My Goal

(My nephew performing a lobotomy on the baby; picture stolen from here.)

Today I received a surprise visit from my brother and sister-in-law (Captain Fabuloso and Captain Mom) with my niece and nephew (Bean and V). They were on their way back to SLC from California and needed to stop and let the kids out of the car for a bit. I'm sure it wasn't as fun a stop as it would have been if Murray were around. Bean just had to satisfy himself by playing with Murray's toys. (The life size and authentic Kermit the Frog is a favorite.)

All the kids bond with Murray. I was talking to Captain M about it. For some reason, they all just love him.


For Pioneer Day, I ended up taking the day off after all and we went to a park with Jenny and Ed and kids. And Savvy basically didn't let go of Murray's hand for most of the day. I can understand that because Murray has drawn for her a couple of times. They've bonded. And really, the hand holding was precious. Even more precious was the hand holding and running through the park as Savvy would yell, "Fast as you can! Fast as you can!" So precious.

Ethan managed to spend more time adoring a drinking fountain than Murray, but I know that his day is coming up soon, too, that he'll fall in love with Murray. It happens to us all.

Last Friday, we went up to an outdoor movie with PE and her kids. I think I successfully have her 8-yr-old's devotion, but apparently her 3-yr-old loves Murray most. On their way up, he said that he didn't want to play with me because I am rude to him (when I come over to visit, I visit with his mom and don't pay much attention to him, and distract his mom's attention from him, so you can understand how I'm so rude). But he was looking forward to playing with Murray. They've barely even TALKED before. Sure enough, as soon as they ran up to us, he was spending his time playing with Murray.

I may be the goat whisperer, but Murray is the kid whisperer, which is actually much more practical. I'm sure I'll get there.

But what this post is really supposed to be about is how my sister-in-law has set the bar for me for child bearing. After less than six months, my niece is the most adorable, best-natured, prettiest, and fattest baby on earth. If I weren't working on my own right now, I might just steal her. How can you even resist this cuteness? Now I have a concrete goal to work towards myself!!

Last time I was over at their house, I took the opportunity to document her rolls as best as possible.

V with Aunt Brat. Did I mention that V never stops smiling. She's the prettiest.

Her butt crack is uncontainable. I think that I might have to add baby butt crack to my list of cutest things on earth.

Documenting the rolls.

Excuse me now while I go eat a block of cheese and drink some cream. I read in my pregnancy book today that my baby is starting to grow fat now, so I have to do my part.

Guest Blogging

I'll be guest blogging over on Petit Elefant on Mondays from now on. So you should go over and check out my post today because Murray and I put a lot of work into it.

Not-so-secret confession

So I'll admit it. I have read the whole Twilight series so far. I blame it on my friend Jenny, just like I blame her for me being pregnant. She just gave me the first book right as I was leaving for my trip to Canada and Texas and then I had to read the other books. (And she subjected me to sweet and tender moments with her beautiful children which made me need to make my own immediately.)

And I know that it's trash. I know that it's dumb. I know that it's teeny bopper. But it's also actually enjoyable, and as long as I keep reminding myself that I am above it, I can continue to enjoy it.

I totally don't blame you if you never read these books. But if you have read the books, you'll love the poll that Jenny put up on her blog. She even let me contribute. Believe me. It's worth checking out. It makes fun of the book and makes you feel better about yourself because you're participating in the making fun of the book.

And you'll also laugh at this picture from my old mission companion's blog and her commentary on it.

At Home

I have heard about pregnancy parking but I only saw it for the first time last Saturday when Murray and I went to Best Buy. I made him back up the car and go back to the Kinder Parking spot that I saw because gosh dang it, if life was going to offer me an excuse to use specialized parking, I was going to use it. And then I made Murray take my picture. While an old woman drove past and scowled.

I had a friend who used pregnancy parking before she was showing and people would give her dirty looks. But seriously, you could be really really sick with your pregnancy before you even start to show. The sign does not restrict the parker's stage of pregnancy. And even though it's true that I feel so good that it's hard to believe I'm pregnant (and could therefore park in normal parking), it was right before store closing anyway, so I figured that all the uncomfortably pregnant women out there would probably be at home instead of making late-evening trips to Best Buy.

