Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wherein I Attempt to Break the Sound Barrier... (Update)

For Christmas I opened a silver sharpie. C cheered as if it were an X-box. I looked at it, set it down, and grabbed the next present for him to open. We were almost finished when he pulled out a huge package from behind the couch. It looked like a painting. We have gifted fine art in the past, but I could not think of a specific piece I had requested all year. I unwrapped the paper to find one of my photographs blown up larger than life and framed beautifully. I just stared. I didn't know what to say.

"Do you like it?" C asked, eager to know if his offering was acceptable. He had framed one of my poems when we were engaged, but it was a small frame and a poem that had never crawled out from under the rock beneath which I kept it hid. It was so near and dear to my heart, that it was difficult to let it go. It's one thing to put a photo on a blog, and quite another to hang it as art in your home.

My mom has always hailed my ability to efficiently manage and organize, so every time my mother needed something organized, I was the person for the job. My meticulous nature also meant that I was the person least likely to damage her stemware or other precious items. One day while tidying the basement storage room, I came across some watercolors she had painted. I esteemed them rather highly, and knowing that she was such a perfectionist that she would never allow it, I stashed the painting in my room and later secreted it out of the home and into a framing shop. They framed it, matted it, and enclosed the back with paper.

Her reaction to this gift was not unlike mine with the huge photo of the winter cattails in the morning mist. She did not think it ready for display, but wanted to get it just right. That painting hung reluctantly in her entry for years, but it became the motivating factor for her to return to school and later become the owner of her own children's art school and portrait studio.

C knew the story of my mother's motivation, and was eager to help me take that next step as well. I have been so incredibly fearless, and yet I freeze up on this issue of sharing things with others that I get invested in. I just need to move past the fear and dare boldly, even if that means rewriting a lifetime.

Oh, and as for the silver sharpie, it was to write a note on a blown up version of the 11 year anniversary of our Admiralty Point lighthouse first kiss, also beautifully framed. How did I get so lucky to marry such a thoughtful guy?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deceleration

After working for 30 hours between Monday (12 hours) and Tuesday (18 hours), it only took ONE of my days off to get work off of my mind. We went to the temple in the morning which was so refreshing, after which I visited a friend, had an interview, and after our regular work-outs, we went to see True Grit.


While C was picking up dinner last night before the movie, I opted to take a nap. Kawi is a bonified, credentialed napping buddy. He fluffs up as close as possible to your face, tucks his head, and esteems himself in heaven to be so close to his beloved peeps. Penny, on the other hand, misses the mark entirely. She climbs up onto your head, clings to your hair with her strong little feet, and then bends over until she can just reach your eyelids and gives them a little tug. If you weren't aware, eyelids weren't really made for this purpose. This type of exercise is far from conducive to remedy a deficient soul who has clocked only 14 hours of sleep in three nights. 

That being ineffective in getting me to play with her, she ventured into Kawi's personal space for some of his attention. Kawi stood quietly on my left shoulder. Penny's opinion of personal space being much varied from Kawi's, she wandered over to say hello. Soon both birds were squabbling right in front of my face. 

Needless to say, Penny soon found herself sitting on the dresser with a dish of food. Deprived of my eyelids, she spent the remainder of my naptime fiddling with the glass doors of my jewelry box, because how rude to make her look at all of those pretties without being able to chew them into mangled pieces of metal!


True Grit was memorable. It was so beautifully written, I must confess, and so beautifully directed, you wouldn't think from my description that you really see horrible deaths throughout the film. It made me want to be a better writer and to get the book!


Finally freed from my pestering thoughts surrounding the conference, I woke to yet another day off! This morning was perfect. We slept in (even if we were both awake by 7AM), and I started the morning with a lengthy back scratch. This is a very important point. When we were first married, I offered to rub C's feet every night. He was so ticklish that I found myself leaping back to avoid the involuntary, lightening-fast plantar punches in my direction.


We came to the mutual conclusion that in order to dodge any suspicions about civil disputes, foot massages were best avoided altogether. In lieu of my offered masseuse services, I noticed that he frequently asked for back scratches. Not tickles, mind you, but full-on, bear-necessities, back scratches. He got his fill of them today (if that is humanly possible).


It wasn't long before both birds were awake. Soon they joined us, Penny making delightful noises because she discovered a pillow cave to explore, and Kawi just so happy to be fluffed up on C's chest for some loving head scratches. I whipped up some fluffy whole wheat pancakes for breakfast to go with the real maple syrup I bought C for Christmas.


We doodled around for a while and then C settled back down for a long winter's nap with Kawi on his chest while I readied for a shopping excursion. C woke around the time I was ready to go and offered to join me. We went rock climbing first, followed by lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, and then a trip to the mall. We broke the sound barrier of fashion and walked away with some excellent wardrobe items for my most beloved, as well as a few items for yours truly.


We shared a diet lemonade en route to our home where we found two sleepy birds. I insisted that C get in his daily workout, but as for me and my house, my sleep deprivation finally caught up with me. It is true that this year I am actually LOSING weight for the holidays {YEAH!}, but sometimes rest really does override a run. 


I have loved spending all of this time with C. I just received a call from him and he played me one of my favorite songs, so I will now share it with you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I&feature=fvw (sorry, no embed allowed).


Merry Christmas to all! Perhaps tomorrow I will post some vids of Penny for those who have expressed an interest in her...

Friday, December 17, 2010

In other news...

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I recently returned from a trip to Chicago, where we did some research for a non-profit organization.
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The room was lovely, and it was a good thing, because I got to see a lot of it.
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It came complete with a rain showerhead (upper-left)...

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Lots of space for doing work,

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Yummy, cozy robes, and nothing says classy like....
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...a painting of a tree covered in Pikachus???

Tonight we went to see TRON. The storyline is better than the original TRON movie. Let's just say that if you go, you are there to be entertained by special effects, not by a compelling storyline.

Speaking about compelling, someone approached me about a job today. I look forward to the weekend to chew on it.

