Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dinner and a conversation

The other night we went to Chilis to celebrate Ryan finishing the first half of his training. We both enjoy the food at Chilis and love getting the 2 people for $20 deal. It seems like we have some of our best conversations while going out to dinner. I'm not sure what it is about going out to eat that brings out our ability to talk, maybe it's the chips and salsa or the lemon water but whatever it is, somehow it works for us.

Chili's in Long Beach July 2009

Once when we lived in Ogden we had plans to go eat, as I was driving there I thought the car was completely dying, there was smoke coming up from under the hood and a very loud nasty clanking was happening. I literally had to coast into the parking lot. We had this really long dinner where we discussed what we were going to do about our car situation, we didn't want to buy something else but we needed 2 cars because our job locations and schedules wouldn't let us carpool, but we were poor students and we didn't really have money to spend. After talking over all our options and coming to a decision we left the retaurant and within about 30 seconds of Ryan looking at the car he figured out that a spark plug had come loose and that it would take about $2 and 10 minutes to fix the car.

If you're reading this story and wondering, "how can I have one of these great dinners with my husband?" it does take a little planning. One important factor to having our great discussions is that I have to position myself well, by that I mean in the seat that faces the TVs (so his back is to the TV). Ryan can't help watching sports, his eyes are inescapably drawn to any TV showing sports the same way my hands are mysteriously drawn towards a new shelf of baby flannel. I love the fact that even after almost 10 years of marriage we can sit down to dinner and talk for 1-2 hours about anything and everything.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grocery shopping and Albertson's

About 8 weeks ago our grocery shopping habits took a big blow, the only Albertsons for 20 miles closed down. You may be saying, "what's the big deal?" For the most part we do all our shopping at Walmart but every week Albertsons had good deals on things that were on the front page of their ad. We knew there was no point in actually opening the ad, all we had to do was look at the front page and we could tell if we would get something from there or not. Our food storage supplies of Cereal, granola bars, brownie mix and several other items are mostly thanks to Albertsons sales.

So now, our only option really is going to Walmart for all our food needs. They do still have good prices but they don't seem to have those extra discounts that Albertsons always offered on at least a few items. Since Walmart doesn't put out an add, we never know what is on "sale" there until we arrive and walk up and down each isle. This takes skill, as you need to know how much things are regularly priced to know if it is a good deal or not.

There is a Safeway in town but their sale prices seem to be more expensive than Walmart's normal prices. There's another grocery store called "King Soopers" but they don't really offer the same type of big deals that Albertsons did and it's nowhere near as cheap as Walmart.

An additional sad note, the Albertsons brand cinnamon french toast sticks were better than any other brand I've tried. On a bright note, the week before Thanksgiving Walmart was selling Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup for a crazy low price (I know this contrasts everything I've just said but it really is the only time I've seen such a good sale price at Walmart). We bought 4 cases of Cream of Chicken soup. I would have bought more if there had been more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kitchen Disasters

Recently I had had a couple mishaps in the kitchen, the only things that were hurt were Ryan's appetite and a few good potatoes. My love for cooking could be compared to my love for going to the dentist. My problem is that I just don't care that much about food. Yes, I do love cheesecake and I have a soft spot for a good frozen pizza but most food is about the same to me. Because of this, I apparently am unable to focus as much on cooking as I am on sewing for example. Maybe this wouldn't be a big deal but I am married to man who probably should have become a chef. His biggest pet peeves with my cooking (and I can't really blame him) are:

  • I never set a timer and usually I forget to even look at what time I put things in the oven
  • I like to cooks things the way I feel like making them instead of always following the recipe
  • Sometimes I leave things out of recipes because I'm not paying attention
  • I leave ingredients out after I'm done with them, cleaning up is for after dinner
  • I can't ever remember how to cook rice (2 cups rice 1 cup water, right?)
  • There 2 meals that I won't learn how to make so that I can claim ignorance and Ryan will have to cook them
  • I don't have the same attention to detail with cooking that I do in all other aspects of my life

While I do not deny that I have most of those faults, Ryan is kind of a kitchen Nazi. If he's home and I'm making food he's pretty much physically unable to keep himself out of the kitchen. After watching me cook for a few minutes he usually can't take it any longer and takes over making the rest of the meal. He's not totally unjustified, recently he walked in on me cooking and said, you added too much water to that. I had added 1 and 2/3 cups to something that only needed 2/3 cup. A short time before that he tasted a potato dish I had made and said what temperature did you cook that at, when I said 350 he informed me it should have been 450, which of course was right.

