Friday, October 22, 2010

Good fortune

Tim and I have been having incredibly good financial fortune lately. I'm not sure what we're doing right, but I feel so blessed recently.

One is for: someone sold us a gently used BOB stroller for ONE hundred dollars (versus the price of $350 new). And they drove down from Lehi to bring it to us. Probably the best KSL transaction ever. I wish I could leave a review.

Two is for: Amazon replacing our broken Kindle in TWO days.

Three is for: After THREE weeks of waiting for our white noise machine to be replaced, I finally called and emailed the customer service to learn that it was never received. Even though I didn't have any insurance or verification that I sent it, Homedics is sending us a new one for free just because I sent an email.

Four is for: I just won FOUR boxes of toaster strudels in an instant win game.

Five is for: Allison's car broke down, so my parents are buying US a new one. We are finally getting my long-wanted Subaru Outback... our budget is FIVE thousand dollars.

Six is for: Even though we neglected to pay an overdue and forgotten credit card balance for SIX weeks while we were in Egypt, USAA forgave us of the $15 fee.

Seven is for: The SEVEN pounds of winter clothing that my cousin Shay sent us from Washington. Plus the wood train set, Yoda Halloween costume, and awesome ball pit that takes up our entire living room (and Theodore LOVES it).

(and let's not forget the constant stream of hand-me-downs we've been receiving from my sister Lauren)

I really do have a firm belief that managing your finances and being deliberate with your spending will lead to a more balanced life. Working with individuals who are in serious debt has made me realize I never, ever want to get into debt that we can't get out of. It stresses me out just to talk to them. The LDS church teaches frequently about provident living: staying out of debt, maintaining an adequate food storage for emergencies, gardening, frugal living. I plan to always strive to live by these principles. We may be wearing hand-me-downs/clothes that don't fit our skinny bodies and not have a TV, we may not have been out to eat or to a movie in forever, we may live in a tiny basement apartment without a bathtub or dishwasher... but we certainly are living providently. And this has lead to incredibly great fortune.

I know this was cheesy. But I felt like being creative today. Ok.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spontaneous road trip weekend

Friday morning when we woke up, Tim spontaneously asked if we could go to Logan when I got off work. Always up for an adventure, of course I consented. We headed out of Provo at around 4 pm, and arrived in Logan just in time for Trace's surprise birthday party. You see, Trace is Tim's childhood and high school friend, but we never get to see him and his wife and daughter very often because Logan to Provo is a little far. We decided to make a sleepover of it, and spent the night in their beautiful home. I forget people our age are allowed to buy beautiful homes and decorate them perfectly. I couldn't believe Michelle's decorating skills - the house was out of a catalog! Not to mention her organization. Wow. At first I thought the house was clean and neat because of the party and having company over, but then I opened the hall closet to put up some games and everything was stacked neatly in tupperware containers and well-labeled. I was jealous of the spaciousness and the bathtubs and the perfect new appliances. One day, our time will come. Until then, we'll appreciate our cozy little basement.

We had such a fun time, didn't go to bed until midnight (Theodore didn't fall asleep until 11... he was a party animal!) and ate German pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed to the Farmer's Market, but before we got there we stopped by my friend Brittany's to visit her and her new twin girls. They were so tiny and adorable. We only were able to stay about 15 minutes because Theodore had a break-down from exhaustion so we got him into the car. He didn't actually asleep, which was fine by us because I'd rather him sleep through a drive than sleep through the Farmer's Market. He played around in the grass, we ate navajo tacos and pumpkin cheesecake (which were to DIE for), and drank some Winder milk (if only we could afford Winder milk, it'd be awesome). I bought some homemade laundry detergent for $5 and sampled just about everything under the sun (Tim and I joked about we go to the Farmer's Market and usually eat more in samples than we buy... which is very true). And lovely enough, Trace and Michelle decided to join us and so we got to hang out with them a little longer. Tim also ran into a friend from high school, which was weird. I forget that can happen anywhere in Utah for him. Not so much for me. Anyways, the weather was gorgeous, the food delightful, the atmosphere was awesomely granolie and laid-back. I love the Farmer's Market crowd. There were so many Subaru Outbacks and Chariot trailers. Just our kind of people.

After the Farmer's Market, we packed our sleeping baby into the carseat and headed to find a hike. We took a turn for a scenic drive down to Huntsville, Utah on Highway 165. Biggest. mistake. ever. Ok, maybe a gross exaggeration, but wrong move nonetheless. Because about 10 miles of this semi-major road (that is on our road map I might add) was UNPAVED and incredibly rocky. So, for about an hour we crawled down this road, in hope of seeing civilization in front of us. We finally came to Liberty, Utah and returned to the wonder of paved road. Note to self: check the map key to figure out what a dotted line indicates. Even if something is called a "highway" does not mean it is driveable in a Honda Civic.

