Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Arizona, Represent!

Arizona was in the house for Christmas! Or we were in a house in Arizona. Or mugging in front of the House of the Lord. Or something.

Neil's got an extremely large (5 siblings, 5 grandkids, all under 5), extremely extended (don't even ask) family in AZ.

Put it this way: They have their annual family "Granny's Christmas Party" in the cultural hall:

Neil's twin, looking un-twinnish before he was shorn for family photos:

One secret to their family's proliferation is that they are descended from pioneers who settled Mesa in 1877. The statue of these men in Pioneer Park:
Neil is related to Robson and Pomeroy.

Some of his Robson relatives own Rockin' R Ranch, a Wild West pioneer ranch where they perform a cowboy dinner theatre.

Pioneer Park is conveniently located across from this BEAUTIFUL temple. I love it!!!!

Other Arizona sights:

I think I spotted Daisy Duke and Bigfoot's lovechildren at Nordstrom's in the Chandler mall:
Neil's good friend and his dad own Phoenix Trike Works. Willie and Joe Wilcken can make ANYTHING. They make custom three-wheeled motorcycles all day. Their shop is AMAZING and I only wish I was bad enough to ride a trike.
Can you believe it?!?!
Joe's brother Lane specializes in the study of Filipino and Polynesian tatau and symbology and created the design below for a trike they made for a guy in the Aloha State:
This is a Hawaiian skull detail on a trike they're working on:

Christmas mayhem! "Katie Looks Pregnant!" Watch out when this guy gets his hands on a gossip mag.

Our brothers in law (two brothers married Neil's sisters) own Red Star Plumbing. Their shop was really cool, too. If you live in the valley and need a plumber, check them out.
That's Artie on the right.

All of Neil's siblings and spouses went to the movies on Christmas. There were 10.5 of us total, we took up the whole row:

On Christmas I said I wanted a dog. We awoke the next day (my birthday) to find this sweet little stray on the porch! Hope she's enjoying the pound :(
We went to Casa Grande, AZ, to check out the old homestead. Neil's dad grew up there and two of his uncles still live there.

On the way home, outside our terminal was a vehicle that a very talented graffiti artist tagged with an ironic design:
U.S. Airways ... or Aloha Airlines?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sucks To Be Me

Click the image below:

My friend Melissa taught 4th grade a couple years ago, and had all her students write me a little note for my birthday! This was the best one.

From what I can gather, she must have told them I was born the day after Christmas, so I never really have a party for my birthday. On top of that, I was adopted. To a 4th-grader, my life apparently can't get any crappier.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Girls' Night!!!!

I grew up with Rennie and Leslie, and periodically we have girls' nights, most recently last night! Leslie actually lives within walking distance from my house in Arlington, but Rennie lives in Atlanta and works for Delta. Luckily she has business trips up here once in awhile.

We have a crazy time talking and laughing for hours ... and being silly with the camera.

Something has to be said for the crazy coincidence that we all have THE SAME purse, but in different colors!!!!
I don't know why, but Leslie thought it would be funny for us to pose with the purses on our heads. I felt like a certain someone:

$ign Of The Times

Here are the latest updates to the Associated Press Stylebook (aka The Copy Editor's bible (lowercase "b," folks)):

currency conversions
mortgage-backed security
mark to market
home equity line of credit (HELOC)
reverse auction
collateralized debt obligations
credit default swaps

Face This

People have been suggesting I join FaceBook ever since 2004. The past few months, I have been peppered repeatedly with suggestions I join. It grew to an all-out volley of requests as I have received the sales pitch every day from different people for the past several consecutive days.

Today I gave in :/

I think it was Brooke who said "I've never known anyone who regretted joining." We'll see.

*****UPDATE: 11:35 p.m.*******
Went to a cocktail party tonight, where a guy I met was extolling the virtues of FaceBook, and I proudly said "I joined, just this afternoon!" "REALLY???" he incredulously replied, wrinkling his brow. He was probably in his upper 40s.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Expecting Guests

Last night we had fun hosting some friends and family for dinner. That made six of us. Technically we hosted eight ...

Chas & Lacey + 1

Brooke & Stuart + 1 on his way out any day now

The host & hostess. Not yet part of the elite club.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Engagement" Pics

Be careful with whom you feign eternal love. It just might turn into the real thing!

This is a pic of Neil and me not three months after we met.
So we're at the D.C. temple (where we were married a little more than a year after this picture was taken) looking at the Christmas (2006) lights and Melissa thinks it would be cute for us to pose like we're taking an engagement photo. I guess this is the best we could come up with.

Things didn't change much a year later (Christmas 2007) when, as an engaged couple, we played Mary and Joseph at the D.C. temple's live Nativity. That's us in the center. We've got the pose down pat.

About this same time, we took our real engagement photos. But first a fake one. This was us just being goofy; I only post it because this is the only photo I have where Neil is making a nice smile! He normally won't smile in photos because he thinks he has an ugly smile. WHAT?!?!?!

