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12.19.2008

It's been a while...

I gotta be honest, I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately, especially blogging. All of my creative energy has been zapped by some pretty crappy and hurtful circumstances that I won't get into here. And besides that, Obama won the election- that's enough to send any true conservative into hiding for a while, no? Anyway, on to the actual, non-political reason for this blog... shocking, I know.

Yesterday was an exiting, life-changing day for Cody and I... we got news that the bank approved our offer on a house! We have been searching for a couple of months now and every time we found something we loved someone else had beaten us to the punch. Let's just say that when the media tells you that the housing market is frozen, they are full of it. Haha. But seriously. The process was becoming so frustrating it was beginning to feel like we would never get a house before we had to move out of here. Well, it turns out God had a plan for us indeed.

Last April, we were thisclose to buying a 1300 sf home in Gilbert for $195k. A day before the inspection period ended, I lost my job and our income was cut in half. We had to give up the house, and I was devastated. Cody assured me that we would be OK and that we had to trust God, and after a while I got over it, and we moved into his mom's house. OUR plan was to live there for about a year and pay off the one loan that we had and then buy a house. GOD'S plan was a little different, however. And since only hindsight is 20/20, I was freaking out when I found out we had to move out sooner than expected, and I didn't know what we were going to do.

As we all know, the market has changed dramatically in the past few months. Foreclosures have skyrocketed, interest rates have dropped, the stock market has been frighteningly volatile. All of these things, however, have created the perfect storm for people like Cody and I as first-time home buyers. So we set off on a mission to find the perfect home for the perfect amount of money, thinking we would snap one up in no time.

Fast forward a couple of months, and we were at the end of our rope, with no desire to rent an apartment in the meantime but feeling like it was inevitable. Keep in mind that we have the most incredible agent ever (if you are reading this and are looking for an agent, I INSIST that you employ him!), but often the seller's agents are flaky, lazy, and just plain don't know what they're doing. So the MLS status will say one thing but something entirely different will be going on with the house. Scott, our agent, knows the process better than we ever could, so we trusted his advice and direction as we navigated our options and knew he had our best interests at heart.

Then Tuesday arrives. We get an email from Scott about a bank-owned listing that had just been reduced that day to $150k... on Monday it was listed at $240k. A $90k drop?! I knew the banks were desperate to get rid of inventory, but that seemed a little ridiculous. I called Scott after work and chatted with him a bit, and we decided to meet at the house to check it out that afternoon. Cody was still at work, so he couldn't be there to meet us. When I pulled up to the house, there was a car in the driveway... someone else was there checking it out. My heart absolutely dropped and I thought there was no way that these people were going to leave the place without going straight to the agent's office to submit an offer, it was that nice. So when Scott showed up and opened the front door, I stepped inside and here's my reaction: "OK... we need to leave right now and put an offer down. We can't let these people beat us to the punch... again!" Thankfully, Scott just kept walking through the house and I followed, and the whole time was beside myself with excitement because this place was beyond anything we had ever hoped for. Scott just kept saying, "What is wrong with this place? There has to be SOMETHING wrong with it... $150k? The bank is crazy!" But we found nothing. Just an amazing house with upgrades galore in a beautiful neighborhood in Gilbert.

I thought we didn't stand a chance.

We all headed straight to Scott's home office and submitted our offer. Wednesday morning, Cody sent in the earnest check. Thursday morning, Cody received a message from Scott saying that there was another offer on the house, which didn't surprise us but was a huge let-down. We thought that even though ours was the first to get to the bank, the bank would be foolish not to take the highest offer, if this other offer was higher than ours. Then, just as Cody was about to encourage me with that day's entry from "My Utmost For His Highest" Scott called us again. He started off the conversation by saying that he had good news and bad news. Sounding rather grim, he shared the bad news first: over the course of the day, several other offers had been submitted. Pause for effect. Then he said, "But the good news is... I got a call from the seller's agent. And the bank accepted your offer immediately. Just like that. I almost peed my pants. And the seller's agent is completely shocked that they took your offer so quickly. I don't even know what to say... this was the nicest house out of all the ones we've seen. And it's worth so much more than you guys are paying for it. Congratulations, friends." I was so happy, so relieved, felt so incredibly blessed that I cried. Behind our wedding day, it was the happiest day of my life.

As excited as I was when I was in the house, I knew I couldn't let myself get too attached to the idea of living there. We had been through enough disappointments to realize that wasn't a smart move. But I honestly had never felt that excited about a house, ever. After we submitted the offer, we submitted the process to God in prayer. I almost felt silly bothering Him with our house troubles, but we both knew that God is always in control and we had to believe that He had our best at heart, whether that meant we get the house or not. Considering the circumstances, I can't help but feel that He intervened to make it happen because He wants us to use our home for His purposes. It has been a dream of ours to do so. I must be honest and say that it was the first time I had submitted the process to God since this whole ordeal began. It was the first time I believed that He had the perfect house set aside for us and it may or may not be the one we liked, but we had to trust in His timing and plan. I know it's easy for me to say now because things worked out... but believe me that if it didn't work out, I would have firmly believed that it was because it wasn't the one. It doesn't mean I wouldn't have been scared and wondering what was going to happen... it just means that I know and believe what Romans 8:28 says.

We feel incredibly fortunate and blessed. All that to say... here it is!

10.29.2008

This guy is my HERO.

Listen to him. PLEASE. He is damn funny and RIGHT ON.

My thoughts exactly.

Aaaannnd... His thoughts on abortion.

I recommend "Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments" by Randy Alcorn for the truth on abortion that the media and the left will never let you hear. Given that we were all once fetuses, we ALL should be outraged when someone tries to say it's OK to kill an unborn child; that it's a "woman's choice." Last time I checked, stopping a life from continuing was the same thing as murder. And yet our Supreme Court deemed it lawful with Roe v. Wade in 1973. Hmmmmm... it defies logic, really.

When I was a senior in high school, I wrote and presented a paper in support of the pro-choice movement. I look back and am outright ashamed of what I thought I stood for, and the ignorance it took for me to think I was standing up for what was best for people. What a selfish, horrendous, disgusting, and violent thing I once believed in.

So go ahead, have at it. I know there are people reading this who disagree and agree. I wanna hear it.

The truth about Proposition 105

What the ballots say (source: www.votesmartaz.org):

What it does:

Amends the Arizona Constitution to state that any ballot initiative that establishes, imposes, or raises any tax or fee or mandates any spending obligations may only become law if it is approved by a majority of registered Arizona voters

Arguments for:

-Many tax increases have been passed due to low voter turnout

-Makes it more difficult for special interest groups to circumvent the Legislature and enact new taxes and spending measures at the ballot

-See www.letthemajorityrule.com

Arguments against:

-Makes it nearly impossible for civic and community organizations to impact public policy through the initiative process

-Those who do not vote should not have the ability to decide elections

-See www.thevotersofaz.com

Why the ads should be infuriating to you:

Perhaps you have seen the TV ads of the fat, lazy, potato-chip-eating slob sitting in his recliner lamenting on whether or not he should bother peeling himself away from his beloved sitcoms to vote this year. A narrator tells viewers that Prop 105 allows the opinions of those who won't bother to vote to decide elections; that your "yes" vote will be canceled out by those who do not vote at all. Sounds ridiculous that we would even consider such nonsense, right?

