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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shark Attacked!

Remember how I used to mop once a year? I now mop weekly. WEEKLY, PEOPLE!
That is once a week! And sometimes, I mop TWICE a week!

When I saw this baby in a Black Friday ad for $39, I knew that Christmas would not come unless the lavender beauty was under our tree. My husband had to get the thing or fail abysmally. The poor guy though had no personal experience with Black Friday, so I suggested he simply get up at midnight and trudge over to the computer and order my Shark. (Yes, it was already "my" Shark.)

My husband got up at 6am. Yes, six in the morning. Yes, when Black Friday shoppers are GOING HOME to SLEEP after a long night of eating customers and picking their teeth clean using store shelving.

"It's sold out, honey," he said as he crawled back into bed.

"What time is it?" I mumbled.

"Six."

My eyes popped open. "Six? SIX??" and then I laughed a maniacal laugh.

"I didn't know..." he offered.

I hopped onto the computer and sure enough my Shark was missing. After a couple hours of panic and disbelief, the website was replenished with a tankful of new Sharks, and I placed an order myself. All was again well in the world. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time ever, I bought my own dang Christmas gift. I feigned all sorts of surprise when the package arrived at the door, when my husband was in another room wrapping the mystery box, and when I finally opened my gift.

Now... why I (heart) my Shark.

The first time I used it, there was proof a-plenty on the cloth that I had previously mopped infrequently, but my floor ended up looking and FEELING clean for days!

PROs
  • After three uses, all the grease and dirt build-up around my kitchen appliances was gone.
  • The floor is cleaned with steam, so it dries quicker than when mopping with a bucket of water.
  • No chemicals! Disinfecting occurs with steam.
  • Speaking of water, it only uses 1 cup of water.
  • Quick to use. I only wait 20-30 seconds for the water in the tank to heat up, and off I go.
  • Slim. Takes up no room in my coat closet.
  • Easy to port. No carrying buckets of water, so I actually mop the laundry room, all the bathrooms, and the front door entrance, which was previously unheard of.

CONs, though pretty much inconsequential to me:
  • A longer cord would be cool; in the kitchen, I have to change the plug location once. (waah.)
  • Must use distilled water; not a con for me since I have reverse osmosis at the kitchen sink, but this could be a "con" to someone else.
  • The Shark has more drag than a regular mop, but for me, it's easier than scrubbing the floor by hand, which is what I used to do.
  • Uses electricity. But the trade-off is that I use lots less water and definitely less time.
  • The kids think the Shark is cool so they want to "help".

I had been waiting to write this post until I had a couple months with my shark and see if I still loved it. I DO!

Excuse me now, I have a hot, steamy date in the kitchen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best

... you probably don't do what we do.

Sooooooo...
One of these will be the photo in our Christmas card this year.

You pick.
Comment below with which photo (#1, #2, #3, or #4) we should use in our Christmas card.

Yeah.

 
PHOTO #1


PHOTO #2


PHOTO #3


PHOTO #4

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's round, orange, and splattered all over?

What were we doing in this beautiful field picking pumpkins several days after Thanksgiving? They were too big to hang on the Christmas tree for ornaments. They didn't fit in any of the stockings. The only use left was...


That's right, baby!

When David and I were dating, one of our dates took place at an indoor shooting range. David had a couple of .22 rifles and thought it would be fun to take his special girl shooting. Little did he know that I had some marksmanship experience in high school on the Army JROTC Rifle Team. I was outshooting him when he realized that the sights on the rifle I was using weren't even set up. I'M THAT FREAKIN' AWESOME! That should have been his first sign to run the other way, alas, he thought that was kinda hot.

Anyhoo... back to last week... One of David's co-workers mentioned a fundraising shooting event and David was all over that like stink on poop. (Woah- where'd that come from? See what happens when I get around firearms?? I channel 3rd grade bathroom humor.)


Left to right:
A friend's AR-15, David's 9mm pistol, and Dave's co-worker's "sniper" rifle with scope.
My favorite to use was the rifle with scope. It was SO NICE to be able to see the pumpkins I was killing the next state over. (My apologies, Colorado.)


The first pumpkin I hunted down with the scope above is on the board, 4th one from the right. What? You can't see it? Possibly, it is because I BLEW IT TO SMITHEREENS!!

My second most enjoyable moment was when it was time to leave and I decided to quickly empty out the rest of the rounds from the AR-15 into an unsuspecting pumpkin and served up some Pumpkin Pie a'la Rat-a-tat-tat. That was so freakin' cool and totally made me look like a hot gun chick with all the adoring male fans at the range. (Back off, boys, this one is armed with a wedding band!)

This tough chick will admit... it took me about 10 minutes to get used to all the weapons at the range. Everyone was firing from pump air rifles to shotguns to small cannons. It was crazy ridiculous and every fiber in my body wanted to run away from the loud booms. After that, I had a great time!

And I'm not saying I outshot David (again). That's between me and the pumpkins.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lip Smackin' Good

One of the many reasons I love this little monkey.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Tour 2011

Top of the morning! What a beautiful day! Let me give you a tour of the garden.

Here's some of the food Mommy gathered this morning.

We got a couple watermelons thinking about getting big.
Mommy is not pleased with what the aphids have been doing in her Brussels sprouts.

Two of my favorite things are doing my own hair and harvesting the green balls.

Our corn stalks are huge! They're even taller than me!

Mommy has been working on growing 3-legged carrots.

But I think I will stick with the regular old variety.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Falsely Accused Rich

Politics is not an interest of mine. Neither is knitting.

Still, some of the things discussed in politics don't make sense AT ALL to me, while at least in knitting, I can see that some of the complicated loop-de-loops at least create a pretty design.

