharks jersey. I was a little worried we'd get beat up or something, but I would have worn one too if we had two. As we hopped on a shuttle from our parking, I whispered to Matt, "How many death glares have you gotten?" He whispered back, "I'm not making eye contact."

As the bus filled up we ended up sitting behind our friends. Behind us we heard someone say loudly, "I'd sure be embarrassed to be sitting by a guy in a SHARKS jersey!" In front of us our friend (a very funny guy) yelled "KILL HIM!!" (referring to Matt) We were cracking up. I kind of knocked him and told him to be quiet. Some people next to us whispered, "I think they must be together..." No beat downs thankfully.

When we got to the stadium we were sneaking in two bottles of water since outside food/drink weren't allowed. I know, I know. I'm a bad girl. Slap me on the wrist. Matt took his and put it in his oversized pockets under his jacket. I tucked mine in my pants under my sweatshirt. I had no belt on, no jewelry on, no change in my pocket, etc. so I thought I'd be peachy going through the metal detector. Matt got through with no problems. No such luck for me. I set it off. They had to wand me. It kept going off over my button on my pants (and coincidentally right over my contraband water!). GREAT! I was going to be found out, and that would be SO embarrassing. My ticket accidentally fell (honest to goodness) as he asked me what I had there, so I bent down to grab it . I kind of turned, set the water on the ground behind me and stood back up. I totally thought he saw this whole thing. But they didn't say anything more and let me go. I picked up my water as others walked through the detector and went on my way. Whew! I don't know how that worked out!

The game was fairly boring the first two periods. The Stars scored one goal in the first period. No goals in the second. No fights. Nothing good. The third period was quite intense and we were all on the edge of our seats with excitement. The Sharks almost scored like 5 times in a row in the last few minutes but with now luck! So we walked away defeated. 1-0. But maybe it was for the good of our safety.

We're going to check again for other games we may have missed on days other than Saturday. I say, if you're going to watch a sport, Hockey is the best. Not much better than a contact sport with checking and fights. So much more interesting than...

Maybe I shouldn't finish that. I don't want to offend any of you fly fishers or bowlers out there...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's about the kids: Svithe

Every Sunday I have a little feeling of dread and some trepidation as I prepare for church. I teach the 4-5 year olds (CTR 5). Matt and I used to team teach until he was called into help with the Priests (16-18 year old boys). Then that left me. With the kids. All by myself. With the kids. You know, the kids that take the crazy pill before coming to church.

I've always been a lover of Relief Society and adult Sunday school, so I wasn't overly happy to receive this calling in the first place. But there was no way I was going to turn it down, especially since I know they have a hard time keeping primary teachers. It wasn't so bad when I had help, but now I generally feel quite frazzled by the end of the day.

Recently one of the other classes was having problems with two of their boys fighting, so they gave me one of them. I wasn't too happy since I already felt over extended by myself. And he had been a problem child in the other class. Great.

I was totally surprised to find that he actually listened to the lesson! He gives GOOD answers to my questions! It was amazing. He is now my star pupil and I rarely have to redirect him. (He does get off the topic sometimes with Scooby Do, but other than that he's great.)

He's really helped me take another look at my kids. I've been wrongly labeling them and dreading their idiosyncrasies. In my mind I had little categories for them:
  • The liar (seriously, she rarely says anything that's remotely true. at least it's so blatantly false that I don't have to decipher the truths from the lies "Yesterday my dad beat up these guys by my school. It was so cool." She also likes to bust out in the song "I like to move it move it" while shaking and slapping her toosh);
  • the ADHD child(best quote from him: I HATE church! It's sooooo long! And I'm always hungry!) he frequently runs around, hits people, turns the lights on and off, etc. He's super cute and I love him to death, but he has a very, very difficult time sitting quietly for 3 hours and staying on task;
  • the loud one (a total crack up when it comes to songs she knows. She sings so loudly that the kids around her have to cover their ears.) this one also is very disruptive when it comes to prayers (she's stolen another kid's shoes and hidden them during the prayer, she claps, she talks, and she pokes people during prayers);
  • the tattletale (more than once a week "teacher, she had her eyes open during the prayer!!" or "teacher she poked me". I'm pretty sure he has some ADHD tendencies as well. A couple of weeks he kept standing up and slapping his rear in the middle of class. I'm not sure why.);
  • the story teller (He's a pretty good kid, but he always has some off the wall tale to tell. "When I was a baby my brother threw up all over my mom and then I peed all over her." That was today's. Another classic from him when we were supposed to be drawing about sharing he drew the Incredible Hulk, his dad, and himself. They each had a head in their hand giving it to the next person. Wasn't quite sure what to make of that one...)
  • the quiet and head strong (She can't keep her shoes on to save her life. This drives her mom crazy. She'll listen and participate for the most part. I don't have too many problems with her.)
After my new child, the star, moved into our class I noticed how often I got frustrated over silly things with the other kids. So today I really made an effort to go in with a good attitude. It was a much better day, though I was missing my two rowdiest kids. I had to just remind myself that they're only 4-5! Even if they weren't that young, I was in desperate need of an attitude change. I could have put me in my own category: the judgmental one. Not good. Must change that. I'm really trying to think of them in terms of "child of God" as opposed to my other categories. I just need to love them.

So you're telling me there's a chance

At our Dr.'s appointment last week we found out that on our own, at very best, we have 10% chance per year of getting pregnant. That means I might have 1 kid by the time I'm 35 without medical help.

Good new is, there's one surgery we can try before in vitro that will actually be covered by insurance. That surgery has 2/3 of a chance of helping boost our pregnancy rate to a "normal" range. We wouldn't see the results of that surgery (i.e. the hoped for pregnancy) for almost a year, however, because of internal details that I don't quite understand. If this doesn't help, the next step would be the $20K (+), not covered by insurance, in vitro.

We won't be able to get into surgery until next year because it's totally booked up this last month with people who want to get on this year's deductible.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Welcome to the Real World and Happy Thanksgiving

It's been quite the week. I guess I owe you an explanation for my infrequent blogs.

Looking for a new car.

A new job.

A trip to the Dr.

Possible food poisoning. (Before Thanksgiving. Not because of it.)


So I've decided to make this one post in a series to catch up with the stories I should have told you. Since I've already related some of my car searching woes, I'll start with my job.


I arrived at the county tax office 10 min. early on Monday to make sure I knew where to go in the building. Upon entering, I asked the security guard if he knew where to find the woman who's name I'd been given as my contact. Annoyed, he told me he couldn't possibly know everyone that worked in the building. Great start. So I just sat in front of the tax office and waited until they opened, hoping that the woman I was supposed to meet was located there.

With my brown sack lunch in hand, I found where to go. Though my name wasn't on the list of temps. starting that day, they didn't seem phased and went on with the tour and orientation. There were 4 new people, including myself, to help with the surge of property tax season. Next Monday I think we acquire 4 more temps. We'll have over 250,000 pieces of mail to open and process this season. That many receipts to fold, stuff and sort. A bit on the dull side, but the women are all nice. I'm a spring chicken in the mail room. Of all the women there, the next youngest to me has 3 kids in High School. The oldest is probably in her 80's and is retired but works the tax season for extra travel money so she can go on road trips with one of her friends. Most of the ladies are in their 50's-60's and have been looking for full time work for about 1-1 1/2 years. The job pool here is pretty dry. And I thought Provo was bad.

