31 December 2007

2007 Highlights (Year, not quantity)

I like to look back at each year and list the highlights. Every year I'm surprised by how many great things have happened in the last year. I thought I'd share a few with you. Let me know if I blew it and missed something really grand.

  • Savanna, a niece born in January
  • Diana, a niece born in May
  • Colette, a niece born in June
  • Steven and Rhonda's wedding
  • Kathleen getting into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • All of the GBLs being in town for Christmas
  • GRADUATION!!!! Eric and I graduated from BYU this year. We walked together in April, but I didn't officially finish until August.
  • Eric got accepted to the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and we are going there SIX WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!!
  • I got a grown-up job, and I get to keep it when we live across the planet.
  • Eric joined the Crisis Team and then became the manager of the Crisis Team.
  • Eric got a couple of raises.
  • We went to San Diego to watch Michelle run (and win!).
  • I went to Texas for my brother's wedding.
  • We went to Jackson Hole in June to canoe the Snake River with Gordon, Kathleen and Andrew and to see Colette.
  • We went to Jackson Hole in August for Colette's blessing.
  • We went to Seattle to visit Matt and Michelle for Thanksgiving.
  • We went to Jackson Hole for Bridger's baptism.
  • We bought our plane tickets for New Zealand.
When we were sitting over dinner a few weeks ago we thought of many, many other highlights for this year. This is just a recap of some of the best reasons to be grateful for 2007!

2007 Books (year, not quantity)

I've read a lot of books this year. I hope to read more next year. I've listed the books I read in 2007 below. I would bold my favorites, but almost all of them would be bold. They are in no particular order - just the order I remembered them in.

  1. Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky
  2. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling*
  5. Roots by Alex Haley
  6. The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola
  7. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
  8. Ella Enchanted by Gale Carson Levine
  9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  10. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  11. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  12. Two Lives of Charlemagne
  13. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy*
  15. Silas Marner by George Elliot*
  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley*
  17. Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad Age by Ann Durkin Keating
  18. Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and its Aftermath by John Philip Colletta
  19. Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner
  20. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
  21. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
  22. Candide by Voltaire
  23. The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History by Lynn Hunt
  24. The French Worker: Autobiographies from the Early Industrial Era by Mark Traugott
  25. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  26. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway*
  27. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  28. New Zealand - Culture Smart by Sue Butler

*I listened to an audio-version of this book.

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

Christmas is over, and all the little kids are gone. It was so much fun to play with the nieces and nephews while they were here. It's weird to think how big and different they will be when I get to see them again.

Cute things the little ones have done/said:
  • "Grandpa, I don't like girls. Well, I like some girls. I don't like Sherry." -James (4) (Shalissa tried to explain that he was talking about liking girls not just liking them. I'm not really sure why he wouldn't like me because I had just finished reading him a book about whales. Well, hmph!)
  • After Gordon told a funny joke and everyone laughed, Caleb (3) chimed in with a forced, gut-busting laugh. Then we all laughed at him. Then it got quiet and Caleb whispered, "Grandpa, that wasn't funny."
  • When Caleb sat at a stool at the island and said, "Hey you're cutting veggie-tales!"
  • Michael (2) completely freaking out during picture time. Especially in the grandparents/grandkids picture. Which then caused Caleb to commence freaking out. And then the babies (11 mos and 7 mos) to freak out. It was hilarious. A pure meltdown. In fact, I think the picture below pretty much captures the whole experience, although it was actually taken before the melting down really got melt-y.
  • When Michael remembered my name as "Not Andrew" on Saturday after training him while throwing the basketball on Friday. Fortunately by Sunday he could remember my name as "Say-ee." A week later he had again forgotten my name, but he at least recognized me and lit up when he saw me.
  • Little Michael saying "I can't get you!" then running away from me as I chased him saying, "Yes, I can!" and he would respond, "No, I can't!" Then I would get him and he would say, "Don't want get you! Go away!" Michael, are you 2? Clearly.
  • Katie asking me if Eric knew that God didn't want him to work on Sunday.
  • Michael not wanting to open any more presents after his first present on Christmas morning.
  • Katie saying in the prayer over Christmas breakfast "And thank you for all of the presents that we couldn't even imagine!"
  • Caleb saying "Look Dad! It's a train. But it's not a real train, it doesn't chugga."
Also, the babies? So adorable. They don't talk yet, so they didn't say anything funny. But they are both really cute.

I tried to keep track of the funny things they said and did, but I'm sure I missed a few. It would be a lot easier if they weren't so darn funny!

Note: I posted this a few days ago, but I have since made some updates, and I thought it was worth reposting it with a new date.

29 December 2007

It's Totally Worth It

While they were in town, Shalissa and Bri and I had some great conversations. I really like those two. We've married brothers who grew up as best friends, and it's fun to talk about our husbands and how alike they are.

Shalissa mentioned that when she goes somewhere with all her kids (4) she gets strange looks and sometimes even rude-ish comments. Sometimes the comments aren't intended to be rude, I don't think. But sometimes they are. Usually people say something along the lines of, "Wow! You've got your hands full!" Fortunately, Shalissa has come up with four perfect words for the disapproving looks, or even the concerned looks: It's totally worth it.

I thought about that last night when I realized that I'm pretty sure both Nate and Shalissa kids AND Bry and Bri's kids got me sick. Because, wow. I'm pretty sick when you put it all together.

However, it's totally worth it. I wonder if that phrase is reserved only for dutiful moms and not fun aunts. In which case my saying it doesn't have quite the same impact. But playing with the kids this break was certainly my highlight of their coming out here. And I won't see them again for a loooooong time, so getting sick really isn't that big of a deal.

24 December 2007

Christmas Music Preferences

I mentioned before that I needed a post about Christmas songs. I don't know that this will be the best post. After all, it is CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!

I love they hymns. Hands down, they are the best, primarily because they are about the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. I particularly enjoy The First Noel, Silent Night, and the music from The Messiah (which was actually written for Easter, not Christmas!).

I enjoy many secular songs as well, especially the more sentimental ones like I'll be Home for Christmas, White Christmas and Let it Snow.

I also really like some of the fun ones like Sleigh Ride and Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I am not crazy about the silly songs and most of the Santa songs. I rather dislike Santa Clause is Coming to Town, All I want for Christmas (is my Two Front Teeth), I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, and Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. I haven't always hated these songs. I enjoyed them as a child, in fact. But somewhere along the way the started to bother me. Perhaps because of all the pop renditions of them? I'm really not sure. Anyway, there you have it.

19 December 2007

My Take on Santa

It must be the holiday season because most of the blogs that I read rarely have new posts. I probably fall under that category too.

I've been thinking a lot about Santa recently and different parents' theories of Santa and the ages of discovery about Santa and that sort of thing. And here's my take:

We'll do the Santa thing. We'll take the kids to visit Santa. We'll have them write letters if they so desire. But Santa only brings mediocre gifts. The good gifts come from Mom and Dad. And when the kids are done believing in Santa, we'll be okay with that. I don't want my kids pretending to believe in Santa until they are 16 because they are worried they won't get presents. And I don't want Santa to get the credit for the cool things I get the kids.

