29 April 2010

Five Years Ago

One of my many thoughts today as I looked out the windows at the ridiculously terrible weather (read: snow) outside was, "If this had been going on five years ago. I would have cried."

Except, that I probably wouldn't have actually cried. Because let's be honest. I was a really easy-going bride. I figured that my wedding day would be the best day of my life and nothing could really spoil that.

Fortunately the weather was really nice. The cake (which I had no prior knowledge of) was lovely. The people were wonderful. The food was great. There were no disasters. It really was the best day of my life.

25 April 2010

Extra-Curricular Activities

Sometimes Eric and I discuss the kinds of activities we want our kids to be involved in. Hopefully I will be the kind of parent that lets my kids decide rather than forcing them into anything (besides piano. I will be one of those moms that forces my kid to learn piano.) I'm hoping that when my kid comes home and says, "Mom, I want to join the Medieval Sword-Fighting Club!" that my response will not be, "How on earth did I raise such a geek?" and instead will be, "Hmmm... how much does that cost?"

I played softball for three years as a kid. I started off particularly horribly. Like, embarrassingly bad, and to top it off, I was on the best team in the league. The VERY best team in the league. But I enjoyed softball a lot, and I got better. The next two years I played with a different team (although only half years for both, which is kind of a long and boring story in itself.) And I actually got to be pretty good. You know how in little league, if you play in the outfield it means that you are particularly untalented? Yeah, that was me. In the outfield, I didn't get much action, and that was how it was meant to be. But by my third year I was playing second base because I had improved that much. Those three years were really valuable to me because I was one of those kids that pretty much always learned things really fast. And if I didn't learn it fast, I usually figured it wasn't worth my effort. But softball taught me to work hard and try, and eventually I got better. It was good for me to have that sort of experience and to have some positive experiences with teams.

I know that little league baseball is kind of dying out and being taken over by soccer, which is too bad. Because I find soccer mind-numbling boring. But frankly, soccer is better exercise, which is what sports should be all about.

The more I think about what sorts of activities my kids will be involved in (especially as they are in high school and I have less and less say in such things), the more I hope that they will genuinely enjoy whatever activities they choose. I was in color guard for three years. I loved it the first two, found it inordinately frustrating the third year, and never really had regrets that I quit my senior year. I was on the newspaper staff for three years, and I loved it. I did AcDec (Academic Decathlon) one year, and although I didn't make the team, I had a great time with it. I participated in some other academic contests, and I enjoyed them a lot. If my school had had a speech a debate team, I would have been ALL OVER IT. I did band for the first two years (but it was only during the non-marching season), and I enjoyed it well enough (but not well enough to stay in for two more years). I participated in three plays, and those were a lot of fun.

I hated high school. A lot. But I loved my extra-curricular activities, and the more I think about the kinds of kids I want to have, the more I realize that there's only so much I can control. And if being in the Medieval Sword-Fighting Club makes my kid find some enjoyment in high school, then the Medieval Sword-Fighting Club it is. And I will try REALLY hard not to make fun of him behind his back to all my friends. I cannot guarantee the same for his father, though.

23 April 2010

My little Andrewton

Almost three years ago I wrote this post about Eric's little brother and how much I've enjoyed watching him grow up. At the time I had known him about three years. Now I've known him closer to six. He seriously is one of my favorite people on the entire planet. I feel more closely connected to him as a sibling than I do any of my other sibling-in-laws (which mainly has to do with how much time I've spent with him and the fact that I have lived in the same house as him on three occasions now.) Don't get me wrong. I like all of my sibling-in-laws, but I just have an extra connection to Andrewton.

Andrew got his mission call on Wednesday night. It's kind of funny, because I've been saying to Eric for a couple of years now things like, "Holy cow! Andrewton is 17. He'll be going on a mission in TWO YEARS!" and "Wow! Andrew's 18. He'll be getting his mission call around this time next year." And then for the past few months, "Soon Andrew will go on a mission, like, for real!" So even though I've had years to prepare, I don't think I really understood how exciting Wednesday would be.