Spaghetti sauce explodes all over the stove, wall and even ceiling because I don't pay attention and I forget to stir it. Recently alfredo sauce exploded all over my face and neck when I bent over the pan to look at a dirty spot on the stove. I sprayed myself in the face and nose with a butter spray because I was trying to talk on the phone at the same time and didn't pay attention to where the nozzle was pointed. I could go on, however, I will spare myself more embarrassment.

While it's just the two of us here in our house we have divided up the different rooms, I have a craft room, he has a "library" (which is really just the spare bedroom with a twin bed and a desk but technically it is his room). He has let me know that until I'm staying home with our kids and no longer working that the kitchen is HIS. I guess I should be glad that I have a husband that can and sometimes feels like he has to cook.

When Ryan cooks he:

  • Always follows the recipe unless he's figured out a way to make it better
  • Always sets a timer even if it's for as little as 1 minute
  • Cleans up as he cooks (milk comes out, he uses it and it goes back in the fridge, etc.)
  • Can memorize a recipe after making it only once
  • Can look at a recipe and tell me whether or not it's something I might like

One day I'm hoping that I'll get better and be able to claim that the kitchen is my room. Until then, I'd starve without him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simple pleasures

I love slipping into a hot bath with a good book at the end of the day. It's my quiet time. My time to forget about work, the unfinished backyard, the dying car and my childless life.

I can get lost in a good mystery or sucked into the world of Jane Austen or most recently Shannon Hale and her books. I sometimes read the church news, the Ensign, peruse the Deseret Book Catalog or read travel books planning out our next trip.

Last spring all that came to an end. My beloved bath pillow that cost me $1.99 from Walmart went flat. And I couldn't find another one. Walmart no longer carried a bath pillow. Oh, they had other "spa pillows", but nothing that I wanted. We looked at K-mart, the dollar store, even Target. And I couldn't find what I wanted for a price that my thrifty self was willing to pay.
I finally broke down and went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. And there it was. My new and improved bath pillow.
This one had a terry cloth side for extra comfort. It was a bit more expensive at $6.99, but I did have a 20% coupon and it is worth every single penny!

And now I'm going to slip into the tub, lay back on my fantastic pillow and start reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Defying Logic?

So a few weeks ago we put some music on the blog from the musical Wicked because we had tickets to see it. Sometime in the past few days (maybe weeks) one of our songs got a little makeover. I know most people probably just turn down the volume and don't bother listening to the music, I do it myself. Tonight I opened up our blog in one window and started typing an email in another. I thought maybe Ryan changed the music on the blog (he's in charge of the music). I was really surprised when I listened to the song. For some reason our track #3 says it's "Defying Gravity" but it's not. If you like something a little "Weird" listen to track #3 on our player at the bottom of the blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A thanksgiving with no cooking and no dishes

Holidays are a bit different for us since Ryan started working for the FAA. Working holidays will probably be a regular part of our lives until he retires.

We decided that until we have some kiddos, we would rather take time off from work in the warm months when the driving is better and we can actually do things with family besides stay inside to avoid the bitter cold.

So since we moved to Colorado, I've worked every single holiday. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th, etc. It works out pretty well for me. We both get more money for working holidays and it allows us extra days off when we want them.

So this year, Ryan joined me at my work for Thanksgiving dinner. I eat free and it only cost $3 for his meal ticket. We had turkey, excellent stuffing, green beans and pumpkin pie. I did miss having potatoes and a roll, but overall it was a great Thanksgiving. Ryan got to watch football while I put in some hours at work. And the best part of the day - no cooking and no dishes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I think we might have overpaid

Ryan and I have both on many occasions promised that we will never join the masses that purchase the 4th of July t-shirts at Old Navy. I'm not sure why this started. Perhaps it was the trendy thing to do in Provo and we wanted nothing to do with it.

This week we were down in Denver after a temple trip and we needed to pick up a few things from Craig's list. Ryan meant to bring a shirt to change into but that was one of the many things forgotten that day.

We decided to stop by a Walmart or Ross and just buy the cheapest t-shirt we could. I was hoping to spend less than $5.

We decided to pop into Old Navy...we haven't been inside this store in at least 8 or 9 years. After browsing the racks for a few minutes, we made our way back to the clearance racks.

And this is what I found...

for the amazing price of $.27!!!!!!!

(Even the DI is not that cheap)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Healthy Living

A few weeks ago Ryan and I decided to start living a more healthy lifestyle again. There was a time in our lives that we went to the gym 5 days a week and were careful about what we ate. This lasted about 9 months until I went to Europe and then we never got back into our routine after that break.

We started again last spring, but then working in the backyard consumed every waking moment of our lives. Now that it is bitter cold here and we can no longer work outside with any degree of comfort, we decided to focus on living a healthier lifestyle.

