Friday, December 25, 2009

4:30 Christmas morning

My grandpa died a few weeks ago. I've been thinking about him a lot. It's about four-thirty Christmas morning and I can't sleep so I thought I would write a bit about him.

Except, not really about him. I was actually not around him for most of his life. I guess I'm not really qualified to tell you about him. I mean, I have some facts but as I lay in bed not sleeping I realized that the totality of what I know from first hand experience about my grandfather only reveals how much I don't know him. I don't mean to say he was a stranger to me--he wasn't. Not at all. But I know him best through my father's stories. It is strange to think that even though he has only been gone a little while he has been a legend to me since I was small. I guess this is what happens when families live far away from each other.

So please forgive me if I write about my Grandpa by telling you a story about myself that he liked. I told it to him at Tom's wedding a few years ago and he laughed so hard. He and my brother Matt are some of my favorite people to make laugh. It feels like a triumph. Anyway, I ended up telling that story about five times that weekend. Grandpa kept pulling people over and telling me to tell it to them too. So, I'm going to write it down now.

I was in college. I was in my third year I think. It was winter and I had an intense crush on this boy named James. I thought he was brilliant and poetic. We were friends and would sometimes walk home together. This happened more often than not when I casually waited outside his office until he finished work then "bumped" into him. Man, crushes are so embarrassing.

Anyway, since I lived on his way home sometimes he stopped by my house and had some dinner with me (turkey and cheese sandwiches dipped in barbecue sauce. I really liked this meal for about six months). Finally I got up the courage to invite him and his apartment of roommates over to my house to play some games and eat treats. He said yes.

I was thrilled. I felt like he had basically confessed his undying love for me by agreeing. That day was wonderful.

However, as the evening we had decided on approached I began to have doubts. What if he forgot? Should I call and remind him? What if he remembered but didn't want to come? What if he just said yes to avoid the angry retribution of a stalker? I grew more and more anxious.

About an hour before he and his roommates were to come over I was in despair. My roommates were primping in their rooms (boys were coming over!) but I listlessly moved around the house telling myself he wasn't coming and that I didn't really care. It was snowing and I just knew that if he had remembered and had been planning on coming, he probably wouldn't because of the snow.

Then, out of the blue, my mom called. I told her that I had invited the most awesome boy ever over and that he wasn't coming. That he was standing me up. She asked if he was already late and I said that no, he had about ten minutes to get there but I KNEW. She asked me for a history of our relationship so I told her (it didn't take long, stalker-crush relationships are remarkably easy to sum up).

"So anyway, Mom. That's it. And now he's not coming. And I'm so sad."

My mother's voice on the other end of the line was confident, "No, Anna. He is going to come. I am positive he's going to come. But you are at a very delicate part of your relationship right now. Do you really want this to go somewhere?"

"What well, yes I do, but..."

"Ok." She took a breath. "Then you have to do exactly what I say. Are you listening?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. Now do this exactly. As soon as he sits down, sit down right next to him. DON'T let some other girl take your spot. Then, at some point tonight, probably best if it's right after he tells a joke, you put your hand on his knee. And you squeeze it."

"What?"

"Anna, it's time for the knee squeeze."

"Mom, you want me to reach out and grab this guy's leg?"

"Yes. You've got to promise me you'll do this. It's the only way."

"Mom. You're crazy and he's not even coming so it doesn't even matter."

We hung up right after that and a couple minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was James and his roommates. I forgot all about my mother, I was so delighted and nervous I couldn't open the door at first. We spent the first little while in the kitchen standing around and eating cookies or something and then we went to the living room to play games.

I was worried about the lack of chairs/couch space so I sat down on the floor. James sat down right next to me. We started playing some game. I said something funny and James laughed and then...he put his hand on my knee and squeezed it.

I couldn't believe it. For a second I couldn't move. Then I looked at my knee and his hand. Finally I looked up and burst out laughing right in his face. It was loud. I believe there may have been a snort or two. He quickly removed his hand. There was an awkward silence as soon as my laughter was killed by my embarrassment.

Needless to say, nothing further happened with James. If there had been something, I effectively killed it that night with my insensitive response to the romantically loaded knee squeeze.

(To be fair, although it makes for a less dramatic story, it was also effectively killed a few days later when James dreamily told me that he liked to describe his eyes as "blue with flecks of gold." Who says that?)

That story cracked up my Grandpa. Every time I saw him after that he would bring it up. It might be casually asking me if I saw anyone in the room I thought worth a knee-squeeze. After I married Chris he asked if I had finally gotten the knee squeeze timing right (answer: yes).

I love my Grandpa. I wish I had visited him before he died. I don't mean once he got sick. I mean earlier. I wish I had visited him before there were big and heavy things going on.

Let's see if I can sleep now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NABLOPOMONOMORE!!!!!

Oh hooray! I won't have to post every day anymore. This stopped being fun when Thanksgiving happened.

So, what to tell you today...

Okay. Here is another bragalog.

I had a lot of cavities as a little kid (this is not the bragalog part). I just didn't brush my teeth. That's all there is to it.

However, when I went to go get them filled I freaked out because I was so terrified of needles (note: I am not longer afraid of needles. I am so blase about needles.) We were living in Honduras so I couldn't have been more than nine years old at the time.

I was crying and trembling and so insistent that the dentist could give me fillings without Novocaine that finally, in frustration, he said ok. He said when it hurt too much for me to stand then I should tell him and he would give me the Novocaine.

But I was one stubborn and frightened kid. It hurt so much but I was convinced that a shot would hurt more so I got my fillings without Novocaine. I don't remember how many, but it was more than one. I do remember holding my mouth open and having so many tears running down my cheeks that my shirt collar was soaked. Afterward, the dentist looked as traumatized as me.

Years later I had to get another filling, and I got Novocaine. Man, I was a dumb kid sometimes. Still, that is pretty hard core. This may also be a lesson on why you shouldn't go to a dentist in a third world country.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A baby a baby!!!!!!

My littlest brother Joe is a dad! His daughter who, last time I heard, is going to be named Brooklyn Charmaine, was born today, November 29th. She's early but healthy and she and Stephanie are doing ok.

Hooray for early Christmas presents!

Also, I did a guest blog on Chris's blog here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I am a guest blogger today you guys!

This is Chris. Anna asked if I would do a blog for her today, so naturally I said no because I didn't want to have to think of anything to write. That was about 3 hours ago. I read a magazine, ate an orange, and walked to the grocery store to buy some shrimp in the meantime. About 8 minutes ago I told Anna that I changed my mind and would write a post for her. This was mostly because I thought of some ideas to write about,so it wont be an inconvenience to me anymore.
I am a fair-weather do-gooder.
I will now tell the story about how I came to be a bionic wonder. I am a superior human specimen now than when I was born.

1) I got braces in 9th grade. I have large teeth and a relatively small mouth. My teeth got super crowded and twisted. Then, thanks to mega-sweet-NASA-metals, my grill was transmogrified into a proper modern masterpiece. Also, I have permanent gold retainers cemented onto the backs of my teeth. It is kind of cool to know I always have it, but it makes flossing a pain.

2) My eyes were zapped by lasers until I had eagle vision. My eyes were bad. I had 20/800 vision and had worn glasses since second grade. I never knew what it was like to enjoy a simple swim or ride a roller coaster that went upside down without taking huge risks. I have gone through a lot of pairs of glasses and have had to superglue every pair I have owned. Many of them more than once. Nothing is more embarrassing to be 13 years old and playing in the cultural hall in church in front of the Merry Misses and Mia Maids and have a lens plop out of your glasses and have to stop everyone to find in and click it back in the frame. Nothing, that is, except for when you have bifocals and everyone tells you that they are pretty sure your glasses are broken now and do you need to call your mom? That is pretty embarrassing.
So I was pretty excited (even if it was 12 years later) to go get myself LASIKed up. I sat in a dark office with those long thin strips of wood in vases for a while before a LASIK technician came in and told me what was going to happen. I was supposed to take lots of ibuprofen and some valium to calm my nerves before we went in, and then I should do the whole laser bit and go home and nap. They brought me the drugs and I swallowed them and waited for 10 minutes in the same dork office while the doctor got the machine ready. They piped some muzak into the office and I was in a comfy chair, but I definitely felt like I was not their usual sort of demographic. I was 1/3 of the age of most other patients in the eye surgical hospital, but it meant there were lots of magazines to read that I had never seen before.
They came and got me and brought me into the laser room. It looked like something out of a nuclear warship engine room; there were swingy and rolly bits everywhere. They had me lie down on a bed slab and velcroed my head still. The slab rotated at the feet to move my head from the incision machine to the corneal zapper (unfortunately not the official title).

