Monday, November 30, 2009


Chris is graduating (yay!) on December 12. We have told several people that it starts at 6:00 in the evening. Looking back now, I really have no idea where that time came from.

Pretty much I think we just made it up.

Graduation actually begins at 10:30 AM. If you are planning to attend, please make note and avoid arriving seven and a half hours late. And if you are planning to attend, maybe drop us a comment or give us a call so we know to expect you. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

as documented by the cell phone cameras

Isn't it ironic that we spent nearly $400 on a 10 megapixel digital camera, only to forget batteries? Hence, all of our many (and by many I mean a lot of) grand adventures of the last two days are documented through the less expensive--and thus less focused, lit, crisp, and generally recognizable--cell phone camera pictures.

But hey, who can complain? Who really expected that some day in the future you'd be able to take pictures with a telephone?


Our first adventure involved a 1993 Geo Metro, a freeway barrier, and a gas can...

Because our parents live in different states, Chris and I have alternated Thanksgivings and Christmases between the two while we've been married. This year, it was the Wamplers turn for Thanksgiving. We were in Salt Lake on Wednesday night (house hunting--another post another day), so we were headed north to Ogden for the day's festivities.

Buying a house is complicated and occupying, and thus it was that Chris and I were having an engrossing conversation on the various aspects of the process and neither of us noticed the needle of the gas gauge--below empty. We didn't notice, that is, until large clouds of smoke came billowing from the back of the car. We were in the carpool lane on I-15 at the time and could not safely make it back across the four lanes of traffic, so we pulled over on the left-hand, inside shoulder of the freeway.

Yes, yes--we were out of gas.

We called for help and Chris's parents agreed to come to our rescue. They headed down from Ogden with a can of gasoline. We settled in to wait. Megan, unlike her usual self, was awake and rather annoyed at being trapped in a non-moving car. So she sat on my lap while we let Jane wander around--at least, as much as is really possible in a Geo Metro.

Jane startled herself quite a bit when she discovered the car horn. Luckily, our adventure came to an end shortly thereafter, without giving her any extra time to experiment with this new discovery.

If any of you are familiar with the Kaysville section of northbound I-15, you may realize the added awkwardness of our situation when I say that we were stopped on the overpass between the Kaysville off-ramp and the Kaysville on-ramp.

Chris's parents were coming from Ogden, putting them on the opposite side of the freeway. Were they to exit in Kaysville, turn around, and get back on the freeway headed north, they would missed us by about 100 yards. The next exit south of us wasn't until Farmington.

Yeah, pretty much this was the most complicated place for us to run out of gas.

Our solution:

Craig pulled over on the lefthand shoulder of the other side of the freeway and handed the gas can over the barrier in the middle of the freeway. Safest plan? Probably not. Quickest, easiest plan? Definitely.

After an hour of sitting in rather precarious location in the middle of the freeway on the wrong side of a curve making us invisible to approaching traffic, the car started, we bought gas, and made it to Ogden for Thanksgiving dinner.

~ ~ ~

Thanksgiving dinner was quite pleasant, but sadly, only one of my pictures turned out. I did actually have my camera with me then and took several pictures, but I had it on the wrong setting and everything was extremely blurry. My fault--it still is a nice camera.

At least the one picture is of the two was cooked traditionally in the oven, the other was smoked on the grill. And they were both delicious.


Disclaimer: We are not major shoppers. We are regular participators in Black Friday shopping, but we go mostly for the adventure. It's just fun to be out and about with the crowds, freezing while standing in line, watching everyone rush in and fight to get the stuff they want, and, of course, finding the occasional good deal on Christmas buys. What you are about to read is not a true representation of our usual shopping attitude. We mostly did it because it makes a good story...and we did find some Christmas presents.