2AM

If I don't go back to bed and snuggle up to my best buddy, I will not only feel sleep deprived tomorrow, I will also feel like my emotional cup is empty. Snuggles are like battery rechargers for the heart. Don't leave home without one.

I worked yesterday for 11 or 12 hours. Actually, that's not true. I worked for 13 hours: starting at 8:00 AM and ending at 9:00 PM. I know it's bad when the entire building goes dark because everyone is gone, and then the cleaning crew comes through.

Fortunately I had a stash of 3 Trio bars in my office, otherwise I would have starved. I ate a very healthy but light breakfast of an egg atop a bed of fresh spinach with salsa on top, some celery and PB for a snack, and a light salad for lunch. I went to bed hungry, but I couldn't give in to those fist-size chocolates on the counter. Still, 970 calories left me wanting a huge, naughty hamburger, and I finally made C turn off Man vs. Food because I kept saying, "Del Taco. Hmmm. I want some nachos. How about Wingers?"

 I am beginning to think that my job is the Rx for a workaholic. I am also beginning to realize as this conference gets closer that exercise is no longer an option, it's a necessity to remove enough tension so that I can sleep at night. Obviously I did not work out yesterday, but then I would be REALLY hungry now.

Well, I need to go cuddle back up to my sleeping recharger. I hope you manage to get more sleep than me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Few Words on Productivity

I woke around 4:30 this morning and by 6:00AM I was sitting at my desk. It was the most productive morning I have had in months. It came with its rewards, too. Around 7AM, I looked up and, well, read on to see what I saw.
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Today I walked across the hall to visit one of my favorite co-workers. He has cancer and is currently undergoing intense chemical treatment. It's been a couple of weeks since we last spoke. His brother-in-law greeted me and informed me that he was gone. I thought of our last conversation and I understood. He'd moved on to something else that was important and inspirational, but we lost a great team player. Photobucket

Our CEO recently called me in to his office to give me some feedback. He said some very nice things and commented on my great contributions and potential in the organization. I looked him in the eye and said, "This organization focuses on deliverables. If you want to develop people, they need to be on the list of top priorities for the organization." He mentioned that he'd heard that I was considering leaving the organization. I explained that I was stuck in an endless cycle; that home-grown talent was not valued within the organization, and that in order to move forward, I needed experience, but without that experience, I could not move forward. Even the lowest men with the organizational positions I am working toward were formerly Senior managers or higher in organizations like Microsoft, Novell, or Apple. How can I compete with that kind of experience without leaving the organization? Yadayadayada.
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But here's something really great. Really. Did you know? I have a habit. It's a good habit. It wasn't always mine. In fact, I know it has previously belonged to at least two people. I don't remember exactly where I heard about it, but it's so SIMPLE. The second person with this habit asked the first person with this habit how she always got so much done, seeing that she was such a busy woman. Her response went something like this,
"When I move from one place to another, I look around to see if there's something out of place that needs to come with me."
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Easy. So, when I get out of the car to go into the store, I look for garbage that I can throw out. When I go downstairs, I look for a pile of papers or something that came from my office and take it with me. Sometimes it only makes it half-way there, like when I put a food storage item next to the basement door. It's no problem because the next time I go into the basement, I will pick up that item and carry it down with me. 

Isn't that a splendid little trick? I have been doing this for several years now, and although I am not perfect, this little habit has helped me from getting overwhelmed with too many things to do. If a pile has formed on the counter, I take one or two items each time I pass by, and soon it's gone. It is endlessly helpful in reducing stress.
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Today I ran. I was sick over the weekend, but bounced back quite nicely. I only ran for about 20 minutes because I am still finishing my antibiotic regimen. I have a tendency to get a little optimistic and attempt to pull off more mileage than I should.

Last week I got up to six miles. I love to run since my foot has healed! It's still tender, but this is the first time in over a year that I have been able to run pain-free. That little growth that I had removed wasn't just making it hard to walk, it was causing my plantar fasciitis to flare up each time I got up around three miles. I am sure that the foot strengthening exercises have helped significantly as well. I try to do them before I run, or while I watch TV at night. So far so good. Who knows, I just might try a marathon in the next couple of years.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THURSDAY!

I think this conference may be stifling my creativity. We are now just a couple of months away and while everything is coming together, it is at huge cost, including quantities of stress, time, and money. I have been fighting to take back my life from work, and had finally achieved it, but then the conference took over. As hard as I try, it is difficult to truly leave work at work right now, given the severely limited deadlines.

Thursday is the day when my workweek finally spots land in sight. I feel a sense of relief. Friday is the day to wrap things up, tie the boat to the dock, and get ready to refuel for the following week. Thursday is the day that gives me that last boost of adrenaline to keep rowing the last leg to shore. Thursday is the day when I feel motivated to finish as much as possible so that Monday will somehow feel lighter.

Today is Thursday, and today I will get so much done. I like my hair, I like my whole house, I like my pajamas, I can do anything good, I can do anything good...

 


Monday, November 29, 2010

Temptation in a Drift of Snow

The women's restroom at work overlooks a portion of roof that faces north, deliciously covered in a snowy white drift of down. Every time I look out of the window, I am overwhelmed with the urge to leap into that peak of pillowy powder. If I close my eyes, I can see the glittery dust flying up around me as I land in a pile of smiles.

Alas, I have been unblogged these past two weeks. It's sort of like being unplugged, but more like losing your wallet and not knowing where to find it. That isn't because of a lack of things to write about. One night we went up the canyon for a lovely, romantic campfire. 
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Another night went to see the Scarlet Pimpernel with some good friends.

We went out on numerous fun dates, watching movies, eating out with friends, and shopping. We had wonderful guests come to visit and enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving, complete with the ancestral crystal and gold stemware. After pie, we all gathered at the movies to watch Tangled as a family.
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My family gathered (both sides!) for my nephew's baptism.
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We went rock climbing with the three musketeers ...
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...and the swelling on my foot went down enough that I could pull on my climbing shoes.
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Just look at those DELICIOUS calves on C! Yum!
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We went Christmas tree hunting, complete with sliding down treturous roads and dragging the tree across half-frozen rivers.
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That was just the beginning! I didn't find it on the frozen river, or at the top of the rock wall. I didn't find it in that bucket of popcorn I shared with my brother Ben. I didn't find it in mom's scratch strawberry pie.