And now for something completely unrelated. In the past couple of weeks, a few people have asked me how it is to not work. I don't think that everyone really understands what it is I'm trying to do here. I didn't leave my job to be able to sit at home and eat bon bons all day. When I say that I'm working at home, that's actually what I'm doing. (Of course, I'm blogging right now, but I'm allowing myself that break because I'll probably be working till 9:00 or 9:30 tonight.) I don't do laundry, as evidenced by the piles of clothing in my house. I don't read books. I don't go out to play. I don't take long breaks. I actually sit at my desk typically from 8:30 to 5:00 every day, and most of the time, I'm caught up enough in what I'm doing that it's a pretty big inconvenience to stop and eat, but for the baby's sake, I go downstairs, heat up some leftovers, and bring them back upstairs to eat in front of my work.

Last week I put in over 40 hours. I guest blogged over on petit elefant. I worked on and finished a large (and well paying) project that I'd been working on for two weeks. I made a custom design for an adoption announcement, and printed it. I prepared and taught an Illustrator lesson for my Illustrator 102 class. I answered several emails from my students, helping them through their problems. I quoted a potential client on a proposed project.

I didn't get the mockups done for the website that I need to put together to become a legitimate designer. That gets pushed over to this week, which, by the way, is another busy and productive week with important clients, important deadlines, and an all-day Illustrator seminar class on Saturday. AND I probably won't be taking off Pioneer Day because I'm just. that. busy.

Which is how I want things to be right now.

But which is also why I might be just a little bit insulted if you ask me what it's like not to work.

Ask me how I enjoy not commuting, on the other hand, and I'll tell you what it feels like to get 10 hours of sleep a night (for the baby's sake) and never wake up to an alarm. It's wonderful.

Nacho Man

I believe I once mentioned in passing that one of the great things that I've gotten out of my friendship with Ambrosia is an appreciation of El Azteca nachos. The first time that we got them together, we'd each get our own. Back then, it rang up as $6 after tax. So that seemed like a pretty good deal for a meal.

But it didn't take us too long to figure out that neither of us could ever finish the nachos (I think that actually maybe she did once, which is incredible and means that she should enter herself into eating contests). So we started just sharing them. So suddenly, it was $3 for a meal. Even better.

Since marrying Murray, I've converted him, too. Today we met for a nacho lunch at El Azteca. Here's our meal. And no, between the two of us, we can't finish it.

(something funky happened with that picture...)

Simply Crap

So I'm sure that all of you are wondering why Murray and I went to Salt Lake to get our computer. Isn't there a perfectly good Apple products store in Orem called Simply Mac? Well, yes, there is a store called Simply Mac, but the words "perfectly good" don't apply. At all. This post is a little overdue, but since I remembered my rage and fury when we were purposely avoiding Simply Mac this time, I thought I'd share our story, if only to dissuade anyone else from ever shopping there. Ever.

In January, Murray and I went to Simply Mac to buy our 24-inch iMac. It was a big purchase for us. It's $2000. That's a big purchase. It's big enough to kind of make you sick thinking about it, no matter how excited you are to actually buy the product.

We went to the store. It was a pretty quiet day at Simply Mac. Despite that fact, no one offered to help us. We stood around the 24-inch iMac for a little while and then just decided to go to the cash register and let them know that we wanted to buy it. And then they happily rung us up. I guess they don't have to go out of their way to make $2000 sales.

We paid with our debit card because we're good, responsible people who don't put things on credit that don't have to be there. We like to make cash purchases.

That was the wrong decision. Four days later, $2000 was withdrawn from our account. And five days after that, another $2000 was withdrawn from our account.

In case you didn't get that, they double charged us. For a $2000 purchase. Straight from our bank account. I can understand that double charging for a $10 purchase is pretty annoying. But double charging for a $2000 purchase can be crippling.

Murray contacted the store as soon as he saw the second charge. They apologized and said the money would be back in our account the next day. We waited all the next day for the money to post. It didn't.

