Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell, 2012

1. What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before?
Home-schooled a first-grader, took family photos without a professional present, and a lot of things from my 30 Things list.(paint my house; make bagels, Thai food, and cottage cheese; sew a dickie; pay for a stranger's meal, etc.)

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and do you intend to make any for 2013?
I completed all but one of my 30 Things, and I'm making a list of 31 things for my 31st year. They're mostly small, easily measurable goals that make me stretch a little.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Mackenzie.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn't have in 2012?
A new house in a new place and great schools for my kids.

7. What dates will be etched into your memory from 2012 and why? 
April 7th: Bree's Jungle Safari birthday campout
June 18th: Mackenzie's wedding
July 20th: Driving through deadly flooding washes
Last week of July: visiting Chad's family in Missouri
August: Lincoln walking, a peach harvest, homeschool
September 7th: A cancelled San Diego vacation
December: Vegas Vacation and anniversary over-nighter
8. What is your biggest achievement of the year?
Homeschool. Though depending on the day, it can also feel like my biggest failure.

9. What is your biggest failure?
See #8. I constantly feel inadequate, and wish I could do more for my kids.

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?
Sinus infections. Constant sinus headaches. These allergies will be the death of me.
11. What is the best thing you purchased?
A minivan!
12. Whose behavior or accomplishments merited celebration?
Bree learning to read, add, subtract, and remember minute details from history and science lessons. Chad taking over chores to keep me sane.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled or depressed? 
President Obama and the majority of Americans.
14. Where did most of your money go? 
Mortgage and a new minivan.

15. What did you get really excited about?
Our San Diego trip...which we didn't get to go on thanks to Mason's broken arm.

16. What songs will remind you of 2012 and why?
As a Child of God, Choose the Right, Stand for the Right, and all the other Primary Program songs.
17. Compared to last year...
a. happier or sadder? Happier.
b. thinner or fatter? Thinner, thanks to our local Biggest Loser competition.
c. richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you had done more of?
Therapy with Lincoln.
19. What do you wish you had done less of?
Watching dumb TV shows.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We visited Chad's family in Las Vegas before Christmas. Then my parents joined us at our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We spent a nice, relaxing day playing with new toys, and Chad only had to work from noon to four.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Yes, if my minivan counts.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I was disappointed in all the TV shows that I previously enjoyed. Television has gotten so bad.
23. What is the biggest choice you made this year?
We made the decision to move, and there is a transfer position with Chad's name on it. If we could only sell our house...
24. What is the best book you read?
Bonds that Make us Free

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't make musical discoveries outside the realm of Primary.
26. What did you want and get?
A new minivan, Lincoln walking, a laptop
27. What did you want and not get?
A trip to San Diego. A homeschool and family routine that consistently worked.
28. What was your favorite movie this year?
The Avengers.
29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 31. I went to see the Twilight movie with friends.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More peaceful family time, a less crazy homeschool teacher and a student who cries less, a house that sold.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?
Wearing whatever fit my ever-changing body size, with comfort being the most frequent goal.
32. What kept you sane?
Chad doing half the household chores. Books and movies. Quiet time after the kids went to bed.
33. What celebrity did you fancy the most?
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The majority of newly-elected leaders do not value the same things that I do. And we have a president who has a vision for America that is far removed from what our country should stand for.
35. Whom do you miss?
Family members out of state, Jaime and other girlfriends who live too far away.
36. Who was the best person you met?
37. Valuable life lesson learned in 2012?
Kids interpret harsh words as hateful feelings.

38. What is something that really made you laugh this year?
My kids. The Hulk smashing Loki around like a rag doll.
39. What is something that really made you cry this year?
Frustrations and feelings of inadequacy.

40. What do you anticipate will be the biggest change in your life in 2013?
A move, a new home, and "real" school for Mason and Bree.

I finished! (pretty much)

With the exception of donating blood (I'll put that one on my list of goals for next year), I finished my goals for my 30th year! With not a day to spare. I meant to finish last week, but I started getting sick the day after Christmas, and I ended up getting a raging sinus infection. I spent almost three solid days in bed while the amazing Chad held down the fort and took care of all the chores. I was able to work on a couple goals while still abed, and the rest I finished last night and today!

#13: Write a children's book.

I finished sketching out my rough draft. It's a story about a "secret superhero" named Mason, and his little brother Lincoln.

#19: Write a thank you note to someone from my past

I emailed one of my oldest and dearest friends, one who I don't never get to see, thanking her for so many fun memories (I itemized some of the ones that stuck out to me).

#7: Pay for a stranger's meal

This one was easy to do; it was left to the last minute because I just kept forgetting. I paid for the car behind me in line at the Church's Chicken drive-through. The employees were very impressed, and asked if I had done the same thing about six months before (I guess someone else had the same idea!)

