This is Christopher:
He's the coolest guy—for a million reasons. Reason #64, 376? He's so chill about his birthday.
He kind of has to share it with Christmas. He wasn't born on the 25th, but he might as well have been because his birthday falls smack dab in between Christmas and New Year's, which generally leaves people all partied out.
This year, he's more than a quarter of a century old. For a quarter of a century, he hasn't griped that his birthday presents get wrapped in Christmas paper, or that the kids in elementary school never sang him happy birthday during class because school was out and they were all visiting their grandmas out of state. I totally would have.
And that's just one of the billion reasons why he's the best, why I'm so glad he was born—and why I wrapped his present in a happy birthday bag with a picture of a cake on the front.
This is Christopher:
When we were younger, the kids in my family convinced my parents to let us stay up late together in the basement to play games and watch movies on Christmas Eve. The later we stayed up, the longer they got to sleep. While most of us have grown out of the i-can't-wait-until-christmas insomnia that plagued us as children, my little sister, Sophie, still gets worked up. It's kind of cute. Until 4am. Here's a pretty accurate play-by-play of my first four hours on this year's December 25th.
We are finally situated in the basement with an Xbox, games, many large blankets, one hyper little girl and hours ahead of us. I have a feeling I will not get to read my book tonight.
Sophie and I finish five games of slapjack and three games of Barney memory. She creams me in memory; all the pictures of Barney and Baby Bop look the same to me.
Sophie will never fall asleep. She wants to play house now and insists on feeding me my own lines. She is quick to remind me that, while I fit inside her little play tent, I'm kind of big for the door and I take up most of the space.
Sophie and I write winter words because (in my tired delirium) I believe that spelling is an effective way to distract a child from Christmas. We write tree, ornament, present, sownflak, star, elf, light, pajamas, hot chocololate, eggnog, whippedt cream, rudolfph, and blancket. Exactly like that.
After climbing into and out of Sophie's little play tent, I insist that I am tired and lie down. In an effort to keep me awake, she resorts to fart jokes and hysterical laughing. She finds the word 'toot' particularly riotous. I do not know why.
The boys tell Sophie that they will banish her to another room in the house if she doesn't calm down. They do not remember being eleven years old on Christmas Eve. Tonight, they get to do what they've always wanted (play video games ALL NIGHT LONG) while she has to wait another five agonizing hours to do what she wants (open presents).
My sister, Anne, is still asleep through it all. I'm not sure what sort of soundproof cocoon she spun around herself before she turned in on the couch a few hours ago.
I start to fall asleep. Sophie calls me lazy. I say it's not lazy to fall asleep at four in the morning. She shouts, "It's already morning!?" No, Sophie. Not yet.
Nothing can top the Good News we celebrate this Christmas. But this is pretty good news.
Remember when I forgot to take a test in my econ class?
Well, I got a B+.
ECON 210 001 Intro Ag Econ 3.00 B+
That's good news.
This year, I planned to make muffins for the neighbors and deliver them on beautiful plates with festive Christmas napkins. I was going to send hand-written Christmas cards—some of them to Brazil to people I miss there. I was going to—well, it doesn't matter now. Most of my neighbors jumped town as soon as finals got out. And I haven't bought cards, nor collected the mailing addresses where I would even send them if I had.
I wish I were on top of things.
I am. Some things. My finals are finished and grades are submitted. My house is semi-clean. Most of the gifts are wrapped. And I haven't crashed the car in any recent snow storm. We're doing ok.
Not just ok—we're happy. We've been married for over a year now; we have the cutest nephew; we write to a missionary brother in India; we love the new apartment we moved into; we're a year closer to graduation (only two more semesters); we both love our in-laws; we have good friends; and we can't wait to curl up with a few good books during the break.
I guess that's the closest I get to a Christmas card.
I'll bring you muffins next year.
I just got a new job! A Quality Assurance internship at Nestle Stouffer's frozen food plant in Springville.
This time I went to the interview dressed up snazzy, not like R2D2. The guy who interviewed me said he lost my resume. With a blank slate like that I could have claimed that I was the CEO of Apple and had 40 years of experience in the field. But I decided to play it safe by not telling him anything. To kind of keep it mysterious.