And I don't believe the idea that if kids believe in Santa they may think Jesus isn't real. With that argument, you may as well get rid of ALL fictional characters, because it's pretty much the same thing. I've heard a story of a kid who told his mom, "If we pray, then God will send Superman to help us." All fictional characters can confuse kids because kids have a hard time understanding the difference between real and pretend. I understand the argument that Santa distracts from the true reason of the holiday, but I think EVERYTHING distracts from the true reason for the holiday. Nixing Santa isn't in my plans.

Hopefully Eric and I will find a balance and enjoy watching our little ones wonder about Santa but still not get carried away with the gimme-gimme aspects of Christmas.

17 December 2007

Review: Blokus

Blokus is our most recently acquired game, which I received for my birthday. It is a fun game for either 1, 2 or 4 players. Each player chooses a color and has 22 pieces. One color goes first, and he places any of his pieces on the board with at least one of the squares in his designated corner. Play continues in a circle. On each move, your pieces must touch any of your other pieces at a corner. You must touch on a corner, and nowhere else. Of course, you can touch all the other colors any way you like. The pic is really the best example. The idea is to weasel your way into tight spaces and cut off your opponents so they don't get to lay as many pieces.

As you can see from the pic, each pieces is composed of up to 5 squares. The end of the game happens when nobody can lay any more pieces. When that occurs, each player counts how many total squares are left in his remaining pieces. The person with the lowest score wins.

It's a pretty quick game. Takes about 20 minutes. Requires a lot of planning and adapting- strategery, if you will. If you play with two players, each player is two colors. If you play alone, the goal is to fit all the pieces in and still play by the corners-only rule. You can also do this challenge in a team. Eric and I did, and Michelle helped. It was fun!

You can also play Blokus online.

By the way, this is the last of the board game posts. These are all the games we have and play regularly. Actually, now that I think of it, we also have Disney Trivial Pursuit, but that's pretty self-explanatory.

14 December 2007

Christmas Movies

I have seen very few Christmas movies. Watching them every year was just something my family didn't do. I think my parents' attitude as, "Oh, we've seen that sooooo many times. We don't need to see it again." And thus, the first time I saw It's A Wonderful Life, I was about 14-16, I can't remember exactly. Really. I'm not exaggerating.

Miracle on 34th Street? Never saw it. Actually, I think I saw a bit of the new version when it came to video and thought it was dreadfully boring.

The Bishop's Wife? Never saw it.

The first time I saw Mr. Krueger's Christmas, I was a freshman in college. Yes, really.

White Christmas? I haven't seen that one either.

So, what HAVE I seen? I've seen Elf, but it just came out a couple of years ago, so I don't know how much that counts for anything. I've seen A Christmas Story more times than I can count, and I consider it my favorite Christmas movie. I've seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but not since I was a kid, and I'd love to see it again. When I was little I saw A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I never really liked it because I just have never been crazy about Peanuts. I just don't get it. And all those claymation movies? I never even liked them as a kid, even though I felt like I should like them.

As an older kid, I also saw Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, and The Santa Clause. And I don't ever need to see any of them ever again. Especially not The Santa Clause because I despise Tim Allen. He's obnoxious.

And what about the great classic, A Christmas Carol? Yes, I have seen it. I saw it for the first time last Christmas. We watched the one with Patrick Stewart, and I quite liked it. This year we watched A Muppet Christmas Carol. I expected better, but it was mostly enjoyable.

Perhaps I'll get around to watching more of the classics. Probably I won't.

12 December 2007

The Spouse

I found this on somebody else's blog. And it looked like fun. It's about Spouse.

1. What is his name: Eric. The Eric. Man. Spouse. I call him all these things. Yes, I am a little odd.

2. How long have you been married: 2 1/2 years.

3. How long did you date: Our first date was 17 September, and we got married the following April. That's the simplest explanation.

4. How old is he: 26.

5. Who eats more: Definitely him. He's a boy. I'm a girl.

6. Who said I love you first? He did. I returned the sentiment about two weeks later.

7. Who is taller: Eric is.

8. Who sings better: Eric. Yummy low voice. Which brings me to something I've been meaning to blog about- why are all the male leads in musicals tenors? Basses are soooooo much sexier.

9. Who is smarter: He is much smarter than me, a much better writer, very well-read and well-rounded. But I am better at playing the School Game than he is.

10. Whose temper is worse: Definitely mine.

11. Who does the laundry: Mostly me. But he did it more recently than I did.

12. Who does the dishes: We both hate doing the dishes. It is listed as "least favorite chore" for both of us. We do them about evenly, I guess. He doesn't like the way I do them, but right now we live where there is a dishwasher, so it's rather a moot point.

13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed: If you're standing at the foot of the bed, I am on the right.

14. Who pays the bills: Me. He doesn't even have his name on our checks! (That's just because he wasn't with me at the bank when I ordered new ones). And, I don't think he even knows how to log on to the bank's website, even though I've told him he needs to know in case I die and he has lots of bills to pay!

15. Who mows the lawn: We don't have one, but if we did, it would be Eric's job to mow it. Because I've mowed lawns about two times, and it was pretty much the worst job ever. And if he doesn't want to do it, we will pay somebody. And that's that.

16. Who cooks dinner: Mostly me. Eric is really helpful, though, and he's actually gotten to be a rather good instruction-follower since we got married. I've convinced him it's worth it to take time to cook because nice dinners are worth the short amount of time it takes to put them together. I have strong feelings about this.

17. Who drives when you are together: He does. But I have a better driving record.

18. Who is more stubborn: I have a near monopoly on stubbornness.

19. Who is the first to admit they are wrong: I'm never wrong. So he has to be the first to admit it he is wrong.

20. Whose parents do you see the most: Well, seeing as how we live with his parents, definitely we see them more.

21. Who has more friends: I think I do because my high school and college friends are different, but his are the same. Also, I can claim more of his friends as my own than he can of mine.

22. Who has more siblings: We both have four siblings.

23. Who wears the pants: Well, I always tell him, "Look! I'm in charge around here!" but I think things are actually about even.

11 December 2007

We're a Go!


I'm not sure how to properly convey my excitement about this. So, there you have it.

Best of all, I had looked at this website, where the cheapest fare was $845 to Aukland. But we don't want to go to Aukland, because then we'd still have to get all the way from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south island. And hello! China Air is scary! Well, I read some scary reviews about it, anyway. Then I saw an ad for this site, and I clicked on it. (Yes! I clicked on an ad! I do it quite frequently, thank you!) And do you know how much the tickets were to go all the way to Christchurch (which is only a 5-hour drive from us down the wrong side of the road)? They were $683 each! And I bought them. Right away.

We leave 11 February 2008. If you want to spend time with us before we move across the planet for 12 months, you better schedule an appointment. We're already getting booked up.

Review: Fish Eat Fish

Doesn't Fish Eat Fish sound like such a fun game? Well, it is. And it's easy and fast. We can usually play a game in about 20 minutes, depending on how thoughtfully people attack other fish.

