Monday, September 29, 2008

Being Alone, the Salve for All Thoras

Avram has left for school. Lydia and Elisheva are both asleep. I sit here, having read scriptures, eaten, dressed, in my (messy) living room. And I am alone.

I love people. I was a social butterfly in college. I love having people over, I loved flirting when I was single, I love to have conversations, I love feeling social.

But I also deeply, deeply love being alone. When I'm alone I listen to music. I never turn on music even when I'm only with Avram (although I can listen to it around my girls). When I'm alone I can hear myself think. When I'm alone I can actually write a blog post and keep track of the main point in it. And when I'm alone I'm ten times a better homemaker than otherwise.

I find that being a homemaker (my preferred word over stay at home mom, because that phrase conjures up images for me of sitting at home all day on my couch while wearing sweats and staring at the wall/TV. I may be wearing workout type clothes [I thought they would inspire me to feel cleany today], sitting at home staring at the computer, but it is a very different sort of thing. I promise.), I need to be alone to function.

When Avram is at home, like he has been since moving here until he started school this last Wednesday, I get nothing done. We've been here for three and a half weeks, and the two bedrooms have yet to be completely in place. Part of this may be an inherent difficulty of inventing places for items to belong (the hardest part of being clean, I find), but a lot of this is whenever Avram is home I lose my bearings as a homemaker. Part of me thinks that with two of us we'll be able to accomplish twice as much, but more often than not we're both absorbed in taking care of the girls, and nothing gets accomplished beyond feeling beat up by a two and half year old and a five month old.

We were both thoroughly ready for school to start, and I was never so happy to see Avram walk out the door the first morning. When he's gone, I don't waste time on the computer or reading (usually, unless it's a really, really good book. But I haven't read in a long time. That recommended reading list on my sidebar? It's not outdated, I just have only read one novel since finishing the Wheel of Time series, because I'm not good at multitasking while reading, so I tend to not read for long stretches of time, although it's my most favorite activity in the world). Suddenly my malaise turns to desire for productivity, and I bustle around (wow, I love my vocab this morning) doing dishes and assigning random places to put things that I'll never remember later. Hey, no one's perfect.

Avram too loves being out of the house, since he's never desired to be a stay at home dad, and his recent stretch being a scratching post for his girls has only strengthened his determination to always work outside of the home. I can't even stand him studying at home during the day, because even if he's upstairs, I know that he's home, and so my productivity dies, and I mentally think that it's time for a holiday.

So here's to being alone, and being a homemaker, and being able to write posts!

Friday, September 26, 2008

How Do You Make Friends and Influence People?

The kind Bishop Birch and his wife Kim set up a social night with four other couples and us at their house. I appreciate this, both because they made a social initiative, but also because they actually have a large enough house to hold all of us.

Going tonight felt like going on a blind date, but with couples instead of individuals. I really want to make a close, bonded girl friend here, preferably who has a husband who is like this (twisted fingers) with Avram so we can all be social and close together. Coming home, I analyzed our relationship rating with all of these couples more than I ever did with boys when I was single. Back then, if I felt any chemistry (physical, emotional, whatnot), and I thought he did, that was good enough. Now, I could care less about how they all look, and so one easy qualifier is out. Instead I'm analyzing how they could possibly feel about our eclectic hobbies; Medieval Re-enactment, Role-playing, cooking with friends, having intellectual (or pseudo intellectual) conversations 'til all hours of the night (this was our Matt & Sarah specialty), camping (this is more a hopeful hobby than an actual one). Don't forget our "non" hobbies; we don't watch sports, we're not athletic, and we don't really do pop culture things.

It's not that I want to find an SCA D&D camping cooking couple. Honestly, I like variation. It's more that I want to find a couple that "gets" us. That understands people liking those things, even if they themselves don't.

Maybe I just need to run a personals add in The Lantern (OSU's student newspaper): Couple with two daughters, 2 1/2 and five months searching for best friends forever couple. Likes Middle Ages, Semitic Languages, Boggle, Cooking & Eating, and long conversations. Member of the LDS Church. Willing to consider all possible types of friends. Please apply.

I am willing to consider all types of friends. At BYU a lot of our friends were single, carried over from before we married. Avram and I were lucky enough to marry out of the same friends' group, from the Quill and the Sword, so we just kept the same friends we had all along after our marriage. This means that right now is the first long term, real (as in we're not going to move countries in a few months and we also don't live in the middle of nowhere Yarnton with no car) time we've made friends as a couple. I also don't think that we need friends with kids, although if they did have one Lydia's age that would be good for keeping her occupied, but she's great at playing by herself.

Which reminds me (Quill and the Sword, that is). Tonight I made a social gaffe equivalent spilling spaghetti sauce down your shirt in front of your blind date. I mentioned that Avram and I had met at the Medieval Club at BYU, and one of the women asked me if I knew a girl in it that had lived with her. They had been roommates in the German language house when Cooking guild met there ever Saturday and cooked all afternoon long while speaking English, which you are not supposed to do (I didn't know this at the time). It created great stress in the apartment, and Winter semester we moved to the commons room to cook. I suddenly remembered this girl back then, mainly when she would walk through the room and not really talk to us at all (because we were being jerks, but I didn't know that at the time).

Err. Awkward. I mentally wrote her off my list of people who might become my friend, because she probably thinks that I am a jerk (although I hope I am wrong in this, and that she won't always think of how rude the Quill and the Sword was - because really, we were in that situation). I apologized a lot tonight, but maybe that was just the equivalent to wiping spaghetti sauce all over the rest of your shirt while trying to clean it off.

I must say, there is one couple that we already know here, Carrie and Linus, and we're even going to have them over for my birthday next weekend (did you know I turn 26 next Saturday? Now you do). Look at us be social! (They're not in our ward, but rather Sarah's sister and her husband. Because we're fated to live by various and sundry relatives of Sarah, like her third cousins. Watch out Hans-Jeurgin, we're coming after you next...).

