Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rewind to 1999

Hope you have a streamer-throwin', noise-maker-blowin', sparkling-juice-drinkin', ball-drop-watchin', junk-food-bingin' New Year.

We are planning a fun night of playing Wii and celebrating my brother's birthday. By the way, how unfair is it that he ALWAYS gets his birthday off work? ;)

As I plan on partying like it's 1999, I remembered New Years 1999/2000. I was 18, a senior in high school. There was that whole stupid Y2K thing about our computers gaining artificial intelligence and deleting our very existence on the planet and the fact that since Prince sang about it being the end of the world, we thought it actually might be.

My friends and I were downtown watching our little ball drop here and sneaking into hotels and parties for a better view. We were on the west side of the river get ready to ring in the New Year when we realized that something catastrophic just might happen. The whole town could possible lose power or the world could open up and millions of zombies might lumber out of the burning lava fissure which used to be the Snake River. We didn't know! We decided the best place to be was at the temple, which was on the east side of the river.

With something like 7 minutes left of 1999 (good things Zombies don't arrive early or this story might have a different ending) we took off in the freezing, icy weather and ran two miles around the river to get to the temple grounds. It was like a movie. Running, tripping and stumbling on the ice. The glowing New Year's ball in the background as a visual representation of our time slowly slipping away. We had to get to the temple or all would be lost!!!

We barely made it before the ball dropped and fireworks started exploding in the sky. And I still maintain that we saved the world that night by racing the clock. The fact that you're reading this blog and not Zombie kibble is proof enough for me.

2009’s Top Ten

The year is winding down and there are countdowns all over the place. Big news stories. Best songs. Biggest scandals.

I wanna get in on this action!

Here my 2009 Top Ten. Not necessarily biggest, best, worst things, just the things that really define this year for me—good or bad, big or small.

10. I ate icky Chinese herbs on a daily basis and got needles poked in me hoping for a magical infertility cure.
9. We went to Hawaii and Joci had to sleep in a drawer.
8. Stayed up until 3 a.m. singing power ballads with my hubby.
7. The Cirque Lodge Circus (btw, after three months of nagging, we got a reimbursement check from them for $336. We had a good Christmas. J )
6. I blogged (nearly) everyday in November for National Adoption Month
4. Justin got his beloved truck only to have it totaled in a bad accident five months later on Mother's Day.
3. My friend moved very far away.
2. We became a forever family.
And the #1 thing that will always come up when we think about 2009 is…..
1. Jocelyn was born and we became parents.

Happy New Year - Party like it's 2009!




P.S. I dare you NOT to make any New Year's resolutions. Join my revolution!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

International Madness


Canada really isn't that far from here. I think most Americans don't really look at Canadians as much different than us. They have the queen on their money, say "eh" a lot, through u's around all skiddywampus, and have access to a lot more meds than us (pot, anyone?), but it's not like anyone would get severe culture shock in the Great White North.

So what's up with their candy bars???

Oh, I mean chocolate bars.

In Canada, they're called chocolate bars. Even a bag of Skittles.

They have chocolate bars we don't have, that maybe we should have, because they are made by companies that make our candy bars like Nestle and Cadbury.

And then things are just misnamed. Like Smarties. Canadian Smarties are more like our M&Ms. And their Mars Bar is like our Milky Way. Nuts, eh? (Except Mars Bars/Milky Ways don't have nuts). I had a Coffee Crisp today which I liked very much. I can do without the Big Turk Bar. Turkish Delight jelly covered in chocolate.

But I'm glad to know Canada has one thing right: a Reese's is stll a Reese's no matter how far north you go.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy

We had a totally rockin' Christmas. Santa Claus, Santa Grandma, and Santa Grandpa brought us WAAAAY too much, but we will enjoy it all! :) We had a wonderful Christmas Eve. I prepared a turkey dinner and Justin's family came as well as my brother and his family. Jordan taught us how to make candy trains. It was awesome. Just as fun and creative as gingerbread houses, but easier and more edible. Seriously, gingerbread is only good in small amounts and gets pretty hard and stale after a couple days of sitting. Then we had a live nativity as Justin read the Christmas story from the Bible.

