Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Pride

In order to keep up with the Howard tradition, Rocky and I made our annual dinner in a pumpkin. We walked over to Albertsons to get a pumpkin because the one Brandon stole was way to big for our oven. I found the perfect one, but it took a lot of manuevering to get it, Rocky, and the stroller all home. We cleaned it out, loaded it up, and stuck it into the oven for a couple of hours.



Rocky was having a hard time trying to curb her appetite because it takes so long to cook the pumpkin. It was kind of a big deal for her because it was her very first time to eat pumpkin. Instead of being driven crazy with anticipation she distracted herself by spending a little bit of time in the bouncer. It was good excercise, but it seems pretty obvious that her mind was still on the food.

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While she was busy tried to organize the election mailers. I decided to save them for a week, but it was taking over the house. It's a lucky thing that we have mail in ballots here because otherwise it would take a year for everyone vote on all the measures that have been proposed. Thank goodness that the elections will be over soon, and that we have a good recycling program.


Finally it was done. Rocky had a carrot appetizer to take the edge off of her hunger so that she could really savor the first taste.




It turned out really good. I mean, it's not exactly gourmet cooking, but I was pretty pleased with myself.


Rocky loved the pumpkin and we all thought that it was worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spice it Up


Sunday was Anu's birthday and she invited us over for dinner to celebrate. The food was awesome and, even though it was spiced down for us, it had everybody sweating.


It takes someone as tiny as Hema to make Rocky look big.



We were all so interested in the cooking. I'm not in this picture, but you can bet that I was right there watching how she did it all. She was making a crepe-like bread out of a lentil batter. She had cut the top off of an eggplant and used it to distribute oil on the pan. She said that her mother always did it that way and as far as I could tell it worked very well. They also served a spicy vegetable soup, rice and a potato-based side dish.

Anu brought this tin of spices from India. She wasn't sure what all the spices were but she said that almost every dish uses the same things, but it varies how much of each according to the recipe.


We always have so much fun when we hang out with them.


Yesterday we sent Kathy and Jill off at the Eugene airport. It was sad to see them go. I had thought that Kathy could come and get a break from all of the work she has at home, but I think she ended up working harder while she was here. She made all of Brandon's favorite recipes, and indulged Jill and me in our desire for peanut butter fingers. She babysat, cooked, cleaned, and even made a Halloween costume for Rocky. Now everyone is gone I'm feeling a little bit put out that I'm supposed to change diapers. It was fun to have people around to talk to while Brandon was busy studying.



The good news is that the Eugene airport is close to our place so it should be easy when anyone that wants to visit. Or, you can choose the drive, which is really, REALLY nice. Trust me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Party Time

Before I left home I told my parents that all that I wanted for my birthday was for them to come visit, so last week my mom, dad, and Jill made the 13 hour trek to Eugene. We were excited to have some visitors and had a lot of fun. Here are a few of the highlights.

We went out to the coast because you can't come all the way out here and not even see the ocean. We talked about paying 10 bucks to see an underwater cave that is supposed to have lots of sea lions, but in the end decided against it. Then, later we saw about forty of them absolutely free.


We all walked on the beach looking for interesting shells. We found a bunch of things, including a couple of huge jellyfish. Jill had taken her shoes off so that she could wade in the water. I kind of felt like a dork because I was wearing my running shoes. That morning it looked like it was going to be really cold and rainy, and I didn't want my toes to freeze so I chose the socks and shoes. I knew that it was a bad choice once we got out there and the weather was perfect, but I didn't want to get the insides all sandy so I just left them on. While we were hunting I found this tiny sardine. Jill, Dad and I were all circled around it taking a picture. I took this one with the shoe but I felt that the size would be more easily understood in a picture if it was next to a hand. So, Jill crouched down and put her hand next to it just as Dad jumped and said, "Heads Up!" right as the tide came up from behind us. I was soaked all the way to my knees. My shoes and pants were now soaked, and sandy. After that, going barefoot was the only choice. Next time I'll wear my flip flops.




It was Rocky's first time seeing the ocean and she was flabbergasted. Lucky thing her grandma was there to share it.


For the big birthday celebration Brandon made a paella and we invited some friends over.
I finally got a picture of our friends Hema and Anu. They dressed up in their beautiful Indian dress clothes for my birthday. They told me all about the festivals that are celebrated in India and we all decided that there should be more holidays in this country. Anu told me that when she was little she had a teacher that was Christian and that they all were obsessed with her because she celebrated Christmas. She said that all the kids think that Christianity is really cool because of Santa.


We walked over to campus to meet Brandon for lunch. Mom thought that she needed to take a picture of us by the Romance Language building, Friendly Hall, where Brandon has his office. Because class had just gotten out there were college students everywhere. None of us wanted to look like dorks getting their pictures taken. Brandon saw one of his students walking by and without discussing it we all tried to act nonchalant.

Then she insisted that I needed to get my picture taken with this bike because it was my birthday. I said that because it was my birthday I shouldn't have to pose with the bike and look like a nerd. But, when it comes down to it, adult or not, moms can still tell their offspring what to do.



