Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Random Rambling

My poor blog, how I have been neglecting you. My regular schedule has been completely thrown off for the last week, so I have hardly been online at all. And now I will blog, despite the fact that I have nothing special to say. 


My headaches have been pretty bad in the last few days. They're the all-day, whole-head, Excedrin-doesn't-help kind of headaches that have me drinking water every five minutes--and, consequently, running to the bathroom every five minutes--in the hopes that hydration will fix it. It doesn't, but I have to try something.


This is my 694th post, which means that a commemorative post is coming up fast. I'm trying to think of something interesting to do for my 700th, but it isn't looking good so far.


My lovely friend Bethany gave me a gift card to Half-Price Books for my birthday, and I've already begun using it, taking full advantage of the Memorial Day 20% off sale! I am pretty sure I've gotten at least one bookstore gift card for my birthday every year since I started college, and I will not complain if it continues to happen in the years to come. I love it.


Speaking of my birthday, it is now... three days away (yes, I had to count). And I will be 25 years old. It sounds strange, my friends, I won't lie. But I must admit, I'm happy to know that I will no longer have to pay a young driver fee if I need to rent a car, and hopeful that being a quarter of a century old will earn me some slack from the ageists on the higher end of the spectrum.


So far our plan is to go see Don Giovanni at the Fort Worth Opera on Friday. Is it nerdy that this is how we're excited to spend my birthday? It probably is, but I love it. 


Also, I'm a little bummed that one of my three remaining days with Hannah was taken away by the Memorial Day holiday. Yes, I know that's ungrateful of me, but look: I already had a three-day weekend, after only one day back at work since coming home from vacation; now it's turned into a four-day weekend followed by my normal day off, meaning that on Wednesday I'll have only worked one day out of the previous eleven! Again, ungrateful, but I would have preferred to be working, and now I only have two days left with Hannah. Oh well.


The good news is that starting next week I'll be watching Lana full time, from 6:45 am to about 3 pm, and be getting paid more than I was before. I should also have every other Wednesday off, which is good because then there will be one day every other week where Mike and I have the same day off. Financially, it's actually a really great thing for us, and will hopefully mean that we'll be able to get a second car sometime this fall. That, in turn, will make it a lot easier for Mike to find a better job, since he won't be limited to working in Wylie. So it's good news all around.


I think this is about all I have to say. Blogging should be getting back to normal soon!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Traveling Through Space and Time... to Utah.

So we went to Utah.

It was a fabulous trip, if a little too short--but then when is it not? We saw Mia get baptized, celebrated Foxx's first birthday, saw Rick and Nathalie perform with their choir twice, and watched Mia and Kennedy do some awesome dancing at the Westmore dance festival. We played a lot of games, hiked the foothills near Rock Canyon, and generally had a great time.

To begin with, my dad picked us up in the morning and took us to the airport. We were heading straight to Mia's baptism from the airport, so we tried to make everything go as quickly as possible. It didn't quite work. First of all, the flight took as long as they said it would (not like our flight back home, which landed half an hour early, and like many other Delta flights I've been on), so we reached the Salt Lake airport at 10:12. Then, instead of having seats in row 6 like we'd requested when we bought the tickets, we sat in the very last row on the plane. And then, it took us about ten minutes to find Liz and Jeremy, who were picking us up on their way down from Ogden. 

All hindrances aside, though, we made it just in time for the baptism...

After which everyone headed back to Mike's parents' house for Foxx's birthday party. We gave him presents and cake, and then we played Boggle (one of our favorite pastimes). 

That night we drove to Temple Square and watched Rick and Nathalie sing with the Wasatch Chorale, which was a lot of fun. Their music was beautiful. 

Sunday morning was fantastic: We slept in a little bit, and then we played Scattergories and Life with Anna Banana. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. I don't know, maybe it's because we never just sit down and play board games anymore, or because there was a giant pig involved, or maybe because Anna is just that awesome. But I had a lot of fun. 

