Friday, October 31, 2008

If Mr. Smith can do it ...

If Mr. Smith could go to Washington and wing it, why not Sarah Palin?
If "Dave" could go to Washington and wing it, why not Sarah Palin?


Oh yeah, I remember now. Those are movies.

I actually like Sarah Palin. I also love watching the parodies of her and I I love to wallow in the political comedy she inspires. And I'm also scared to death of the idea of her as Executive of the US of A. (I like my grandmother, but that doesn't mean I'd vote her into office either.)

~~~

It's Halloween again. Not my favorite holiday. Regardless, the kids are all hopped up on sugar and I'm reminded that any costume is made infinitely cuter when it is worn by own offspring.

~~~

Anxiety levels rising. Must exercise. Or sleep. Or fly to California. Or go on some highly potent prescription drugs. Or take a few deep breaths and chill.

~~~

I can't believe I'm even thinking of it with my wrist in this condition. Artistic insanity has gripped my brain and I just signed up for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participants pledge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th. I decided that I'm not ready to write a traditional novel, so I'm taking a different approach. I'm taking my Mad Blogging Skillzz into the world of fiction and creating a Serialized, Interactive, Online Novel ("SION"???) written in first person (and hosted on blogger of course). I'm hoping I can catch a few suckers who start reading it and think it's a real person. Fun!

I'm excited and I'll be just as surprised as you if it ends up having a compelling plot. I have not outlined. I have not done character development. But tomorrow is November 1st and Elizabeth Mimi Forster ("Mimi") is about to come to life and I have a few ideas swirling in my head, along with the rising anxiety levels.

~~~

Happy Halloween, everyone! Bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Housekeeping

Okay, I like to joke about my poor domestic skills and pretend I'm totally cool with the fact that I live in Slob City. Between you and me, however, that's all a lie I tell myself so I don't have a nervous breakdown. I'm jealous of people who are so on top of their housework and I secretly feel better about myself when I walk into somebody else's messy house. Both emotions arise from unhealthy comparisons, so I try to talk myself out of them.

The truth is that if I were to stop comparing my toxic waste levels to others, I'd realize that I'm genuinely unhappy with things because I don't want to live this way. This is neither awesome nor attractive. (Funny side note: I was watching TV yesterday and there was a truck commercial where one guy goes, "That's awesome" and then the other guy goes, "Very attractive" or something like that. I couldn't believe my ears. Did they totally just steal the "awesome & attractive" bit from Kung Fu Panda?!? How transparent. See, it's funny on a personal blog where I am expected to make references to pop culture on occasion. Less funny when copywriters are getting paid to not-so-subtly steal good lines from other writers. You could say there is no charge, but actually there was.)

Wait, what was I saying before I got sidetracked? Oh yeah, the unawesomeness of a cluttered life. So, ahem, I do not really live in a pigsty. After much hard work and advance notice, my house looks decent for company. It's never spotless but it looks presentable so that people who read my blog say, "Your house isn't that dirty." I smile and try to thank them for the ?compliment?.

I've discovered something important. If I invite people over and let them make a mess, they clean it up and then they keep cleaning. This happened twice in the last few days. Once at a playdate and yesterday at my impromptu Pumpkin Carving Family Night Party. Both times, people apologized for the mess they'd made and started to clean it up. I'm not one to protest and tell them I'll clean it up later. I mean... I will clean it up later. But it might be several days/weeks/months later depending on what it is, so I might as well take the help that's offered. 

Then comes the funny part. They think they need to clean until it's back to a "clean level" which it most certainly wasn't before they got there. At this point, I'm tempted to let them keep cleaning so that I come out better in the end, but my conscience forbids. I have to say, "This is already cleaner than it was when you got here. Don't worry about it! I'll clean this up ... eventually" It's pretty funny. Yesterday, I actually couldn't resist the temptation when my brother-in-law told my nephew to wipe the counter clean. I started to protest, but then I decided that it's an aunt's job to help her nephews build character. So I smiled and walked away. The counter was fairly clean before they got there, so I don't feel too guilty.

The other thing I've learned is that people either think I'm rich or they get really tired of hearing me talk about how dirty my house is, because I have been battered for years to hire a housecleaning service. This irritates me every single time. If my great-great-grandmother could walk across the plains and build a house from the sandy desert floor up, I can keep a stinkin' house clean. Or if I can't, then I'll just live this way until I figure it out!

Well, okay, that's a lie. I am seriously considering calling for help here pretty quick, but not for a permanent hire; just an intense round of "spring cleaning" to get everything really clean one time. I am a stay-at-home Mom, for heavens sake. If I can't keep my house clean, what's the point of me being the parent to stay at home? It hurts my ego way too much to have somebody else do my work for me.

I just need to move to a different part of the world where it's considered my responsibility to financially support others by getting domestic help. Then I can have my cake, eat it too while the nanny feeds the kids cake in a different room, and have somebody else clean the dishes afterward and sweep the crumbs away.