NOTE: If you get queasy with stories about eyes, it gets pretty queasalicious for the next few paragraphs. Just a heads up.

I was supposed to look at this red dot and not blink while the people put a ring-like cup underneath my eyelids that surrounded the whole eye. This hooked on to a vacuum that sucked my eye about a centimeter out of the socket towards the laser that would cut the corneal flap. I am glad it was a laser and not a blade because I would have been considerably more scared. They sucked and cut the right eye first. There was a mechanical noise and I could feel my eye moving. Everything started going gray around the edges of my eye until I couldn't see anything. It wasn't black like when you close your eye, because I could sense light and dark. It was a very light gray. It felt like it does when you roll your eyes back hard into your head. It took about 10 seconds to make the cut, and they unsucked my eye and put some drops it because I wasn't supposed to blink. Then they put the ring on my other eye. This one was harder to get on because I kept flinching. They got it on and turned on the suction but when they started cutting, I could feel a small sharp pain like a pinch travel around my eye. It didn't hurt, so I didn't bother stopping them, but it was kind of freaky.
Then they took a thin metal tool and flipped back the flap on both eyes. THAT was weird. The surface of the eye is very smooth, but the surface of the cornea is pretty rough. Like frosted glass. Everything went blurry (blurrier even than my already glasses-less vision) and it looked like I was in a really thick but clear fog.
They rotated me to the zapper where they had to put on a different ring to keep me from blinking. The right eye was first- I had to stare at a green laser and not move or look at anything but the green laser for 8 seconds. If my eye shifted a bit (as is natural seeing as I was alive), the laser would track it and compensate. This is some sweet technology. It made a few hundred individual zaps to reshape my eye in seconds and I could tel immediately (even through the rough cornea) that Things were very sharp. My left eye, again, was not willing to open and It took 5 minutes to get the ring in. I suppose the valium hadn't fully kicked in by then. They zapped that eye too in a matter of seconds with no surprises. Then the replaced the flaps and told me to go sit in a waiting room. They said to not blink a lot because that could move the flaps, and recommended I close my eyes and rest. I was too excited though, so I only closed one eye and looked at stuff through the other. When Anna came to drive me home they made me wear those huge dork-tastic plastic sheet sunglasses to leave. I took them off but Anna made me promise to wear the until we got home. Anna was nice and went to the library while I was getting morphed and picked me up some old radio shows. I got home and tried to listen but finally the valium kicked in and I slept for 5 hours. Then Anna read my torts cases to me and I dictated my notes. It was fun to hang out with Anna, but it was the most horrible night of studying ever. It was so cool to have nice vision I rode my bike to school and my check up the next day. The procedure was terrifying and I was convinced that I would be blinded by high powered lasers, but it is really really cool to have 20/15 vision. And I can go outside in rain. And I can go inside a warm house from the cold and not get foggy. And I can jump in water any time I want. I haven't ridden a roller coaster upside down yet, but I am excited to.

So bionic.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hygiene

I didn't take a shower today until 7:30 p.m. About 20 minutes later I dumped pizza on my lap. Still it was good pizza.

Sorry all you millions of faithful fans--I am so sleepy that the words on the screen are fuzzy.

Goodnight.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving so you can bet your buttons I am not going to write a long post. However, lists are easy so I will make one of the big events of the day:

1. We played Mafia and I was an awesome liar and tricked EVERYONE. HAHAHAHAHA!

2. The missionaries played Mafia with us, and then went home and then we found a pair of their shoes that they accidentally left here. ??? That was funny. I mean, they do just live across the hall, but isn’t it a little hard to leave your shoes at someone’s house?

3. We had seven pies. SEVEN PIES!!!! How absolutely awesome.

4. In between making multiple dishes, my mother in law spent the entire time doing dishes. That is an example of an excellent character. Speaking of which, my in laws are really fun. They are funny and helpful and so easy going. One interesting non important fact about them. They can easily and quickly fall asleep anywhere. It is impressive.

Okay. That’s enough.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

All day long I have been getting ready for Thanksgiving. I cleaned everything, even the places that no one will see. I never do that. The only thing I didn't clean was our other bathroom shower. I just left a rag and some cleaner in the tub so that Chris can clean it while he takes his shower tomorrow morning. I think he will have a good time.

I also butterflied our turkey and brined it. Wow. I'm such a hero. Getting ready for Thanksgiving is fun. Even though it took all day, I had a great time. I think part of it was because Soapy was being so charming, and part of it is that making Thanksgiving a big deal makes it more fun.

Most of Chris's family arrived this evening. Lisa gets here tomorrow. It was really fun to see Soapy get so excited to play with them. She is going to be so spoiled this weekend. I am excited to not be the center of her world for a while.

It almost feels like the beginning of a family reunion... except we're missing four members of Cris's family. Nathan is in Poland on his mission, but we don't really miss him because when you are on your mission you kind of become fake for two years. But Bryan, Katie and their little Big O are still in Provo. I wish they could be here. Wow, I really got sad thinking about it just now.

One highlight of this Thanksgiving Eve: Chris manipulating the turkey like a puppet. Sometimes pretending that animal carcasses are puppets is funny.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A list of what I did today

1. Threw up twice.

2. Peed my pants twice.*

3. Cleaned a shower and took a shower at the same time. This was multitasking at its best. It was very satisfying except for two mishaps: a)I scrubbed a little too hard on the shower door and fell out onto the bathroom floor b) I was washing the shower handle and accidentally turned it to super hot and was slightly scalded.

4.Cooked rice for an old lady who didn't remember how to do it. I cleared up some important questions for her. Does the water have to boil before you put in the rice? Do you need a lid? Do you pour the rice through a colander to get rid of the water after you are done? No. Yes. No.

5. Burned a pie crust. I am really sad about that.

6. Told someone I didn't know very well that I peed my pants twice today and instantly regretted it. Talk about awkward moments.

7. Went to bed right now. Goodnight.

*If you are wondering whether numbers 1 and 2 happened at the same time, they did. Ahh, the joys of pregnancy. You are so lucky you get to read about it on this blog.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A stale loaf of bread broken into pieces.

That is what is on my kitchen table tonight. It should have two other loaves to keep it company, but Chris and I had too much stuff to do so I will break some bread tomorrow.

It's for stuffing because Thanksgiving is on Thursday!

All of my Lewis in laws are coming to Nebraska except the four we are intentionally keeping away (psyche guys, we would never intentionally keep the Big O away).

Chris and I are super excited. Last Thanksgiving Lisa came out and we had a pretty stellar time. Feel free to admire our feast here. This year we are going more upscale. Yes, that means we are having a table cloth this year. Also instead of 3 people there will (probably) be 14. WHOOP WHOOP! So we will be having so much more food.

Also, sometime I will have to take some pictures of my couponing system I just upgraded and by the way...I am now super hard core.

Now I am going to sleep because I am going to wake up super early tomorrow to grade my students's finals. There are always lots of papers on tattoos which was interesting but is now super boring. I am a little excited because this time I have two students who randomly decided to write about more unique topics: cake baking and how to find nutritious food when you are lost in the wilderness.

See ya blog-stars.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Musical Moment in Relief Society

The piano player for Relief Society was sick today. This wouldn't have been a big deal but all our other piano players were also missing. One of the counselors in the presidency asked if anyone could play anything on the piano. One brave soul admitted you could play the melody of the more familiar songs. So she bravely plunked out what she knew and we gratefully sang our opening song.

Then we had our Musical Moment. The woman in charge begged the emergency pianist to play that song as well. It wouldn't have been a big deal except...ha ha ha I am cracking up just remembering. Hoo!

