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?