Today I received a message. It read, "Your readers are missing your blog entries! Thank you." I thought, maybe I can fake my bloggerness for a little while until I find it again.

Perhaps it's like the Gingerbread man that the lunch ladies lost in the kitchen when I was in elementary school. It took our whole class to help find it! Or maybe it escaped like Peter Pan's shadow that had to be sewn back on once it was recovered.

Blogger Classifieds
Lost: One morsel of bloggerness. Please return if it is found. Maybe, just maybe, it's hidden in that snow drift on the roof at work...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Christmas Village Morning

I woke yesterday in a Christmas village, complete with snowcapped evergreen trees, and perfectly white-capped rooftops and yards. The homes glowed with golden windows, whispering of stirrings within. My Christmas village husband sweetly kissed me into the morning, and my Christmas village birds serenaded me while I prepared for the day. Someone in the heavens flipped a switch and the picture perfect winter morning melted away, washed clean with warm rain; giving way to a sunny November day with dry streets and sidewalks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stress-Free Holidays!

The year we were married, my parents (both sets) were out of town. C's mom was single, and Thanksgiving rolled around with no invitations, so we held it in our tiny little shack and invited C's mom. I have a major aversion to partially cooked poultry. Any red even on the bone is cause for shutting down my salivation glands, and churning up my stomach, and so when I discovered a pre-cooked smoked turkey that year, I was willing to give it a go. I woke up the morning of Thanksgiving and rushed around in a panic. C looked at me and said, "What are you doing?"

I replied that I was TRYING to get dinner ready.

"No, why are you acting like this?"

It caused me to take a moment to reflect. It wasn't that I didn't like to cook. I had been cooking for years and was very good at it. My mom had us cooking and baking from scratch as children. As a teenager I cooked meals for the whole family 2-3 times a week. My dad had been a chef and was always throwing new ideas my way. Food was always exciting. My paternal grandfather was always creating new recipes and my grandmother made everything including her own pet food. I grew up hearing stories about the amazing cooking skills of my ancestors. It was in my blood!

From age 18-21 I was the lone cook for a home for paranoid schizophrenics and so I learned how to quickly cook large quantities of food with ease. Still, stressing and panicking was what mom ALWAYS did on Thanksgiving morning. She stressed and stressed until everyone else around her was stressed, too. It was as much a part of Thanksgiving as eating the meal.

C suggested I start a new tradition called "Stress-Free Holidays." Doubtful, I thought I would give it a whirl. I had plenty of time to make the pumpkin pie, the dressing, the turkey, the cranberries, the yams, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, and more. It was easy, and I learned that those muscles C had popping out on his arms were just right for whipping out some amazing mashed potatoes.

Our first Thanksgiving was a hit. This year when C encouraged me not only to start early on Christmas shopping, but to finish early as well, I was thrilled. I took the challenge to heart and finished!

Here is my invitation to you: do what YOU need to so that you can enjoy a stress-free holiday, too! If it's too late this year, start early next year. Don't let the long lines and the crowded stores overwhelm you. Don't let the unspoken traditions and unnecessary preparations consume you. Enjoy the people you love, and let go of something that doesn't belong in the holiday section of your life. Join me for a stress-free holiday!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Crap...

If someone could get an academy award for over-doing it, it would be me. Alas, C encouraged me to go slow, take it easy, and here I am just one week after getting my stitches out with an infected foot. I am certain that I have followed instructions faithfully, wrapping my foot every day, but there it was. I dumped hydrogen peroxide on it and gobbed on triple antibiotic cream in hopes of helping. Now if I can manage to go easy tomorrow, I may get it to mend.

I borrowed my littles this weekend. Little 2 enjoyed some stream of conciousness chatter to herself while we drove through some road construction."Those lumpy bumps of dirt look just like a bunch of lazy camel bumps. That one looks like an ELEPHANT. Dirt bumps look like camel bumps and elephants..." She is adorable.

Little 1 has begged me for over a year to teach him Alice. We did some programming a while back and made a snowman, but he took to programming like a fish to water. All of this time I had figured that it would be a huge investment of time on my part teaching him how it works. I let him run through the tutorials first and he was rip-raring to go in the first few minutes.

"When do I get to build videogames?" He asked. I explained that he needed to learn the terminology and how to put the pieces together. I explained that any good video game includes a story, so learning how to build stories at this point was the first step. He REALLY liked Alice.

When I couldn't get him to go to bed, I kindly said, "It would make me feel really bad if you couldn't play Alice tomorrow because you wouldn't go to bed tonight." That's all it took. He raced off complete with excited giggles. His enthusiasm has been good for me. It's fun to see him so excited about learning.

Well, my brain is melting into a sleepy mush, and so I am going to conform to it. Have a lovely day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Playing to Your Strengths

For my birthday I wanted to go Christmas shopping, and so C conceded. Aside from one or two gifts, I have purchased, wrapped, and tagged nearly every gift I will give out for Christmas, including work gifts. I also purchased most of what I will need for Thanksgiving. Alas, it has been a delightful experience.

There is a book that I have mentioned before that helps one identify their strengths. I don't readily subscribe to the basis of the book, which apparently states that one should do only those things that they are good at. So much for progression. Still, there is definite value in looking back over your life and identifying those things that have brought you success and happiness. It is these particular things that you typically succeed with that are considered your strengths. I have identified several of mine.

1. I love to cook, and I am good at it. I can look at a group of foods and quickly distinguish which flavors and textures will best work together, regardless of instruction. The kitchen is a blank canvas for me, and freestyle cooking brings me immense joy. I just have to remember to write down the creations that are successful. I was never a Top Ramen girl in college. Rather I would buy a yam, take advantage of crab legs on sale, purchase a calamari steak now and then... NOT normal, but forever creating something new and tasty.