#9: Take an inventory of my food storage

We've been depleting our food storage this year, and not stocking up on purpose, anticipating moving in the future. But it's good to know where we're at with our stores, and I look forward to getting our storage organized in our next house.

#15: Make cottage cheese

This was not a complicated process, but it was a completely foreign one. I had to buy rennet and cheesecloth. I haven't eaten any of the finished product yet. It looks strange. As I was making it, Bree declared that it smelled disgusting, and Mason said it looked like barf. At least I only made half a batch!

#3: Make bagels

This was fun. It felt really weird to drop raw dough into simmering water. They smelled delicious baking, and taste very similar to the wheat bread I make (I substituted half freshly-ground wheat flour in the recipe). Mason ate two while they were still hot from the oven. I'm excited to try one toasted, with cream cheese and jam--my favorite way to eat a bagel.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

52 Books!

I completed my goal to read 52 books this year! Actually, I read 53. Here they are:

Megan's bookshelf: read

The Giver
The Grapes of Wrath
The Westing Game
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
City of Lost Souls
Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s.
Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle
Winnie the Pooh
Fine Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals
The Wednesday Letters
Teaching Your Children Values
Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
The Fiddler
One Tattered Angel: A Touching True Story of the Power of Love

Megan's favorite books »

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

7 goals in 5 days?

Somehow my 30th year got away from me. It might have something to do with my three crazy kids, and the fact that home-schooling a first-grader has left me gasping for breath the since August started. I really should have worked on more goals earlier on in the year, because it's been crunch time lately.

I recently finished goal #6: Read the Book of Mormon.

So here is what I'm looking at:
  1. Paint the exterior of my house (I started this project 3 or 4 years ago, and am still not finished)
  2. Sing in a recital
  3. Make bagels
  4. Set up irrigation to my peach and pear tree and blackberry bush (I'd really like to have fruit this year!)
  5. Sew a dickie (to make those v-neck shirts more modest)
  6. Read the Book of Mormon
  7. Pay for a stranger's meal
  8. Publish my 2010 Blog Book
  9. Take an inventory of my food storage
  10. Take a family name to the temple
  11. Display recent family photos in my home
  12. Attend a theater performance
  13. Write a children's book
  14. Watch a film from the AFI Top 100 list that I've never seen before
  15. Make cottage cheese
  16. Write the story of how Chad and I met and fell in love
  17. Read The Grapes of Wrath
  18. Donate used books to my library
  19. Write a thank you note to someone from my past
  20. Turn off all electronics for 24 hours
  21. Bear my testimony in church
  22. Invite someone I'd like to know better over for dinner
  23. Don't eat out (or take out) for a month
  24. Bake and give goodies to my mail carrier
  25. Leave a $5 bill and a note inside a library book
  26. Make Thai food
  27. Surprise Date Night
  28. Don't complain for a whole week (remember, these are goals, not strict requirements)
  29. Make a list of places I'd like to visit during my lifetime
  30. Donate blood
I've been working on the children's book, and I'm hoping to have a rough draft done. A very rough draft, but still, it's something. And the blood donation will have to go on next year's list. Blood drives don't happen all that often around here, and there were none in the month of December. That's what I get for waiting until the last minute.

So, there are 5 days left in the year. I'm going to try to make it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmastime in Vegas

This month Chad took some time off so we could spend some time in Vegas with his family. Here are the highlights!

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay with cousins Nate and Abby:

Our huge, gorgeous room at the Trump Towers where Chad and I celebrated our anniversary (thanks to Fran and Jim for watching the kids!):
We totally appreciated the free upgrade.

Date night with Rob and Jaime to Max Brenner for dinner and dessert:
Amazing ice cream sundaes, and a chocolate lava cake.

Bass Pro Shop's Winter Wonderland:
I love Bree's look of evil concentration.

Grandma treated us to manicures (it was Bree's first time, and they gave her the star treatment; she especially enjoyed the free snacks):
Look how natural my pose is, trying to show off my nails.

Gifts from Grandma and Papa (See's candy, a Bluray player, scooters, a Fijit, Little People, Legos, Polly Pockets, and the noisiest elf-voice microphones known to man!):

Chad's parents made us feel so welcome in their home, and it was a festive visit filled with fun and gifts (I thought it was Hanukkah the way we had presents every night!). We sure appreciated everything, and had a great stay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Love Story

#16: Write the story of how Chad and I met and fell in love

On December 15th we will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. So how did it all begin? That's a good question. It seems like ages ago. Being married and having kids seems to have muddled my memory of life before all this. I'm guessing that I have this story written down in a journal somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment. And I have never been a dedicated journal-writer (starting this blog has helped to change that), so a written version of our love story may not actually exist. I do, however, have a scrapbook with a few photos to remind me of what actually happened all those years ago. So, between those and my and Chad's memories, I'll do my best to recreate the details.