The next day, we went into the store to talk to them. They apologized again, and explained that this didn't just happen to us, it happened to everyone who made a purchase in their store that day. And that it wasn't their fault. It was their accounting company's fault. And there was nothing that they could do about it. They had to wait for their accounting company to reverse the charges to all their customers. They said that the money would be back in our account that day, the next day, or the day after that.

I really really wish that I'd told them that I wouldn't leave the store until they gave me another 24-inch iMac. And then I would bring it back when the money posted in my account. If they could take $2000 out of my account (without my permission, which is called stealing), then it stood to reason that I could take the equivalent value of their property (after all, I'd already paid for it) and return it once the money had been returned to me.

You know, I even suggested them processing the return of the iMac so that they could refund us the money. They said that they couldn't because it would mess up their inventory system. I wanted to say, "That is not at all my problem. I'm not walking out of this store without my $2000 that you stole." But the whole time, I was just worried that if I did get an instant refund from them, then the other $2000 would be put back in our account by their accountants, and then I'd still have to deal with the issue.

It took more time than they'd promised for the money to finally post back to our account. We waited for over a week for our money. When it finally did reappear in our account, we received no apology from Simply Crap. No attempt to make things better. No attempt to compensate us for the inconvenience or at least try to rebuild our trust in their ability to properly run a business. Nothing.

We did find out, however, that this was the third time that Simply Crap had double charged all their customers in one day. That's right. This had already happened to them twice by that point.

And so when it was time for us to make another major computer purchase, we decided to make the drive to Salt Lake instead of giving them more business. But, just to try and stick it to them at least a little, Murray and I decided to pop into the store and look at the Macbook Pro. Then, when someone came to talk to us about it, we'd say, "Oh, we just came in here to look at it and decide if this is the computer we want to buy. We were so extremely dissatisfied with our last Simply Mac experience that we have no intentions of ever making a purchase here again." And then they'd ask what happened and we'd explain. And best case scenario, they'd actually show good business sense and try to make up for their past mistakes.

But we're so stupid. We forgot that Simply Crap employees don't actually approach you to help you. Although the store was, once again, almost empty, no one ever approached us.

New Additions

So we have a new addition to our family. Already!

This weekend Murray and El Senor and I went to the Mac Store and got a Mac Powerbook. We decided that I should have the ability to be mobile, so hooray for new mobility! Of course, we'll be sharing the computer.
This week, we also received another special treat in the mail. Our new flash drives. We each got one. These are the smallest flash drives I have ever seen. And they hold 8 gigs. So Murray and I can put them in our wallets and keep our portfolios and any other important documents with us at all times. We rock.

Cicada Day!

In case you forgot how spoiled I am, how about this?

Sometime last year, I was working on a Hungarian calendar at work. I found out that in Hungary, they have name days, meaning that every day of the year is assigned a couple of names. When it's your name day, people are expected to treat you like it's your birthday all over again. Cards, flowers, treats, gifts, you name it. The article I read specifically stressed the employee-boss relationship. If it's your boss's name day, you'd better remember to bring a card.

Well, I found out that I had my very own Hungarian name day! Who knew that my name was used in Hungarian as well. (I know that it means Apple in Hungarian, so basically the Hungarians beat Gwyneth Paltrow to the punch). No one else in the office had a name day, so I happily gloated to them all that they'd have to bring me cards and treats and stuff (even though I wasn't actually their boss). I also programmed it into my cell phone to remind me.

A couple nights ago, my cell phone reminded me about my name day (at midnight, which made me really mad and means that I'm going to have to get Steve Jobs on the phone PRONTO to let him know how I feel about iPhones sending out reminders at MIDNIGHT). And then I forgot again.

When Murray asked me this morning if I knew what day it was, I had to think a bit before I remembered that it was my name day. He sat dramatically in front of our armoire, and opened a drawer, aaaaaaaaand....

it was empty.

But THEN he opened a second drawer, aaaaaaaaaaand...

he pulled out a bag of peanut butter lindor balls, aaaaaaaaaaand...

a really cute maternity skirt that is sparkley and comfy, aaaaaaaaaaaaaand...

a really cute maternity shirt. And they are just exactly what I would have picked out for myself.