2. I have the capacity to hold an amazing amount of information in my head and put it into action. This makes it very easy for me to do complex research projects, plan and organize large and complex events, and manage large and complex projects. I thrive on complexity and am able to scale my thinking to adapt to any scope. The things I plan may not always include a play-by-play manual, however, I have yet to have one of these events fail miserably.

3. I have the ability to keep moving under crisis circumstances and not freeze up. My default behavior in crisis situations is to think clearly and navigate the problem. Only when things are under control do I experience any sort of melt down. Sometimes this may be several hours, days, or weeks after the crisis event, when it is finally safe to step out of operational mode.

4. I am an excellent manager and motivator of people. I enjoy working with others and getting their thoughts and ideas. I am very good at identifying next steps with those ideas, and creating processes in order to help deliver that objective or maintain it.

5. I am creative and imaginative. I love my creative side, and am often very unhappy when it is stifled.

6. I love to teach and am very good at teaching. I am able to teach difficult concepts in such a way that others "get" it. I have been teaching (formally) for over 18 years and I am successful 99% of the time.

7. I I love to write and am reasonably good at it. I started writing at age 9 and it has always brought me peace and clarity. When I remove writing from my life my thoughts feel like a tangled piece of yarn in my head and I feel all of this creativity bottling up inside of me.

8. I learn new things incredibly quickly. Learning is like breathing for me. I can't imaging being in a world where I could never read or learn something new again. That would be my personal hell.

I am sure there are some more, but it is late, and my head is finally clear enough to settle down next to my C and fall asleep.

Goodnight.
A

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Manicured

The most interesting people work at my salon. I am pretty sure that every female stylist there is a size zero. It's just an observation. What else are you supposed to do while you sit under a dryer waiting for your color to bake? I don't think I was ever a size zero, but then, I don't think I would ever want to be a zero. :) My stylist did an outstanding job once again. I never thought I would love going to the salon, but I am converted. This place doesn't offer a haircut, it offers an experience.
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One of the other stylists there had Yanni-long hair, a beard that was so manicured that it looked like he'd used a straight-edge and a level to define it, waxed eyebrows, and that doesn't even touch the fashion element. I said to him, "You are an excellent example of male grooming." I think he found that quite flattering, but I was just being honest. Just to be clear, he was straight.

I am surrounded by reasonably well-kept men in the work environment. For the most part, I would say that the men with whom I work care more for their appearance than the women - as a whole, that is. I have seen women who are full-figured who look amazingly polished, so I am inclined to believe that size isn't the primary care factor involved in defining a polished look. Male or female, there's something classy about someone who is well groomed.

Speaking of well groomed, if you can handle the truth, here is how my foot is doing:
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This is when it was unwrapped for the first time five days ago. No infection, but plenty of swelling and bruising (and some permanent marker and iodine).
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This is today. Still swollen and bruised, but doing better. I squeezed it into a boot today and then rued that decision for the rest of the day. It was the first time I realized how swollen it still was.

I'll Fly with You...

To my beloved,

Thank you for staying by my side, and for bringing the sunshine to me when I forget to turn the lights on. Thank you for being different and unpredictable in ways that keep me forever infatuated and intrigued with how unique and amazing you are. Thank you for loving the Christian pop station, and singing 'love-Jesus' pop songs while you make nachos in the kitchen. Thank you for asking my opinion on the clothes you wear. It's endearing to no end! Thank you for loving me through my grumpy days, through sad days, and through solemn days. Thank you for coming up with riddles I can't solve just to keep me guessing so that I will be surprised.


Thank you for forgiving me when I say stupid things. Thank you for being honest with me even when I don't want to hear what you have to say. Thank you for being kind and generous, and for reaching out to others when you see a need. Thank you for making me laugh. Nobody can bring me around in the middle of a rain shower of tears like you to face the sunshine again. I love laughing with you! Thank you for your testimony. I am so grateful for your quiet and consistent service to the Lord and to others. Thank you for being such an amazing example to me of unconditional love. Thank you for choosing me, not just once, but every day, again and again.

Thank you for helping me learn how to fly. I love you.
Eternally yours,
A

More versions of this song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rBemzYZ4Go - Techno-pop Gigi version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CuXQSE_HUQ - blah blah blah - lighter techno

Monday, November 8, 2010

Priceless Life

Yesterday a good friend came in to speak to us at church. While he said nothing of it at the time, he has been fighting brain cancer for the past three years. The normal survival rate for his type of cancer is around three months, but he has lived to see his two sons serve missions, one of them has returned, and the second will return early next year.

Some time ago, the family respectfully asked that inquiries about his condition cease and that the family have the opportunity to come to and from church to worship as they would. That is how I would be as well. A few people knew about my foot, but I managed to squeeze the bruised and swollen thing into a shoe to avoid the barrage of caring questions.

As he stood to speak to us, I thought about life. I thought about how sometimes lately I have been so unhappy. I have been dancing wildly to change who I am for others, and I am miserable. I am constantly on edge, and running a wild balancing act. What do I have to be miserable about? I have an amazing husband, a lovely home, loving family and friends, a job, and many other rich blessings. I have nothing that should make me so unhappy, and so I decided that I am finished trying to change for other people. I will change for me, but there is no way I can please everyone.

In the Old Testament, the Lord asked Jeremiah to watch a potter working the potter's wheel. The clay was marred, and the potter started over to make something better. I need to trust that the Lord can do that with me, but in order to do so, I have to listen and trust; not the fickle and conflicting opinions of those who barely know me and think they know my heart and intentions, but trust the one being who has never and will never let me down. He knows my heart even when nobody else does.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

This week I have had the fine pleasure of walking in someone else's shoes...or should I say feet? I now know what it feels like to have one leg a full inch shorter than the other. The results are most interesting. Your back kills. Your shorter leg begins to hurt in the hip and knee. Sitting is extremely painful on the longer leg. I will never think that someone who has one leg shorter than the other has it easy or that it's no big deal.

