29 January 2012


These are things that have bothered me for ages:

It is no longer "The Ukraine." It's just "Ukraine." Ukraine is its own independant nation now. It is not a part of the Soviet Union (which no longer exists as such). I have been told that Ukrainians do not like it when you say things about "The Ukraine" because it implies they are still under the thumb of the Russians. Stop saying it. If you are reffering to Ukraine during a time when it was under Soviet or Russian control, it is okay to refer to it as "The Ukraine." But otherwise knock it off.

Stop saying you had the stomach flu or the flu if you did not really have influenza. Influenza's most common symptoms are chills, fever, muscle pains, sore throat and a hacking cough that makes you want to die. Throwing up is not usually a symptom of influenza. If you are having gastrointestinal problems, you likely do not have the flu. Instead, say that you have a stomach bug.

Don't refer to somebody's child as their "adopted child." It's rude. Unless you are making a point of telling about the adoption or some other situation where you need to point out that the child is adopted, it is generally uncalled for.

I feel glad to have gotten all that out of my system. Thanks for obliging me.

26 January 2012

Fashion Schmashin . . . OR Smashin' Fashion? (Probably the Former)

I seem to be doing Kayla's Winter Fashion Challenge. I wear plain colored shirts and jeans pretty much every day. I do not have a lot of clothes in my closet (or elsewhere). Plus I hate most fashion trends. Seriously. So why am I bothering? Because I want to make at least a feeble attempt at just looking nice-ish sometimes. (And that sentence shows you just how committed I am to that.)

Day 1 was "Layering." Kayla said, and I quote, "Anyone can throw a cardigan over a t-shirt and call it layering..try and push yourself a little." I do not like layering. I have never been a fan of the style. It is very popular, even in the summer time when extra layers means extra heat. I do not understand it. Consequently, I do not own much that can be used for layering. I own two, yes only two, tank tops. I own a few cardigans, two of which are not in really great shape. Plus, I looked at every single picture that Kayla provided as inspiration and thought, "That person looks ridiculous." So for day one I wore one of my two tank tops purchased somewhere completely forgotten to me now, a yellow top from American Eagle, a purple cardigan (with rosettes along the side that you cannot see in the photo) from Ross. Black skirt that my friend, Jessica, gave to me in 2004, pantyhose (because I still have not gotten into this tights thing), and black flats from somewhere. Maybe Ross. (As you can tell, I am very attached to my clothing and have perfect memory of where and when I obtained my most precious and favorite items.) Also there was a headband and a necklace and earrings.

Day 2 was "Monochrome." Unlike the previous day, I did like some of the photo suggestions. The difficult thing is that I don't really have a lot of non-jean pants, and I do not have a lot of solid-ish skirts that are not black or gray or brown. Plus I don't wear skirts unless I'm at a function that requires me to wear a skirt. I like to sit cross-legged and with my knees pulled up to my chest, both at home and at work, and wearing a skirt does not facilitate that. Plus most of my skirts are very multi-colored. So, I decided to wear my Old Navy "perfect khakis" that are incidentally the only pair of non-jean pants that fit me right now. Only, they're not the traditional khaki color, they are "poison ivy," which means "green so dark you will probably think it is black." And I wore my green turtleneck. Plus some green jewelry, which was kind of fun. Overall, I liked Day 2. (I had just come home from a Mary Kay facial party, so I was not wearing makeup for the photo. Pity.) Pants from Old Navy. Turtleneck from somewhere. Necklace from my MIL from her Alaskan cruise. Bracelet from my MIL from her trip to Armenia.

Day 3 was "Embrace a Trend." Um, see above. The trends Kayla suggested included many things I do not like - animal prints (tacky), faux fur (gag), skinny jeans (just cannot bring myself to wear any), sequins (is this a trend?) and a few other things that I didn't know were trends. In short, It was very hard to embrace a trend when I do not purchase, and therefore do not own, trendy products. I decided the best I could do was wear a scarf. I got several compliments on it at work. Black top from Old Navy. Scarf from my sister-in-law from her trip to Thailand.

So, that's what I've got so far. Sorry for the dark and grainy pictures. The cord to our camera is missing, and it's a pain to get the pictures off of it, so I've been relying on Eric to take pictures of me with his phone. And Eric does not get home until nighttime, when it is dark and the lighting is terrible. (Stupid winter.)