I do not understand why the increasing population of people living below the poverty line is blamed on those considered wealthy. I must have missed the breaking news report of the Rich People Gang who in one fall swoop went among this country's cities, cornered unsuspecting citizens, and snatched their wallets.

Wealth is not some finite pie in which if one takes a piece it automatically means someone else won't get any. Where the heck did we get this idea?

Last I checked, there has been no law limiting the number of people who are allowed to start their own businesses or side jobs. There has also been no limit placed on how many inventions can be invented and placed in the marketplace. There has been no cap on the number of people the military branches will accept into their fold. I've yet to see a library that has neared the occupancy limit posted on its wall and thus forced to keep some of its patrons from educating themselves.

The old image of rich fat cats sitting in penthouse meeting rooms puffing on cigars as they plan the destruction of the common man is so archaic, but it seems that there are still people and political pundits who believe Mr. Dawes Sr. of Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank is indeed yanking out the few dollars left in their little hands.

Even if the wealthy are taking advantage of tax deductions for their businesses, it still does not TAKE from the poor and middle classes. So why blame the rich for what the other economic classes do not have?

First off, most people who are rich today were not born rich. That means they are self-made rich. This means they started out as middle- or lower-class and moved UP. How did they get there?

Second, I've heard people argue that the rich pay lower tax rates than middle class members. They yell this loud and clear but fail to point out that the rich still pay most of the taxes in the United States. The top 25% of the U.S. population pay 85% of the taxes while the bottom 50% of income earners pay 3% of the taxes. Who is paying their fair share?

Stop blaming "those greedy rich people" for the poor's and the middle classes' ailments; they are already paying for services and programs which they will never use and paying into a Social Security program from which they will never receive checks. The rich GIVE a lot to this country's citizens in taxes, in jobs, and in charitable donations. I fail to see how they take anything away at all.

Oh wait, I will concede on one point. Rich people do profit off others when the poor and middle class ignorantly purchase whatever gadget/fad/shoe/car/toy is marketed to them. But still, it isn't the rich who open the poor's wallet in the first place.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September Sun

It's September 11th, and my husband is on a plane to Chicago. This morning, when he mentioned where he was going, I asked, "Are you nervous about it?"

"At first, I was, but then I wasn't."

That pretty much sums up how we react to things. We feel the natural reaction, and then we decide to claim our power and rise above it.

Like everyone else, I remember Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and what I was doing (though not appropriate to share here) when David and I got the phone call to turn on the television. We pulled out our wood-paneled clunker from the closet and used a pair of pliers to turn it on. We were glued to the news for hours. What a beautiful release when my husband just after noon turned off the TV and said, "Let's go outside."

The sun was brightly shining and the neighbor's kids were happily playing outside. We were able to breathe again and renew our faith that life still goes on.

And this is how I feel about September 11th anniversaries. I know the pain still sears the hearts of those who lost a family member or close friend to the attacks. (I have a friend who was killed in the ensuing Afghan war, so I have some degree of understanding.) But I honestly believe there is way too much somberness attached to each anniversary. This gives power to the group of cowards whose desire is to instill fear and paralysis.

How I mark the anniversary is by going on with my life with continued resilience, power, and faith. So, when my husband tells me this morning he is getting on a plane today to Chicago, I feel he is a hero.

The rebel in me decides that no matter the attacks on my beliefs, my home, my outlook, I will respond with strengthened testimony, a holier family, and an undeterred hope for the future.

The smoke may billow and curtain the sun for a while, but the sun still is.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Camp Floyd


I had never, ever, ever heard of Camp Floyd, and it is less than a half hour from the house I've lived in for the last 7 years. My husband has apparently been aware of it for some time and this past weekend suggested we go out there for a family activity on this Labor Day.



 I found it most amusing that this place is exactly the thing one would see in a campy movie about a family going on vacation too see random off-route sites: old men in Union uniforms, preteens complaining about not wanting to participate in "dumb" activities, and regular town folks helping out at the local attraction.

My favorite thing hands down was watching my LilDhis as a Union soldier in training. She had no idea what was going on except that she was getting to wear a hat. That was all that was important! Once outfitted, we just stuck her in the line with the other "soldiers" to see what would happen.

Third from the left, she is the tiniest soldier learning military drills.

(Ignore my chuckling-- that's how I sound when I'm trying not to laugh. I did not want to gain the disdain of the instructor, who seemed to be taking his job quite seriously.)

In another video, she decides to march behind the drill instructor instead of in line with her comrades. She was so much fun to watch. I was also surprised that she stuck with the instruction as long as she did.


She was issued a weapon. But soon thereafter, she happened to look past the drill instructor and noticed the playground on the far side of the field.

"Swing!" she exclaimed, and the hat and uniform came off.

The rest of the activities were viewed from the playset.

  David and I recently decided to act on our impressions to go on random family outings and share in a variety of experiences. Thanks, Honey, for helping Mommy to also stretch out of her comfort zone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Memories of Hurricane Season

Hurricane Irene as seen from space.

As I read Facebook updates of my friends on the East coast preparing for Hurricane Irene's arrival, my mind flashes back to childhood memories in Florida, where I lived for 13 years, starting at age 7.
 σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ
In our many years living in Cape Coral, Florida, there is only one time that we actually evacuate our house. The hurricane's path is still undetermined and the newsman advises that residents should move closer inland;  my dad, ever afraid of natural disasters, takes his television confidante seriously. We pack up the car and stay at a hotel an hour or two away and spend the night eating treats and telling stories.

When we come back to our house the next day, we are faced with the devastating aftermath of one missing shingle from the roof. Having been prepared for a huge disaster, I am somewhat disappointed.