Even when he said, "Tell me about yourself." I just shrugged my shoulders and said I had two more semesters left at school, and that I like food. Mysterious.
Then I turned the tables and asked my interviewer about himself. That took up the rest of the interview. As I left he told me, "Nestle definitely has a place for you." Sweet.
I didn't hear back from them for a few days, and started feeling depressed. I took a final test for Food Micro, did okay, and listened to Mad World from Donnie Darko as I walked home in the cold evening.
The words "Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson? Look right through me, look right through me" made me really depressed. I started to doubt I would get the job. Without the job I would never be able save up the capital I needed to implement any of my business ideas. I would probably work at McDonald's for the rest of my life.
Then he called. Huspah!
I mostly take pictures so that I can blog about them. It's silly, but it keeps my camera handy. This weekend, though, I didn't take a single picture. And that's how I know it was an absolutely perfect weekend. I got so absorbed in what went on that I forgot to pull out my camera. Here are the pictures I should have taken:
Here's a pic of me with a little crowd of interesting, thoughtful people, eating pomegranate seeds, and getting ready for Finnish sauna.
Here's one of Christopher and I at our friend's hilarious stand-up comedy show. We look like our cheeks hurt.
Here's one of my friend Kate and I shopping for handmade presents at the Beehive Bazaar. She has adorable baby clothes for her nephew in her hand. And I, of course, am holding nothing but presents for myself.
Here are pictures of two different Angel Tree-inspired Christmas parties that I managed to make it to on Saturday night. In the first, I look very charitable while wrapping Legos for a seven-year-old boy. In the second, I look like I just showed up for the food.
Here's one of Christopher and I wrapping Christmas presents. You'll notice that our wrapping styles differ just the tiniest bit.
Here's a photo of my Grandpa Bennion and Grandma Dorothy, telling Christopher and I their life stories for almost three hours. If you look close, you'll see a little tear in my Grandpa's eye.
And here's a picture of my amazing parents. They get their very own post very soon.
In all, it looks like a pretty fabulous weekend. At least the Christmas tree we decorated will stay put long enough for me to take a picture.
Spending only 25 bucks to fill up our tank last week made me feel incredibly young: like I was back in high school, back when 5 bucks actually got me somewhere other than just down the street; like I could get in the car and drive anywhere in the world; like I was silly enough to take pictures to document my trip to the gas station.
My family has a series of Thanksgiving traditions, which include 120 orange rolls, and a screening of Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation. Nothing beats watching my dad try to edit the inappropriate parts (which includes the moments that talk about Santa not being real: for the kids).
But some of my most memorable Thanksgivings include those when tradition got tossed out the window--mostly because I was far away.
My Thanksgiving in Hawaii involved a room full of 30 or so Mongolians, eating turkey and laughing at jokes I couldn't understand, and then a drive back home along a beach.
My Thanksgiving in Brazil included an odd, stringy pumpkin pie which a member made FROM ACTUAL PUMPKIN. She probably bought the pumpkin, baked it, and did something magic to it. I say magic because I don't know how to make pumpkin pie from anything but a can.
And that's why I think that my brother's Thanksgiving this year will probably be pretty memorable. He emailed us this week from India to say that he's thankful for carpet. I'm thankful he's not going to be there forever.
I don't really like video games much; they're generally too violent for my taste and they stress me out. But Christopher bought this lovely little game called World of Goo, which is the first video game EVER that I have plans to beat.
If you mess something up in the game, you can click on a little bug, the screen flashes, and you go back to your previous turn. When the little goo structures you create collapse or fall down, you can just go back in time and try it again. Apparently, my hour tonight with the game (and its you-can-go-back-one-turn policy) made me forget reality.
While moving some things on top of the fridge just now, I knocked over some dishes. They clattered all over the floor. Nothing broke, but the whole thing startled me. My instant reaction in that moment? Click on a little do-over flash bug. I tried to press my thumb down on the game controller I didn't have in my hand, and it actually took me an entire second to realize that I had to pick the dishes up. Maybe I won't play video games again for a little while.