I had lots of help with Rocky. She thinks she's the Queen of Sheba with a hoard of servants who live to fulfill her every whim. She was fawned over while my parents were here, and Jill has kept her entertained since they left. Now Kathy is here (I'll post her pictures later) and I haven't had to change a diaper in three days. I'm not even sure that the baby even remembers who I am.



We did make time for everyone to gather around the laptop to watch "The Office."


On Tuesday Jill and I went to Portland to see a show at the Wonder Ballroom. The Mountain Goats and Kaki King put on an amazing performance. We were standing in the second row and I swear if I had reached up I could have strum John Darnielle's guitar. I was a little sad though because I don't know the words to his songs. I swear there were a couple of times when I was the only person in the audience not singing along and he would look down at me with a quizzical expression. All I could do was smile what I considered a very supportive smile. He would nod and I felt little bit guilty because I had probably the best spot in the whole venue, which maybe should have gone to a hard-core fan. But, I think Jill is probably the hard-corest of them all and I was with her, so I guess it evened out somewhere in the cosmos.


Jilly also taught me, Brandon and Rocky how to disc golf which is fun and also free. So, basically, anyone who is going to come for a visit should plan on trying it out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Gone Bananas

Rocky is starting to develop her own little personality. Every day she does something a little bit nutty.

This laugh, for example, is her most recent trick.

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Mission Memories

Last Monday at about 6 o'clock Brandon and I were just sitting down to a dinner of leftover spaghetti when there was a knock at the door. When I opened it I was surprised to see three
Elders standing there. They had great big smiles, that seemed to falter a little bit when they realized that I was not ready for them. After a couple of awkward moments, we figured out that they were at the wrong house, because my appointment wasn't until the next week. We all had a good laugh and they went off to the family that was waiting for them. That brief encounter was all it took to get my memories going and this whole week I've been reminiscing about my days in Boston. I remember having all kinds of awkward moments with strangers all the time. It is incredible just how horrifying yet simultaneously wonderful it could be. Every person, place, or moment was a new adventure, and every day was filled with the spirit. My mission stretched me harder than I ever wanted to be stretched, but I don't regret a single second that I spent wearing that tag.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This Irish band, Gaelic Storm, is coming to Eugene and they seem really cool. In the paper we read an interview with the lead singer who told about a time that he got in a fight with Russell Crowe. He wrote a song about it, then had a contest to see who could make the best video. This was the winner, which I thought was very clever.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Crazy Ducks

The Ducks are taking on UCLA for homecoming and tonight was the first ever homecoming parade. I really love parades so I got Rocky all bundled up and we practically ran to campus in order to make it on time. It was all that I hoped for and more. Unfortunately, in my haste I forgot the camera.
The parade mostly consisted of floats of drunken frat boys and giggling sorority sisters. There were a few other campus organizations that also made an appearance. A few of them were handing out candy for the kids, and condoms for the college students.
The Oregon Duck was riding on a scooter. I was trying to find out what his name is and I found this video. The barber is the guy who stopped in the middle of a haircut so he could come out and look at Rocky.



The Duck that we saw today was much nicer.
Next were the cheerleaders and marching band which followed by a small school bus that carried kids from the school-sponsored day care. Then it was time for the real fun to begin.
One float had plastic Greek columns and about forty toga-wearing, chanting, stereotypical campus partiers. The little boy next to me started chanting along, (To-Ga...To-Ga) then turned to his mom and asked, "What's a toga?" She explained that it was a sheet that people sometimes wear to parties. He asked if his next birthday could be a toga party and she told him that he would have to wait until he is seventeen. I wondered about that a little bit because seventeen is a strange age to designate as toga appropriate. I guess that sweet sixteen is just a little too young to start. After all, there are plenty of years of toga excitement to last throughout college, why rush it. Eighteen is already marked by that legal adulthood issue, so I guess that the toga standard is a good way to add some excitement to becoming the big 1-7. I told Rocky that it was okay with me if she wanted to celebrate her first birthday with a togas because she is very mature for her age. All she did was drool, so I took it that she wasn't really that interested.
There was a group of guys that were dressed up like superheroes. They were all standing and trying to get the truck to bounce up and down. It was going pretty well until the truck accelerated a little too quickly and they all started falling. They tumbled into a big pile of bodies and capes and were a little too tipsy to get up right away. I don't think there were any serious injuries. When they did get up they offered the cute coeds across the street a free calendar featuring their pictures and seemed surprised when they declined.
There was a group wearing white shirts and boxers trying to immitate Risky Business, and a bunch of girls with robes and a sign that said, Hogwarts or Bust (you could see the toga party pointing and laughing at the wizards before the parade had even begun). One had a Top Gun theme and had completely covered the truck with foil to make it look like a jet.
I thought it was a pretty impressive showing, especially because there were many more people in the parade than there were watching the parade.
It was a pretty chilly night, but it was worth it.
Rocky and I aren't really ducks, but we are a little crazy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Man's Treasure

There is a fine line between clutter and tradition. After living in our small apartment for three years, I started turning into a clutter Nazi. I was constantly re-evaluating whether we really needed all that stuff. While packing up for the move I almost threw out about half of the things we own. I just kept thinking that a cluttered home is representative of a cluttered life.