What they are not telling you is that Prop 105 was developed with the interests of the people at heart. It is in no way, shape or form meant to cover any and all initiatives placed on the ballot, nor does it affect candidates. It is ONLY applicable to the passing of new taxes or the raising of old ones, with the goal that if the majority of registered voters does not vote in favor of higher taxes, they should not be passed at all. SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS that you may not want to support will reap the benefits of your hard-earned money if this proposition does not pass. It requires that a MAJORITY OF REGISTERED VOTERS favor higher taxes, not a majority of those who voted on the initiative.

For example, let's say there are one million registered voters who can vote on a tax raise, but only one thousand actually vote on the issue. Of the one thousand, seven hundred vote in favor of the higher tax. If the Voters of Arizona had their way, those seven hundred people would be making the decision to raise taxes on the entire population. This is NOT a majority vote. They are doing everything in their power to deceive you into believing that this proposition will affect every single issue on the ballot. You should be insulted that they assume you are foolish enough to believe it! I plead with you to vote "YES" on Prop 105 with me at the polls this year.

Please, for the love of God, don't gauge your vote by the ads you see on TV. I have had enough of the blatant lies, twisting of the truth, and elements taken completely out-of-context that are set forth by political interests desperate to have their way. Perfect example: the attacks on Sidney Hay. When the ads parrot about her intentions to "impose a 23% sales tax on goods you use every day" that will "abolish corporate taxes" and that she is a "corporate lobbyist" it makes me want to poke out my eyes with hot forks. Anyone who has been paying attention should immediately make the connection between "23%" and "Fair Tax," which would abolish ALL taxes with the exception of the 23% sales tax on goods and services. No income tax, no IRS, no estate tax, no death tax, no business tax, so by default, no corporate tax.

It should be outrageously insulting to our intelligence that people would put forth things so blatantly out of context to keep someone out of office, but unfortunately many people are uninformed and make decisions based on ads- I should know, I majored in advertising in college! Go figure. If money were no object, I'd be out there countering the lies with the truth in ads like mad. However, unlike their Democratic counterparts, the conservatives I support don't spend record amounts on campaigns and advertising to ensure their candidates get into office and their initiatives pass... they trust the people to make decisions on the issues and candidates and not what they tell them to believe in a 30-second spot on TV.

I could go on and on about how blatantly ignorant people have to be to miss Obama's plain-as-day Marxist tendencies, but I digress. You will be spared since I already covered that in my last blog. I am literally praying that people are properly educated and armed with opinions based on FACT before they enter the polls this November 4th.

10.22.2008

Wow. WOW.

A-FREAKING-men.



Forget Obama and McCain. We need to elect that guy as president.

This Web site has some frightening issues they address in regards to the direction of our country. I'm not an alarmist, nor do I promote conspiracy theories; but I do think the media are controlled by people delivering unreliable, completely biased information and sometimes you have to look elsewhere for a deeper look at what is really going on. I encourage everyone to move beyond the traditional media outlets every now and then to provoke thought and recognize the possibility that there is more going on than the Old Media will ever tell us.

Ironically, often there is probably also less going on than the Old Media will ever admit.

With that in mind, never in the history of the United States have we seen such a radical, far-left, unknown candidate as Obama on the ticket to be leader of the free world. I fear that many people who support him do so blindly without a real handle on the issues he wants to turn upside-down: gun control, abortion, welfare, SPREADING THE WEALTH, and a host of other issues. Does ANYONE think about what changing those issues will look like in the end, and what that means for the health of our American society? Most of the arguments I hear in favor of his "change" when it comes to specific issues are naive and shallow at best, backed up with nothing but personal opinion and popular ideology. With the help of the Hollywood elite, Obama has painted a pretty picture for everyone under the facade of eloquence and Messiah-esque appeal and, unfortunately, more Americans are falling for it than not.

There are plenty of people out there who want "change" and would stop at nothing to destroy McCain's chances and discredit Governor Palin. To those people, I say this: If Obama wins, fine. It will be no surprise to little ol' me if that is the outcome of this election. So we'll try it your way for a while, and we'll see what this "change" he touts really means. Socialism? Marxism? I believe we're in for a rude awakening, because an Obama administration is only the beginning of what I'm sure will be a very unwelcome change by even the people who voted him into office.


On the flipside, McCain is simply the lesser of two evils. He's not perfect, but at least he's not a socialist. After all, he hasn't the media friends to ask to seek out and destroy guys like Joe the Plumber when they question his tax plan:

Congratulations, Team Obama, we've still got two-plus weeks until Election Day and you're already destroying jobs. After last week's now-notorious encounter with Joe the Plumber, Obama's media foot soldiers were dispatched with a simple mission: destroy Joe. On Sunday's Fox and Friends, Joe announced their success; his business has been shut down.

Thanks to the intrepid reporting of journalists who've obviously lost all sense of perspective, it turns out Joe has been fixing Ohioans' plumbing without a government-issued license. Talk about irony. Joe came under fire for humiliating Obama by noting his tax plans interfere with Joe's American Dream. He wanted to buy his plumbing company and expand it, but higher taxes on small businesses threaten to turn that dream into a nightmare. The left, in other words, used Big Government to silence Joe Citizen for speaking ill of Big Government.

In turn, Americans have offered financial support to Joe - offers he's politely declined.

Americans have taken to Joe for his willingness to go where the media refuses - that is, for actually speaking truth to power. Nothing's more infuriating than reporters allowing themselves to be used by politicians, yet that's exactly what's being done on a daily basis at CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. Joe got the opportunity to tell Obama directly that his tax plans - which penalize hard work while claiming to further America's best interests - were an insult to his intelligence.

Thank you, Laura Ingraham, for that witty little sentiment on how truly brave an American citizen you have to be to speak up against a media darling like Barack Obama.

Finally, don't discredit Obama's relationships with domestic terrorists, radical preachers, criminals, and genocidal control freaks, either. He'll dismiss them as passing acquaintances, but the video that could cost Obama the election shows yet ANOTHER tie that has me just a tad bit concerned that we're handing the reigns over to someone who believes big government is the answer to everyone's problems, who may eventually reveal himself as a leader who silences opposition because he has given himself the power to do so.

10.21.2008

You might catch me driving down the street rocking out to:

"You wanted arts and crafts, how's this for arts and crafts? DUH NANANANANANANANANANANANANANA THAT'S RIGHT!" Hahahahaha... best song ever.



And for further proof that Weezer is the coolest band ever:



Also, "Oh Boy" is downloading as we speak. SO. EXCITED.

10.20.2008

Tax cut analogy

Not sure who wrote this, but it makes sense to me...

Let's put tax cuts in terms that everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh $7.

The eighth $12.

The ninth $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."

So, now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free.
But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'?

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal. So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (29% savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $50 instead of $59 (15% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $9!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too.
It's unfair that he got nine times more than me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man.

"Why should he get $9 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.

They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.

10.10.2008

Save the Dogs!

My favorite band just wrote a song called "Save the Dogs" and then made this sweet stop motion video for it. Pretty sure they wrote this song for me... hahaha

"Oh Boy" is coming out soon... what I've heard is freaking rad. Can't wait.