I was in violation of the dress code 4 times over on my 3rd day there. I'd not seen their dress code, so I hadn't known I was a delinquent until my supervisor said, "Don't let Mr. Maun see you in those shoes..." (Some really cute brown suede shoes. I wouldn't consider them tennis shoes, but apparently they do.) After telling my friends in the mail room not to wear those shoes if they had any similar, they said, "Oh yeah. They're really picky here. Jan (another temp. that wasn't there that day) got jumped for wearing jeans one day and those crop pants another day. You can't wear either of those." My supervisor later brought around the official dress code, and after reading it I noticed I'd violated it not just once for the shoes, but also my pants (a nice dark brown cord--it has stitched on pockets that make them illegal), my shirt (technically it was a T-shirt, fitted though it may have been, it was of a cotton jersey blend and therefore illegal), my sweater (It was a very cute brown wintry looking sweater. But it had a zipper and a hood and was also illegal.) So, now I know it's more business than casual in the business-casual department. I'm going to have to go shopping. To work in a mail room. Where no one sees me but the ladies I work with.

Ah well. A good excuse to buy clothes and not feel guilty about it, right?

Now for the tips.

  1. When paying your property taxes, please send it in the envelope sent with your statement. Also include the statement stub. Without this we have to manually enter in your account information. With this we can just scan.
  2. Write your account number on your check's memo line. If you don't, I have to. If I miss it, I get in trouble for it.
  3. Write a check for the correct amount, both numerically and alpha-numerically. The bank technically goes by what you write out in long hand, not by the numbers you write in the box. So make sure those two numbers match. If not I have to put you in a problem pile with a sticky note on it. My boss hates stickies.
  4. We will send you a receipt after processing your payment. Please don't send us an envelope to send you a receipt. Unless it has pre-paid postage you won't be seeing that receipt any sooner than anyone else. Sending your own envelope may actually make it slower for you.
  5. Please don't post-date checks. It's illegal and we don't have to wait until the date written to deposit them. (I received a $5000+ check post-dated for Dec. 28!). There's no guarantee I'll even see that you've post-dated it because I'm going through a huge stack as quickly as possible. Since the date is no longer mandatory by banks, it's not on my check list of things to look for.
  6. If you have multiple accounts with multiple statement stubs, please include every single stub and a check for each stub. Unless you have a lot of stubs. Then you can do 1 check. But PLEASE make sure it's the correct amount when adding them all together.
  7. Lady, if your ex-husband's on the statement and you're the one having to pay it, please don't take it out on us if we send a receipt made out to both of you. I know you don't like the scumbag's name touching anything you do, but it's just a piece of paper. Don't freak out.
  8. It's handier if you send your payments in a long envelope rather than a short letter sized envelope.
I guess that's it. I hope this was helpful for any of you with property taxes coming up. Help your local mail room worker by following my advice.

Next episode: Dr.'s Appointment-a couple questions answered

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Strike One.

Before moving here I had multiple people tell me you could get used cars for dirt cheap in TX. I am here to tell you it is NOT TRUE! At least not for my area. I've been searching and searching for a second car that we can buy outright for under $2000. Everything I've seen in that price range is either not running, older than me, banged in a bit, or is a huge boat car you see people turn into a ghetto mobile.

We've really hoped to get a truck since it would be handy. One ad came up two days ago that peaked my interest. An '85 Ford Ranger. It looked decent (though Matt correctly pegged it as a "Mexican work truck." Not quite PC, but true nonetheless). It was pretty far away, but we had a Dr.'s appointment in Plano so I figured we could swing on over to Garland to at least take a look. It was only $1350, and Billy (the old guy who answered my phone inquiry) told me there were no problems with it at all. What did we have to lose but a bit of time and a little gas?

The meeting was doomed from the beginning. It was a ghetto little mechanic shop with a trailer as the "office". Chiko (the Mexican who was in charge of selling the truck) handed over the key; I took charge since I have more experience with a stick shift.

"Make sure you pump the gas before you start it. It's been having a problem with the fuel (blah blah...couldn't understand) sticking."

Oh Great.

I got in and started it up. It was old, that's for sure. As I sat there, one foot on the clutch and one foot on the brake, waiting to take it out for a little test drive, I could smell a smokey smell. Chiko came and tapped on the window, telling me to tap the gas a little. The fuel (blah blah) was stuck. I pulled it out on the street and it immediately stalled. A car started driving up and Matt was yelling at me that we were going to get hit. I had to restart the car. Luckily the car drove around us (not bothering to slow down much). I tried to pull into the turning lane until I could get it going well.

I try to go and it stalls again. I start it again and man handle it (no power steering) into the parking lot of the Taco Bell next door.

It stalls again. I get it out of the Taco Bell lot, back on the street, and it stalls again. I promptly start it and pull it back into the mechanic lot where it stalled one last time.

Now, one may first wonder if I just don't know how to drive a stick. I do. Not only did I drive a stick shift 2 years in High School, but during that time I taught plenty of friends, my brother and his friends how to drive as well.

And then there was The Sube. The only car I've actually owned on my own that was given to me by my sister, who had it gifted to her by my brother, who had inherited it when he married his wife, who's grandfather bought it used for her when she was in High School. It was a '79. Older than me. Good old stick shift that got me through 2 years of college. (After I got home from China I "gifted" it to my sister's brother-in-law Troy. When he took it in to get the safety and emissions, they told him it would require hundreds of dollars worth of work to make it road worthy. Lol. Some gift, hu? He promptly left it on his street without tags where it got towed...or did he have Mexicans approach him for it? Not sure about that.)

So I know it's not my lack of skillz that was stalling it out. Just a bad car plain and simple.

Strike one. Too bad. I'm starting a job on Monday and it's going to be a royal pain with both of us working "real jobs with real hours" with only one car...

Hopefully there's something out there waiting for us.

We may just have to break down and actually buy something good that would require payments.

*shudder* payments. A profanity in my book of vocabulary.

I wish I could channel the spirit of my Great-grandmother, don some pearl earrings and a nice dress, go into a dealership with $500 cash and shmooze my way into a nice cute little car for that price. She had such a knack for that! Not a gene I inherited.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Follow the Leader

I have distinct migratory patterns. I am a follower pure and simple. Unless I'm in a group of people who can't make up their minds. Then I get exasperated and I start snapping decisions off left and right. (Unless it involves what should be made for dinner, but that is a different story all together. )

Anyway, back to my original train of thought.

If Matt is in the computer room, I am in the computer room. If I have nothing to do in the computer room, I find something to do in the computer room.

If Matt is painting figurines in the living room, I find myself pulling out my craftsy stuff right next to him, even if I don't have a real project to work on.

If he has an errand to run, I am like an eager lap dog, waiting to go on a trip with my buddy. I don't know if he's gone grocery shopping on his own since before we were married. (I, on the other hand, have gone many many times on my own because he does not feel the same need to constantly be by my side.)

If he's watching TV, I'm watching TV. I watch TV shows I wouldn't watch on my own. Heck, before I married him I watched a total of 0 hours of TV a week. How I've digressed.

I don't even have to be talking to him or interacting directly with him (though that is a MAJOR plus). I just like knowing we're sharing something in common; I like being together even if we're not doing something together.

I don't like being alone for more than an hour or two. Unless I'm reading. And even then I feel like I'm not alone because I'm delving into other people's stories.

I flock to others. I hope they don't mind.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ramblings: HELP ME!