I was a 19-year-old Junior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, spending the summer of 2001 completing prerequisite courses for the nursing program. I was living in a nasty apartment in the ghetto around the corner from the university. It was a 2 bedroom 2 bath, cockroach infested slum, housing 5 girls (one slept on the living room couch). The weirdness level of my roommates was astounding (one of them already had her wedding dress, but no prospects), and I spent as little time in the apartment as possible.

I attended pretty much every single-adult activity that was offered, and I had scrounged up enough money to go on that summer's beach trip. The trip started in the institute building parking lot, where we all loaded onto charter buses that drove us four hours to the California coast. The day was fun, but pretty uneventful. I don't remember much about it except for one particular girl who wore a bikini. I recall being shocked that she would wear something so immodest at a church activity, but was secretly jealous of all the male attention she was getting. Anyway, things didn't get interesting until the ride home. I was slathering aloe vera on myself, when I noticed that this guy a row back and across the aisle was watching me. He was extremely sun-burned, so I said, "Do you want some?" and held the bottle of aloe vera towards him. He replied, "Sure, if you'll put it on me." I sputtered out something like, "I don't even know you," appalled at his brazen flirting. He introduced himself as Chad Wallace, shook my hand, then said, "Now you know me." By this time we had the attention of all the people surrounding us on the bus, and my face was on fire. I couldn't think of a cool way to extricate myself gracefully from the situation, so I relented and said, "Okay." Chad proceeded to take off his shirt, which caused me to blush even more. I rubbed aloe on his back, trying to act nonchalant, then sat back down, cheeks burning. I pretty much ignored him the rest of the ride home, but every time I glanced back his eyes were on me, and he'd give me a devilish smile and a wink.

The details of the next few weeks are hazy. When I saw him at church the next time, he remembered my name, which surprised me. I kept my eyes out for him at the single-adult activities: a sports activity at the park, a pool party at someone's house. He was there, and we flirted, but I remember being annoyed because the girl to guy ratio was at least 3 to 1, and I hated competing for attention. Chad was playing it aloof to boot; I remember him shrugging his shoulders a lot. And then there was my friend Mindy, who warned me to stay away from Chad, with the dire warning: "He's a player." (Come to find out later, Mindy had a thing for Chad, and was trying to deter the competition. Some friend.) It seemed doubtful that anything would come from the initial flirtation on the bus.

But then one night there was a dance in the institute parking lot where I was finally able to get Chad's full attention. He was wearing a sort of tribal print shirt, and a beaded necklace with a little tooth on it. And he smelled like garlic. I mean really smelled like garlic (he had just eaten at Boca di Beppo, where they serve garlic bread with huge chunks of garlic on it). For some reason I found the combination extremely attractive. We danced together for a while, then we ended up in his truck where we talked for hours, and I discovered that there was a lot more to this aloof "player" than I thought. And we kissed for the first time. We stayed there almost the whole night. Then he took me home. So when we think about our first "date" we consider this night to be it, even if it was a little nontraditional.

From then on out we stopped dating other people and spent a lot of time together. We went to the Vans Warped Tour at the Thomas and Mack on June 23rd, rocked out to Alien Ant Farm, and moshed to Rancid. We went boating with Chad's friend Brett, and I tried to water ski. We went hiking the Lost Creek trail at Red Rock, and kissed under the waterfall. Chad was helping me pay my rent, because I had lost my job at the collections agency. And then he took me home to meet his family (he still lived at home). I spent Fourth of July with them. I ate meals at his house. His parents were kind and welcoming, and I felt so comfortable there. I rarely went home to my apartment if I could help it. We barely slept and I hardly studied (but thankfully passed all my summer classes anyway). Then I called my mom and told her I had met someone amazing. She knew from my voice that I was in love.

At some point during the next month we said the "L" word to each other. I remember that exchange pretty clearly, because I was afraid to say it. It's hard to explain why, because it was clear to me that I did love him. I guess I was worried that things were too good, and my hopes were too high, and I didn't want things to get screwed up, and part of me didn't trust myself (my relationship track record was pretty rocky). But Chad made me say it first, and once we "officially" loved each other it was downhill from there. We knew we were going to get married. I picked out a ring.