Destination 1
8:30 pm

K-Mart had a few sales specifically for Thursday and no other day. Lisa was looking for a walking toy for Dalton and there was a lawn mower on sale. When she went to pay for it, it rung up at full price. Lisa told the cashier that it was 50% off in the ad, so the cashier gave her 50% off. When we actually checked the ad, however, we realized that Lisa had the wrong lawn mower...oh, well. She still got 50% off.

Destination 1.5: Home for a one-hour nap.

Destination 2
Toys R Us
11:30 pm

Toys R Us began their doorbuster sales at midnight this year, rather than the traditional 4:00 or 5:oo in the morning. The line outside was pretty long. I have two theories on why so many people showed up at that particular store: 1--They had no competition. No one else was opening at midnight, so everyone who was wanting to shop then went there. 2--Because they opened at midnight, a large part of the crowd are the people who just didn't go to bed. Only so many people will get up early and stand in line, but if you're already up? Why not go shopping.

The line inside was INSANE. Several boxes had been set up and arrows taped on the floors to direct the line, but the boxes were moved and the arrows ignored. Customers ended up forming probably eight different lines all trying to funnel into one place, where an employee would then direct people to one cashier at a time. After a few minutes, an employee informed everyone they had to find the end of the line at the guy holding balloons. He was standing in the far back corner of the store. It wasn't really possible to get there--there was major gridlock everywhere in the entire store.

We gave up. We were only buying two things, and neither were very critical. They could wait. One of them wasn't even on sale. So, we sat them down on the floor (we couldn't get back to the shelves where we picked them up) and left.

By the way, I feel it necessary to specify who "we" are: Me (Laura), Chris (yes, my husband will go shopping with me in the middle of the night!), my mom Karrie, and Megan (being carried by me in the Moby wrap). Lisa and Dalton joined us for certain portions of our excursions.

Destination 3
Fashion Place Mall
1:00 am

The only major purchase of the day that we for sure wanted to get on sale was an air compressor for Christopher, on sale at Sears for $80. Sears didn't open until 4:00. We opted to kill time rather than go home and sleep for only two hours, just to get up again.

Destination 3a
The Tie Shop
1:30 am

After wandering for a while, we ended up walking through The Tie Shop, which was running a sale on ties, buy one get one free. Chris bought two--he needs them for his new job--and Mom bought two--Michael deserves a new tie because he is being ordained as a deacon. The two workers there were very excited we came in. They didn't want to be open, but the mall charges $50 an hour if they are closed when the rest of the mall is open. They were excited that we came in because they were bored, and I'm sure it helped that we actually spent money there.

Destination 3b & 3c
Go Games & Food Court
2:00 am

We still had two hours before Sears opened, so we bought two decks of cards (ghastly overpriced at $3.95 a pop) with which to entertain ourselves. We sat in the food court and played several different versions of solitaire.

Megan was not quite as pleased with sitting on the table. She perked up after I fed her though. That marked the first time I nursed in a public eating area--and not the last.

Destination 3d
Panda Express
2:30 am

We were hungry. Chinese food at almost 3 in the morning was surprisingly tasty.

Destination 3e
Bath and Body Works
3:15 am

My sister Sarah works at Bath and Body Works in Fashion Place Mall. There was no way we could be there in the middle of the night, while she was working, and not stop in to say hello. Mom bought a $1.50 hand sanitizer to help Sarah's conversion numbers (converting the number of people who walk into the store into the number of people who actually purchase something--Chris and I didn't help--sorry, Sarah). Mom also took the opportunity to share the story of the large wet spot on her sleeve: Megan had projectile vomited onto her while we were in the food court, enough that we had to get an employee to come over and mop the floor. Mom just had to show off her grandmotherly battle wound.

Destination 4
4:00 am

As I said, I've gone Black Friday several times in my life. Generally, we start by standing in line outside in the freezing cold for about an hour, usually at Shopko or Target. This was nothing like that.

We sat at a table, inside the mall, for about twenty minutes. Then they raised the gate and we were in. Man, we weren't even wearing coats.