OK people. I need your help. Here is my dilemma. I have been looking for new employment, preferably something full-time. This is what I've been up against the last few weeks, and I'm guessing this is why I'm sick at the moment. (It sounds like I've been hacking up a lung all day. I have a headache from this. I've also been very congested and my ears have soooo much pressure it's driving me crazy!)
  • About a month ago my friend told me about an on-call secretarial position for the county. I thought it might be able to work with my other part time job and would allow for some flexibility. So I applied for it without really thinking much of it.
  • About two weeks ago, I randomly found a family on craig's list looking for a nanny. For some unknown reason, I decided to call them. They sounded nice, the hours sounded good, and they asked to meet me in person two weeks later (which just so happened to be today). I felt pretty good about that situation.
  • Not long after talking with the nanny needing family, I heard from the county. They wanted me to come interview for the on-call secretary position.
  • I went in for the interview and found out it was not an on-call position; rather, it was a temporary tax helper position lasting from mid-November to late February. Not what I was looking for, but more hours and more money than I'm currently getting, so it was an interesting possibility. ($10/hr, no benefits, 40 hours a week). They offered me that on the spot.
  • At the end of that interview, the county lady told me she wanted me to also apply for a newly available position as an HR assistant ($30,000/year, benefits and PTO, 40 hrs/wk 8AM-5PM). It required a college degree (which I have), a physical (which I endured), a 3 1/2 hour test (which I took), and a second interview with the assistant HR Director (held two days ago). While I thought this position was going to close mid-November, I found out I would not know until mid to late December if I had the HR assistant job.
  • That means that they want me to start at the temporary tax position this month and work there until I hear about the other position.
  • That brings me now to the nanny position. I met with the mom-to-be today. I went thinking I was going to turn it down, but I wanted to keep my options open until I met them. She seems incredibly nice, they live in what I consider a mansion, and she and her husband are very, very established in their careers. She's due Nov. 22nd and would want me to start part time in December and go to full time Jan. 2nd. when she goes back to work. 40 hours/week, $10/hour, one little brand new baby girl name Gigi. She absolutely loves me. She told me I was a God send. It felt much more comfortable and good than I was expecting. That made this a whole lot harder.
This is where I'm stuck. You see, the two jobs I have for sure are the nanny position and the temporary tax position. Between those two I'd take the nanny position hands down. It's more stable, same pay, same hours, and I'd have a lot less stress and more flexibility. But throw in the unknown HR assistant position and I don't know what I should do. Say no to the nanny thing in hopes that I get it? I mean, it is $10,000 more per year. IF I get it. Say yes to the nanny thing and not look back?

Here's another little wrench in the mix. They were hoping to just pay me "under the table" for sake of ease. I completely understand and I don't feel like they're dishonest people. It sounded very nice at first. But then when I talked to Matt about it, that seems like a bad situation to be in. If we were to ever get audited, we'd be screwed. How can you explain away $20,000 extra income? Plus, it's not quite honest, so in my temple recommend interview when they asked if I am honest in all my dealings, I don't think I could say yes. And that's not good.

So that brings me to the question of filing as self-employed so as not to create difficulty for the family. But I don't really know what that entails. I wouldn't have anything I could deduct except maybe a cell-phone and transportation to work. I estimated that I'd be paying about $122 every paycheck for taxes. That means I would only end up making a little over $16,000 net. for the year. Nothing for a part-time employed person like me to scoff at. That's about what I made working at New Haven when I was the primary income in our family. Yet it's still a lot lower than the HR job. IF I were to get the HR job.

I'm not sure which one I'd enjoy more. I imagine the nanny position. The HR one seems a bit boring and potentially a lot more stressful, but it could provide some great secretarial experience for a resume. But I'm not thinking I'll be working outside the home the rest of my life, so what does it matter if I have it on my resume?? I am a little afraid I'll end up being a basket case from stress, but I won't know until I try, right?

I'm guessing the first few months of nannying will not be all that exciting either, though. It would, however, give me good life experience and hopefully help me be a better mom when I get that chance. I feel like I'd be more in my element with this job than with the secretarial stuff.

This is where you come in dear friends. Help me. What would you do in this situation? Any answers about taxes for me? Any thoughts? Gut reactions?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Medical Trips

It had been about 5 years since I had been to the dentist for a real check up. It's so expensive. I had 8 teeth to work on. Five on one side and three on the other. They were splitting me up into two visits. No dental insurance back then.

Normally I only get a local anesthetic. But those never really work completely. Just enough so I don't throw up, pass out, or scream in pain. But the pain is still there. Just not quite as intense.

Five cavities to fill. Three hours in a chair. Local anesthetic, and for the first time in my life, the gas. I didn't feel a thing. Except weird floating sensations and some dizziness.

Breathing in. The room started moving around in a figure eight. My body kind of felt heavy and light all at once. Was my hand always so hard to lift?

Breathing in. My head felt disoriented, nothing quite seemed as it should. My eyes kept closing, each time for a longer interval; upon opening them, I was surprised that the doctor and nurse were so close to my face. I think they're inside that interpersonal bubble.

Open you mouth wider, they tell me. Wider? I think. Isn't it as wide as it can possibly go? But no, just as my eyes drifted shut my mouth did as well.

Breathing in. Listening to Norah, I can only faintly hear the grinding of the teeth. Sitting in the chair with contraption on my face holding my lips back. The prongs are digging into my gums. Shouldn't this hurt?

You're all done for today, they tell me. Stay in the chair a little while as the gas wears off.

It is wearing off. I'm crying. Why am I crying? I can't figure it out yet I can't stop it. It's almost like I'm not in my body but I'm feeling the pain now. I want to throw up but I don't. Is this how other people feel? Unsure now if the gas was worth this. I can't imagine trying to drive home. Very disoriented, I can't walk straight. I'm glad Matt is with me.

Half of my mouth is still slack from the local. They give me some pain killers for the road. I'm still crying, and I still don't know why. We pay the gross sum and leave.

I vow to floss every night and go in regularly for check ups.


I've started to feel the winter cold creeping into my chest. Not that it's cold outside this week. It's been in the 80's. Nevertheless, I can feel that congestion that is getting ready to break up with horrific coughs that are sure to come in a day or two. My nose is continually filled with who knows what from who knows where. How can I have so much gunk in me?

I took a night time cold medicine last night for the first time in years. I didn't really think it would knock me out or affect me much. It took awhile, but I was out. I woke up more than once last night thinking, are my arms always so heavy? Feeling like I have to fling myself to move my limbs.

I woke up today feeling sick still, but I felt as though the drugs had completely worn off. Matt didn't agree. As we drove to his work he told me I shouldn't be driving under the influence. What? It's all gone.

I came back home and fell asleep for another two hours. Upon waking I felt very dizzy. A little like I did after my dentist trip. My stomach kind of felt sick. Only now, 5 hours later, do I feel like I'm back to my normal sick self.

I wonder if it stuck with me so long because I rarely use drugs when I'm sick. Maybe it's because I'm short. Yes. That's probably it. It always comes down to my being short one way or another.

Nothing like medical trips for the infrequent drug user.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The anti-Librarian

Ok. I'm not against librarians. I love them. I love libraries. I love books. I love reading.

I just couldn't ever be one. Librarian that is.

I don't know if I could be that quite the rest of my career.

I don't mind trying to be mindful of those around me. I actually despised loud cell-phone talkers at the BYU library. I even debated against it in a Spanish conversation class once.

I understand there is a time and a place for peace and quite. I'd just hate to be in that time and place 40 hours a week. I think I'd drive myself crazy with imaginary conversations I want to have with people but from which I refrain because I am too [conscious, timid, aware].

