Thursday, December 30, 2010


What do you think - should I try to do the 365 challenge again?  I didn't do so great last year and only made it to around July before I totally gave up.  But it was a lot of fun.  But also really self-centered. 

Also, have I mentioned that zombie movies really freak me out?  Because they do.  But I still watch them anyway.

And finally, I love it when airports have free wireless internet.

This post brought to you courtesy of San Jose International Airport and a 1 hour flight delay on Southwest.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Traditions ... TRADITIONS!

I love the song from Fiddler on the Roof sung by Tevia about traditions.  That is what I was thinking when I wrote the title of this blog post.  So, it is 5:30 in the morning and I am awake again.  Because I am a freak like that.  So why not blog, right?  Especially since I found something really great at Pottery Barn Kids that I wanted to tell you about.  It is called "Your Birthday Book".

Image from but available for cheaper on Amazon.
When I was growing up, each of the kids in my family had a "School Book" that was given to us by my aunts.  Once a year, we would update our books with the school photo from that year, a record of our height and weight, and information like the name of our teacher, our favorite subjects, the names of our friends, where we went on field trips, what we wanted to be when we grew up, etc.  It was such a great tradition and I love having the book now.  I was just looking through it the other day and bragging to Paul about how my 1st through 3rd grade report cards say things like "Amy excels at logical thinking and reasoning."  That was in Nebraska where we didn't just get letter grades, but our teachers actually made comments about our performance.  Once I moved to California in 4th grade, the teachers just awarded A's and moved on.

Anyway, the Birthday Book is so, so awesome because it is meant to be updated every year on or around the child's birthday.  It asks things like who came to the birthday party, what were some of the child's favorite gifts, what does the child want to be when he or she grows up, etc.  But it has other fun pages with "exclusive interviews" that change questions over the years but are more journal focused and include thought provoking little gems like asking a 5 year old about what was the last thing that made him/her sad or asking a 7 year old what makes him/her really, really happy.  When the child turns 10 you are supposed to ask them what the top five things are that they think about all the time.  There are also funny questions like asking a 6 year old how much the family car costs, who is the tallest person they know, and how tall do they think that person is.  I asked my niece Elizabeth these questions last night and she told me after some thinking that her mom is the tallest person she knows, that she is either 10 or 89 tall after Paul prompted her that her mom would be so many feet and inches tall, and she guessed that their family car cost $100 million dollars (but she might have just been being silly by that point).  I will stop going on about all the great things in this book, but you get the picture, I'm sure. 

Another reason I really love this book is because in our adoption education, I have learned that no matter what, at some point in the adopted child's life they will experience a sense of loss - a sense of "my life would have been different if my birthmom had not placed me for adoption."  And they will feel a loss of history - of family and past, etc.  And although that cannot be replaced for the adopted child, I want to make sure that our children have a history and I think that books recording a childhood that they may only have vague memories of might be a way of developing that sense of self.  The Birthday Book does a great job of that.  There is also a "The Grandparent Book" that I found in BYU bookstore by the same author and publisher which has wonderful questions for grandparents to help get their history down for your children.