Speaking of saving dogs, BARKtoberfest is tomorrow and if you want to save the dogs, you'd best be there to help raise money for Friends for Life. I'll have a Petlane booth there and I'll be selling some great pet items, booking pawties and sponsoring new PUPs! Just doing my part to save the dogs :)

9.09.2008

Overdue...

No, I'm not referring to a post about my current political opinions, although you won't have to wait too long for that one. So you can sit back from the edge of your seat now. Haha. I'm talking about pictures of our new baby girl! Along with a picture of her former home (the White Mountains) and a rainbow of God's promise for good measure. She has to be the cutest thing I have ever seen, next to THOR, of course. I thought my mom was just going to drop dead the moment she saw Hanalei, the cuteness is that overwhelming. Currently she's sitting in my lap, looking up at me and panting after a nap because it is SO HOT in this room right now. I have wanted to capture her on film so many different times but my memory will have to suffice to capture those moments for now.








The best is when she is sitting down and tucks in her little butt, and cocks her head at me with her ears all perked up, so I tilt my head in one direction, then the other, and she mirrors me... SO CUTE. Or when she jumps around and spins in the air whimpering because she knows that I am fixing her food in her princess dish (yes, she has a princess dish) and this is so exciting because food is THE BEST THING EVER. Or when she pounces on THOR and he puts the smack down when she tries to nab one of his squirrels. Or when she is so tired that you can pick her up and carry her around and she will stay asleep through anything because she is that determined to sleep. Or watching how brave she is because she actually jumps off the couch which would be like me jumping off a roof, or climbing down the stairs all by herself at a whole seven weeks old. Or maybe the time when she charged under THOR at top speed right as he lifted his leg to do his business on his favorite bush and peed all over her. Or when she accidentally stepped in THOR's dog log and lifted her paw, looking at it in absolute horror after catching a whiff, clearly wondering what she was supposed to do now that her paw was covered in gnarly feces.

She is SUCH a girl. The princess dish fits.

GAAAAAAAAAH! I can hardly stand it.

8.22.2008

Hanalei is arriving next Saturday!

We got an e-mail from our breeder saying that we can pick up our little girl next weekend! We are so excited. THOR can barely contain himself :)

She's the one on the left. She is a DOLL. As Stacy always says about THOR: "You must have gone to a Build-a-Bear and made him!"



8.13.2008

I just can't figure out his appeal...

Besides his sheer inexperience, his plans to raise taxes have been among the most infuriating prospects I've encountered.



I really wish I knew what people liked about him besides his "charisma" and the fact that it would be a historical event to vote into office the first black president. Big freaking deal. The only people who make race any issue at all are the people who bring it up in the first place.

I would think that if anyone took the time to research what he actually means by "change" and how it would affect their everyday lives, as well as his political experience, no one would be voting for this guy.

www.meetbarackobama.com

8.12.2008

Moving.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

There are no words to describe how much we all hate moving. Throw the middle of August in Arizona in the mix, and you have quite the debacle ahead of you. Sweaty hands that drop large furniture. A/C working overtime. Stairs. You know the drill. And we're about to embark on a 35-mile move from North Scottsdale to Ahwatukee this weekend.

I'm not gonna lie; I'm totally bummed out about this move. I thought I was prepared for it, but the truth is I'm in avoidance/denial mode. It's Tuesday night and we haven't even started packing- no, scratch that, I haven't started packing. I'm just not ready to turn our lovely apartment inside out and say goodbye to it. I'm a total sucker for being sentimental about stuff- it's tough for me to leave the place Cody and I called home as we began our marriage. But it's not just that- I LOVE our apartment- the layout, the location, the view. The view is amazing! We moved into this apartment a month and a half before my last lease was up just because of that view. And there's so much to do in this part of town. We found a church we loved and we had to say goodbye this past Sunday because it's much too far to attend when we're living that far south. Granted, we didn't get super involved in the ministry there because we knew we would be leaving. But we enjoyed the services and the FPU class we attended there.

I guess we never expected to leave so quickly after we got here. Sad face :(

However, in spite of all that we're leaving behind, we're doing this for far better reasons than any we may have to stay here. We're going to get out from under ALL of our monthly loan obligations... what an incredible relief that will be. We will be able to save money at a much faster rate than ever, and we will be able to put more money down on our future home when the time is really, truly right. And best of all, we will be closer to the family and friends that we love. As beautiful as Scottsdale is, we are so isolated from everyone here. So really, we are gaining much more than we are losing :)

All that to say, I'm still gonna miss this spectacular desert view...

7.28.2008

Silent House

Cody and I just got back from visiting our grandparents- his in Holdenville, OK, and mine in Centralia, IL, and there is so much I could share about our trip, but for now I want to write about my Afi. What I will say is that while we were in Holdenville, I was certain that Cody's dear grandparents didn't stop talking from the moment we got there until the moment we left- pick a subject, ANY subject, and they have a story for it! It was such a stark contrast to what we experienced in Centralia.

Silence.

When we sat down to eat, we would chit chat here and there, but there were not many stories that were shared. The radio and TV would be turned off, and all we would hear is the sound of crunching and eating and the ticking of the clock with the occasional hourly chime.

My grandfather, who I have always called Afi (Icelandic for grandpa), has Alzheimer's. He was fortunate in that it didn't start to ail him until he was already into his 90s. He was born and raised in Centralia, a tiny town of currently less than 15,000, and has never lived anywhere else with the exception of a station in Iceland, where he met my grandmother nearly 50 years ago when my mom was just 12. They will be celebrating their golden anniversary on August 9. Afi turned 97 the day before we left.

His daughter, Ruthie, and her husband, Vern, drove down from a small town in Illinois a little north of Peoria. Afi couldn't be talked into getting out of his pajamas and into some regular clothes, so it was a low-key celebration. After lunch, they headed out to continue on to a friend's house, and the phone calls came pouring in. Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, friends, cousins, you name it- they all called to wish him a happy birthday. It was so hard watching him forget within minutes who it was that he had been on the phone with. There were times when we were there that we would hear him ask my Amma (grandmother) who Cody and I were; and she would remind him. He was never frightened, he just didn't know who we were. And he always forgot we were there; it was a surprise every time we came walking out of the kitchen or down the hall from the guest room.

The only person he knows now is Amma.

The night of his birthday, we sat in the living room watching TV, when all of a sudden he started coughing horribly; the kind of cough that was so jolting his whole body would convulse. This went on for a while, then he decided to get up to go to bed. But he was so exhausted from all the coughing that he couldn't get up out of his chair. He tried three times before Amma had to remind him to press the button to move the chair up and forward. Once he was up, he started walking toward their bedroom with Amma at his side. Cody and I got up to help because he would push his walker forward but his feet wouldn't move to catch up with it, which surely would have resulted in a face-plant on the wood floor. Thus began about an hour and a half of him continuously trying to get up out of bed every two minutes because he kept forgetting that he had already done so. I can't say much more about what happened that evening, because it was too personal and heartbreaking, but his birthday ended with him being taken in an ambulance to the hospital. And he hasn't been home since.

There are no words that can describe the pain of watching someone you love literally lose their mind. I have very, very close friends who have been affected by this horrendous disease, some who have already lost their loved ones, and one who is only in the beginning, and I can only pray for strength to endure what is to come, or for a flat-out miracle to intervene. I suppose you can argue that it may be just as well that they have no idea what is happening to them; but when you look into their eyes and are met with a blank stare, you know that you are the only one who can carry on their memories.