The premise of the game is to attack your opponents' fish and eat them. You start with five fish, and then you start attacking. You each lay a card face down with a number on it. Then you flip your card over. The bigger card wins. When you win, you stack fish on top of the fish you just ate, thus making you stronger. That means, if your stack has 4 fish in it, and you attack a fish of only 1, you have an advantage of 3. If you lay a 1 you are worth 5. He must lay a 4 to tie you, and if you tie, you both die. Cards consists mostly of numbers (0, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5), but there each person has two octopus cards and a shark card. The idea of the game is to know when you need to win and when you can sacrifice a fish or two. You can only play each card once, so it is also important to pay attention to which players are still holding on to their most valuable cards.

Way fun game. Easy. The box says ages 8 and up, but I think you could play with younger kids. They just wouldn't have much strategy. The game accommodates 2-5 players. And it's probably one of the cheapest games I've blogged about.

10 December 2007

A Fond Farewell

Last night was our last time to go to Cousins' Dinner, which is hosted by Eric's Aunt Mimi and Uncle Paul. Cousins' Dinner is a monthly occasion for the college-aged cousins, plus the three that Paul and Mimi have (two of which are now in college). I mentioned Cousins' Dinner once before. It is something I always look forward to, not only because the food is consistently amazing, but also because the conversation is always entertaining, and sometimes insightful. Even though we are no longer students, Paul and Mimi still let us come because Eric was a T.A. this year, and because the number of college-aged kids is dwindling.

Usually Mimi does all the cooking, but sometimes she asks some of the married ones to bring a salad or dessert. We were in charge of dessert, and I made the Chocolate Banana Pound Cake that Janssen mentioned a while back. SO good. I found Cinnamon Chips at Albertson's. They are normally $2.99/bag, but they were on sale for $1.99 the day I bought them. I bought 3 bags because even before I made the cake, I knew I would love it. And right I was. I eagerly look forward to making this cake for the next work party! Everyone will think I'm amazing. Well, more amazing than they already think I am.

Also, the cake is super easy to make. Just make sure you let it cool completely before dumping it out of the pan. Otherwise, the top of the cake will stay in the pan, and the cake will merely taste much better than it looks. Not that I know this from experience.

Christmas Preferences

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love and adore wrapping gifts in boxes and tying ribbons around them. I really appreciate well-wrapped gifts. I've been kind of lazy about it this year, though.

2. Real tree or artificial?
I grew up with an artificial tree because two of my siblings are allergic to real ones. One of my brothers is extremely allergic and gets congested very quickly and very badly by being around them. My first time to have a real tree, I was 20, living with 5 girls in an apartment. One of them bought a tree, and we all decorated it together. The next year I was married, so Eric and I bought a live tree. The year after that, we just used the artificial one that my brother gave us. This year we are living with Eric's parents as we prep to move to New Zealand. They have an artificial one.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the day after Thanksgiving, now that I'm married and I'm in charge. But I'm not obsessive about it. This year we got it up about December 1.

4. When do you take the tree down? Some time after New Year's. I don't like to leave stuff up too long.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, particularly if it's not too strong. But I prefer hot chocolate and wassail.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Sand Art. Yes, I was a nerd. Also, a stuffed bear that I named Manhattan.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, we have 3. Because my mom gets us one for each year that we have been married (2). Plus we bought ourselves one once.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My sister and her husband. I usually just get them gift cards.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My dad. He always gives a list in October. And then my siblings all get him everything on it. I am getting him the think nobody has gotten him yet. Easy.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A Grandma-like Christmas sweater? I don't really remember.

11. Have you been to the Nutcracker? Yes, three times. Once when I was 9, and my mom and I went with my friend, Dorothy, and her mom. Then, in high school I went to watch Dorothy perform in her high school's performance. And once a couple of years ago at BYU.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I haven't seen very many, which is cause for another post that I've been meaning to write. But, DEFINITELY A Christmas Story. I love that one.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Never early enough. Although! This year we bought some gifts back in April! We are amazing!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so, actually.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chili. My mom's chili. And tamales. And taquitos. And chips and salsa. Of course, all these are actually Christmas Eve foods.

16. White lights or colored on the tree? I grew up with colored, but now I prefer white. One day when I am rich, I hope to have two trees. One will be the department-store-tree with white lights and fancy-pants ornaments. The other will be kid-tree with colored lights, fun ornaments, and the ornaments the kids make in school.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I really like The First Noel. It's really better to ask which songs I'm not crazy about. That deserves another post, as well.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Depends. Right now, we don't have kids, so it is easy to travel to visit others. I don't know if we'd ever travel somewhere to spend time away from family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I like angels. Eric likes stars. Good thing I'm the wife and I'm in charge.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve. Then Santa comes, and you get to open more presents in the morning!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The feeling of being rushed to see everyone and get everything done.

08 December 2007

Hand-made Goodness

I once sort of learned to crochet. Meaning, I learned the idea of crocheting, but I never became a crocheter. I really wanted to, but at the time, I just didn't have time. And now I have time, but I still don't know how to do it. I doubt I could learn from a book. I'm a hands-on kind of girl.

Last night we had our work Christmas party at the boss' house mansion. It has half a basketball court inside. Eight kids. All eight have their own rooms. You get the idea. The point, actually, has nothing to do with the house. It is the white elephant gift exchange. Eric and I neglected to bring gifts, primarily due to forgetting and time constraints, so we opted out of the exchange and were merely observers. Somebody didn't understand the whole idea of it all and brought an iPod. He got a bar of soap inside a stocky with somebody else's name on it. Poor guy.

One girl brought a home-made stocking. Inside was an old church manual (The Teachings of Wilford Woodruff), a home-made hat, and two home-made snowflake ornaments. For whatever reason, nobody picked up this gift, and it was left on the counter at the end of the game. (Which means that somebody who brought a gift left without one). Anyway, the girl seemed rather hurt that nobody picked her gift, and she just gave it to me. That was very nice of her. And now I have a pale-yellow hand-made hat.

It's really great. Really. I'm uber-excited about it. Baby duck yellow, as Eric would say. And I put it on before we left the party, and handful of people commented on what a cute hat it is. :)

07 December 2007

Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Let's discuss Christmas lights and outdoor Christmas decorations. Maybe I am a bit of an outdoor-Christmas-decorations snob. That doesn't bother me. I have rather strong feelings about decorating your house for Christmas.

First of all, if you want to go gung-ho crazy for Christmas, do it inside your house so you don't subject your neighbors to your tacky decorations or ridiculous lights.