You know, the kind where you tell your boss why its his and not your priorities that are messed up.

Those kind.

Yes. It is a good thing that is not in my potential jobs list at the moment.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth: A Political Confession

I am a very bad citizen. And a bad girl.

You see, I've never voted in my life. Never. That is why I'm a bad citizen. I was in UT during the last two Presidential Elections. I was living in the Riviera, age 19, during the 2000 Elections. I didn't know much about either candidates (pretty much just knew their names) and I didn't take the time to learn about them. I want to say I didn't vote for that reason, but it's not so. I just didn't care. It makes me very squirmish to admit all of this.

I was married, age 23, during the last election. I am a bad girl because I told my family that I voted two years ago during the Bush/Kerry hoedown. I wasn't even registered in UT. I lied because I wanted to lend my support to my siblings with whom I shared a similar opinion. I would have voted for Bush if I had taken the time. I thought Kerry was a moron. I still do. And I think Bush is too, but at the time I felt he was a better candidate. I don't think Kerry would have done a better job than Bush, in all honesty, so I probably still would have voted Bush knowing what I know today. Or maybe I wouldn't have voted at all.

Oh wait. That's what I did.

Anyway, my family was split down the middle. Half voted for Bush, half voted for Kerry. I wanted to add my two cents to the family debate and I felt I couldn't unless I had voted. So I lied. My husband voted via an absentee ballot for CA, and we discussed the election all the time, so I was hoping that counted for something. He didn't even know that I didn't vote until tonight. The truth is coming out here and now.

I rarely talk politics on my blog. This will be the first time, in fact. I don't do so often because if any of you were to ever challenge my opinion, I don't know if I'd be able to back everything up. I've always had this problem. The "because that's just the way it is" syndrome. That's why I never did debate. Oh, I had the passion that debate required, but I couldn't form true arguments well. People would talk me in circles; I'd often still believe I was right; I couldn't ever explain why I was right. It was quite frustrating.

Nevertheless, I'm still a "Republican". Whatever that means. I kind of wish we could do away with the whole Republican/Democrat dichotomy. I believe in education. I believe in the right to own guns. I believe some forms of stem cell research should be pursued. I kind of feel like I'm in the middle on a lot of issues. Actually according to The Politics Test, I'm a Centrist sitting on the left shoulder of Ronald Reagan.

You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(61% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

This test aside, I would classify myself as a moderate conservative who has become disillusioned with politics. I am suspicious of all politicians regardless of party. I feel little to no obligation to actually vote Republican.

Lately I have felt a strong obligation to begin casting my vote. I feel I should vote for the most reasonable (in my opinion) candidate possible, regardless of political orientation. It just so happens that for me, the most reasonable candidate is Republican more often than not. But I have to say, I don't feel comfortable voting without knowing something about the candidates. I can't just go in and vote Republican because "that's what I am." There are a lot of sleazy Republicans running for office, and I would feel bad helping them out just because we share the same party.

So my resolution is to become a better citizen and to become a better girl. Tomorrow I will cast my vote if everything goes well. At least I'm registered. And today I've confessed my political lies. I hope you'll all forgive me. Let's move forward shall we?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Private Party

We had a very busy, very fun, and very tiring day at Six Flags today. Raytheon, Brinks Security, and another company closed the park to the public and had it reserved for their employees at half price.

It was sweet.

Hardly any lines. We were able to walk up to any given ride (for the most part) and get on without a wait. We rode things until we felt like we had whip lash. (Speaking of whip lash, we can't recommend sitting in the back seat of the Texas Giant. It is suposedly the number 1 wooden roller coaster in America, and I can see why. But it throws you around like crazy. We rode the front seat first, and that was pretty fun. So we tried the back seat. Big mistake. I felt like I had whip lash by the end (my head was violently thrown into Matt's shoulder a couple of times) and Matt was having chest pains by the end. It's not for the faint or the weak. That's for sure.)

Two rides out shone the rest. Superman-Tower of Power (WAY cooler than the 6 Flags Magic Mountain Superman ride) and the Texas Titan. We rode each of those over 5 times.

Superman was a 325-foot skyrocketing and ground-pounding, free-fall machine. It catapults riders up a tower with their feet dangling. It kind of toys with you; you never know exactly when it will suck you up into the air or when it will drop you the 345 ft back to the ground. I saw little kids and grown men reduced to tears. It was awesome.

*important: Do not read if you are scared of roller coasters but still get on them*

The Texas Titan was the fastest roller coaster I've ever been on. Its top speed is 85 mph and it has 3 1/2 minutes of loops, helixes, and fast drops. On two of its loops, the G-force was so strong that my eyes started blacking out and my vision was temporarily impaired. It was sweet. The second to last time we rode it the car ahead of us almost had a casualty. One of the pressurized chest buckles released during the ride, leaving the passenger without much holding them in place. No one was hurt, the mechanics came and fixed it, and we got on the very next ride.

So, if anyone wants to come visit us next year, plan a trip for this time of the year. We'll get you details and dates, we can buy you tickets at half price, and you can come with us to the private party. It rocks.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Please shut the beep up.

This morning I was awakened at 5 by my phone ringing. In my delirious sleep ridden state I jumped up and made a B-line for the phone thinking, "I hope my Grandpa didn't die." You see, he had heart surgery yesterday.

Luckily it wasn't that.

I picked up to hear that horrible beeping and shrieking signifying a fax. 5 AM!! I don't know who these people think they're faxing, but I need it to stop. I laid in bed drifting in and out of a restless sleep until my alarm went off at 7. What a horrible way to start the morning. I looked into getting call waiting after my last round of incessant fax calls, but it would raise my bill half again. No thanks.

But please someone, shut the beep up for me! I can't handle it anymore!

The Battle of the Holidays

The end of the year is arguably the best time of year. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (not to mention National Ammo Day on Nov. 19th) it's a time of traditions, food, candy, decorations, family, and fun. This year it seemed as though people decorated just as much for Halloween as most people do for Christmas. (That was my pumpkin I delightedly carved this year.)

Growing up the best Halloween tradition was making ghost suckers the home evening before Halloween. We’d cover our entire dining room table with shiny aluminum foil, melt down white chocolate, and blob it over Popsicle sticks. We used toothpicks and food coloring to put faces on and give the ghosts some character. Our “ghost suckers” were famous among the neighborhood kids and only the really special and close neighbors would get them (limited number, you see).

I kind of feel sorry for poor little Thanksgiving. It's so overlooked. Today on the radio they were discussing how early people should start with Christmas. I've noticed Christmas commercials peppering TV stations. The stores have taken down their demons and goblins and have already replaced them with angels and stockings. Two of the DJs were of the mind that Christmas music and decorations should be held at bay at least until Thanksgiving was over. The third argued that the Christmas season started November 1st.

Personally, I think starting two months early is overkill.

Thanksgiving was either spent in Mesa with my Grandparents and cousins or at home with a random assortment of hippies and family friends. Mom would always make a full spread. Among my favorite were her delicious wheat rolls and a load of pies. We’d often help peel and slice apples with the hand crank peeler. If we were at my grandparents, Grandpa inevitably cracked a slew of delicious pecans while watching the traditional Football bowls. It is a good holiday, even if it doesn't get the hype and decoration of Halloween and Christmas.