Today I took the day off, but even so, I spent 8 hours finishing going over the schedule for the conference today. I finished just in time to make it to the Podiatrist to have my foot examined. No infection, but blood had pooled under the skin on the bottom of my foot, causing some intense pain since the wrapping held it there. Two more weeks before I can run, but I got rid of the boot and had my stitches removed.

I hurried home and threw all of the bedding in the wash, duvet cover and all. I have been sleeping with that stupid boot on and wanted a clean bed tonight. Out of the enormous list of catching up I had planned for today, that was the only thing I got done. I then rushed off to an AMAZING party with my family.

Last night, after a fifteen hour day, I cuddled up to C to hear his heart beating peacefully, and I was transported back to a time when I was a dreamer. I remember walking out onto one of the acres that made up the last remaining fragments of the ancestral homestead, and fell onto my back into the soft pale green grasses. They were heavenly. I watched their heads sway in the gentle breeze and looked out across the field through spruce bough fences strung with sagging rusted barbed wire. I slipped the grasses out of their sheaths with a squeak and nibbled on the sweet tender ends. I would hear the occasional buzz of a plane flying somewhere beyond my sight.

I stretched out on the ground without a single care about bugs or my long blond locks resting in the dirt. I didn't have anywhere to be or anything to do. I just dreamed up wonderful things. I had a brilliant imagination, but even early on I never crossed over into such fantasies as imaginary friends, and thought that anyone who had an imaginary friend must obviously be lacking a clear sense of reality. Even so, I would close my eyes and dream up the most magnificent stories. Life was so simple, so sweet.

And then there I was again, resting in a darkened room, enclosed again within walls, listening to the heartbeat of my most beloved.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Record Breaker

C is required to take a fitness test with his work. It isn't terribly restrictive, however, C is a highly competitive fellow. The test involves several items including standing jumps, push-ups, sit-ups, and running. Rather than just running the mile and a half within the allotted fourteen to fifteen minutes, C asked, "So, what's the current record."

They responded that it was nine minutes and forty-six seconds. Everyone was lined up to run. The trainer, a triathlete, announced, "I would normally be running with you, because I can usually keep up with all of the runners, but today I think there will be one of you who I can't keep up with." He finished by pointing at C.

When he crossed the finish line, he had clocked nine minutes and eleven seconds. "I should have run harder to get below nine minutes!" Nine minutes equates to six minute miles. Not too shabby, my love, especially for being the administrator in the group! I told him that next year he can break nine minute mile-and-a-halfs while he is training for the Boston.

In addition to an exciting day, C also arranged for a nice dinner with a group of old friends. It was well planned and I think everyone had an amazing time. I was proud of his party-planning skills. Everyone asked if I made the enormous chicken pot pie. With thirteen hour days this whole week to get the schedule and registration up on time, that absolutely didn't happen. You guessed it. When he asked me how he could pull off the main dish without involving me in that endeavor, I suggested Costco's pot pie. It was a hit.

Nicely done, C! I had a great time, and it was so fun to see everyone again! Keep being golden!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Here is the Real Issue

Honest to goodness, this is what is weighing me down.

Our CEO had a brainchild. It's this new technology conference. When the CEO has a brainchild he looks for someone to raise that child and is VERY involved in the process. That child-raising experience can be rather like being a nanny of a very naughty child whose parents want it raised a very specific way - er, maybe that's a bit far fetched. At any rate, this conference is unlike any other.

Imagine...a young software developer attending a technology conference...video game consoles, crazy wacky wild stuff going on JUST for entertainment's sake...a little bit of learning...lots of madness...

Now imagine throwing that person's GRANDPARENTS in next to that developer while he is trying to play his video games... SCREEAAAPE! (Needle off of the record, LP, vinyl, whatever you will...)

Now imagine trying to MAKE that software developer have an AMAZING time at a conference WHILE his grandparents are hanging out with him...???

AAAnd that's just the beginning of the problem. I like solving problems, and this is a difficult one to solve, so inevitably I like it. It is my battleground where I may prove my amazingness by actually pulling this off, ever on the verge of defeat, and yet just one step ahead of the bloodthirsty teeth of failure.

(By the way, did I mention that we got our registration system up on time. HURRAY!!! It was a huge endeavor. Really it was.)

So, I have been asking for a replacement 2012 chair for the past three months. Every time I mention it, our CEO changes the subject, runs out of the room to another meeting, SOMETHING?!? until it starts to smell fishy. At our last big push, the CEO asked, "And why isn't A{that's me} going to be our 2012 chair?"

I kind of flipped, only I didn't. I was cornered. I had explained three months earlier that I would not be chairing the 2012 conference. I am on loan to the Marketing VP because I am amazing at getting things out of the door, and he really needs me to pull this off. That isn't to sound prideful or anything. I have plenty of things I am really bad at {let me count the ways}, so give me this one. As it turns out, my marketing VP considers any and all brain children of said CEO children of his very own, so when the CEO asks for me as the 2012 chair, I panic. I am now the brainchild! The deliverable! The objective! How did this happen?

Sometimes you have to learn to sidestep in order to move forward. Anyway, I think I did respectably well by stating that the reasons were too numerous to address in the context of that meeting. Thus did I manage to buy myself some time to overcome the feelings of being cornered in a room where everyone is going for the jugular all at once with statements like, "Well, why not?" "Maybe that's something you should consider..." "It's a compliment! It means he feels nobody else can do this!" "It's because you did such an amazing job this time around! You really have done something nobody else could!" Etc.. Chest tightening, blood leaving extremities, logic packing a bag...not a pretty sight.

Over the past 24 hours I have had at least three PAINFUL conversations in which I was asked to disclose all of my reasons for NOT wanting to do 2012, and those aren't even finished. At one point, our very skilled Marketing VP asked, "Well then, what would you like me to tell the rest of the organization when they ask why you won't be chairing 2012? I certainly am not going to tell them it's because you did a bad job." Two can play at that game, so I said, "Tell them that I didn't want to. They'll believe that."