With that said, I don't think all decorations are tacky, and most lights are not either. I'll just give you a list of things I detest:
  • Lights strung poorly. If you are going to hang them on your house, make them hang straight. Your roof is straight. Pull your lights tightly and secure them well so that they will be straight too.
  • Don't leave your lights up. ESPECIALLY if they are icicle lights. So tacky.
  • Lights on the house are pretty much all you need. I prefer them to be all in one color, but I don't necessarily think multi-colored lights are tacky.
  • If you insist on putting lights on your trees, please do it Temple Square style, as seen here-
  • Notice how the lights are strung around each, individual branch? It's a lot of work, yes. But if you are going to do it, you may as well do it right.
  • And finally. Lawn ornaments. Most are just not worth having. ESPECIALLY the inflatable kind. They look cheap. Do they cost cheap? No. This is something I don't understand.
I guess the best option for me is to live somewhere that regulates such things. Unfortunately, I don't right now, so I have to see things like an inflatable Santa riding a motorcycle with two reindeer on the back. Classy. (This isn't the exact image, but it's close).

Review: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the most complicated board games we play. I feel like I can't even begin to describe it to you, but I will attempt nonetheless. The overall goal is to earn victory points. To do that, you have to load goods onto ships. To produce goods, you have to build settlements, provide employees to work the settlements, and build factories with employees to work at the factories. Plus you sell your goods to get money, which you use to buy factories and buildings that give you certain privileges.

That is a really simplistic description of this rather complicated, but extremely fun game. This might be my favorite board game these days. There is a lot of strategy involved, and some luck. Unlike other games, you really can't have the same strategy every time. You have to vary it according to the other players' strategies.

Puerto Rico is pretty intense and competitive, but it doesn't cause nearly the contention that Tigris and Euphrates does, perhaps because it is not a game of warring states.

The game is meant for 2-5 players. It takes 1-2 hours.

06 December 2007

Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is wonderfully amazing. It is really and truly gratifying. One of the best books I have read all year.

Life of Pi is about a boy who is stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger for 227 days. It is about religion, human nature, animal nature, the need for companionship, and the will to live.

The writing in this novel is clever and witty. I can't tell you how many times I found myself laughing, not necessarily at funny situations or events, but just good writing that was meant to make me chuckle. In that same vein, the book is exceptionally moving.

You must go get this book right now from the library and read it. RIGHT NOW!

I read this book aloud to Eric (I think he read about 10 pages, if that), and he really liked it too. In the middle it gets a little slow, but that's because Pi is in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean doing pretty much the same thing day in and day out. I actually think the writing was intended to reflect the nature of Pi's rather dull life, and thus the less exciting writing.

But in the end, the book is amazing. It doesn't fizzle, as I worried it might. Amazing book.

04 December 2007

Let it, Indeed!

Alli's recent post made me realize that I ought to talk about my memories of snowing.

In Dallas it snows sometimes. It snows and then it ices. And everything shuts down. It did this a few times when I was in elementary school, and we got snow days. My brother and I spent those days wandering around the neighborhood, sliding on ice and having snowball fights. That is, we had snowball fights until we realized that snowballs were actually sleetballs and they rather hurt. Mostly, though, we just enjoyed the fact that we didn't have to go to school.

When I was a senior in high school, we got two and a half snow days because of snowy/icy weather. I spent both of the full days working at the grocery store where I was employed. Because I lived so close to the store, the bosses knew they could call me in to cover shifts. One day I worked 13 hours. The next day I worked 11 hours. Those were long days. But they resulted in overtime, and a pretty substantial paycheck. It wasn't so bad. Plus, I got to sleep in and go to school late on the third day, which was also quite nice because, Hello! Early Morning Seminary was canceled. I enjoyed seminary, but it is hard to be somewhere at 6 every morning.

Then I moved to Utah.That year we got a lot of snow in the valley. In fact, we had a lot of snow by Halloween. I remember the during the first snowfall I ran around playing in it with two of my friends from California, Prisicilla and Chad. We probably looked like idiots. We didn't care. That year I also made my first snowman. On my birthday, it snowed, and I called my mom and told her, "Mom! Guess what! God gave me snow for my birthday!" It was a fun birthday. (The snow, combined with the fact that I had the flu that week, and on my birthday I was allowed out again without the risk of pneumonia).

That year, I visited my brother and his family in Jackson Hole. I went sledding for the first time, AND WOW! I love sledding! It is so much fun! I should probably be a little more mature and prefer skiing over sledding, but sledding is easier and less painful. Also cheaper. So I choose sledding.

The next year I visited my brother for Christmas, and I went skiing for the first time. I really enjoyed it, only fell a few times and ended the day pretty unscathed. Although, my brother did trick me into taking a pretty big jump saying that "Yeah, you can do that. You've been skiing great all day." Um....no. I biffed it pretty badly. Skis flying. Body rolling. Snow in face.

I went skiing again with my brother and his family about a year later, on a more difficult mountain. My nephews (8 and 6 at the time) whizzed by me as I fell, got up, fell, got up, fell, etc. Nonetheless, I rather enjoy skiing and one day hope to have it as my family hobby like my brother does. His boys go down black diamonds and have been doing so for a couple of seasons now.

Of course, the snow has been slow in coming this year. We got a little bit at the beginning of November, but it promptly melted. And then nothing. Until this weekend. I hope we get some more by Christmas so Eric and I can go sledding and take a walk up the canyon enjoying the snow-covered, leafless trees.

30 November 2007

Am I?

You may recall when I wrote about creating new words and how fantastic it is.

I still really think it's a great thing to do, but this recent Get Fuzzy strip is making me wonder...

By the way, when I first started reading Get Fuzzy, I wasn't crazy about it. It is now the only strip I read daily.

29 November 2007

Guest Post

As promised, I have guest-posted on One Smart Cookie's blog about an embarrassing moment. Head on over and check it out.

28 November 2007

Lazy Post

If you haven't noticed, I've been doing a fair amount of posting this month. In fact, I've only not posted three days this month so far. I'm doing this because it's National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I didn't say that I was participating at the beginning of the month because I didn't want to commit to it publicly, but now that November is nearly finished, and I've done pretty well, I'm ready to talk about.

I have to say, though, that blogging every single day is hard. What ought I to talk about? Which is why today is kind of a lazy post.

Tomorrow I will have a guest post on One Smart Cookie's blog. She has made her posts for NaBloPoMo themed- each post is about an embarrassing moment. Some time recently she asked for guest posts, and I volunteered. My very embarrassing moment will be posted there tomorrow. I'll try to send you a reminder when that occurs. Also, you should read her blog anyway because she is amusing.

Also, I nearly cried when I read this. Really, Google, how did you know how much I've been longing for this? Oh, how I've missed my multi-person chats with the old roommates. Now we can distract each other at work all in the same chat box. Google, I love you. (Ben, thanks for showing that to me).

And finally, I read about a dumb email going around equating wealth with college GPAs on Greg Cruey's blog. He has a very logical response. Might I just add that I grew up watching my mother and father work multiple jobs. If anybody deserves to be wealthy, it is them. Alas, it was not to be. But whatever you do, don't assume that people are poor because they do not work hard. That is a load of garbage.

27 November 2007

Review: Tigris and Euphrates

Tigris and Euphrates is a game that Eric got for some event last year. Perhaps Christmas. I really don't remember.

It is a game that causes much contention. Eric always wants to play it. I usually don't want to play it.