A neighbor mentions that while we were gone, a funnel cloud had formed over our house and was reaching down before it suddenly disappeared. The story is enough to complete my dad's justification for our evacuation.
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My first memory actually involving fear of hurricanes comes from one hurricane season when my father unglues himself from a long tete-a-tete with the evening news coverage of an approaching hurricane. We live on a water canal in Cape Coral, and my dad is worried the water level in the canal will rise dramatically and flood the house. He freaks me out when in a panicked tone he shares, "and they say it sounds like a train coming!"

I cannot sleep that night! I keep putting my ear to the window throughout the night listening for choo-choo train sounds. I had thought my dad meant an approaching hurricane would sound like a train horn, so I am not even listening for the right sound. Regardless, I am up all night and am exhausted for school the next day.
σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ

*Big John is 28 feet tall.
A common ritual when expecting a hurricane is to rush the local grocery store at the last minute and buy supplies from nearly empty shelves. My parents never have anything for emergency storage (except for several barrels of "Freak Out") which means we participate in this ritual almost every year in Florida.

During one particular storm, the rain is pouring down hard even though the center of the hurricane is still a ways off. My sister and I decide to tag along with my father to get batteries, water, bread and other essentials at the store. The grocery store is Big John's.

Now, the entrance doors to Big John is on an elevated concrete walkway. Cars can drive right in front of the store on their way in or out of the plaza. On the opposite side of this "drive through" area is concrete curbing and walkway where pedestrians can stand when leaving their cars and waiting to cross the drive-through before heading for the store's front doors. Something like this:


During this storm, I apparently forget about all of these features because the rain has filled in the entire drive-through area with water to the height of the concrete curbing on both sides. I am running from the car in the rain trying to catch up to my dad. I do not foresee the next thing that happens.

I seriously don't remember falling. One second, I am filled with adrenaline looking at the back of my dad; the next second, I am underwater. Specifically, I am lying flat, face down, in a pool of dirty, street rain water.  Flummoxed, I pull myself up to all fours, trying to orient myself, and look up to find my father laughing.


"What happened?" he says between laughs.

"I... I don't know" is all I manage to say. I am one embarrassed preteen when I walk into the store completely soaked from hair to sneakers as customers look on. A cashier takes a look at me and, in all seriousness, asks if the hurricane has arrived, and my dad cannot contain his laughter.
σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ


One of the things you do in Florida if you cannot afford to cover your windows with plywood (as was the usual case for us) is to put duct tape across the glass in an asterisk pattern; the idea is that if the glass is hit by some flying object, the tape will hopefully hold the broken glass together.

So, my father goes out and buys a LOT of duct tape. He immediately has all of us taping up the many windows in the house from the inside. When we are finished and meet back up in the living room, it becomes apparent to all of us that Dad bought the cheapest duct tape there is because the tape is gently falling OFF the windows. We try to make the tape stick by rubbing our fingernails on it.

Sitting at home through the storm, the tape strips on the windows peel down due to the strenuous weight of gravity. My dad every so often, blows his breath at a window to test the tape's resistance against wind gusts. We fall to the floor giggling.
σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ  σ

We were very blessed to never have been caught in the middle of a devastating hurricane. Prayers to my friends on the East Coast. May Hurricane Irene be gentle on you and leave only memories you can later look back on and chuckle.



* Big John used to hold grocery bags when I first moved to Florida. The bags went away when the store went out of business.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where Children Sleep

I so want this book in my family library!

Where Children Sleep is a collection of briefs and photos of 56 children from around our world and the places in which they sleep at night. The author mentioned he initially imagined he would do a book called Beds or Bedrooms but soon found out a lot of children don't have even those. This book is the result of that awakening.

Here, a selection of featured portraits:



The photos tell stories all on their own, but the brief stories that accompany them add more depth and often poignancy to the subject.

The author's intent was to illustrate inequality in this earth, but I believe this project accomplishes more than that. For me it is a book on awareness, gratitude, and compassion. After all, these children take their stories and grow up to be adults.


You can experience the book online here: http://issuu.com/chrisboot/docs/where_children_sleep_by_james_mollison

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Random Photo: In His Image

This is a drawing of Jesus hanging in my sister's home. My youngest brother noticed a similarity, stood up and this was the result.



June 2007
Sister's Home

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dear Auto-Flush Toilet

Dear Auto-Flush Toilet,
I hate you. For goodness' sake, let me FINISH my business before you attempt to suck me into your vortex all the while spitting your nastiness onto my bum!

When is it you are supposed to flush anyway? Is it when I get up? When my shadow strikes your sensor? When I sit down? When I blink?

Why flush when I'm sitting and not after I've re-dressed myself? You lure me into your silence as I search for the manual flush button only to be caught in your line of fire, flushing with such force as to beg the question "Why aren't face mask dispensers installed next to the seat covers?"

I'd like to say this is goodbye forever, but I know you will be there at every restaurant and every grocery store waiting like a drooling bulldog to deliver your wet, sloppy greeting.

Not bowled over,
Adhis

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Files

One of the things I spend my day doing is putting things in order, whether it be my house, my head, or my business. The room most out of order is usually my home office. Made up of old metal desks and filing cabinets, I spent way too much time looking for things in the homogenous gray drawers. So I thought I had come up with a pretty ingenious idea for re-purposing the extra magnets we had lying around the house and getting things back in order!

My daughters thought the magnets were a pretty fun idea, too.


Among many things, this is apparently where I also keep the mandarin oranges. Handy.

The next thing I re-purposed was the baby gate,


now known as the mommy office gate.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Practice of Happiness

(Originally written June 7, 2011)

Happiness is an interesting thing. Everybody is looking frantically around for it like it's a lost wallet, searching under every cushion, cause, and career path.

"Why aren't I happy?" we ask ourselves. Our brain hears a question and obediently begins collecting proof of reasons why we should not (cannot?) be happy. (Perhaps, tasking the obedient brain with the project "Why am I happy?" would serve us better.)

