Friday, February 27, 2009

Desperately Seeking Opinions

In our previous ward, there were two couples that Chuck and I really liked. We didn't know them terribly well, but regardless, we looked up to them tremendously. One couple was old enough to be our parents and the other had teenage children. Chuck and I liked musing that "we'd like to be them when we grow up." So here's the question: would it be weird to send them a little note telling them this, that we want to grow up to be just like them? Would they think us (well, me since I'd be the actual card writer) crazy?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recent Email Conversation with My Mom

Me: So emily and I were talking, and since you are the reason that our eyes are horrible, you need to pay for us to get laser eye surgery. Okay? Okay! Thanks in advance!

(a very clever) Mom: Sorry! Can I sue you two for ruining my figure? I got it back after the boys were born, but after having two more kids, I’ve been ruined for life!!!

Me: Hey now, we didn't say anything about suing you! And fiiiiine. We'll just call it even. Your body for our eyes. Sigh. WAIT! Maybe we can sue dad for our thighs???

Mom: Valiant try.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Habitat for Hubanity: Doors

The first time we walked into our house, I thought the bi-fold, full-length mirrored closet doors in the master bedroom and Rhett's room were a bit dated. But I grew to love them. I mean, how long as it been since I've had a full-length mirror? Years. Possibly even a decade. Once I grew accustomed to them, I still didn't like that they were trimmed in brown wood while all other trim in both rooms was white. So when we were recently given a weekend with 60-degree-plus days, we took to painting them outside. Voila!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Made by e

When your floor looks like this:

you better make one of these:
P.S. If you're curious, those are little pieces of olive and tortillas with melted cheese. Click on the picture. There are just a million of those little suckers. Bruno must have been outside or normally he'd act as the vacuum. Except for olives; he hates olives.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fun for Friday

First, this map game. But if you play, you have to promise to leave a comment with your scores. For me, the first time I played I got 92% correct with an average error of 13 miles. When I played just now, I got 100%. Remember people, I have a degree in geography and I totally did stuff like this in my major courses (riiiiiight, actually I'm just trying to make you feel better).

Second, this website. If you go to it, you have to promise to leave a comment with the food that you'd most like to eat. For me, it's a toss-up between the bacon wellington explosion and sloppy joes on a donut.

P.S. Speaking of donuts, anyone want to do this race with me next year? R and A, how could you not tell me about this?!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's the Happiest Season of All

I love tax time. I love doing our taxes; I love filling out the little forms; I love submitting my taxes (and for free this year too--yippee!); I love (crossing my fingers here) getting a refund. I get so excited for January 31st because I know that employers are supposed to have the W-2s mailed to everyone by that date. And the 1099s? How fun are they?! It's all just so much fun.

Along with tax time, the new year brings a new budget. With Chuck working in the schools, I actually get to adjust our budget twice a year (!) as his pay increases take effect in September. I love doing the budget. Seeing how much money we can put into savings or use to buy new fabric is thrilling. Then updating the Excel spreadsheet to track it all?! Oh my. I can hardly wait.

Don't bother telling me how sick I am. I already know.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Recession Hits Home

From the time when media people and politicos started talking about a recession, Chuck and I balked. Really? A recession. Whatever. We were still making the same amount of money and were still living within our means. It had zero effect on us. But more recently, we have started feeling it.

We have our jobs and thankfully, since we both have fairly-stable government jobs, we have no fear about losing our own either. And we know no one who has lost theirs. Embarrassingly enough though, I got the largest cost-of-living raise I've ever had since working for the feds in January. However, I did not get my yearly bonus. Mind you, this bonus is not a $50 check; it's actually quite a large chunk of change. And every other organization got their bonus in the department in which I work; needless to say, employees in my organization were not happy. But I won't complain. (See first three sentences of this paragraph.)

As for Chuck, his raises take place in September with the new school year. While this coming September he'll see his usual step increase, he will not see the union-negotiated 5% increase. (I had no idea that the county could even do this as it had already promised the union that it would give it to employees!) This is really disheartening, but again, see sentences 1-3 in paragraph 2.

Finally, the one that affects us in hopefully a good way, are foreclosures. While we did not buy a home that had been foreclosed on, we live in a neighborhood FULL of them. The house next door and the house across the street are both empty. These empty homes obviously bring down property values, whether or not I can make my mortgage. We recently pulled a list of 15 recently-sold homes in my neighborhood, and I think 12 of them were short sales or bank-owned properties. 80%! That's a big percentage. What this means for us is that homes are worth less than they were (duh). And since our home was assessed when values were still increasing, this July's tax assessed value is approximately $100,000 more than the average selling price of homes in my neighborhood, and $70,000 more than we paid for the home. I love my house; I know it's in better shape than 95% of homes in my neighborhood (Thanks Larsons!) but I also know I'd be laughed to the moon if I tried to sell it at $100,000 more than the neighbor's home. Hopefully the tax assessors agree.

Other than that, nothing for us has changed. We still make more than we spend. We still are able to do the fun things we want and buy treats when we want them. We're lucky. And grateful.

Anyone else feeling effects of the recession? Have you made any changes in your lifestyle because of it?

Friday, February 13, 2009

If Tiger Tells Me So...

As the Super Bowl was less than two weeks ago, we've probably all been exposed to a new barrage of ads. I used to think it was silly for companies to spend millions of dollars on advertising. Do the big corporate heads really think that just because Payton Manning tells me to use a MasterCard, I will do so? (Bad example, I actually think Payton is hysterical. "Will you sign this loaf of bread for my brother?" Too funny. But you know what I mean.)