Except, first the Musical Moment Director (I don't know the real name of the calling) stated that today we were going to work on breathing. She explained that while it is hard to know where to breathe during a song, you can generally follow the rule of breathing only at the commas, or every four measures. She then announced that we were going to try this all together as we sang a hymn. Unfortunately, the hymn she chose was one of those lesser known hymns. It was definitely unknown to our brave pianist. She did her best but she made a bunch of mistakes and played very slowly. VERY SLOWLY. And here we were, about thirty women trying to not breathe for the longest four measures ever. We were all turning red. I was trying really hard until I had to start laughing (don't worry, it was quietly). It was so funny. I love Relief Society but today I really loved Relief Society.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I dance myself to sleep

Dang it! It is 12:30 a.m. which means I am half an hour late with my blog post. Oh well. I forgive myself. I just finished grading papers, organizing my new class that starts on Monday, and planning a Relief Society lesson for tomorrow. So, I feel more like a hero than a slacker.

Plus, PLUS I had an awesome dinner tonight. I will let you guess what it was. It rhymes with licken truggets. Oh happy happy day.

For my blog today I would like to share with you my favorite Sesame Street song. I never watched Sesame Street before I had an offspring, and so far it's been relegated to Elmo's World. Sophie loves Elmo and lately I have been exploiting that love to get things done around the house...like checking email and laying on the couch.

Anyway, I really love this one song. I have been known to replay it for my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

For my muppet husband

I just wrote a long, wordy, and sloppy post that I had delete because of its embarrassing sentimentality. Why is it that the subjects that I care most about are the hardest to write about? Is this true for other people? I think it must be because language is so limited. There just aren't words important enough. I'm doing my best but it's like trying to translate The Odyssey into the language of hummingbirds. (What the heck kind of a simile was that? I don't know.)

Anyway I want to write about Chris and why I married him. Today was a good day until this evening when it suddenly turned into a very hard day and it reminded me of my favorite qualities of Christopher. I'm going to list some of my favorite things--not a lot of them, but the most meaningful to me. I was going to illustrate them with stories but that just turned into smarmy embarrassment city so I will keep it short and sweet. However, before I list them I want to address Chris's most readily apparent quality from his blogging: his playfulness. And by playful, I mean both playful like a puppy who wants to play tug-of-war, and playful like an otter cruelly toying with its prey before devouring it. Chris is annoyingly, infuriatingly, and delightfully playful. I do love this about him. It makes things fun, exciting, and occasionally dangerous. I don't always encourage it, but I like it.

However, this is just frosting on the cake to me.

Here is why Chris is so great to be married to:

1. He will casually tell you all his worst faults as soon as he meets you. This may not seem like such a virtue at first, but you, as a reader of his blog, probably know all the worst things about him already. There are not hidden surprises--what you see is what you get. He's just an honest guy. I promise, you don't know even a fourth of my worst faults. And you won't if I can help it.

2. I've never met anyone who communicates better with me. I've never had an awkward moment with him. I think this is a very real and very specialized spiritual gift that benefits only me and our marriage. This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it is.

3. When he's wrong he'll admit it and apologize. I noticed this as a missionary. I was struck by it. He can do it immediately, and incredibly humbly.

4. The world is delightful to him. Everything is interesting. I can't keep up. Things distract him that I don't even see. Sometimes, before we go to sleep I ask him what he's thinking about. He might be doing math to figure out how many arm hairs he has. He might be thinking about organic gardening, or physics, or word puzzles or dinosaurs, or waht happens if a bird flies inside a moving car and then stops flying. He can talk about just about anything with anyone because he is interested in everything. When I waste time on the internet, I really waste time. When Chris wastes time...well, he also wastes time I guess, but he also learns crazy things.

5. Okay. This is the last and tonight feels like the most important quality of the Christopher. Yes he's playful 90% of the time. But when things are serious, or scary, or so so sad, he is not serious. He is calm, and patient and takes care of things. He's the best person to have around in an emergency. I wish you could see him fall into his EMT routine when someone is hurt. It's almost as dramatic as Clark Kent to Superman switch. Tonight was not a big deal, but it felt like a big deal and it was so nice to not have to handle it alone, in fact, to not deal with it at all. Chris got on the phone and fixed the problem that was fixable. Then he sat down with me and put the other problems in perspective, then he went off to do some service by babysitting some kids as a favor to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society that he's not even a member of anymore. Don't let his manner fool you, this kid is no kid. This guy has gravitas.

I find this post unsatisfactory, as I find anything I have so far tried to write about Chris (with the exception of one poem I wrote about what would happen if Chris died which I got spot on). So I will end this by just saying that the best choice I ever made was marrying Chris, my muppet husband.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alison's Love Story

So, in a previous post I requested that my 18 year old sister-in-law, Alison, report about her love life. Instead of honoring my request, or even ignoring it, she made a smart-alecky post about it here. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to write a post about her future love life, once she goes off to college. Please enjoy and feel free to make plenty of embarrassing comments directed to her.

A Love Story

Alison wrinkled her nose at the reflection in the mirror. Everyone said her curly hair was beautiful, but to her it was just a tangly bird's nest. She pulled a strand of her lustrous, chestnut hair in front of her eyes and let it go. As it bounced back into a perfect curl, she sighed. If only she had straight hair, everything would be better!

Still, she was not going to let her hair ruin things. Not today. She quickly pulled her thick and fragrant locks into an updo. Today was a big day. Today, she was going to ask Bruno Wasabunny out. Bruno was definitely the hawtttt!est freshman guy at Coolio University. He was so hawwwttt!!! that he didn't have to ask girls out, they all asked him. Alison had been biding her time and she knew that he had just broken up with Ashley Spitandrun. Now was her chance.

She left her dorm room and headed for the cafeteria, where she knew she would find Bruno. She entered and saw him right away, the morning sun turning his wheat-blond hair golden, and glinting off his perfect, white smile. Alison's knees wobbled and she had to grab on to the person walking in front of her to keep from swooning.

"Hey! Ow! Let go of my hair! Are you crazy?"

Crazy? Yes she was. Crazy in love. She could hardly understand what the boy in front of her was saying, her heart was beating so loud. It was something about drawing blood and needing stitches. She had no time for this. She smiled and moved on.

She grabbed a tray and began serving herself breakfast. As if she could eat with love on her mind! Still, she had to maintain appearances. He couldn't know that this was life or death for her. They would joke about it later, she was sure. Laugh and giggle together about how nervous she was...how nervous they both were at first. But today-- today she had to be cool.

Finally she took a deep breath and headed over to the table where he was sitting. There was an open seat RIGHT next to him! Alison felt a sudden calm come over her. Of course she would ask him out. Of course he would say yes in that liquid gold tone of his. They would date, and get married, and have eight children. It was meant to be. Just as she approached he turned around and smiled. Alison heard music. It sounded like this. She smiled back and said, in her most seductive voice, "Hi Bruno."

But wait, something wasn't right. Bruno wasn't looking at her, he was looking past her. She turned to follow his gaze and saw a smiley, suntanned, straight-haired boystealer blow him a kiss. In two seconds, this impostor had run up to him, flung her arms around his neck and gone jungle wild all over his face in such a way that this innocent little story would have to be at least PG if it were made into a film (which it probably will be).

Alison wanted to cry or scream or pull out her pocket-uzi and blow them both to bits. But instead, she dropped her tray on the floor. Marshmallow mateys and milk cascaded down her front like tears. Only then did Bruno look at her. And he laughed.

She turned and ran. But she didn't run very far because, well, she was a little hungry after all. So, she ran back to the breakfast buffet and got some sweet waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. She also grabbed a few chicken nuggets. Then she found the farthest most lonely looking booth and tried to disappear (and eat breakfast). She knew she was going to cry so she let down her hair to hide her face. She whispered, "I can't believe I am such a lollipop." Then her shoulders heaved in silent sobs that stopped periodically as she gently, and tragically, slurped her chocolate milk.

At the same moment, a boy with deliberately mussed dark hair entered the cafeteria, smiling with his friends. He suddenly stopped in his tracks, his dark eyes widening with alarm and a strange need. There was new scent in the room. The usual smell was there: the smell of chicken nuggets and other breakfast food, the smell of human flesh that he had long ago mastered his desire for, even the hint of fresh blood, probably from someones hair recently being ripped out of their scalp...and a new smell. A smell so tantalizing, so delicious it was as though a flavor had been created just for him. He felt the inhuman part of his mind slowly begin to take over his better self and he knew he must leave before he went on a murderous rampage. But first he had to know where it was coming from.