And now, in the spirit of traditions and history and Christmas - since it IS Christmas Eve after all - here are some of my favorite holiday traditions that may be on the unusual side:
  • Sleeping "in the crack" with my sisters.  This doesn't happen anymore, but every Christmas Eve my sisters and I would pile into my bed (which had a trundle bed that made it king size) and chatter about how excited we were for Christmas morning.  I loved this because I was the big sister and I knew what was going on but could still get carried away with the magic of their belief.  We continued this tradition until the year I got married to Paul.  Jennie and I always made Jessica sleep in the crack between the trundle beds, which was the most uncomfortable spot.  She was the littlest and complained about having to sleep in the crack every year, but secretly I think she loved it.  I'm pretty sure we took turns sleeping in the crack though because I have distinct memories of how annoying it was to be stuck in the middle. 
  • Sneaking out to see what Santa brought.  I have always been a terrible sleeper on Christmas Eve.  Even now I still wake up all night long wondering if it is morning yet.  My parents always left the Christmas tree lights on all night on Christmas Eve and I would invariably sneak out of bed around 3 in the morning to see the presents under the tree and the toys that Santa had left.  Santa always wrapped some things and left others unwrapped and I loved having the preview of Christmas morning all to myself.  It was a secret, magical Christmas experience that I shared with no one else.  My sisters always made me promise that I would wake them up so that they could sneak downstairs with me, and sometimes I would, but only after I had made a trip by myself.  Some years I would boss them and tell them that they were not allowed to sneak down but that I would generously go fetch them a glass of water.  One year when I was maybe 12 my parents absolutely forbade me to sneak down in the middle of the night and told me that if I did, there would be no presents for anyone.  At 3 a.m. when I made my trip, there were no new presents from Santa.  I could not believe it.  I went back at 4 - nothing.  At 5 I started getting really worried.  Finally, at 6 when I knew that my brothers and sisters wouldn't sleep in much longer, I went into my parents room and told them with serious concern that there were no presents downstairs.  They asked me groggily how I knew that and I admitted that I had peeked but that my sin shouldn't affect my siblings receiving of presents.  I was pretty upset by that point.  My parents made me go back to my room where my sisters were and when they finally let us go downstairs at probably 7, there were presents for everyone, even me.  It was such a relief.
  • My dad's Christmas Eve shopping.  It is not that my parents ever put off shopping for Christmas.  In fact, my mom was always really good about shopping early and we still love shopping together and finding sales or special surprises for everyone.  Incidentally, this is why I want girls - even now I try on things for my sisters and we make adjustments for sizes and they do the same for me.  But almost invariably on Christmas Eve my dad would come into the kitchen where my mom and sisters and I were usually baking something and say that he didn't think there were enough presents.  This was always after days of him saying that there were already too many presents under the tree and that we were all spoiled.  So while the girls finished up the cookies and watched a Christmas movie, my mom and dad would hit the stores for last minute surprises.  It isn't so much the extra presents that I love about this tradition (although that is an awesome bonus) as the feeling of being at home with my sisters while knowing that our parents were out together planning special things for us.  I'm willing to wager that this is one of their favorite traditions too whether they admit it or not.
  • The yearly game of present roulette.  There were five kids in my family and it seems like each of us always wanted to be the one who had the last present to open.  This is not the same thing as having the most presents, it is just that there was something magic about the very last present.  We were forever hiding our own presents behind chair legs or underneath discarded paper in the hopes of fooling each other.  Paul has taken up this tradition and is amazingly good at the what-are-you-talking-about-all-my-presents-have-been-opened deception necessary to successfully pull off a win. 
  • The post-unwrapping fashion show.  After eating a good breakfast (which was a tradition itself) and cleaning up the living room, we always had a fashion show for my parents (and aunts and grandparents if they were in town) where we tried on the clothes, shoes and jewelry that we had received.  There was much oohing and aahing and frequent use of the word "cute."  I tried to get my niece Emma to say "cute" the other day so she would be ready for Christmas, but she is only one and pretty much only knows "dog."  Next year though.
There are other traditions too of course.  Opening pajamas on Christmas Eve, reading the Nativity story and/or watching "White Christmas," going through stockings first before touching any other presents are other things that we do each year for example.  But these non-tradition organic traditions that just sort of evolved are really my very favorites.  Do you have any of these less-typical types of traditions in your family?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas vacation, so far