We walked in, bought the air compressor, and walked out. Three hours of hanging out for twenty minutes in the store, max.

Destination 5
4:25 am

This is much more what we're used to in terms of Black Friday. The line wrapped around the side of the building and into the parking lot. By the time the doors actually opened, the line was all the way through the parking lot and onto the sidewalk of the next building--the equivalent of about half a block or more.

We were in line for about 35 minutes. The store opened at 5:00. Megan was completely content to be in the wrap, all cozy warm, right until the doors opened and the line started moving. Then she SCREAMED. I wasn't in a great position to nurse her right at the moment, so Mom and I worked together to make her a bottle. I already had a bottle of water ready to go, we just needed to add the formula. So, amidst all the eager shoppers in the line quickly moving into the store, Mom managed to get the formula into the bottle and I got it into Megan's mouth, all while walking at a quick pace to avoid losing our spot and/or potentially getting run over. It was kind of awkward.

But hey, it makes a better story.

Destination 6
6:00 am

We will not go to Walmart for any opening of doors and doorbuster sales. It's deadly. This Walmart, though, was open all night, so there was no major line to crowd in and trample anyone. And we didn't go until after the major doorbusters started, so there was no particular crowd beyond lots of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.

Chris and I bought only one thing--a cabbage patch doll for Megan. That's it. No more. The cashier seemed genuinely confused when we told her that was all. She even asked if we were crazy.

Destination 7
Toys R Us
6:45 am

We figured that almost seven hours after the store opened, it would probably be safe to return. Our two purchases were no longer sitting on the floor, but we did find the exact same items. I recognized the hole in the box. We walked in, bought the stuff, and walked out. Easy peasy. Way better than the madhouse we experienced before.

Destination 8
7:00 am

Shopko had orginally been high on our list of places to visit. Through greater discussion, though, we realized that it was only on our list because that's where we usually go, not because there were any items that were on sale for a particuarly amazing price. There was a Rubik's cube on sale for 40%. Chris has a Rubik's cube collection (note to self: take some pictures and blog about that someday), but his three original, standard 3x3 cubes are getting quite worn out, with stickers fading and falling off and the mechanisms not holding together very well. You can't have a true collection without a good 3x3.

So, we dropped Chris off at the front doors and he went in to find that one thing while Mom, Megan and I waited in the car in the parking lot. We had been awake for more than seven hours at this point, with only one hour of sleep, and I was getting a little cranky. Probably more than a little if you ask Chris's opinion.

Destination 8.5: Home for a four-hour nap. Hooray!

Destination 9
11:30 am

Weren't you just at Shopko, I hear you ask, with nothing to buy? Why, yes. But we went back, this time with me, Mom, Lisa, and Dalton--Chris was still asleep. (Lisa and Mom had actually been out for a while before I joined them, but I'm not sure where all they went.) We wandered the store for quite a while, mostly just to see what was there. Mom found several items on her Christmas shopping list, Lisa found a few things as well, and I found one important present I needed as well as one unplanned purchase for myself: a movie. No surprise there.

Dalton did seem to enjoy himself, though.

Destination 10
1:00 pm

Episode #2 of nursing in public. I know you don't actually care about that.

Destination 11
Big Lots
1:30 pm

Chris met up with us again at Big Lots, and we spent quite a while wandering. The most significant purchase at that store were the presents needed for the gift exchange for my mom's extended family party--the Petty party presents. That's alliterated, don't know you.

At this point in the day, we separated. Mom, Lisa, and Dalton went back home--Lisa needed to clean her house and Mom and Dalton both needed a nap. Chris, Megan and I continued the shopping adventure.

Destination 11.5: Wells Fargo Bank. We had a check hanging out in the car that needed to be deposited.