Any advice on how to catch a couple? Should we pretend to play dumb and let them figure things out for us? Will doing my hair and makeup help? Does Avram need to change his major to Family and Social Sciences so they know we're not planning a competing career with them? Please, all advice welcome. And I mean all advice. Because once, I read a blog that asked the same thing, and I posted a comment the size of a novel, and it was the first comment I ever posted, and I felt so stupid after posting it (especially because hey, certainly I don't have making friends all figured out per this post) that I've never commented again. I'm sure none of you will top my gaucheness, so you should all give me ideas. Or names and phone numbers, if you know anyone locally.

Confessions of An Internet Stalker (Who is nice at heart)

I'm having a doo dah day. You know, when your kids are all asleep, and your husband is reading "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" by Ebert and you could finish the dishes, but you won't.

I just spent an hour trying to figure out what country a blogger lives in. She would never say, for security reasons. This really bugged me. Who is so secretive that they can't even tell you what country they live in? C'mon. So I found out anyway. Basically I'm your worst nightmare stalker - except I'm really nice in person, and I don't want to kill or kidnap your children. I don't even want to call you up and say that I know what you did last Summer because you blogged about it. I just want to know what freakin' country you live in (see how frustrated I was? I even used fake swear words, and I never do that).

So now that I know (it was Turkey, by the way, but I won't tell you who this was, because I am sort of trying to respect her privacy), I feel kind of bad. It's actually really easy to find things about people on the Internet if you want to (and they link to people who visit them, and make a slideshow with the title "Turkey" in it.), but I'm not trying to be invasive. And she's a public blogger, she even write an advice blog meant for people who don't know her. So she wants people to read her.

Now I'm trying to justify myself to the computer screen. This is pretty sad.

So I'm curious. How vague are all of you on your blogs? What's your opinion of Internet privacy and what is and isn't acceptable in people knowing about you (your name, pictures).

I clearly am pretty out there; my real everything is up here. I figure that people can look me in a phone book, or an online yellow pages, if they want to. And there is more actual location info on there than here. (I mean anyone who meets me in real life and knows my name is Thora anyway).

Have any of you been Internet stalked, as in unwanted somebody bothers you? What exactly did they do? Did it extend to real life stalking, or was it mainly things like unwanted emails? Would you be upset if I figured out what country you lived in because I'm obsessive about things sometimes and it bugged me not to know?

Along that line, do you read blogs of people that you don't know? Do you think that this is a violation of some sort of privacy? I don't mean blogs like mine, where I wish I had a "This is a safe delurking" sign like Cjane does, I mean random blogs. What exactly does private mean when it's a publically searchable web page? (Unless your blog is private, and then clearly you mean that only those you gave permission to).

These aren't rheatorical questions, people. I want some answers and discussion, pronto! (or acshav (bad Hebrew transliteration), dilwa'ti (bad Arabic translation), now!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Want to Be Great, But Moreso, I Want to Be Me.

I want to be great.

I want to write a great blog, that thousands will follow and have cute (donated by someone who can do graphics) buttons on their blogs, so the good news of Thora will spread.

I want to be witty and funny and soulful (but still sincere) and religious, and inspirational, and make you fall-out-of-your- seat-laughing funny, even when people are looking and you're trying to pretend you're reading something important, like your stock portfolio.

Occasionally, I even want to make you cry. Not manipulated tears of a fake story about a little boy that was looking in a window when a stranger came and bought him a new coat/a pair of shoes/an entire wardrobe and then she left before she could thank him and he ran outside and either couldn't find her, because she was an angel, or he did see her, and asked her if she was an angel, and she said "No, I am a child of God" and he said, "I knew you had to be some relation." (Footnote 1). I also don't want to make you cry from an activity that makes you feel guilty for poking a nail or pin into a covered-up picture of Christ, and then your seminary teacher unveils the picture and says this is what you do when you sin. Because I think that this is more about the guilt of having poked holes in the Savior's face and not knowing it, and less about sincere and real repentance that brings you to God and causes a change of heart that will make it so you don't even want to sin.

I want to be great.

I want to inspire you to take more pictures of your kids, and read more, and read better books (although I never talk about reading) and tell your husband that you love him and remember that you're a daughter or son of God (because you are) and make you think about the little quirks that are all about in life.


Sometimes I like to talk. And talk. And talk. And I make my point and it's a great point, a life changing one even, and then I keep on going, and my great point is completely obscured by all the extra pieces that I had to tell you that led me up to this point, and how I felt afterwords, and what I'm doing right this minute that has nothing at all to do with this post but I just thought of right now. And by the end of this paragraph, you don't even know what I was trying to say, which you also could really relate to, which is that I talk too much, and you think I do too.

And sometimes, I don't have very good grammar. I need to retake basic English, because honestly I can't even remember when I ought to be using a semi colon or a colon, and whether I should have just written ought or aught, but I know which ever one I choose it's bound to be completely wrong. And I like to start my sentences with "and", and usually they also manage to be run-on sentences (don't forget the gratuitous parentheses) because this is really how I talk in real life, except when I know I'm telling something of topic IspeedupreallyfastsoalthoughI'mgoingoffpointI'mnottakingupanymoretimetosayit,soit'sokay.

Maybe I'm writing in the style of William Faulkner. He once had a two page sentence. But he also doesn't often leave out pronouns or say it for in (and the spellchecker doesn't catch that). And he had an editor. I need an editor.

I want to be great.

And I do reread through my posts before I post them, but I always miss things anyway.

I want to be great.

But sometimes, my Mom says that she never knows what's going on in my life because all I ever write are screwball posts about the random thoughts in my head (okay, she really was a lot nicer than this), and that all my new friends really want to know what cute things my daughters are doing, so I should write about Lydia at least once a week.

So then my blog turns into a Mommy blog for a few days, and I post lots of pictures of my family, at least until I lose my camera batter recharger, and so I can't take anymore, and then I devolve back into my usual ramblings and screwball thoughts.

The most famous, best blogs don't jump genres all over the place. Or if they do, they have a bunch of blogs on the same site so each kind of post can go into its proper section.

I want to be great.