It is 5:30 a.m. and I am wide awake in the guest bedroom at my brother- and sister-in-law's house.  I actually woke up around 4:45 and haven't been able to fall back asleep, so I figured I might as well be productive with my time and blog.  Hopefully my hammer-typing doesn't wake up Paul who will think I am crazy for not being able to sleep-in on vacation (which is always the case for me - it is like my mind doesn't want to waste a second of my time-off by sleeping).  So here is a list of some of the fun things we have been up to in the past few days:
  • Gave away our first pass-along card to a stranger at the San Jose airport at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday.  The San Jose mission president and his wife were in line behind us at the Southwest counter and we had a bonded over a shared love of Costa Rica and being law school grads (the mission president was a '78 J. Reuben Clark law grad).  I finally just reached into my purse and pulled out a card to give to them.  Paul told me later that he had just been about to pull a card from his wallet but I beat him to it.
  • Held/cuddled/kissed/played with/adored my niece Emma.  She just turned one on the 8th and she is the most hilarious and cute and fun little girl ever.  But I might be a tad biased.  She has this great, deep laugh that makes her sound like an old French man - you know, the "ohn-hohn-hohn" kind of a laugh - and I love it so much.  I was worried that it would take her a while to warm up to me because my mom had warned me that Emma is somewhat stand-offish around anyone but her mom, dad, and grandma.  But within the first hour or so of being around her she was not only letting me hold her, but she would reach for me (as long as her mom wasn't too close by).  Emma is stingy with her kisses, but I have been able to coax her into planting half a dozen of them on my cheeks and she even condescended to give Paul a smooch on his cheek too, which amazed us all.  It has been so wonderful to see what a great mom my sister is and to watch my mom interact with her granddaughter.  Emma and my mom both obviously adore each other and I think that my mom is better at getting Emma to laugh or smile than anyone else.
  • Celebrated Paul's Grandma's 83rd(?) birthday with Paul's family and met our two new nephews.  Robert is 6 months old now and seems like he is just about to sit up.  He has big brown eyes.  Colton is just 2 months old and everything about him seems to wobble.  His head wobbles, his legs wobble, he wobbles his fists, etc.  Seriously, it is like baby overload around here with all these tiny nieces and nephews.
  • Surprised some of our favorite people from law school by showing up on their doorstep on Saturday night just so we could say Hi and bask in the adorableness of their daughter, who is quite possibly the most brilliant child in the world.  I have never met an 18-and-some-month-old kid who can say things like "water chestnut" or "speakers make music" or "stinkyface". 
  • Went to church at my parents' ward where we gave out more adoption pass-along cards.  Last year my parents' bishop knew of a birthmom and also knew a family in the ward who was hoping to adopt.  He told the birthmom about the couple's blog and helped them connect, so the whole ward has seen the miracle of adoption first-hand.  The bishop even told me that he knows another girl who is planning to place her baby for adoption, although he is pretty sure that she has already chosen a family.  But still, it gives me hope to realize that bishops are often aware of young women who have unplanned pregnancies and are able to talk to them about couples like Paul and me and our hopes to adopt. 
  • Had a huge dinner with my extended family - something that my mom does every year where we make a special Christmas meal (chicken cordon bleu) and use her festive plate settings.
  • Worked out at the gym with my mom.  She asked her personal trainer to put me through the wringer and I am paying for it now with sore stomach, shoulder, back, arm, and leg muscles.  We finished our workout and left just before they were going to start filming a segment for the next season of "The Biggest Loser".  Apparently, one of the contestants is from the area and there will be an episode where the contestants are sent home for the holidays while trying to continue to exercise and lose weight, and the contestant uses the same gym as my mom so they have been filming there this past week.  I thought about waiting around just to see what filming was like, but we had more important things to do, like play with Emma.
  • Went shopping.  Our Christmas shopping is almost complete.  I love giving presents.  It is one of my favorite things about this holiday. 
  • Ate at a bunch of our favorite places - Bombay House, Cafe Rio,  and Noodles.  I will pay for this after Christmas when I am dying on the treadmill, but it seems worth it right now. 
It has been so nice to have this break from work.  I have had to respond to a couple of emails from another associate on my blackberry, but nothing too serious has come up.  The one major downside of our holiday so far is that the inversion in Utah is terrible and it is making my throat hurt like the dickens.  But we are looking forward to more fun times and good food, and especially to Christmas day and a phone call with my sister in Uruguay. 

Oh, and we will be taking photos and trying to post some soon.  I know that there has been a dearth of images on this blog of late and I promise that I am planning to remedy that.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Notice anything different?

Check out the button (that Paul made - amazing, huh?) on the left hand side of the blog.  We are still working on our adoption blog, but the basic content is in place now.  You might want to check it out.  And add it to your blog feeder, follow it, take a button to add to your blog, etc.  Because you are cool like that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can you please explain...

Why people in California put up those icicle Christmas lights that don't actually look like icicles?  This is causing me serious consternation because our neighbors on both sides AND across the street all have those icicle lights.  I really just don't understand it.  First, because they don't actually look very much like icicles.  Second, because it does not snow here.  Not that I have anything against icicle lights in general - just the idea of them in a warm climate.

Also, the neighbors to the right of our house have a Santa on a Harley.  The neighbors to the left have an illuminated flamingo and palm tree.  With icicle lights.  Again, the whole thing seems a little strange.  But maybe that's just me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pins & Needles. Also, Zombie Giveaways.

About a month ago I got a notice in the mail that I was being summoned for jury duty. I was both excited and dismayed at the same time. Truth be told, I thought it would be AWESOME to serve on a jury until I was actually involved in a trial this year and realized that it would actually be really boring unless you got, and I say this tongue-in-cheek, lucky enough to be selected for a case involving a "juicy" crime, which I will not list because these would probably horrify most people. But I will say that Criminal Law was one of my favorite classes in law school because I have an absolutely morbid fascination with terrible, terrible things and holding people accountable for those terrible things. Most of America probably feels the same way, otherwise Law & Order SVU and Criminal Minds wouldn't be such popular television shows.

Anyway, turns out you don't just show up for jury duty in Santa Clara County. Instead you get on a website at a pre-assigned time to check to see if your assigned number is being called to come into court the next day. Since I was on call for the entire week, I had to log on at 5:00 p.m. everyday wondering whether I would be able to make a scheduled conference call or meeting with a partner the next day. I didn't like it. I like to be able to plan things - to calendar my life. Finally today at noon the court website was updated to let us know that our availability was appreciated and we had a one-year pass before we would be thrown back in the pool of potential juror candidates.  Yippee-skippy.

On a totally unrelated topic, I have something to rant about: I'm all about giveaways on blogs - mostly because free stuff is awesome - BUT I am super annoyed with the way the give-away'ers permit "additional entries" as follows:

Comment on this post
Follow this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Like this blog on FB
Post about this blog in your FB status
Tattoo this blog logo on your arm
Follow me on Twitter
Tweet about this blog
Post a link to this blog on your blog
Give me your firstborn child
...and so on.