Christmas morning was quite lazy. We slept in until 10, then started with gifts. Our guests started to trickle in just before noon and I made a quick and delicious breakfast. We finished our gifts (which included a Wii. Yay!) and played with our presents all day. I vowed to not take off  my pajamas and I didn't! We snacked on turkey leftovers throughout the day and just had tons of lazy fun.

Hope you all had a great holiday. Here are some pictures from ours. Be sure to turn on the captions by clicking the icon in the bottom corner. Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CAUTION: Unabashed Bragging



I just have to say that my husband is the BEST. HUSBAND. EVER. He is always just wonderful and treats me like a queen (a big thank-you to his parents who taught him how to treat girls). But in the past few weeks he’s really gone above and beyond and I just wanted to share these things with the world.

First of all, Justin works some pretty hairy hours. He’s usually out the door by 8 a.m. and on an early night he’s home at 7 p.m. Twice a week he doesn’t get home until 10 p.m. Oh, and then he has all the paperwork from his job that he does over the weekend (several hours worth) that he doesn’t get paid for. He’s a busy and dedicated guy. I know he is exhausted and gets worn out, but that doesn’t hold him back.

The week of Jocelyn’s finalization/sealing was a very full week. I had so much on my to-do list and time was slipping away. There was one night I was planning on going shopping to find a pair of shoes to wear with my wedding dress for our pictures. I wanted some basic white pumps, but considering the frosty season, I was not finding any. So this particular night was the last evening I had to do this—we were leaving town the next day right after work. Something with church came up and my evening evaporated and I had no shoes. No big deal. No one will see my feet in the pictures. It was low on my priority list.

But I was still stressed and bothered that my time got yanked away from me. And I complained a bit. The next day my husband took time off work and he went to the mall where he went to every single store that sold shoes and looked for some white dress shoes. He called me at every store that had a potential pair and described them to me over the phone (we’re behind the times—no photo texting here). After about an hour of this, the people in the cubicles surrounding mine started to put the pieces together and they were so impressed that my husband would do that. All the girls were “ooohing” and “ahhhing” and all the guys thought he was plain nuts but felt threatened by his awesomeness. Justin suggested we go with a silver pair (great idea!) and picked out a really sexy pair of stilettos from Dillards. Wonderful job. Wonderful man.

Then I got sick right as we were going to Salt Lake. While I was spending all my time in the bathroom in Salt Lake, Justin did everything to take care of Joci. We are actually a really good parenting team and it’s not even worth noting when he changes a diaper or feeds her because he does that stuff every day. But he did EVERYTHING for her for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. Baths. Food. Dressing her. Tights and shoes and everything. Nap times. Bed times. Play time. You name it, he did it.

Now Christmas is right around the corner and once again I’ve got a huge to-do list before my in-laws show up (which will be later this evening). This year we decided to make pajamas that we’ll open on Christmas Eve. My mom always did this and I wanted to do it this year. Justin likes sewing projects (don’t worry sweetie, only women read this blog so your masculinity is still in tact) and was excited to get involved. Well, as life would have it, Joci got sick and has needed a lot more attention. Which Justin has given to her while I’ve been sewing (these projects always take WAY longer than you think). He also had me make a cleaning to-do list and he stayed up until 1 a.m. last night scrubbing the bathroom, sweeping and mopping floors, picking up after me and my messes, and decorating Christmas gifts.

Seriously, does this guy ever quit?



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It’s Not Christmas Without…




My friend Jamie wrote on her blog last week that she learned how to do Christmas from her mom. It made me think about all my treasured traditions that I learned from my mom, or at least got from my childhood. Everybody has those things that just make the season for us.

So just for fun, here’s my “It’s Not Christmas Without…” list


  • Reading Luke II on Christmas Eve
  • Driving around to see Christmas lights
  • Watching A Christmas Story
  • Lots of Mom’s recipes like fudge, almond cookies, cranberry Jell-O, candied yams, turkey gravy with giblets, and more.
  • Eggnog with nutmeg on Christmas morning
  • Opening one gift on Christmas Eve and never being surprised because it’s always pajamas
  • Dad making a delicious big breakfast Christmas Day
  • Dad reading “The Night Before Christmas” on the night before Christmas
  • The 24 Days ‘Til Christmas storybook countdown (so behind this year, btw)
  • A wonderful feast Christmas Eve and a totally chill Christmas Day
  • Johnny Mathis—especially the crackling LP
  • A live tree


What are yours?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Twilight vs. Buffy*


Fact is, I like the Twilight series. I really enjoyed the books in a self-indulgent kind of way and I've liked the movies too. For the past two or three years, everyone has had vampire fever. And supposedly Twilight spawned it all. And as the author and others tell it, the stories aren't so much about vampires per se, but about the challenges a teenager must overcome and face in dealing with love. The vampire element is just a spicy metaphor. And I buy that.