Happiness takes practice. Some of us practice being not happy everyday by asking things like "Why do things suck?" "Why must he make me so angry?" "Why is she trying to ruin my life?" "Why can I never get ahead?" "Oh, great. What next?" "How can I just get through today?"

We are so used to practicing not being happy that when an opportunity of joy comes along, we enjoy it only halfway because "good things don't last long."

Now, I admit this practicing may be harder for some people than others. It depends how long each person has been practicing non-happiness or how deeply their early caregivers drove in this lesson. I didn't realize how long I had been practicing not being happy until I noticed my husband had been for several months interrupting my whining bouts with compliments to the day's sunshine or to the mountains' beauty outside our window. How long had it been since I had noticed these things on my own?

One of my favorite stories of spiritual resilience is that of Immaculee Ilibagiza who survived the Rwandan genocides. Though her account was very difficult to read at some points as it described incredible acts of violence and apathy, I could not help but marvel at the thoughts she would occasionally dwell on about God and His love for her. Even while hiding for 91 days in a cramped and dark bathroom with 7 other women, she practiced quiet moments of happiness that ended up shaping her into a hero by the time she re-emerged into the light of day.

How could someone in such devastating circumstances practice happiness? Immaculee decided the alternative thought process was scary.

We hear or read survival stories like this and wonder how someone can come out of extreme situations with optimism and faith in humanity. When we look at them from the outside, they seem like saints and we deem them different than you and me. However, we don't see them practicing; we rationalize that they are born that way and that there is something wrong with us, which inevitably leads us to look to external causes.
  • I must not be reading my scriptures.
  • I must not be taking good care of my body. 
  • I must have some sort of chemical imbalance. 
  • I must have a broken childhood.
OK, how about this? The habit of not being happy leads to not reading scriptures as much. It leads to ignoring one's health. It leads to physical dis-ease and imbalances. It leads to distraction from activities that one values. It leads to dwelling on the painful moments of the past.

I've learned, happiness really does take practice! We each choose each day which thoughts to practice. The more consistently we commit to practice happiness, the easier happiness becomes to practice each day. This is not an easy thing, but the challenge of it is better than the scary results of the alternative!

Happiness is not at all like a lost wallet you must frantically search for and mourn. The funny thing about happiness is that it is more like a pair of lost glasses, and they were on the top of your head all this time waiting to be slid down over your eyes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Random Photo: Hair Duo

"Big Bird, you have silly hair!" 



May 2009

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why People Have Kids

I loved my foster/adoptive children. I really did and still do. But I would be editing myself if I didn't admit the transition from "two of us and a dog"  to "five of us and a dog" didn't smash our world into smithereens!

Oh, sure, it started out cute. On the first night together, we decided to have a movie night and announced for everyone to get into their PJ's. The kids made quick work, with the 4-year-old boy emerging in Spiderman pajamas, the kind complete with webbing attached under the armpits so when he spread his arms out, he looked like he might be able to fly. He was at the top of the stairs calling for me to "hurry up" when I said, "Wait, let me get my PJ's on."

That boy put a hand on his hip, and said, "Don't tell me you have the same PJ's as me!"

And sure, there were some initial conflicts between child and adult. On the same aforementioned night, the 7-year-old boy insisted we rent out a slasher movie in tradition with movies he had thus far been allowed to watch. He could not understand why, there in the middle of Blockbuster Video, we were arguing against his gathered suggestions. We settled on "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl". (In hindsight, Freddy Krueger would have been less nauseating.)

But less than a week into parenthood, my husband and I found ourselves cowering in our bed late one night wondering aloud, "Why the heck do people even have kids???!"

Being the intellectual I am, I developed some theories that went something like this:

1 kid = The adults thought it seemed like a good idea.
2 kids = The adults were absolutely stupid and did not use protection.
3 kids = The adults clearly have a mental illness. 
4+ kids = The adults had given up hope of normalcy and allowed themselves to be engulfed by The Kid-Abyss.


There was no other logical reasoning.

Eventually, I outgrew some of my cynicism and revised the reason for "2 kids" to "The adults thought the first one needed a friend and 'maybe it won't be so hard this time.'" All the other explanations kicked down to the next number.

Several years have passed since I first developed my thoughts regarding kids. What do I think now that I have two beautiful children of my own, and David insists on a third?

I stand by my theories.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Peanut Butter and Fruit Sandwich

As you may know, one of my favorite snacks is the grilled vegetable sandwich. Another sandwich I enjoy is the grilled fruit sandwich. This sandwich was born out of necessity when I had my three foster/adoptive kids and the 4-year-old was not yet in school. He constantly wanted to eat and I was having quite the challenge coming up with healthful snacks to give him throughout the day. As a result, I came up with this alternative to the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


  •  Two slices of your favorite whole grain bread
  • Natural peanut butter (spread on bread slices)
  • Bananas sliced thinly lengthwise
  • Apple sliced in thin wedges
  • Raisins or berries (strawberries being the more common berry I use)

Assemble sandwich.
Grill.
Cut.
Enjoy! 

I used to make this for my 4-year-old Alex. Now, I make it for my 3-year-old Adhis.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Do You Do All Day?

I've been asked this several times over the years. The surprising thing is that it has been asked by other women, some who are stay-at-home moms, some who are working moms, some who are friends, some who are acquaintances. What is it about me that people see and wonder, "What the heck does Adhis do all day?"

I have been a stay-at-home woman for the majority of my married life to David, a big contrast to my life the year before I met him in which I had 10 jobs! I've been home and had no kids, home and had foster children, home and have birth children. I've been asked the question through all of these stages.

"What do you do at home all day?"

Mainly, I sit in bed reading novels, eating Twizzlers and ice cream all day. The children come into my room once in a while to replenish my bowl and ask, "Mother, we just finished cleaning the kitchen and the gutters; how else may we serve you?" It's a charmed life really.