But I never post rants or controversial things, because I don't really like having controversial conversations with large groups because they almost always turn ugly or awkward, and I know that I like some things (I was going to list them, but then remembered that this would be being controversial, so I didn't) that are mostly very disagreed with, and I don't want people to not be my friend just because of extraneous views we have on subjects. I've noticed lots of controversial blogs get lots of comments. I like comments (which is funny, because I'm actually really bad at commenting on other's blogs, so basically I'm a hypocrite). I'd like you to comment. Now. This very post. Tell me what you're having for dinner, if you have nothing else to say. (I can always use new food ideas).

I want to be great

But sometimes, in the deep, dark recesses of my soul, I know that although I enjoy writing, I don't enjoy writing enough to make sure it's good before I post it. To rewrite and put a cohesive theme in.

(Unless it's: I want to be great).

To focus on what I really want to say. To write so that many people who read it can relate to it because I bring their own thoughts back to them, only wittier and better formed. I want to resonate with homemakers, and Collegiate Men and Mormons, and Muslims and my Mom and the stranger who just stops by. Like Paul I want to be all things to all men.

I want to be great.

But, at the end of the day, although I want to be great, I keep writing because I love to write.

I love comments, I love keeping up with old and faraway friends, I love to show my family what I'm doing, I love to keep a family history for my children, I love making new friends through blogs. But this is not why I write. I write because inside of me there's a voice that's screaming to be heard, a Thora that needs to let herself out, needs to be articulate (if only to myself) that needs to share herself with everyone (and noone) all at once about why I am, who I am, and what I had for breakfast (Cheerios) and where I live and who I see and who I worship (Christ and God) and what I think, and think, and think....

So I just keep on being me. I know I won't ever be famous (and please don't comment and say that you're great, and I'd buy your book, because I really do like myself and have great self esteem) or a great writer. And (most of) me's okay with this.

I want to be great, but even more, I want to write because I am Thora, and that's what Thoras do.

(Footnote 1) This may have been a true story once, but I've heard and read so many versions of it that it has long since turned into a manipulated fake story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lydia Gets in Touch With Her Inner Grunge Self

My daughter is is a cross between Courtney Love and the Spice Girls. I have proof.
A. the blond, messy hair, inspired by Courtney Love (Footnote One). Also the weird expression (although a lack of red lipstick). I just hope Courtney never did this to the Paparazzi.Or maybe she did, but they weren't sure who they were seeing.It's a sure fire way to get the Paparazzi to leave you alone. I promise.

B. the uber short baby doll dress.
The baby doll dress recalls to mind the Spice Girls. Except I bet the Spice Girls never actually wore a real baby doll's dress. This (inside out) dress actually belongs to Lydia's Amish doll, made by the Amish. I also bet the poor Amish had no idea of the comparisons this dress would go through....

Lydia had me put it on her after she first had me dress two of her dolls in it.
At the same time. They were the Siamese twin dolls. They even shared a bonnet.

Did I mention that this baby doll dress (inside out) was the only clothes Lydia wore at all until the late afternoon (last week)?

See, my daughter is the grunge queen. The Nineties Courtney/Spice have nothing on her. She didn't even let me touch her overnight diaper until the late afternoon as well. Now, that is grunge.

Footnote One: I spent way too much time looking at pictures of Courtney Love to put on here, but then I wasn't sure what was or wasn't covered by copyright, and also they were weird, so I didn't. But you should look and see, and you'll see how scary the grunge movement was too.

The Tragedy

Lydia just woke up (I let sleep in with all the sickness). She was perfectly happy as I came in, and then I told her that she needed to get dressed. She called out for Daddy instead of me. I told her that Daddy had gone to work (the catch all phrase for school, work, studying), and she dropped to the floor in tears. She's still crying as I write.

She keeps on repeating, "Daddy, I want Daddy." I asked her if she wanted me to stay or leave, and she held out her hand and said, "Just leave."

Lydia sure loves her Daddy. We told her about him starting work again, but I don't think it sunk it. The poor girl.

(She really does love me. She just is best friends with her Daddy.)

Who Needs a Chapel?

Yesterday morning we skipped going to our Wardhouse for a three hour church session. Instead, we drove up north to the country, and sat on a blanket in the warm sunshine. We had a little to eat and drink, and got in touch with our inner natural selves. Oh, and we also enjoyed the nice strains of "Praise to the Man" coming from the portable keyboard set on organ setting.

What, you didn't actually think we skipped going to church, did you? What kind of apostate do you think I am?

Our Chapel's gym floor was recovered recently, but the smell is still so bad that all three wards didn't hold church there on Sunday. I don't know what the other wards did, but we elected to hold at least Sacrament Meeting anyway. So, yesterday morning we did indeed skip going to our Wardhouse for three hours, and instead went north to a very country subdivision to a member's home and had Sacrament Meeting (no other meetings, though) in their back yard, which was about two or three acres large.

So I did sit on a blanket, although not one that we brought, because I forgot ours in the Living Room (thankfully there was one to share, since this is a ward of camping, and every other family except the one we sat with had all camping chairs, or at least mostly camping chairs). And I did enjoy the sunshine. For the first half hour at least. Then I went to nurse Elisheva, but I didn't hear where the nursing mother's room was because our bishopric member told us at the same time that our blanket mate screamed when a large spider crawled right over her. Or was that when a leaf dropped directly on the bishopric members head, and a bunch of us were laughing, instead of listening? Regardless, I had no idea where to go, and although I normally just nurse in the meeting, sitting on a blanket didn't seem the best way, so I wanted another option.

Rather than go into a stranger's house and wander around looking for the area they set up for nursing, I just settled around thirty feet behind the missionaries translating to Spanish and the speakers, and just nursed there in the shade. I'm a very classy person.

And I did have a little to eat and drink - the Sacrament, after all. Especially exciting was when Lydia (our somewhat sick daughter) plunged her hand into some of the cups holding water as it passed by her. I quickly dumped all of them into the center well, so hopefully no communicable diseases were caught.