Then it shifted to, "We care about your career development. What would make it possible for you to feel good about chairing 2012?" and "Just listen to their reasons for why you should do it." Truly, I AM the project! I should really think strategically and recognize that this puts me in an awesome position for negotiations, only I am not into manipulation. I am into the blunt honest truth, which is, I feel like this could be career suicide.

I know it sounds silly spelled out here, "How could this girl take issue with being good at something?" or maybe, "Sure, flaunt your stuff while trying to make it sound like you are under duress." And yet if you saw all of the pain this has caused my heart, you would know I am not being facetious. Tears, people. Real live ones.

There's so much more to this, but isn't that enough for now? I don't see anyone salivating for more. My poor brain feels like it is going to burst when I lie down to sleep, and so I turn on the night-reading version of the scriptures on my iPhone and try to gather wisdom from the Proverbs. I love the Proverbs. They are almost as good as Isaiah, but much lighter reading at 1:00 AM.

ARGH!

It was one of those days. I woke up thinking I NEED TO VOTE! Only I needed to get to work. I spent most of the day in meetings, meetings, meetings, while attempting to multi-task and send out a couple hundred e-mails to notify speakers of their acceptance, and why? Because everyone else who was supposed to get access to the official e-mail account (from which these notifications were supposed to be sent) haven't taken the time to set up those additional Outlook accounts, and we are already a day behind.

At lunch I thought, I need to vote! Only I had more meetings pop up, and then I had a co-worker call me, which kept me from finishing the notifications, until at last I left the office around 7:45 tonight. I limped out to the car with my leg screaming at me for sitting for twelve hours. C helped me bag up my foot so I could take my second shower in the last six days (I know! Gross! Can't wait to get this thing off). The moment I stepped out of the shower I was sick, absolutely SICK, that I had not taken the time to vote! ARGH!!!!! Stupid work. Stupid, stupid work. There is just no good excuse for not voting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

But Thanks for Stopping By...

I think I have a bad case of negativity. I think I have a brilliant mind, albeit a very overworked mind. It's a fascinating place. I don't really get bored there. There is always so much to keep me occupied, however, lately I have been keeping company with some rather surly characters that don't do much to brighten ones' perspective. What I really need is a good workout, and a lot of celery and raw peanut butter, only not for weight loss. Can you believe that they are marketing Jif peanut butter as a relationship building tool? Really? Whatever. I just think about all of the hydrogenated oil and sugar and scoff at the attempts to 'build relationships' out of that junk. Sorry, Jif lovers. See, told you I have some negativity going down at my place.

I was thinking tonight about Kawi. I think I was a little too harsh on him in his wee times. You know, first pet (in many years), tiny little guy, sassy and full of vinegar.  I just think I could have been a little more 'chill' is all. I was listening to him sing today and was just overwhelmed with affection for that little critter, despite all of the cuticles he has made bleed. If I was diabetic I would never need a lancet, that's for sure. I often wonder if I had been the picture of patience with him if he would be less sassy now. I will just never know. I guess it's best to mess up on a bird than on a kid, right? 

I woke this morning rip-raring to go. C had to grab me by the seat of the pants to slow me down. I limped into work at 7 AM, so tired of four days in bed, and within minutes was totally zapped. It wasn't long before I heard the magic words, "Maybe you should be home." Okay, I stopped taking the Perc Sunday morning, so you'd think I wouldn't have issues driving to work, but my reflexes weren't what they should have been. I guess if I got pulled over I could have blamed it on texting even though it was the most focused twenty minutes of driving my car has seen in the past year. 

I did work from home part of the day, but nonetheless I still managed to put in twelve hours of work. Not too shabby for a gimpy ol' girl back from the Perc train. I did push through our registration system on time, even if my counterpart was not so happy with the imperfect results. Iterate, iterate, iterate, I always say. When you are running a national event in 1/4 of the required time, you will never deliver it on time with a perfectionist mentality. Perfect never comes, so sometimes you just have to get it out of the door and make adjustments along the way... Kind of like each one of us!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Replay of a Sugarless Halloween

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The pattern follows that springtime is the great motivating factor for fitness, summertime is the epitome of fitness, but once the Halloween candy storms the castle, the winter fluff abounds. Last year, for the first time, we swore off the candy. C thought I was a little crazy, but it went off rather well. The kids loved something different and new. We threw in a few fruit snacks to boot, but all-in-all, the prize buckets went over splendidly. It really is a selfish endeavor, I must admit. I only buy candy on very rare occasions, but when you have an open bucket of treats sitting there for weeks, and left-overs to boot, chances are that those little Almond Joys and Twix bars are going to find their way into your salivating mouth.

I once worked in a restaurant that served free peanuts. Someone told me that one peanut per day over a year's time added up to five lbs of weight. I stopped eating peanuts and was in amazing shape the whole time I worked there. I guess that tiny choice mentality stuck with me, even though I am not perfect in my eating habits. Here's to another candy-free Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Black Outs

This morning I woke at 1:00 to replace the ice on my foot, take more Perc with food, and couldn't get back to sleep for some time. Maybe it had something to do with what I ate with my pain pills. Nothing sounds yummy at 1:00 AM, so I opted for Dreyer's Slow Churned Pumpkin ice cream. Sugar + girl who rarely eats sugar + 1AM = Wakey wakey.

I pulled out my phone and texted my dad to thank him for being there for me, and to make a date for next week when we could go hang out. I then texted my mom to reply to her question about what I wanted for my birthday. I guess she doesn't turn off notifications at night because I received the following text:

Do you know it is four thirty in the morning? 

Needless to say, I decided that texting my mom at four thirty in the morning isn't the best decision because she will definitely get the message.