One word to describe how I spend my time: Learning.

Using two words to describe what I do: Too much.

There is so much to learn before we die and not much time before we do! How can anyone ever be bored? There are so many causes that need volunteers, so many people who need a friend, so many books to learn from, so many activities from which to glean experiences, so many hobbies to explore, so many places to visit!

Perhaps, I will begin posting occasional shorts about some of the things I spend my time doing. I wouldn't want you to think I really do eat ice cream all day.

That reminds me, my bowl is empty again. Where are the children?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Random Photo: Little Patriot

I was all smiles when I emerged from the naturalization ceremony making me an official United States citizen. But my funny bone was tickled when I posed with the only niece I had at the time and told her to salute with me for the camera.



May 2007
Rose Wagner Theatre
Salt Lake City, Utah

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google Search

Do you remember when Google's email service, Gmail, first came out? You could only open an account if someone invited you. I would have been completely oblivious to the event, but it was all my husband could talk about.
"... And only a few people have one, and you can only have one if someone invites you. Now, I just have to find someone who has one and have them send me an invitation."

Oh, he looked and he asked around, but no one he knew had the elusive Gmail invitation.

So, you can imagine my husband, who is a HUGE Google-anything fan, was devastated when I, his technologically-naive but virtually-socially-connected wife, received an invitation to open a Gmail account.


I was at home trying to figure out an email name since "Adhis" was one character short of the required six. I decided to tease my husband. David was on his way home from work, unaware of my new virtual acquisition, when I called his cell phone.
"Honey, could you help me with something?" I asked innocently.

"Sure, what is it?"

"I'm trying to come up with a name for my new Gmail account, but it says 'Adhis' is too short a name," I complained.

"WHAT?? I want a Gmail account!! How did you get a Gmail account???"

"Oh, some friend sent me an invitation. So, what name should I choose?"

He sounded just like a little boy trying to be supportive without crying about the woeful state of his world.

I continued, "Oh, I'll just figure it out. Love you, sweetie!" and hung up with a big smile on my face.

I chose a name my husband would love. When he got home, I showed him the account with feigned naivete as he coveted it and told me about all the great features. Then, I told him I was giving it to him. He almost cried. I am not exaggerating. His face broke down in emotion, he was near tears and kept expressing his undying gratitude to me through words and hugs. It was one of the oddest things I have ever beheld in our 10 years of marriage.

To this day, I can bring up that moment, and I'm a hero, though looking back now, he does feel a little bit sheepish about his reaction.

One would think he would have by now outgrown his feelings of "Google exclusion" but man, oh man, you should have seen his face just a year ago when Google sent me a postcard confirming my AdWords association with them. It was like I had been invited to the Google Mansion and had been specifically instructed to not bring him.

That boy does love his Google!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Southwestern Tuna Casserole

From the Fast Life (24 July)

(Umm... good thing it only took me two years to realize I never published this post.)

After making regular, plain ol' Tuna Casserole since the 1900's, I finally thought to try something new. Here is Cat Cora's Southwestern Tuna Casserole.


Serves four? I say, "YUM! Serves ONE!"

The recipe says serve immediately; I don't know why the rush, unless the plan is to melt your family members' mouths shut with delicious bubbling lava.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Southwestern Tuna Casserole
Recipe created by Cat Cora

Serves 4


Ingredients:
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 medium onion , chopped
• 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels , thawed
• 1 can (10.5 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup
• 1 cup store-bought bottled tomato salsa
• 1 tsp. chili powder (optional) ***I used about 1/4 tsp***
• 1 can (6 ounces) tuna , packed in water, drained and flaked
• 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta , cooked according to package directions
• 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar blend preferred)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with olive oil and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with the 1 tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the onions.

Cook and stir until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in corn and cook 2 minutes longer to incorporate. Stir in the soup, salsa and chili powder (if desired) until well blended.

Add the tuna and cooked pasta, stirring just to coat. Pour into the prepared greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbling, remove from oven and serve immediately.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home is where you are.

I was thinking about the different places people live and how at times we judge someone based on where they live.

I currently live in a planned community with a Homeowner's Association (HOA) and convenient access to the freeway. Where I would like to live is in a Mediterranean-style home with an inside courtyard in a quiet neighborhood with mature plants and clean, whispering air. Palm trees would be wonderful. We've had many opportunities to move but feel there is more "work" to be done where we are.

Driving home recently from an appointment, I got the impression once again there is more work to be done in the place where we live. I have no clue what work, but God has planted me here for some purpose to reach some person and do some thing.

The culture I live in seems obsessed with stories of people who change their lives dramatically by use of force or will or ingenuity. These are commendable feats, of course, because they give a glimmer of the capabilities of the human whole. But we sometimes compare any other type of effort to be flawed or weak or lesser than. Yes, there is something to be said for making things happen in your life. But there is also a power in releasing all control to heed the plan of the God who has the eagle's view.

A few years ago, my preschool-aged foster son was invited to a birthday party. The Saturday morning of the party came and we drove to a part of town I hadn't spent much time in before then. I looked for the address, driving up and down the street, confused by the commercial zone. And then we came upon a broken house. It was old and run-down, the roof, yard, walls, doors, garage, everything seemed in great disrepair.

"Someone lives here??" I thought. Or maybe I actually said it aloud.

The house number matched the one on the invitation so I pulled up the gravel driveway. My boy and I walked up to the door, me still wondering if truly this was the place. I was greeted by a very happy dad and the house was decorated in dinosaur-theme paper. Sho-nuff.

This was a very happy family, with a very happy celebration for their son's birthday. I stayed the whole time and did my best to avoid staring at the cracked walls. I remember the dining room had been converted into a bedroom; I had to walk through it to find the bathroom. I marveled at this rundown home in the middle of a city that was known for beautiful neighborhoods. I had never driven through this area and noticed this old house before.

