Sunday, January 29, 2012

This is the Place???

The other night Austin and I took this quiz that is supposed to tell you places to live that you would really like. (The site asks for personal info at the very end, but I made that up and gave it my junk email address.) The first three places were in Washington State, where my hubby grew up. Then a lot of places in Pennsylvania, a few in New Hampshire, one in Alaska, one in Maine, a couple in New York, and a bunch more in Washington scattered throughout. I've been to Washington quite a few times, and it just isn't calling my name. New Hampshire definitely intrigues me, and we both liked upstate New York when we went on our massive road trip last summer. I just want to go to all these random towns and see if they are, in fact, the perfect place for us to live. I want to fall in love and know that the town we are living in is absolutely the town for us.

Do you think that there is a place out there that is a perfect match for you? Or could you just move anywhere and love it if you made enough effort? I think the perfect place would have lots of trees, four seasons, a fun community vibe, some cultural things going on, good friends, good schools, and family nearby.

The family thing is really important to us, but also very limiting, because our family lives in places that we like, but don't love. Of course we love being close to family, so it's hard to know what to do. Do we live in a nice, albeit uninspired place, or search for that one special town and then figure out how to get our family to move close to us? Choices, choices.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Forgetful American

I know I learned all about America's political system in elementary school...and high school...and that American Heritage class in college. But why is it that all I can remember is a video of men in wigs singing together?

One of life's tough questions, I guess. With this being a major election year, I thought I should brush up on my political knowledge. Most of you who peruse my blog may do so for a lighthearted laugh when you get bored with reading the non-news on Yahoo, but feel free to join me in my studies if you feel so inclined.

A free course from BYU:

A sample citizenship test

How to study for the citizenship test

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dull Winter Days

The morning started out so-so. On one hand, I got to spend lots of time playing games and reading books with Sammy while Cici was napping. On the other hand, I accidentally snapped off a vital plastic piece of the dishwasher while unloading it. Then things went downhill. Cici woke up and started crying, then Sammy started crying too: "Nooo Mom, don't get her!" Over and over. Then she followed me from room to room as I changed a poopy diaper, tidied up a few things, and got lunch ready, all the while sobbing, "I didn't want you to get her!" (Me: "Why didn't you want me to get her?" Sam: "I know she's cute, but I don't like her hair, or her feet, or her shirt, or all of her!") Argh. Crying kids are the worst.

Now most days, I am fully aware that I have the best job in the world. Still, there are some dull winter days when I grow nostalgic for the glamorous days before I got married, when I trotted around campus tutoring adoring freshmen, speaking brilliantly at conferences, and keeping my eyes peeled for that cute boy that could be right around the next corner. Of course, our minds polish the past, making  our memories glow brighter than the reality ever was. And yet, these 13 seconds sum up exactly what I'm feeling today. (Thanks, Kellie)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Traumatic Childhood

Here I am, in all my nerdy glory. This is just one of the many nerdy pictures from my childhood. (Let's just say that I went through multiple "ugly duckling" phases.) Ah, my childhood. My project du jour is re-scrapbooking all the scrapbook stuff my mom gave me. My vision is to scan all my photos and have one 8x11 glossy photo book of my growing up years with a cd of the pictures in the back, one 8x11 memory book with cute notes, newspaper clippings, etc., in it, and one small memory box for little mementos. I've been sorting for four or five days. Nerdy photos, keep. Old homework, toss. Cute notes about the secret sister club, keep. Notes marked "private, do not read" expressing my teenage angst that managed to end up in my scrapbook, toss. Sorry, Mom, there are just some parts of my life I don't want to relive every time I pull out my scrapbook to show the kids. It's just part of my commitment to selective life chronicling.

Of course I'm doing this for my kids, so they don't have to cart a bunch of my life around someday, but its also been surprisingly refreshing and cathartic for me. I don't actually remember most of my childhood, (I read the other day that if you have a bad memory, you are trying to block a traumatic childhood--I knew those days picking rocks out of the fields on the farm would damage me somehow!) so going through the pictures and papers has made me feel like I re-discovered a part of me that was missing.

Since my current memories tend to get stuck on the anomalies like Mom losing her temper or Grandpa swearing, I liked seeing the pictures of the family trips I'd forgotten about, and remembering the great times that we had together. I liked seeing how creative I was as a little kid with the song, stories, poems, and crafts that Mom saved. I was pretty dramatic too. Multiple childhood notes of me hating this or that, and then notes of apology for losing my temper. How many of those do I keep? To me, they aren't cute. They bring back painful memories of sitting in the bathroom talking to myself in the mirror and trying to make sense of life. When you're little, the little things that happen are so big to you, and make such an impact on your life.