25 January 2012

Boys Will Be Boys

 Let's just get the exciting stuff out of the way. Ike broke his arm. Here's how it happened:

On my work-at-home days, I hang out for a good portion of the day in our upstairs office that faces the street. I keep the blinds open mostly because I like sunshine, but also because I like to see what's going on outside. It was last week that I realized my kid might like to see what was going on outside too. The neighbors across the street were getting some exercise equipment delivered. So I pulled the blinds all the way up and let Ike stand in the windowsill to watch. Then the next day he watched the rubbish truck do its thing up one side of the road. Then I quickly got him dressed and plopped him back in his windowsill to watch the truck come back the other way. He was totally mesmerized. Later that day he stood in the windowsill some more, eagerly hoping that something awesome would happen on the street. He did get to see his babysitter come out to bring her rubbish bin back to the side of the house, and he was so excited to see her. (She lives across the street and two doors down.) On Sunday he stood in the window sill and watched Eric leave for his morning meeting. And then he promptly fell out of the windowsill because I am a negligent mother.

He cried for a little bit but then settled down. Everything was okay, and he took a nap. The rest of the day proceeded as a usual horrible Sunday with one o'clock church.I noticed when I changed him over the next couple of days that he whined a lot when I pulled his arm in and out of sleeves while dressing him. Because I am a negligent mother I let him keep doing that thinking that he'd probably get over what was bothering him in a day or two. Last night he was climbing the stairs when he suddenly began to wail, and for the first time in this whole ordeal, hold his arm. Eric and I decided to call the pediatrician's office, which has extended hours a couple of nights per week. The nurse on duty told me that if this had been going on for a few days I ought to bring him in. So I sent Eric. And then the nurse practitioner sent Eric and Ike over to the hospital to get x-rays. Ike cried a lot during the x-rays as they put his arm in all the positions to get the shots they needed. The technician said he couldn't see anything obviously wrong with the arm, but based on how Ike was behaving there was probably something wrong. He was right.

Shortly after Eric got home the nurse practitioner called to say that he had two very minor fractures - one in the radius, and one in the ulna. She said to make an appointment to get the boy a cast on Thursday, so that's what we'll be doing tomorrow morning.

With all that said, the kid is as chipper as ever. If it weren't for the whining when we pull his arm through his sleeves neither one of us would have any idea that anything was wrong with the kid.

23 January 2012

Meal Planning - Don't Get Carried Away!

I've had a few people ask me lately about my food shopping and cooking methods. I think I'm somewhat organized in this regard. But I am by no means hyper-organized. I usually only plan 3-5 meals in a given week. I've found that when I plan more I either shop for way more food than we will actually eat, or I end up having things come up that cause me to put the meals on hold, and then the food goes bad. I do not assign specific days to specific meals, but I do try to keep in mind which days I will be working and which days we may have unusual things going on that could put a kink in our dinner plans.

So what do we do on the days that we don't have a planned meal? Leftovers. And we have a handful of go-to food ideas. Some of them are incredibly simple like deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches or bean burritos (with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, sour cream and green salsa). Some are a little more involved like red lentil curry or kidney bean curry. We eat a fair amount of pasta, too. As you may notice, most of our go-to foods are vegetarian meals and do not require a lot of fresh ingredients. That means that I generally have all the supplies I need for that meal on hand, without even having to add things to my grocery list. (Most of the items require onions, cilantro or both. These are staples in my household, so yes, they are almost always on hand.) We just celebrated the Chinese New Year with a bunch of neighbors, so we happen to have hundreds of frozen dumplings on hand right now as well. The dumplings will be added to the list of go-to meals until we run out of them.

When I plan my meals each week, I try not to put a whole week of new recipes. Usually I limit myself to only one or two new recipes. That way if the recipe is a dud, at least we know something that week will be really good.

I'll be writing a few more posts about organizing my pantry (Take that 2012!), making my grocery list, and planning crock pot meals.

20 January 2012

Guest Post

I wrote a guest post at Hey Nonny for today. Head on over and check it out.

17 January 2012

My House is So Cold...

Back when I lived in New Zealand I sometimes wrote and whined about the cold. I couldn't wait to get back to the States and live in homes with central heating that I could set to 72 degrees. And I did. Except now that I have to pay the gas bill to heat an entire house, I am much more frugal with my heat.

I have the thermostat set to 60 degrees during the day. I only keep it this low because I don't want to forget to turn it down on days that I'm not in the house. On days that I am at home, I usually will turn the heat up to 65, maybe 67 if I feel like it. I pretty much always wear a fleece jacket when I am at home. It basically doesn't matter how cute my top is because I never even get to see it. I also usually wear some kind of warm socks or slippers. Some days I forget to turn the heat up in the morning, so I'll be upstairs working away and wondering why I'm so cold. Then I remember and run downstairs to turn the heat up a few degrees.