That afternoon Dan and Candice came over, and Liz and Jeremy came back from seeing his parents, and we all went up to BYU and took family pictures. 
They were cut short by rain, so we went home and had another yummy dinner and hung out playing games. Dan and Candice gave Mike a late birthday present and me an early one, and we both got the same thing--gift cards to Borders...
...And so, Monday morning, we headed straight to the Riverwoods to use them. But first, we were astonished to wake up to... winter!

 Mike didn't end up buying anything, but I found a book called The Great Artists and Their Important Works (that link is for the British version, mine's a bit different), which I subsequently carried around with me for the rest of the trip and read every time we were in the car. I can't wait until we put our coffee table together just so I can put that book on it. 

That afternoon we drove around Provo, visiting BYU campus and our old apartment, saw a truly terrible movie at the dollar theater (Diary of a Wimpy Kid--don't waste your time), ate at Hogi Yogi/Teriyaki Stix (which I miss so much when we're in Texas!), and went to Rock Canyon. Then we went over to Dan and Candice's and hung out with them and the kids.
Tuesday morning was the dance festival, which was amazing, and followed by visits to the girls' classrooms at school. It's so weird walking around the elementary school where Mike went when he was a kid! I can just picture him, walking around the halls all little and adorable. It was also really nice that Amber and Ben (the girls' birth mother and stepfather) didn't show up, because having them lurking sinisterly a few feet away always dampens the experience. They are super not nice.

Then, Mike and I took a long walk around Orem in the most amazing weather. That night we went to Rick and Nathalie's second concert and left early so that we could go see the girls before they went to bed, after getting home from their mother's. During that time Dan was also fixing my computer, bless him, and we played with the kids and took a lot of pictures of them.
For our last act as on-vacationers, we got Beto's (technically now Rancherito's, but we will never call it that) and went back to the house to hang out with Anna, who we hadn't gotten to see much of since Sunday. She gave us almost-professional massages, which were fantastic, and surprised us quite a bit with how strong she is. We went to bed late that night, but it was worth it. 

And then, the next morning, we packed up and left. Dan and Candice came over to drive us to the airport, and Nathalie made us yummy waffles with whipped cream and strawberries--which I didn't eat enough of, because when we got to the airport I was starving. Like I said, our flight home was super short and arrived home half an hour early, following some rather bouncy turbulence during the landing process. Benjamin picked us up, Mike drove because he was already feeling carsick from the violent landing, and then we were home!

We'd turned off the AC before leaving, of course, so our apartment was really hot, and we decided to go to the pool while we waited for the air to cool down. It was a fabulous idea! It seemed like a really long time since we'd last gone swimming, and the water felt amazing. We ate some dinner and then both went to bed early, exhausted from the traveling (and, we think, a bit dehydrated).

And now we are back at work! Vacation over. It was great, and I'm so glad we got to go. Now all that remains is for the Utah Shortens to come to Texas!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We've Been in a Time Warp

I just got a massage from my sister-in-law. It was fantastic, and my muscles feel all loosey-goosey and ready for bed. That is the bright side.

The bad side is that it's after midnight, we haven't packed up any of our stuff, and we have to wake up quite early tomorrow to fly back to Tejas. 

The second bright side, though, is two-fold: one, that we got to hang out with Anna tonight while she massaged us; and two, that tomorrow morning we get to hang out with Dan, Candice, Cillian, and Foxx as they drive us to the airport. That is happy times.

We've been having great fun in Utah--hence the lack of our online presence since last Friday. We'll be back to normal tomorrowish.

Also, fingers crossed for a bigger plane tomorrow, please! The one on the way over here was practically one of those little ones with the propeller on the nose.

See you again in Texas!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Do I Even Watch TV??

Heard this statement in a commercial for the new Panasonic Viera 3D television:

"We were born to see the world in three dimensions."


Yes! We were! The real world!! If that line is an argument for anything, it's for not buying this TV and going the freak outside!

Honestly. Advertising today feels like it's specifically designed to drive me absolutely bonkers.