His eyes rapidly scanned the room until they settled on a graceful figure, hunched over her breakfast nuggs in the gross booth right by the bathroom that no one ever sits in. Suddenly his beast nature halted its take over. Instead, a very human emotion filled his being. He no longer wanted to devour this creature. But he did want to be closer. Close enough to touch her lustrous chestnut curls. He left his friend and with a smoldering gaze, he walked to her...

Feel free to continue this story in your own blogs.

P.S. What a classic young adult novel beginning. Well done Anna.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Bus Adventure

Today was another fun bus trip. This time, Sophie and I went to Walmart. It’s a half hour trip, and then the next bus comes an hour after we get there so the whole trip took about two hours. Man, Sophie loves the bus so much. I guess when we travel in a car she has to sit in the back seat, strapped in by her self. On the bus I (her one true buddy) sat right next to her, and I let her stand and lean on the window so I guess I can understand why she loves it so much. Also, she is always the only kid on the bus so all the adults smile and coo at her.

The one annoying part was that Sophie only really likes to shop for a maximum of 30 minutes, even when we play games like ramming the cart into the clothes racks so she is swamped in coats, or running really fast up and down the aisles. So, we finished our shopping and then had about half an hour to wait for the bus. We spent it in the little arcade, spending Sophie’s college money on motorcycle games. That took about 2 minutes. No, actually we just moved from one of those quarter operated cars to the other so Soapy could pretend to drive them. We didn’t put any money in, but we did polish it very well with Soapy’s bum. (Note: Soapy is learning her body parts. So far she knows head, nose, teeth and feet. I will teach her bum tomorrow.)

Anyway, it was a long thirty minutes for me but the whole trip rocked Sophie’s world. She was so happy. When we got home, I put on Katie J.’s blog so I could listen to some happy dancing music as I made dinner and Sophie put up her hands and wanted to dance. So we had a dance party for a few minutes. I don’t mean to be rude but that kid needs to learn some new moves. And by the way, holding hands, walking in a circle and falling down does NOT work for every song. Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cry-baby

My sister in law, Katie mentioned the other day that since she has had her baby she cries at things she would never have cried at before. This made me laugh, because the same thing happened to me.

I feel like I barely ever cried before I graduated from college. Then I started crying a bit during my mission. Although this sounds a little over-dramatic, I honestly think it is because I finally learned a little bit about sadness. My life up to that point was pretty easy, and, despite any teenage complaining, was really happy. Even my personal mission life wasn't very extraordinary; however, I think that when you try and help God with his work you get to feel a little of a weight that is too great for you and the emotions, both sad and happy that are too much for you. So I think I started to understand sadness on my mission, not my own, but other people's. That helped me start crying a bit (but no more than reason).

I got married and I started crying more. This, I think, had noting to do with sadness and all to do with outward influences. Namely Chris. Mostly, I think this happened because Chris likes staying up super late and I need a lot of sleep. I was sleep deprived and in that happy-stressed newlywedd state a Starburst commercial could make me weepy because of it's incredible beauty.

Then I had Soapy and I have not been the same since. This in when the waterfalls of heaven were opened up and poured out my eyes (Hmm, I thought that metaphor would work but it is weird and a little disturbing. Sorry.) If I am alone I can cry on demand.

In fact I'll do it right now... I did it. Right this second my eyes are full of tears. All I did was imagine a grown up Sophie reading this blog as a young mother herself. Oh gag. I know, it's embarrassing. It's not just tears. I feel 'moved' all the time. I can watch a pop tv show and laugh at people who find it meaningful, but be crying for the meaning of it at the same time.

I don't really know what this means. I would like to think I just feel things more deeply, but I think the truth is that my nerves are synapsing in some weird way. I find meaning and cry at things that I know have no meaning. How does that even make sense? Now I am weeping at the chaos of it all.

Anyway, sometimes if I am in a group of people I have to bite the inside of my cheek really really hard so I won't burst into loud sobs. And of course, sometimes that backfires because I bite too hard and then I let out an embarrassing whimper.

Ugh. What a crybaby.
I am so tired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One last sick day

Today was full of naps and nose-blowing. The only human contact I had with anyone that did not live with me was when I walked to the credit union to make a deposit. Here's how my one real-life conversation went today:

Teller: How can I help you?
Me: I'd like to make a deposit.
Teller: Okay. Let's see...
Pause. Soapy tries to eat her stroller strap.
Teller: There you go." She hands me the little bank slip.
Me: Thanks. Have a good evening.
Teller: You too.

That was it for me today. I guess I did talk on the phone to two people as well. Sarah K. being one of them.

Sophie and I had a good time, though. We experimented with her climbing on new things and standing on things with wheels. She likes to stand on shaky ground. I think she enjoys a little bit of scariness. (I think that is a side effect of having Chris as a father. He likes to startle her and it cracks her up.) She kept on running straight in to a chest of drawers with her head. She did it like three times in a row. I don't know what her deal is.

We both stayed in our pajamas until two o'clock. Of course I was not going to make real food today, so for breakfast I had bagels and Nutella. Lunch was some instant stuffing and some of Sophie's green beans and dinner was tomato soup. Don't worry. Sophie ate her usual healthy junk. Breakfast: oatmeal mixed with yogurt and some apple. Lunch: Spaghetti and green beans. Dinner: bread, spaghetti and green beans. I guess she didn't get much variety but whatever. Neither one of us was very hungry anyway.

Anyway, Sophie is happy and healthy as a happy and healthy clam now, and I only have some gross sniffles left, so hopefully we will rejoin the land of the living tomorrow.

Next time I will make sure I do not get sick unless I have a bunch of movies to watch and I have recently restocked my pantry.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Requests

Okay, Sophie and I have been home sick all day and I have nothing to report except that she has crusties all around her nose and I have sneezed more than twenty times today.

Therefore, I am using my blog to request things that I would like for other bloggers who read my blog to write about in their upcoming posts. You don't have to dedicate the whole post to it, maybe just a comment at the end.

Chris: I want you to write about me.

Lisa: I would like you to make a list of all the things you are afraid of, because from your comments I think you have a bunch.

Bridget: I want you to recommend a good book because I need one to read about now. Also, I am in the mood to read a sad blog, so if you wanted to do a Flashback weekday and write about a sad time in your life, I think that would be pleasing to me.

Katie:I want another Olivia blog with some comment about Anna being a great Aunt. Also I would like you to figure out some easy yet strikingly beautiful way to make a home-made star for a little Christmas tree.

Sarah K.: I would like to see some of your photography for your class on your blog. Also, I would like to know where Matt will be stationed. Also, I just sneezed again.

Bryan: I would like you to write a meaningful post that some way incorporates a nice picture of some chicken nuggets. I like chicken nuggets. Also, I would like you to write about some cool fact you know--preferably true.

Alison: I would like your next posting to be about your romantic life, because that is interesting to me. The more angst the better.

Becky F.: I would like you to post a picture of something unexpected that you have managed to stick to Marley's face.

Katie J.: I would like you to have your baby and post pictures.

Kathy: I would like to hear about a time when you were a total jerk, because that would be a funny story. Also, a little unbelievable.

Trish: You don't have a blog so my challenge to you is to start a blog and join Nablopomo in the middle or you can make a comment on this post using the word "lollipop" the way Alison uses it.

Okay, that's it for my blogger tyranny. If there actually is another blogger who read this and would like to participate, I encourage you to follow the assignment I gave Bryan because I really do like chicken nuggets.

If you don't want to follow my requests but still wish to remain friends with me, then I suggest you put the following comment at the end of your posting: "I refuse to play Anna's mind games." Unless you are Chris. If you are Chris you have to follow your assignment or I will slash your bike tires. No joke.

I am going to go blow my nose.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Katie was the closest. As a reward she gets five ampersands and one asterisk. Here you go Katie: &&&&&*

Lewis Carroll wrote the riddle for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as any respectable Disney cartoon watcher should know. The Mad Hatter asks the riddle. In the video below you can find it at 5:37. (Is it weird to anyone else that Youtube citations look so much like scriptural citations?). There was no answer because, well, the Mad Hatter was mad. Why would he ask a riddle that actually made sense?



It got a lot of people annoyed that Carroll did not actually have an answer. Some people came up with their own. These include, "Poe wrote on both," "They both stand on sticks," "They both come with inky quills," and one that played on the fact that there is no answer: "There is a B in both but an N in neither."