Is it just me or does this behavior creep anybody else out? Especially where these are what I am going to refer very casually to as "Mormon blogs," I get the feeling that this is like a guiltless lottery. Usually I just leave a comment but don't do the other stuff. And I wonder why I don't win.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Back the train up - is it seriously December already?  I don't even know how that happened.  I only posted, like, twice in November!  Is it just me or does it seem like people have been slowing down in posting on their blogs?  There has been very little movement on my sidebar lately with blogs being updated and it is very concerning to me.  Because I don't read CNN or MSN very frequently ya' know.  I've got to get news about somebody and something somewhere and somehow after all.

Anyway, since posting a list of things I am thankful for seems a tad tardy at the present, I present you with a Bliss List (i.e., the things causing me to bliss out lately):
  • Seeing our awesome new stockings hanging on the fireplace mantel next to the Christmas tree.  We've never had a fireplace or a mantel to hang stockings from and we've never really had stockings.  I attempted to make stockings for us when we first got married and I mistakenly thought I was all domestic and crafty.  (I'm  really not domestic and crafty though I ashamedly try to attempt to be every now and then.  All you bloggers out there who diss on blogging about crafts and such have given me a sort of complex where I feel like it is embarrassing to even think about colorful ribbons and glue guns and other implements of craftiness.  Also, I feel guilty reading craft blogs, though I secretly enjoy them.  Seriously, if I am on a craft blog and Paul walks into the room, I minimize the screen lickety-split.  It is like porn, only I probably shouldn't joke about that.)  Our original stockings turned out awful and too small to hold much more than a toothbrush and chocolate-marshmallow Santa - certainly they couldn't hold the traditional orange in the toe.  So this year when I found the exact type of stocking I have been searching for for the past six years, I broke down and bought them (five of them to be exact - who knows, maybe one day we will actually have enough children to justify the purchase and I wanted matching stockings).
  • from Pottery Barn Kids
  • Wearing my new running shoes while bouncing along to the sounds of "Empire State of Mind" by the cast of Glee!.  There is nothing like a new pair of running shoes to make me feel like I can go and go and go on the treadmill.  Seeing as how it is pitch black when I get home from work, I have been forcing myself to go to the gym to get a run in a couple nights a week.  My goal is to be more consistent. 
  • Those cinnamony pinecone things that you can pick up this time of year in the grocery store, craft store, hardware store - basically anywhere.  They smell SO GOOD.  Especially when mingled with the scent of pine Christmas trees.  To all ya'll who have fake Christmas trees, I understand the convenience and ease but I have a frown-smile for you.
  • The hilarious "Hide your kids, hide your wife" video which shouldn't be hilarious but is nevertheless hilarious.  You've probably already seen it but we are a bit behind the times.  It reminds me SO much of my mission in New Jersey.  Paul and I watch this like 5 times a day pretty much.
  • Having a computer that holds a charge, where the keys don't stick and the touchpad mouse doesn't malfunction, and where the screen looks bright and clear rather than like a blurry piece of newspaper because the graphics are so dull.  Paul picked out a new Dell for me for Christmas and I am happily blogging away on it right now.  My old computer got me through every final exam in law school, hours of copious note-taking and internet surfing, and the California bar exam without ever crashing in the middle of a test once.  I feel a little guilty leaving it behind, but this new computer is a serious upgrade from about 50 gigs of memory to 500 gigs of memory.  I don't really know what that means and it might be RAM instead of gigs, but basically the new computer is better.  There.
Well, there is more to the blissfest, but I started writing this when I really should have been applying makeup and eating breakfast before work, so now I need to go slap on mascara and head out the door.  Feel free to share in the bliss though.

Also, we are hoping to send out Christmas cards so if you don't mind, would you be so kind as to email me your address at (or leave it in the comments if you're comfortable with that)?  We may or may not have it, so if you don't mind sending it regardless, that would be super awesome.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pie and Paperwork

It it hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only a week from tomorrow.  I'm so excited to eat turkey and pecan pie and cranberry sauce, not to mention have a couple days off of work, which has been kind of crazy lately.  I like big Thanksgiving dinners with lots of people around for a lot of reasons, but one stands above the rest:  the more people involved in the dinner, the more varieties of pie I can justify.  Because  I love baking pies.  And I love having slivers of pretty much every option of pie available, even if it is not my "favorite" kind of pie.  My favorite pies to bake are apple and pecan. 

When Paul and I were dating I tried to impress him by making a banana cream pie (his favorite).  Only we were in that super early stage of twitterpation and he kept distracting me while I was adding ingredients.  Somehow I forgot to thicken the custard before I put it into the pie crust and we ended up with banana cream soup.  It was so embarassing and hilarious at the same time that I had made a total fool of myself while trying to show off for my boyfriend.