Friday, October 24, 2008

SNL

I've never been a big Saturday Night Live fan, but this is too good not to share:

Dubya Endorses McCain & Palin

Yo Yo Yogaaaauuuuuggghh!

Being aware of television's subtlely dangerous influence is one thing. Being able to resist the enticements, even when you know that some ad executive's rhetoric shouldn't sway you, is quite another. 

My son, Joseph, thinks that all advertisements are like documentaries. "But Mom," he says, "If you try new Cotton Scented Soap-O,* you're going to like it!" He has the simple faith of a child, even when that simple faith drives me completely around the bend. I try to explain that I'd rather pay half the price for the store brand that pay for the Latest Greatest, and he just doesn't get it yet. 

As a Communications Major, I took classes about how to persuade people to believe what I was telling them. So when I watch ads, I sit there feeling manipulated and irritated. Especially when it works. I ought to know better.

Which is a long way of saying, I was watching something on TV last night and it really stuck in my head. Luckily, it was not something trying to make me part with my money. It was one of the "Trainer's Tips" on The Biggest Loser. Bob Harper was extolling the virtues of yoga as a way of getting healthy. 

I've thought about yoga before and thought it sounded interesting, but I never really thought of it as a legitimate way to exercise. I thought it was a hippie dippie way of stretching and becoming one with your inner... whatever. Which is cool, but not what I thought I needed.

...Until it kicked my butt this afternoon. I did a total of 15 minutes. Count them: 15. And then I fell over exhausted and in pain. The pain was from my wrists, which are definitely not up to any sort of dog: up, down or otherwise. Putting any weight on them at all is quite uncomfortable. 

Other than that, though, I could feel that it was a really good workout and my body feels more loose and comfortable than it has in weeks. It was quite invigorating and I wish I could have done more, but my body (wrists) refused. Maybe I'll try it again someday, a long time from now when I have healthy hands. In the meantime, count me among the believers.

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent who might believe that "Cotton Scented Soap-O" really is that enticing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ONE more time

I'm sure I'd be a much more interesting person if I had brilliant new thoughts every day to share. If I could give people one "WOW" moment once a week, people'd be checking the site everyday.

Unfortunately, I'm just your average slightly-obsessively-minded person who generally has a lot of the same things on her mind each day. So my blog gets repetitive. Such is life. If you think my blog is boring, just imagine living inside this head. (Yeah, I know: scary!)

With that prelude, I have tried to encourage people to take action on global poverty in the past and today is no exception. We sit and cry when we hear the stories, then we go back to our normal lives and tell our friends we "totally need a massage" today. Don't get me started on the society of entitlement we live in. It wouldn't be pretty.

But today, I decided to let somebody else plead the cause for me; somebody who was my idol as a teenager. Enjoy!



Why I like ONE.org:

1. They don't ask you for your money.
2. They ask small things of their 2.5 million members, counting on 2.5 million voices as carrying weight of their.
3. Most action items only take a few seconds to complete--just read the email, and click to sign your name to the petition. How hard is that? (Sorry, Warren Buffett.)
4. Like I said, Bono was my idol as a teenager. (Though it was Larry Mullen Jr., the drummer of U2, who really made me swoon, but that's neither here nor there.) So, okay, the Glam approach sucked me in. I admit it. But once I got started, I loved the power of adding ONE voice to a serious global problem!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Welcoming a Daughter

Of my parents' seven grandchildren, there are exactly zero granddaughters. I'm very excited to be the first to welcome a new little girl to the family... No, I'm not pregnant. Even better: Josh and I just agreed to start sponsoring a little girl at a Cambodian orphanage. We're thrilled. She may not be part of our family legally or by birth, but she's part of our family now anyway.

She was sent to the orphanage because her father is sick and unable to work. Her mother cannot support the family, so they sent their young daughter away so she could get an education and have a promising future. I don't know yet if she has any siblings or if she ever gets to see her parents. I'll find out soon.

Our support for her is twofold: monetary and emotional support. The money is minimal, just $30 a month. (By paying for her room and board at the orphanage, the orphanage can use their limited funds to improve the orphanage and buys books and supplies.) The real commitment is in staying in contact with our new "daughter" through email. She will try to send us email in the English she is learning at school, and we will in turn try to contact her as often as she wants in the simplest words we can. I'm sure there are older students who can help her translate our words. The language barrier may be a difficulty, but I have no doubt that my husband will start learning Khmer soon. He loves languages. ;)

When I was in high school, I randomly met somebody on the internet who was from Cambodia. He told me his family had been killed by the Pol Pot regime and he had fled the country. The story he told me was shocking. That story is becoming more important to me now as I learn about the goals of this orphanage.

According to Wikipedia, "They discarded Western medicine, destroyed temples, libraries, and anything considered western. Any person with trained skills, doctors, lawyers, teachers, were especially targeted. With that result, hundreds of thousands died from starvation and disease.  There were almost no drugs in the country."