Why did the family live here? How does a family end up here?

Partway through the party, I remembered that because of my son's "foster child" status, he was attending a pre-school normally attended by children in poverty. I suddenly felt like I had to stay undercover so as not to embarrass anyone. Of course, I didn't have to, but I suddenly felt like I did not belong there and didn't want anyone to discover that. I wondered how many of the other kids present lived in homes similar to this one.

Interestingly, I know there are people who feel a similar sense of confusion and sympathy about where I live, finding something about it undesirable: its proximity to shopping and the interstate, its small lots, its community bylaws and policies. But I know it is where my husband and I were called to move and it is where we still feel called to serve. We certainly are not the only ones who get these types promptings, but I forget that sometimes. The family in the old cracked house likely had a similar personal experience to move to a place in the middle of a commercial zone.

About a month ago, I drove through that area on my way home from a restaurant. The house had been demolished and cleared off that space of land. I wonder where the family went and if they are now in a better position. Of course, that is my ego speaking. They are wherever it is that God has work for them to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Having a Ball

I had pulled out the camera because my girls looked so cute
and they were playing well together.

This is what happened the moment I pushed the button on the camera.


Crying followed soon after.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Trees

Eight years ago, when I bought the house I currently live in, I carefully selected the tree I wanted to plant in the backyard: a Clump Maple Amur. I chose it because of the random multiple trunks that sprout from the base and its ability to thrive in the dry area where we live. I had the landscaper plant it in the back corner of our lot where I could enjoy a perfect view of it from either of our kitchen windows. That tree made me feel so happy as its many branches rose up and curved over like a tidal wave.

Fast forward a couple years and a few neighbor move-ins and move-outs and our tree was not looking so good. One night, as I was preparing dinner, I looked out the kitchen sink window and realized that our new neighbor's sprinklers had been on for a long time. About an hour after they finally shut off, they came on again!

I noticed this the following night and the following night and the night after that. His sprinklers came on for 45 minutes TWICE a day watering the 6-foot wide segment of lawn separating his yard from our tree! Do you know what happens to a drought-resistant tree that sits in a pool of water for weeks? It drowns. I mentioned this to my husband but, ultimately, neither of us said anything to our neighbor about it. We were recovering from a heart-wrenching family loss and neither of us had the mental energy to do much of anything else. We just hoped that one summer of extreme over-watering would not hurt our tree.

We were wrong. The tree died. The following summer, in the corner of the backyard where there used to be a happy, cascading tree stood the curved skeleton of my clump maple amur. I was sad.

The following summer, after the well-intentioned over-watering neighbor had moved away, there appeared a little weak green branch from the root ball, but all the main branches remained bare. And so it was for a couple years. I could not bear to remove the tree; I held hope that somehow the larger stems would be revived. Every so often, my husband and I talked about what to do with the little dead tree, but the conversation always ended with no resolution.

This year, in the early part of Spring, I found the main stem of the tree lying on the ground. I guessed aloud that some neighborhood kid must have broken it. My husband responded, "No, it's just dead. It broke from the wind last night." My stomach felt a sad ache. We would have to soon decide what to do with that tree I had so carefully chosen years earlier and likely be treeless for some time.

Today, when I was checking out the vegetable garden with my little daughters, I noticed the tree had a bunch of little branches with green leaves. I looked at the larger stems, still dead and curving; I snapped their ends and, as expected, found them completely dry. It did not take any effort to completely break off the entire branches from the base of the tree. What was left surprised me.

The spindly branch from years ago was a little thicker, and without the dead branches looming overhead, the plant actually looked like a healthy, albeit young, tree. Here was a tree making a comeback and its efforts were being overlooked because I kept focusing on what "had been" or "should have been." I was so accustomed to mourning my old curving tree that I hadn't noticed a perfectly good upright tree growing right in the middle of all those dead branches. Only after stripping away what was no longer needed could I see what was becoming.

My thoughts immediately remembered a message a former networking associate shared on her Facebook wall  yesterday: To uplevel your life, relationships, and business, it may require you to strip everything away then put back ONLY the things that match where you are going, not where you've been.

I was not allowing my joy of backyard nature to grow a level because I kept focusing on the skeleton branches of what my tree had been. Thank goodness God initiated the stripping away earlier in the season with a swift wind because it set a precedence for me today to take down the other had-beens.

And it leaves me thinking... What other dead branches in my life need removing so I can delight in the new trees sprouting all around?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Expo Giveaway: Locals Only!


I've always preferred markers over chalk but have settled for crayons and colored pencils for my daughter because of the obvious potential damage when you mix kids and ink. But guess what? Expo has come out with washable dry erase markers!

Expo sent me a box filled with supplies which I was going to use to host a Pictionary party and bar-b-que, but wouldn't you know it, my husband will be out of town during the party date. So, lucky friends, I'm giving these away! I've been giving them away at my kid's party, at afternoon playgroup, and I still have 5 of these packs left!

Each pack contains:
~ a package of broad tip markers
~ a package of bullet tip markers
~ a dry erase board eraser
~ a 9"x12" double-sided dry erase board (one side blank, the other lined)

Sorry, this giveaway is for locals only so I can drop the pack off to you ASAP or so you can come pick one up from me.

If you want one, leave me a comment and promise me that when you receive this kit, you will email me a photo of you and/or your kids using the markers so I can show Expo that I did not just hoard these cool markers for myself!

If you already received a pack from me, send me a photo too! Email photos by Sunday, June 12 to adhisblog @ gmail. com!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brevity

All of my blog posts seem too long. I have some topics I'd like to post about but brevity is nowhere in sight. I know how short blog-reading attention spans are. But then again, I started this blog to post my own ramblings to myself. You guys just happened to trip over my verbose journal.