As we sat in the emergency room waiting for the doctor, Afi started reciting a portion of a very familiar prayer. "For thine is thy Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever." And that was all he said before he drifted off to sleep again. Cody and I prayed and prayed that night, and God, being the good God that he is, allowed me to say goodbye to my Afi the next day, and he knew exactly who I was. Cody got to see a glimpse of the Afi I always knew. I told him how much I loved him, and that we will be praying for him always. He told me that he loved me and that he'll see me later. And I know that the next time I see him, he will not be suffering anymore. He will be well again, and his mind will be whole. He will be with God.

What I will never forget is the beautiful picture of marriage that he and my Amma painted for my husband and I to see first hand. They have taken such tremendous care of each other through the years, and have such understanding and concern for one another, that even through this time of total uncertainty and yet inevitability it is clear that they have each other's best interests at heart. My Afi has always said that the years he has spent with my Amma have been the best of his whole life. There is an intense appreciation between them that left a huge impression on Cody and me. Let's just say that we have a lot to look forward to if our marriage turns out the way theirs did. I praise God that He gave us the time and resources to see them this summer. You can never know when it's too late.

The Dixie Chicks wrote a song about the loss of the lead singer's grandmother to Alzheimer's. As much as it breaks my heart, I haven't been able to stop listening to it since we got back. Songs always speak to me, and this one is certainly no exception. (No idea who the people are in the video... it's just the only one I could find that I could embed.)

These walls have eyes
Rows of photographs
And faces like mine
Who do we become
Without knowing where
We started from

It's true I'm missing you
As I stand alone in your room

Everyday that will pass you by
Every name that you won't recall
Everything that you made by hand
Everything that you know by heart

And I will try to connect
All the pieces you left
I will carry it on
And let you forget
And I'll remember the years
When your mind was clear
How the laughter and life
Filled up this silent house

One room
Two single beds
In the closet hangs
Your favorite dress
The books that you read
Are in scattered piles
Of paper shreds

Everything that you made by hand
Everything that you know by heart

And I will try to connect
All the pieces you left
I will carry it on
And let you forget
And I'll remember the years
When your mind was clear
How the laughter and life
Filled up this silent house
Silent house

In the garden off the living room
A chill fills the air
And the lilies bloom

And I will try to connect
All the pieces you left
I will carry it on
And let you forget
And I'll remember the years
When your mind was clear
How the laughter and life
Filled up this

And I will try to connect
All the pieces you left
I will carry it on
And let you forget
And I'll remember the years
When your mind was clear
How the laughter and life
Filled up this silent house

Silent house

7.21.2008

You know you're in the Midwest/Bible Belt/in a van down by the river...

...when you see this.

Or this... (BEEFALO?!??!)


or this...


or this...


or ESPECIALLY this...


Toadies.

Being that Cody and I have been out of town visiting our grandparents and Uncle Bill (more on that later), I haven't had much time for blogging. Actually, that has more to do with the lack of an internet connection- no, scratch that, lack of a COMPUTER- than lack of time. (Grandparents are chill.)

For today, I want to take a moment to share with the Internet the baby toads we found hopping around outside this morning. They are smaller than a nickel, and cute as a button. Apparently we need to watch our step around monsoon season because we saw a few that met their demise due to their ironic ability to look like a piece of stray gravel. Sad.

These little guys bring back some great childhood memories of going to my friend Emily's house and making an afternoon of catching baby toads in her family's garden. Every summer they would go to the Verde River and bring home buckets of these little guys to put in their garden to eat bugs. We would promptly comb the garden to capture them, scare the piss out of them (literally), and watch them hop around wherever we decided to take them- usually the back patio or, if we were sneaky enough, into the living room. The ones who survived the neighborhood cats (or us) grew up to be large and quite slimy. Needless to say, they lost their appeal when it came to catching one, but we still thought they were cute.

Look how tiny he is!




You know you have your priorities messed up when your to-do list is 29-items deep, you haven't bothered to unpack even though you have been home for three days, the house has been turned upside down by a recent sewing project, and you are online, writing.

About toads.

7.02.2008

Friday's Find: Beer-Glazed Black Beans and a PHENOMENAL Vegetarian Cookbook!

I know I'm a couple of days early, but I literally couldn't contain my excitement for another second. There are no words to describe my everlasting love for my shiny, green new vegetarian cookbook- and let me tell you, does it ever live up to its name. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is almost 1,000 pages long, chock full of every little piece of advice for cooks ranging from novice (me) to pro (me someday in the distant future... hopefully). He answers questions like: What is quinoa? How do you choose a good onion at the store? What in the world do you do with leeks anyway?

My first dish- well, actually, it was a side for an impromptu quesadilla recipe I made up with zucchini, diced tomatoes and onions, and the ever-important cheese- was Beer-Glazed Black Beans. This was very exciting to me for three reasons: 1. I love cooking with beans because they are a good source of protein; 2. Um this recipe calls for beer. Of course that's the first thing I'm going to try out from this book. 3. I still have no idea what to do with tofu yet.

These beans were a vegetarian's answer to old-fashioned maple baked beans. They were sweet and hearty and complete with onion and garlic (because everyone knows that NOTHING is complete without onion and garlic). We used Sam Adams Boston Ale for this recipe, and the author, Mark Bittman, gives his readers the freedom to use any kind they like, as different beers will yield dramatically different flavors.

Beer-Glazed Black Beans

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes with cooked beans

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup beer

3 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained but still moist, liquid reserved

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon honey, or for a vegan version, molasses

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Put the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for about a minute, then add the beer, beans, chili powder, honey, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.

2. Bring to a steady bubble and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

P.S. I HIGHLY recommend using Williams-Sonoma's Vegetable Chop and Measure. I was able to slice and dice the onions AND mince the garlic using this puppy. Huge time-saver!

6.23.2008

A delicious disaster.

I really wish that, when I steam-burned myself and in my reactionary shock of pain dropped the large glass bowl into a pot and sprayed molten chocolate all over the walls, cabinets, our fresh fruit in the banana hammock, and the dog's food bowl, I had thought to take a picture of the damage. But alas, I was too busy swearing and chucking my wooden spoon across the room and into the sink to think about such nonsense. Let me assure you that it was quite an impressive mess, and there was dark, buttery chocolate that ended up in places I'm sure I have yet to discover. How none ended up on me is a mystery. But I did manage to spy a rogue chocolate dot on the cabinet about an hour after cleanup:

Disaster aside, I set out today to make peanut butter swirl brownies a la Martha Stewart, and they are baking in the oven as we speak, and they smell heavenly. Cody is out picking up some Baja Fresh for dinner which will make for an interesting smell combo when he gets back, but I digress. Alls I can tell you is that I can hardly wait to get my paws on one of these peanut-chocolatey squares, and don't you worry, if I were you I'd totally be jealous too.





And here we have zee fineeshed product...

Delicioso!

My current obsession with food.

I swear to you, I can't surf around 101 Cookbooks or Smitten Kitchen without uttering the words, "ExCUSE me?!" at least seven times per visit when I look at their recipes. Because who wants to eat Amazing Black Bean Brownies... really? I should be offended by this. And then I totally want to eat them. Why this is appetizing is beyond me. But I am sure that blogs like this inspire me to spend as much time in my kitchen as is humanly possible.