He was called to the Ghana Accra mission and reports to the Ghana MTC on August 13. He is very excited, and the rest of us are excited for him!

21 April 2010

Where the streets have no name

Many cities in the Mountain West area were designed very methodically, and many places were designed on a grid system. Salt Lake City, for example, centers around the Salt Lake Temple. Everything in the Salt Lake Valley is measured from the Salt Lake Temple. Consequently, most streets do not have traditional street names like "Live Oak," "Hidden Valley," or "Glendale." Most street names are numbers. And it's a great way to know where you are. I love it. It is 70% of the reason I am not perpetually lost in this state. (The rest of the break-out is 20% the mountains and 10% the fact that I actually drive here.) For instance, if my work's address were 775 North 200 East, (it is not) that would mean my street name is "200 East." The physical address of the building is "775 North." (To add further meaning to this, this address would be located two blocks east of the Salt Lake Temple, and roughly 7.75 blocks north of the temple. Very simple and brilliant.)

I got a call at work on Monday that went like this:
Client: Hi, I am shipping something to you, but I am shipping it via UPS, and I need a physical address isntead of a P.O. box.
Me: Oh, okay, that's no problem at all. Are you ready for it? (pause) It's 775 North 200 East Ste. #95
Client: Wait, I'm confused.
Me: Okay, it's 775 North 200 East
Client: What's the street name?
Me: The physical address is 775 North. The street name is called 200 East.
Client: Are they going to know how to find this place?
Me: Yes, it's how most addresses in Utah are. I know it's a bit tricky if you're not used to it. It's on a grid system.
Client: So, the top line is 775 North. Then the second line is 200 East, then Ste 95.
Me: Sure.
Technically, no. It should be like this:
775 North 200 East Ste. 95
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
But, I'm sure it will get there.

The guy was seriously confused, and I really didn't know what else I could possibly tell the guy so he wouldn't be confused. All he had to do was write down exactly what I was telling him. It made me glad that I don't deal with people all that often.

18 April 2010

On Growing Up

One of the things about living far away from my family is that sometimes the changes that go on in their lives don't seem quite real to me. My brother has a one-year-old. It still completely blows my mind, even though I've met him once. Well, maybe not the fact that the baby exists, but that my brother is father. That's what blows my mind.

Does anyone else experience these sorts of thoughts? Do you sometimes still look around you and think, "When did that happen?" Will there come a time in my life when I don't look around me and think, "Huh. How did I get here?"

Also, when did my brother-of-the perfect-vision get glasses?

And one more thing, isn't that little kid adorable?

16 April 2010

Of Grandpas, Nonnies and Captain Jacks

Janssen's post about naming grandparents has inspired me to write my own.

My family called my dad's parents Grandpa and Nana. The grandpa could have been moderately confusing since our other grandfathers went by the same name, but usually to clarify we just added his last name. It actually wasn't ever very confusing to me since he died before I was born, and we just didn't talk about him a whole lot.

My mom's parents were divorced, and my mom's maiden name is Dutch, so it's Van[something]. Thus, her dad was Grandpa Van, and his wife (whom I never met) was named Ina. I don't think I ever even spoke to Ina on the phone. She and Grandpa Van lived in California, and my mom was just not that close to her father. My mom's mom was Grandma. That was simple enough. And her husband (who is the only grandparent I really knew) was called Grandpa. That is until his father came to live with him and my grandmother. This was long before I was born, but because both men had the same last name, it wasn't really feasible to call them both Grandpa R. So, my grandpa decided to go by Captain Jack. Of course, by the time I came along, Captain Jack's father was long gone, but we still sometimes referred to our grandpa as Captain Jack. It was fun.

I've thought quite a bit about grandpa names, even before Janssen's blog post. There is a story of our oldest niece, at about age three, who came out to Utah with her parents. Of course, there were many, many, many grandparents to see because several of her great grandparents are still living. One day, little Katie said, "I have a lot of Bammas and Bampas!" And it's true.