This is not just about losing weight or a diet. It's about our overall health. We are eating more fruits and vegetables. In fact, I came home from work to find Ryan eating some carrots as a snack. (if you pass out from shock, I understand).

And we've been sure to drink the needed amount of water as well. We have water bottles all over the house. I'm pretty sure the only room we don't have a water bottle in is the bathroom and that's only because we can drink from the tap if needed. (just kidding).

We've started treadmilling every day as well.

And the results have been amazing. From the first night we started treadmilling, both of us have slept amazingly well. I was having some problems sleeping and Ryan was waking up with a sore hip. But not now.

We both lost 5 pounds in first week. We've since leveled off but it's on a steady decline. And we both have more energy during the day and sleep better at night. And the best part is we wake up feeling rested.

And it's much easier to do it when we are working together. It's easier for me to go down to the cold basement to do treadmill when I'm home alone knowing that Ryan did treadmill earlier in the day.

So the experts are right...exercise and eating right are good for you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Book Report

I've been reading Little Women at work. I never realized what a long book it is. It took me a bit to get into it, but I'm really into it now. It's taken me about 5 weeks reading for 30 minutes 3 days a week. I'm about 2/3 of the way through and thoroughly enjoying it.

I also had to break down and read Anne of the Windy Poplars since they didn't have it on CD. It was interesting to see what parts of the book made into the movie and how things got switched up. (Mom - you really need to read them). I also tried to listen to Treasure Island, but I couldn't get into it. It's still sitting in my desk drawer at work. Currently I have 3 books and 5 books on CD in my drawer at work waiting for me. Too bad lunch is only 30 minutes a day.

At home I've be reading a travel book about Chicago. I really want to go visit there. It's only 15 hours driving, 1 long day...but that trip will have to wait for a while.

Ryan's been reading these books in the Hunger Games series. He's really into them. He had the book on hold for 6 weeks before he got to check it out. Now he's miserable knowing he has to wait another year until the next one in the series even comes out.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Broncos, the Avs and Goodwill

On Saturday morning, Ryan's friend (and mine) Kenley flew in to visit with two of his friends. The guys really wanted to go on a tour of the Broncos Stadium so I tagged along as well for this. It was pretty cool to see our tax dollars at work. We got to go everywhere except the owners box and the Broncos locker room. We did get to see the visitors locker room, the expensive suites, the huge room that holds all the beer (and stinks like it too), and the press area. We got to go down to the field and take pictures, not on the grass but off to the side.

Afterwards the boys went to the Avalanche game. Ryan's not an Avalanche fan but he loves all sports and Kenley is a big Avalache fan. They tried to get Ryan to root for the Avalanche but Ryan said he'd root for the team that scored first. 3 minutes into the game Vancouver scored and so he rooted for them the rest of the game which ended up being a good choice because they won 8-4. Ryan said everyone had a fun time even though the Avalanche got crushed.

After I left the guys, I stopped by Goodwill to do a little thrift store shopping but it just isn't the same alone. I need my sisters to make it a good trip. I did pick up a cute Berenstain Bears book (the one about getting honey). I love the Berenstain Bears books. I'm getting quite the collection of them.

I tried on a few things, but I couldn't pay full price for a thrift store item when I knew next weekend everything would be 50% off. I avoid paying full price for anything even at a thrift store. Only weeks until my trip home. My sisters have already planned our thrift store shopping day. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Head of giraffe, legs of a zebra and body of horse Part 2

We went to the zoo on the last free day of the year which just happened to be veterans day. I went in to work early so we could fit a temple trip in before the zoo. The zoo was super crowded as is any free day, but the weather was perfect for the zoo. The sun was shining and it was in the 60's which is warm for November here.

We got to see our favorite animal (remember that post from January?). The animal that has the legs of a zebra, body of a horse and head of a giraffe. We can never remember what it is called, but this time we took pictures. Next time we'll try to remember what it is called.

We also got to see feeding time with the penguins. The caretaker also told us some interesting facts. He pointed out which ones were molting and the younger ones had different coloring than the older ones. They don't just randomly feed the penguins, they actually track how much each one eats. Some of them he had to coax them to eat the fish. Others just scarfed it down whole.

We saw 2 other families from our neighborhood there - gotta love free day! Although we were about the only people there without kids. Is it weird that we like going to the zoo and we don't have kids?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crafting is good for the soul

I don't really have much to say about last week except that we experienced some disappointment in our efforts to have a family. I know the adoption journey is full of ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, and lots of waiting. Infertility treatment is a lot the same. Lots of waiting. We have spent much of the past 5 years of our lives focusing on infertility treatment and adoption. We still hope that one way or another we'll have a kiddo or two.

We consoled ourselves with fruit smoothies and ice cream every night and we did absolutely nothing all week.