Also, when I walk into stores like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table I can't help but get a thrill at the thought of a huge kitchen filled with every cooking gadget under the sun, and me inventing culinary delights so ethereal that the heavens open wide and the angels sing upon my creations.

I think the world might actually be coming to an end. I want to do things like sew, cook, and plant a garden. When did I become a vegetarian, chocolate-obsessed, weird brownie-baking, lentil-consuming, Martha Stewart wannabe who actually wants to eat the aforementioned ingredients... all in the same recipe?

...

On another note, I made Cody eat a whole steamed artichoke the other night, and it was *nearly* disastrous. Not quite cooked all the way through, but not entirely a loss for a first-timer. All in all, a thoroughly weird experience. When he got to the part where he had to slice and dice his way through the furry mess to the heart, he sat there with a very concerned look on his face, staring at what was left of the artichoke, and said, "I think I just ate a wombat."

6.19.2008

Excitement and toilets.

Some things I am excited about:

1. Cody's three-day weekends for the summer

2. Going to see Get Smart tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

3. Going up north afterwards. Well, we hope so anyway.

4. Banana Chip Cookies. OH. MY. WORD.

On another note, I would like to know who decided that automatic toilets are a good idea. Automatic soap dispensers? Spectacular. Automatic sinks? Fantabulous. I am a HUGE fan of the automatic towel dispensers- those alleviate the need to go through the whole sanitary process of dispensing the towel by hand first, letting it hang there vulnerable to being stolen while I wash my hands, drying my hands with it if it doesn't get stolen first, THEN turning off the water using the towel and hanging on to the towel so I don't have to touch the door handle on my way out. I hate going through that whole process because I'm trying to get better about my water consumption, but honestly, there is nothing more disgusting than the things you have to touch in a public bathroom. And don't even get me started on the fact that no one can figure out to put the handle on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom door... at least many places have figured out to put a trash can near the door for the anal retentive.

But back to the automatic toilets. They never fail to flush before you are ready, or sometimes before you even start. In fact, the other day when I was at the movie theater, I walked into a stall and the toilet flushed before I even closed the door, in a lovely greeting of bacteria-filled potty mist- which, by the way, is sprayed with such outrageous force that it can reach as far as 20 feet away. You can bet I flush and run when I'm not faced with The Automatic Toilet; if I am and it flushes before my pants are fully pulled up and secured and I can make my escape, I cower in the corner and cover my face as if I were being doused with raw sewage (which, actually, is not too far off). It's no surprise that the toilet managed to flush three times in the span of the two minutes I was in there. It's not like a motion censor is going to be able to distinguish the difference between someone pulling up their pants or doing the Irish Jig. And if you happen to still be sitting on the toilet, you can basically count on an involuntary bidet before you leave your stall.

God forbid, if you did something naughty in the potty, it is inevitable that in an act of outrageous defiance most automatic toilets WILL NOT FLUSH no matter how many strip teases you do.

As far as I am concerned, with the exception of geriatric germophobes who can't lift their leg to the handle to flush, no one likes automatic toilets.

Perhaps if Obama wins the presidency, we can ask him to take action to ban the use of automatic flushers in public arenas. Because he might actually do it.

6.18.2008

Honeymoon Video

My super talented and smoking hot husband took it upon himself to make a full-fledged video montage of our time in Kauai in November. Besides the roosters, the best part of our honeymoon was that we actually got there- our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:15 a.m. And when did we wake up? 6:58. I believe the morning went something like this:

(My thought process waking up.) "Gee... THOR sure is rattling around in his cage early. And there are sure a LOT of cars on the road for 5:15 in the morning. Actually, what the crap am I doing awake this early with no alarm?"

(I sit straight up, wide awake, and look at the clock, which is staring defiantly back at me saying, "Nah nah, nah nah NAH, it's SIX FIFTY-EEEEIGHT! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!")

Me: "HOLY %&$*%@$#@$#@$#%&*%$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Cody (startled and ready to kill an intruder): "Whaa??? Who- where? What's going on?" (Looks at the clock) "HOLY %&$*%@$#@$#@$#%&*%$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

At which point I immediately burst into tears.

My poor mom called two minutes later: "Where are you, dear? You were supposed to be here at 6:30."

"WE JUST WOKE UUUUUUPPPP! WE'RE GOING TO MISS OUR HONEYMOON!!! WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL ME AT 6:30?!?!?!?" Because, clearly, when things like this go wrong, it is automatically Mom's fault. Oh, the joys of motherhood that I will have to look forward to one day- being yelled at by my kids when they are freaking out about something I had nothing to do with. (I love you Mom!)

We grabbed our suitcases and the dog and tossed them in the car, and I commenced to drive like a banshee to my parents house and made it there in a record 12.346 minutes. I was a basket case the whole way there, and Cody was on the phone with Hawaiian Airlines trying to let them know our situation. Apparently they weren't having it, which is such crap because what kind of customer service is that anyway? "You're not gonna make it" seemed to be their catch-phrase of the day.

At 7:30 we pulled up, and I was completely defeated and ready to throw in the towel when my mom opens the door, grabs the dog, throws him in the house- like, literally THROWS him- and shoves us back out the door and into the car. She was like, "We are getting you two on that plane if it's the last thing I do. Now let's go." Holy crap Mom, way to not take no for an answer!

7:45- we pulled up to the terminal and ran, luggage in tow, to the check-in counter. Apparently the same bitch- I mean, airline worker that Cody talked to on the phone was working the counter, because when her trusty sidekick walked up she was like, "These are the ones I was telling you about." (Um... RUDE! We're standing RIGHT HERE!) That was promptly followed by, "You're not gonna make it." Excuse me, but when did that become Hawaiian Airlines new ad campaign? And what the crap did she think we were doing anyway, lounging around at home reading the newspaper and drinking our morning coffee when we happened to notice that, oh, hey, maybe we should get to the airport soon, it's already SIX FIFTY-EIGHT?

Honestly.

"I can't guarantee that your bags will make it onto the plane, nor can I promise that they will make the transfer flight to Kauai once you land in Honolulu..." Just shut your mouth and give us our boarding passes, we still have to wait through security.

Well, I sobbed our way through security, thoroughly convinced that we were never going to make it (I shouldn't have let Hawaiian's merciless negativity get to me!), when we reached the front of the line and the security guy was so kind and encouraging, saying that we were just fine and had plenty of time to make it (ten minutes to take-off, I believe). By nothing less than an act of God, we made it onto that plane with better seats than we originally had reserved, and sat in shock the whole six hours there because HOW ARE WE ON THIS PLANE RIGHT NOW?

Call us paranoid, but we had no doubt that the entire plane knew that we were "those people" who they tried to tell "weren't gonna make it" because we had the crappiest service of all time and got a few dirty looks. But whatever. After a morning like that, we didn't care what anyone thought; after all, they didn't live through the EMOTIONAL TURMOIL OF WAKING UP AT SIX FIFTY-EIGHT or the ironclad determination of my mother to get us on that damn plane. And if our luggage wasn't there to greet us at the Kauai airport, we always had our cute matching Life is Good "Just Married" t-shirts that we hoped would score us lots of free stuff.