Eric's family always distinguished his grandparents by their last names. A bit of a funny story is that Eric's Grandpa K. has ten children; four daughters and ten sons. Somewhere along the way his sons started calling him Don, so most of Eric's cousins call that grandpa, Grandpa Don. But we don't; we just call him Grandpa, and refer to him as Grandpa K.

Eric was able to meet two of his great-grandparents, but he was so little he doesn't remember what he called them. I was with his family once when they were talking about one of his great-grandmothers, and they referred to her as "the raisin Grandma." But that was just the way the kids remembered her, and had nothing to do with her name, which was Grandma Hazel.

One of my favorite things ever is that a number of Grandma and Grandpa L's great-grandchildren refer to them as Grandma Great and Grandpa Great. This thrills me to no end, and I hope they both live long enough for me to hear our own kids call them such.

In the South, there are a surprising number of mee-maws and paw-paws. And no, I'm not making that up.

One of my friends had a grandfather named Paul, and he signed all cards and such as GrandPaul, which is just genius.

One of my nephews has a Bitzy, and it's rather suitable for this particular grandma.

And all this brings me to my quandary - assuming Eric and I actually get to have grandkids one day, what will they call us? I might just go with Nonnie. Eric may go for something militaristic, like General Grandpa.

15 April 2010

Review: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

When I saw the previews for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I thought it looked pretty dumb, but then it got rave reviews. And frankly, I trust mass amount of critics. This is why I rely so heavily on Rotten Tomatoes. (Also because Eric has turned me into a movie snob.)

We rented this one on Netflix, and we are so glad we finally got to see it. It's based on a kids book (that I've never read) of the same title. The premise is that these people live on an island and eat only sardines day in and day out. Flint Lockwood is an aspiring inventor who has many hilarious failed inventions under his belt. He invents a machine that rains food - good food! No more sardines for their town. And of course, somewhere along the way, things go terribly wrong.

So, the premise is funny enough, but then there are a lot of really hilarious moments throughout the movie, mostly in dialogue, but also in animation. It's one of those movies that is meant for kids but is also really enjoyable to adults, and frankly there are very few movies that are meant for kids that are also actually funny for adults.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs did not get a lot of media attention. Apparently the studio who made it was eager for it to get to DVD, which made a lot of theater operaters angry. Many of these theater operators chose to really limit their showings of Cloudy. Consequently it was short-lived in theaters and poorly publicized throughout. It really is too bad because it was a genuinely stellar animated movie.

13 April 2010

Cafe Rio-ish

Eric and I love Cafe Rio. It's a Mexican-ish restaurant in Utah, and it's very popular and always crowded. We both always get the exact same thing: Cafe Rio chicken salad, on wheat tortilla with black beans. The only difference is that Eric gets the tomatillo ranch dressing, and I get the cilantro lime vinaigrette.

We love this salad so much that a few years ago we started to make our own version. We do not claim that the rice, the beans or the chicken taste like those in the Cafe Rio recipe. Nor do we claim that our version is as good. But, it's a great meal to make for a lot of people, and we love it. The last time we made was when Eric's brother and his family were in town, and Brianne enjoyed it so much that she wanted the recipe for everything. So, here it is:

Spanish rice
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce (Kiwis, this is not what you call tomato sauce. This is more like tomato puree, but not exactly.)

  1. Saute bell pepper and onion in oil in a skillet until the onions are clear.
  2. Put the bell pepper, onion, rice, chicken broth and tomato sauce in a rice cooker and cook it all. (If you don't have a rice cooker, just do whatever you usually do with rice.)
Use a can of black beans and warm them up.

This varies each time. Usually I marinade it in oil, lime juice, garlic and black pepper and then saute it and shred it. You can also use this mole recipe.

Romaine lettuce
Red onion
Bell pepper (any color)
Olives, sliced
Limes, quartered
Shredded cheese, if you are so inclined

(This is more like the Cafe Rio ranch dressing. If anybody has a recipe for the vinaigrette, I would be much obliged if you could send it my way.)
Salsa verde (jarred green salsa)
Lime juice
Chili powder

I don't know quantities. Sorry. Just start with about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise. Then add some green salsa to taste. Then add a little lime juice, and just keep going until it suits you. The chili powder is mostly for a little color, the taste will be subtle.