I finally fell asleep for a few hours, and then woke to see the sun coming up and peeked out the window to see a lovely bank of pink clouds sweeping across the sky. I then limped off to the kitchen to find something to eat with my pain pills and refill my ice packet. A few minutes later C walked down the hall to the kitchen to see my feet only stretched out on the floor. I looked up at him from the cool slate, "I was going to pass out, so I decided to lie down."

"What are you doing in here?"

"I needed to eat something with my pain pills," I said.

"Don't you know that's what I'm here for?"

"Well, I didn't want to wake you up..."

Back in bed, breakfast arrived in all of its glory, along with anything else my heart desired.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Have To Take Off My Pants....

...for foot surgery?
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I visited the doctor recently about a painful ganglion growth in the joint of my foot. He did an ultrasound on it and found that it was larger than I thought. After several months of Rx anti-inflammatories, I determined that running and walking weren't getting any easier and I needed to have the growth removed. The doc also took an ultrasound look at my plantar fasciitis and found that it is still inflamed. He recommended some exercises that would strengthen my feet. He mentioned that regular running shoes are like casts for our feet and serve to weaken them, causing injuries like PF.


I told him that I run in Vibrams, which he seemed very pleased with, however, he recommended that I needed to build up the muscles in my feet to help me become a better runner and reduce the PF flare-ups. He gave me an article written by a couple of podiatrists who studied African runners' feet. Top running coaches (like Ivy league coaches) also focus on feet strengthening exercises since regular running and walking shoes significantly weaken the foot muscles.


Today I went for surgery. We'd planned on a later time so that C could make it, however, yesterday I received a call that it was earlier than I had planned. C felt really bad, and I confess I didn't handle the idea of surgery without my bestest buddy too well, but we ultimately made the most of it. My cute dad stepped in to stay at the hospital and C would take over once I came home. It worked out great.


Things that I said today:


"I have to take my pants off for foot surgery?"


"Can I get a robe that doesn't have a hole in the chest area?"


"Please don't cut any nerves in my foot."


"I am kind of ticked because I told you to use my left arm and you ignored me [resulting in a gusher all over the bed. My left arm has huge veins that even the worst phlebotomists can't miss]."
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First words out of surgery, "When can I start running?"


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To nurse Larry, "This is the best dad in the world. Just thought you should know that."
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Things I heard today:


"You can wear these shorts if you want to. Wait, are these smalls? They are HUGE!"
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"Oh, it's not a tear, but I guess we can tape that shut for you."


Anesthesia student, "This is the stuff that's going to make you feel HAPPY. When you wake up, you'll feel pretty great."


"The ganglion was the size of a nickle round, and two nickles stacked in thickness. It was pressing down on the nerve in your foot. You should feel much better once it mends. [Positioned inside of the joint of my big toe, right where your foot bends every time you take a step.]"
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"It'll be easier to maintain the pain than to catch up. Take these as soon as possible."


"You won't remember any of this conversation. [I can recall it word for word.]"




This morning before surgery I had a list of things I wanted to get done. I needed to meet with our Website chair. I wanted to clean the shower, scrub the toilets, finish some laundry, and vacuum the living room. I also wanted to buy a shadow box for C's new marathon metal and return some items to Best Buy. I was up until midnight the night before sweeping, dusting, and doing dishes since I would be down for four days. Surprisingly, I pulled it all off before my dad arrived at 10:30 AM. It's amazing what you can accomplish in a couple of hours.


C met me after the surgery with some Chic-fil-A soup, and made me super comfy, bought me whatever I wanted, made dinner that night, and later bought me a care package including a card that said, "As you're recovering, Just Relax - put your feet up... Have people bring you things... You know...
PRETEND YOU'RE A MAN."


Thanks to Dad, C, and all of the nice people who made my experience a great one today, even with all of my crazy comments!
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Disclaimer: This entry written while on drugs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And to Top Things Off...

...Penelope took a bath in my egg drop soup tonight. She had just finished taking a bath in the sink, I turned my back momentarily, and there she was, warming her puddies in my soup.

Before we got Kawi, I toyed with the idea of getting a Capuchin monkey. The more I read, the more I felt less like getting one. Diapers, throwing and wiping feces on the wall, "teenage" rampages, and suddenly I decided that all of that intelligence and power did not equate to my standard of what a pet should be.

After two years of having a reasonably low-maintenance bird, although riddled with drama, we thought we would get a second bird. She cuddles and plays and is adorable, but sometimes I feel like I wound up with that Capuchin after all...
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Top 10 Things We Never Said Before Penelope Arrived...

10. Thanks, Penny, I think my hair is now fluffy enough.

9. Watch your toes. She'll even come after them with socks on!

8. You need to spend more time with Kawi. He's getting jealous.

7. Watch her. She'll eat anything she sees.

6. How is it possible for such a little critter to spread food in a five-foot radius of wherever the dish is located?

5. Looks like sweeping is now going to be a daily occurrence.

4. No, Penny, you can't take a bath in the dirty dishwater.

3. Sounds like sleeping in isn't an option anymore on a Saturday mornings.

2. No, you can't take a bath in my glass of water...

1. Stop eating your poop!

Thank goodness she is so much fun...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Just When You Think You Know...



I knew I married a practical man. He is steady, loyal, and consistent. This is the type of man that women want to marry once they are sane enough to stop getting so distracted by the men that aren't good for them. This is the one blessing of divorce: I started my analysis of relationships at age 12, resulting in thirteen years of expertise on the matter by the time I said "Yes." I was not without my bad decisions along the way, but I knew what I was getting with this one.
We all dream as girls of our Mr. Knightleys and our Gilbert Blythes, but rarely do we find someone with the sensitivity and romantic tendencies of such heroic husbands without a long list of baggage to boot, whether that be an emotional roller coaster ride or some floppy sense of work ethic. I opted for the rock, the solid foundation, the one who would be a wonderful father and husband in all of the most critical ways. Sporadic is fun for a while, but it doesn't necessarily make a good father, and it doesn't pay the bills. Emotional sensitivity can be great on good days, but when things are getting rough, those are the ones who fold under life's pressures and make bad decisions.


