A Quiet Birthday

Things have been quiet, fairly uneventful, and surprisingly enjoyable around here. Steve is night skiing with the Young Men. Rachel, Lucy, Kaleigh, Derrick, and his girlfriend are all downstairs dancing to Michael Jackson on the Wii. Adam is asleep on the couch next to me.

Rebecca brought by some nice gifts, including my very favorite granola.
Derrick (or probably his girlfriend) got me some beautiful flowers.
Rachel and Lucy cleaned the house for me and even made my bed.
My parents gave me (and Steve) a really cool solar panel to charge all of our electronic devices in the case of an emergency. Or on backpacking trips. Or whenever we feel like tapping into the sun's energy.
We are still enjoying the new television Steve's parents gave us for Christmas and our birthdays.
I finally set up my bike on the bicycle trainer that I picked out for myself.

And in celebration of my 29th birthday, I am going to follow the example of some of my friends and share 29 things about me.

1. I have had the same pair of running shoes for eleven years.

2. I rarely have bad breath because I am an avid tongue scraper. (Not a tongue brusher, a tongue scraper; there is a big difference.)

3. I always planned to serve an LDS mission. As it turns out, I am the only one in my family who didn't. (I really wanted to get called to Australia.)

4. I changed my major in college because I wanted to go to the City of Rocks instead of write a paper.

5. The very first cd I ever owned was the soundtrack to Maverick. I hadn't even seen the movie.

6. When I was a kid, I could do more pull-ups than anyone else in my P.E. class. My record was 10.

7. Jobs I have had include: delivering newspapers (starting when I was 8), mowing lawns (starting when I was 9), Decorative Landscaping and Curbing, cleaner for Casey's Electrolysis and Grey Enterprises, Gale's Office Supply, Subway, Discovery Research Group, USU Ticket Office, Convergys (only lasted one week), DownEast Outfitters, The Skyroom, Callaway's, treadmill tester at ICON Health & Fitness, Living Scriptures, busser at Le Nonne Ristorante, grant writer for Utah Botanical Center, advertising representative for The Utah Statesman, phonebook deliverer, and preschool teacher at Morningside School. I have been unemployed since Adam was born. (I have made some money writing papers, filing taxes for other people, and selling things on eBay.)

8. I wanted to have six kids. I thought they would all be boys.

9. I wish I had better handwriting.

10. One of my biggest faults is buying things on really good sales and thinking I can modify them. Like when I bought a pair of bright pink Dr. Marten's and tried to dye them brown.

11. Sometimes when I lose my temper, I throw things. Today I threw my wallet at Steve.

12. My SEOP in high school was to become a Biomedical Engineer. I really just wanted to be a florist.

13. I like planning trips almost as much as I like actually going on them.

14. I have never been to IKEA, Cabela's or a Whole Foods Store.

15. Church callings I have had: Activities Committee, Enrichment Committee, Enrichment Leader, Enrichment Teacher, Relief Society Teacher, Sunday School Teacher, Primary Teacher, Primary Secretary, Young Women's Counselor, Relief Society Counselor, Financial Counselor, Preparedness Specialist, Home Storage Specialist, and Stake Home Storage Specialist.

16. I wrote poetry for one year.

17. The worst purchase I ever made was the dune buggy named Richard that I bought in college for $100. Steve disagrees and thinks it was a great purchase.

18. I had 26 different roommates and lived in 7 different apartments in the two years of college before I got married.

19. I have never lost an arm wrestling match against Derrick.

20. Things I really like: clean fridges, dehydrating fruit, bicycle rides, freshly laundered sheets, playing ping pong, listening to the sound of rain on a metal roof. (I miss the one we had in Nibley.)

21. I have never watched: Back to the Future, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, or most of the Disney movies. Steve is appalled by this. (If you want to know why I missed out on so many movies, please refer back to Number 7.)

22. I drove to Mexico and visited my brother, Sam, when he was on his mission. During the trip, I might have gotten in one little car chase with the Mexican police.

23. I am the driver in our family. Steve does not like to drive. (He drives when I am sick or sometimes when we are on a date.)