People seem to get older all at once at my house. My sister's almost old enough to drive a car, to date, and to realize she's cooler than I am (nobody let her in on the secret). Her birthday reminds me of some angst I actually had about her being born.
I had BEGGED my mom for a sister for a decade. And when I found out that a sister was finally coming, I actually didn't want her anymore. I wasn't a jerk. It was just that my mom had an antique tea set that she always pulled out to use special on my birthday. The plates and saucers were hand-painted, and each one was unique. And my 11-year-old mind saw another girl in the house as competition for the tea set inheritance.
As soon as my mom reassured me that I could have the tea set, I accepted the idea of my sister's inevitable entrance into the world. My mom started collecting more tea cups—I think so her new little girl wouldn't feel gypped. I feel kind of silly about the whole thing now. So, Anne: I'm glad you were born. You're way better than a set of heirloom tea cups any day.
Here's to you. Happy Birthday!
I swear my brother's not old enough to be old now, but he is. He drives a car and goes to high school and is strong enough to take most of the people I know in an arm wrestle. He's pretty much a good guy. I don't have space here to list everything amazing about him, but here are three reasons I look up to him:
1. He'll drop mostly anything—especially homework—to help anyone in the family. The things he's willing to do include (but are not limited to) running errands, giving rides, working in the yard, moving heavy objects and watching Star Wars with anyone who needs an emergency movie fix.
2. He puts up with two older brothers who like to punch him and boss him around. His patience stretched longer than a decade, until he was strong enough to pin them (or sly enough to tickle them out of pinning him).
3. He's still never sought revenge for all the times we teased him about watching animé cartoons in junior high. We hope it stays that way.
Here's to you, Steve. Happy Birthday!
Dr. Steele teaches Food Microbiology. This week we learned about microbes that cause food poisoning. I got food poisoning this same week, and sent him this email on Saturday:
I think I should get a little extra credit for an out-of-class activity I'm doing right now. I'm experiencing a case of food poisoning.
I'm guessing it's foodborne intoxication, most likely Staphylococcus aureus, because it was quick onset, with mostly upper digestive tract symptoms, i.e. vomiting.
Sorry to hear of your extracurricular experiences. Isn’t it great to be educated in your illnesses!
A few years ago, I lived with a very cool girl, who once made me the most divine hot chocolate I've ever tasted. I forgot I still had the recipe before Christopher and I bought some Stephen's hot chocolate mix. As soon as it runs out, I think I might just have to whip us up some of this. Try it:
2 cups hot water
1 Tb cocoa
½ tsp vanilla
1 can evaporated milk
¼ cup sugar
dash of salt
It's a lot of sugar, so snuggle up and share with a friend. That's the best way to spend a cold day anyway.
God smote me Monday for being such fervent Obama supporter, by giving me empathy for John McCain.
I hadn't worked out my upper body for a good two years, since the last time my tennis elbow flared up really bad. Monday I went to the gym with my cousin Mike, and pushed myself until it hurt.
And it was a good hurt, until later that night. I woke up at 3am, in too much pain to sleep. My arms killed. The next night I downed some NyQuil to help me get to sleep. Kathy got upset, but I argued that though I wasn't "sniffly, sneezing, aching, sore throat," I was definitely aching. But I gave in and didn't take any the next day. I did argue with Kath that we should keep an emergency bottle of whiskey around for situations like this. She disagreed.
The next day I couldn't put my arms all the way down, and I couldn't reach them up very high. I basically had them pointed forward like John McCain does when he's making a point.
When I would reach to get my coat off of the hanger, or to get my toothbrush off of the shelf behind the mirror, I would have to stand on my tiptoes and angle my body funny, because I couldn't raise my arms above my shoulders.
Kathy commented that I looked like a T-rex.
I thought I looked more like an extra on Michael Jackson's Thriller.
I slept well last night without any whiskey or NyQuil, and I am feeling much better, my friendsh.
We have an old dentist chair stored in our garage waiting to go to the D.I. I got it from Dave, my father-in-law, and thought I could look commanding while playing video games.
Our friend (and landlord) Janel spotted it and asked if we were keeping it for some sort of Obama victory celebration. I'm assuming she thought it was a sacrificial altar (watch your back, Mike).