Christmas pretty much started the day after Thanksgiving when we’d drive to the forest in Heber and cut down our Christmas tree (or Christmas bush as Bryan liked to call them--it's hard to judge how big it really is in a wide open forest). We’d try and measure them by Dad lifting up his arm. If it was close to that length it would fit in our living room. That weekend we’d string popcorn and cranberries (10:1 ratio) for the tree and put up the lights and decorations like mom’s hand painted nativity, homemade advent calendar, and Chris-moose (also made at enrichment—or homemaking as it was called then.) She also made all of our stockings that hung on our fireplace.

The Monday before Christmas we turned on “The best Christmas pageant ever” and made graham cracker houses. That was great fun because we had a lot of candy to snack on (one for the house, one for me). I especially loved using the red cinnamon bears as Santa. Dad often made an out house or a Navajo trading post for his.

Matt and I differ on Christmas season timing. I think it's perfectly wonderful to start the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving and last until the New Year. He thinks it should start about 3 days before Christmas and last until the New Year. He's a bit grinch-ish about it I'd say...

And you? When do you think it's ok to begin the Christmas festivities??

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On this day 23 years ago...

My little brother Nathan was born. My mom used to tell each of our birth stories at dinner every year on our birthday. I wish I could remember each of them more clearly, but I have a really bad memory for things like that. I remember little snippets. Pieces here and there. With 6 siblings I think I might mix some of them up occasionally. My vague memory is that he was born in the Dr.'s office in Snowflake rather than the hospital in Show Low. I think he came home with some sort of special hat. Good thing we have journals to help remind us. Let's take a look back, shall we?
November 6, 1983 (Scribed by my oldest brother Bryan who is missing from that picture up top...where could he be?)
Grandma Hunt came to see me. We went to the park. I slide down the slidy slidy and jungle gym. We had a pic-a-nic at the park. Swingan and swinging. Our baby is Naphan Jame. We go to our church. We play in the leafs. We throw leafs. We bear my testimony. Suzie didn't pull down the microfader. Write Grandpa Grider.

January 8,1984 (Scribed by my mom)
Julie got a CTR ring. We went to the park. We got a new borned baby. Uncle Wade comed. I got a tricycle.

January 15, 1984 (Scribed by my mom)
I want to write about Christmas. I want to write about my Julie. Let me think. [patting her cheek with one finger]. We've got a baby named Nathan Jame. Write about Suzie's birthday cake for her party with her friends.
Ok. Maybe not. I wasn't much for details and full stories as a 2 1/2 year old, was I? At least I didn't think he was old news two months later, even if I couldn't seem to put the "s" on James.

When we were not yet old enough for school we were good little buddies for each other. Good times included blocks, the Mattel castle people, and "school". Though I'd not yet attended school as a 4 year old, I took it upon myself to be his teacher. We set up class in our pantry where we'd take scrap papers and pencils and books. We'd climb up on the stacked buckets of food and pretend we were big kids at school. At least I knew my ABC's and numbers pretty well by then. Maybe I was able to help him with something. Probably not.

We used to call him "Nate-skate-the chicken-bait." I'm not quite sure why. Must have been cool to rhyme. Another nickname that lasted a number of years was "Bud." Now he's Nathan. Or Nate.

We both grew up and we ended up being pretty good friends along the way. We'd do crazy acrobatic things under the name of "The Flying Zucchini Brothers" until he started getting to be taller than me. It was fun being the strong older sister. I remember him bragging to his friends once when he was in 6th grade about how strong I was. I would arm wrestle them and feel pretty good about winning, even though they were two years younger than me. That didn't last much longer.

Soon he was taller and stronger than me. His athletic specialties in Jr. High and High School included blading and baseball. He was quite a good pitcher trained up by my dad. I liked to throw with them, though I never could control the ball like Nathan. He was good.

Nate's ability to learn things on his own was quite astounding to me. By nature I am not very good at figuring something out just by reading a book. I like working with people and having them show me along the way. As computers were starting to become more mainstream I remember him reading a thick Java book. I'm pretty sure he read the whole thing. That stuff was gobbly gook in my eyes. I had no clue how he could figure out the inner workings of programming. But he did to a reasonable extent. All on his own.

He also taught himself how to play the guitar. No lessons. When he first got his guitar I remember thinking, "This will be a passing phase. He'll get frustrated and quit without having someone to tell him what to do and how to do it." But it wasn't so. That's just what I would have done. He, on the other hand, became quite good. He and his friends formed a band, wrote original pieces, and performed at various locations in AZ. They figured out how to do a ghetto recording and produce a CD. Around this time he discovered the wonderful world of MP3's, Napster, and file sharing. He spent hours upon hours, downloading on dial-up speeds, trying to obtain "outside music" we couldn't quite access in rural AZ. I still have some burned CD's he made for me and will occasionally listen to the Punk/Emo/Alternative mixes he put together to think of the good times growing up. He's now incredibly musically knowledgable. He knows more about world music, music appreciation, and musicality than I ever picked up in my 18 years of music training.

After I left for college we still kept in pretty good touch. He came and visited me just a few weeks before I got engaged. He was adventurous enough to dress up with some of my friends for a delightful "How to Host a Murder". I was glad he could come. Just a few months later he moved to NY and it's not been quite so easy to visit.

Though I never expected to live near my family (the kids are all quite independent and spread across the country...WA, PA, TX, NY, AZ, and currently Nate's living abroad), it's sad that we don't get to see each other more often. I miss having the late night talks, playing the games, and hanging out with each other. I miss having our mom make our birthday dinner request, hearing the birthday stories, and celebrating with cake and presents together.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE! Hope you're having fun in a delightful foreign place. Take some pictures so we can at least spend the day together over the internet. I miss you little brother.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Isn't there a new post yet?

I can't tell you how many times I check my blog, hoping that by some random chance I would have written something new and cool without quite realizing it. It never happens. What's taking me so long?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Masters of disguise

We went to a costume party tonight. I wish we would have taken more pictures so you could see how cool we really were. Though neither of our outfits were completely homemade, we both had homemade elements that took a good portion of my week. All in all I'd say we had the best outfits there. Unfortunately you can't see my 6 in. high red Chinese hooker shoes...Velcro and all. You also can't really see Matt's sword holder we spent 3 hours on last night. It turned out splendidly.

Fred and Wilma Flinstone were pretty good though. There were also "drug dealers" (they didn't dress up), "white trash" (they both wore trash bags), a flapper and old school detective, and Kerry before his face lift. He had a "Vote for Kerry" button on earlier, but had thrown it away by this picture.
We'll probably dress up for Halloween, so maybe we'll take more pictures then.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Interesting possibilities on the horizon

Today I was looking for jobs on Craig's List, and I found a very exciting job possibility. I just got off the phone with the contact. She's 3 1/2 weeks away from having a baby. She's a dance teacher and will be returning to teaching in January. I'm not sure what he does, but he's a "professional". Soooo, they're looking for a nanny 40 hours a week. Since she's a teacher I'd have all holidays off. Fabulous.

They would want the nanny to start part time in December to help transition and get the baby ready for the change. Starting January 2nd it would be full time. The hours would fit my schedule almost perfectly (I think we can rearrange Matt's schedule a smidge to make it work out perfectly). The pay/hr. is better than what I have now.

She sounded very nice and cool. I'm meeting them on November 11th. It sounded like she liked me, and though I've never had "nanny experience" my large family experience, teaching experience and college major were in my favor. I forgot to tell her I was a cook for 2 1/2 years. She thought it was a bit amazing I'd been married for 3 years and was only 25.

Exciting. Very exciting. I sure hope this works out.