Which reminds me; we were all a little sick. It's a minor cold type thing that's been working its way around our family. Five days ago Lydia got a stuffy nose and couldn't sleep. Then Elisheva got a stuffy nose and had to nurse all night long. She also threw up twice, but that could have just been her inability to breathe causing it. On Saturday Avram began to feel weak, and Sunday morning he told me that we'd go to church if I could get us all ready. Since it was only one meeting, and because Elisheva and Lydia seemed to be recovered, so I decided that we should go - which despite the "living on the edge" appeal of an outdoor Sacrament meeting, I don't think was the best decision. Sure, the meeting itself went okay, but then I somehow found myself agreeing to go out to choir again this evening with Avram, so that I could babysit and he could sing. Although Avram had a sore throat, and so couldn't sing, and we'd already decided that we weren't going to go. But what was I supposed to say, "Oh, sorry, we can't come because we're sick. Yeah, sick, and I'm worried that we'd pass the sickness around if we came, not to mention that Avram couldn't sing there anyway. Oh, why are we here at all if we're that sick? Err, I have to go now...." Besides there is a level of sick that would make us miss ward choir, and a level that would cause us to miss Church completely.

It really was a good sacrament meeting though, with three well prepared talks, although one of the speakers looked like he could be a brother of Dennis, a college boyfriend of mine. Except I know all of his brothers - and this brother's last name was George, not Decker. You know, small details. But I spent the entire time wondering if they were cousins, or something. I didn't wonder enough to actually go ask if he was related to any Deckers, but that would have made sense. They even had the same voice! And Avram independently later in the day commented on it, so I know I'm not just delusional.

After the meeting it took forever to get Lydia into her carseat, because she was so cranky, and finally Avram manhandled her in, and then her diaper came off during the drive home, and she screamed from that point until we arrived home, and then she wouldn't even come in. Lydia kept on wanting to eat a banana outside with Avram, but she needed a new diaper put on (how do you even lose a diaper while attached in a car seat? Especially since it appeared to have fallen off on its own - oh, yeah, this was a disposable diaper, because we don't actually have a washer and dryer yet). And she had to be upstairs for this to happen, but the diaper had to come from downstairs in the church bag, and Avram had to get the diaper, not me. Also, the white container of diaper cream wouldn't do, she had to have the blue one. Can anyone tell me why toddlers are so OCD? A half hour from when we arrived home Lydia finally stopped crying, and at that point I decided we should have stayed home all along anyway.

The day looked up from that point on - we ate lunch, Avram took a nap on the couch, then I took a nap upstairs (Elisheva napped too, but Lydia? She thinks naps are for sissies). Avram emailed the choir directer, and told her we couldn't come after all, and we all were in bed with the lights out by 8:22 pm.

Moral of the story? Church, even church in the great outdoors is great. I felt like I was getting in touch with the pioneers in Nauvoo who always met outdoors in the grove.The Nauvoo temple as seen from the grove.

For one thing, I'm very grateful that normally we do have a building, with padded benches, and other such amenities.

The other Moral? Church when you're sick and all feeling yucky (after church I got a blinding headache, and my upset stomach carried over from yesterday, which was actually me getting sick, and not too much cake, and then my limbs felt really heavy) is not that great of an idea. Neither is still having to parent when you're sick. (Although as of this morning Avram and I feel a lot better. He's off to orientation now, and I'm finally a full blown homemaker without my husband, wherein I find I always accomplish more.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chiffon Cake, Anyone?

I made my second experimental dessert, a Chiffon cake. A shiffon cake is something like a cross between an Angel Food Cake and a Sponge cage. Thankfully this one turned out far better than my last experiment.
(Notice it's the same serving platter as the last time. I'm all about newness and ingenuity).

I was craving having something with the strawberries I bought yesterday, and sponge type cakes, with whipped egg whites really do go so well with berries. However, I've actually made an Angel Food Cake since Avram and I have been married, so that was out.

After seeing me take a picture of one portion, Lydia wanted a picture of her cake too.
She really like this dessert (she thought it was a birthday cake, and that we were having a party). Lydia especially liked the toppings.
After she ate off two servings of cream and strawberries she finally ate the piece itself.

This afternoon Avram told Lydia that after her nap and when I got back (I was gone at a Scentsy party - scented wax you melt and release scents for your home in. They smelled good but I didn't get any.) that she could have some cake and cream and strawberries. She got up before I returned (I was going to bring the whipped cream home with me) and was insistent on her afternoon dessert. When Avram told her that we had no cream, she made him open the refrigerator door and firmly pointed out the container of sour cream.

"Cream" she called out decidedly, and so sour cream went on her piece. After her first bite, Lydia then told Avram, "You eat it," and wouldn't take another bite.

Finally though, when we did get the cream, she loved it.

Avram and Lydia give it
Two thumbs up. Or in Lydia's case, two finger up, since she can't figure out how to do thumbs.
I only give it one thumbs up, since it would serve basically the same function as Angel Food Cake, but it uses both egg yolks and oil in it, so it's more unhealthy. It does taste good, though.

P.S. Don't worry, I'm not going to up and turn into a food blog. I just felt like shaking up my life a little.

P.P.S. Elisheva didn't have any cake, but I was able to catch her smiling on camera for the first time.
P.P.S. I feel sick right now from how much cake I've eaten today. It's been a lot. Maybe I should start doing vegetable dish experimentations.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Sad Little Tale of a Little Girl and her Sad Book

On the way out from the Library today (we signed up and checked out books. I got three cookbooks - I love perusing cookbooks to get ideas) we saw a couple shelves of old books from the Library for sale. Lydia saw Goodnight Moon on the bottom shelf, lying slumped over and upside down, and called out in excitement, "Goodnight Moon."

We stopped in shock and surprise. This may seem an odd reaction to you, but Lydia has never seen Goodnight Moon before. Ever. We don't own the book, we've never read her the book, in her memory the only people who have babysat her at all are family, whom we know also don't own the book. Either she can read upside down, or there is some inherent gene in little children that recognizes that this book is a good book to read about 80 times in a row and really annoy your parents with (the reason we've had no traffic with this book heretofore, although I know it's great for kids).

Lydia was just so excited about it, though. She called out again, "Goodnight moon!" We couldn't take it. I gave her a dollar, and we went back in and bought the book.

Lydia held her Goodnight Moon book close to her chest all the way to the car. She held it in the car. When we went to try out a restaurant here (because it was already so late, and we had run out of food at home) we brought it in to distract her from her growling stomach. She loved it there.