We made it to Huntsville after saving a lost puppy from certain death (the owners were thrilled) and almost witnessing a SUV turnover while turning a sharp corner (it had barely flipped when we drove past, the emergency vehicles hadn't even arrived), and decided to visit the Trappist monks. It was a little disappointing compared to the sweet* monasteries in Egypt where you could hang out with the monks and touch their relics and such. This monastery was a small church and a gift shop. The honey is delicious though so we bought a large container of it (they keep the bees there at the monastery so it's as local as you can get). I loved that even though the check-out line was long and there were lots of people waiting, the monk who was ringing everyone up took time to talk to each individual. He was remarkably observant and sharp considering how old he looked. It was refreshing to see someone with no concept of rushing. And it was even more refreshing to notice that nobody in line was getting annoyed.

After the monastery, we grabbed lunch at Subway and headed for a hike in the mountains (I can't remember the name). We forgot the baby backpack, but did have our "off-road" stroller so we decided to try it out. Well, the path was entirely too rocky and fairly steep, so we failed. We let Theodore play in the rocks for a while, avoiding the mountain bikers racing down the path. He was getting sleepy and so were we, so we decided to go hiking another weekend and head home for now. We spent the night at Tim's parent's and headed down to Provo the next day, only stopping in Salt Lake for a short time to test-drive a few cars (did I mentioned we're buying a new car? More on that, later).

All in all - pleasant road trip. Besides the rocky road mishap, it could have been perfect.

* I realized after I wrote this: "dessert" monasteries. Har dee har har.

Ode to Amazon

Oh, how we love thee!!

What, with your plethora of products, your super-saver shipping,

and your 30% off disposable diapers (moms and dads, sign up for Amazon Mom and Subscribe & Save and get 30% off every time you buy diapers and wipes!)

and especially your replacing our broken Kindle for free and with very few questions asked...

Amazon, we love that even though we broke our Kindle the first week we owned it and it was completely our fault (Theodore fell on it while a hard object was also sitting on top of it), you still are sending us a brand-new one in the mail AND with one-day shipping.

Amazon..... you are the best. You have our business from now until the end of technology.

Side note: Amazon literally means "without breasts." The term Amazon woman came from the fact that warrior women would cut off their breast so they could use a bow and arrow better.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Double majoring

I am halfway through my first semester as a double major and am having a great time. Arabic was great but extremely taxing. First, I was never that great at it. Second, the program was extremly rigorous. That was, however, exactly what I was looking for in my college education: studying something I wouldn`t have otherwise studied otherwise. The degree also included plent of other subjects such as history, politics and religion. But now, with comparative literature, it`s nice to be doing something I am good at. I am no genius, but I am a lot better at talking abiut books than talking in Arabic.

I am hoping that I have left behind the period of my life where I am guided by "what would be hardest" and onto an easier, simpler path.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have been making delicious food lately.

One, yogurt apple pancakes. Best breakfast I've had in a long time (we did love the blue pancakes at the Homecoming parade, but these are a lot healthier I imagine). I grated the apples instead of dicing them because it was easier, and I used whole-wheat flour which meant about 1/2 cup more milk. We were inspired to make them because I bought 6 large containers of Stonyfield Farm organic whole-milk yogurt (it was $1.40 at Smith's!) and it expires soon so I'm trying to eat it as fast as possible. I used french vanilla in the pancakes and they were awesome. Eat them plain with no syrup good. Theodore devoured them and I felt ok about it because they don't have sugar in them.

Two, peanut stew. I'm not sure where the idea of peanut stew came from (I think one of my vegetarian cookbooks)... but hello, it is so delicious. And fattening! We love fattening soup (still trying to fit into my skinny clothes and not gaining any weight back from Egypt. A blessing, yes. Not really complaining but I have no clothes that fit!). My recipe for it is rather fluid, but mostly I throw sweet potato chunks and a can of garbanzo beans in the crock pot, cover it with equal parts water and broth, add garlic and ginger (fresh or powder, depending on what we have), red pepper, a little cumin and a can of diced tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes yesterday, since we have an abundance). Yesterday I also threw in some butternut-type squash, again, abundance from the garden. Cook on high for 3-ish hours or low for 5-ish. When it's done, stir in some okra/green beans and about 1/2 cup of peanut butter (we use chunky). Serve over rice. I have it for lunch at work today and I can't wait to eat it. Mmmmmm.