24. When I was in fourth grade, I won a city-wide free throw contest during halftime of a Kansas State University basketball game with six out of ten baskets.

25. I am really good at riding a bicycle with no hands. I am also fairly skilled at driving a car with no hands. (My dad taught me, whether he intended to or not.)

26. I have ridden and eaten an ostrich. (Not the same one.) I have also eaten crocodile, but have not ridden one.

27. Some conveniences I would have a hard time living without: my iPhone, a space heater, chapstick, and high-speed Internet.

28. I have hiked to Bear Lake from Logan three (or four?) times, but not once since I met Steve. (He refuses to go on the hike and says if he's going to hike that far, it will be to something better than Bear Lake.)

29. I still remember the very first password my dad set to get on the internet when I was in 8th grade: qb62hz97.



I still remember the first time I saw the acronym GNO. I thought it was a typo for gyno, but then it was repeated multiple times and didn't make sense. I had no idea what it meant and was having a difficult time deciphering its meaning from the context. I almost called my sister-in-law, Angie Wirick, who is very knowledgeable in all things computer related, and more specifically, knows every acronym known (and unknown, as the case was) to mankind.

Wikipedia defines Girls' Night Out as a gender-exclusive activity upon which women meet to engage in social activities. I set a new record with two of those over the weekend. (And I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've actually used the term myself.)

On Friday night, I went to a Green Smoothie Girl class at Good Earth with my friends, Audrey and Kelly. The class was a bit of a let-down, but made for plenty of great conversation.

According to Robyn Openshaw, (who really should call herself Green Smoothie Lady; she's too old to be called a girl) women in the 1940s spent an average of four hours in the kitchen per day. Women today spend twenty minutes.

She taught us that mucous was the bodies way of flushing out sugar and dairy because the body isn't prepared to received it. Although I think there could be a particle of truth to this, I couldn't help but laugh and think back to when Sam and Kacie first moved into their new home on Southgate and Sam was bluntly told by a member of the bishopbric that he drank too much dairy.

The BlendTec blenders she recommends are priced up to $650. Which is just crazy.

Green Smoothie Girl recommends a diet of 60-80 percent raw food, and only 5 percent animal protein. She claims that drinking one quart of green smoothies per day will help you achieve: 1) weight loss, 2) more energy, and 3) better digestion. I don't dispute any of this. I did feel like it was a sales presentation and I did have some issues with her medical stories.

I have issues with most people/groups that refer to other people as "newbies".

I want to grow chard and kale in my garden this year.

Kelly said that Audrey makes better green smoothies than we tasted at the end of the class. I believe her. I also believe that Audrey could have taught a better class. In fifteen minutes.

We went for a quick little tour of my new neighbor's beautifully renovated home and then my sister joined us for a late dinner at Sonora Grill. I had the salmon special, and it was, unquestionably, the best salmon ever. I am currently petitioning for it to be added to the menu and will let you know when it is being offered again.

On Saturday night, Angie Ballard and I went to see Project Nim at the Sundance Film Festival in Ogden.

The description indicated that it would be comical, revealing, and profoundly unsettling. It was.

Afterwards, we went to Sonora Grill for another late dinner (and more of that amazing salmon). My sister joined us for dessert and wanted a rundown of the film. Together, we gave her one that was probably more enjoyable than the actual movie. I found an online review that was pretty close to, but not nearly as animated as our description was.

For opening night of Sundance, there were only a few selections. I chose the one with a monkey. How could you go wrong with a monkey? Project Nim turned out to be an expose on the most scientifically unsound experiment of the ‘70s.

Professor Herb Terrace of Columbia had the idea that you could raise a chimpanzee in a human environment and teach it to talk. Seems reasonable. Now we know chimps can sign, but this was 1973. Everything about Herbs’s [the film refers to everyone by first name] experiment was designed to fail, and he was completely corrupt.

First they rip little Nim from his mommy’s cradle, as they had done with SIX of her previous babies. So it’s already flawed. That’s not a natural adoption. They’re stealing a baby and sneaking him into another home.