Earlier this year, I attended a charity event for the orphanage and asked if it is possible to adopt children from the orphanage. They told me that the goal is to help educate the children to become leaders within the country, since so much of the educated class was wiped out by Pol Pot. (Estimates are between one and three million people.) So our goal in supporting our new "daughter" is to help her receive an education and feel confident in developing skills that will help Cambodia recover from the brutality of past decades.

If you're interested in learning more about the program you can see more online at Email Foster Parents.

The Fun Mom Project

A year or two ago, I was asked by my Relief Society to put together a list of fun things for kids to do during the summertime. The project grew so big that I wanted to share it with other people as well, so I put the information on a website. That project morphed into a now-much-neglected site called Fun To Do.

When I started the project, I had no idea how much fun stuff there is to do in my little corner of the world. I had always thought that I lived in a very boring little community. I was amazed to discover that I could stay busy every day with fun events just in Utah County. If I was willing to take a drive up to Salt Lake, there would just be too many options to choose from.

I started a Calendar of Events for child-friendly activities and was amazed at how happy I became. To explain why, I need to back up a little bit. When I first had kids, I realized that many doors were now closed to me. My oldest child was tempermental as a baby and prone to just start screaming his head off with no warning. We didn't dare take him to restaurants or movies and going to church was an exercise in humility. (Still is.) So we found ourselves suddenly stuck in the house most of the time. My husband was working full-time and in school, so my life suddenly became very dark and boring. I missed the old days when I could drive up to Salt Lake to have an impromptu lunch with Josh or see him off at the airport when he went on business trips. With a cranky baby, you just don't do that kind of thing.

By the time I started FunToDo, the cranky baby was a mischevious, but easier to manage, preschooler and the twins were toddlers. The husband was still commuting to work and in classes. My life still seemed to be filled with a lot of Closed Doors. When I started my Calendar of Events, I suddenly found doors opening! I realized that there are a LOT of fun child-friendly things to do. Maybe they aren't quite as awesome for a grown adult, but they're a lot awesomer than sitting in the house resenting the Closed Doors.

We started getting out. We went to the Springville City Art Days and sat in the shade of huge trees by the Art Museum while watching the parade. I took Joseph down to Springville another time for a little Hot Air Balloon event. It was much smaller than the Freedom Festival one and much more enjoyable because of the small crowd. They threw candy down from the balloons and Joseph was in heaven. Seeing him giggle made me smile.

Then I lost steam. There is SO much information that I got overwhelmed. I'm not a software engineer or a real web guru. I needed a good data management system but had none. I was working with tools that I couldn't customize and couldn't control. I felt like I could never stay on top of everything so it just sort of fizzled out. Now, the only things on the calendar are the recurring items that I set up a year and a half ago. There is still a world of information on the other pages and I recently found my old Halloween page. I'd totally forgotten about it and I wish I had one for every holiday!

A few days ago, I told my husband that I want to revive the project, but I need his help. I thought it might be fun for him to work in a new development environment with a big web project, and it would thrill me to have this site really fine-tuned with a better calendar, good data management and a ratings & review system. If we get it all working and I find a lot of traffic coming to the site, I'll be motivated enough to add some of the bonus features that I've thought about, like a page about local preschools or a listings of classes and lessons available for kids. There is really a lot available that could be brought together in a central location. It could also be a great place for people to advertise piano lessons, cello lessons, etc. etc. And if you knew the headaches I went through trying to find a preschool for my twins, you'd understand my desire to get them all listed in a central location.

A few questions remain: how do I bankroll this little project? The Google Ads on the site net me about 50 cents a week, if it's a good week. I'm at about 15 dollars total now I think. And a project like this could get expensive, hosting the domain, driving to different locations to snag photos or get info, paying admission fees, etc. Granted it would be a lot of fun, but it's not exactly in the budget.

Also, how can I keep my information better organized so I don't get swamped? What information would be best to include? Good search features for the calendar of events so people don't get swamped with information? Regular articles on the main page with information about upcoming events? Contests with rewards for people who attend events? If so, can I find sponsors? If there is money involved at all, do I need to set up a Nonprofit or a Single Owner Business or an LLC? Which would be best? What do I really want from this anyway?

And so the stress begins and I start to feel overwhelmed. I need a good partner to keep me grounded or I need a clear plan of what I want to do. Help! Where do I go from here? How do I keep those doors open instead of closed?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Job Change

After months of phone interviews, on-site interviews, resume touch ups and stress, Josh just accepted a new job today! Sort of.

Back in July, Josh started brushing off his resume and job shopping. He interviewed at a local company, which later extended him an offer of employment. The plus sides would have been a two-minute commute, a fun new project, change of (workplace) scenery and at least one great coworker (a friend of mine from high school). After weighing our options, however, Josh turned the job down and then spent weeks wondering if he'd made the right decision.