The basic idea is a game of warring states. Each player has four leaders, each leader represents one type of service- religion, markets, farms and government. You play tiles to build onto your kingdoms and strengthen your leaders. For each tile you lay in the kingdom where you have the leader of the corresponding color, you get a cube of that color. If you add a red tile in the kingdom where you have a red leader, you get a red cube. Likewise, if you add a green tile in a kingdom where somebody else has a green leader, then that player gets a green cube. In the end, your total point value is the number of your lowest color. So, if you have 14 black, 12 red, 10 blue, and only 3 green, your score is 3.

The fighting comes when you merge kingdoms and kick off your opponents leaders in order to strengthen yourself and gain points in a specific color. Usually kingdoms are intertwined with leaders, so if you merge two kingdoms, it involves all the players, not just you and one other.

The game is 2-4 players. Usually takes 1-2 hours. Can cause many fights. Scores can be very close, but there can also be huge discrepancies. There is a fair amount of luck in the tiles you get, but there is a lot of strategy involved- knowing where to put your leaders, when to pick fights, etc.
There are also monuments and treasures. I'm not going into those, though.

26 November 2007


I mentioned on Friday that we rented a rowboat from the Center for Wooden Boats and rowed it about Lake Union. It was a lot of fun. We got to see seaplanes taking off and landing on the water, a variety of cool boats and lots of houseboats/floating homes. Plus, we had a great view of the skyline. Here are some photos:

Rowing the boat was hard. Very, very hard. I think I rowed all of about 20 feet. Michelle probably won't like that I put up the picture of her, but since she doesn't read my blog, I'm not too concerned. And, to justify myself, I've included the picture of me below. Everyone got a lot of laughs out of that photo. I think Matt especially did since he was behind me and couldn't see my face the whole time.

Michelle got this great picture of the seaplane landing. Eric was especially fascinated by them because they combine two of his favorite things- boats and planes. If only there were tanks and guns involved.

As you can tell, our trip included excellent views of the Seattle skyline. We really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody seeking a good time in Seattle.

23 November 2007

Bustling Metropolis of Seattle

Today we woke up late, headed down to the Historical Center for Wooden Boats and rented a row boat. We rowed about Lake Union for about an hour and had a rather enjoyable time. The Center is a museum of wooden boats that have been restored and are actually sailable. Very cool. It's now my life's ambition to own a boat- a 25-footer will do, I think.

Then we rode on a ferry across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island where we spent time wandering around ridiculous stores where clothes and things cost too much money. The Sound was beautiful, and it was especially cool to ride back toward Seattle with the city lights aglow.

22 November 2007

Happy Birthgivingday

Yesterday was my birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to spend 14 hours in the car driving to Seattle? Oh, that's right, lots of better ways. Alas, though, none of them would have gotten me to Seattle so I could celebrate Thanksgiving with Matt and Michelle.

For the record, I always dislike it when my birthday is the day before Thanksgiving because I always have to spend my birthday preparing for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, it only happens every few years. The last time, just so you know, was 2001.

And now I shall enjoy being in Seattle.

21 November 2007


Apostrophes serve two purposes; they indicate possession or ownership and they replace letters. Today we will be discussing the latter purpose. The apostrophe in "can't" replaces an "no." The apostrophe in "I'll" replaces "wi."

What then does the apostrophe replace in "ya'll"? NOTHING. Because that is the incorrect spelling of the word. The correct way to spell it is "y'all," where the apostrophe serves the purpose of replacing the "ou."

Please get this correct.

Now, if you want to use what is, in my opinion, the BEST word in the English language because it has TWO apostrophes, you may do so. That word is "y'all's." I will use it in a sentence: Let's go over to y'all's house to eat ice cream.

Spell checker will tell you that "y'all's" is not a word. Do not listen to spell checker. It's a liar. As long as you put the apostrophes in the right places, it is a perfectly acceptable word.

And please don't ever spell "y'all" the wrong way again. Or else. Fierce Rhetoric.

20 November 2007

"Quit telling me I'm uptight! I'm not uptight!"

When I was a senior in high school, my calculus teacher said something along the lines of "Sherry, you need to relax. You're so uptight." Or perhaps it was "Don't be so uptight." I don't recall which, and it doesn't matter. The point is that I kind of freaked out. Well, I a lot freaked out.

For the next couple of weeks I frequently tried to convince myself and others that I wasn't uptight. "Am I uptight?" I would ask. "Mrs. Edwards says I'm uptight, but I'm not. I'm just not." They, of course, would get a little squirmish trying to decide how to tell me that, well, um...yes...I was uptight. In fact, I clearly remember most all of them dodging the question a little bit, avoiding having to tell me directly that I was rather uptight. One friend did finally tell me, and after a little while I began to see why people thought I was uptight. But I still tried to convince myself that I just wasn't.

Some time in college I realized Mrs. Edwards was right. She still is. I'm very uptight. But I don't mind anymore. Being uptight gets things done for me. I alternate between two extremes: uptight but getting things done and sheer laziness. I've been under the sheer laziness category lately (since I graduated), and I need to start getting more things accomplished! Maybe now that I'm out of school I can do that without being quite so high-strung.

19 November 2007

Review: Ticket to Ride- Europe

We picked up Ticket to Ride-Europe for Eric's dad per the suggestion of the Game Store Salesman. It is a very fun game! Each person gets one long mission and must build train tracks to accomplish that goal. You build train tracks by collecting colored cards and laying them to build sections of track. For example, the section of track from Petrograd to Moscow costs four white cards. Each mission is made of several sections like that example- with several different colors, and some sections have certain stipulations attached. On each turn, you also have the opportunity to draw up to three smaller missions. Of those, you MUST keep at least one. The object is to accomplish your missions. Each mission is worth the amount of points designated on the card. For every mission you have not accomplished by the end of the game, you are docked the designated amount of points. Thus, it is possible to earn negative points. Obviously, the object of the game is to get points!

This is a FUN FUN game! We were hooked immediately and promptly "borrowed" the game from Eric's dad for about a month. Then we got our friends Janssen and Bart hooked on the game. Then they borrowed it from us and got more people hooked. Eventually we bought our own game, and so did Janssen and Bart.

The game is 2-5 players and takes about an hour. Sometimes Eric and I play where we each are two colors and have two main missions. We could sometimes play those games in about 40 minutes. The more familiar you are with the board, the faster you get at playing the game.

One difficulty is that all the cities are written in their native language- Roma, Vien, Lisboa, Kyiv, etc. I find that I have a general idea of the geography of many European cities, but I sometimes don't know what countries they belong to. I can't believe I'm admitting that to the whole Internet. But there you have it. Where are Sochi and Zagrab anyway?

18 November 2007

Review: Liars' Dice

As featured in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Liars' Dice is a quick and easy game that can involve gambling. Or not.

Each person starts with five dice in his/her cup. Everyone rolls, but keeps his dice hidden so each person can only see his dice. Then, one person begins the bidding. The object is to guess how many of a certain number are there in the whole table. So, if you are playing a game with 6 players (30 dice) on average, there would be 5 of each number on the table (five ones, five twos, five threes, etc). The bids are passed in a circle until somebody challenges the bids. If player A says there are six fives on the table, then the next player can "call" it. Everyone reveals their dice and says how many fives they rolled. If there were at least six fives, the challenger must give up one die. If there were less than six fives, the person who placed the bid loses a die.