(For the record, I don't even know if that's a picture of the right TV. I couldn't find the commercial online, so I just googled Panasonic Viera and grabbed a photo.)

Just One Thing

Almost sounds like Columbo, doesn't it? 


Sam Champion of Good Morning America has a website called Just One Thing, which gives you ideas about little things you can do to help the environment. Today on GMA they had a guy showing how you can electri...-tize... your bicycle, so if it's maybe a little far for you to ride your bike to work, this will help you out. I didn't see it on the website, so maybe it isn't up yet, but there are some other really interesting things on there. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Many Reasons to Hate It.


"A country is only as good as its cheese. Good thing ours doesn't have a bunch of holes in it!"

First of all... What? I'm sorry, my friends, but if a country is only as good as its cheese, that does not say good things for ours. Also: Since when do we have a problem with Switzerland??

Look carefully at this package.




Do you see what it's called? "Prepared cheese PRODUCT." Not cheese. They're not allowed to call it cheese. Because according to FDA requirements, cheese must be made of at least 51%--can you guess?--cheese.

"Today’s American cheese is generally no longer made from a blend of all-natural cheeses, but instead is manufactured from a set of ingredients such as milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, and salt. When some of these or other substitutes are used, it does not meet the legal definition of cheese in many jurisdictions, and must be labeled as "cheese analogue", "Cheese Product", Processed cheese, or similar" (Wikipedia--American cheese).

I have no problem with the cheese itself, although I will not eat it. It's just another one of the countless manufactured food products that have brought our country's eating habits to where they are now, and that is fine.

But this ridiculous commercial is basically symbolic of everything that is wrong with our country. It glorifies a fake, manufactured product that is, if nothing else, compositionally inferior to every other similar product out there. It sets itself up as representative of an ideal to which it is wholly unrelated. It puts down the competition--in fact, it puts down an entire country, for no reason. I just can't understand an ad campaign that decides it's a good idea to promote their product by bringing the quality of other countries into it. Ugly American, table of one?

As far as commercials go, this is one of my least favorite ever. And what the heck--why are they comparing themselves to Swiss cheese anyway? They're not even the same product. Swiss cheese is actually cheese.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny invisible molecular forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride.
William James

Everybody's Hat Parade

It's funny how getting up five minutes earlier gave us all sorts of time to make breakfast, take out the trash, and make lunches... And it's funny how amazed we were that getting up five minutes earlier made our morning so much easier. The credit goes to Mike, who yanked open the blinds, opened the back door, and put on music, all of which helped me decide to get out of bed instead of "sleeping" for that last five minutes before the alarm went off. 

In less exciting news, our air conditioner isn't working, which made for a really restless night of sleep for me (although strangely enough, Mike, who 1) always wakes up a million times a night and 2) gets hot way easier than I do, slept just fine). 

And apparently the effects of our lovely morning have worn off since I got to work, because I am exhausted again. Maybe when Hannah's finished with breakfast I can set her up with Kai-Lan and take a little nap...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happiness, Get Your Happiness!

Stupid advertising. I hate stuff like this. 

"A little French's brings a whole lot of happy; and now, French's comes with 40% more happy in every bottle."




Kodak--Print and Prosper.
Walmart--Save Money. Live Better.
Sears--Good Life, Great Price.

I'm just wondering when we're going to stop being able to remember that it isn't true. I mean, we're walking a pretty thin line already. You know?

Monday, May 10, 2010

East, by Edith Pattou--8/10

East, by Edith Pattou, is a sort of Beauty and the Beast type story, and it is fantastic. It's about a girl named Rose who lives in Norway (which you kind of have to figure out, because the book uses--I assume--Norwegian names for things, so it says she lives in Njord).


One night, during a time when her family is really struggling and is about to lose their farm, a white bear shows up at their door and says that if one of them will go with him, the family will be saved and Rose's sick sister, Sara, will be healed. Rose volunteers to go, and the white bear takes her away to a castle in a mountain. While she's living there she discovers that there is some kind of enchantment in the castle, and eventually this leads her to a long and dangerous journey.