But the thing is, someone told this whole story before. And they told it well. Very well. And I think its cult-classic status is getting overshadowed by the Twilight saga. And that other story, my friends, is the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In so many ways, Twilight and Buffy are super similar. In an interview with Stephenie Meyer, she admitted that she'd never seen the series and knew very little about it, and her sister was surprised because Twilight and Buffy are so similar (her sister is a Buffy fan).

So, I think it's high time they took each other on. Here goes.

MOST LIKEABLE HEROINE:

Twilight: Bella Swan is sulky, self-conscious, klutzy, and completely centered around her vampire crush. She would do anything for those she loves - she's even been willing to die for them.

Buffy: A shallow teenager in denial about her destiny, Buffy Summers is vain, self-centered, and witty, with a heart of gold. As the chosen one, she is definitely a kick-butt kind of heroine. When it comes down to the wire, Buffy steps up to the plate and does her duty. She's also willing to die for those she loves (and countless schoolmates and strangers that she doesn't even like). In fact, she has laid down her life. Twice.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 
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VAMPIRES

Twilight: Much long-standing vampire lore is tossed aside and replaced with sparkly vampires who can go out in daylight, who don't have fangs, and have no need to fear a wooden stake.

Buffy: More traditional lore. Regular looking when they need to be, but they "morph" into a demonic fanged vampire when they are ready to fight or feed. No daylight, no crosses, no wooden stakes, no garlic.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sorry, I like my vampires fangy, flawed, and actually menacing.)


********************************************
WEREWOLVES

Twilight: These werewolves are more like shape shifters. They look exactly like wolves but are large. Their pack instincts/abilities are pretty cool and believable.

Buffy: Traditional lore with someone turning into a wolf only at night and only during the three nights surrounding the full-moon. They cannot control what they do in wolf form, often killing and eating people. The wolf costumes are horrible and seeing Seth Green romp around on his hands and knees just doesn't do it for me.

WINNER: Twilight


********************************************

VAMPIRE BOYFRIEND(S)

Twilight: Edward Cullen has massive amounts of self-control and refrains from eating humans in general and Bella specifically. Instead, he eats wild animals. He "lives" just to love her and protect her. He is handsome, egotistical, overprotective, and brooding. Oh yeah, and he sparkles.

Buffy: Angel is 260 years old and a gypsy curse restored his soul, giving him the remorse he needs to have the same self-control Edward manifests plus heapings of guilt to atone for his for his violent indiscretions. He buys pig blood from the butcher shop rather than kill people or feed off street rats. He protects Buffy as much as he can without minimizing her abilities. He is handsome, self-deprecating, and brooding.

Spike also must be mentioned. A vicious vampire with a sadistic sense of humor, he eventually falls in love with Buffy and intentionally seeks out a way to have his soul restored to make himself worthy of her. He is selfish, colorful, and loyal. And it must be mentioned that he, too, is freakin' hot.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer


********************************************

TEAR-WORTHY MOMENT

Twilight: Thinking that he's doing what's right for Bella, Edward breaks up with Bella in the woods and leaves Forks.

Buffy: After a moment of true happiness, the gypsy curse is undone and Angel loses his soul. In order to save the world, Buffy has to run her true love through with a sword. Oh, and then there's also the time that Angel thinks he's doing what's right for Buffy and breaks up with her right before prom and leaves Sunnydale forever.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer


********************************************

VILLAINS:

Twilight: James sets up an intricate ruse to lure Bella to Phoenix, making her think she's protecting her mother. He's vicious and sexy. Victoria wants revenge and will stop at nothing to avenge her dead lover. The Volturi are ominous and ancient and will stop at nothing to protect their secret world. Yet, they're pretty much a "leave us alone and we'll leave you alone" group of vampires.