Our experience at another company was a little less straightforward. I've been bugging (I mean, encouraging) Josh to submit his resume to Google for years now. You know how I am about Google. "Enthusiastic" is hardly the word. I'm a Google geek of ginormous proportions. So we asked my brother-in-law, who works at Google, to submit his resume last summer. He did so and then called a while later to tell us that he had been approved for a phone interview.

I was thrilled, because I wasn't really expecting anything to happen. Google is ranked as the #1 Best Company to Work For because they have amazingly awesome benefits, like free gourmet food, massages, arranged transport to work to save on gas  (at the Mountain View location), and 20% of your work time that you can spend on other projects. I call that last perk "Build Your Own Resume" and I think it sounds awesome. Because Google is such a fabulous employer, they receive bazillions of resumes from people with very impressive credentials. They boast of hiring the Best & Brightest from places like MIT and Stanford. I know my husband is a freakin' awesome software engineer, but I doubted that it would come through on a sterile resume.

So we were thrilled and awaited the phone interview eagerly. And then we kept waiting. Finally, the day came. I was resting on the couch, trying to nap when the phone rang. I lazily checked caller ID (I never answer the phone.. sorry..) and saw the word "GOOGLE." I answered immediately and tried to play it cool, as if I wasn't completely thrilled to be talking to "Google." The recruiter told me how excited she was to talk to Josh and I gave her his cell number. She called him, had an initial screening interview and said she'd email him some information to look over, asking him to try to get it back to her as soon as possible.

In the meantime, she said she'd arrange a phone interview with an engineer. All day, I checked Josh's gmail account, waiting for the information to arrive so we could reply immediately. Then waited some more. Several days passed and the email never arrived. No word about when the phone interview would take place. We tried to call the recruiter and couldn't reach her. She didn't return our calls. All this while Josh was getting ready to interview at the local company. 

So, a week later, Josh was at an on site interview with the local company when I saw the 310 area code on caller ID. 310 is the area code where my sister lives.. the sister whose husband works at Google! I again answered eagerly, but got a surprise. The man on the other end said, "Umm I had an interview with your husband scheduled for 30 minutes ago but I can't get a hold of him on his cell phone." So after much hassle and craziness, Josh had his Google phone interview IMMEDIATELY after returning from an interview at the local company, and with zero time to prepare for the Google interview. The recruiter forgot to tell Josh about the interview! Argh!

He did the best he could and we eventually heard from the recruiter again. She said they wanted to fly Josh out for an on site interview and he would be contacted soon about travel arrangements. We were so excited! We couldn't believe this was actually happening! So Josh scheduled time off work and I started researching living costs in Santa Monica. Then we never heard from the travel people. It was a day before Josh was supposed to leave when we finally heard from the recruiter again. She apologized and said they'd changed their policies. They now required TWO phone interviews before an on site interview. So Josh had another phone interview, again with almost no time to prepare.

We then waited and waited (of course) to hear back from the recruiter. Just when I was convinced that they had ruled him out, the recruiter called and said they officially wanted to fly him out for an on site interview. (No, but seriously this time!) It had been weeks since we heard from her. We were excited and eventually heard from the travel people and eventually got everything all set up. So Josh flew out to Santa Monica and felt he did a decent job at the interviews. (When you interview on site at Google, it's a kind of marathon. They take you into a room and send in engineer after engineer to grill you about various aspects of software engineering and math. )

The best part of the interview was that Josh went to Portos the next day and brought home a box of pastries for us to share! Ha ha ha ha ha.... I'm such a geek, but it is tradition since my trip to American Idol.

During this process, Josh had started receiving a bit of "encouragement" at work to switch over to a new company within the same project. (Josh works for IHC, in a project building a next generation of software to use within hospitals. The project is a joint project between IHC and GE Healthcare, so although he works for IHC, he has a GE email address and is essentially paid for by GE, if I understand correctly. So he was being pressured to officially become a GE employee instead of IHC: same project, but the paycheck and benefits come from a different company.) He didn't want to agree to make the switch if he was going to be leaving the project altogether, so he hemmed and hawed and put it off for a long time.

I finally convinced him that if Google made him an offer, it would be better to lay it out side-by-side with an offer from GE and evaluate them together. So he finally applied at GE and got the ball rolling around the time he flew out to Santa Monica. A week and a half ago, he finally got the verbal job offer from GE and it included better benefits and a pay raise. He asked them to give him a week so he could see if Google was going to come through with an offer. 

I think it was that same day that he got a call from Google saying that they wanted to run him through one more phone interview. I thought this process would NEVER END! It was started to feel very frustrating and my research on housing prices in Santa Monica was not promising. Making the move to LA would require us to live in a small three-bedroom apartment, leaving our 4700 square foot home behind. (We rent out the basement, so we're not actually living in 4700 square feet, but it would still be a HUGE lifestyle change.) I was excited about the idea of living somewhere different, but I had an increasing feeling of panic when I thought about it.