There is a fair amount of skill involved in this game, and a lot of luck. If you get four or five of a kind, you have a pretty good chance of skewing that number high. If you're good at bluffing, you can make other players believe you have numbers you don't have, which causes them to count on you when they make their bids.

This is a fun game that is great for large crowds. It can be played quite quickly, all depending on how many players you have. I've played with up to 13 people before. Bidding can get tricky because there are specific rules about it (you must raise the bid every time). A very, very fun, quick game!

Addendum: Bidding Rules
Each player must raise the bid on his turn or "call" the previous player. You may raise the bid by increasing the quantity of dice or by raising the number on the dice. Here is an example of a bidding round.
  • 4 threes
  • 4 fours (this person must say AT LEAST 4 of something. If he sticks with the quantity of 4, he must raise the number on the dice. He raised the number from three to four. He could not have said 4 twos).
  • 4 sixes
  • 5 twos
  • 6 twos (this person really wanted to keep the number two. The only way to do that was to increase the quantity).
  • 6 threes
  • 6 fives
  • 7 ones (this person did not feel comfortable with 6 sixes, but felt good about 7 ones)
  • I call you. Everyone counts the number of ones to see how many ones there are at the table. If there are at least seven ones, the person who called loses one die. If there are fewer than seven, the person who claimed that there were at least seven loses one.
I hope that makes sense. It's a fun, fun game!

17 November 2007

Review: Survive!

Survive! is a fun game. Not so much strategy-based, although there is a little strategy involved. The object of the game is to get your 10 men onto the safe corners of the board before the island blows up. At the end of each person's turn, the person removes a hex, so the island is gradually falling apart leaving people stranded in the water among sharks, whales and sea serpents. It's a fun game, and family favorite. I'm pretty sure it's not made any more. Eric and I don't actually own the game, and I have a feeling we'd have a hard time finding it if we wanted.

This is a great game for anybody.

16 November 2007

Review: Acquire

Another game that we really like to play, and is one of my particular favorites is Acquire. I won this game the very first time I played, which is why, I think, it holds a special place in my heart.

The object of the game is to acquire the majority and/or minority holdings in various companies that are built up with the tiles that are placed on the board. The board consists of tiles that each go in a specific place (1A-12I). When two tiles are placed next to each other, a company is formed. Each person holds six tiles, so you can decide which tiles to lay, and which to hold back (in order to prevent companies from merging if you won't benefit from such a merge, etc). When two companies are joined together, the smaller one is merged into the larger. When a company has at least 11 tiles, it can no longer be merged (but it can still have companies merged into it). Companies are constantly getting merged into others, and when that happens, the people with the most and second most shares of stock in that company gets paid. You have to continually have companies that sell out so you can keep buying more stocks in other companies. In the end, the companies that are left get sold. The larger the company, the more your stock is worth.

It's really a very simple game. You have to keep track of who else is invested in the companies you are invested in so that you can maintain your position as Majority or Minority holder. Otherwise, you might spend all your money buying excessive shares in a company that nobody else is trying for, when you should have been buying stocks in other companies.

The game can accommodate five players, and usually lasts about an hour. It is really easy to learn and can be a lot of fun. With seven companies on the board, and a full game of five players, it becomes really challenging keeping track of who owns how many of which company, and even if you know, it doesn't meant that you have enough money to do anything about it.

15 November 2007

Review: Settlers of Catan

In Eric's family we are big into games. I've always loved games, but we didn't play a lot of games when I was growing up. One year for Christmas, my brother, Steven, got Monopoly. He, my mom and I did stay up all night playing Monopoly that year. I also recall getting a set of dominoes and begging people in my family to play with me. Plus, we also sometimes played Uno and Crazy Eights. But really, nothing like Eric's family.

And so I've decided to blog about the games we play- what they are, the basic ideas of the game, and why I like and dislike each one.

Today, the topic is Settlers of Catan. I was first introduced to this game during my freshman year at college. I immediately fell in love with it because of the strategy involved, the changing nature of the board, and the clear and definite end to the game.

In Settlers, there are hexagonal pieces that fit together to make a board. The pieces represent goods including ore, bricks, wood, sheep and wheat. Somewhere in the board is a desert hex, and the board is surrounded by an ocean with ports. In order to earn goods, you must be built on a hex when the number on that hex is rolled. As you acquire goods, you can purchase development cards and build more settlements and cities, thus allowing you to acquire even more goods. Also, the robber comes when a 7 is rolled. The first player to 10 points wins. I know that was a lousy explanation, but I'm not trying to teach you to play. I'm just giving you the gist of the game.

When I was first introduced to this game, it took me a long time to win. In fact, I was so obsessed with winning that people could call me at just about any time, and I would agree to play with them. Folks would be in the Morris Center looking for somebody to play, and somebody would say, "Call Sherry. She'll always play." They were right; I would. Once I finally won, I no longer would drop everything to play. It took me a while to get there, though.

I like this game because it is generally pretty easy to track people's points. You rarely have a surprise ending where somebody comes out of the blue and blows everyone out of the water. At the same time, games are often close as people wait for just the right number to be rolled at just the right time.

I also love that the board is different each time. Sometimes everyone has more sheep than they can handle and is begging for ore. Other times everybody wishes they could get rid of their wood to get some brick. Sometimes you build on the desert just so you can have two goods with good numbers. It's always, always, always just a little bit different than every game you've played.

And there's a lot of strategy involved. You want to be built on a wide variety of goods (hopefully all of them), but you also want to have good numbers as well as a wide variety of numbers. There have been games where I was built on every single number. That means I get at least one good every time somebody rolls. Sweet deal for me. If you're only built on 5, 6, 8, and 9, you have a high likelihood of getting those numbers rolled, but it's not necessarily as good as having a wide variety of numbers. There is also strategy in where you build, what ports you use, when you play your development cards and where you upgrade your settlements to cities.

If you enjoy strategy games and have not yet played this one, I highly recommend it.

14 November 2007

Students Studying

The other day, I had to make a quick trip to the Wilkinson Student Center. While there, I saw lots of students studying because that's what students do.

And I thought to myself, "HA! I'm going to go home and read whatever I want! I don't have to study!"

Will this ever get old?

I think not.

13 November 2007

Let's Get into Debt!

Today we got new credit cards in the mail. Credit cards that we asked for, thank you. They are Southwest cards, so we get points toward airlines when we buy stuff.

We already had cards with points. But, wow! What lousy point systems. Like, spend $1,000,000 and we will give you a dirty sock.

I'd much rather have a round trip flight paid for.

12 November 2007

Ancestral Traits

I never knew my paternal grandmother. She died when I was six, and the only time I ever met her I was a baby. With that said, though, I do know a few things about my paternal grandmother, and I think I'm at least a little bit like her.