By Friday night I felt the need to craft and craft I did. I spent the weekend in my crafting room making this fleece quilt. You can read the details here .

Crafting is good for my soul. It makes me forget about my troubles and it keeps me busy. Which is what I needed this week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wicked and some weather

We've been waiting for this week ever since my birthday when Ryan gave me tickets to Wicked for Wednesday night. I was listening to the soundtrack almost daily at work and I was getting really excited. I had a cute outfit picked out...we were going to dress up and go to dinner before the show. It was going to be a perfect date night for us. Then we got hit with a big snowstorm starting Wednesday morning and it was a big storm. So first, there went my cute outfit. I was not about to walk around in the snow and freezing weather in my cute black dress.

We left early to get down there in the snow so we could park and still go to dinner. The theatre is right downtown a couple blocks from the downtown mall area, the 16th Street Mall. We parked and walked a couple of blocks to Chili's for dinner. I was still recovering from good old H1N1 and was having a hard time breathing that night. Every time we passed a smoker I couldn't breath. And when we were waiting to cross the street I was breathing all that exhaust in and I thought I would cough up my lung right there. It was nice to get inside and breath normally again

I love the show Wicked. I have only seen 2 others shows, both in Salt Lake years ago. I saw Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis with my mom and sister. I liked Phantom from what I can remember and Les Mis was okay. But nothing compares to Wicked in my book.

When we saw it in LA, we were on the very front row off to the left. (We won the raffle for $25 front row tickets). We were so close that I could see everything. The sweat on the actors faces, the details of their costumes, the shoes, socks, hair and what was going on on the side of the stage. I was fascinated by being so close. Sometimes I got so caught up in looking at things, I forgot to pay attention to the plot.

This time we were in the balcony in the middle. They were actually not too bad of seats besides being scrunched in way too tight with little or no leg room. During intermission, we noticed a couple go down and sit in the empty box seats off the right side. We started plotting how we could get down there. Ryan went and asked and for the 2nd half, we sat in the box seats. I have to say, I'm not sure how much the box seats cost, but the view was not that great, but we had plenty of space. No little kid kicking the back of my chair now. But it was fun to sit there. I still love the show and I picked up on a few things I missed the first time around. Overall, I would say I liked the performance and actors in LA better. I was not to fond of the Denver Fiyero and Glinda. But it was still such an amazing show and I loved it more. Makes we want to go see it again in another city.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good news...I don't have pneumonia

Two week update...

So Colorado weather is somewhat weird. Last Monday the high was 46 degrees and there was still snow on our front yard, today it was 84 and felt like it was almost summer again. On Wednesday we took a break from the back yard and worked on the front. Ryan raked the entire tree-ful of leaves that fell on our yard in about 3 days into several piles and then when I got home we put them into bags. Longmont is really good about recycling and almost any kind of waste disposal, each household can get 15 of these really big paper bags and then put them out on the designated day when the city comes around to pick them up. Our entire yard and half the street full of leaves only filled 7 bags. Currently the bags are sitting in our garage until our pick up day on Nov 2. And since the leaves were wet, our garage now stinks pretty bad.

Our sand box is just about empty. Ryan moved the last bits of sand to the garden area. We have almost completely finished picking up rocks out of our back yard. We've tilled just about every inch of it and gone through and picked up the rocks that we're buried a couple inches below the surface. We've found all sorts of things; peanuts, pecans, walnuts, tennis balls 6 inches underground, a Halloween skull ring and lots of old nails. Even though I was deathly ill, I went out and picked up rocks for 3 hours last Saturday afternoon. I just had to get it done and a fever, earache and coughing wasn't going to stop me.

So the good news is I don't have pneumonia. I've never had a chest X-ray before so that was another first. They asked if I was possibly pregnant. I said no. Then I got to hug the x-ray machine.

They offered me a prescription for narcotics, but I decided that NyQuil and Tylenol were working fine for me so no need for that.

I stayed on the couch until Thursday morning when I went to work. I was doing better until I spent Thursday and Friday at work. There are so many chemicals in the air there, it made it hard for me to breathe again and I started coughing worse. I refused to let housekeeping do more than sweep my floor as I was making my office a chemical free zone. I would have stayed home longer, but I was not about to waste any more of my vacation days to be sick. I hate not having sick leave.

Ryan started feeling not well, but it was just lack of good sleep as he is doing well and so far has not succumbed to this.

I'm still coughing and I'm pretty sure I coughed my left lung up at work and I'm about to cough up my right lung any minute.