We planned on going to Washington so Chad could meet my family, and he wanted to plan the proposal during our trip (after he had gotten my dad's permission). He asked his mom for ideas on proposal ideas. She said something about how women love flowers and tuxedos. Chad made a plan, and he called my mom to enlist her help in procuring the flowers and a tuxedo. We flew to Washington and Chad met my family. We did some sight-seeing around Seattle, and went to a baseball game with my friends. Then it was time for the Echo Lake hike; a sort of rite of passage in our family. My dad, my friends Tina and Mackenzie, Chad, and I all backpacked to the campsite at the lake. We did the traditional trout fishing, and mostly tried to stay dry despite the constant drizzle. The next morning, Chad secretly woke up at 6:00 am and got in position for the big moment. Us girls were all still asleep, and Chad got impatient after about half an hour of hiding and waiting. Then I was awakened by what I thought were pine cones hitting our tent (Chad was throwing rocks to wake me up). Tina and Mackenzie were still snoozing away, so I unzipped the tent to investigate. As I went to put my shoes on, I saw a little yellow flower on my hiking boot, with a trail of flower petals leading way from it. I quickly put on my shoes and followed the trail to a tree stump on the other side of the clearing. There was a jewelry box sitting on it. When I opened it and discovered it was empty, I turned around. There was Chad, in a tuxedo, holding the ring. He got down on one knee, told me he loved me, and asked me to marry him. I teared up and said yes, and he slipped the ring on my finger.

Four months later we were married in the Las Vegas Temple. It was the best decision of my life.

Happy 11th anniversary, Chad. I love you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Annual Light Parade

We attended the light parade downtown again this year. Here were a few of my favorites:
(Photos by local photographer Linda Gross)
 Here's Lincoln saying, "Oooo!"

And Bree and Mason with their free candy canes.

The best part was at the end after Santa passed by. Bree turned around and said, "His beard was really real! I think he was the real Santa!"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Ornaments

Bree has been begging me to help her make ornaments for out tree. I couldn't find any decent craft supplies in the house, so I introduced Bree to the art of stringing popcorn.

It's quite an exciting concept when you think about it: take a needle and long thread and string up a long strand of food. Mason had to get in on the action too, because after all, when else have I ever let him handle my sewing needles?

We sat down on the couch, turned on The Santa Clause 2, and got busy. I just popped some kernels in a paper lunch sack in the microwave--no butter or salt makes for better garland. Bree made an impressive popcorn string that ended up being about four feet long. Mason made it to about a foot and gave up. I made enough to fill in the rest of the spaces on the tree, which wasn't difficult because I only needed garland for the top half (edible decorations would have quickly disappeared in Lincoln's mouth). I think it turned out adorable. It was that little extra something our tree needed.

Friday, December 7, 2012

#24, #26, and #28

With only about three weeks of the year left, I have my work cut out for me to finish my list of goals!

#24: Bake and give goodies to my mail carrier (she totally deserves it--she is always smiling and friendly, and waits for us to answer the door when she has mail that won't fit in the mailbox).

Chad and I have been baking up a storm. He has proven to be quite the adept candy-maker, churning out peanut brittle, fudge, and almond roca like a pro. While he was stirring boiling sugary substances at the stove, I made pecan tassies, pumpkin-streusel cake, pretzel turtles, sugar cookies, and sweet Chex mix. Our mail lady was presented with quite an impressive array of treats.

#26: Make Thai food

I chose to make Coconut-Curry Tilapia. I had a hard time finding red curry paste in my town, but that was the most difficult thing about this recipe. Fresh flavors, simple, and not too spicy.

Photo and recipe from Cooking Light (I used much more sauce on mine!)
#28: Don't complain for a whole week

I didn't actually make it the whole week with no complaints, but I did learn about my complaining habits. I had to remember to pay attention to what I was saying, and I realized that I complain most often about my sinus/allergy problems, and the kids' misbehavior. I also found that there is a fine line between complaining and simply pointing out the facts (e.g., Chad: "How was your day?" Me: "Bree had a bad attitude during school today."). I think I just need to work on complaining less about the little things that the kids do that bug me, and only point out the major infractions that need attention.

I'm sure I complained about other things, but I can't remember!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Globe First Ward Santa

We had a Christmas potluck at our church last week, complete with rubber chicken launching (with a water balloon launcher), a nice array of food, and a wonderful Santa. He happens to be a personal friend. It was hilarious when his own kids were too scared to sit on his lap.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bree's latest spontaneous artwork, with explanation

"Cat plus dog (they're friends) equals love.
Cat by herself minus love equals sad kitty.
That helps us to remember you can never go alone."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letters to Santa

Dear Santa,
I want you to bring me a castle of soldiers and a dragon and ogre, and Spongebob Squarepants Legos like the movie. I want new squirt guns and a new toy dinosaur and a new toy rocket that looks like fire. That's all I want for Christmas.

Dear Santa,
I want a stuffed parrot, a Barbie princess with brown hair and a purple dress, a golden knight, and a snow globe.

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