Serve all this on a tortilla. We prefer whole wheat because we like our hearts. You can also serve it on tortilla chips, if that floats your boat.

11 April 2010

On Being Frugal

I've been thinking a lot lately about money - the purpose of money, how I view money, how much to save, where to scrimp and where to splurge.

A few weeks ago, Grandma L. mentioned to Eric and and I that she and Grandpa had come into a bit of money that they weren't expecting. They asked Eric's cousin (who is a financial adviser of some kind) how to invest it, and he said, "Grandma, you're both in your eighties. You should spend it!"

Eric and I had a good laugh when Grandma told us this story. We were amused by Eric's cousin's candid statement, and we were amused at Grandma's reaction. (Her question went from asking how to invest it to advice on how to spend it.)

I have said time and time again that I want to be like Grandma L. when I grow up, and this is yet another reason why. They were never especially wealthy, but they were extremely frugal. They saved their money so well that they are able to live nicely in retirement and enjoy their money in their old age. Eric's dad always says that he was practically raised in the depression, but that frugal lifestyle is exactly what has made it possible for Grandpa and Grandma to be more than financially sound into their retirement. And it's not like they were so frugal that the kids wore rags on their feet! They went on family vacations, and I'm sure, had a reasonable amount of comfort in their home.

And so, my personal money philosophy - Save for the future. Being frugal does not mean saying no to everything. It means choosing which things are worth splurging and which things are better for saving. This varies a lot from person to person, which is why I guess money is a big problem in a lot of marriages. (I, personally, feel really grateful that Eric and I see eye to eye on money and on which things are worth our hard-earned cash and which are not.) If all of your frugality is simply to have a massive amount of cash when you are dead, then what is the point? Save enough to maintain the lifestyle that you want while you are in retirement, and enjoy the rest.

10 April 2010

How to drive

It just isn't that hard. If you are turning left, you take the inside lane. If you are turning right, you take the outside lane. Then we can BOTH turn at the SAME TIME. If I am turning right, and you turn into my lane, I will hit you, and it will be your fault. Fortunately for you, I am rather mindful of you left-turners who think you can just pick and choose which lane to turn into. But, in my head, I am shaking my fist at you for being an incompetent driver.

(Kiwi friends, I'm sorry that this pictures if very American-centric, but I'm sure you get the idea.)

08 April 2010


I love countdowns. I practically live for countdowns. Anyone who talks to me often knows that I am almost always counting down to something.

I don't know that I can say when it started, but as a kid and teenager, I always counted down to my birthday. (I still do that, actually.)

I started counting down to my wedding day at 77 days. (It just happened to be a Friday when somebody asked me when I was getting married. I knew that I was getting married on a Friday, so I counted the weeks until my wedding day, and from then on out it was easy to keep track.)

When I don't have anything really awesome to count down to, I count down until my next vacation day.

Right now I am counting down to my cruise. That's right. A CRUISE. Eric and I are going on a cruise in three weeks and two days (to celebrate our fifth anniversary). It is going to be awesome, and it is the only thing that got me through the months of February and March. I'm pretty sure it will be the only thing that gets me through April.

When I am back from the cruise, I will count down to Memorial Day.

Are you counting down to anything? If you are lacking something, I recommend counting down to my cruise. It's highly enjoyable.

06 April 2010

A Simple Request

When I die, please do not make an "In Memory of Sherry L--" fan page. It is weird to be a fan of such a thing. Maybe simply a "Sherry L--" fan page would do. But you know, then people would feel obligated to join because I would be dead. I don't want to put anybody through that. As if they aren't already sad enough that I'm gone, they'd have the guilt on top of that. It just wouldn't be fair.
But if you must make a fan page about my death, then please make sure that somebody hacks into my personal Facebook account and makes me a fan of it. Because that would be pretty funny.