Carroll came up with his own answer.(He was actually quite the riddler and also a mathematician and photographer and a deacon in the Anglican church.) He published it in a preface to a later edition of his book. Here it is:

"Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter's Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: 'Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!' This, however, is merely an afterthought; the riddle as originally invented, had no answer at all."

The "nevar" part is "raven" backwards. Unfortunately, his copy editor thought it was a misspelling so he changed it, which led to a lot of confusion.

Wow, I got a lot of mileage out of riddles. I knew that teenage phase would come in handy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Riddles

Ugh. So. Tired. Of. Posting.

When I was a junior in high school I went through a period where I was obsessed with riddles. I would go to the library and read about riddles, and then read about the riddlers, which was pretty interesting. I memorized a bunch of riddles in order to dazzle my audience in case I was ever in a situation requiring a riddle. Surprisingly, that situation never came up until tonight when I needed something to write for a blog post. Unfortunately I have forgotten most of the riddles.

Luckily for you, I remember one. I challenge you to give your best answer to it. It's pretty famous (the question, not the answer). The only rule is that you cannot look up the answer. NO GOOGLE. The answer must come from your own imagination or from your own knowledge. Also, I will give you half credit if you know where it's from or who wrote it.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Why is a raven like a writing desk?


Much Love,
Anna

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I've been Nebraskaned.


So, I have new hobby that I am SUPER DUPER EXCITED about: I am learning how to make a baby quilt! There is an awesome quilter in our ward who is teaching a class on how to make a Stack and Slash quilt. (By the way, that's a pretty cool name). I showed up even though I was still pretty sketchy on how to use a sewing machine. By sketchy I mean that I didn't even know where to plug in the cords, not to mention threading the beast, or(gasp!) making a bobbin. Now, because of the patience of the women in my ward - as well as the prayers and fasting of my mother - not only do I now know how to set up and use my awesome sewing machine, I also have all 25 squares of my quilt done! And I can whip you up a bobbin any day. Woo-hoo!Making a quilt is very very satisfying to me, but it's something I thought I would never do.

This is just an example of how living in Nebraska is changing me. It seems that the longer I am in Nebraska the more I am mid-westernized. I mean, I left college writing poetry, finishing my thesis, and having crepe parties. Now I coupon, sew quilts, and have play dates. In my University days I used Google to look up Asian depictions of Jesus (by the way, Googling other cultures depiction of deity is ALWAYS enlightening), and now I use it to find out how to get hard water stains off our shower doors.

I think my pre-Nebraska self might be disappointed in these changes. But, I like my life. I feel like I am involved in very worthwhile things. I think it would be different if I were living somewhere else, but I like the qualities of Nebraskans I have adopted. I kind of wonder which changes I will keep when we finally move.

That's all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The story of Whistle- my miraculous Argentine hamster


(This is pretty much what she looked like, except she had shorter fur because I would cut it sometimes.)

I decided today to tell you of my beloved hamster Whistle. I got Whistle and her husband, Fellow, when I was in the fifth grade. We had just moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I loved living in Argentina. It still seems like a magical place to me. Here are a few things that happened to me in Argentina:

1.I was told by the cutest boy in the class that I was cool and had "cool shoes."

2.A parrot got blown into our yard by a storm and we got to keep him.

3.We had a tree in our backyard that we were told not to play under because it periodically dropped fruits that were huge and could kill us if they hit us. This made it really scary when a ball rolled underneath the tree. Periodically we would wake up in the morning and there would be these deadly watermelon-sized fruits lying under the tree.

4. I found a jeweled dagger in a hidden cubby in our rented house.

5. I got a telescope for Christmas or my birthday and spent a lot of time spying on people, and it freaked me out.

6. We saw and sat on live miniature horses.

7. They sold hot dogs there the length of my arm.

So, like I said, Argentina was a magical place. We were only there a year. When we found out we were moving back to Virginia, my parents told me we had to get rid of the hamsters. We were able to give Fellow away easily, but it was harder for Whistle.

I thought Whistle was getting more and more pregnant, but it turns out that hamsters do not carry their babies only on their left sides. Poor Whistle had a very large, strange growth on her side. Nobody wanted to take her, even for free. Even with the cage for free. My parents conferred and it was decided that Dad would "take care of her."

So one evening I said goodbye and my Dad drove off with Whistle. This would be the end of the story, but remember that Argentina is a magical place.

About a week later, my parents and I were packing stuff in the garage when something small and blond scurried up to me. It was Whistle--lump and all! My mother looked at my dad who was plainly astonished. He said he couldn't bear to kill Whistle so he had just driven far away and let her go into a field.

Let's take a moment and think of the resilience of this fine animal. Whistle had never set foot anywhere in the house other than my room. How in the world did a hamster know how to get to my home? What sort of homing device did she have? And how did she, a domesticated blond target, manage to scurry past all predators and past all the cars on the Buenos Aires streets to come back? Also, I think it quite commendable that she not only found the house but found me, ignoring other family members. I could hardly sleep that night, thinking of the wonderful and brilliant hamster that had returned to me.

The next day, my dad "took care" of Whistle, and this time she didn't come back. So that's a lousy ending but still. What a cool hamster, no?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How changeable is your character?


This is the book I am currently reading. In the book, Gladwell talks about his theory for sociological "tipping points." Basically, there are times when things catch on really fast and inexplicably, or die quickly and inexplicably, and he gives some theories of why these things happen. His examples range from the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies, to the rise and drop of the crime rate in New York City.I'm not sure exactly how I feel about the author's conclusions yet--he's kind of defending himself as he goes; however, I really like learning about some of the research he sites.

For example, there are a couple studies that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

1. The Good Samaritan Experiment.

A bunch of Seminary students were selected and individually asked why they decided to join the seminary. Then they were asked to give a brief lecture on different gospel topics in a nearby building. Some students were even given the topic of the Good Samaritan to speak on. They were then sent off to give their little talks. On the way there they had to pass by a bum (an actor) lying on the ground moaning and coughing in pain. The experiment measured who stopped and who didn't.

There was one other variable added to the mix. Half the students were told, right before they left to give their talks that they were a little late and the audience was already waiting for them. The other half were told they had a few minutes to start, but they might as well head over now.

It turns out that the students who were lecturing about the Good Samaritan were no more likely to stop than those who were not lecturing about the Good Samaritan. The students who joined the Seminary because they wanted to help out their fellow man were no more likely to stop than those who joined for other reasons (the book doesn't state what these other reasons were, I assume it was for filthy lucre or power).

However, out of the group that was told they were late, only 10% stopped to help. The other group that felt they had time had 63% stop to help.




2. The Cheating Test


This was a humongous experiment of eleven thousand students between the ages of 8 and 16. They gave them dozens of tests in dozens of situations to judge their honesty. They had ways to test their cheating which I won't go into here. They gave them tests in math, in English, in science. They gave them take home tests. They gave them tests on different days. Basically, I feel sorry for these kids because they had to take so many tests. Here is what there results were: there is a lot of cheating going on. No surprise.

What was surprising was that it wasn't the same kids all the time. A kid might cheat in math, but not in English. He might cheat on a multiple choice test but not a fill in the blank test. He might cheat at home, but not at school. He might cheat on Thursday but not Friday. There was no one group of "Cheats." Who cheated depended on the situation that day.

Gladwell's conclusion to these and other experiments he includes is that though we think of our character as being very solid, it is actually fluid. People's characters change depending on their situations. We think of people as being honest, or funny, or cheerful, or lazy...but no one is always these things. When we label our characters we actually underestimate their complexities. People in a hurry are less likely to help someone in trouble, no matter if they feel called of God to help all of mankind. People who have cheated do not always cheat.

It both reassures and bothers me that my very character can shift depending on the situation. It reassures me because looking back on a new situation, I am sometimes confused about why I acted the way I did. I have been thinking about how different I act here in Nebraska than in Utah (the drinking, carousing, tattoos etc.). It's nice to know I might just be normal instead of a social chameleon.

It bothers me because, especially morally, I would like to be predictable and solid. Once I know what is wrong and right I would rather not change depending on my company, or the weather. I like to think I am dependable but, honestly, if I was in a hurry I would probably walk right past the bum (maybe kick him too).

Anyway. It's interesting to think about.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Erik


Today is my little brother's birthday, so I thought that I would post my all time favorite picture of him.