Huh. OK.

But still, I am noticing I can just go on and on and on and-

Oops.

So, yeah.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Risky Opinion?

May I be honest?

Osama Bin Laden's death is no occasion for celebration.

Should we feel a sense of accomplishment? Maybe. Consolation? Perhaps. Certainly, not celebration. I admit his death does wash over me a sense of relief. But does it inspire me to hoot and holler and rejoice in his execution?

Bin Laden orchestrated terrible crimes and directed blood-thirsty groups. He demonstrated no remorse and confessed his endless devotion to the annihilation of nations. But once upon a time, before entering this temporal state, the man was our brother. We loved him and wished well for him as he did for us. Somewhere between his mortal birth and death, he became powerful, wicked, and lost. Still, he is our brother and one of our Heavenly Father's sons.


 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God
Doctrine &Covenants 18:10 


I am not naive to think that all Bin Laden needed was a good missionary discussion and a hug. He had long ago been converted and promoted to preach death and fear. Regardless, the God I worship does not rejoice in the killing of his children, no matter how wicked. My God is saddened for souls that end their temporal state without repentance or correction of their actions.

In Genesis of the Old Testament, God was saddened by the wickedness running rampant on the earth. With floods, He washed over the planet, saving only a few. Nowhere is there record of God pumping his fist in the air and yelling "huzzah!" In contrast, he presented a token in the sky and made a covenant to never ever take that extreme measure again to remove the wicked. (Genesis 9: 8-17) Promising to abstain from planet-wide floods does not sound like the result of a joyous tactic but rather something God would rather not ever inflict again.

When impressed by the Holy Spirit to kill the wicked Laban in order to obtain the holy records, the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon hesitated. He did not have the heart of a murderer and "shrunk and would that I might not slay him." The Spirit spoke to him a few more times reassuring him "the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief" (1 Nephi 4) before Nephi followed through. Knowing how much he wanted to avoid killing another human being, it is unlikely that he later celebrated the death of Laban.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Do I feel relief?  Yes. But I cannot rejoice in his demise just as I would not rejoice in the demise of a wicked brother or uncle. I do not dare exhibit the same jubilation terrorists exhibit when death claims one on our team. Otherwise, how could we tell who is on which team when we're not wearing jerseys?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Close a Blog

With the growth of my online professional presence, I am contemplating closing this blog as I'd like to keep some things off the radar from clients and associates. But I'm not sure of the best way to go about closing shop.

So far, the least painful option is to gradually remove the more intimate blog posts individually and leave up the blog posts that people read most. (I have to say that I'm surprised at some of the blog posts consistently rated as "most popular" based on blog stats. The fluffy Jason Mraz post? Really??) But I feel a sense of sadness about removing anything. Do I just need to rip off the Band-aid® by shutting down the whole thing and let myself mourn?

I started this blog to write for myself, and later, to share stories with neighbors. I am not wholly sure what this blog is now (another reason I have not been posting any of my many, many drafts), but it holds a lot of history for me. Or should I leave it open and just change the direction/purpose of my writing?

I'm not really interested in the "private blog" thing. Do you have any other ideas? Instead of making a rash decision (as is my usual M.O.), I'd like to consider all angles. Share your ideas with me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

"I Am" movie?

Since I was a little girl, I have had an awareness about the inherent connection of all living things and people. I remember walking through a city park on the way to elementary school and feeling a "communication" with the wild flowers growing near the shuffle board lanes. This experience is the first distinct memory I have in which I realized that every thing has a life and that life is always speaking. This extended later to feeling a connection to the people of the world, even though I was a kid and still largely ignorant about how big the world is and how many different cultures exist in it.

A blessing I later received as a teenager by an LDS patriarch makes mention of this connection and love for all mankind. Every time I read that portion of the transcript, I feel a swelling of excitement in the center of my chest: I can't discover the world and its people soon enough!

Interesting to me is that the topic of deep-seeded connection between all life and people seems to be gradually approaching mainstream. I have seen some speakers, books and videos over the years, but this is the first time I have been aware of a much larger film. Have any of you in other states seen I Am? What is it like? The preview leaves me wanting to see what angles the documentary takes. If you have seen it, do you know where to get a copy or attend a viewing?

On a side note, I had to chuckle at the segment where the "great thinkers" have no idea what movies the director created in the past. I have had plenty of opportunities to be ignorant in current pop culture; I guess I do not mind being ignorant with that kind of company!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Folding Grocery Bags Changed My Life

I was cooking dinner tonight and the thought came to me that human beings are indeed more connected than we admit, beams of energy that come from one source but get distracted by the compartmentalizing effects of mortal bodies.

As I was pricking yams, I thought about Megan who gave me the simplest no-fail recipe for baking sweet potatoes. That led me to remembering Sheree's tip for mixing natural peanut butter so I wouldn't have to blend the cream and the oil together every time I wanted a sandwich. I remembered being convinced of my desire to raise chickens when Aubrey gave me an egg from one of her chickens. The flavor changed my paradigm about eggs.

A flash flood of contributors to the book of my life washed through my mind:
  • Carrie and Melissa who influenced how I shop,
  • Amy who gave me the tools to release pain,
  • my dad who introduced me to millionaire minds,
  • Diane who opened the gate to organized personal finance,
  • Lindsey who served as a mirror to myself,
  • my mom who inspired in me the quest for forgiving,
  • Lisa who reminded me to keep dreaming,
  • Polly who exemplified service as fun and timeless,
  • Casey who showed me to love first, ask questions later,
  • Judy who demonstrated faith in a lone young woman,
... and the list goes on.