The worst part is I had to cancel my trip home for the girls weekend. I'm terribly upset about that. Especially when Abby called and starting singing tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4 inches of snow and 2 inches of leaves

We realized we haven't given a book report in a while so here it is. I read a book Amy (my SIL) let me borrow, Darcy's Story. It's about Mr. Darcy and his take on everything that happened in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). It was okay, there was no intrigue about what was going to happen because I knew the story. But it was still a good lunchtime read. I checked out another Shannon Hale (Austenland, Princess Academy) book on CD. I'm loving it. Makes me want to get to work early to listen to a bit more of it. It is called Goose Girl.

Ryan is extremely into the book the Hunger Games. He devoured it in 3 days. It's the first book in a trilogy but only the first two books are out and he is #16 on the waiting list for the second book.

Last Friday night it started snowing. We thought it was supposed to be a small fall storm, just a skiff of snow on the ground. Oh how we were wrong. We woke up Saturday morning to 4 inches on snow.

Then after it stopped snowing all the leaves on our tree fell. By the end of the day, you couldn't even see the snow beneath the leaves I attached a picture of our neighbor's snowy yard and then a picture of our front yard. At least we only had to rake the leaves once this year. But we had to wait until the snow melted.

Our neighbors snowy yard.

Our snow with a layers of leaves on top

Saturday when Ryan went to work, I took off toward Boulder for some much needed retail therapy. Just kidding, my retail therapy was going to Joann's. It was the Columbus day sale and the clearance fabrics were on clearance. I only needed 1/4 yard and so it cost me $.38 for each different fabric. I got some of the ugliest fabric ever, but will look so awesome in the I-spy quilt. I'm way excited about that and it got me thinking about projects again. I haven't made a project since the middle of May except for the Levi quilt which is now residing in Connecticut. Lara or Erin asked me what project I was working on and I didn't have an answer. For so long our life has revolved around the backyard. I decided it was time to get back into my projects. I'm excited to start my list of fun projects for this winter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Musically Inclined

Carrie is a pretty good piano player but for some reason that is the end of her musical abilities. For her birthday in July I got her tickets to go see Wicked in October. For a while now she's been listening to the Wicked soundtrack so she'll know the songs before we go see it (we have seen it before in LA and she loved it so much she wanted to see it again). The other night Carrie tried to sing me part of the the song "Popular" and she got as far as, "popular.......lar." Occasionally she'll be able to come up with a random phrase from one song or another but for some reason she can't remember the words or tunes to the songs.

The reason why I bring all this up is because she informed me that I had let the John Denver version of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" stay for long enough and it needed to be changed, she couldn't take it any more. It brought back nice memories for me because I remembered my dad playing a John Denver record that had that song and "Country Roads." She prefers the version from Armageddon which I don't care for.

She's got about 2 more weeks until we go to Wicked again so maybe the new music will help her learn more than 1 phrase.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

burning eyeballs

Update on Ryan's experiment with the jalapeno peppers. That night he had a hard time taking his contacts out. Could it have been the jalapeno pepper juice soaked into his skin? The next morning i was startled awake at 6am by a very loud scream from the bathroom. Ryan had put his contact in his eyeball and it was burning so he was trying to get it out. Let's just say he didn't see well the rest of the day out of that eye. I so want to say a certain few words here, words like I told you so, but I won't. Being partially blind is enough of a reminder to ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN CUTTING JALAPENO PEPPERS. Ryan does insist however, that I include the fact that his hands never hurt, just his eyeballs and the wasted pair of contacts that had to be thrown away.

We celebrated Ryan's birthday last week. I came home from work about 10:30 and we worked outside clearing rocks the rest of the day. We got a lot done and Ryan did ask to work in the yard for his birthday. After that, we cleaned up and headed to the movies. We saw The Surrogates. It was better than I thought it would be. And the theater was sooo unbelievably empty for a Wednesday early evening. When we got home there was a package waiting on our doorstep so he even got to open a package on his early birthday. I made brownies for his cake, but we didn't do candles. I gave Ryan a cord that connects the computer to the TV so we can watch movies on our big Craig's list TV.

We decided to clear the rest of the rock in the backyard before it snowed. I was not looking forward to this at all and neither was Ryan. But we managed to get it done in 3 days! It was amazing how quickly it went. The missionaries came over to help us - got to love the free labor- and they helped dig up the old broken sprinkler lines.

We have found several different cables running int he backyard. It looks like the cable company just ran another line each time one got cut. We've found 3 so far. We decided to just bury the working line ourselves, then we can put it where we want it and not mess up our yard. It's obvious they aren't going to remove it since we have tons of old cables buried deep and some not so deep.

The frost killed our garden. October 1st and our garden was dead. We still need to clear it off, but there is only so much room in our trash can.