The first “mother” to Nim was Stephanie LaForge. She didn’t discipline him at all, let Nim run around the house and mess up her husband’s stuff. She let Nim fondle her and even breastfed him! There’s an archival photo of it, but it’s over her sweater. She refused to record data. She just wanted a baby monkey. Also, she and Herb did it together before she married Wer LaForge.

So Terrace hires Laura to be Nim’s teacher. At least in school, he can have a positive influence. Nim basically gets caught in a custody battle between Laura and Stephanie. Laura and Herb take Nim away from Stephanie and move him to a big estate, with such an open space that it’s basically like the wild. Herb hooks up with Laura too.

Basically the only positive thing about Herb is that he took good home movies, so we have footage of everything. Director James Marsh makes this compelling history extra dramatic, not just incorporating archival footage and present day interviews. He also stages tasteful re-enactments of Nim’s more violent reactions, usually from the outside of a window or doorway so you see the aftermath. Also his silent interstitial shots of the interviewees staring into the camera as he dollies away were powerful.

Project Nim is ultimately a tragic story. The scientists screwed Nim up so bad he wasn’t any good back in the chimp habitat, let alone the wild. There are plenty of hard to watch scenes including some horrific medical footage, but mainly just the inevitable of this is a wild animal. He’ll learn to ask for a bathroom break, but then he’ll rip your face off. I was worried for the cat they let him play with. The humans made a decision, but a domestic cat doesn’t know how dangerous a chimpanzee is.

It ends on a reasonably happy note. If you’re thinking the worst, it’s not that bad. Ultimately they do the best they can for this victim they screwed with. What you’re left with is not “Aww, look at the monkey!” but rather “%@#$, ‘70s hippie scientists were messed up.”

The film was truly unsettling and, again, made for great conversation.

Good times with some fun GNOs. But I miss my husband and am going to try hanging out with him this weekend.


Now THAT'S a Party

10,000 square foot skate park
+216 mini doughnuts
+42 kids
+19 adults
=1 very happy birthday girl

It was just a little crazy in there, but we escaped without any major injuries. (Steve is plenty sore from doing flips into the foam pit and running up and down the half pipes.)

Rachel waited eight long years for a "real" birthday party with friends, and she wasn't the least bit disappointed.

(But she might be next year.)


Deceptively Delicious

I spent Saturday afternoon pureeing. I've never used that as a verb before. Probably because I've never spent my afternoon pureeing before.

My refrigerator and freezer are now well stocked with fruit and vegetable purees so I can follow Jessica Seinfield's recipes from her book, Deceptively Delicious.

There are so many recipes that I am excited to try out on my family. . . Brownies with Carrot and Spinach, Chicken Nuggets with Broccoli, Deviled Eggs with Cauliflower, Quesadillas with Butternut Squash, Homemade Ketchup with Carrot, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chickpeas. . .

I was going to make the Italian Meatloaf with Carrot Monday night, but my father-in-law was coming over for dinner and he was less than excited when I told him it was going to be a healthy version made out of ground turkey. (I never even told him that anything was going to be deceptively hidden inside.)

Actually, I got sidetracked at DownEast and ran out of time, so I ended up serving rotisserie chicken from Costco. DownEast might officially be a little too close to my house.

But back to the purees. And a fun little contest!

The first person to leave a comment that correctly identifies all five purees wins their own copy of the Deceptively Delicious cookbook. (They were such a good deal, I had to buy two.)

Good Luck!


Fall Family Pictures

Andrea Hanks took some family pictures for us clear back in November. We expected a beautiful sunny day, but didn't get one. The lighting was not-so-good, and the whole time she kept telling me they weren't going to turn out and we could go try for some more the next week. But I knew what sort of magic she was capable of, and told her they would be just fine.

And then I told her I wasn't in a hurry for them, I just wanted to be able to use the family shot for our family Christmas card. She got busy with some big projects, her little daughter got really sick while her husband was out of town, and I ended up sending out the Christmas card shot, unedited. But she finally got the face-swapping done on our family shot, so here they are, our fall family pictures.

Pictures can be a bit of a hassle, but I'm really happy with the shots she captured of our family. (Plus this bonus shot of me and my hermana.)