And so now you had better be thinking that Murray is the sweetest man on the earth, because who else would do that?? I don't deserve his goodness or his spoilingness. I really can't believe he got me chocolate and a whole new outfit. The best thing about the outfit is that it's as comfy as sweats, but it actually looks professional, which comes in handy for today, when I'm meeting with my professional crush, Sarah Jane.

I am very sorry for the rest of you women out there who can't possibly be married to the sweetest man on earth because I already have him.

Two Hearts Beat As Two

I think the thing I appreciate most about my baby doctor's office is the complementary apple juice that they have sitting in the bathrooms. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but unfortunately the stuff I drank today had gone bad. And was warm. And "Hillary" was written on the cup.

So this morning Murray and I heard our baby's heartbeat for the first time. Last time we went, we only got to hear mine, which was not as exciting. This time, we heard the heartbeat as soon as the probe touched my soft belly. And then it went away. And then the doctor found it again. And then it went away. And then the doctor found it again. Apparently we have a swimmer.

It was a relief to hear the heartbeat, especially considering that I apparently am really good at being pregnant. I really don't feel pregnant at all, and my pregnancy so far has been a breeze. I honestly half expected the doctor to tell me today that it was all a misunderstanding and that my body only thought it was pregnant. But nope. There's a little heartbeat in my belly.

Also, I have gained one pound in the past month. I am pretty proud of that. Daltongirl told me that this is the only time that I get to go to the doctor's office and be praised for gaining weight, so I should enjoy it. And let me tell you, I'm enjoying it. But I have a theory, and in five or so more months, I'll look back at this post and laugh at my stupidity, but here it is. First I have to start with my missionary theory.

I went on my mission (to Italy, land of pasta, pizza, and gelato on every street corner) and lost weight. Most of the sisters in my mission gained some weight. But before my mission, I exercised never and I ate anything I wanted. While on my mission, I walked everywhere I went and had the damning watch of a companion at all times who could judge me for what I was eating, so I was able to clean up my eating habits a little. (A very little.) And I lost weight. Meanwhile, sisters who were careful about exercise and diet before their missions gained weight because the daily walks were less than their regular routine, and the pasta and gelato and other such treats were more than their caloric intake pre-mission.

So. As an obese person (O! the shame!), I'm only supposed to gain about 15 pounds during my pregnancy. I am a person who hasn't exercised for a long time (O! the shame!) and eats whatever she wants, and indulges pretty much every craving she gets (why am I recording this for posterity?). So how will pregnancy change that? I haven't noticed an increase of food consumption, or a change in cravings. And NOW, I am feeding TWO with the same amount of calories. And those calories are being used making brains, guts, fingernails, and a heart. So I'm hoping to gain only the necessary 15 pounds of baby, fluid, placenta (is it gross that I just said that or is it okay to say placenta?), etc.

We'll see how true my theory holds. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Or maybe, I will be queen of pregnant women everywhere, with minimal discomfort, minimal weight gain, and a painless delivery. It's at least a worthy goal.

[By the way, Switchback is always keenly interested in how much weight I'm gaining. She said that the most she's heard is 65 pounds. So recently at her sister's baby shower, she started asking all these women who she'd never met how much weight they gained while they were pregnant, and if anyone could beat the fattest pregnant girl ever with more than 65 pounds. After the shower, her sister told her that all her friends got offended. I'd love for you to participate in my new poll, in honor of Switchback.]

Don't Mess with Canada. Part Trois: Texas

Okay, so I have already posted some Texas pictures, but here's the rest!

We went to Texas for Murray's brother's wedding. Here is my favorite shot of the bride. Murray took it while she was trying to get ahold of her photographer who was late.

After the wedding in San Antonio, Murray and I headed to his old mission stomping grounds. Here we are visiting one of Murray's favorite sassy ladies.

Remember this map? Now look at that red dot. Now look at the Gulf of Mexico. Yep. We went from Red Dot to Galviston, on the Gulf of Mexico. We're that cool. In fact, we were recently watching a Planet Earth where snow geese were discussed. Apparently snow geese make this trip every year. But it take them four months. So as we dipped our feet into the warm waters of the gulf, we said, "Suck it, snow geese!"