On his actual birthday, we didn't get to see each other, but he did have his good friend from Ogden stop by. Jeff was here for the Broncos Cowboys game and stopped here to see our house and go to lunch. At least he got to see somebody on his birthday.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ryan's birthday

It was Ryan's birthday this week. I have very few pictures of him when he is young, but I love the pictures I have. Isn't he cute?

He is the greatest husband I could ever have. He is my best friend and makes me unbelievably happy.

So happy to be married to him for 9 fabulous years! So happy I get him for eternity!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Moving earth

This week was another week of yard work. We moved about 8 inches of soil from the high point in our yard and pushed it back toward the back fence so there is no longer a hump, more of a level yard. We probably still have to level a bit more, but it's getting close.

I decided that one of the previous owners just didn't care about the yard. As we have been digging things up, we have found all sorts of treasures (garbage) buried beneath the soil. Tons of old rusty nails, bouncy balls, trash, pop can lids, etc. It's just amazing to me that people could do that to their own house/yard. The missionaries came over on Saturday morning to help us dig sprinkler lines. I do have a small blister on my hand as a souvenir from the weekend's work. Saturday night I went back out after it cooled down and hauled some more wheelbarrows of soil. When we were loading gravel, I could only haul about 1/2 wheelbarrow of rocks by myself without dumping it. It was nice to be able to completely fill the wheelbarrow with soil and still be able to move it. Now I know our wheelbarrow is smaller than Dad's green one, but it was still satisyfing that I have some strength in my upper body.

My sort-of neightbor brought over 3 ice cream buckets full of elderberries for me. I think I'm going to make jelly. Ryan and I spent a rainy wednesday afternoon pulling the elderberries off of the stems while watching a movie. It was a long and tedious project. We decided to freeze them while we found the juicer in the basement. We finally are going to get to use the juicer I picked up at the DI 5 years ago.

I started reading Austenland after reading a newspaper article about the author Shannon Hale. I was not that impressed with it. While the girls were here, Audrey was reading Princess Academy also by the same author. I checked that out from the library and I loved the book! Especially when I got to the really good part - remember that Audrey?

Ryan started a new series called Shadow Children. He has been reading them non-stop. Well, only when he is not out in the yard with the tiller. There were 7 books in the series but the longest one was only about 220 pages. For Ryan you can't tell a decent story in under 1000 pages.

A few weeks ago I cut up a bunch of jalapeno peppers to freeze to make salsa later. About 1 hour later, my hands were burning. I thought maybe I burnt my hands in the hot water when I was washing dishes. But it mostly was burning in between my fingers. We were in the car driving to denver when they started burning and there was nothing I could do about it. They had that burning feeling for 4-5 hours before it subsided. So after talking to Mom, I figured out it was not the hot water that burnt me, but the seeds and insides of the jalapeno peppers. So ryan wanted to test it out. I brought home some latex gloves from work to use next time we cut up these peppers, but Ryan didn't want to use them. He wanted to see if he had the same reaction as I did. So we are waiting to see if his hands start burning. I think he is crazy for wanting to test the theory. Why submit yourself to such intense agony?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More about the yard

Lately our lives revolve around the backyard. While the girls were here, we completely massacred the garden. Something was getting in and eating our tomatoes. Not just pecking at them, but eating out the whole tomato and leaving the skin. It was weird. The tomato plants had grown so thick and big that we couldn't get in to pick them. So we ripped out the two cucumber plants that were producing crappy cucumbers. We ripped out 2 mostly dead tomato plants and then we cut back the remaining tomato plants. When I say cut back, I mean huge cuts. We cut off everything that was on the ground. We picked the green tomatoes off the vines we had cut off and brought them inside to ripen. We must have had 100 green tomatoes or more on our desk by the window. We had tons more orange tomatoes on the kitchen counter waiting to ripen. The picture is after I had frozen about 1/2 of what was there. Should have taken a picture before.

Every few days, I take ripe tomatoes and scald them, then skin them and put them in buckets to freeze so I can make salsa later in the winter. I've been cutting up the jalapenos and green peppers and freezing them as well for my salsa. Just the other day we remembered that Ryan is allergic to something in the process of skinning the tomatoes. I've been trying to do it when he is not at home. It makes him all stuffed up with watery eyes.

I taught Ryan how to make pickles so he can do them on his own, but he hasn't had to yet. Our zucchini plant is producing like crazy. I've been shredding and freezing it as well so I can make zucchini bread at some point.

Since out massacre, we haven't had anything bother our tomatoes again and we can finally reach the cherry tomatoes on the plant. One cherry tomato plant had grown over the zucchini plant to the edge of the garden and turned around was heading back to the tomato cage. When we cut the cherry tomato plant, we discovered it had grown over a green pepper cage and there was a green pepper plant we had forgotten about.