I really didn't intend to blog about pie when I started this post - I meant to provide an update on the adoption process.  We have both had our interviews now, and last Friday we had our home-study.  There wasn't really much to the home-study, which was sort of a let-down.  Our caseworker came to our house and we sat at the kitchen table while she asked us questions like "Do you leave knives on the floor?" or "Are there sinkholes in your backyard?"  I thought she would actually want to see our (required) fire extinguisher and first aid kit, and that she would check to make sure we had moved all the chemicals from under the kitchen sink to a high shelf in the garage, but she just wanted us to confirm that we had taken care of those things.  Then we walked her through our house (which takes a whopping 14 seconds to see every room).  The only rooms she really cared about were the baby's room and its proximity to our room.  After that she left. 

Then on Saturday Paul and I spent five hours getting adult, child, and infant CPR and First Aid certified.  It was hilarious and intersting at first, but by the end I was dying to be done with that class.  But now I can remind Paul that I am able to save his life, which is kind of cool.  I think being able to perform CPR is kind of like having a super power.

We both have our fingerprints being processed through the State (both California and Utah), the Department of Justice, and the FBI.  We both had to wait at the DMV to get copies of our driving records. 

And we filled out our "child preference" information, which was possibly the most scary, confusing part of the process so far.  It starts off by asking whether we prefer a boy or a girl or have no preference, and whether we have racial preferences.  The racial preference portion was interesting because races were listed with boxes next to them to choose "Full", "Half", or "None" of each particular race.  Then the questions went into more difficult things like whether we would accept a baby who has potentially been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol, drugs, or abuse.  Then the questionnaire lists illness and birth defects, one right after another in a seemingly endless list of horribles, and asks whether we would accept a child with (or at risk for) things like Type I or Type II diabetes, bipolar disorder, cancer, muscular dystophy, Huntington's Disease, etc.  I felt like I was scrolling down that page forever and let me tell you, it was a sobering experience.  I had to use webMD and wikipedia to look up a lot of the diseases or mental disorders that were listed that I didn't know much about.  Not only did we have to answer for whether our child would have or would be at risk for these things, but also whether we were okay with either of the birth parents having any of these conditions.

Then we had to fill out a bunch of stuff about ourselves to help potential birth parents get to know us better.  Really it was just like being "Tagged" which was a blogging thing that went around a couple of years ago.  Here are the questions with each of our answers:

A book I highly recommend is:
P:  The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
A:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My favorite flower is:
P:  Tulip
A:  Callalily
A game I like to play is:
P:  Phase 10
A:  Mastermind

The music I listen to most is:
P:  Classic rock
A:  Classical or Top 40

My favorite band is:
P:  The Police
A:  U2
A movie I watch over and over is:
P:  Rustler's Rhapsody (a cowboy comedy)
A:  Elf

A T.V. show I watch regularly is:
P:  The Office
A:  Survivor

My favorite quote is:
P:  Do or do not. There is no try. - Yoda
A:  Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Seuss

My favorite thing to buy is:
P:  Fly-fishing gear
A:  Cardigans - I just can't resist and I wear them all the time!

I drive a:
P:  '96 Toyota Tacoma
A:  Gunmetal grey Honda Civic

I love to collect:
P:  Souvenirs from places we visit
A:  Passport stamps

If I could afford anything at this moment I would buy:
P:  A 1965 blue Shelby Cobra
A:  An amazing trip to either India/Nepal or the Galapagos Islands

If my house was burning down and I could only rescue three things, they would be:
P:  Assuming my family was already safe, I would rescue my camera, my laptop and photos from our wedding.
A:  (Assuming my family was out safe already) my computer, my scrapbooks, and our camera (so I could photograph the event and blog about it)

A smell that makes me pause is:
P:  Chocolate
A:  Cinnamon and tree bark

My favorite sport to watch is:
P:  Football
A:  Gymnastics

The city I would most like to visit is:
P:  Paris - even though I have already been there.
A:  Tokyo

My favorite restaurant is:
P:  Bombay House
A:  Bombay House

A moment when I achieved absolute happiness was:
P:  When I married Amy.
A:  Graduating from Law School.

My favorite meal is:
P:  Steak fajitas
A:  Homemade chimichangas

Someone or something that made me laugh this week was:
P:  Dwight Schrute on The Office
A:  Photos of my niece in a hilarious Halloween costume

My earliest memory is:
P:  Lying in my bed in the early morning and hearing my mom blow-drying her hair.
A:  Being upset that my mom was only giving me half a graham cracker instead of the whole graham cracker. This story is famous in my family and has been told so many times that I may not actually remember it even if I feel like I do.

My first paying job was:
P:  Working in the warehouse of my dad's computer company.
A:  Other than babysitting, I was a server at a Mexican restaurant in high school.