A tangled, itchy mess

I almost never have a "honey-do" list of things I want done around the house. I generally have more time on my hands and I enjoy figuring new things out, so I figure, why not just do it myself?

But I draw the line at electrical work, wiring, and anything having to do with cable cutting. (My hair's already frizzy enough without mild electrocution, and I would not put electrocution past me.)

Our little living room has been a wee bit pinched up front with the arrival of my piano. The only wall long enough to accommodate the piano happens to be the same wall that is now the home of our top-of-the-line, 13-inch TV/VCR combo. Though they both fit, everything looks out of place and cramped; so I've set my sights on rearranging our living room.

Early on I noticed we have a second cable jack in the living room. It's a perfect new location for the TV (in my opinion) because it's easily viewable from the kitchen. (I do the majority of my TV watching while making dinner or doing dishes). I figured out how to fit everything else in while maximizing the space in the room.

Then I noticed a big problem. The cable jack didn't work. Upon that discovery I enlisted Matt in yet another home renovation project.

We climbed up in our attic for the first time since move in, to find a tangled, unlabeled mess of cables surrounded by gobs of open insulation. We did a little investigative work and figured out which cables went to what rooms; sadly, we were unable to locate the cable for the second living room jack. Not wanting to dig around in the itchy insulation, we tried a different approach.

As we unscrewed the face plate, we found that the cable was not attached, crimped, or ready for use. There was a cable hanging in the wall, but the geniuses that built the house left it up to us, the homeowners, to hook up if we were so daring. Because this cable looked different than the others, we were able to locate its other end. It was in a wall box with about 8-9 other cable ends in our laundry room labeled, "tecCenter: Digital networking solutions". Those cables were also left unfinished and uncrimped, rendering them useless.

Now this little Tech Center, once we figured out what it was for, could be a really cool system. It's pretty much a giant splitter for the entire house's cable system. Every room in our house could be controlled by the little box in our laundry. If it were finished. Which it's not.

The only logical explanation for this that the first owners, who had the house built to their specifications, went with dish network so they figured it unnecessary to hook things up for cable. Lame. If it were actually usable it would be a great tool so you never have to climb around on beams, dodge insulation, and rummage through unlabeled cables in the attic. Once again: If it were usable. Which it's not.

Matt's interested in purchasing cripmers and thinks he can get everything up and running in due time. Who am I to stop him?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Avoid the Appearance: Svithe

As LDS sayings go, "avoid the appearance of evil" is probably one of the most frequently heard. Although I think it is good to avoid looking like you're doing something evil when you're in actuality not, I've decided its far worse to be actually doing something evil and making it look like you are, in fact, doing something good.

I've noticed that when we have friends over, I'm inevitably doing some last minute cleaning before guests arrive to make it look like I am the perfect goddess of a wife that can keep a straight house. Dishes are quickly whisked into the dishwasher. Randomly strewn shoes and socks are placed in their proper locations. Sweeping, clutter control, dusting, and bed making can also take place in my 10 minute last ditch effort. As I began thinking about my motives, it made me wonder if what I was doing was wrong. Do I want to appear to be the perfect house cleaning goddess? Or do I actually want a clean house and figure that that's as good a time as any? I really do love to have a clean house. I just struggle getting everything done all the time. But it did make me stop and think.

So I say, "Avoid the appearance of good for appearance sake." I think the Lord would much rather we actually be good than appear good. This can apply to many very serious situations (such as abuse in all its ugly forms), but I'll keep it light for now.

Who wants to be the nice, shiny, delicious looking apple if you have rotted from the inside? Not me. I want to be the succulent and deliciously crisp apple with a slight hint of tart (to keep things interesting).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We do hard things

I've been working with my piano students for about a month now. I really haven't done any advertising so I still only have two students. One is 7 and one is almost 9. They are polar opposites in terms of personality.

The older one loves to make up songs, plays by ear, memorizes quickly and easily, and gets quite frustrated and stuck when songs like her simplified "Ode to Joy" are written with different rhythm than the original. She is very talkative and she likes to tell stories throughout the lesson. Her grandpa actually wrote "One eyed one horned flying purple people eater"! We just introduced the grand staff this week and she said, "Oh great. Now my head's really going to hurt! If learning multiplication in school wasn't enough!"

The other girl is very, very quiet and quite shy. I was a little worried when she started because neither of her parents are really musical, so I didn't know if her home practicing would be very effective. I've found that she catches on quite quickly to the rules of music (though keeping a steady rhythm is sometimes lost on her). She's very methodical, and in my mind she has made significantly more progress than the other girl (though she is still behind in songs). She cracks me up because after every single song she plays she sighs and quietly says, "that was hard!" even if she plays it perfectly.

A couple of weeks ago I heard someone say that their family motto is: We do hard things.

I LOVED that! Life is hard and I think it's really good to teach kids that it's GOOD for them to have their heads hurt a little. It's GOOD for them to be challenged. It's GOOD for them to try new things and work at difficult things. It's GOOD to feel the burn. You can't just give up because it isn't easy! What's the reward in that?

Sometimes I think kids have too many choices, are over protected, and are unchallenged. It's not for lack of good intentions on the parents' part. Most parents want the best for their kids. But sometimes the best is teaching them to do hard things so they don't crumple up in a little ball of helplessness at the first sign of an obstacle.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Falling numbers

It's a little surprising to me that the temperature in my house (with the windows open) is 62 degrees! Last week it was mid-nineties! It's kind of a nice change. It actually feels like fall. Time for me to bundle up though.

And I saw gas for under $2 yesterday!!! WooHoo! It's been too long. May fall continue as such.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

We discussed our first round of tests with the Doc (as he'd like us to call him) yesterday. He was a pretty funny guy. Very talkative and upbeat. It kind of made me think about my yoga teacher. One time I asked her how she could always be so up beat and positive when teaching all 13 aerobic or yoga classes and she said, "You know, a lot of it is acting. That's what the class needs so that's what I need to give. Some days it's not acting, but a lot of days it is." So, that's kind of what I thought of him. He's probably a normally upbeat guy, but I'm sure he also has to put on a show and keep it positive so couples who come in don't feel too despondent.

If it were a boxing match, we'd have lost the first round. The outcome wasn't optimal to say the least, but it wasn't hopeless either. I thought the funniest thing he said to us was, "With test results like these it's good to get help rather than just pray that the good Lord will send you a miracle. I mean, there is a slight chance you could get pregnant on your own without medical help, but it is a slight chance." Now that I reread that, it's hard to convey the humor without his charismatic, optimistic style.

We both have some issues and now we're doing round 2 of testing (blood work and the like) to see what exactly we need to do to move forward. He was very happy to hear that I was 25. Most couples he works with are in their 30's or 40's. He says youth is to our advantage.

I don't think either of us are feeling hopeless or gloomy. Things will work out, it just might not be in the way we imagined.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In the family

I just found out that I am not alone in my allergy to the cold. Just this week my poor little nephew Caleb has just started having hive spells as well. They were at Big Lake swimming this past weekend and he broke out all over. She hadn't read my blog about my cold allergy and my hive spells started long after she left home. She thought he had somehow gotten into poison oak or ivy. Poor kid. She drove him to get some Benadryl and not knowing that it was cold that he was reacting to, gave him a cold water bottle to try and help soothe the itching. She said the hives were much bigger than when they started out. =( He also got hives at first recess at school yesterday, and last night when I was on the phone explaining this to her, he was outside helping his dad. He came in with a tummy covered in hives.