Last week was horrid. The recruiter, true to form, wouldn't return Josh's calls. Friday came and we knew we wanted to make a decision over the weekend because Josh had promised GE an answer by Monday. Josh had communicated this to the recruiter the week before and she had promised to get back to us. Friday morning, gone... Friday afternoon, gone... almost. Josh finally got the phone call at the very end of his work day when we had given up hope. They weren't able to offer him the kind of job he wanted. They recommended he consider a different sort of engineering job, which he hadn't really considered before. He was disappointed and stressed to have to think through something so unexpected. We talked about it all weekend, stressed and felt very tense.

This morning, he decided to go talk to a fellow IHC employee to get some advice, before making a decision. It was a good and informative conversation and we talked it over afterwards. We made a decision and feel very good about it.

Drum roll please? Josh just accepted a new job at GE Healthcare and called Google to tell them he wasn't interested in continuing the process with them. He'll be at the same office, same coworkers, same responsibilities, same job... but get a pay raise and better benefits out of it. I call that a win-win-win situation. I'm excited for this slightly new chapter in our life. I'm excited he'll be working for a company that gives him sick time again. All of his PTO at IHC was used for sick days and we haven't done anything really FUN as a family in ... okay, never. Now we'll be able to actually save up some PTO and take a family vacation. In fact, we might do it "between jobs" to celebrate. Who knows?

So I get to stay in my wonderful home, in my wonderful neighborhood with wonderful neighbors. I will continue to live within 10 minutes of (almost) all my siblings and both my parents. I still get to gaze fondly out my window at the snowy peaks of Mount Timpanogos. I get to enjoy all the perks of a Four Season climate with sunshine in the summer and snow ball fights in the winter. I get to really be thrilled as the first little crocuses peek out of the brown dirt each spring, and bask in the gorgeous changing leaf colors in the Alpine Loop each Autumn.

And with a pay raise, we get to leave all that loveliness behind more often and travel to places that are ... nonUtahy ... but always know our home will be waiting for us after we've had our fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shortest Autumn Ever

When I blogged about how my roses would bloom until the first frost, I wasn't quite expecting things to happen so quickly. I was very surprised to wake up to this Sunday morning:

Snow? Seriously? Wow. At least Mother Nature remembered (eventually) which season it is supposed to be, because today is the perfect Autumn day. We went to a local garden center and chose pumpkins of all sizes for the front porch. I bought my third annual Awesome Green Gourd. I'll have to take some pictures of the Green Awesomeness.

Six of my Mom's seven Grandsons, picking perfect pumpkins:

When I saw the snow on the lawn, I was almost ready to skip past Halloween and Thanksgiving. I started formulating Christmas shopping lists in my mind and felt determined to get Christmas cards out at a record-setting pre-December 25th this year. Then it dawned on me that it was still October. I felt deflated. Last year, I never felt psyched for the holidays and now I feel like can't come soon enough.

While I'm enjoying the too-early-Spirit of the Season, I might plan a Christmas party. A friend of mine, Heather, aka sister's friend, aka wife of my sister's friend from high school, aka sister-in-law to my ex-boyfriend (who was my sister's friend's brother... did you follow all that?), aka talented photographer, aka very funny lady, invited me to their annual Christmas Sing-in last year and it was a blast. Now that we have a piano, I thought it'd be fun to host a Sing-in of my own. The idea is perfect: find a pianist, invite anybody who loves to sing Christmas carols and prepare piles of holiday food. It's the ideal recipe for happy memories.

And if I plan now, maybe I'll be ready to make it actually happen come December. So "Yea!" for early snow storms that remind me to prepare for Christmas before the third week of December. And "Yea!" for snow storms that remind me exactly why Autumn (not winter) is my favorite season of the year. And a few "Pretty Please!" wishes that Autumn will last a little longer and the snow can be saved until December or January.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Still waiting for it to be funny

When something horridly human happens, I usually wait a few minutes/hours/days for it to become humorous enough to blog about. I'm still waiting for last Friday to become funny to me, but the incident is stubbornly annoying still.

* I'm still annoyed that a pleasant family outing to Lagoon with Josh and Joseph turned into something so not pleasant.

* I'm still annoyed that I knew it was time to leave... and I told Joseph we were leaving... and then I ignored that little voice in my head and decided to go check out the supposedly-wicked-awesome roller coaster "Wicked" instead.

* It's still not funny that we have to replace my husband's glasses because they fell off of him while on a roller coaster. I know it's funny to YOU, but it's still not funny to me. We don't have vision insurance and glasses are pricey.

* It's still not funny that we have eye infections goin' around, so my husband couldn't wear contacts all weekend either.

* It's still not funny that we waited until after the roller coaster closed past 11 p.m. for them to go look around below "Wicked" to try to find the glasses and we still had to walk away empty-handed.

* It's still not funny how bitterly cold and windy it was at 11:30 p.m. in Farmington.

* It's still not funny that we were literally the last visitor car in the parking lot.