The memory that still makes me laugh is:
P:  It's not a memory really, but it is hilarious to turn off all the lights in the house at night and try to scare Amy.
A:  When I was training for a marathon and Paul decided to go running with me while he was wearing flip-flops. For some reason that made me mad, and I hollered at him "You're not cute, you're not funny, and I'm mad at you!" Then we both started cracking up.

My best birthday was:
P:  In Capri, Italy when I turned 27.
A:  Probably when I turned 21. I was so excited to go on a mission and it was just a big point in my life.

A smell that reminds me of my childhood is:
P:  Raspberries
A:  Chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven

The story behind my name is:
P:  I was named after one of my parent's good friends.
A:  My middle and last name were chosen first and were both really long so my parents wanted a short girl's name. My middle name (Elizabeth) comes from my great-grandma. My maiden name (Casebolt) means "bald head."

My favorite color to wear is:
P:  Blue
A:  Navy

My strangest possession is:
P:  A machete
A:  A Travelocity Roaming Gnome

My favorite dessert is:
P:  A dessert Amy makes with raspberries, jello, cream, and Nilla wafers. We just call it "raspberry dessert".
A:  Razzleberry pie a la mode

When I exercise, I like to:
P:  Play tennis
A:  Run or do yoga

My favorite thing to do on a date is:
P:  Go out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
A:  Get outside and be active - mini-golf, hiking, walks, biking - anything like that

The best vacation I ever had was:
P:  When we went to Machu Picchu in Peru.
A:  Either visiting ancient Mayan temples in Mexico with Paul and my sister, or visiting Machu Picchu in Peru.

The best thing about being married is:
P:  Getting to spend all my time with my best friend.
A:  Always having your best friend to do things with even if it is just to stay at home and watch t.v. and eat ice cream in pajamas.

The thing I am most passionate about is:
P:  Photography
A:  Travel - exploring new places and making everyday of life an adventure

In high school, I was:
P:  Kind of a dork. I played tennis, took AP classes, got my Eagle Scout, and took up surfing.
A:  Nerdy and super involved. I was on the dance team, show choir (just like Glee!), track, cross country, in school plays, and I had the worst hair imaginable.

Places I have lived include:
P:  California, Utah, Costa Rica, and Germany
A:  Nebraska, California, Utah, Idaho, Missouri, New Jersey, and Germany.

My favorite holiday is:
P:  Christmas
A:  Halloween

I play these instruments:
P:  Piano
A:  Piano and guitar

An important thing I learned from my parents is:
P:  To be honest.
A:  The value of education. My dad went back to college when I was in fourth grade and got his Master's degree in Business and my mom went back to college when I started high school and got her Master's degree in Education. It was a great example for me of how important education is.

Whew - that was really a marathon post.  Maybe I should have broken it into two posts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fantasy Trips

Today I wore my favorite necklace. I don't wear jewelry often other than earrings and my wedding ring so when I do people at work tend to compliment me on it (maybe in a subtle encouraging sort of way as though I should dress up more often even though the only thing I did different was to wear a necklace). And when the pro bono partner admired my necklace while walking past my open office door, I had to stop myself from launching into the story behind it. I tend to do that - have a story behind things that I love to share (obviously since I am blogging about this), but I restrained myself because it is weird to open up your life to a partner like that (even a super cool one like this particular partner).

But I got my necklace right at the end of law school, 2 weeks after the swine flu broke out. This was back when my littlest sister Jessica was set to start study abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico that summer.  Only it got canceled because of the 'epidemic'. Paul and I had already planned to go to the Yucatan Peninsula in May, and we decided that if we were going to get swine flu, we were as likely to get it in Utah as in Mexico (maybe not true, but we really wanted to go to Mexico and didn't want to cancel our plans). So we invited Jessica to exchange her no longer necessary plane ticket to Guadalajara for one to Cancun and join us.

It was the best trip. Seriously, I feel amazing and happy and wonderful just thinking about it while I am typing this. We didn't get sick and there was NOBODY in Mexico. It is like that dream you may have had (as I have) that you go to Disneyland and you are the only people in the park so there is no waiting in line for any rides, ever, but the whole place is still open and running. Except it was Mexico, not Disneyland. And it was Jessica's first time out of the country.

She is the one who bartered with the necklace seller, entirely in spanish, to talk him down a few pesos so I could get the necklace. She had been a little hesistant to use her spanish when we first got there, but when the transaction concluded and I owned my orange necklace, I could tell she was so pleased with herself and what she had done with the language she had put a lot of effort in to learning.  Now she is in Uruguay and is fluent in Spanish.  I miss her a lot today I guess.