Romance in our world has always been there, but at a different level. He is considerate, respectful, kind, generous, and a great husband by every measure. He never leaves the toilet seat up, he helps around the house when he is able, he never needs motivation to take care of the cars, keep things tidy, he never needs nagging to take care of the yard, and faithfully attends church meetings and always comes home at night. He is amazing with children, youth, and adults of every age, he is sweet and gentle with our little birds, and I never worry that he will be unemployed. This is the type of man who would never be so proud that he would think he was above working at a fast food joint to take care of his family despite the fact that he currently is an administrator over seven or eight huge programs. 
Sometimes you think you know what you are getting, and for eleven years he has not let me down. Over the past several days, however, something has changed.
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C has tapped into his Mr. Knightliness, his Gilbert Blytheness, and I am not sure where it is coming from. I assure you it's not from watching my favorite chic-flicks, because I learned early on in marriage that men, or more specifically, MY man doesn't find the emotional intricacies of a chic-flick mentally stimulating or entertaining.
Date planning often has taken the form of: 
"What do you want to do?" 
I dunno, what do you want to do? 
"I don't care, just pick something."
But lately, C has been taking point. After a delicious dinner the other night while staying at our favorite Staycation spot, C said, "I am going to take you on a drive. Is that okay?" I was delighted. His idea, his initiative... 
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 "Let me know anytime you want to stop and take pictures." He offered. Usually I ask, and he obliges, but he offered even before I asked. +1!
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Then, just when I didn't think it could get any better, he pulled over at a beautiful overlook and we had one of THOSE moments...
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You know the ones; the moment where Mr. Knightly kisses Emma, or where Gilbert and Anne kiss for the first time... The ones that make your heart tickle and sigh in the movies, and the one that you have been waiting for the whole movie?    
"Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" I asked. No, I really did. 
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And when she gets flustered and frustrated, doesn't every woman want the man who takes her in his arms and kisses her - not a peck, but a go-go-power-rangers-recharging kiss. And doesn't she want to hear something comforting and sweet like, "I am so amazed at you being able to keep the house looking so neat and clean with everything that's going on!" ++++1!!!!!!
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Or after a twelve hour day at work, turning around the next morning and rushing to get out the door for a meeting, he sneaks up behind you and wraps his arms around you. "You really are one amazing woman, you know that?" Later you receive a text in the middle of your hectic day asking if he can switch out cars with you to get the oil changed because it's his day off. You tell him he can't get mad at you for how messy the car is because you didn't know he was going to be driving it. 
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After a week so full of demands and challenges that at the end of the day you come home and collapse on the bed because you have nothing left to give. He lets you rest, and then takes you out to dinner (he just drives to one of your favorite places - no decisions necessary!!!) in your perfectly clean, perfectly detailed car.
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This morning, he put his arm around me and kissed me and said, "I wouldn't have you any other way." I think I could get used to this.
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I confess, I thought this would just go away, but it hasn't yet, so who knows. Maybe an already magnificent man can really get even more magnificent, and maybe what you thought would be a practical love story can turn out to be a fairytale after all... 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Pig and the Princess (and The Roman and the Jedi)

We were the coolest table at IHOP. People even told us so as we left. Wearing costumes in public definitely has its benefits. The IHOP balloon guy hooked us up with a light sabre for Obi Wan, A Roman sword for the Caesar, a bow and arrow for Arwen, and a pink wand with a white heart on top for the Southern Belle.
Obi Wan decided that his costume was a little too market-fresh and opted for some authentic distressing for a more realistic effect. The hay jump didn't require a subsequent head-roll, but Little #1 decided it was only fitting for a Jedi knight.
The corn maze was a big hit, especially for Uncle Ben. Ben kept it exciting by pretending that the corn was out to get him, and the attentive and lauding audience definitely helped his antics. We had to go through the maze twice, and according to Little #1, that just wasn't enough.

Little #1: I know Uncle Ben doesn't know some stuff, but he's really cool.

When you get that much practice being their age, you kinda can't help being cool. He's like that little big brother who will never grow up.
At least Ben's voice carries, making him rather easy to locate, so I didn't mind leaving Little #1 (who preferred the scary slide to the petting zoo) a few yards away with Uncle Ben while Little #2 and I visited the bunny pen...
...and the sheep...
...and the pigs...
...and the donkey. "His teeth are big like corn!" She exclaimed.
She even got to hold a little baby chicken. "I held it gently," she said after a cute little man eagerly relieved her of the fluffy hen.

The Trick-or-Treat wagon ride was a blast. We saw Pooh bear, 
a candy-wielding Darth Vader, Spider Man, Tigger, and a few other kiddie favorites along the way. 
Uncle Ben was just as thrilled as the rest of the kids to see his favorite characters.
Little #1 saved all of the caramels gathered from the hayride and asked me to melt them onto an apple. Uncle C accidentally ate one, but we supplemented it with a honey toffee and it turned out quite nicely. 
"I'm a Southern Belle. I'm from Southern!" Little #2 explained to one of the farm employees.

After some ice cream and dropping Uncle Ben home in time to watch Princess Diaries on Disney, we finally located How To Train Your Dragon in a nearby RedBox. Little #1 found several advantages to our movie projector, including tossing kettle corn into the air so that it showed up as a shadow on the wall, and positioning himself so that his shadow replaced Hiccup's face on the screen. I guess those are all of the things you WANT to do at a movie theater, but aren't allowed.

Sunday we woke up and got dressed and ready for church early, had some lunch, and took a quick drive up the canyon to look at the leaves. Little #1 asked if he "had" to go, but finally consented. We listened to John Schmidt's music while driving, and Little #1 kept asking me to play the Romeo and Juliet/Cold Play mix. "I think I could drive through this FOREVER!" He said, suddenly glad he'd come along. The colors were much more amazing than my photos reflect, but you may see the rest of them here.

I dropped them off that evening with the promise of braving a Monopoly game with them the next time they visit and eating at their favorite pizza joint. I miss them already.

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