* It's still not funny when I remember the tears running down Joseph's cheeks as he begged us to just let him go home and go to sleep because he was so tired and so cold. 

* It's especially not funny that I encouraged Joseph to pray that the people would be able to find Daddy's glasses, and then they couldn't find them. Not the message I was trying to send to my child, but I'm sure there's a more important message in the wings. Something about keeping faith even when things don't make sense or something about sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no. I just wanted the simple "yes" this time to teach my son simple faith.

* I'm still annoyed that I just knew we shouldn't have gone over to that roller coaster but I went anyway. It's not funny that I couldn't think of a single earthly reason not to follow the group instead of following my gut instinct so I kept my mouth shut.

It'll be funny soon enough. But as of today, there is nothing funny about any of this. Please stop laughing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guess Again

Josh likes to distract the children from their antics by playing the guessing game with them. It started out like this a few minutes ago:

"I built a boat..."
"Noah!"
"No... I built a boat, and I dreamed about a big tree with white fruit..."
"Noah!"
"No..."
"Noah!"
"I have two brothers who were mean to me and hit me with sticks..."

Whereupon, the answer we all knew was coming. Elijah yelled, "IS IT ME?!?!?"

I saw that coming but it was still priceless.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Good Service/Bad Service

This post is dedicated to my friend Mariah, who is in a world of hurt. I wish I could make everything all better, but I can't, so I'll share a few memories with her and tell her I love her.

About 5 1/2 years ago, Joseph was about a year old and a miracle occurred: I got pregnant. After years of infertility and using infertility drugs to get pregnant with Joseph, I found myself with a positive result the natural route. I was beyond thrilled. I was so excited for Joseph to have a little playmate that would be so close in age. 

I went in for my appointment and the doctor said that since my pregnancies are always high risk, he wanted me to go in for an ultrasound. I didn't question this because we'd done the same thing with Joseph. (And we did the same thing later with the twins...)

When I went in for the ultrasound, the person doing the ultrasound was very cold to me. She never smiled, never tried to explain things to me or show me what was happening. But she immediately started asking me questions: "Why did the doctor send you here today?" 

I explained. She refused to accept my explanation. She said, "They don't send people in for no reason like that. Did he tell you you might be miscarrying?" 

Starting to feel a bit annoyed and a bit concerned, I said no, he just sent me in to check things out like he'd done with my first pregnancy. She continued to argue with me that he couldn't have sent me in for the reasons I had stated. I hate to say that she seemed to very SMUG when she showed me there was no heartbeat and the fetus (embryo?) was much too small for the age. She said it had died weeks before and my body just hadn't expelled it yet.

I was devastated, of course. No amount of kindness would have made that moment a happy one. But having a messenger who didn't rub it in my face and seem proud to use it as a moment to prove her own superior knowledge would have been a step in the right direction. I have no idea if my ob/gyn sent me in that day knowing what was coming, but he certainly showed a bit more discretion and concern for my feelings.

Skip forward to this week. No, I'm not pregnant. This isn't about pregnancy. Don't SCARE me by making assumptions like that. Sheesh, people.

I have an eye infection. It was so horrible by Sunday that I was miserable. My whole body felt sick and I knew I had to do something about it. Joseph had been suffering with an eye infection since Tuesday and his prescription wasn't really making much of a difference for him. So I hemmed and hawed and finally called my eye doctor's office, hoping they might be working an after-hours shift. They weren't but my (angelic) doctor left his home phone number and cell phone on the answering machine, saying to call if it was an emergency.

After much debating the definition of the word "emergency" I decided to just call and ask him one question.

After getting him on the line, I explained briefly what was going on and said, "Would you recommend I wait until tomorrow to come into your office to see you, or should I go to Instacare today?"

He replied, "Well, I wouldn't do either one of those. I think we need to get you some relief right away." And just like that, he called in a prescription for me so I could start getting better. I think I cried. I'm crying now at any rate. His kindness and concern for my health meant the world to me.

This is how life is. We have crappy times. Things hurt. The people around us cannot make the pain go away right away, but they can boost our spirits by showing kindness and humanity. I pray I remember that when my friends and family are feeling down.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not as hazy

Things today are not quite as blurry as yesterday, but I still have a pretty awesome headache and I'm super tired from not sleeping last night. Thanks to Heidi who brought me a loaf of zucchini bread: it saved my bacon this morning when I was too tired to think about breakfast!

I'm totally in love ... with my rose bushes. They're still blooming and they'll bloom until the first hard frost. Then we'll go out that morning, and there will be beautiful, half-opened rose buds covered in ice. They'll stay like that until the spring when we start pruning. The first home Josh & I bought, when we first got married, had a yard that was lined with rose bushes all around. It was insane. We counted them up and there were over 50! That's way too much work for anybody--pruning 50+ rose bushes each spring, and dead heading thousands of flowers during the year. Yikes! 