This was honestly my favorite part of the trip. I had a big sense of accomplishment. Really! Four coasts in one year! I'll be dedicating an entire post to our coasts later. Because I'm that proud. Anyway. People were watching us take pictures and celebrate by yelling "Yatta!" (Like Hiro). But they really didn't understand just how much cooler we were than they. Did they just complete a four-coast pilgrimage? I think not.

Don't Mess with Canada. Part Deux.

Here is the second half of our Canadian adventure photos. Of course, our "Don't Mess with Canada" saga will continue with a few more Texas pictures. Maybe tomorrow.

Murray panning for gold at the Timmins Gold Mine tour. Never mind the fact that panning for gold is a Californian thing and wasn't done in Timmins.

A view of Timmins.

The two of us, in the underground mine tour, with a leftover miner.

Heading underground. We actually learned lots of interesting things on our mine tour. Gold mining is what Timmins was founded on, so I made the trip to the gold mine a must for Murray.

This next series of photos demonstrates the bug problem this year. Most Timminsonians we spoke to agreed that this was the worst year for bugs that they'd ever lived through (of course, they haven't all lived through it yet....). The bitter thing about living in Timmins is that you have eight solid months of winter, and when you can finally enjoy some mild weather, the blood sucking insects are out there to enjoy it with you. This series demonstrates the difficulty of taking a picture while being swarmed by mosquitos and black flies. Note the progression:

This is the outhouse at our cottage. We affectionately named the ravine where the outhouse was "Hog's Hollow." We had years of fun at the cottage before we had actual plumbing, so Hog's Hollow was very familiar to each of us. And every night, we'd all take a trip to Hog's Hollow (in the dark) and siblings would hide in the bushes and jump out to scare us. Good times.

Taking a dip in the lake.

On our way back to Toronto, we stopped by again to see Scotty and Myrtle, my great aunt and uncle. They are perhaps the funniest, warmest, most endearing couple on this earth. Scotty still runs his barbershop (you can see a picture of him and grandpa on Murray's blog)

Grandpa and Myrtle just happened to wear the same outfit.

And to give you some idea of what life is like when Scotty and Myrtle team up with Grandpa, here they are with the plumber. Who they joyfully invited into the photo, and who joyfully joined them.

I had to include this one of Scotty because this is the expression on his face about 90 percent of the time. When we first showed up (unannounced) on their doorstep on our way to Timmins, Scotty greeted each of us with this same level of enthusiasm. He is a riot. And of course, everything he says is even funnier because after over sixty years of living in Canada, he still has his thick, thick Scottish brogue.

Here is Murray at Niagara Falls, on our way back to Buffalo.

The two of us at the Falls, right about where Superman saved a falling child in Superman II, as Murray pointed out.

(Of Part Deux.)
(With a photo that shows what Murray appreciates when he thinks no one's watching.)

Don't Mess with Canada. Part Un.

A picture book story of our trip to Canada. Here's a quick run-down so that you know what our trip to Canada was like:

DAY 1ish
12:00 a.m.: Arrive in Buffalo.
12:30 a.m.: Cross the border.
2:00 a.m.: Go to Tim Horton's.
2:30 a.m.: Go to bed at Grandpa's house.
11:00 a.m.: Get on the road to head to Timmins.
12:00ish p.m.: Arrive at Weber's for lunch.
3:30 p.m.: Drive through North Bay, home of the Quintriplets.
5:00 p.m.: Temagami for ice cream at the Busy Bee, where Dad had pickerel at the chip stand.
8:00 p.m.: Drop off Grandpa at Scotty and Myrtle's in Matheson.
9:30 p.m.: Arrive at Auntie B's and Uncle J's in Timmins!

7:30 a.m.: Leave for Cochrane to take Polar Bear Express to Moosonee.
8:30 a.m.: Arrive in Cochrane and pay $100 each for the Polar Bear Express (a train).
9:00 a.m.: Leave from Cochrane. (We were supposed to get to Moosonee by about 2:00, and have three hours there to take a canoe trip around the James Bay.)
4:00 p.m.: Arrive in Moosonee, with only one hour to spend there.
4:20 p.m.: Dip feet in Moose River.
4:40 p.m.: Buy groceries for return trip to Cochrane.
5:00 p.m.: Barely get on train in time to go home.
12:00 a.m.: Arrive in Cochrane.
1:00 a.m.: Arrive at home.