The story is very well done and I loved the creativity of it. It's not a wholly original plot (because of the fairy tale elements), but the Nordic setting makes it very different from other versions, and it doesn't feel redundant at all. The characters are easy to like, the story is exciting, and the love story is sweet without being sappy. I really loved the setting, because I don't know much about that part of the world and it all seems very exotic and dangerous. I definitely recommend it, especially if you're into YA romances.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It Didn't Work.

Well, good(ish) news. Cathie was right, the comment verification doesn't help with those virus posts, so I'm taking it back down.

The bad news is that the comment verification doesn't help with those virus comments, so I'm still getting them. Blech.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Book Borrower, by Alice Mattison

This book was kind of weird, and really interesting. There's a book-within-a-book thing going on with it; the story is about Deborah and Toby, two women who become friends when they meet in the park and Deborah randomly asks if Toby would like to borrow a book, and you read the borrowed book along with Toby. Confused? This is how the book starts:

Though she was pushing a baby carriage, Toby Ruben began to read a book
______
On a gray evening in late November 1920
______
and the wheel of the carriage--a big, skeletal but once elegant Pergo she'd found in somebody's trash--rolled into a broken place in the sidewalk. The baby, tightly wrapped in a white receiving blanket, glided compactly from carriage to sidewalk. He didn't cry... She put the baby back where he belonged and picked up the book, but she didn't read for at least a block. Then she did read.
______
On a gray evening in late November 1920, an observer who happened to be making his way up the hill from Dressler's Mills to the streetcar line that ran to the principal square of Boynton, Massachusetts, might have noticed a sturdy young woman hurrying through the mill's gates.

And so on. It's an interesting story--the inner book is about a trolley strike in 1921, and a young anarchist named Jessie Lipkin who was involved in it. The actual book is, like I said, about Toby and Deborah and the friendship that develops from that day when they met in the park. It's very well written and definitely on the eccentric side, and also a little hard to fit into my rating system. I think I'll say it's a 6.5--not amazing, but unique, and worth a read.

Richardson Library

Reasons why the Richardson library is awesome:
  • It's the library that almost always has books that Wylie and the Plano system don't.


Reasons why the Richardson library sucks:
  • When books are overdue, they won't let you renew them to at least stop the late fees from growing.
  • When they call you to let you know you have overdue books, they wait until the books are already six days late.
  • It's a little bit far away.
  • The librarians aren't the nicest.
  • When eight books are six days late, somehow the fine is $14. What the what?


Don't worry, that good list pretty much makes up for everything on the bad list. We usually don't have a problem with overdue books anyway, I just dropped the ball this time, and hearing that we had eight books six days late made me a little grouchy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Anniversary

So yesterday was our anniversary celebration, and we had a really fantastic day! We got to do a lot of things that we've been wanting to do for a long time, we took a lot of fun pictures, and we got to spend the whole day with each other.


First we went to the Dallas Museum of Art, which Mike especially has been dying to do. We spent a couple hours there and didn't even get to see all the exhibits we wanted, so we've already planned to go again sometime soon. Our first stop was the Coastlines exhibit, which had tons of beautiful photographs and paintings of the sea. I also loved all the Asian art we looked at, particularly this amazing sculpture called Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea. The detail here was incredible! There are little crabs and turtles around the feet of the three men, and that glass ball Takenouchi is holding almost glows in the sunlight from the windows.
My favorite thing, though, was the period rooms. We actually stumbled across them on our way out, so I'm not even sure what collection they were from--but they were beautiful rooms that were decorated to look like actual rooms from the 19th century, and I loved them. They were English rooms, although many of the pieces inside were from China, Spain, France, and other countries. In one of these galleries we came across Van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace at Night." I like the oil painting well enough, but this was done in reed pen and ink over pencil, and it was fabulous.

In between Coastlines and the Asian art, we ate lunch at the Atrium Cafe, and yes, we took a picture of our food.