So in our new house, we have one small area for roses by the front door. So far, we have one miniature rose, one climbing rose that we just planted this summer and two hybrid teas. One is the famous "Peace" rose, which has an amazing story that I love. Peace is colored in a beautiful way: yellow at the very center of the bud, fading to cream and then turning pink on the tips. Each rose is different and each is absolutely stunning. 

The other is a cultivar of the Peace rose, named "Chicago Peace." It has the same color habits, but stronger, richer colors. Each rose is an absolute prize! We love our rose bushes and they give us dozens of roses each time they bloom. Each year we prune them down to about 18-24" high and chop them into a few stems. But by the end of the summer... wow! "Peace" is now embarrasingly taller than myself.

The only downside to the roses? I'm allergic to the smell! Ha! If I stop to smell the roses (which I have to do) my whole head feels heavy until I step away and breathe in some clean air.

Here are a few pictures to show off our current roses and the roses from the last house we lived in. Enjoy!



In other news, what do you do when you're unhappy with the world around you? Feeling irritated with your government leaders? Not sure who to vote for? Start your own campaign! I'm pleased to announce my part in the GNU Public Dictatorship. We're here to hear you! And we have a great logo, thanks to the logo contest we just held.

But before you click that link, please keep in mind that I'm not actually a delusional, power-hungry tyrant. Nor do I play out my fantasies by pretending to be one. It's an old joke from high school and we decided to renew it BLOGGER style! So if you want to get misinformed about the latest public events, don't forget to subscribe to the Misinformation Campaign.

(My friend and co-conspirator, Tim, is a software engineer by day and has the most amazing knack for misinformation that I've ever seen. It's always a treat to see what he's come up with. Be sure to go back to his post about the dangers of brads and the evil men who force them on the public: "Brad Guys." My other friend who contributes to the site (though less regularly) is my almost-brother Craig. When he posted his logo design, I laughed until I cried.)

Good news for other aspiring world dictators: we're looking for a few good men and women to join our ranks in the quest for world domination ... and kooky blogging hijinks. Yes, it's geeky. Yes, it's really geeky. Yes, psychologists may deem you delusional. But what the hey? They MIGHT be giants. We'll be posting the application form soon. If you actually fill it out (the more misinformation, the better) you'll have an excellent chance of making the team.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Haze

Life has become a haze, figuratively and literally. Our family's sickness it having its' hopefully final hurrah as I fight off an eye infection like no other. Joseph has had this for an entire week and is only today close enough to better that I could send him to school. I've had it since Friday and I'm amazed at how one little eye infection can lay waste to my health. My vision is a bit blurry from the excess eye moisture, I have a rip roarin' headache when I keep my eyes open too long and my energy is drained and gone.

I just want to curl up and sleep. Please. 

Friday, October 03, 2008

Book Talk :: Amelia Peabody

Eloquence goes out the window when I'm talking about something that I adore. Enthusiasm takes over and I happily blubber. To wit:

I love the Amelia Peabody books! SO funny! So satirical! So amazingly awesome! This is a series of 18 books by Elizabeth Peters, an Egyptologist and incredibly popular author. The books begin near the close of the 19th century as bold and sassy Amelia Peabody decides to take her new fortune and travel to see the antiquities of Egypt.

Her travels bring her new friendships, new enemies, an unexpected passion for archeology and ... could it be the love of her life? Later books chronicle the entanglements of her precocious son, her ever-growing family of Brits and Egyptians and an elusive Master Criminal with excellent taste in women.

These books are best categorized as satirical Adventure/Mystery/Historical Drama/Comedy/Victorian Romance. They are also best described as great fun!

New York Times Book Review said, "Between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, it’s Amelia - in wit and daring - by a landslide." Washington Post Book World said, "Peters is the grande dame of historical mystery." I couldn't agree more.

Who wouldn't love a main character who says things like:
"Marriage should be a balanced stalemate between equal adversaries."

"No woman really wants a man to carry her off; she only wants him to want to do it."

"It is difficult to be angry with a gentleman who pays you compliments . . . especially impertinent compliments."

"The trouble with unknown enemies is that they are so difficult to identify."

"I hope I number patience among my virtues, but shilly-shallying, when nothing is to be gained by the delay, is not a virtue."

"When one is striding bravely into the future one cannot watch one's footing."

"There are occasions upon which a candid expression of opinion may not only be rude, but counterproductive."
I read library copies of most of these books and have recently decided that it's time to build up my own library of Amelia Peabody.  Soon I will be able to laugh whenever I want to. I now have the first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank, ready to be lent out to whoever is lucky enough to email me first. :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

12 Hours in Pictures

Yes, it happened again. We decided it wasn't fun just passing the virus around the family once. So Elijah threw up last night to give this illness another go. He looked so gosh darn cute and sick, I couldn't help snapping a photo of him paying homage to the toilet.

It's amazing what a difference a good night's sleep can make. He woke up with an enormous appetite and a huge grin.