I've been able to deal with mine by not spending extended periods of time outside in the cold, but their family is HUGE into the outdoors. They can't stand being inside. And the poor kid is just 7! Somethings you just hope to never pass along.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Svithe: It's a long one

I realized that I never actually posted the talk that I gave in church a couple weeks ago. It seems quite fitting after my last post to use this as a reminder on how to overcome that excessive guilt or whatever ills that plague me (or you). I wrote it in sections so if this monster of a post is too much to read in one sitting, you can read it in snippets. Oh, and don't be surprised if one of the sections sounds familiar. I built this talk incorporates two previous svithes.

Definition of happiness

Because of recent personal events, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness and how we can find it. When searching on the Internet for a definition of happiness, I was kind of surprised that the definitions were so vague and incomplete. One of the best definitions I came across said, “Happiness is an inner state of well being. [It] enables you to profit from your highest thoughts, wisdom, intelligence, common sense, emotions, health and spiritual values in your life.”[1] Another definition I liked was, “Happiness is a state of mind where one feels that life is good and is content with what they have been given. It is a feeling that life is as it should be.” In speaking of happiness James E. Faust said, “Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the elements of happiness and then treasuring them while they last.”[2]

Plan of Happiness

The Lord knew that Adam and Eve would transgress and fall, bringing about the mortality of man; because of this He prepared a way for us to return to His presence and eventually receive a fullness of joy. The Lord told Adam and Eve that because of their transgression this life would bring them much sorrow, thorns, thistles, hard work, and children. So why is it that this way, this plan, has been termed the Plan of Happiness? We know that nothing in this world exists without opposition. The Lord doesn’t want us to feel sad and lonely and depressed. He really does want us to be happy and receive a fullness of joy. Nephi tells us that we exist so that we might experience joy.[3] However, we could not understand nor appreciate the happiness that results from righteous living without also knowing and experiencing sorrow of this life.

What keeps us from being happy?

So what is it that keeps us from feeling that joy that Nephi speaks of? There are hundreds of specific things, “divers temptations” if you will, that will bring about our unhappiness, but I’ll list a few that that were floating around in my head.

1. The first and easiest “killjoy” to identify is unrighteous behavior. Alma, in talking with his son Corianton, plainly tells him that, “wickedness never was happiness.”[4] Wickedness is a broad category that includes, but is definitely not limited to, pride, selfishness, addictions, sexual impurity, and any behavior that is deliberately harmful to yourself or others. All of these things are bound to bring unhappiness, not only to the perpetrator, but also all those with whom the perpetrator comes in contact.

2. Secondly, stress, trials and burdens can trigger sadness. That could include financial troubles, marital spats, tons of schoolwork, peer pressure, and just plain busyness. When we get caught up in our day-to-day routines it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under appreciated.

3. Thirdly, idleness, too much down time, and over-indulgence can lead to feelings of unhappiness. Richard G. Scott said, “You are here on earth for a divine purpose. It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. In fact, instant and unrestrained gratification of all our desires would be the shortest and most direct route to unhappiness.”

4. The last thing I will mention that can bring about unhappiness is perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, and taking upon us burdens that are not ours to bear. Now this one can get a bit tricky because we are commanded to, “be perfect, even as [our] Father in Heaven is perfect,” as well as “mourn with those that mourn,” but there is a difference between perfectionism and doing our best.

How to overcome the obstacles that bring unhappiness

Christ does His part

After identifying these obstacles I asked myself, “how do we overcome them so we can be happy?” There are a few ways I think we can lighten the load of life that sometimes seems a bit heavy. The simplest yet most complicated answer is Jesus Christ.

When I was in High School there was a phrase that completely infiltrated the LDS religious sphere. I'm sure most of you have heard it, and some may still have an old journal with it imprinted on it. It's a messianic phrase, obviously meant for you to think Christ was talking to you. I seriously heard people quote it as scripture, trying to find a reference for it in the topical guide. It is quite unfortunate because it is a completely false statement. What is this phrase? "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it."

It seems harmless, and at face value it feels very true. Life is supposed to be hard, right? It's supposed to be full of trials and tests, right? Bad things often happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. It can be quite frustrating, and I think that phrase came about to help people through those low points in their lives. But it misses the mark, and the mark is Christ.

I was lucky enough to have a great seminary teacher who pointed out the fallacy of this statement by reading in Matthew 11:28-30.

“ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It's true that we will have times of hardship, frustration, and anger. It's true that sometimes we'll feel that we've been give more than we can handle. But right here we are told that we don't have to be burdened and feel weighed down. We don't have to do anything alone. We do have to be pro-active. We must yoke ourselves with Christ and allow him to heal us and lift us up; if we do that, He will provide us with relief and will help us carry our load.

Concerning this, Elder Holland said, “The central fact, the crucial foundation, the chief doctrine, and the greatest expression of divine love in the eternal plan of salvation…is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Much goes before it and much comes after, but without that pivotal act, that moment of triumph whereby we are made free from the spiritual bondage of sin and the physical chains of the grave, both of which are undeniable deaths, there would be no meaning to the plan of life, and certainly no ultimate happiness in it or after it.”[5]

Do we do our part?

Having said this, we also have to figure out what is in our power to change so we can move closer to Him. If our happiness is being drowned by our wickedness, we must stop being wicked. Now that seems a bit trite and a little over simplistic and it is. But that’s essentially what needs to happen. Elder Scott counseled, “You do what is right. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing. Certainly don’t justify departure from what you know is right because of others’ wrong choices.”[6]

How do you cure pride? How do you cure selfishness? How do you overcome addictions? How do you take the first step back when you’ve been off the path you know to be right? First you really have to want to change. You have to identify that something is amiss in your life and realize that it is a source of unhappiness. Not only that, but you have to want happiness. That may sound a bit crazy, but I assure you that it can be hard for some to give up misery and wrong doing if it’s how they’ve come to identify themselves and relate to others. Also, we have to be aware that temptation to fall back into old patterns may never fully depart from us. With that awareness, we must move forward with faith that the Lord will make a way for us to fight those temptations and stay on the path.

There's no shame in getting outside help

Some addictions such as drugs, alcohol, pornography, and sexual promiscuity may require outside help. Before moving here I worked at a residential treatment center for teenage girls for two and a half years. We had girls from all over the country come to counsel with professional therapists to try and overcome various addictions as well as depression. Some of the girls were receptive to the help, and those who were open to change have been able to find true happiness in their lives. Outside help, however, doesn’t have to mean therapy or rehab centers. Outside help can also include our parents, friends, teachers, and counseling with the Bishop and church leaders, etc. There are many people who need help and there are many people who are willing to give help. The Lord tells us that we must “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”[7] We each will have moments in our lives where we are the feeble, but we’ll also have moments of strength wherein we can help others get where they want to go. It is the constant cycle of giving and taking love and service that helps us progress and move forward together.

Live within your means

If our unhappiness is brought about by stress and burdens, one thing we can first try is to simplify. Nephi told us that he “[gloried] in plainness”[8] and that the principles of happiness he modeled are plain and simple. Whether our lives are cluttered with responsibilities or material goods, it never hurts to step back and honestly see if we are doing too much. Are we’re overextending ourselves financially? Physically? Mentally? Should we limit ourselves to school and one extra-curricular activity? Do we really need that boat, that out fit, or that cell phone? Only you can answer those questions because the answer will be different for every person and every family. We really need to make sure that we are living within our means, financially, physically and emotionally.