I felt like a hobbit with a tall person from Gondor. His head scraped the ceiling. Welcome to our rabbit-hole.
Dave gets told he's tall. A lot.
People ask him: "You're tall, do you play basketball?"
He prefers to respond: "You're short, are you a horse jockey?"
Well, folks, this is it. After today—November 4th—we can all stop yelling at each other. Christopher and I voted last week, so today feels a little anticlimactic.
If you vote, you are entitled to two of the following:
a. bragging rights because your candidate won.
b. whining rights because your candidate lost.
c. a sticker.
If you don't vote, you are banned from any and all of the following:
a. wearing an "I voted" sticker.
b. griping about the new president.
c. arguing with me about my politics. I mean, really. If we disagree, but you don't spend the time to voice your opinion when it counts...
If your candidate doesn't win, you have a few options:
a. Move to Finland.
b. Hyperventilate, then resign yourself to 4 years of the candidate that terrifies you, as soon as you regain consciousness.
c. Shrug and think, Meh. President, shmesident. Local politics are where it's at anyway.
Let it be proclaimed to the internet that I am not pregnant, and should not be assumed as such, until further personal notification as I will initiate if and when my pregnancy status changes.
Please supress your urge to ask my due date, congratulate me, or pat my tummy knowingly. I have a hormone imbalance that makes me fat; I'm taking medicine (to balance the hormones) that makes me throw up. Believe me: when I'm finally pregnant, I will let you know.
And yes, I need to exercise more. I plan to do so every SINGLE day next week.
Update: My econ professor said I cannot retake the test.
I went into a job interview today dressed like R2D2.
I went to work at 6am, and spent three hours feeling nauseous with nervousness for my 9:30am interview. I got to the interview early, and saw that everyone else who was in line for the interview had dressed up like business executives.
Ron from Oregon Icecream was very nice. He politely told me I wouldn't get the job.
He said I'd be a good fit for research and development. My two ideas I was too nervous to say:
1. Chocolate chip cookie icecream. It wouldn't have chunks of cookie dough, rather the icecream would taste like cookies, and have chocolate chips in it.
2. Melted ice cream drink. I like to leave the ice cream out to melt and then drink it. They should sell it premelted. They could sell it to people who want to get fat.
I'm still feeling a little nauseous, but also a little sad. I think I'm going to get some icecream.
When I was little, Halloween was cool because it was all about sugar. I dressed up in that year's ballet recital costume, visited every house I had the energy to walk to, and came home with loads of free candy. Simple. Fun. We should have done it every week (I actually tried it out one summer; my next-door neighbor sent me home).
But the genius wore off when I grew up and figured out how money works. Knowing it took less energy for me to just buy a bag of candy that I really wanted (instead of getting token Smarties mixed in with the good stuff), took the novelty right out of trick-or-treating.
Good thing I found another sugar-laden practice to substitute. My friend recently starting selling the most amazing bakeware. I bought some. I made brownies. And then I decorated those brownies like spider webs. And I'm taking a big plate of them to my parents' house to share with my little cousins and younger siblings. As if they won't get enough sugar.
Brian parked his car in a paid parking spot. During the Obama rally, it was stolen.
Only one conclusion can be reached. McCain used his combat training to take out the guard at the car lot and then he hot wired Brian's car.
I told him that next time he should do what we do, buy a car so crappy that no one wants to steal it.
Last Friday, we went to my sister's first ice-skating performance. Wow. Anne hasn't been at this very long and she's already tearing the rink up—tearing it up so much that I didn't even manage to get a decent picture. Good thing my dad brought his camera, too.
The weird thing about the performance was that I spent most of it trying not to cry. Leave it to me to get emotional about a Halloween ice skating recital. Reasons:
1. When I ice skate, the potential for falling and breaking my tail bone hovers as long as I'm on (or within 15 feet of) the ice. Those kids went out there, knowing that they might not only fall smack on their butts, but do so in front of hundreds of people. Somehow, their risk made their performance compelling, even though nobody did a triple lutz.
2. I would never take that risk. But a girl with down syndrome did. Sure, she may never go to the Olympics, but does that matter? She's braver than I am.