I don't know why, but I think about this experience in Mexico a lot. Maybe because it is a lot like one of my greatest fantasies, which is this: If I had unlimited resources, one of my biggest dreams would be to take each member of my family on their very own trip to someplace amazing.

Since I already got to do this with Jessica in Mexico (even if we didn't pay for everything), I think that I would now take her either to Peru to visit Macchu Piccu or to Thailand and Cambodia. I would take my mom to visit Scotland and Denmark, where her ancestors come from. We would see castles and listen to bagpipe music. My dream trip for my dad is to go to Africa and go on a safari, then go hike Mt. Kilamanjaro together. I would take Jennie to England and we would go see Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare's Globe theater and the crown jewels and all of the palaces - maybe with a trip to Bath and Stonehenge thrown in just because they both sound interesting. I would take my brother Ryan somewhere where he could be really, really warm since he doesn't like the cold very much - maybe someplace like Morrocco. And if my brother Seth, who we haven't heard from in a long time but who I still love and think about a lot, ever decided to talk to me again, I would love to take him to India so that he could see the extremes of what life is like elsewhere and maybe realize how wonderful he had it growing up with parents who not only loved us, but were able to provide so much for us. I would take my Aunt Judy to Disneyland Paris (it wouldn't be a dream trip for her without something Disney but I think she would love the amazing food and seeing the Eiffel tower) and I would take my Aunt Renita to do the Germany, Austria, Switzerland trip that Paul and I did while we were living in Europe for a summer since she took German in school and still remembers a word or two and would probably be fun to take anywhere.

Paul is a whole other story since there are so many places we want to go together.  But if I was doing a trip just for him, it would probably have to involve fishing.  Even one of the National Geographic photography expedition trips would still be just as much for me as for him.  So I think his trip would either be to Montana or Alaska (preferably Alaska).

I'm not very sentimental over many objects, but I'm sentimental over this necklace because it means all these things to me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Warrior Dash

A while back our friends invited us to run the Warrior Dash with them.  It is a 5k with a bunch of obstacles along the way.  We climbed over cars and haybales, scaled cargo nets, crawled through a tunnel, went down a soapy slip-n'-slide, jumped over fire, and slogged through mud.  It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. 

Here is Paul pre-race staring down the fire and the mud.

Jason (the Ironman), Ben (in the warrior hat) and Jeff running down the final stretch.  Paul stayed with me so we came in a little later.

Paul about to leap over the final set of flames with me hot on his tail.

Graceful, I know.  I look huge in this photo, but I'm going to say it is just because my shirt was waterlogged and flapping around.  I'm loving Paul's huge smile.

See Paul run.  Run, Paul, run.

 Amy crawling through the mud.  It was COLD.


Paul doesn't look so comfortable walking around post-race.

Lots of people dressed in costume.  I wish we had.  Here are the ghostbusters.

After going through the Warrior Wash (a fire hose).

This penguin team was hilarious.

A tiny warrior.

Not so tiny warriors.

Eating a warrior meal - Turkey legs and pulled pork sandwiches.

After we finished the race, we went home and cleaned up, then headed over to the ward Trunk-or-Treat.  There was an old woman from Germany there and she came over and said how much she loved our costumes and talked with us for a long time.  It was really cute.

Our friend Ginny with her baby Max.

One of the kids from our Primary class.  His whole family dressed as Alice In Wonderland characters.

The little kids were adorable in their costumes.  I had so much fun passing out candy.  

Somebody was giving out these freaky colored vampire teeth and all the kids were going around wearing them.  It was hilarious.

Candy anyone?  We took about 8 apples just because we had them at home and thought they looked cute in our candy bucket, and surprisingly enough they were a huge hit (and most everybody there knew us we figure so it's not so bad that we gave out apples).

Two of our favorite little girls from our former ward.  The older one was also in our primary class (she's the one whose foot accidentally got jammed in the door and required stitches).

This little monkey cleaned all the Milk Duds out of our candy supply.  It was hilarious to watch him picking through to find the little yellow boxes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Adoption Questionnaire

We have been moving along with the adoption process - at least as much as we can at this point.  Right now it is actually kind of nice because it feels like there is so much to do.  I would much rather have things I can be active about rather than sit around and wait for something to happen, which I am already not looking forward to.

So far we have been gathering documents to prove that we were born, that we are married, that we pay taxes, etc.  All of those go into a little file to be sent to our caseworker.  We have also both had our physicals, which unfortunately included a ridiculous number of shots in both arms to vaccinate us against whooping cough and the flue, check for tuberculosis, draw blood for analysis (turns out I need to lay off sugar - big surprise), and boost previous vaccinations like tetanus.  I got all those shots in one fell swoop and didn't even pass out, which is a bigger accomplishment than you might think since I have actually fainted from shots in the past. 