Joseph wasn't quite as lucky. He's been in a fist fight with his virus and the virus is still winning. Check out that eye!

But he's chipper anyway. So we all went in the backyard to cheer up and spread a different kind of virus to the corners of the earth. Who can complain about dandelions when your kids are so happy blowing those seeds?



We've been laundering, dish washing, disinfecting and cleaning this morning, hoping that Mr. Vomit Germs will finally bid us adieu. I'm feelin' optimistic.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mid-Night Crisis of Social Anxiety vs. Conscience

When we first moved into our current home, we met all of the new neighbors. Since then, we've had little opportunity to socialize with anybody except those we see at church. Unfortunately we've fallen a bit out of contact with our other neighbors.

One of the first families we met was a family with a boy Joseph's age, Javier. Great family and very sweet boy, but things just never materialized into more than a passing acquaintance. I wasn't even sure if the family still lived in the house when Joseph's 1st grade class list was posted and I saw the name "Javier" on the list.

I wondered, and a week or so into class, my suspicion was confirmed. Joseph came home one day and announced in amazement that his new friend, Javier, only lived a few houses away from us! In fact, he lives inside Joseph's "boundaries" of where he can play unsupervised. He was thrilled.

Since then, Joseph and Javier have gotten together to play several times and have had a world of fun. I've always like Javier's mother and found her very easy to talk with. I'm so grateful that Joseph has made a new friend--especially one that lives so close by! It has been particularly hard for Joseph to make lasting friendships and he has been bullied quite a bit in the last few years. Anybody who treats Joseph kindly is #1 in my book.

And then tonight happened. You can imagine the panic I felt when I saw an ambulance racing through my neighborhood, followed closely by a fire truck. They stopped calmly ... in front of Javier's house.

Before I go on, I should confess one thing. I'm a crybaby. I regularly cry when I see an ambulance racing through the streets with lights on. And that's when I don't have any idea who is in trouble. I also cry when I watch "The Apprentice" or "The Biggest Loser" so that's just how I am. I cry easily. (You gotta problem with that?!?!)

So I felt very emotional suddenly when I saw these emergency vehicles stopping in front of Joseph's new friend's home. I thought about the fact that this family probably doesn't have a lot of close friends in this neighborhood because the LDS families so naturally connect together at church and build close bonds there.

The situation down the street looked relatively calm--the sirens weren't on and the fire fighters were entering the home slowly and methodically. No rushing water, no EMTs carrying stretchers. But let's be honest: an ambulance and a fire truck strike a certain level of dread into any heart, no matter how calmly they're going about their business.

So the crisis internally began. This is played out by two different Julianas, whom we'll title "Socially Anxious Juliana" (SA) and "I Have a Conscience Juliana" (IHaC).

IHaC: Look! Your neighbor is in trouble. Go offer help!
SA: Are you crazy!?!? I'd just be in the way.
IHaC: They don't know many people. They might need a friend.
SA: I said you're crazy. What will the neighbors think? I don't want to look like a rubber necker.
IHaC: It could be Javier in trouble.
SA: Hmmm...
IHaC: If not, he's probably pretty freaked out. He might want a safe place to come and chill while the fire fighters do their thing.
SA: Hmmm....
IHaC: Come on.
SA: But... the walk down there... the neighbors will all see... Plus, I might get in the way of the fire fighters! They'll hate me for interfering.
IHaC: Okay, we'll compromise. Just walk down there and let your neighbors think you're a nosy busy body. You know better than that. If Javier's Mom or Dad is outside, then you can ask if they need help. If there's nobody outside, you can just walk home.
SA: Fair enough. It's just that...
IHaC: MOVE IT!
SA: Fine.. sheesh..

So I started the dreaded walk. You have no idea how difficult this walk was, knowing that all my neighbors were peeking out their windows to watch this drama play out. I didn't want to be part of the drama! I didn't want to be a rubber necker. I just wanted to reach out and try to repay them for some of the kindness they've shown us.

So I walked and walked. There was somebody standing in the shadows. Yea! I got within one house and I realized it was a fire fighter. Just then, all the other fire fighters exited the house and saw me. As one, they stopped and stared. I stopped. They continued staring. I lifted up my hands to try to think of some way to communicate something to them, and instead turned and ran for home like the socially awkward CHICKEN that I am!

Hi, yes, thank you. Neighbor of the YEAR!

But I redeemed myself somewhat by finding their phone number and calling to make my inquiries. This was hard enough at 11:00 p.m. but I'm glad I did it. Now I know they're okay and they know that they have friends in the neighborhood.

Perhaps tonight will be the Phoenix of a new friendship rising out of (luckily) no ashes at all.

Movie "Magic"?

It's fun to play with Picasa! I took a few pictures of my yard this morning and decided to make it into a cheesy little slideshow movie, accompanied by my favorite song. It's a bit, errr, slow moving, but life should never be hurried. :) Enjoy!

video