But, amazingly, in the five minutes it took to walk from our plane to the baggage area, our luggage had magically appeared, sitting in a nice, neat row, unscathed by the chaotic and traumatizing seven-hour trek from our apartment in Scottsdale to the baggage claim in Kauai. I defy anyone who dares challenge us with, "You're not gonna make it"! Screw you, Hawaiian Airlines nay-sayers! Next time we're flying Aloha!

Someone get me a Mai Tai.

6.06.2008

Friday's Find: Wellsphere

The founders of this week's find, Wellsphere, developed this nifty networking site because of the looming American health crisis and a shared passion for helping people become empowered in their health. I have done a lot of reading recently on food production in the U.S., and all I can tell you is this: We are a bunch of walking processed corn cobs (I recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). Fortunately, people are becoming increasingly aware of the problems surrounding the things we eat, and it is my hope that things will take a turn toward more wholesome and old-fashioned ways of eating and cooking. One of my biggest goals is to have a home garden someday. But enough about that... back to the subject at hand.

Wellsphere is dedicated to connecting its members to local resources that can help them reach their health goals. When you sign up, you choose a goal, and you are automatically added to a group that is relevant to helping you achieve success by offering accountability and providing resources that will help you along the way. Whether it be healty eating, exercise or a competitive milestone, this site has it all covered based on three principles: personalization, social support and community, and incentive. I was pleased to find that they feature a vegetarian group and was sure to join that one right away.

You are not limited to the initial group you were matched with when you sign up- you can join any group that interests you. You are also free to set as many goals as you wish and log your progress, receive reminders via e-mail or text, and work towards a WellPrize as an incentive for making progress. Another great feature is Wellternatives, which shows you the healthiest menu items at the country's most popular restaurants complete with overall health ratings to show you the best and the worst places to eat when you're watching your diet.

I chose running 30 minutes five days a week as my goal- as a former college athlete, you wouldn't think it would be that big of a struggle, but it sure is hard to get up early enough to do so when you're not a morning person. I'll be adding more as time goes on, but many more of my goals will have to do with diet. I've been having a blast learning some great vegetarian recipes (actually, learning to cook, period!) and cooking for my husband has become one of my new favorite things to do. I may even have a convert on my hands one of these days...

If you're interested in joining, feel free to do so directly through Wellsphere or send a comment (with your e-mail if I don't know you personally) and I will e-mail you the link to join- this will help me earn points.

Cheers to good health!

Wellsphere... Indulge in healthier living

Current fave vegetarian recipe.

Even my husband loves this one! Adapted from Betty Crocker's Healthy New Choices, anyone who ever convinced themselves that vegetarian cuisine was bland should try this recipe. We used garlic mashed potatoes and substituted fresh Monterey Jack cheese for the Parmesan.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

For the mashed potatoes, either use leftovers, prepare instant mashed potatoes or pick up mashed potatoes from the deli. Looking for an easy way to put the potatoes on top of this dish? A small ice-cream scoop is great for spooning on the warm mashed potatoes.

2 cans (15 or 16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 jar (16 ounces) thick-and-chunky salsa (2 cups)

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn

1 medium carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)

1 1/2 cups warm mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh chives or parsley, if desired

Heat beans, salsa, corn and carrot to boiling in 10-inch nonstick skillet; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until carrot is tender.

Spoon mashed potatoes onto bean mizture around edge of skillet. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and chives.

Viola! It's easy, delicious AND nutritious and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

6.05.2008

How White am I?

If you haven't checked out the hysterical site Stuff White People Like, I highly recommend that you do. If not for the things listed that call out many white people in this country, do it for the heated comments that people leave who have no sense of humor/wouldn't get it to save their lives.

It blows me away that the author started this site in JANUARY OF THIS YEAR, and already he has a book coming out in July in addition to the nearly 30 million hits to his site to date. If only we could all be so lucky.

I was going through the list and started to wonder how truly white I am. And if I don't fall into the category of "white," what exactly does that make me then? Let's analyze:

Very me:

1. Coffee

5. Farmer's markets

6. Organic food

23. Microbrews

24. Wine

32. Vegan/Vegetarianism

36. Breakfast places

40. Apple products

42. Sushi

48. Whole Foods and grocery co-ops

49. Vintage

53. Dogs

54. Kitchen gadgets

59. Natural medicine

63. Expensive sandwiches

77. Musical comedy

86. Shorts

87. Outdoor performance clothes

90. Dinner parties

92. Book deals (I wish!)

93. Music piracy (in the form of checking out CDs at the library, anyway)

96. New Balance shoes

99. Grammar

On the fence about:

9. Making you feel bad about going outside

19. Traveling

21. Writer's workshops

37. Renovations

44. Public radio (I only like it when they play jazz- any other time it makes me want to gouge my eyes out with hot pitchforks.)

Things white people like that I definitely don't like/irritate the crap out of me:

8. Barack Obama

15. Yoga

18. Awareness

25. David Sedaris

33. Marijuana

35. The Daily Show/Colbert Report

52. Sarah Silverman

55. Apologies (I laughed so hard at this one... I heard a lady in Kohl's the other day say, "I'm sorry, those are mine," to an employee who was trying to organize the area and I wondered why in the world she felt the need to apologize for that fact.)

56. Lawyers (Oops... did I say that out loud?)

62. Knowing what's best for poor people

66. Divorce

67. Standing still at concerts (why bother going?)

75. Threatening to move to Canada (JUST GO ALREADY!)

94. Free healthcare

101. Being offended (Three words: Get. Over. Yourself.)

Everything else I'm indifferent on.

So, if I we average one point for everything I agree with, half a point for everything I'm on the fence about, a quarter of a point for everything I'm indifferent about, and minus one for everything I don't like, my analysis tells me that I am only 25% white.

And 75%... white trash?

6.04.2008

Currently I can't get enough of:

These commercials.

And pretty much anything by these guys:

This brilliant campaign throws some serious punches on a monthly-or-so basis, and with that in mind, this guy has his work cut out for him. (Make Microsoft COOL?!! Ummm... OK. No pressure. Really.) Irritating agency name aside (Crispin- ew), I'm sitting on the edge of my seat to see what he has up his sleeve to counter this blatant (and accurate) attack on the Microsoft brand. I was stuck using a brand new Vista PC at my former work place and I hated that thing with a white-hot passion. Now that I'm at home and use our Apple every day, I love it so much that I kind of want to kick the dog out of the bed at night and snuggle up to my trusty, loyal iMac instead.

5.31.2008

Things I wish could be caught on camera.

Cody playing his guitar and making up a song about THOR, and THOR and I dancing along to it.

"Oh, THORbear. You are my dog. You're not Mama's dog."

(HEY! ...OK so it's totally true. Just wait until Hanalei comes along. I will dress her up in cute outfits and bling and squeeze her and hug her and call her George and she will love me forever.)

All the while I'm sure THOR was wondering how he ever got stuck with us two weirdos. I wouldn't change it for the world.

I love my precious little bear.

Ooooh, POOR HAWAII.

Any chance Triumph the Insult Dog will come do our weather report this summer? I'd like to see what he has to say about the "dry heat"... that is, if it doesn't kill him first.

5.27.2008

No job, no house.