So it's been an interesting process. I'm glad I'm starting now. Life accumulates!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Rainbow Pasta Salad

Well, week two and Austin and I are still doing P90X. We've missed a couple days due to date night and such, but we have forged past our mistakes. (Hey, it's not my fault that a plate full of homemade eclairs was put in front of me!) Week one was bad because 1). I was pretty sick, 2). I was burning any extra energy doing intense workouts at night, 3). I was waking up with Cici at night,  and 4). I was spending an inordinate amount of time cutting up vegetables for meals I didn't even enjoy very much
But you know me, I'm the type to suffer in silence. It's not like my husband heard me whining all week or anything.

Week two has been better. I feel like I've adapted some of the P90X nutrition guide's weirder recipes to ones I will actually make and my family will actually eat. (Note: Egg whites are gross, the whole egg is better for you anyway!) The other night I decided to make a tuna pasta salad. In the dark recesses of our storage room I found a box of colored pastas and threw them in my pot of boiling water. Only after that did I read that instead of the delicious dyes which I normally enjoy, these pastas were colored by the massive amount of vegetables added to them. Oops. Well, they sounded very diet-friendly, even if they did smell weird. Later, I added my tuna then was lured by false advertising into substituting Greek yogurt for the mayo. "Makes a great substitute for creams and mayonnaise!"  Bugsquat. Sour cream, yes. Mayo, no.

I sprinkled more vegetables on top to hide the weird pasta and then billed it to my family as "Rainbow Pasta!" My parenting magazine says that you should make up fun names for the food your kids won't eat. (Broccoli = Shrek's Trees!) Well, it didn't work. The colorful name couldn't make up for the fact that the cucumbers were the best part of supper. We ended up going out for an impromptu date and eating unhealthy pizza. Then I felt guilty when my P90X trainer told us to stay away from poison. (Like pizza and donuts. I assume he is okay with us ingesting real poison, since he keeps pushing the P90X "recovery drink.") Learn from my mistakes. Beware of adaption gone wrong. Use the mayo.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Worrywart

One morning, Sammy's preschool called and said they had an opening in a morning class--which would work a lot better for us than her current afternoon class--so I said I would take it. Immediately after I said yes to the switch I was plagued with doubt. What if Sammy had trouble making new friends because I switched her mid-year? What if she missed her friends and teacher in her old class? Would it be possible for me to switch her back to her afternoon class if the morning class didn't work out? What if I was scarring her for life because of my choice?

Sammy's one worry was which door she would go out for recess in her new class.

Sometimes we needlessly put our worries and fears on other people. I think this is especially true for parents, because we naturally see reflections of ourselves in our kids. For example, my challenge over the years has been to be a more social person and connect with people, so all my worries for Sam were centered around that. I pictured Sammy as a lonely shrinking violet standing up against the wall,

but that's not who she is at preschool. It sounds like her first day in the new class went more like this:

Carpe Diem!

When I picked Sammy up after school, I asked about her new teacher. "How was Miss Kelli?" Sam nonchalantly replied, "She was great!" I asked if she liked the kids in her class. Sammy informed me that she did, and that the boys were her friends, as well as someone named mmhAm. (Sometimes I have no idea what she's saying.) Then she informed me that the next time she went to preschool I didn't have to walk her inside. So yes, I worried needlessly and my fears were groundless. Sammy will have her own set of challenges in life, but they may be totally unrelated to my challenges. She is not me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Epic New Year

Sammy at Cici's current age (14 mo.)

The year 2012 didn't begin in a very epic way. The non-epic-ness of our New Year celebration, which basically involved going to sleep, was topped only by the non-epic-ness of my parents' celebration, which involved reading a Nancy Drew book together. To be fair, Austin and I have been dealing with a rash of sleepless nights (Thanks kids!) which is why we turned in early. Good thing, too, because we were woken up by Cici around 1:30 on New Year's Day. At least she wasn't up at midnight--supposedly whatever you're doing at midnight is what you'll be doing the rest of the year, and I can't handle another sleepless year.

On a more positive note, my goal for this year is to do something for my mind, body, and spirit every day. Something fun I've been doing for my mind is memorizing the countries of the world. (Hopefully I'm not the only nerd out there who thinks this is fun.) I found this free website for country quizzes and a pronunciation guide for countries like Kyrgyzstan. For my body, Austin and I have jumped on the P90X train and are shredding our way to fitness !!! while stuffing our bodies with more vegetables and protein than we've eaten in the past year combined. On the spiritual side, I want to have meaningful personal prayer, scripture study, and one act of service each day.

I'm excited for this year. I'm excited for my plan: mind, body, spirit, because it can be as simple or as complicated as I'm feeling up to for the day. This year may not have started out in a grandiose way, but I have a feeling it's going to be an epic 12 months. I'll keep you posted!