Thursday morning I had my individual interview with our caseworker.  She's really nice and we bonded over a shared love of Italy and its many beautiful cities.  The interview was super basic - mostly a getting to know you session that meets a state requirement that the caseworker meet with the potential parent "X" number of times.  We went over a lot of questions that I had already answered as part of the adoption questionnaire that Paul and I each have to fill out online.  Because I had no idea how many or what kind of questions would be asked of us, here are questions from the adoption questionnaire (sans answers):

Background Information
  • Describe your personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Describe your hopes, goals, and aspirations.
  • Describe your spouse's personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
Family of Origin
  • Describe your parents, including education, occupation, personality, interests, etc.
  • Explain your parent's method of discipline.
  • What is your present relationship with your parents and siblings?
  • Relate any special experiences or memories.
  • Share any traumatic events that have impacted your life.
  • List significant activities, group involvements, or accomplishments during your years of education.
  • What leisure activities do you share with your spouse and your family?
  • How do you express love and affection?
  • How do you feel about intimacy in your marriage?
  • What are the strengths and challenges of your marriage?
  • How do you resolve disagreements?  What do you do?  What does your spouse do?
  • If you have been divorced, describe your feelings surrounding your divorce.
  • Describe each child including education, personality, health, interests, strengths, talent, etc.
  • Describe how each child feels about adoption.
General Health
  • Describe health issues you have.  List current medications and any hospitalizations.
  • How do you feel about your infertility?
  • Explain counseling you have received.
  • Have you ever experienced any form of addiction? (i.e., substance, sexual, etc.)
  • List health issues in your extended family.
Employment and Finances
  • Describe your education, current employment, and career goals.
  • How do you handle family finances and major purchases?
  • Describe major financial difficulties you may have experienced.  How did you resolve those difficulties?
Church and Community
  • List past and present church callings.
  • List past and present involvement with community organizations.
Parenting Methods and Skills
  • Describe your methods to teach and discipline children.
  • Describe your parenting experience.
  • What is your plan for childcare?
Experiences and Feelings Regarding Adoption
  • What do you know about adoption?
  • How do you think adopting a child will change your life?
  • What does your extended family think about your adoption plans?
  • How do you plan to discuss adoption with your children?
  • How would you feel if your child wanted to meet his or her birth parents?
Experiences and Feelings Regarding Birth Parents
  • What do you know about birth parents?
  • Describe your feelings about birth parents.
  • How do you feel about meeting the birth parents and exchanging gifts, letters and pictures?
  • Can you love and be loved by a child born to someone else?
House, Neighborhood and Community
  • Provide a physical description of your house.
  • List possible hazards in your home and how you manage them for safety (e.g. firearms, medication, etc.)
  • Describe your neighborhood including proximity to other children and access to schools, parks, and other community facilities.
Other Information
  • Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, child abuse or neglect?
  • Please make additional comments that would help us better know your family.
That is the entire questionnaire.  Pretty long, huh?  Answering all of those questions took a long time too, but it was actually a good exercise to go through and put those responses down in words. 

There wasn't a limit to the number of characters that could go into each response and I may have gotten a little carried away on some of them.  I wrote about the traumatic experience of going to high school in North Platte, Nebraska and how that affected my life.  I wrote about my mom staying up with me late at night all summer long doing puzzles or working on scrapbooks.  I told the story about the time when I scraped my knee so badly as a five-year-old and how when my brothers came running back with my dad he scooped me up, carried me home, and laid me on the kitchen table while I screamed about all the blood and how he turned to my brothers and said "Boys, this is bad.  Looks like we might have to amputate.  You had better get the saw." I still have a four inch scar on my right knee from that that I see every time I look at that leg and so I think about that experience a lot.  If that is not a special experience, I don't know what is.

Next steps for us include getting the 12 hours of required parenting education completed, getting fingerprinted, and getting certified in adult, child, and infant CPR and first aid.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash

This past Saturday we threw a Halloween party at our house.  We were so glad that pretty much everybody dressed up.  There were lots of little kids and babies.  We had mermaids and witches and tigers and wizards.

Oh yeah, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 Isn't this little girl the cutest thing ever? 

A witch, a mermaid, Gretel, and Juno.

Juno and Paulie Bleeker.

I made Paul's lederhosen so that we could be Hansel & Gretel. 

Decorations in the backyard.

Our dentist with his family.  He is actually really fun to hang out when I am not sitting in the dentist's chair.

Black Forest cake - my favorite.  Those are cherries on top.

The entertainment consisted of Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey for the kids and the Giants game for the adults.  Even I watched baseball for a little bit.

It was such a fun party and we enjoyed having everybody over.  Time to start working on our costumes for next year I guess.

Oh yeah, and turns out I (Amy) have reached my limit posting photos through Blogger, so I am now using Paul's account so that I can keep putting pictures into the blogposts.  Has anybody else run into that problem before?  Do you know a better solution?