When I first saw this photo I (like everyone who knew of Erik's hatred for dogs before he got married to a veterinary student) was delighted. It's very funny to see the kid who used to kick our little, white, highland terrier across the room, cuddle up with this pooch. (Okay, I have to admit that Erik insists that he never hated dogs, just the one dog that was our little, white, highland terrier. And that same terrier has drawn blood from every member of my immediate family and several extended family members, in laws, and acquaintances. So maybe he has some small justification. Still, it's funny. If you have been harmed or at least threatened by Moby, the great white beast, feel free to share your story in the comment section.)

However, this photo also nagged at me for some reason. It seemed like I was missing something from it. Like there was something I was supposed to get from the photo but was missing (Can you tell I have just read The Lost Symbol?). Then I realized it: this photo finally gave me the key to Erik's character.

So for Erik's birthday, I thought I would do little psychoanalysis of him on my public blog as a birthday present. What better present could you give a person, really?

(It's very probable that he doesn't even read this blog, in which case I am hoping by word of mouth he learns of its existence and of his own spotlight.)

So anyway, I could write you a little essay about all the crazy and not so crazy things Erik has done in his life but it is late so I thought I would summarize all of Erik's character into one word to define him for all of you who did not have the privilege of growing up with him.

Are you ready? Here it is, the word that summarizes the dominant personality trait of Erik: GOOFY.

Seriously, this kid is a goofy snowball of goofiness. Sure, he acts all responsible and serious but really, he wants to be silly. You haven't fooled me Erik. You are not so grown up. I remember how as a toddler you could never stop giggling. I remember how you loved pranking houses with me. We would gather up furniture that people were throwing out and when we had enough we would go to someone's house and set it all up on their lawn like there had been a big meeting there. We left programs of the meetings. Ha ha ha...remember all the Official Arthropod Meetings we faked? (Uh, honestly, I think we might have stolen some office chairs accidentally one time. I feel a little bad about that, but seriously people should take care of their stuff.)

Now that Erik is married, good GRIEF the goofiness has come home to roost. I suspect that Erica is goofy too and is able to unleash Erik's goofiness--for which I am eternally grateful to her.

Goofy is good. This is obviously not a real psychoanalysis of you, Erik. But, I do like how laid back and silly you are sometimes. I love you and miss you. I hope your dog gives you a big, wet, sloppy kiss for your birthday, and I hope it is totally gross.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christmas in Nebraska

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas. I am pretty excited for it. Today I was thinking about all the gifts I want to make or give people for Christmas. I only have three planned and I have at least seventeen people to give gifts to, so I have a ways to go. Here are some of the things I am excited to do because of Christmas:

1. Put a wreath on our door

2. Put up our midget Christmas tree

3. Buy or make our new annual Christmas ornament (Chris doesn’t know we have this tradition, but we do)

4. Make cinnamon rolls and give them to neighbors and friends and the guys at Meineke who are so nice

5. Take out our Advent Candle-Holder

6. Celebrate Advent with lots and lots of treats every Sunday

7. Wrap up presents (I really love wrapping paper. It’s so wasteful and so so so pretty)

8. Listen to my favorite song: Christmas in Nebraska.

9. Drink hot chocolate

AND…

10. FIND OUT IF THIS LITTLE PARASITE INSIDE OF ME IS A BOY OR A GIRL! (We’ll have the ultrasound December 9, but we are going to have the tech write down the gender and seal it up in an envelope to be opened Christmas Morning.) I tell you what, just knowing that we will get that news on Christmas makes me think this might be the best Christmas EVER.

For your information, I am about 95% sure I was having a little boy. Also, I think he will have darker hair (brown not blond), and will be tinier than Sophie was when she was born. FYI, I was spot on about Sophie being a curly-haired, blond girl.

I even have a name picked out, but I don’t think Chris is completely on board with me about it. Even if he was, I think we will keep the name a secret for now.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blog Music Playlists

1. I feel a bit bad about Thursday's post about my snobbery, like maybe I was too mean. I blame you, my readers, for my sadness. Becky R. was the only one who challenged my dumb snobbery. I know some of you must like turtlenecks, or skipping, or Nicholas Sparks. But you didn't say anything. Now I feel like you are being quietly brave and strong despite my jerkiness. I exhort you to feel free to tell me I have bad taste. After all, there are plenty of things I like that are pretty lame. Which brings me to the subject of my blog tonight: Blog Playlists

2. The real blog post begins now:

I know, blog playlists are not always cool. They are downright freaky if you aren't expecting them, and I never am. You are looking at some cute baby pictures and then all the sudden, blasting out of your speakers is "IF YOU LIKE IT THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT A RING ON IT!"

Still, I have to admit, I have started liking Blog Playlists. I feel like it gives me a little window into the writer that I would see no other way. It's nice sometimes to know that as you see pictures of a boy taking his first step his parents (okay, his mom) wants you to hear this.

Also, sometimes I go to people's blogs just to listen to their playlists while I do my chores. A couple nights ago I was considering making my own playlist so I can listen to my own favorite songs all the time. I may still do this, but don't worry I would make a new blog just for that reason. I don't want to freak anyone out.

Still, I thought I would share my two current favorite songs with you. They are both by Sondre Lerche. If I ever do end up making a Playlist Blog I will definitely let you know.




Friday, November 6, 2009

PS22

So PS22 is just a public school in New York. They have a lot of minorities and high risk kids. Not the worst school but definitely not the best school. Along comes this young, idealistic, music teacher with funky hair who starts a fifth grade chorus and has his students sing not-the-usual songs. The teacher is enthusiastic and works hard. He starts posting their songs on Youtube. They get noticed by the famous blogger Perez Hilton and suddenly they are pretty famous too.

This is a nice story, and reason enough to pay attention. However, this class of 5th grade singers is very compelling to me. It's because of this video:



I love this little video. I am sure I have watched it about 50 times. I love how much fun the kids are clearly having. I love the little rapper girl who has a very very small solo but is SO EXCITED to be there. My favorite part starts at about 1:19 when the two little girls look at each other and burst into big smiles. I showed it to Chris and he laughed at me, but whatever. Who can help liking these kids with their awkward dancing, their ratty hair, their sweet voices, and their big smiles? If you look at other videos, especially the later ones when they are performing for pop stars, their hair is all done up and they look self-important and fake. But in this clip these kids are very real and very happy. If you have already heard of these kids, this is a nice reminder for you. If not, I hope you like them. You can read more about them on their blog here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Snobbery

There are things in this world that I am just too cool for-- things that I look down on. I have compiled a short list below. I do not defend my snobbery of these things, I merely acknowledge it.

1. Flu shots
2. Energy drinks
3. Turtlenecks
4. Books by Nicholas Sparks
5. Books by Ayn Rand -even though I've read them all, some more than once
6. Rich people
7. scrapbooking and card making
8. People who look down on Relief Society
9. Limes
10. tootsie rolls
11. skipping
12. The movie "Happy Feet."
13. This is the strongest of all my snobbery and the most unfortunate: People who are snobs to other people.

I realize that there are many of you who like the things I have listed. I don't look down on you. It's a love the sinner hate the sin type deal. Feel free to confess your own snobbery in comments.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Too many words.

I made a lot of resolutions when I started college. None of them had to do with actual academics. They had to do with my social life. I decided that I had to stop being terribly shy and learn how to make friends. Lots of friends. I tried out a bunch of techniques that I had come up with from years and years of reading about how fun and cool people made friends. These techniques (along with a lot of heartfelt, teen-age angsty prayers) helped me make a lot of friends, and not just friends but really cool friends.

I thought you might be more likely to believe me if you heard a witness to my friend-making skills. Here is a clip of my super-smart, super-more-friendly-than-me, friend Sarah giving a speech for her Standford speech workshop that begins by talking about me. (I think everyone who read my blog already knows about a blog she writes for, but if not, here is the link.)

Anyway, my freshman year was delightful. I am still in awe of all the really cool/brilliant people who hung out with me.

I would like to focus on one of my making friends techniques that has gotten me in to trouble.

I decided that silence=awkwardness and rather than have any more silences in my life I would just always fill awkward moments with whatever conversation I could think of. In fact, to avoid awkward silences altogether I would rush to fill in any moment of quiet with some kind of chatter. I did this a lot when I worked as a social worker and also as a missionary.