We bought a tiller last week and Ryan tilled up the backyard. Every night after work we go outside and Ryan uses the tiller while I pick up rocks or dig up old sprinkler lines until dark, then we come in and eat dinner and then make pickles or scald tomatoes. It's been hard work, but we feel like we are finally getting somewhere with the yard.

This morning we woke up to dogs in our backyard. The neighbor through the back fence has 3 very large dogs and they had broken down some boards on the fence and were running around our yard. They left us lots of piles of dog poop. Of course the dog poop is not in some corner where we don't walk. It's all on the patio or on the garden pathway. I went over and knocked on his door to tell him his dogs were out. He didn't apologize and when I told him the dogs had knocked down part of the fence, his response was "oh I'll try to get to that later". If the dogs show up in our backyard again - animal control just might need to be called. Seriously -It's supposed to rain all week. The only good thing about that is maybe it will wash all the dog diarrhea poop of the patio.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two years ago

Two years ago today was one of the great days of our life. I had taken a home pregnancy test the night before, but I didn't believe it. But I believed it when the doctor congratulated us. I was so happy I cried.

I had a perma grin on my face and I was constantly lost in thought about decorating a baby's room, what colors and fabric to use, the quilts I would make, etc.

I daydreamed about baby names and telling our families and about quitting my job. Despite the nausea, it was one of the happiest times in our lives.

While it didn't end how I hoped it would, that positive pregnancy test gave me hope. Hope that having kiddos just might be in our future. Hope that just maybe we found the solution to our fertility problem. Hope that the meds and procedures would work for us again in a few months.

Two years later I still have hope. But the hope has changed. I've lost hope in becoming pregnant. I've lost hope in the meds and procedures. I've lost hope in having a baby boy with Ryan's red hair and brown eyes. But I do have hope in adoption. I have hope that we'll have a family with kiddos. I have hope that next year I'll be writing about changing diapers and getting up with a baby and car seats and spit up and all the great things to go along with it.

I have hope.

Monday, September 14, 2009

10 days ago

I should have written this post 10 days ago when the girls left. But, we were tired, exhausted, sleepy, worn out and remininsicing about all the fun times we had during this trip.

On their last day, they watched Harry Pothead 3 while Ryan made a big breakfast for them. They got all packed up and started their scrapbooks. Ryan set them up in my craft room and suggested a Harry Pothead marathon (of 1, 2 and 3 only) since I have a TV in my craft room.

The made fabulous scrapbook pages and went home with their scrapbook mostly done. I also introduced them to one of my favorite movies "North Avenue Irregulars".

One of our top secret projects was a levi quilt. I picked up the flannel a few years back thinking it would be perfect for this. The girls helped me put it on the quilt frames and then tie it. It was fun pointing out which squares were from Lindsay, Luke, my Grandpa Beck, my padre, Ryan, and some of my pants. The four big pocket a squares in the center are from mine and Ryan's pants. So we hope the entire Connecticut family enjoys this.

Another one of the projects we did was bags. The girls saw a bag I had made like this and they wanted to make one as well. We went through my scrap boxes and found some fabric that each liked. I made skirts out of both the fabrics that the girls chose. Should have taken a picture of them with their bag and me in my skirt. :) The girls helped me lay it out, then cut it out, pin it and sew it.

Audrey and her green bag

Tessa and her melon colored bag

The next morning Ryan took them to the airport while I headed to work. What a fantastic trip! Thanks for sharing your girls with us and you can send them back anytime you want!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making a lot of cents

Today was a day of rest...kind of. At 6:30 Ryan, Tessa, and Audrey were off to the Denver mint while I headed off to work for an all day meeting. Some of you may know Ryan's previous opinion of the mint, only two darling nieces could have ended up getting him back there. A few years ago they changed the tour, they made it easier to get a tour and it's not nearly as long or as boring as it used to be. Today happened to be a really good day because they are celebrating 200 years of the Denver mint being in operation and they handed out free pennies (they are the third one in a series of 4 new pennies) and a blank penny coin that was never stamped. When was the last time the government gave you money?

After the tour of the mint Ryan, Tessa and Audrey had a nice day at the house. Ryan suggested to the girls that they should do activities where Ryan could take a nap. Instead, they went on a bike ride to a park, watched Princess Diaries (Ryan did shut an eye or two during the movie), played Master Detective Clue and played with Star Wars toys. After Carrie got home they went off to the batting cages. When Ryan said that both of the girls could hit the ball really well Tessa responded, "Well, I have been playing softball for 3 years and Audrey has been playing for 2 years."

Batting Cages

After dinner the girls did a little TOP SECRET crafting and prepared to scrap tomorrow. I think we might finally be wearing them out. At 10pm tonight, Audrey was yawning and trying to stay awake, but Tessa was still ready to play games.