Truly, Goodnight Moon and Lydia were meant to be. How could I stop the forces of nature just because I don't like doing the exact same thing, like reading a board book, over and over and over until any intelligent brain cells in my head have either died in exhaustion or moved to Bermuda? (Yes, I don't know how I'm going to get through being a mother either). Simply, it must be Lydia over my brain.

We drove the three blocks home (that's my kind of local eatery, and it was also amazing, with homemade noodles, homemade sauce, homemade massive slices of eggplant parmesan), and as I got out, I noticed that my to-go box balanced precariously on the edge of the trunk, where I had set it momentarily while placing Elisheva in her carseat. Just like a year and a half ago, when I went to Hagi Babas in Mesa with our dear friends the Reeds and the Schencks to escape being Medieval for a night in favor of yummy Middle Eastern food. I ordered two baklava to go, because I love the Middle Eastern way of making them, with pistachios and a suger syrup, instead of walnuts and honey. Sadly, I set the two to-go boxes down on the pavement beside the car while I strapped Lydia into her car seat, and mindlessly left them there as I drove back to Estrella. Tragic. Clearly to-go boxes and my children do not mix. Except at least this time, my Eggplant Parmesan had stuck with me! The wonder, the excitement!

Except, wait. Lydia's new Goodnight Moon had also been on top of the to-go box. And it hadn't stuck with us in the three block drive home.

Avram, determined to not break our daughter's heart, retraced our route home on foot. Soon he came home with the remains. It had dropped of in the first turn, in the middle of the intersection, and now resided in four parts. Lydia didn't quite comprehend what had occurred, and sat sorting the pieces of the book between her hands, going, "One! Two!"

What a little girl, and a sad little book.

We're planning to buy tape and tape it back together; now that Lydia has found her true love of books, we can't just abandon it, even for my brain cells.

Thora Is Joining Facebook

In a random moment last night after my reasonable family had gone to bed at a reasonable hour I up and (re)joined Facebook. I gave it a try last fall, but only ever added one friend (I never made any overtures at all to the friends I knew), so after a week I dropped it. This time I have 12 friends, and I feel all hip and cool. So you should be my friend too. My profile is Thora Shannon. Yeah, I'm into letting everyone know my real name and stuff.
I look like this in my profile. Except this is a different shot taken at the same time. I posted this one because it's already downsized, and frankly, I'm lazy at resizing shots unless I can do a big batch at once, so there you go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our Mini "Vay-Cay" (I can't believe I just quoted Seriously So Blessed)

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather's museum we went.

Or something like that.

On Sunday we drove to Wright/Patterson Air Force Museum, which for those not in the know (which including me up until a month ago) is right outside of Dayton Ohio (only 75 minutes away).

Random Fact Moment: the Ohio license plates say "Birthplace of Aviation," and North Carolina license Plates say, "First in Flight." The Wright Brothers were from Ohio (well, mostly; they lived and ended up in Ohio), and made all their plans in Ohio, but then went to North Carolina because of the well situated breezes and sands. I think that two states trying to capitilize on the same topic is a little silly, but regardless America appears to be very proud of its role in flight history.

Avram's Grandpa, Grandpa Shannon is a retired Major in the Air Force, and was a flight navigator and electronic warfare officer (which meant he did the weapons and stuff in flight). During Vietnam he was a part of the Wild Weasel group, and so got in a plane to be shot at a lot while destroying SAM (surface air missile) sights. He and his pilot, McInerney (who I always thought was two people, you know, Mack an' Earnie? [I'd only audibly heard the name before this weekend]) earned the Air Force Cross, the second highest honor available in the military.

At the huge, Smithsonian museum of Wright/Patterson (did you also know that there is a Smithsonia museum not in the DC area? Now you know. I'm so informational I'm practically like public television, which I will actually bring up, later) there's a large exhibit on the Wild Weasels, and Grandpa Shannon's flight suit and Cross are on display. Please ignore the tacky flash in the middle of the photo, and instead notice the uniform on the right, with Grandpa Fred Shannon in the middle of the picture.

This weekend there was a Wild Weasel reunion convention next to the Museum, and so we met his grandparents there at the end of the convention on Sunday and stayed overnight at a hotel and went to the museum on Monday with a personal, guided tour (I felt very important). It was a great little mini vacation (not that we were technically in need of a vacation from real life, since right now there are two stay at home parents in our family, but it's amazing how tiring and hard staying at home all the time can be for two adults and two children), especially perfect since his Grandpa paid for it for us (and now he has my blog site, so he may be reading this, so thank you a lot, we had a great time, Grandpa!).

Avram drove there, in our normal he drives everywhere and I drive home agreement. Unfortunately, unbeknown to us beforehand, the entire trip occurred right as the remnants of Hurricane Ike went racing through Ohio. Avram drove the whole way through massively strong winds (something like 60 mph), and we even had the opportunity (?) of seeing a semi almost jackknife in front of us. Like right in front of us. It started tipping over, but somehow the driver righted it before it fell, and then he immediately slowed down to like thirty, probably because he'd seen his life flashing before his eyes. I know I certainly say my life going kaput. Yeah, Avram was cursing the day he learned to drive on Sunday.

We arrived fine, though, (and let me take a minute to say that you're an amazing driver, Avram, because buttering you up in public will completely make you love driving, right?) and had lots of good Grandparent/great grandchild pictures. We wanted to go out to the Olive Garden for dinner (footnote 1), but all of the restaurants in the area were closed for lack of power, so we went to the house restaurant, because the hotel had its own generators and hence electricity. Only one waitress/server had made it to the hotel (there were a lot of tree that blew down, over roads, etc), and so she had to help the whole dining area and the full bar as well. The dinner itself had good service, because we arrived at five and there were only three tables with people at all. Around six or six thirty a party of twelve showed up, and all things ground to a halt. I knew it was a bad sign when the night manager for the hotel came out with the drinks and then started taking orders.