Sometimes it worked well. For example, early on in my mission in Greece,I was speaking with some ward members and they soon started speaking Greek that I couldn't understand. I guess they realized they were speaking over my head so they stopped talking. To avoid a silence I fell back on my favorite conversation starter in Greece which was to pick a random word they said then ask them what it meant in English. I picked "kounelaki." They told me in meant "rabbit."
So, I said the first thing I could think of about rabbits, hoping to kick-start the conversation again:

"Rabbits. I like rabbits."
Hmm. Not quite the conversation starter I'd hoped for. So I continued. "I like rabbits because they have a lot of babies and they uh..." I didn't know the Greek word for "hop" so I put my hands in front of me like paws and did a few desperate hops for them.

Luckily, they thought this was really funny and we ended up being best friends. In fact when I got married one girl sent me a CD with a Greek children's rhyme about rabbits. So in my book, that conversation was a success.

However, sometimes my filling in awkward silences have not ended so well. Mostly, in regards to people telling me they were going to commit suicide.

I worked in a nursing home for a while as a recreation assistant. This is why, to this day, I am an expert at calling out Bingo numbers. One day I was making my rounds, trying to appear cheery and perky because those are qualities that nursing homes seem to always be short of, when a lady grabbed my arm and said I was nice so she wanted to tell me goodbye because she was going to kill herself in an hour or so.

I don't remember how she planned on doing this, but I do remember taking her very seriously. So, told her she couldn't. She asked me why not. Nobody had ever asked me that before, but I knew silence to that question would be a wrong choice so I just opened my mouth and let whatever was in there pop out: "Because we are having an Ice Cream Social tonight, and you can't miss it."

That's right, she wanted a reason to live and I gave her ice cream. She looked confused so I just kept going, telling her what a big deal it was (it wasn't)and that we'd been planning it for months (we hadn't) and there would be really great ice cream (there wouldn't). The funny thing is that instead of laughing in my face, she very seriously asked if there would be cherries. I assured her there would be. She politely said she might be able to hold on until after the social. I told her that was great then I ran off to tell someone who actually dealt with suicide threats and then to the kitchen to make sure there were cherries.

The second time someone was discussing suicide with me it wasn't really a threat. I was doing a home visit while I was working for Human Services. This was a handicapped lady whose grandson lived with her and treated her terribly and bullied her out of her money and didn't even mow the lawn for her. She thought it was her fault he was a walnut-faced buffoon and wished she could do more for him. She said she wished she was dead because she was a drain on everyone around her. She was unhappy and only spending money that could be better used for other people. She asked me why she should live when she was so unhappy and her life was a burden to others.

Once again this "why should I live" question. You'd think I would have prepared an answer this time. I decided to try and turn it into a joke. After all, when people are thinking they have no purpose in life it is always a good time for a real knee-slapper. Note to world: Never let me be your suicide counselor. So I said:

"Your life can't possibly be that much of a burden to others. I mean, sure maybe if it cost them money for you to breathe or something, maybe you'd be a burden. But breathing isn't a burden to anyone. Air is free!" I don't know why I thought that would be funny. But it definitely wasn't when she pointed her cane to the big oxygen tank behind me that she used for breathing at night.

We sat there in a silence that was more scary than awkward and then I excused myself and went back to the office, gave my boss a full report, and then high-tailed it back to Utah.

Anyway, sometimes I still try to fill in awkward silences, but now I always try to do it with a question. This works unless I accidentally ask a super personal question. (A few days ago I asked the following question of one of my University of Phoenix students who had called me with a question about an assignment I'd posted: "So, do you really love your boyfriend or are you just with him because you don't want to be alone?"

Congratulations on reading to the end of this post. My goal is to write a short post tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

I recommend you listen to this song as you read my post.



So, here was our plan:

Chris leaves for basic training in January.

The monkey, the parasite, and I leave for Virginia in January to live with my parents.

While there, I buy a car, have a baby, and eat a lot of chicken nuggets (my mom said she would buy them for me if I came [the nugs, not the other stuff] I really like chicken nuggets.)

In June our little family would be officially reunited somewhere (I am guessing some midwestern state I have never heard of like Kanskobraska).

However, now the recruiters (by the way, these recruiters are real stinkers), have said that Chris won't start training until March. MARCH! And we won't know any dates until December 4th.

So now we are trying to decide what the best choices are for our family. Should we buy a car here after all? Should I go early so I won't have the baby on an airplane with Sophie as my only nurse? They let you fly up to 30 days before your due date. Should I just have the baby in Nebraska and call him/her Omaha WhyamIstillinNebraska Lewis?

I just wish those walnut-faced recruiters could have given us better information from the beginning. I'm not feeling very Christian towards them right now. Well, I guess I do feel like some Christians.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Public Transportation

First of all, I would like you to know that for breakfast today I had a KitKat bar, a cookie, and some lemonade*. I love Halloween. Sophie had oatmeal, whole wheat toast, and some apple. Heh heh**.

Secondly, I would like to talk about transportation. Our car broke down a few weeks ago. This didn't change our lives that much. Chris already bikes to work. The grocery stores, mall, church, Subway sandwich joint, playgrounds, and pharmacy are about a five minute walk away. We were only planning on being here until January so we figured that we would just try and go without a car. There was just one fly in the ointment.

DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS.

Sophie's doctor and my OBGYN are pretty close. I would have no trouble walking to them by myself, but Sophie is no longer too keen on the stroller. She wants to walk. But instead of walking in a straight line she insists on stopping every few steps and shoving sticks and bugs into her mouth. If only she could do that AND walk at the same time. Oh well.

So, today we took our first ride on STARTRAN Lincoln, Nebraska's bus line. I was a little nervous. I checked and double-checked the schedule. I made sure I had exact change. I packed about 95 outfits for Sophie in the diaper bag, in case she shoved a stick too far down her throat and vomited, or in case she wanted to play tennis, or go to a ball. We got to the bus stop 10 minutes early which, it turns out, was the only hard part about the whole deal. It turns out it is hard to keep a toddler on a street corner for 10 minutes.


Riding a bus in Nebraska was just like every experience I have had with public transportation It's easy. Sophie loved it. I loved it. In fact, it was better than driving because I hate driving. And, except for the bus driver I had in middle school, I love bus drivers. (This is what I remember my middle school bus driver looking like, except he wasn't Asian, and I never saw him from this angle. But this is the general idea.) I also like having little bus conversations with people.

I only regret that nothing exciting happened because I would be able to write a more exciting blog post.

Out first bus trip to my doctor was a wild success (Oh, by the way, my unborn child seems to be doing fine), so tomorrow Sophie and I will take our second bus trip to a bus station thing to get month passes. Then we will try some trips to the library and perhaps Walmart.

Today, when I was not braving the city buses I read the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was for a book club and I was prepared to be bored by it, but I loved it. I read the first chapter yesterday and the rest today. My house is a mess but I am pretty happy. Sometimes when I read a book all day I feel sick and grimy, like when I watch movies all day), but this book left me feeling refreshed. The title made me think that it was going to try to be all girly, cutesie like the traveling pants book movie (I didn't read the book but I didn't like the movie at all) but it's not like that at all. It's got a lot of history in it--it takes place just after WWII and it talks a lot about the German occupation of the British Isle of Guernsey, which I didn't think I would find fascinating, but I now do. It's written as a bunch of letters, which I thought would be annoying, but was fun. Also, there is a love story but the author doesn't ram it down your throat, which is nice.

I have just considered all the people who may read this blog and I think you would all like it. Go read it. Chris and I are both reading the Wimpy Kid Series as well. They are a little funny, but very much like reading a comic strip in that after you have read it (even 5 seconds after) you never think of it again. Chris has a lot of cool books he's reading now. Maybe he will blog about them some time.

Now I am worried that no one will read my post because I get carried away typing and type to much. Dang it. Oh well. Please enjoy this picture of us at our local grocery store (which we walked to).



* So you know, the lemonade was from powder. There definitely was no real lemon in it.

** Don't worry, I also had some healthy stuff. After all, there is a little tumor of love growing inside of me right now that shouldn't get to enjoy my hard earned Halloween candy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NABLOPOMO 2009

So, Bridget has posted her call for NABLOPOMO writers. Read more about it here. Knowing that I have committed to write thirty posts in thirty days makes me feel too busy to explain it myself. After all I am (will) be doing so much writing already.