Three, for breakfast this morning we had green pepper/tomato/avocado omelets. Heck YES.

Four, homemade salsa with fresh garden tomatoes, cilantro and onions. Though I didn't have any at the time and therefore did not test this myself, a friend recommended throwing a can of tomato paste into homemade salsa to make it less runny. For now, we're eating the runny stuff but it's ok because I like to drink it sometimes it's so flavorful.

Five, tofu! I forgot how much I LOVE tofu. Why did I have a period of my life where I stopped buying it?? I think Egypt made me forget about my love affair with tofu. At a friend's suggestion, I fed plain tofu from the fridge to Theodore, and he loved it. I think he liked it better plain and cold than cooked with BBQ sauce. Which, I have decided, is the best way to eat tofu. Dry extra-firm tofu well between two paper towels or, in our case, kitchen towels because we don't buy paper towels. Cut it into biggish diced pieces. Throw it in a pan with a little (very little) olive oil, turn it after a few minutes when browned on the one side, brown on the other. Add BBQ sauce and eat. SO, SO tasty. I served it with sauteed garden zucchini and smashed red potatoes (from Tim's parent's garden... they are delicious).

I love feeding my family delicious and healthy food. And I'm going to miss all of this garden produce in a few months when we eat the last of the squash :( I wish I had taken an initiative and learned how to can all of those tomatoes. I froze some stuff but we'll probably eat it before too long. Oh well. It will be back to frozen/canned stuff for a while. I don't think I could eat a fresh tomato in December anymore.

Tests of faith

Last week was the semiannual General Conference for our church. Twice a year, our leaders come together for a worldwide meeting to teach the lessons they believe we as a church need to hear. Conference usually leaves me feeling fulfilled and uplifted. The doctrines of our church are so beautiful, and when articulated by intelligent and spiritual men and women, they seem more divine. However, last week I was left with a crisis of faith, like many of my fellow saints, after President Boyd K. Packer's talk on homosexuality. I have been left wondering and pondering and hoping that Heavenly Father would not think the things that President Packer declared. And I felt guilty about it. About doubting someone who I regularly sustain as the "mouthpiece of God." I felt guilty when a friend at church yesterday bore her testimony about doubting people and how the CHURCH. IS. TRUE. NO. MATTER. WHAT.

Oh. my.

But this morning, I read the news that the Church is changing the wording of President Packer's talk in the official version. It is... relieving. To some degree.

And if one more person in Sunday School makes the analogy between tendencies toward alcoholism and homosexuality.... I might scream.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stay at home dad

It's actually been really nice. I say actually because I was really dreading it. I thought it would be super hard. It hasn't been. I've just been a little more diligent in the school work, a little more flexible with time, a little more focus on happiness. I have to say this might be the ideal life for me if I didn't have so much schoolwork. Or maybe it is the ideal life for me just as it is, but a little more appreciated and a little more refined. So far, Ted and I have spent most of our time outdoors, playing while I read school books. Also included is trying to distract him with enough to let me do some homework on the computer, but since he is so obsessed with the allure of the technology embedded in a computer, I often have to put off computer work 'til Cait comes home.

I know there's plenty of people who have something against stay at home fathers, but I wonder if anyone can articulate opposition more coherent than, "It's the way it is supposed to be" or "Men aren't caring enough to be parents full-time" or "It's just weird." Get over it. I'm easily as caring as most women and about even with Cait, if I do say so myself. It might be how we do things for extended periods of time and I'm just fine with that.

I really enjoy being a father. I especially enjoy being a father to Ted. Thanks for being great. I'll try to get my geology homework done now.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Working is SO MUCH easier than being at home full-time. I love working. I love the cubicle and the lunch breaks and the sitting in a cushy office chair all day answering phone calls. Maybe my job is particularly easy, but I really forgot how enjoyable this is compared to chasing around an incredibly energetic toddler all day and doing damage control. I miss the guy when I'm at work, but 32 hours a week is not that bad. It'd be a lot easier if Tim was not up to his elbows in schoolwork while balancing the stay-at-home daddyness, but he's doing a great job and I appreciate his letting me work. Because seriously, I forgot how easy and rewarding it is. And I haven't even gotten my first paycheck yet. Mmmmm, financial security. How I missed thee!

I know I should feel guilty for not being a stay-at-home mom anymore, but I don't. The only guilt I feel is that now Tim has extra pressure and work with doing schoolwork and not having me around full-time to take care of the guy and cook him lunch and such. But probably worth it for financial independence and health insurance.