We weren't expecting much because the cafe is the casual option at the museum, but Mike got a Bistro French Dip Baguette sandwich with Au Jus dipping sauce, and I got a spinach and red pepper quiche with Caesar salad and an awesome-looking parmesan cracker type thing. Mike didn't love his sandwich and the quiche wasn't the best I've ever had, but the Caesar salad was fantastic and we loved that parmesan cracker.

We left the museum in a hurry to get to Fair Park, because we were seeing a movie at the IMAX theater at 3:40. There were a few moments of crisis along the way wherein we missed our streets and thought we were going to be lost forever in downtown Dallas, but in the end we made it there in time, and the movie (Alaska: Spirit of the Wild) was amazing. If you've never been to a real IMAX theater, you need to find one near you ASAP; and also, stop paying extra for those crap IMAX screens at the regular theaters. The 79-foot dome screens are the only ones that are worth it. The screen goes all the way around the room and you really feel like you're in the picture (my stomach totally believed I was!).

After the movie we played around in the gift shop for a while, which was actually really fun because 1) it involved flashbacks to junior high field trips and 2) we saw a lot of cool things, like glasses that show you what a fly's vision looks like, actual little fossils, and of course those giant pencils. Mike insisted that we buy some space ice cream, since I'd never had it, and although it felt like I was eating styrofoam as we walked back out to the car, the ice cream was delicious.

We were going to head over to Texas Discovery Gardens after the movie, but as we walked around Fair Park we got distracted by some giant swan paddle boats that Mike got really excited about. We rented one and floated around the lake for a while, chasing turtles and trying to catch pictures of them while their little heads were poking out above the water.
turtle under the boat


We walked around a little more after the paddle boats, saw a lot of really pretty flowers, the Cotton Bowl, and the giant Ferris Wheel, and took some fun pictures with a giant elephant. By then we were too tired for the Discovery Gardens, and we figured they were probably closed by then anyway since it was after five, plus we were getting pretty hungry--so we skipped it and headed back downtown for dinner.

Finding the right restaurant had taken a lot of research; for one thing, there are approximately 392 billion restaurants in Dallas, and we don't know any of them. Price was another complication--we wanted something a little more exciting than Olive Garden, but we don't have much money right now, so this was going to be a thrifty anniversary. And then of course there was the usual indecision about what kind of food we're in the mood for--which, I'll tell you, is hard enough to decide in the moment, but even harder weeks in advance. In the end we settled on Avanti Ristorante, which we discovered was an excellent choice.

The restaurant isn't super fancy, which was good for us because let's just face it, we aren't fancy people. It was actually the perfect combination for us--the atmosphere was fairly casual, but the food and servers were on the fancy side. (Case in point: This was the first restaurant at which I'd ever had a waiter pull my chair out for me and place the napkin in my lap when I sat down.) I got lobster and crab ravioli, and Mike had Long Island duck. Neither dish was incredible, but they were both good. (You know what was incredible though? The garlic bread we got as an appetizer. Amazing.) We had delicious creme brulee for dessert, there was great live music, and we didn't spend a million dollars--although we easily could have if we'd been drinking.

Afterward we walked around because the restaurant is in a really pretty neighborhood. We tried keeping track of all the fancy cars we saw, but we lost track after approximately 2390843 BMWs and Mercedes...es. Throw in several Lexuses, a Porsche, a brand new Camaro, and a Ferrari, and then imagine us walking back to our beat-up little 1999 Corolla with the M&M sticker on the back. It was fun times. :)

On our way back to 75, we stumbled across the Turtle Creek mansions, so we drove around there with our mouths hanging open for a little while before we decided to head home. When I say mansions, I do mean mansions, and those were some of the most gorgeous homes I'd ever seen. Even just looking at the trees made the drive down the street worth it.

We'd talked about renting a movie when we got home, or possibly going to see one, but by that time we were pretty exhausted from all the walking around and time in the sun. Instead we went home and read for a little while before we conked out. It was a pretty great anniversary for us--nothing dramatic or expensive or even exciting in and of itself, but somehow all the events just came together for a really fun day.

Happy two years to us!