My mom seemed to be feeling the same way about two years ago when I was collecting items for a charity garage sale. I think that we all feel a little bit better about giving things away if we know it is for a good cause, and she gave us bags of things she was happy to get rid of. I also gave a big load of clothes that I never wore and some of the knick knacks I'd kept from when I was a teenager.

The day of the sale I was looking around to see if there were any good deals (why do we get rid of junk, just to end up buying more of it?) and stumbled across this picture.


I was almost bowled over with nostaligia and couldn't believe that my mom would give away such an important piece of my childhood. That picture, which Mom had cross-stitched herself had hung in our house while I was growing up. It was going for fifty cents. I had no choice but to buy it. It now hangs in our apartment and I feel a little less homesick every time I see it.

At that same sale Brandon had just finished paying for a blue polo shirt. It cost a quarter, which is kind of a stretch for him, but when he showed it to me, it looked familiar. The Alaska Railroad logo gave it away as one of the things I had just donated. When he wears it I'm always reminded of that happy summer that I spent many hours waiting to pick up cruise passengers at that small railroad in Denali.

Don't get me wrong. Some junk really is junk and we might as well get rid of it instead of sticking it in the dark corners of deep closets. But, within that junk there may be some pretty great memories.

I was lucky to be at my mom's when she was about to get rid of the Halloween house. This wasn't a piece of junk, but probably my favorite October decoration. I proudly put it up this morning and Rocky can't get enough of the colorful lights. Maybe I'll give it to her one day when she lives out on her own, and when she sees it she can feel the happiness that I do when I look at it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lucky Us

We are finally all moved in and it seems like the frantic chaos that has plagued my life for the past month has passed leaving solitude and tranquility in it's wake. The funny thing is that I'm not sure what is better. Of course I enjoy having a nice neat apartment, but I find myself a little lost when I have free time.
Thanks to Rocky, I really don't have that much.
Brandon is beginning to be more involved in his studies, and I am realizing that without my little girl I would be pretty lonely. Good thing she is always there to make me laugh.


She also helps her dad by being supportive of his studies.

We feel pretty lucky to have her.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Babysitting


I've been trying to do my best to make friends around here, and I guess I'm doing okay because I got my first gig babysitting. A girl in the ward who also lives at Spencer View went with her husband to a concert and I volunteered to watch her two boys. They were already in bed when I got here so it's an easy night. Rocky came with me, but when Brandon got back from playing basketball he took her.

So now here I am, in a quiet house. I can hear the appliances running and don't really feel comfortable moving around. It is such a strange feeling to be alone in someone else's house. It takes me back to my days as a young teenager when many of my weekends were spent agonizingly waiting for parents to return. I would look at the clock every 3 minutes and jump at every tiny sound. I'm not usually a wimpy girl, but my imagination would run wild and I'd get so scared. I'd listen for any indicator that could signal the approach of a car in the driveway and I swear that the parents were always about an hour later than they said they would be.

I used to get paid 2 dollars an hour. Even to a twelve-year-old $2 is not worth it. I could lose my whole Friday night and earn a grand total of 6 bucks. It was interesting though because the rate was never set. People would pay differently every time. I liked it that way because it added a degree of chance. It mostly depended on what kind of change people had on them. Sometimes I'd get a bonus and sometimes I'd be royally stiffed. It all seemed to average out in the end.

Now as a parent it is hard to even believe that people used to leave their kids with someone so inexperienced. I remember one time when I was about thirteen I was left with a baby. I have no idea how old he was but I remember that I was supposed to give him a bottle, burp him, and put him to bed. I was terrified. Actually, if I'm going to be honest, I'd have to say that until I had Rocky I would have felt just as nervous. Once I had some experience with a baby I realized that it is no big deal. But, at that time, I was positive that the kid would die if I didn't do it right. The baby cried for three hours straight. That night I took my 5 bucks and swore I'd never do it again. Of course, I had been kidding myself.

I'm sure that the families that I babysat for didn't have enough money to pay for anyone older than thirteen, but I don't know if I could do it. I mean, have you seen any Beehives lately? I almost feel like they need babysitters of their own.

It's a good thing that I'm much more mature now. Especially as I sit here, in this dark, creaky house, all alone. I'm sure they'll be home any second.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Work it Baby!

It seems like everyone around here is involved in excercise programs. Since Rocky has recently started getting so chubby we thought it would be best if we started her on one too. Besides, she's got to get moving if she wants to live up to her name.
She starts out with a morning jog. Since it is so cold and rainy she really bundles up.

Then she works on her arms a little.




Then, of course, she uses the excercise ball to work on her six-pack.
Then she finishes up in the bouncer by really working her legs. You can tell that she's worn out.

After all that excercise it is time for a cool down and some rest.


Then she wakes up and is ready for more.
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