For the first time in my life, however, I am knowingly looking into a product (laser eye surgery) strictly because of its endorser (Tiger Woods). Why would I do this? First, I think Tiger's eyes are very important to him. Yes, yes, they're important to all of us, but certainly they are to him. Second, because he has gazillions of dollars, I think he has the staff required to do research into who would give him the best outcome. It simply becomes: because Tiger chose TLC, I am choosing TLC. And I am not ashamed.

So what about you? Has an endorser ever influenced your decision on which products to use?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Been a Big Week at Our House

This past week was a week of firsts.  Rhett finally decided to grow himself a tooth.  That's right, at 10 1/2 months, he gets tooth #1.  It could be worse; Chuck and I knew this family with twins who didn't get teeth until they were two.  That's right: TWO.  But I think the worst of the teething is over now, well,  at least until tooth number two.

Because he's started to use them more as toys rather than calming mechanisms, we've gotten rid of his pacifiers (it didn't hurt that we lost two of three of them).  When he started throwing them out of his crib just to see where they'd land, well, we thought they weren't doing such a good job of helping him get to sleep.  With the pacifiers he went right to sleep for naps and at night.  Without the pacifiers, however, we've seen very small crying spells, but as they're only 2-3 minutes long, I won't complain.  The only times we're still using them are in church and while loading him in the car seat.  He hates being loaded into the car seat.

And finally, the little man has decided to start walking, after much encouragement from his father, of course.  He's starting to do it more on his own, but still needs some help from us.  And because I couldn't decide which video to post, you get to see both.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Flashback Friday

As I got called out by my cousin on my lack of Christmas-card-creativity (remember though, I never claim to be creative, rather, I'm re-creative), I thought I'd share the inspiration for our holiday card. What you have is a four-month-old me with my two older brothers (ages 8 and 6 at the time) when we were living in Hawaii. What a good looking bunch.

I don't appear to hate it nearly as much as Rhett did.

And just for fun, another picture. Don't I look really mature for my age?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Friendly Public Service Announcement

It's been said that you learn something new everyday. On Monday this was certainly true. As I was getting Rhett's lunch ready, the smoke alarm went off. But it wasn't alarming us to a fire, but rather to carbon monoxide (CO). With fire, I would have known what to do. Grab the baby, the dog, my sewing machine, and run outside. Then commence with crying. But with carbon monoxide, I had NO IDEA. I called Chuck at work and he called his dad (what any self-respecting adult does: call parents). While I was waiting on his call, my sister called to say hi, at least that's what I think she was calling for; we never really got to her. When I told her of my plight, she told me to call the fire department (who knew!?). This turned out to be the right answer, but since it was unknown to me, I thought maybe it would be unknown to others and maybe you could learn something new today too.

What to do when the carbon monoxide detector goes off:
1. Do not open your windows. When the emergency personnel arrive, they'll use their super special tools to try to find the source and levels of the CO. If you have opened the windows, not only will it lower the number, but likely disrupt the location of the CO making it hard to find the source of the problem.

2. Call the fire department, not 911, but the actual fire department. (Of course, it's probably a good idea to have numbers like this on the fridge or somewhere instead of having to find them in the phone book for this type of situation.)

3. Grab your keys and get all living things outside and wait for the emergency personnel to arrive. If it's cold, get in the car. Entertain said living things. We did this by hearing the fire truck leave the station (we're maybe 0.5 miles from it) and watch it come the wrong way up our one-way street.

What to expect when they're done:
The fire people will likely open the windows once their done, and depending on the levels, will tell you whether it's safe to return to your house. Hopefully they will have found the source of the problem and then you can remedy it.

This experience certainly got me thinking about emergency plans. We don't have them but we definitely should (FHE next Monday?). Have any of you done this? What sorts of things would you grab in a fire? Do any of you have a fire-proof box to keep important documents?

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Interesting Proposition

Sandra's TANFFG question (would she rather repeat labor or David's newborn stage) was so interesting to me because I've thought about this quite a bit. For me, pregnancy was fairly easy. I wasn't sick once. I only gained 30 pounds (although, given my height, maybe that's more than I should be okay with). And I didn't feel miserable until about 34-35 weeks, when I think everyone is allowed to feel miserable because you're just too awkward to ever feel comfortable.

And labor? Are you kidding me? I was induced, given drugs, and was able to be awake and enjoy the entire experience. I pushed for only 20 minutes and then the little guy was here! Sure, I hated having all the IVs in me, but they were shortly removed.

Rhett as a newborn...that's another story. I really don't love the baby stage. I know I'm supposed to try to cherish every stage because they change so fast. And yes, I'm seeing that. But I still think that I'm allowed to enjoy some stages more than others. (I think my dad likes me and emily as adults far better than any other stage!) I really think I'll enjoy being a mom to teenagers. I know they're hard, but babies? They might be harder, at least for me. (This is why Young Women is such a better fit for me than Primary!)

When I talked to R about this once, she had the opposite feelings. Her pregnancy was wicked hard. We're not talking your standard issue morning sickness. We're talking morning, evening, night sickness for nine months with hospital visits and IVs tossed in just for fun. Pretty obvious that she hates being prego. But she loves the infant stage. So we came up with this proposal: I'll carry her babies, deliver them, and then give them to her immediately upon birth. And my babies? Same thing: I'll carry them and then give them to her immediately upon birth. She'll keep them for a year and then give them back to me. I'm sooo tempted.

Then again, I'd miss this age...