We did end up doing a real one, although it was a bit tongue-in-cheek, too. We really seem to like the "adoring gaze" pose.
I've heard it all -- "Why aren't you even touching?" (don't worry, we got over that) "Did you PhotoShop yourselves into this?" (no, we're actually on the shelves) "It looks like Neil has black hair" (the magic of photo toning) "It looks like Neil has an afro" (he wishes) "What's up with the shelves?" (it's a long story) "I almost threw this away, I thought it was an ad" (seriously? In a wedding announcement?) "I thought this was the picture that came with the frame" (sorry, Taralyn, we'll give you a "real" one so people will stop telling you that ;)
But we've also heard a lot of positive things about it, and no matter what, I love how it turned out. It was my idea, and thanks to Leslie's genius, my dream was realized!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Presidents in One Day

Yesterday my class went to the Organization of American States in D.C. to hear the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, speak. Pretty cool! I had always seen the building and thought it was an organization of, you know, American (U.S.) states. Yesterday I found out it is an organization of countries in the Western Hemisphere. That made more sense as a destination for a class FIELD TRIP!

On the way there, traffic came to a sudden halt as police set up a blockade a couple cars in front of us. So we waited ... and waited ... this looked a bit familiar to me, but that's another story ...

Our bus driver thought the blockade might be because President Bush was going to pass by. And sure enough, after a while, a speeding motorcade of black cars, a camera crew, and a firetruck and ambulance (!) bringing up the rear flew by right in front of us, with a helicopter overhead.

But we made it to the OAS with time to spare.

The ambassadors have reserved parking (in ABC order, how diplomatic) out front. What's up, Argentina?!
We passed through the doors from the freezing D.C. weather into the verdant courtyard of a Latin hacienda. Well, it felt like it.

The flag and bust-filled hallway upstairs, overlooking the courtyard.
The meeting room. Quite impressive and very beautiful architecture. The tables were set up for the ambassadors from each of the member countries. They were apparently running on Latin time.
El jefe himself, Robert Zoellick (on the right).
"Bob" had a lot of interesting things to say during his "Conversation on the Inter-American Agenda." He's got quite a perspective on things as World Bank president during this time of world financial crisis.

One thing I was surprised to hear was his response to the statement that many in Latin America are of the opinion that recent events in the U.S. financial arena are "proof that the free-market model is a failure and we need more state intervention and control."

Instead of wholly defending the model, he noted that "it is natural and healthy during a time of crisis to question and examine the system." Of course, I'm sure we'll stick with this system, thank you very much, but it was interesting to hear him take that statement as constructive criticism.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Well, the dream from my last post sorta came true. I went to class yesterday but between coughing fits and a variably hoarse, squeaky or silent voice, I was alternately grossing my classmates out and perplexing them with the noises I made in attempts to speak. So I basically got sent home, where I still am today, doing independent study in Spanish. ¿QuĂ© tal?

I flipped open the Conference edition of the Ensign last night and read a talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. I think it was one Neil used for Home Teaching, because it was marked up with pencil. The one paragraph he didn't mark was about learning to laugh at things. Like, in Elder Wirthlin's example, when they got lost driving. I felt a little guilty, because Neil is so forgiving -- the way I behave while in the car, you'd think he would have circled that section in red and posted it on the bathroom mirror for me. I do need to learn to laugh more at things and not "flip out" when we get lost (a pet peeve of mine -- between Google Maps on my phone and, well, Google Maps, there is no excuse for getting lost these days!). Also our inevitable tardiness, usually to Church, makes me get irritated easily when we're in the car. Or rather, I choose to react by getting irritated, right?

So I would like to make a more concerted effort to see the bright side of things. Like last night after I read the article, when we burned the garbanzo beans. Oh, that was hilarious! :) I guess that's what happens when an unskilled cook and a raw foodist collaborate in the kitchen. Instead, we should STOP, collaborate and listen ...

This morning, I was mentioning this goal to Neil, and he said he read about that in the Ensign. I said I know, I think I opened it to the article you used for Home Teaching. I mentioned how Elder Wirthlin talked about when he used to play football, and I noted how funny it is he uses those examples, because it's hard to picture him playing football.

How ironic, then, that later this morning I heard the news that Elder Wirthlin died.

I'm glad he was able to share that message of laughing together for me to apply to my life.

Looking on the bright side, without the constraints of an aged physical body, it's easier for me to imagine him playing football now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

From The Middle of A Down-Comforter Desert

Not much going on. Thanksgiving was a nice time with visits to family on both sides. Maybe some pictures to come.

Now, for some pity party:

I came down with the Mack truck of colds, which ran me over, taking my voice with it, and has left me coughing and blowing my nose, smeared down the highway of life. I am at home languishing in a Queen-sized desert amid dunes of down.

Earlier, I woke from a dream:

I was housesitting at a nice suburban house, and all the neighbors and their teen kids started breaking in. I called 911 and waited and waited and WAITED, trying to keep the perpetrators at bay in the house under some sort of citizens arrest. The adults left, acting like they were just checking on the house, not trying to steal things, and the remaining teens were goofing around, acting up in a good-natured way; they didn't seem to care about getting in trouble. After FOUR HOURS of waiting, I finally called the police back and in my squeaky, hoarse voice (which somehow made the journey from real life to dreamland) let loose on the dispatcher with how frustrated I was that the police hadn't shown up yet. But in my anger, my almost unintelligble voice started to wane and give out like an old Sharpie, until I was only able to make barely audible squeaks, and, frustrated with tears in my eyes, I tossed the phone to the floor in a motion that continued as I woke in real life, on my stomach, looking at my outstretched arm swinging across the bed.

And no, I haven't taken any cold medicine.