My entire existence has been shaped by every single person who walked onto my path (or did I walk onto theirs?),  some for a brief moment, others lingered longer. The length of our time together is irrelevant. I became and will continue evolving as a weaving of many lives, who I am sure are also a blend of yet other lives. Though we suffer temporary amnesia, we are still one energy, showing up in my biggest decisions but also in my everyday routines of cooking, keeping house, writing, and thinking. When confronted, each person would likely protest their significance, glossing over their inherent value and oftentimes unconscious contributions.

Every so often, I will remember a particular woman whose name I do not recall. I am not sure I ever heard it. I met her in her home after being dragged there for an event I had no desire to attend. The old house was cluttered with bags and large plastic storage containers, so full leaving only narrow pathways to get from one room to another. I felt clustrophobic and wanted to go home. As the only other female in the house, she initiated conversation with me; I was polite but uninterested. I had decided I was better than her and there was nothing I could learn from someone whose life was so obviously out of control.

And then, I saw her folding grocery bags.

Back home, all of my leftover grocery bags took up room under my kitchen sink, constantly falling out onto the floor every time I opened the cabinet.

"How do you do that?" I asked, suddenly interested. She smiled and taught me where to fold, where to roll, and where to tie the plastic so as to make each bag into a neat little package. She was so kind and patient. I learned then that everyone has something of value to offer. Sometimes, the offerings are intentional, but most often, the contributions are made, seemingly, by mere coincidence and with little consequence, but always, they create a wrinkle in the place where memories are held.

Today, I fold my grocery bags and suspend judgment like I do because of a woman whose name I will not remember. Twelve years ago, I spent with her only an hour, but she left an imprint in my existence for the eternities.

Just as you have.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Licking the wounds

I love blogging. I really do. I write blog posts every week.

Now, PUBLISHING what I write is another story. I bet you didn't know I have over 80 blog DRAFTS for this blog. Over 80!

So... what's the deal? Truth be told (long-time readers may have noticed from the change in tone of my blog posts over the past year or two) things have been a little heavy on my side of the screen. I know my neighbors and friends have noticed I'm just not the same Adhis.

You know how one or two big life events bring with them their own high level of stress? I've had about a dozen life-changing events in the last two years that have leap-frogged (lept-frog? leaped-frog?) over each other. A couple of the events have been of the wonderful, positive nature, and the rest have been crappy extensions of crap: dealing with deaths, near-deaths, divorce (not mine! We're okie-dokie!), legal drama (not me!), jailtime (not me!) (or is it?), abandonment, cruelty, false accusations and my family of origin falling far, far apart.

I have been doing my best to hold my life and my responsibilities together. Many times, I have wanted to call in for substitute teachers to take over my personal finance class or my Sunday School class, but I have stayed faithful knowing that interacting with people and serving them keeps me on this side of sanity. But so often, I wish to apologize to those in attendance for my not being wholly in-tune. I desire so much to serve them better. I truly do.

More than anything, I wish I would have been more emotionally present to enjoy my Maya's first year of life. Babies don't wait for Mommy to feel well before they go on to their business of growing up. I am, however, grateful that my husband David loves his girls so much and has cared for them when he gets home from a long day at work so I can just sit and vegetate alone.

I won't go into details since so much of the hard news involves others who may not want the details shared, but suffice it to say that it has been one of the most spiritually, physically, and emotionally painful phases I have been through. The worst damage was probably caused by my internalizing others' choices and way too much of everyone's crap. (Don't YOU ever do that to yourself, OK?)

At least, I have gained a lot of insight about me and about how everyone reacts differently to "heavy application of pressure." I found that when things get tough, I face them head-on. But when things get personal, I retreat, I hide, I close off, I try to disappear so no one will make "just one more demand" of me. Just one more tiny demand of me would kill me. Maybe not. But that is what it feels like at times. Am I the only one?

Anyway, I am still here, and I do still write, I just... you know... took on too much, but I *am* healing and I *am* learning to let go.

I apologize for ignoring those of you who have reached out; truly, I have been trying to protect you from me as I neglected to keep my emotions and bitterness in check. I apologize to my friends for failing to hold up my end of our friendship. I am just now shaking off the dust and tweezing out the splinters. I do love you. I love people very much and do love you very much. I am licking my wounds, and I'll soon come back out to play.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Talking to Myself

It's no secret I talk a lot. I do it even to myself, so much so that I have caught myself many times doing it in the grocery store.You know the stuff that people are usually thinking when they shop? Or what they say to someone else who is shopping WITH them?

"Hmm... this one is 50 cents cheaper than that one."
"Oh my gosh, that's a great deal!"
"Wait a minute, if I use this coupon with this variety, I'll get this for free!"
"I wonder how David is doing with the girls."
"What?!?!? You've got to be kidding me!"

I say those out loud while I'm shopping by myself.

I hadn't given this habit much thought until today when for some reason, a brief scenario flashed across my mind in which I was the OTHER person shopping in the same aisle as me, quietly looking for the chunky salsa when the process is interrupted by thinking a customer is talking to me and then realizing they are loudly talking to themselves. I can see where I might come across a bit off-balance.

If only I could wear a shirt that states:

I'm not crazy. 
I have small kids 
and am holed-up in my house most of the week 
with nary an adult to talk with 
and the grocery shelf offerings at least listen quietly
and without spitting up on me.
Please, don't kick me out of the store.

Then, I wouldn't look cuckoo.

Right?

I should accept now that I shortly will be one of those wiry-haired old ladies muttering about how many carrots will be just the right amount to buy taking into consideration the humidity in the fridge and the disposition of the cats living in the kitchen, all while other customers around me politely fake a smile and step far, far around me.

Or maybe it will be a good 30 years before you find me in the produce section cackling at my muttered puns, stroking my bristly chin hair, and wearing my newest cotton/polyester Blair special ordered from the Sunday coupon insert.

Either way, please, smile politely.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Can Rotation Shelf Giveaway



For those of you who like food storage toys,
I have a giveaway going on this week on my other blog.