3. When all the skaters came back on the ice at the end to take a bow, Anne took a little while getting out on the rink. Why? She was helping a younger boy—one in the beginning level skating class. She held his hand and went slow, even though she can cruise on her skates when she gets going.
Yeah, that's my sister.
Sometimes I feel like I can only blog about the happiest things, making my life look perfect (at least to the internet). I'm resisting that notion today:
I've felt like crap lately.
I have. It's been painful to get out of bed. My head and my stomach have hated me since last Tuesday. The medicine I had to take made me even more sick. And I almost cried about it in one of my professor's offices. I wished I could take my body off for a while, just to take a break.
But here's the thing. If you wake up as sludge every morning, you NOTICE the morning when you don't. You notice the way your muscles move. You notice how fast you can walk down the street. You notice how lovely sunshine feels. You notice individual leaves on trees that changed color so much since the last time you noticed.
You discover that feeling icky helped you pay attention today.
And somehow, that's great.
I procrastinated taking my econ. test until the last day, only to find that I was a day late.
Instead of taking the test on Saturday, I went shopping with my wife, and worked 8 hours.
But I wouldn't have traded this experience, because it gave me the excuse to write this email to my econ professor:
Professor Pope, If this were any other class in the entire world, a student's failure to pay attention and to do what he was supposed to do would have been punished accordingly. But this is Economics, taught in the U.S.
According to U.S. economics, if someone really important screws up, we bail them out.
A student may not be considered important enough to bail out. But at BYU, we understand that every student is a child of God with infinite worth.
Also, this isn't just economics, this is agricultural economics. In the U.S., we not only give a large chunk of subsidies to farmers who grow things, we give huge subsidies to farmers who don't grow things. If all farmers grew to capacity, prices would plummet.
Even so, if I would have taken your test and aced it, test scores would have risen and you may have appeared to be an 'easy' teacher.
You can thank me by allowing me to take the test late. Or, if you prefer, by sending a $700,000,000,000 check to:
I sent this to him just a minute ago. I'll let you know when I hear back.
We don't have any cute, funny kids of our own to blog about. So, we have to write about other people's kids. Good thing we went to nursery today. I think that one of the girls in our class may have watched too many Disney videos. In our lesson, we asked the 3-year-olds what they could do to be more like Jesus. Ellen said, "Kiss." And then she scooted over to sit a little too close to one of the nursery boys. Speechless; I didn't even know what Jesus would do with that answer.
Today I understood why old people talk about their ailments. I spent an hour at the doctor's, and I want to tell everyone about it. I imagine if I went to the doctor once a month, and took nine different meds, I wouldn't be able to think of anything else.
I've had some funky looking bumps on my elbows for a few weeks. I sprayed it with some different chemicals in the house: tinactin, formula 409, windex, etc. None of my man remedies worked. Then I saw an ad in the paper about psoriatic arthritis, and decided to go to the doc.
I told the doc that I think I have psoriatic arthritis. He said, yep, looks like it. Then he charged me ten bucks.
Hurray for chronic inflammatory diseases! My wife has one too, but a different one. This means when we have kids, they will not only be albinos, but chronically inflammed albinos. They'll look like swollen zit babies.
Two years ago, I ran a marathon. Today, I ran a finger across my fat, hairy belly, and realized I wasn't in shape. I've decided to take up the 7 year old girl workout: jump-roping.A coworker said that jump-roping isn't a 7 year old girl workout. She said in elementary school she watched a video about athletes who jump-rope.
I said, "So when you were a little girl in elementary school you learned that jump-roping is a good workout?"
I work and go to school. With that kind of time-crunch working out has become a dilemma between being fat and smelling good.
If I work out, I'll stink, but I'll be in shape. If I don't, I'll smell good, but be fat.
The worst part is, for the first few months, I'll be fat and smell bad.
Too bad our society places so much emphasis on smelling good. Fortunately Kathy has a terrible sense of smell.
Last night, Christopher and I rode Sundance's ski lift. They don't have enough snow for skiiing, but that's not why we went. We arrived at 9:30, bought tickets and hot chocolate, and bundled up in our blankets to ride the lift up the mountain and back down.