Buffy: With seven seasons, there are seven different villains. The best though include the Mayor, a germophobic, family-oriented demon, Glory, the haughty, couture-loving hell god, and, Angel, Buffy's true love whom she must kill after an unexpected event takes Angel's soul away.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer


********************************************

BEST SIDE-KICKS

TwilightTwilight definitely lacks in this area. So much focus is on Edward and Bella that there isn't much periphery. But Jacob is entertaining (and hot) and Alice definitely ranks high for being Bella's truest friend.

Buffy:  Willow qualifies as the world's best. friend. ever. From Cordelia, to Anya, to Giles, to Andrew, Buffy's supporting cast is colorful, hilarious, and worthy of the spotlights they have.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer


********************************************

BEST GRATUITOUS NUDITY

Twilight: Ah, that first scene where Jacob takes his shirt off. The camera angle. The rippling washboard abs. Definitely over-the-top and oh-so-swoon-worthy.

Buffy: Riley and Spike both had great bodies, and Spike's shirtlessness was not always necessary but still delish.

WINNER: Tie

*******************************************

BEST LOVE TRIANGLE

Twilight: Edward and Jacob both love Bella deeply and would do anything for her - including letting her go and find true happiness with the other. 

Buffy: Angel and Spike used to pal around and hunt together for over a century, now both ensouled and in love with the same woman, their rivalry continues. However Angel loves Buffy enough to know she's better off without him and stays away. Spike has no such self-control and involves Buffy in a self-destructive relationship.

WINNER: Twilight The tent scene in Eclipse is classic, with Edward reading all of Jacob's thoughts as Jacob provides the safety and warmth that Edward cannot.


********************************************

BEST METAPHOR:

Twilight: Love is hard and there are always obstacles when your lovers are star-crossed.

Buffy: High school is hell. Literally. Oh, and the metaphor of a guy changing after you give yourself to him. We've all been there. And girls who will do anything to get on the cheer squad (like witchcraft). And all our idle fantasies of blowing up the school and having the principal get eaten.

WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The metaphors are obvious, funny, and have a stronger message and payoff.
********************************************

OVERALL WINNER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has better plots, more intensity, higher stakes, more memorable characters, more human foibles, and is hands-down a much more compelling story. I still have love for the Twilight saga, but Buffy beats it hands down. If you're into the vampire craze, go retro and check out this phenomenal series. No wonder it's such a cult classic. Funny, witty, dramatic, intense, and chock-full of smart dialogue.

I love me some Buffy.





* I know I am totally a nerd. No need to point it out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free Shipping Today Only!

If you're anything like me, you still need to do the majority of your Christmas shopping. And if you're anything like me, your boss gets mad when you're an hour late for work, take an hour lunch break, and take an hour shopping break, and leave twenty minutes early. So online shopping is definitely a blessing.

Some really cool people organized "Free Shipping Day." Last year was the first year they did it and it's going on this year too - TODAY, in fact. 740 online retailers are offering free shipping with delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve.

Totally sweet. My boss may actually like me today.

Check it out - http://www.freeshippingday.com/.


I'm Not Crazy

Our last Christmas tree, 2007


We've been looking for a Christmas tree ever since we got back from Salt Lake. I'm a real tree kind of girl, so we didn't want to get one before our five day weekend and have it die/become a fire hazard and burn our house down for the holidays.

We haven't been able to find ANY trees.

(Other than a really nice one that lives outside of 24-Hour Fitness down the street from me. And I would be so tempted to borrow my brother's chain saw and cut it down when they are closed, but it's 24-Hour Fitness, so, I guess they've got themselves covered.)

We've been looking since December 14. Not that late in the game, really. But still, NO TREES!!!!

And I'm not crazy. There was actually a news article on this exact problem. There's a Christmas tree shortage in Idaho Falls. An employee at Home Depot told us when their next shipment comes in, so we'll be the first in line.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Year End Letter



My year-end letter will definitely make you hate me and you'll be totally jealous of my awesome life.

(But if you're a blog reader, you know better.)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Igloo Cake

Every November before Thanksgiving, the Marketing department at my company holds a dessert party. We all bring yummy treats and take an hour break to enjoy them. Although, it's not enough to just take an hour off to indulge in general yumminess. We need more than that. So we vote on the best yummy treat and the winners get a gift certificate to the place of their choice.

Last year, I won the "most creative" category with my Buche de Noel.