At the beginning of each month I check dutifully for the heating bill to show up online. I get very antsy about it. Our bill shows us how we compare in our utility bills relative to other homes with our same square-footage. As much as I like to keep my bill low (because I like money), I am even more thrilled to see how my usage compares to previous months, and whether I earned a 5 star rating for energy efficiency. I probably deserve a Saving the Planet badge. Somebody should get on that.

14 January 2012


I am thoroughly enjoying the surge in movie and movie series remakes that we've seen in the last few years. I loved the two new Batman movies and am eagerly awaiting The Dark Knight Rises. I really enjoyed the new Star Trek, even though I was never a huge Star Trek fan to begin with. I also cannot say enough good things about the 2010 adaptation of True Grit. And now I have another film to add to the list of remakes - Rise of The Planet of the Apes.

First off, I have never seen the original Planet of the Apes, but I have learned enough about it through pop culture and people explaining the movie to me, that I understood the basic premise of the new film. I also knew enough about the original to be thoroughly amused with the references to it in the new movie. (There is one part where the lead chimp is playing with a toy Statue of Liberty. Very funny.)

I loved that the whole premise of the movie is based on a researcher trying to find the cure to Alzheimer's disease. It allowed the viewers to be sympathetic to the research and his overall objectives.

I am probably very late on the bandwagon for seeing this one (we just watched it this past week), but we're always behind on movies because we just wait for them to arrive via Netflix. (We have been on a list for ages and ages and ages and ages to receive The Help. I'm actually a little perturbed that Netflix hasn't just purchased more copies for distribution. This is the only bad thing I have to say about Netflix. Maybe I will get a Redbox code and go get The Help from Redbox. It would be my first ever time to get a movie through one of those machines. Seriously.)

12 January 2012

Free TV

We do not have a TV. Okay, that is a lie. We have two TVs because we got a new one for Christmas. The old one is in the extra room quietly awaiting its use as a future babysitter. The new one is in the living room where the old one used to be. But still, we often tell people we don't have a TV. That is because it is easier to say that than to say, "Where we live we cannot get any reception, and we don't have cable or satellite, and we have a policy not to pay for TV." See? "We don't have a TV," is much simpler.

I like our no-paying-for-TV policy. I like it a lot. It saves us a lot of money to watch the shows we watch ("Downton Abbey," "Person of Interest," and "Who Do You Think You Are?") on Hulu or on the network sites. I guess it's a pain to have to wait 24 hours from the original time the show aired, but you can pay me $50 per month (That's how much a cable bill is, right?) to wait for each of the shows I watch.

I will readily admit that I miss having ready access to college football during the fall. We usually would go to other people's homes to watch the BYU football games, and that was always fun. Still I was sad that I didn't get to see more than just the BYU games. (Although not particularly sad that I didn't get to see the National Championship (if you can call it that). I heard about it on NPR and on Facebook. It sounds like it wasn't an awesome game.)

We've actually been spending so much time watching TV online lately (we have recently started watching "Arrested Development" again) that we've downgraded our Netflix account to only have 1 DVD out at a time. We're just saving money left and right, folks.

We are surely not the only people who are not paying for TV. Are we?

10 January 2012


You know how some days are full of getting stuff done and are super productive and you are really proud of yourself at the end of the day? Those days never occur on Mondays for me. Except yesterday. It was awesome.

First of all, I always work from home on Mondays. And because Mondays are always lousy I usually consider it a good Monday if I can put in two hours of work. (This is also because sometimes I don't have enough work to do on Mondays since I am usually in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays - meaning I'm done with everything I brought home for the week.) Yesterday I worked 4.1 hours. (Yes, we log our time in increments of 6 minutes so that we bill clients as accurately as possible.) I'm afraid that with all my parenthetical comments you may have missed the point of this paragraph. It is thus: usually less than two hours of work, yesterday four!

I made a really good dinner. It was pasta in sun-dried tomatoes in cream sauce and blue cheese and cheddar scalloped potatoes. It was a very creamy dinner, but that was because I purchased the cream very discounted since it was about to go bad, so I had to use it very quickly.