For the past week, I have been trying very hard to not be bitter at my former boss for letting me go last Monday. VERY hard. And I've found it to be nearly impossible. I have to take responsibility for my terrible judgment call the preceding Friday for calling in to take a personal day (GOD FORBID), but it was certainly an offense I didn't anticipate would result in being accused by my boss of blowing him off on a Friday immediately followed by, "That was your last day. Here's your paycheck." I could go on and on about all the reasons I think this situation was handled with outrageous (mis)judgment, but I'm sure it's best to leave that for my anonymous blog and/or venting sessions with my closest friends and family.

It isn't so much that he fired me for inconveniencing him that hurts the most; it's that as a result of my loss of income, Cody and I lost the house we had been mentally occupying and building our future around for the past several weeks. While I had heard that buying a home is an emotional process, I had no idea that losing one would ever be this hard.

My heart is breaking for another reason: the couple who owns the house has been trying to move to Arkansas for who knows how long (when we first started looking, the home had been on the market for 437 days). Before we came along, they had another buyer who started the process and didn't qualify either. I don't know the details of their situation or why they are moving or when they need to move, but I can only imagine how hard it is to be disappointed repeatedly on such a major life change as moving across the country. I actually kind of want to go knock on their door and tell them how sorry I am for messing up their plans. Fortunately, I think that they would have to admit, just as Cody and I have, that God obviously had something else in mind for all of us.

This past week has been devastatingly hard, and yet a perfect illustration of how sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Cody and I are so ready to have a permanent home for us and our pups, but as we faced this astronomical change in our circumstances, we came to the realization that 1. We must have been in denial about the numbers, and 2. God is clearly saying, "Not right now." When I say we were in denial about the numbers, I don't mean that we wouldn't have been able to pay our bills; I mean that we ONLY would have been able to pay our bills with little to no wiggle room for a life. We would be house-poor. We became very thankful at the timing of this, because if the process was already finished when it happened, we wouldn't have been able to pay our mortgage. We would much rather lose the home under these circumstances than foreclosure.

We are ready to bounce back though. My dear mother-in-law has opened her home to us in order to pay off our loan and build up more savings for a down payment, and over the next year or so, we should have that finished. We are both so thankful for her support and generosity. We will have more freedom to travel and fulfill commitments we have already made without any stress, like going to see our grandparents in Oklahoma and Illinois, and be in my friend's wedding in Minnesota next summer, and perhaps even a couple more (wink wink). While having no income for now is not ideal, that will change, and my time has been freed up to pursue the things I want to do. I have developed a plan for this next phase of our lives: find a part-time job, build my Web site, do some freelance writing, network, build my pet business, and be able to stay home more with the fur-kids.

For now, I am still being stubborn and bitter about the circumstances that caused us to lose the house. Every time I picture what I thought our lives would have been like in that house I get very, very sad; but those feelings are gradually being replaced by lessons in patience, responsibility, gratefulness, and humility. Clearly, Cody and I aren't the best at listening to God for guidance, because look at the drastic measures He had to take to get our attention. All we can do now is thank Him for being so blatantly clear this time, and work at being better at seeking His wisdom from now on.

5.22.2008

Dreams vs. Reality

I don't know what in the world this was about, but I had this bizarre dream last night that there were these people trying to kill Cody and I, and we were getting chased all around, and the front door to our apartment wouldn't latch shut no matter what we did. I woke up in the middle of the night because in my dream, I had been hit in the back with a shower of half-inch-thick, red, plastic arrows, and the dream was so vivid I actually felt it when it happened, which is probably why I was jolted awake. You know what they say- if you die in a dream, you die in real life. Guess it wasn't my time to go yet.

I had some serious issues falling asleep after that, and the muscles in the back of my neck were all tense and knotted up. In the past, this tension has been a sign of some pretty crazy spiritual stuff going on. This dream can be analyzed and interpreted a million different ways, so I'm not going to get into what I think it all means, but given recent events I'm not that surprised by it. Not to mention, I never, ever remember my dreams, but this one was as real as they come.

Every morning, Cody wakes up about an hour before I do. Before he left for work today, he told me that when he woke up and walked out to the kitchen, our front door was wide open.

Well if that's not the creepiest thing I've ever heard...

5.20.2008

I want the world to know...


...that I have THE most amazing husband on the face of the planet. He is the most loving, supportive, kind, self-sacrificing, fun, encouraging, trustworthy, godly, hysterically funny, handsome, sweet, strong, understanding, smart, incredible person I have ever known. He's so much more than just those things but that's what comes to mind most when I think of him. When other people would be mad or disappointed, he is comforting and encouraging. He holds me up when I feel like my world is crashing down around me. He gives his all to make me happy. He is my best friend and I know I could trust him with my life. I count my blessings every day that I get to spend my life with him.


Things could not be any less upside-down in our lives right now, but when I think about my husband, I can't help but smile and send a little prayer of thanks to God for this undeserved but unbelievably appreciated gift.

5.12.2008

Yes, please.

Watched this video, responded in accordance with the title of this post, made a list:

Things I am going to accomplish:
1. Work from home. Our brand new, beautiful Gilbert home :)
2. Build my pet business.
3. Be a writer.
4. Make a living doing these things. A darn good living.
5. Help my husband go to seminary or work in ministry. He is the reason so many of my dreams have come true, and I want to do the same for him.

Call me a poser all you want. I really don't care. If these women can do it, so can I, whether it's through this blog or livelaughlovedog. I'm a firm believer in being able to accomplish your goals if you set your mind to it- and with God's blessing, IT WILL HAPPEN.

5.06.2008

ADHD

Over the past few weeks, I have been suffering from serious outbreaks of ADHD- Attention Deficit House Disorder. I thought that the guy who was going to be working for us was blowing us off, when in reality he wasn't, and all the while I was watching all these houses we were interested in checking out go running through fields into the arms of competitive buyers. I was losing my mind with frustration. Contrary to popular belief/ idiotic media hype, house sales in these parts are doing the opposite of everywhere else in the country- they are actually going up. There are more foreclosures here and more people buying to snag a great deal, and let me tell ya- if you're not on the ball about this, you will miss the boat big time. It's crazy.

This weekend, the hubby and I were taken on a house hunt by our good friend and realtor, Scott (not the same guy I misunderstood before- they're working together on this). Scott is good. A fellow Christian, he is highly ethical and sees his function in this process as a helper, not a pressure cooker. Everywhere we went, he told us specific pros and cons, resale issues, things to consider. It was a joy working with him, and he was eager to show us as many houses as we wanted, even if it took all day and into the evening... which it did. Over the whole weekend, we saw around 15 houses or more- I lost count after a while. But I will tell you, these things are FLYING off the market. Every list of MLS numbers we sent his way was diminished by about 50% in a matter of hours. We have been looking in Gilbert mostly. And we heart it forever.

There were two houses that we fell in love with: one in Agritopia and one so close by you could actually see the house in Agritopia. The Agritopia house was HUGE, and it was in AGRITOPIA, and it had the most breathtaking MOUNTAIN VIEWS, but it had no yard and needed some serious work, which is ridiculous because the house is less than 2 years old, if that. The other house, which we refer to as the Banning house, was absolutely perfect in every way, but the only downfall was that it was about 600 sf smaller. We deliberated back and forth all weekend, and my poor husband- I was changing my mind every five minutes or so, and he began to maniacally rip the hair out of his head strand by strand, similar to the way I was doing when the foreclosure guy wasn't emailing me back.