I was a yoga TA at BYU for about a year. As a teacher’s assistant I would walk around the class, help people do the moves correctly, and try to keep people from doing things that would hurt them. One night after practice I came home and wrote this in my journal. “Tonight I noticed two beginners who, throughout the class, immediately went to the hardest poses rather than doing the beginning or intermediate modifications. It never quite worked out for them. They made an attempt at the pose, tried to hold it, couldn't, fell out of it and got frustrated. I wanted to go back to them and say, "Do your own practice. Don't try and do someone else's practice. Work with what you have and where you are, not where you want to be or where your neighbor is."

That started me thinking about living beyond our means in all aspects of life. So often we try to do more and be more than we can give at that moment of our life. That's when we stress out, cry, have breakdowns, hurt ourselves.

Western thinking is very competitive. Most of us feel like we must be the best, wear the best, have the best, and achieve the most RIGHT NOW. Often we don't allow ourselves a starting point and time for growth, but we expect immediate perfection.

But the truth of the matter is that I am where I am regardless of how much I don’t want to be there. We have to take life one-step at a time because the most efficient and long lasting progression comes gradually, “line upon line and precept upon precept”. We must master one thing and move on to the next step, not the last step. As we read in Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14 we come to find out that even Christ followed this pattern. “And I, John, saw that he received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fullness at the first.” We must be diligent and live our own lives as we remember, “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength”[9]

In all reality to be the best, wear the best, and have the best means that we must compare ourselves to others. Comparison then prompts that little pride button inside us...

Pride's part in all this

C.S. Lewis said, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, cleverer, or better looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” [10]

That darned pride. It leads people to do crazy things. “It was through pride that Christ was crucified.”[11] The Nephites killed each other off because of it. Early apostles and leaders of the church apostatized because of it. It does us no good. It limits and stops our progression. To truly find peace and contentment in our lives we must learn to humble ourselves before God. President Benson told us that we choose to be humble when we esteem others as ourselves, when we receive counsel and chastisement, and when we forgive those who have offended us. We also choose to be humble when we render selfless service, share the gospel, and go to the temple more frequently. Ultimately we choose to be humble by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives.[12] If we do this, we will find a simple happiness that infuses our soul with contentment.

Perfectionsim isn't what it's cracked up to be

In most of the literature I read to prepare to give this talk, leaders of the church spoke of happiness coming when we live the gospel. But as I read that, I wondered about the people who are diligently trying to live the gospel, follow the prophet, and choose the right who still feel unhappy, depressed or weighed down by life. President Faust asks the question, “If we aren’t happy, of what use is the gospel, the Church and its organizations, programs, and the way of life it espouses?” Many righteous Latter-day Saints often get lost in the commandment, “be ye therefore perfect” and feel like they’re constantly working to reach an impossible goal. They feel like they have to be some Super Mom or Dad and live this Mormon mold that they feel is expected of them. Also, some of us set our goals so high that it would impossible for us to ever accomplish those goals. Cecil O. Samuelson, the current President of BYU, said, “Be sure that you do not have higher standards for yourself or others than the Lord has established. Find satisfaction in your progress while acknowledging that perfection may still be distant.”[13]

In that same article he goes on to say, “Our perceptions of ourselves may or may not be accurate, but more frequently than we may expect, they may differ from how others view us. Those suffering from perfectionism tend to be wonderful, contributing, and effective people, and yet may feel that no matter what they do, it is never enough. These good people suffer from exaggerating their minor mistakes, weaknesses, or shortcomings to the point that they may become dysfunctional.”[14]

In his book, Bonds that Make us Free, Terry Warner speaks of perfectionism as a counterfeit of being conscientious. One who is conscientious faithfully acts on what they know to be right. Perfectionists, on the other hand, “seem more obsessed with convincing themselves of their worth. [They] are not at peace. A perfectionist’s conscience cannot be satisfied.”

When speaking to women in her book, Lighten Up, Chieko Okazaki said, “During my time as a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I have received a startling education about the amount of inappropriate guilt that literally hundreds of wonderful Latter-day Saint women feel about the subject of motherhood. I have been astonished to learn that many never-married women feel guilty and unworthy because they are not mothers. Many married women who have fertility problems feel guilt that they cannot bear children. Mothers feel guilty that they have too many children, or too few. Many others worry because they are not perfect mothers or because they don’t have perfect children. When their children make mistakes or life choices that seem wrong, these mothers are racked by suffering—not only for the painful consequences their beloved children must experience, but by the even more painful suffering of personal guilt that springs from their feeling they have somehow failed.”[15]

This is one of the things I struggle with most. I lend myself to perfectionism and I often feel like what I’m doing is not enough. If you are sitting there identifying with this category of unhappiness it would be good to remember this piece of advice that Elder Russell M. Nelson gives. “We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy-not guilt trips!”[16]

Just carry your own load--that's enough

Also, sometimes our loads are artificially weighed down (though it feels very real). It's easy to stress about situations and burdens that aren't even our own. We take on other people's problems as though they were ours to begin with. I know I do it sometimes.

As Sister Okazaki speaks of this in her book she said, “We have two sons. One son is married and has two children...Our other son is unmarried. I was astounded to hear a mother fret about a son over twenty-five who had not married, wondering what she had done wrong in raising him. My son's marital status is his business, not mine. He is a responsible individual who is contributing to society. He is a clear thinker and a loving human being. One of the things I like most about him is that he instantly identifies and summarily rejects attempts to make him feel guilty about not being married. How foolish I would be to pick up the guilt my son has properly rejected and bind it on my own shoulders, to create a burden where none exists!”

What a wise person. In this book she also talks about allowing ourselves imperfections and limitations. The Lord expects it. We need to Lighten up. That doesn’t mean be irresponsible, it means we need to set realistic expectations. And the only realistic expectation we can set for ourselves is that we do our best. Whatever that may be. My best is not your best, and thank heavens for that!

This chart is from Cecil O. Samuelson, “What Does it Mean to be Perfect?” New Era, Jan. 2006, 10

Doing Your Best


You desire to give things your best efforts and are satisfied when you do.

You have a list of “shoulds” and “have to’s” and are dissatisfied even if you complete them.

You know it’s okay if you make a mistake. You move on and see your mistake as an opportunity for growth or learning.

Mistakes bring feelings of self-hatred. You don’t want to do anything because you are afraid of failure.

You want to do your personal best, and you try not to compare your achievements to those of others. You don’t need to be the best at all things.

You feel tremendous pressure to earn others’ approval. You must be the best or “perfect” in your tasks.

You can find joy in doing the things you love, and you can get things accomplished.

Your need to do things perfectly leads to procrastination until you have time to do it “perfectly,” and you feel driven by fear or duty instead of love.

Trying to do your best and perfecting yourself “line upon line” with the Savior’s help is Christ-centered because you need the Atonement.

Perfectionism is self-centered. You measure yourself against your own standards and against others’ standards, not God’s.

[1] Lionel Ketchian

[2] James E. Faust, “Our Search for Happiness,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 2

[3] 2 Nephi 2:25

[4] Alma 41:10

[5] Elder Jeffery R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant p.197

[6] Richard G. Scott, “Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 85

[7] D&C 81:5

[8] 2 Nephi 2 Nephi 33:6

[9] Mosiah 4:27

[10] C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity (1960), 95

[11] Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4

[12] Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989

[13] “What does it mean to be perfect?” New Era, January 2006

[14] “What does it mean to be perfect?” New Era, January 2006

[15] Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up, p. 78

[16] Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,” Ensign, November 1995, 86