We actually were going to get dessert, but a half hour after we asked for the dessert menu, and then after another half hour until she could get back to us from the full bar to give us the menu, and then after another fifteen minutes or so we gave up, and went to the bar and paid the bill there (and by we I mean Grandpa Shannon). It was a good thing he was buying, because my dish cost more than anything I've eaten out before, although this is more an indicator ofthe level of restaurant I've eaten at in my life than anything else. Although it did taste good - I had local walleye fish, which was good, but it came with this amazing mushroom and asparagus risotto.

Hurrican Ike, or more properly Tropical Depression Ike (which sounds more odd considering this is smack in the middle of a northern continent) raced on through, and so the next morning our plans weren't affected at all. All the local schools were closed, which I thought was a little excessive, but it turns out that the majority of Columbus's schools are closed all week as well, because of lack of power. Most of Columbus is without power currently (although we obviously have it. Really, we live the easy life) and won't get it again until this Saturday. There are a lot of lights out all over the city, which makes navigating intersections with normally protected left turns tricky in the whole four way stop rule.

Anyway, speaking of electricity, what did we, the intelligentia class Shannons do in our hotel room Sunday Night (footnote 2) and Monday Morning? Watch TV. Not thought provoking shows, either. Sunday Night we tried watching a very badly animated show on cartoon network, and then caught the end of an Eighties movie starring Goldie Hawn where the climax centered around one of her football players (yes, she was a football coach) keeping money in his jock strap and being accused therefore of bribing her in order to play. (It's even more stupid and cheesy than I can express). It's called Wildcat if this little blurb enticed any of you to further inquiry. Monday morning we went for the old quality feel good show "Saved By the Bell." Ahh, you've got to love the early nineties. Lydia and Avram also got sucked into "educational" programing. Here they're learning how pillbugs move (the big answer? Legs.)I think there must be some gene inside all humans that activates around a TV and causes us to turn it on and watch thoughtless shows with loud and annoying commercials.

Thankfully we left shortly for the Museum. Lydia loved the museum, especially the part where she got to sit in a cockpit. She wouldn't get out, either (she actually sat in two of them), but just kept exclaiming, "My flying, My flying!" (She has a current difficulty with placing pronouns in their proper places). I only finally bribed her out with promises of food. (footnote 3).

Overall it was a great little getaway with family and quality conversation, and thought provoking tours of lots of Air Force airplanes (mostly thought provoking in me trying to hash out how I feel about standing armies, while also appreciating living in a country with one). I recommend you all obtain a famous military Grandpa with his own exhibit in the Smithsonian that he'll pay for you to come and visit.

Footnote 1: I never go out to eat on Sundays normally, nor go to any store or shopping on Sunday, including getting gas. I even try to arrange my schedule so I don't have to travel long distance on Sundays. However, when there is family involved, like here in visiting his (non Mormon) Grandparents on a Sunday, I don't mind at all going out to eat with them.

Footnote 2: We also normally don't watch any non church Movies on Sunday, but I guess in my mind Sunday had ended sometime after we arrived in Dayton, since we'd already gone out to eat.

Footnote 3: Why do I try bribing as a parent? It's a horrible form of parenting, putting parents, ie me into the role of wheedling and begging and pleading for my kid to just do what I want so I can reward her for doing what she ought to be doing anyway. The worst part is, I resort to bribing often, usually with either some food item or watching a show Lydia likes, but then it doesn't even have the decency of working! Lydia at 2 1/2 isn't old enough to really grasp a long term idea like if you are quiet and well behaved I'll let you have a Zebra Cake later. All she gets is blah blah blah Zebra Cake, and immediately begins squalling for a Zebra Cake (a little debbie cake of artificial preservatives), squelching both the whole point I was bribing her for (silence) and her health all in one fell swoop. Why do I even bother? And even more to the point, why do I keep on bothering? Because I'm subconciously convinced that someday I'll tell her if she lets me change her diaper now and then I'll give her something she wants that I'll get results. Ha.

Write, Help People, And Become Famous All At Once


In order to help out NieNie and also because sometimes I think I'm funny, I entered this contest, which is done by Sue the Blogger who wanted to help. For those who as a matter of principle don't follow links, she's going to put together a book and publish it (she's a writer) and then all of the proceeds will go to NieNie. Anyway, I sent in a little number about DI and me (and my clothing) experience (If I get published, you'll just have to wait and read it. If not, then I'll put it on here. If you already know me, then you already know this story anyway, and know that sometimes, my life is funny.)

Which happens to be the name of the contest/book, Sometimes Life is Funny.

Sue needs lots of people to participate and enter, so it'll be a good book and make lots of money, becuase the Nielsons' recovery will go into the millions and they need lots of money. Also, if you feel like being nice to people, you should also donate to my brother in law, who had a stroke recently and is still recovering, and he and my sister need lots of money too, except she's not famous, so everyone in the blogosphere isn't helping them. So they need your money.

It can be previously published on a post, so you can go through and sort and find your funny moments, because I know you all have them. Also, it's especially great if it's original and all that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forages into the World of Sugar

In an effort to expand my culinary horizons, I have decided to make one dessert a week that I've never made before (or at least since Avram and I have been married). I love cooking, but I've focused my attention on baked goods (bread mostly, and rolls, and cinnamon rolls), and main dishes. I'm woefully inadequate in desserts like cakes, pies, or yummy things that make me drool when I'm reading cookbooks, which I always seem to do when I'm hungry.

This week I made an upside-down Pineapple cake out of my Betty Croker 1959 reprint cookbook, which is very strong in the desserts/breads/quick breads section, but woefully lacking in main dishes. Most main dishes are composed of pasta or rice mixed with a white sauce and lots of cheese and baked in a casserole. Sometimes there is extra butter, or chicken, or something, but it's all very fattening and boring.


So I love pineapple upside down cake, or at least I did when I had it as a kid, and so I wanted to try actually making it. I put it together and baked it last night. When I turned it over it looked like this:
You may be wondering where the pineapples are. I certainly wondered that. They had floated to the top, which had now become the bottom. You can see one poking out in the upper right corner. And it was a flat, eggy tasting thing - definitely not a cake. Plus it was really oily - there was a 1/3 of a cup of butter in the bottom (I thought it was too much, but it's not a good idea to change a recipe before you've even had a chance to taste it. Yep, it was too much).