There were couple of games she really enjoyed. I believe they were bridge and tennis. Then she taught the games to my grandpa, and he consistently beat her. My grandma no longer enjoyed playing those games.

I shan't elaborate, but I will say that I despise losing over and over and over again.

11 November 2007

As Promised...

Carrot Soup ( 10 minutes prep, 50 minutes cook)

½ cup split lentils

5 cups vegetable or chicken broth

2 cups peeled and sliced carrots

2 onions, chopped

1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp lemon juice


1 cup milk

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

plain yogurt

Place lentils in a large saucepan with 3 ½ cups of the vegetable broth, carrots, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan. Add the cumin, coriander, chili and turmeric and fry gently for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste. When the soup is finished simmering, puree it in small batches in a food processer. Return it to the saucepan. Add the spice mixture and the rest of the vegetable broth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and reheat gently. Serve hot, with a swirl of yogurt.


You don't really need to sautee the chili with the seasonings. Just stir them in. I actually use dried, red chilies that Matt and Michelle gave me. Last night I put in three, crushed. And then I stirred. Yet somehow I got a spoonful of hotness when I took a sample. My lips burned. Literally. The skin between my lips and my nose was on fire for about 2 hours. And when I kissed Eric, he recoiled from hotness and said I burned his lips. I wish I were joking. In the end, though, it was the right amount of spicy.

Also, lentils? They are amazing. One quarter of a cup gets you 60% of your daily fiber and THIRTEEN grams of protein. THIRTEEN, people! And, boy are they cheap. Two cups cost me $.59. That means for 7 cents you can have thirteen grams of fiber. They're not super tasty by themselves, but they are perfect in this soup because they are all blended in.

Let me know if you try it and like it.

10 November 2007

Tortilla Soup

It's cooling down outside, and that means soup. I love, love, love soups. Tonight I made carrot soup, and we will eat it on Monday. I'm not sure why we are not having it on Sunday, but it was Eric's call. (I will give you the recipe for this when I have it in front of me, which I do not right now).

Earlier this week we had tortilla soup. It's my mom's recipe, and it's a family favorite. I don't know if I make it quite like my mom. It never seems quite the same, but I like it nonetheless. And I've never served it to anybody that didn't love it and think I was amazing. Here's the recipe. Sorry for the lack of accurate measurements. It's not really written down anywhere.

Tortilla Soup:
  • Chicken (I usually use boneless, skinless because it is easier to work with, but if you find bone-in chicken on sale, you can use that too.)
  • Chicken bullion cubes or powdered bullion
  • 2 white onions, chopped finely
  • Garlic- 1 clove, minced
  • Jalapenos, chopped (2 or 3, depending on your preference of spicyness)
  • Cilantro- one bunch, chopped
  • Green onions- one bunch, chopped
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
  • Corn tortillas
Boil the chicken with the onions and garlic. Cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces. (This is where it is easier if you use boneless chicken.) Add bullion cubes to the remaining liquid until it tastes strong and brothy. It should already taste like weak broth because you boiled the chicken in it. Add the jalapenos, cilantro, and tomatoes. Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Tear apart 1-2 tortillas per bowl, and spoon the soup on top. Don't store the tortillas in the soup or you will promptly have mush.

Easy. Cheap. And sooooo tasty. Let me know if you try it and love it. Don't let me know if you don't love it. I will disown you.

Also, there is usually powdered bullion (not cubed) in the Mexican section of the store. It's called "sabor de pollo," I think. It's generally cheaper than the American stuff, and it's just the same.

Mom, if I got any of this wrong, this is the perfect time to comment on my blog since I know you read it. :)

09 November 2007

Saving Lives One Pint at a Time

In my home, turning 17 was a big deal in only way- it meant that Dad would take you to the blood donation clinic so you could donate blood for the first time.

I grew up wanting to donate blood. Needles don't bother me, and frankly I find it preposterous when people say they are terrified of getting shots. Of course nobody likes them, but really. It's a needle. Spend a few weeks with IVs in your veins, and I am sure you will get over it.

The first time I donated blood, I had absolutely no problems. I probably had a little bruise after; I always do. But, I worked a full shift at the grocery store with no problems. From there on out, I donated very frequently at our local blood donation clinic. I tried to donate as often as possible (every 56 days), but usually my busy schedule wouldn't allow that. Sometimes the clinic would call me and ask me to come in since my blood type is O-negative, which makes me a universal donor.

Every now and then I might have a negative reaction. Sometimes I would be just plumb exhausted after donating. Once I passed out. Smacked down on the hard floor without even a bend in the knees. Very embarrassing. Ask my brother, Steve, if you want more info. He certainly hasn't forgotten.

Yesterday I donated blood, and I did just fine, although I was feeling more tired than usual today. Frankly, though, it was worth it. Knowing that I can help sick people is very gratifying to me. I know that a lot of people just can't donate. Many bodies can't handle the loss of a pint of blood. I watched a girl yesterday who had a really hard time. Poor thing. I don't have a hard time, though, and I like knowing that I can save up to three lives with every whole-blood donation.

I hadn't donated in about three years. I had signed up a few times, but I always had some sort of complication when it came time to donate, and thus the lapse of time. It felt great to donate yesterday (in my heart, not my arm). I have to say I get that warm fuzzy feeling more from donating blood than any other type of service. When you donate blood, the blood can go to a variety of different patients- from emergency cases that require blood transfusions to cancer patients who need some healthy platelets to premie babies. You can read about some here.

If you can donate blood, you ought to. It's just a little bit of pain, and the knowledge that you are helping sick people is totally worth it.

07 November 2007

Stop killing me!

I'm such a cool sister-in-law. Eric and I are babysitting Andrew this week. He's 16, which is why I like to call it babysitting.

Sometimes to entertain him I play the shoot 'em up game with him. Eric plays too. I used to get really frustrated because I didn't know how to use the controller, I'd get lost in the arena, and the boys kept killing me. I've gotten a lot better, though, and now I think it's fun.

Of course, the boys use pistols and I use an automatic machine gun. Only a slight advantage.

06 November 2007

Les Miserables

Last night I watched the 1978-version of Les Miserables with Eric and Andrew. I had not seen this version before, and Eric insisted that we get it from Netflix. (Have I mentioned how I LOOOOOVE Netflix? Oh, I have? That's because I do!)

Andrew had never seen any version, and he was reluctant to watch it with us, but we made him. He thought it was excellent. I was pleased with him. What a cute little brother he is!

I, however, have seen another movie version. Also I have read a super, extra, really condensed version of the book. I have the same complaint I always have.

Marius is lame. What's the deal with this I've-seen-Cosette-and-now-I-will-die-if-I-can't-have-her? PUH-LEASE. It just doesn't work that way. I've always been bothered by how infatuated those two are with each other when neither really knows the other one. It's very bothersome to me. And that's why I think Marius is lame.

But everything else is great. Maybe one day I will read the book and I will understand Marius. Trust me, one day I will read the book.

05 November 2007


I've mentioned before how much I love getting real mail. Legitimate, mail. Fortunately, I am related to my father, and he mails me stuff quite often. Usually it consists of coupons and notes. It's great mail.