I vacuumed the stairs while my child threw his Little People (which are really zoo and circus and farm animals) down the stairs from behind the baby gate at the top. He learned this game from his father and his grandpa, who  let him sit at the top of the stairs and chuck tennis balls at them.

I put on real clothes and wore make-up and my hair still looked good from the day before, which totally counts as "doing" my hair.

I made the bed. (I would say this gets done about 80% of the days of the week.)

I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded it again and then hand-washed the pots from dinner.

I thought about exercising but ultimately did not because I messed up my hip being too enthusiastic on the elliptical machine and then later taking a flying leap over the baby gate. I hope to be back on the machine tomorrow.

And it wasn't yesterday, but today my curtains arrived in the mail and I will be hanging them with Eric as soon as I finish what I'm doing right now. So, check off that to-do from my 2012 goals.

06 January 2012

2012 Plans

I tend to be fairly ho-hum about the new year. I really enjoy looking back and examining my previous year, but often looking forward doesn't do much to get me jazzed. I don't know why that is. But this year, I'm just really excited about 2012. I'm not sure exactly why. We don't have anything huge in the works. I'm just excited to have a reason to set some goals and kick some bad habits. (Yes, I know this is very contradictory to an anti-goals post I wrote last year. Times have changed.)

Without further ado, here are the goals that I am publishing for the Interwebs to read:

  • Exercise at least 20 minutes 4 times per week.
  • Cook three planned real-food meals per week (This is more of a lifestyle maintenance goal than a new goal.)
  • Organize the pantry.
  • Get some curtains for the sliding glass door and the kitchen window.
  • Write three blog posts per week
  • Read 52 books.
For me the hardest ones will be exercising and blogging. I only really need to organize my pantry once. It's really a matter of creating an organizational system. I will only buy curtains once, as well. But exercising and blogging regularly will take more diligence.

Here's to a year of less time-wasting.

03 January 2012

The Dreaded Hour

Our ward meets at 1 o'clock this year.* Oh boy. We had been meeting at 11, and that was fine. Really, I think when your kid is still taking two naps per day (the first at about 9ish, and the second about 1ish) there really isn't a perfect time for church. The kid is just going to be a fussy grump for some portion (or all) of the meeting. Ike would actually fall asleep in our arms until about two months ago, so it hasn't been bad for us, all in all.

But some time pretty soon he's going to be transitioning out of two naps a day and into just that one afternoon nap. I think church this year is going to be a beast. I know a million people before have survived the 1 o'clock start time with a toddler, and I've watched a oodles of people struggle through it. I am not looking forward to it. On Sunday our ward only held the first hour of church, and we were woefully unprepared. Some time after church Eric and I were discussing the fact that we will need to bring an arsenal of toys and snacks with us if we ever expect to get anything out of our meetings.

The good news is that we will only have to do this for about six months. Then Ike will go to nursery during the second two hours of church and we can pawn him off on somebody else, assuming he's willing to be pawned off. And, this month I'll be helping in the nursery, and of course I'll take Ike along, so hopefully these few weeks will be manageable.

Any tips or tricks to surviving this year of 1 o'clock church are welcome.

*In the LDS church usually 2-3 congregations meet in the same building. The start-time for their meetings are staggered to accommodate multiple congregations using the building at the same time. In buildings that hold 3 wards, usually the start times are 9, 11, and 1. Usually at the new year each congregation rotates.

01 January 2012

2011 Books

I  won't be doing a separate post this year with my book statistics, so I'm just going to put a little summary here at the top. I read 48 books, 4 shy of my goal of 52. Not too bad. The top 10% of books this year are:

  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
  •  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God by Gerald N. Lund 
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Of the books I read this year 12 were audiobooks. (And of those audiobooks, 7 were finished in December! I really got into audiobooks in the last month or so.) Twenty of the books I read were non-fiction. Also please note that even though the non-fiction books only made up 41.7% of my total reading, they comprised 60% of my "best" list. Clearly I need to read more nonfiction.

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - Thoroughly enjoyable. I read it in about a day because the writing was so fun and the story so interesting.

2. Squirrel Meets Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary by David Sedaris* - I loved the concept, but I just couldn't get past the excessive vulgarity. It's too bad, because David Sedaris is definitely my favorite This American Life contributor.

3. Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God by Gerald N. Lund - I expected this book to be a little like Chicken Soup for the Soul, but it wasn't. It taught a lot of valuable principles about God's love for us and how that is manifest in His involvement in our lives.

4. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - What an interesting read! I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read more by Gladwell.