I can't believe tomorrow is our last day full of plans...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer day in Winter Park

One of our best days yet! We traveled to Winter Park and spent the day at their summer adventure park. We all had tons of fun and we all tried new things. Ryan and I were a little worried after our first ride on the alpine slide. Audrey didn't want to go alone, yet she was too tall to ride with someone else. So I rode on a sled in front of her with one hand on the control and one hand holding onto her sled. About 1/2 way down, my hand was really hurting and my arm was dead. I realized she was pulling the break the entire way so I was basically pulling her with my arm strength (that is pretty weak to begin with). After I got her to let up on the brake we started going a little easier, but very SLOW. Several times she asked me to slow down. I obliged. Next time Ryan went down with her. About 1/2 way down he let go of her sled and they continued down together but with her controlling her own sled. It was slow, but she was on her own. Tessa on the other hand took off and never really slowed down. She loved it and felt no fear or danger in going fast.

After several trips down the slide, we moved onto the Trampoline. They hook bungees onto the unflattering contraption you wear so that you can jump as high as you want and do all kinds of flips and tricks. Tessa and Audrey went and jumped high, but no flips. I tried to do flips. I was anything but graceful and despite wearing one of my longest shirts, I was still desperately trying to maintain my modesty as I was upside down. This activity is not for the out of shape like myself. I was breathing hard at the end of my turn. Tessa committed that if I would go again with her, she would try to do a flip. How can I say no to that? So up I went again. Tessa was able to do some flips and I think her words to describe it were "fabulous, can we do it again?"

After several more trips down the Alpine slide, we made our way back to the car for lunch. After our lunch break, we did a maze together. There was a time clock to punch in and out and prizes for times under 8 minutes. Our fist round we took 15 minutes. Ryan and the girls tried a second time and finished in six minutes and they each won a prize! Green bouncy balls which promptly got confiscated by Ryan until the end of the day.
We did some more alpine slide in which Audrey was progressing. She would now go on her own as long as either Ryan or I was the rider behind her. The first time I went behind her, I think she was too terrified to ever look and see how far behind her I actually was (about 100 yards), However, the next time, she was more comfortable on the slide and kept looking back to see where I was and if I was too far behind, she would slow down for me to catch up.
We went back to the trampoline and Audrey decided to try some flips. She was getting amazing air off each jump! She started doing some flips and then one time, she kept on flipping and did a 1 and 1/2. Once she realized she had plenty of air and time, she started doing double flips - meaning 2 flips off of one bounce. We missed getting that great moment on film.

We decided to give the rock wall a shot. Tessa wanted to go first and she wanted to try it barefoot. I told her there is absolutely no activity that should ever be done barefoot including swimming. She didn't believe me. She made it about 1/2 way up. Audrey went next and also made it 1/2 way up, but she kept her shoes on. I decided to be brave and possibly embarrass myself with my lack of upper body arm strength. I got about 2/3 the way up and the wall felt like it was moving and swaying with the wind. I kept my mouth shut about that fact as I didn't want to freak the girls out. I got stuck at one point. I didn't think I had any strength left to pull myself up. My arms were shaking. I finally got a good grip and pushed up and when I got to the top I pushed the bell you ring and then pushed it again several times for Ryan to record that my out of shape, no muscle body made it to the top. Ryan went last and was most of the way up the wall in about half the time it took anyone else. When he got about 3-4 hand-holds from the top he realized that he was going to have to kind of cross over from the right side to the left. Instead of actually trying to make it and risk the possibility of falling he just said "I'm done" and jumped off the wall. He later said he wished he'd at least tried.
Tessa tried it again, and again and finally decided to try it with shoes on and said it was much easier. See - no activity should ever be done without shoes...she made it further the last time she went.
Audrey gave it another go and about 2/3 of the way up, I realized I better get filming this as she was determined to make it the top. She just kept on going. I have no idea how as it was killing me and my arms and legs are way longer than hers. But she got to the top and rang that bell. (Braden - I got it on video, but it's too big for the blog)
There was a somewhat intriguing miniature golf course, but the girls said they didn't want to waste their time on that. They preferred flipping on the tramp or racing down the slide.
We decided to ride the Alpine slide the rest of the time until the park closed. By now Audrey was out of the slow lane and had moved into the advanced fast lane. I went behind her and I was trying to catch up with her and it took me all the way to the bottom 1/3 of the slide. By the last run of the day, she was cruising down the slide as if she was born doing this. And Tessa - no words can describe the speed at which she flew down the course.

After so many times of being called Mom and Dad by the attendants, we just gave up explaining and played along. It was fun to see the girls try everything and by the end of the day, they were really good at things that petrified them 7 hours earlier.