Lately I've been getting a lot of real mail. I ordered four books from Amazon.com: Team of Rivals, Truman, Rebecca, and Wikinomics. It was exciting when each one of them arrived.

Today I got THREE envelopes. I opened the first, and it contained my birth certificate. My immediate thought was, "Who got this? How did they get it? How did they know to send it here?" Then I remembered, and I opened the next package which contained my PASSPORT!!!!! It wasn't supposed to arrive until the first week of December. The last package was kind of boring- just an introductory package from the Association of Professional Genealogists, of which I am a new member. (And work paid for it! Wee!)

If you don't get good mail very often, might I recommend three options to help you get mail more often: become related to my dad; order books (or other things) from on-line providers; apply for your passport.

04 November 2007

Good News All Around

I love Fall Back. I dislike Spring Forward.

Hopefully the extra hour of sleep I got last night will help me get back on normal sleeping schedule because I woke up at 8:45 this morning! Usually on Sundays I wake up at 11 or so. Hooray! I should be tired enough tonight to be able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour!


Also, Eric's mom made it into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! We are so excited for her.

For those of you who do not know, the process is extraordinarily trying. First you send in a tape. Hundreds of people send in tapes. Then you wait and wait and wait. If they liked your tape, they invite you to take a written/listening test.

The test lasts about three hours long. They play a series of notes and then play the notes again and ask you to identify the difference. The tough thing is that the notes don't really form a melody, just a series of random notes. Not something you would walk away whistling. They also play intervals and ask you to identify them (major 3rd, minor 7th, perfect 4th, etc.). There are also non-listening theory questions as well. Pretty much everybody leaves the test feeling like utter failures.

But, if you pass the test, they send you another letter inviting you to come in for an interview and audition in front of the two conductors, Craig Jessop and Mac Wilberg. And then you wait some more.

Just to give you a time-frame, Kathleen sent in her tape some time in the summer. (I wish I could remember when). I do remember that in the first week of September she was fearing the worst when she still hadn't heard back from them. Around the middle of September, she received her letter inviting her to take the test. She took the test two weeks later on a Tuesday night. That Saturday she received her next advancement letter. She sang for Craig and Mac about two weeks ago, and received her letter today.

This really is a dream come true for her, and we are excited to look for her while we watch Conference and the choir broadcasts!

03 November 2007

That's Mrs. Scrooge To You!

Let's set the record straight I love Christmas music. I adore Christmas music. I mostly like the kind with singing, but I can appreciate a nice instrumental piece as well. I enjoy clanking out Christmas hymns on the piano. I'm always pleased to practice Christmas songs with the Primary kids. I listen to Christmas music as I decorate, wrap presents and do the necessary Christmas baking.

For these reasons, I insist that Christmas music not be played until after Thanksgiving. I would hate ever getting tired of Christmas music, and let's face it, I would do just that if I started listening to it now.

Those of you who love if for two or three months of the year can keep doing so. But I'll make you change the radio station if I'm in the car with you.

02 November 2007

How I Wasted Sixteen Hours of My Life and Why I Plan to do it Again

A friend suggested I watch 24. She insisted I watch 24. We have daily instant message conversations, and I count at least TEN of which she mentioned the show and/or insisted that I watch it. Plus, she has a blog in which she raves about the show.

Eric thought it was something he would enjoy, and so he got the first season from Netflix. (Oh, how we love and adore Netflix). Honestly, we weren't impressed. Hooked, but not impressed.

Last Friday we were watching the third disc (each disc holds 4 episodes which are 40 minutes long without commercials), and when we finished we didn't have anything to do, so we decided to watch the fourth disc, the only problem being that we didn't yet have the fourth disc. After all, we only get one at a time from Netflix. We went to the video store and got the fourth and fifth discs.

Throughout the week we watched disc four and disc five. We borrowed the sixth from Eric's friend. When we asked him for it, he offered the second season, but we didn't want to see it. After all, we really didn't LOVE the show.

We watched the last five episodes, and now we are hooked. We have to see the second season. We just have to. Bah. Here goes another 16 hours.

A major complaint about the show- NONE of the female characters are likeable. Most are downright unlikeable. Those that are not unlikeable are also, unfortunately, not likeable. I hope this is remedied in season two.

Also, those of you who insisted we watch the series- I demand some sort of payment for stealing my life.

And because I love pictures- here's one of Jack, whom I only sort of like. I much prefer George Mason, to be honest.

01 November 2007

Life-changing Caramel Apples

Last night we went to James' and Jenny's apartment where we ate caramel apples and watched The Corpse Bride.

Sounds ordinary, but in fact, it was not. The caramel apples were amazing. James and Jenny decided to mimic them after apples available at The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

We dipped all the apples in caramel. Some of the apples were dipped in white chocolate, others in milk chocolate. From there, some were dipped in crushed Oreos, others in a cinnamon/sugar mix.

My favorite was caramel, milk chocolate and Oreos.


I can never eat a plain caramel apple ever again.

31 October 2007

Today's Significance

Today is an important day. Not because it's Halloween. Frankly, I don't care much for Halloween. It's a kid's holiday if you ask me. I never know what I should be, and I usually don't dress up. This year I wore jeans, a black shirt, and an orange sweater. I was one of two people in my office who didn't wear some sort of costume. And I'm okay with that.

The real significance of today is that Eric kissed me three years ago on this very day. And, whether or not you want the story, here it is-

The night before Halloween we went on a date. Eric took me to a nice dinner, and then we went to Abravanel Hall where we watched the Utah Symphony perform selected pieces from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was quite fantastic. Some time during the date, Eric finally got enough nerve to hold my hand. I knew he was working toward that, so I politely left my hands on my laps. After the symphony, we went to the Malt Shoppe where we shared a root beer float malt. Then he took me home.

The next day we had church. Naturally, we sat next to one another throughout the meetings. Then we went to our respective homes. Later that night Eric picked me up for Cousins' Dinner at his aunt and uncle's house. This particular aunt and uncle hosts dinner for all the college-aged cousins and their spouses/significant others once each month during the school year. Since that time, Eric and I have NEVER missed a cousins' dinner! It's one of my favorite times of each month- to gather with Eric's cousins who are SO cool for a night of random conversation and amazing food.

After the dinner, Eric and I went back to Willard's Place (the place where Eric lived). We looked at pictures from his mission and talked with the others that were there.

Then Eric took me to my apartment. Specifically, to the back porch, which was where he usually dropped me off. According to Eric, I was "begging to be kissed." And so he kissed me.

I don't think I was "begging" for it, but I was pleased nonetheless.

And that's that.

29 October 2007

Big News

Today, Eric and I received some very exciting news. We received word that he was accepted to the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. We'll be moving there in February.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the city and school for your viewing pleasure:
This is the coast.

Here is the university.

Here is Baldwin Street. They claim it's the steepest street in the world.

Here is Dunedin Cathedral.

And here are some other old buildings in Dunedin.

This will be my first time to leave the country, and I am very eager to go!