5. The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok - Loved. There will never be enough Potok in my life. Never.

6. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok - This was his last published novel. Also not his best. I liked it, but I wasn't blown away like I normally am.

7. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Very enjoyable. I feel like I'm finally in the loop on that one now.

8. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Loved the writing. Did not love the characters. (Though the characterization itself was fantastic.)

9. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt - Good historical fiction.

10. To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson by Heidi S. Swinton - President Monson is awesome. This biography is not.

11. A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich - Historical fiction at its finest.

12. Then Comes Marriage by Mark D. Ogletree and Douglas E. Brinley - A bit Utah-centric, but overall a good, useful book.

13. Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald N. Lund - Excellent.

14. The Peacemaker by James L. Ferrell - Some wonderful scriptural insights in a very cheesy narrative.


15. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - Don't bother. Terrible writing, immature plot and character development. There are so many better YA fantasies out there.

16. Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose - A great read all around. A little long but well worth it.

17. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - A true gem. What on earth took me so long to get to this one?

18. 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today edited by Gregory S. Parks and Matthew W. Hughey - A nice thing about a book of essays is that if you don't like one author, you get to the next one quickly. This book is all about unjust racially profiling, egotistical cops and black men in America. A short read and quite eye-opening.

19. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein - I just loved this book. It made me ask a lot of questions and think more deeply about the values and expectations we place upon our daughters.

20. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I just enjoyed this book so much!

21. Holes by Louis Sachar - I loved this the first time I read it (about 11 years ago), but I would say I didn't love it as much this time. Still a great book, just not as much love for it as there once was.

22. The Book of Lights by Chaim Potok - Something about this book really resonated with me, but I'm unable to pinpoint what it was.

23. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson* - Interesting and enjoyable, although a little long.

24. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - I can't decide whether I liked this one or not. I think I liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it to most.

25. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta - It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I really liked it.

26. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - Something everyone should read, but not one that I necessarily need to read again.

27. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte* - You just have to love this one.

28. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I read it again - this time with Eric on a road trip.

29. My Life With Goya by Andrew Potok - Ugh. I grabbed it thinking it was Chaim Potok, and it most certainly wasn't. I should have quit early on.

30. The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages by K. David Harrison - Fairly interesting, but a little repetitive. I don't know that I completely buy into the idea that all languages need to be saved, but he does make some compelling arguments.

31. Anthem by Ayn Rand - Meh. It's the first I've read by her. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Definitely don't agree with it.
32. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale* - I liked it even better than The Goose Girl.

33. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou* - I am surprised that some of my peers read this in middle school. Not only is it not appropriate for kids in middle school, the beauty of the writing cannot be appreciated by thirteen-year-olds.

34. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - Good, not great.

35. The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry - I really enjoyed the tone of this book. I liked how the child narrator could describe everything going on, even though she often didn't understand the significance of it.

36. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman* - Such an interesting book.

37. Gossamer by Lois Lowry - Meh. Not my favorite of hers.

38. Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society - Is it wrong if I'd like a more academic history and less of a feel-good history? I liked it, but I could always use more facts.

39. A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg -  I didn't think the English and French royal families of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could ever be so interesting.

40. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine - I expected better. I really liked Ella Enchanted, and this was fairly blah compared to that one. 

41. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine - This one did a much better job of living up to the expectations set with Ella Enchanted. I enjoyed it. 

42. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah* - This was such a hard book to listen to. It's sad in nearly every possible way.  

43. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand* - This book was just all-around awesome. I will have to get my hands on a hard copy so I can read it with my eyes instead of my ears. 

44. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck* -  This was the second time I read this book. The first time I was a freshman in high school. I didn't pick up on all the foreshadowing and symbolism the first time. I know a lot of people find Steinbeck depressing, but I love him.

45. I Am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson - Meh. This book was basically a book of quotes meant to make you feel good about being a mother or about not being a mother. It just didn't resonate with me. 

46. Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington* - Interesting story, but not a very interesting read. I would have liked to have heard more political insight into the removal of Aboriginal children from their homes. This was an audiobook, and I really could have used a map. 

47. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University: 91 Days to Beat Debt and Build Wealth by Dave Ramsey* - This is technically a lecture series, but I'm counting it as a book. We skipped the parts that weren't really pertinent to us. This series is really motivating!

48. If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White* - Meh. I thought it would be more about her history, and it was more about her life at the time of writing the book. It was a series of little vignettes. Just not that great.

*I listened to an audiobook.