The moon's full about now. The mountains are lovely. And snuggling with your favorite person in the moonlight while cruising over the treetops can't be beat.
Kathy and I watched John Adams the movie with her parents last night.
It definitely made me feel proud of my country, without portraying the founding in a phony, cheesy way. It wasn't afraid to address the darker moments, and it portrayed the other side in a fair and balanced way.
The Founding Fathers were portrayed as great men, but men nevertheless.
Here's an excerpt:
Labels: check it out
This picture of my grandparents was on the side bar. I posted it here, because I imagine our blog will one day serve as a photo album for our children.
I tacked so much crap on the sidebar that it drove Kathy nuts. In an effort to clean it up, Kathy accidentally deleted our list of other people's blogs.
I also removed the video of the Obama Song, though Kathy and I still fully support him, even though he's probably a secret Muslim homosexual terrorist who wants to destroy America and rename it the Great Satan.
They seem like decent enough guys though, right? Wouldn't be so bad.
My professor Dr. Lynn Ogden invented Fizzix, a carbonated yogurt made by Yoplait.
If you buy Fizzix, some of that money will go to BYU. If you buy a whole bunch, like $200,000 worth, some money will go to Dr. Ogden.
Dr. Ogden invented it, but has not yet received a penny. I don't really understand why. I think it's because the first million goes to BYU, and then after that Ogden gets his cut.
He's a great guy. Buy Fizzix and make him rich.
Here's a mom's review of Fizzix.
Abbie had a good suggestion: include a weekly eavesdropping moment on this blog. Because I so firmly believe in eavesdropping, I wholly agreed with her. And I thought it would be easy.
But it hasn't been.
For over a week, I've been waiting to hear something delicious or funny. Nothin'. What does it mean when everyone I hear on campus says that the reflection in the MARB's windows makes her thighs look fat, or discusses the consistency of the brownies she baked her crush for his birthday, or talks SO LOUD into his cell phone about his Friday night plans to drive all the way to Orem? I worry that the people around me are growing more inane daily.
I almost wanted to post some of the interesting conversations my witty friends or my smart husband let me in on. But those feel like they don't actually qualify.
Maybe next week.
Recently, the news depresses me. The election distresses me.
Even writing bugs me.
So I made a list of happy things today. So that I'll remember that I'm not just tired and full of headache. Things that make me happy:
1. The fruit smoothie Christopher made me for breakfast.
2. Sunday afternoon with my family.
3. Dinner with friends who cook well.
4. Dinner with friends, even if I don't cook so well.
5. Sleeping in 20 extra minutes.
6. My hair doing what it's supposed to, even if I've slept in 20 extra minutes.
7. Good books.
8. Google reader (when I'm on literary overload from too many books).
10. Huckleberry ice cream cones from Spotted Dog Creamery that turn into miniature ice cream cones after you've eaten all the way to the bottom.
(9. Forgetting number 9 because I'm too excited to get to number 10.)
On my walk to campus this morning, I ran into a friend from the mission. We both learned Portuguese four years ago; today, he took advantage of the opportunity to practice. I understood everything he said. But could I speak? Oh dear. I'm—how do you say in Portuguese?—a little rusty.
I spoke it soooo well in Brasil. I even learned what all the obscure words in the Brasilian National Anthem meant. But today, I felt sufficiently chastised. It makes me want to pull out all my Portuguese books and read them out loud. Might as well get on that right now. I have some reading up to do. Tchau!
I found what I want to be for Halloween:Unfortunately it's sold out everywhere. So this year for Halloween I think I'll just hide under my bed and cry, because my dream has been crushed.
What will you be for Halloween?
Click here to vote for him. It will take you 5 minutes, and he could win $50,000.
Here's Luke making a fishy face.
Here's mine. When Luke saw mine, he said, "You're funny brother West." This kid already speaks in complete sentences, and outwits me when I try to get him to put his toys away.
Kathy is the fishy face champion.
At the end of class I tug them around on a blanket. It's my only workout of the week.
We love these kids. We want one. We're thinking of stealing one so Kathy doesn't have to go through labor. What do you guys think of that blond kid?