On my highly official chart of thumbs up meaning it moves into my regular repertoire, one thumb up meaning it was good, but will be made rarely, one thumb down being that this is the one time I'll make it, and two thumbs down meaning I regret wasting the ingredients, and secretly want to throw it away, this gets a:
I'm thinking of maybe rescuing the pineapple slices out and using them for something more palatable. This isn't a very fortuitious beginning, but I'm determined to continue. Any suggestions for good desserts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Watering my Blog

I have a bad habit. Let me tell you about it (Gee, aren't you lucky?). When I was a sophomore in college, I acquired a little four-pot windowsill herb set. I carefully reconstituted the provided soil (really. I just had to add water, and it expanded to fill the pot), planted the seeds, and then little seedlings grew forth. I loved herbs, and I eagerly looked forward to harvesting fresh herbs for my cooking.

Then, I went away for a few days. Of course, the plants went unwatered, and when I returned they looked a little sad and wilted. So what did I do? Water them, and brink them back to health like a normal, well-adjusted person would?


I ignored them. I carefully did not look at the spot on the windowsill where they sat. I avoided going by that part of the room. I became (subconsciously, since I intentionally even avoided those sad, underserving herbs even in my thoughts) grateful for the curtain which mainly obscured them from my view.

And so my poor, little herbs lost their only recently began life, because I have a guilt complex that results in avoidance until a small problem - plants needing water - grows into an irreparable loss of dead little sticks that I only clear out months and months later once my guilt too has shriveled and died with time.

One of the things I struggle with most in life and personal development is facing head-on problems or snags in life, and instead avoid the problem, hoping it will go away. It either grows in difficulty until I can't ignore it, and the consequence loom catastrophicaly over my head, or it eventually solves itself (in this case by the plants dyeing).

I didn't want to kill the plants; quite the opposite. I wanted them to flourish, and grow, and produce lovely herbs. But since I failed a little in my duty, I couldn't face the shame, and so failed a lot (makes sense? Yeah, I didn't think so. Who says life-long guilt complexes need to make sense?).

I've done this very act countless times in my life. I like this story because it's truly the least damming of all the times I've done this (I would tell you some more horrible ones, but I won't Umm, on second thought, I will, because I'm writing this as an endnote, and I did in fact write more about this).

As I've grown older (I'm almost 26 you know; in only three weeks) I've worked a lot on overcoming this major fault. Now, if I don't email someone for church for a calling when I need to, I don't avoid them, my email inbox, and my calling until something breaks down massively (I did things like this as a teenager.) I don't do things like take on the position as president for the summer and vice president in the fall of a Golden Key society at BYU (Or was it the Blue Key? I don't remember), but then realize that I'm way in over my head because I'm also president of the Quill and the Sword, a medieval club, and I don't have enough time for both, and as well I don't really like the society that much because I don't think it actually has that much purpose besides as a resume builder, and so I just avoid all the people in it, and don't go to meetings, and move, and change majors (well, I was doing this anyway; I was a double major, and dropped one because I didn't like my Latin teacher, and it was Comparative Literature, and the head Comp Lit professor was also over the society), and I still don't know what a schlub they probably thought I was, but I can assume.

Whew, I feel better with that off my chest. I don't think even Avram knows that I did that, although I'm sure he will now. Isn't it funny how you can write personal things about yourself much easier than speaking about them? Plus that was six years ago, so I'm obviously over it. Unless Dr. Peer reads this somehow, randomly, and then I will die of shame.

Now, though, I am much better, as I was saying. I actually fulfill my callings, and I'm good about telling people I can't do something if I can't, or don't want to, or know I actually won't. Except sometimes old habits die hard, and so I find myself avoiding writing a blog post for a long time because I have about 20 million pictures and stories to share all at once (yes, my life is that exciting, or at least I obviously think it is). Instead of doing the obvious thing and just plowing in with one topic at a time, and move forward, I just don't write anything at all. I spent lots of mental time planning great posts, and ways to tell stories, and musings about life. I even compose sentances in my head. Then I get some computer time, and I spend it putting off even visiting my own blog, because then I might log it. And go to the post page. And actually, you know, write something.

It's a scary world sometimes.

But now more and more posts have just built up in my mental post regulator (otherwise known as my mind), and instead of never checking my blog again, and letting its little tender plantself die, I've decided to come and water my blog.

For the record, up to now was supposed to be about two sentances long, leading into a post starting to detail my life.

Umm, sometimes I like to talk a lot. That's why I like blogs; I talk and talk, and I don't interrupt anyone (another lifelong habit I'm still working on), and if my story stretches out too long, people can just stop reading, and no-one's feelings are hurt.

So I guess I'm telling you that good things are coming, because I'm going to keep watering this blog, by golly, although I never actually got to watering today. I've meta-watered.

Just to keep you interested....
I like to call this little number, "Yo." Or alternatively, "Whazz-Up?"

I resized 20 more just like it (that's a real number, I went and counted), with "just like it" meaning of the last week and a half of our life, so there are lots more pictures and stories to come.

Unless I move, and change my name, and avoid anyone who might read my blog in real life or on the Internet, and put curtains over my lap top so I don't have to see my shame.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meesa Back!

America's online. At least, the Shannons are online. After much lateness (two days, with two phone calls), our phone was set up today (we have DSL, so we had to have a phone line before an Internet connection) by a very nice man, who spent three hours fixing all the broken connections between our jacks, the local phone pole, and the main line.

(Insert picture here that I took of him.)

He had to go all through our house because every phone jack needed to be checked. I was a little embarrassed, because our bedroom looked like a war zone between nations of boxes,

(Insert another picture I didn't even get around to taking here, because honestly, it would be great to have it, but I only have five minutes to write this post before I need to go and work on reducing the piles of half empties boxes [our room is where all the complicated, miscellaneous boxes go to die], so I don't have time to import, downsize, upload, and post a picture. Use your imagination)

So now we're connected again. Which is very nice. Although once again, I have to go because I have so much to catch up on, that I can't justify spending the time over unpacking (see previous paragraph).