So, I thought I'd start out by recapping our Halloween. I've never really properly celebrated Halloween. We spent most of my trick or treating years in third world countries where trick or treating wasn't the norm. I remember one Halloween where some ambitious American parents got together and decided we needed to have an authentic trick or treating experience. So, we put on our costumes and in a large, chaperoned group were led from one expatriate house to another until tragedy struck. I don't know if we were led to a wrong house, or if it was the right house and the residents had just forgot to tell the guards to expect us. Anyway, our night of trick-or-treating fun ended by a bunch of Honduran guards swearing at us and telling us to go get jobs and stop begging. There are a lot of beggars in Honduras and they regularly go door to door asking for food...much like we were. The fact that we were white kids in costumes just made us weird.



I went trick-or-treating once in the States, but I was old enough that it was weird. I did feel like a beggar. I never really got in to Halloween.

Yesterday, however, was a blast. It was Sophie's first Halloween. (Okay, it was her second, but since we did not dress her up last year, buy any pumpkins, or attend any Halloween events I am counting this one as her first.) We dressed her up in a monkey costume and then Chris and I both wore green shirts, brown pants and a few cut out leaves and bananas to be trees. Sophie loved loved LOVED being a monkey. She's only 15 months old so I didn't think she'd get it, but she did. Monkeys are one of the few animals that she can make appropriate sounds for. That kid was making monkey noises all night and laughing her head off. We walked to our local grocery store celebration and then to our ward Trunk-or-Treat (see a later post to hear about our car-less situation), and she could barely stand upright she was cracking up so much. She cried when I took off her monkey costume.

Plus, she is an excellent trick-or-treater. She is STELLAR at reaching into candy bowls, grabbing multiple items, stuffing them into her sack, and then quickly going back for more. One old lady thought her greedy skills were so cute that she insisted on letting Sophie keep going till she got bored. Sophie did not get bored and I finally pulled her away after she emptied a third of a big candy bowl into our bag (no exaggeration). Sophie cried when I took her away from the bowl. She's no dummy

We ended up with so much loot! And the best part is that all Sophie gets to eat is the lame apple we got. I guess we will let her play with the wrappers as well. It was pretty fun to have an intense candy swap with Chris while Sophie was obliviously eating her dinner of peas, whole wheat bread, apple, and pepperoni (she really likes pepperoni). The poor sap didn't even realize what we were doing.

I think Halloween was the best day of Sophie's life so far. It was pretty high up Chris and my books as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making Soapy's Library



I love books, but I don't particularly want to own them unless I know I will refer to them often. I just reviewed our bookshelves and these are the books that we own that I would buy again if our house burned down:

The Chicago Manual of Style
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brother's Grimm
The Best American Poetry 2005 (It was a good year, trust me.)
The complete collection of plays by Tennessee Williams
The Making of a Poem
The scriptures
Several of my cookbooks

I love going to libraries, and since I am quite comfortable with inter-library loan I don't see much use in keeping books. I know that is boringly practical of me, but there it is.

Lately, however, I have been thinking a lot about Sophie's reading habits (Five Little Ladybugs, Curious George's ABC's, Everybody Poops...). Especially if we travel I would like her to have lots of other fun and exciting books at her fingertips. So, I am going to start a library. I just joined Paperback Swap which is a free online organization that you trade books, cds, and dvds on. It seems the perfect place to start building up a library for the Boapers.

I have started to compile a list and am looking for recommendations. I am looking for anything that would appeal to a sweet and gentle girl who is also a loud screaming barbarian who will one day be tough enough to bite through tires if she wants.

Here is what I am thinking of so far:

Fablehaven series
Maniac Magee, Wringer and anything by Jerry Spinelli

Holes

all of Gordan Korman's books (Losing Joe's Place)

Laura Ingalls Wilder books (Little House on the Prairie)

Louisa May Alcott books (Little Women)

Chris Van Allsburg books (The Mysteries of Harris Burdick)

Taran Wanderer

Anne of Green Gables

Enders Game

A Wrinkle in Time

The Hunger Games

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

The Boxcar Children

The Borrowers

Pippi Longstocking

And...I am tired of making this list now.

What are your favorite children's books that Soaps should read?

Beds

I found this pretty cool posting about some crazy modern beds. Check it out here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to Blogging!

I am almost done with my first term of online teaching and I think I am finally getting a grasp on managing my time so...I thought I would make a little blog.

Ahem.

I haven't read as much since Soapy was born. However, I have read a bit and I decided to show off the non fiction books I have read below because I used to NEVER read nonfiction books and look how many I have read! I should say that I started reading a lot more books but I got bored or traumatized before finishing them.



This is probably my least favorite of the books, despite it's interesting title and seductive muhajiba cover.


This was a great book to listen to on CD while I did dishes. I now understand my middle school years a lot better. Man. Those were terrible times. I also heard some interesting things about divorce. The author said that if a couple wants to get divorced (assuming that there is no abuse or extenuating circumstances) and they have children at home that they should probably not get divorced. She said that if you want to be good parent, a divorce will force you to be more involved with your exspouse than if they were still your spouse. She also said that even if you can't stand your spouse and fight a lot, if it is not extreme the kids will still be fooled. I don't know much about divorce but that was pretty interesting.



I no longer feel clueless about giving birth.

(Thank you, Bridget.)



This book just makes me feel smart. I loved it. And, it is why Soapy is going to be an engineer.



Freakonomics is full of fun facts like this one:
Consider what happened one spring evening at midnight in 1987: seven million American children suddenly disappeared. The worst kidnapping wave in history? Hardly. It was the night of April 15, and the Internal Revenue Service had just changed a rule. Instead of merely listing each dependent child, tax filers were now required to provide a Social Security number for each child. Suddenly, seven million children—children who had existed only as phantom exemptions on the previous year's 1040 forms—vanished, representing about one in ten of all dependent children in the United States.
(Levitt, 21)

I am currently reading this one:



It's basically a history of American trends in child rearing. This was referenced in Freakonomics and I thought it would be similar to Birth. So far it is pretty boring. The author is kind of longwinded.

As far as fiction goes, I have been reading a lot of science fiction lately. This is weird for me. I'm not anti-science fiction but usually I don't read it. Most recently I have been reading all of Orson Scott Card's books that follow Ender's Game. That was a good book. All the other ones are kind of disappointing. Even Ender's Shadow.

Anyway. Hooray for books and blogs.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Plants plants plants

So it is springtime and I am excited. Like always, this time of year has filled me with a great desire to grow plants. My mother is a hard-core gardener, and every springtime I decide that I am one too. I buy garden stuff, play around with dirt, and sometimes even make some seeds sprout. But then something always happens and the plants end up dying. (By "something always happens" I mean I don't water them for a month or two).

Well, this springtime appears to be like every other one---except this year I will succeed of course. I have taken some pictures of my newly sprouted friends for your viewing pleasure. Ahem.


The three yogurt containers in front are my abundant and flourishing tomato plants. Don't they look sprightly? The two in the back are supposed to be pepper plants. I don't know what their deal is. I am still watering them. Hopefully something will happen.



These little monkeys are part of a Christmas gift from my brother in law, David. According to the box they are called THE AMAZING SENSITIVE PLANTS! I am sure that is the Latin name.



Anyway, when you agitate the plants either by touching them, making loud noises, or moving them, the leaves close up. Or they are supposed to. I have definitely been agitating them but so far, no dice. Don't worry, I will keep you guys posted about that. I am actually pretty excited about this plant because there were tons of these in Honduras. I remember playing with them a lot at our bus stop.



This is the last thing I am growing right now. It was also a present from David. It's called THE AMAZING DINOSAUR PLANT! Apparently this is one of the longest living plants in the world. It came as a little dried up bundle of leaves and roots. Just add water, said the instructions, and it will come back to life. In fact, it can survive without water for up to fifty years. Pretty resilient little stinker.

Here's the problem: I'm killing it. The most hardy and indestructible plant I have ever met is dying because of me. I don't know why. It's not like it is hard to take care of. You can't tell so well from the picture, but it is growing progressively brown and sickly (I think I heard it give a dry raspy cough the other day). I'm giving it direct sunlight today, and if that doesn't work I am going to slip some prescription drugs into the water.