I really had my eye on a gift certificate to go shopping with, so I wanted to win again. I searched and searched for a fabulous creative dessert (the "creative" category is underpopulated, so I played the odds).

Thanks to Martha Stewart, I spent three evenings in the kitchen and almost as much money as the gift certificate is worth and made an igloo cake.

First, I made a sheet cake, then cut the cake in long thin strips and molded them into the bottom of a greased bowl lined with wax paper. Luckily the pieces don't have to fit perfectly or even look nice.





Then I mixed some ice cream in my mixer just to soften it and spread it in the cake bowl. I alternated candy cane and chocolate ice creams.


Made a cake "lid" after I filled the bowl with ice cream.



Froze over night then removed from the bowl. Voila.


Decorated it with buttercream frosting. I used marshmallows to shape the doorway to the igloo.



Made cutey penguins from marzipan.


And the final result! It looked super cute and tasted really good too. It wasn't too hard, per se, just time consuming with a lot of steps.





I haven't cashed in my $40 gift certificate yet, but I'll probably get some of it to the mall and then maybe a restaurant for a date. :)



Little Tidbit

In my fantasy world, I have a thousand blog readers who have anxiously been awaiting my latest post. So to appease said fantasy readers, I guess I better post!

Our weekend was great and the sealing was beautiful. Every single member of my immediate family (and their children) were there. It's been three and a half years since we've all been in the same room. How cool! The party afterwards was great too. The food was divine. Aside from having to take double the daily allotted amount of Immodium just so I could leave the house, the day was probably as near perfect as any stressed out, planned for months, sky-high expectations, special event can be.  (Yeah, that doesn't make sense and my made-up adjectives are totally incongruent, but I think you'll all get it.)

I don't have any pictures.

Yet.

We hired a photographer and it will be a couple weeks until I see any of those. But I'm sure they're great. We were freezing cold and posed all awkwardly, so that must mean they'll turn out great, right?

But to appease your little unsatiable appetites, I just wanted to post this sweet picture. Not only is Joci just adorable and more edible than a frosted gingerbread man cookie, the reason why this picture is so sweet to me is because the winter suit she is wearing is something we bought long before we knew we'd get a baby. It was a "hope purchase." And that's why it's brown and neutral. We hoped that someday a little baby body would wear it in the cold Idaho winter. And it just warms my heart to see her in it.




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sick and Mad

Sick and mad is different than sick and tired.

Sick and mad is when you get puking sick with a fever the night before a big, busy day/big busy weekend but you have to come into work regardless because some unnamed category manager wants to scrap the entire Mother’s Day catalog and have it totally redone and said catalog has to finish routing by the end of the day so there’s no way to call in sick and nap and possibly recuperate a little before a late drive to Salt Lake to get ready to get up early the next day for fancy formal pictures in freezing weather and the arrival of tons of family for the attendance of a niece’s baptism followed by another very full day of becoming an eternal family, more pictures in the cold, and then finally a nice dinner.

That’s what sick and mad means. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Need a Pick Me Up?

It's supposed to be between -20 and -30 here tonight due to a cold front coming from up north. Thanks a lot, Canada.

That bums me out.

This cheers me up. If you need to read something cheery, feel free!


Thanksgiving Pictures

Finally. Here are some pictures from our Thanksgiving in Wyoming. Lots and lots of pictures. Sorry.



Thanksgiving day. We fell in love with Joci's dress when we saw it at the Gap and spent more on it than we should have. Oh, and the adorable red satin shoes just screamed to be bought, too.



Naughty Haiden



The result of Haiden's creativity



Aunt Jen



I love singing and dancing with Daddy. It's so much fun!



Luvs



Hey, Mom, this pile of leaves is pretty cool!



Wow, this sure feels neat in my hand and makes fun crunching noises. I should probably taste it next.



Self-portrait with Hollywood



Self-portrait with Little Bit. After taking this picture I realized Joci's fingers were on the horse's teeth - a very bad place to be. So glad he didn't think they were small carrots and chomp down!


Meeting Little Bit


Grandma Z's singing group caroled at Old Trail Town. We came to watch and Justin jumped in to add some depth.



He even wore his mother's hat for a few songs.



Haiden and Justin stacking jam at breakfast







Great-Grandma "Nana" and Joci



A breathtaking, gorgeous winter sunset in Bozeman (is it just me or are winter sunsets the prettiest:?)



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