Also, I was going to write another post about feeling white trash, but I read the comments, and had to laugh, because as Travis says I do always worry about being white trash. Honestly because I grew up without any money. Although I like to think I was genteel poor. Like the Alcotts. And now I've decided I'm not poor, I'm intelligentisia. Or bohemian. That's why I have six bookshelves in my house, with no TV (although I want one for watching our DVDs), but also why I washed our clothes at a laundrymat this morning, because we don't have a Washer and Dryer yet.

The End, before I feel really bad that Avram is doing all the work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Over and Out

I'm signing out. I'm also in Italics, and I don't know why. It's ten at night, and Lydia and Elisheva have barely gone down to sleep, I had no luck finding any furniture on craigslist (it's my fault not its - like a mattress to sleep on, or a Washer and Dryer). I'm sure we have things scattered all over my in-laws' house, but I don't know what or where, but I'm sure as soon as we arrive we'll need it desparately. I don't know where any shoes are. I need to go and finish packing the borrowed suburban with our junk.

So if we manage to make it out, we'll see on on the other side, also known as Ohio.

(Really, we're doing well. The trailer is packed. We're leaving at 6:45 tomorrow morning (after my Mother in law finishes her seminary class), and I know we'll be ready then. Once I find my shoes. And take a shower. And load food and a huge box and a cello and my jewelry box (it's it's own piece of furniture, which is funny, because I don't own that much jewelry).

Although on a side note, today we went and closed a bank account. While sitting, waiting for the bank person to get our money, I looked at Avram and I. We had been working outside much of the day in the hot sun and sweating. Our clothes were dirty. My pants had grease on them. My hair was up in a clip, but hadn't been parted or combed at all today. One of my socks was white, and one was black. He hadn't shaved for a couple of days. Elisheva was only clothed in a dirty onesie. I felt like telling the bank person (not a teller, not a manager, maybe a loan officer sort of person who helps people in little see through office?) that we are white trash, and planning to take all of the money we got out and put it under our mattress, which is our real bank account.

We'll have Internet (and phone) next Wednesday, September ninth. Unless that's not a Wednesday. My brain is broken. Avram just said that Tuesday is the ninth so we'll go with him. So I'll be reachable then. Although no one will know how to reach me, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Adieu, Ou revoir, A ribidacci, Ciao, good bye and good night.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Life by Numbers

9 phone calls to set up Utilities/Address Change.

3 of those calls to the wrong companies (it wasn't my fault. You have to find out whose power you're under by trial).

36 total minutes spent waiting to bad music.

33 of those minutes spent waiting to find out I was talking to the wrong companies.

96 dollar Electricity deposit.

3 dollars spent for the privilege of paying my Electric deposit over the phone.

1 apartment changed because the neighbors flooded (it's still in the same court). (This also caused some confusion with setting up of Utilities).

1 1/2 hours spent setting up life in Ohio over the phone today.

2 times Avram took the road test at the DMV and failed last week, because he's not comfortable with a stick, although he can drive.

3 times you're allowed to take the road test in Virginia without having to take a driver's Ed class before testing again.

1 White Toyota Automatic lent to him by a friend at work (whom we love forever.)

45 minute drive this morning to the DMV for a driving test.

10 minutes we spent searching for the car registration, which is needed to take the road test.

2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, years of registration found in the car.

2008 Year of registration not found in the car.

45 minutes driving home this morning without having taken the driving test.

1 2008 year of registration obtained from the owner.

45 minutes driving this afternoon to the same DMV.

1 1/2 hour wait at said DMV.

1 passed driving test.

1 new Driver's License for Avram.

1 husband still not home because of the horrible northern Virginia traffic.

4 People going out to eat to celebrate.

How was your day?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wherein Reside Enough Pictures to Make Even My Mother Happy For At Least a Week

I continued loading our moving trailer this morning. I moved seven loads (with a couple hour break in the middle).Lydia helped. Which meant that she sat on the empty and full wagon. I like her help, because she's so happy about it. Unlike me changing her diaper. She spent a full hour this morning stark naked, refusing any sort of diaper covering. Which reminds me of of something; I've begun using cloth diapers. Ignore the cranky face and remaining spattering of chigger bites, and just notice the nice cloth diaper (well, the cover, but you know what I mean).

It's been going very smoothly, at least up until this afternoon. Then we had the poopy diaper of death. But it didn't faze me. At least not for very long. Lydia really likes them too - she gets to pick her "underwear" (diaper cover) every day. She's been in them for five days now. Elisheva is still in disposables, but that will change as soon as I can find covers that fit her. I haven't been trying very hard, since the closest store that could possibly have them is about forty five minutes away, and so will have to wait until a big shopping day. Like Thursday, when we're going to Ikea, which is my new favorite store. I'm not a fan of modern "sleek" lines, and minimalist ugliness, but I am a fan of really cheap real wood furniture, and quilt covers that I've dreamed of having ever since I was 17 and I had a roommate who was from Germany and had them and I loved it. The End. So it's basically a love/hate relationship, with the love winning. I'm going to get our kitchen chairs and bookcases and really cool skinny long bread pans so that my homemade bread can be used for normal sized sandwiches instead of gargantuan ones that normal bread pans produce.

New Subject

Elisheva sort of sat up yesterday. Avram thinks that it was her stomach area holding her up, because she's so fat (in a cute, four month old sort of way), but regardless, here she is, in all her advanced glory.
Notice the bubbles on her chin. She's a very drooly/bubble producing baby. She also has begun wriggling out of her bouncy chair and then falling out on the floor. In a week's time she's gone from being a great chair baby to a very needy being held baby, because she doesn't like her chair anymore. I hope soon she'll learn to roll or like lying down, so the wonders of movement can become open to her. Or maybe even sit, as these pictures taken yesterday hopefully portent.

I may be in and out a little shortly; we're still finishing loading the trailer, and we have lots of places to go to, so hold tight, and I'll eventually visit and, more amazingly, comment on all of your blogs soon. I've got the visiting down, since my Reader worked yesterday, but it hasn't worked today, and I haven't had the time to go through and hand check, or alternately start a new RSS reader. Err.