But as we were deciding, we both kind of came to the realization that there is only two of us right now, and we don't need all that much space. And the nagging feeling of it being a huge mistake by not putting an offer on this house wouldn't leave me alone. We felt like God was maybe telling us to simplify our lives, not complicate things with a bigger house that requires more stuff to fill. So we're putting an offer on the beloved Banning house... today.

This house has been on the market for more than a year- perhaps the seller wasn't in a rush, perhaps they just wanted to see what happened, but it's most likely because when they listed it, it was nearly double what it is now. I also couldn't help but think that maybe it was waiting for us all along... kind of like THOR in the pet store. So we're taking the chance, and we're gonna see what happens. As perfect as we feel this house is, if it doesn't work out, then we are not supposed to be there and we know that God has something even more perfect in store for us. But we have a sneaking suspicion that it might just work out beautifully, and if that's the case... Gilbert, here we come!

4.14.2008

My favorite year.

Today marks one year of THOR goodness in our lives. Pets Landing has oodles of irresistable puppies, but there was something about baby THOR that melted by heart into a worthless puddle on the floor. Cody would tell you that every puppy did that to me; and that's most likely, probably entirely, completely true. But I had an even softer spot for our little one, probably because when we got him, he was the very picture of an underdog, and I'm a sucker for underdogs.


It was one year ago that Cody and I had taken a walk through the neighborhood after an afternoon at our then-favorite Bean and decided to make a stop in our still-favorite pet store. What we loved most about this place is that you can go in and play with the puppies without having to bother with the sales people first. They rotate their pups between the cage wall and about 12 fenced-in kiddie pools filled with shredded paper and two puppies each, so you can just walk in and pick up any one you want. We loved to go in there from time to time and see them, because puppies are pretty much my favorite thing in the world.


THOR was four months old when we took him home, an almost unheard of age for a puppy in a pet store. He was bigger than the other dogs and had a very sad, lonely air about him, and I just couldn't stand it for one more second. When I picked him up out of his little kiddie pool, he nuzzled right up into my neck, like he was trying to smuggle himself out of there by crawling into my shirt. There was no doubt in my mind that while Pets Landing is a great pet store, he was just sick of being there, sick of watching all his friends leave him for homes of their own. I inquired about his breed and how much he costs, and how is he still here, he's so sweet! The girls at the store said that he was their favorite, and they had a name for him: Rupert.


So Cody and I went into a little private room, then we took him outside, and he was very... mellow. He wasn't playful like the other puppies. Granted, he was older and by default a little more calm, but Cody couldn't help but think there was something wrong with him. Even though I was secretly wondering the same thing, I just told Cody to stop being ridiculous, there is nothing wrong with this little guy. I mean, after all, look at that face!


We took him back inside and Cody convinced me to part with him for the night. I HATED IT. We walked back to the car, arguing about whether or not it made sense to get a dog right now, and we came to a compromise: if we went back the next day and he was still there, we would get him.


So we went back the next day. And the second we walked in, I saw him- in the arms of another woman (that bitch!). I looked at Cody with what I'm sure translated as sheer desperation, and he just gave me a hug and said, "I'm sure he is going to a good home." (Translation: "Thank God someone else bought that dog." Although now Cody would kick himself for ever thinking such a thing.) So we stayed for a little while longer, played with a tiny shih tzu, and just as we were getting ready to head out the door, I saw the same lady standing at the counter gushing over a different puppy that apparently was in the back, getting ready to go home with her (bitch comment retracted). I peered around the corner and, sure enough, there was the little man, sitting all alone amongst the paper shreds in his kiddie pool.


So off we went, armed with a brand-new Cavachon and a carload of puppy necessities. We cooked dinner and then I almost had a nervous breakdown. Cody remembers me sitting at the table, apparently in shock based on the look of absolute terror on my face, staring at the little white fluffball relieving himself on the carpet, frozen in the realization that I am now responsible for another life, and what-the-crap-did-I-just-get-myself-into? OMG OMG OMG. He told me to breathe. The thought of that helpless, un-loved little guy living another night without a family completely disarmed my reasoning. Even if he didn't keep me awake with his incessant barking and yelping and whining ALL NIGHT LONG, I still don't think I would have slept a wink.


But sometimes what may appear to be the dumbest decisions turn out to be the best decisions. Baby THOR is certainly no exception, and I would do it all over again if I had to. I know that moms are always biased, but after we took him home, he blossomed with the most perfect doggie personality I have yet to encounter. Everyone who meets him says so. My dad was visibly annoyed when I showed up on their doorstep, puppy in tow, but now he loves him like his own. And oh my gosh. My mom. She actually refers to him as her grandson. And she is THOR's absolute favorite. Amber calls him her favorite nephew. Even the most macho manly men think THOR is the coolest little dog. I'm such a proud mom.


A couple of months after we got him, I got a picture message from Cody. The caption said that it was taken sometime in February of 07. Here is the picture:



It was about two months before we took him home. I had no idea. Looks like he had kept everyone else fooled long enough to come home with the family he had been waiting for all along.

I love you, Little Man.

4.04.2008

Vegetarian Challenge: Update 1

Well... It's officially been three days since my random decision to be a vegetarian (for the month of April, anyway), and I must admit that it's much easier than I expected. Believe it or not, this once self-professed carnivore can actually see herself doing this long-term, although I can't say I will be perfect at it (I do, after all, have some of my-favorite-food-on-the-planet that made its annual journey from Iceland sitting in the freezer waiting for me to devour it. You may want to vomit right now, but I think it's pretty irresistible. Doing everything I can to hold myself back until May 1).


I've started reading all kinds of vegetarian know-how books, and I've been a lot more conscious of what I'm eating. The thought of eating meat catches me a bit off guard now, and buying eggs and drinking milk that are not labeled "hormone-free" or "free-range" just doesn't feel right anymore. These particular items are a little more costly than one on a normal coupon-binge would hope, but in light of this test, it is worth it to me now. And yes, it is in the name of compassion for animals. How non-ultra-conservative and uber-hippie of me (don't panic, Dad. I have not gone off the deep end).


I've learned a couple of things about cheese, my more acceptable other-favorite-food-on-the-planet, and that is that it is not always vegetarian. Apparently some cheese makers use rennet to coagulate the cheese, and it is not often clearly labeled for those of us who don't want to eat animal products. The good news is that some rennet is animal and some is not, and though it may be one or the other, sometimes it is not specified as one or the other. For instance, tonight we are going to our dear friends Jason and Jessica's house for a fondue night in celebration of their baby news, and the swiss fondue we are bringing has... drumroll please... RENNET in it. Despite this knowledge, I am going to feign ignorance and pretend like it is VEGETABLE RENNET and not the other kind.


I think you should pretend that too.

Friday's Find: Week 3

The other day I was thinking about what to feature for my next Find, when I realized how much I LOVE my shower head, and how sad I would be if it gets stuck or impossible to remove in one piece when we move, and I need to profess my love for it to the world, because it's pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to my shower. This thing is so magical that it will take a dribbling faucet and make the spray so highly pressurized, you wouldn't even want to turn the faucet on full speed, because it starts to resemble a fire hose more than a shower head. But if you're like me, and can't stand showers lacking water pressure, this is a find you will thank me for later. And if you're a water conservationist, you'd best head out and get one of these STAT... otherwise the tables might turn and I'll be the one giving you a hard time for running more water than I do in the shower.