Stopping at Webers, the ultimate train-turned-into-a-burger-joint restaurant.

Murray, driving the burger train.

[We had to stop at Webers. It's an essential childhood memory.]

At Temagami. We found out we can buy our own island with a house for just under a million dollars. Now we have a goal to work towards.

Murray at the Arctic Watershed.

As we pulled into Timmins, we saw a young bull moose with beautiful, velvet antlers to the side of the road. We pulled off the road to get a good look at him and he got a good look at us, too. He was so curious that he just stayed to watch us, which allowed Murray to take many, many beautiful pictures of him, worthy of National Geographic. Until, of course, the moose ran away, and we realized that I had left the camera on different light settings, and all we could see in the moose pictures was black nothingness. This is what Murray was able to tease out of the files in Photoshop. We imagine we'll have the same experience with camera trouble when we have our perfect opportunity to shoot Sasquatch.

DAY 2: On our way to Moosonee.

Just a few remarks before we get into these pictures so that you can fully appreciate them. The day we left to come to Canada, my mom left a voice mail on my phone. I listened to it and then had Murray listen to it. She detailed what a trip to Moosonee would entail. She listed the Polar Bear Express (a train that takes you to Moosonee because there are no roads), a $100 expense, in addition to $20 canoe rides and other fun Moosonee adventures. We'd have three hours in Moosonee. Murray listened to the message and said, "That polar bear thing sounds expensive, but I'm okay with everything else." That was funny to anyone from Timmins, because we all know that "the polar bear thing" is the essential train that you must take to get to Moosonee. So all the other stuff wouldn't happen unless we spent that money.

So we splurged. Why? Because when Murray and I were dating, we went to San Diego, CA, and to Ocean City, NJ, successfully hitting the West and East Coasts of the continent. Well, if we went to Moosonee, we'd be able to get to the James Bay, essentially hitting a "North shore" of the continent. Then we'd head down to Texas and swim in the Gulf of Mexico, adding a south shore to our list. All in under a year. What would you pay for bragging rights to such a feat?

What we didn't know is that the train would be slow. Very slow. In fact, we were crawling along to Moosonee at an average speed of 25 miles an hour. That turned our five-hour trip up into a seven-hour trip up. Which meant that we had just spent $100 each to be able to spend 1 hour in Moosonee. Suddenly the trip wasn't feeling quite worth it........

(Moosonee is the big red dot.)

(Notice the big smiles? It's the beginning of the trip.)

This is Auntie B, who is about to win the world record for hours traveled for a visiting teaching visit. There is a church member in Moosonee who was waiting for us. She had arranged the canoe trips for us.

This is at about hour six of the five-hour journey. We spent the time enjoying one another's company and getting to know one another really, really, really well.

When we arrived in Moosonee, the church member was still waiting for us at the station (she'd been waiting for two hours). We no longer had time for the canoe rides or the lunch that she had prepared for us. We did have time to run to the Moose River, where Murray and I were the only ones anxious to get our feet in the water. While we were soaking our feet in the waters of the north, Auntie B conducted her visiting teaching visit.

Murray and me, sinking into the Moose River.

Enjoying the frigid waters of the North, and not quite willing to go swimming. (There wasn't enough time, of course!)

Murray, getting on his shoes again.

Mom, documenting.

On the ride back now, you see that I went a little crazy. Fifteen hours of travel would make you go crazy, too.

Whenever we talked about feelings, Dad would conveniently fall asleep.

In case you're all wondering, the next day, Auntie B and Dad worked together to get us a full refund on our money. So now we definitely feel that it was worth our money (and time) to take this trip. In fact, we all agree that the train ride to and from Moosonee was one of the greatest moments (really, really long moments) of our Canada trip. We really all did enjoy one another's company, and enjoyed the humor of the situation.