Destination 11.75: Big Lots again. Chris realized that we had not purchased any wrapping paper, and it was fairly cheap at Big Lots (only $2 per roll). So he headed back in while I stayed outside and changed Megan's diaper in the car. She didn't find that terribly pleasant. It was probably way too cold to be stripping down, even inside the heated car.

Destination 12
Fashion Place Mall
2:45 pm

We draw names for family presents, in both Chris's family and mine. This year it is our turn to buy a present for Craig, Chris's dad. While at Big Lots, I finally had the inspiration for what we should get for him, something that I think he will really enjoy. I just hope no one else received the same inspiration...anyway. Since Christmas is still a month off and I don't want to give anything away, I won't say which store we bought it from. Just know that we went back to the mall.

Destination 13
yes, I really did say 13. yes, we really were shopping ALL DAY.
Sam's Club
3:00 pm

We didn't buy anything here. I didn't even go in. Chris went into the store to look around (we still needed one more Petty party present--that's still alliterated, by the way) while I stayed out in the car to nurse Megan. Episode #3. But it still counts as a destination.

Destination 14
4:00 pm

You may have wondered at some point in all of this crazy shopping that was our Friday where Jane was. In point of fact, we left her in Ogden on Thursday. There was no way she would have survived shopping with us all day, and I had no intention of taking her with us. Chris's parents don't get to hang out with her as much as either of them, or Jane, would like, so we left her with them in Ogden. She had much more fun hanging out with them and having a fun sleepover, and Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed it, too.

But, all good things must come to an end. Janet and Brenda drove down from Ogden while Chris and I drove up from Salt Lake. We met in the employee drop off area right outside Lagoon and made the handoff. Jane made it into our car without even getting out of the car seat.

Destination 14.5 Home again! No nap this time, though. We thought we were done for the day. Well, serves us right for thinking.

Destination 15
holy cow, 15!
6:00 pm

Lisa wanted a new purse, so I went with her. It was only the two of us this time, no kids. We weren't even Christmas shopping. Chris stayed home and played Halo. I'm sure he was quite done with shopping by then.

Destination 16
6:20 pm

No luck on the purse. It's good, though, to go in a store and not buy anything every once in a while, right?

Destination 17
Robert's Crafts
6:45 pm

Lisa is doing a Christmas project with her school class to help them make gifts for their siblings. We were pricing out a few of the necessary items she will need to purchase. In the end, she only bought some string to tie a quilt she is donating to...someone. I missed that part.

Destination 17.5 Home.
Side Adventure:

Yes, it was permanent marker. Yes, it did come off. Don't ask me how. I'm guessing it's because we managed to start scrubbing before the marker had completely dried on her skin. And that was even with pausing to take a few pictures first.

Wannabe Destination 18
Checker Auto Parts
9:05 pm

Dad had purchased a Chilton manual earlier in the day, but it turned out to be the wrong one. Chris and I went out, just the two of us, to try to exchange it for the correct manual. The store was closed.

Real Destination 18
9:15 pm

I guess Chris wasn't actually done shopping. He took us to Walmart, and again we just wandered. We bought a filter for the vacuum and a candybar. Turns out he wanted to hang out with just me, he didn't want to share me anymore. :)

Destination 19

I'm just kidding. We stopped. Finally.

I started writing this post somewhere between destinations 14 and 18. I didn't finish. I worked on it again on Saturday. Didn't finish. Now it's Sunday afternoon, and I'm finally done. It took me longer to post about all that shopping than it did to actually go shopping...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Furkey Tertilizer

The most common question asked of me recently is how things are going being back at work. My typical response: we're getting there. No, I don't have it all figured out yet. Generally, I feel like I'm doing fine, but I am often surprised by how quickly something makes me snap. I'm sure it's a combination of stress and lingering post-pregnancy hormones, but I'm completely fine one moment, then the tiniest thing can bring me close to tears. And if you know me, you'll know I'm not a crier--so that's saying something.

But it's not all bad. We still have our good moments...

Megan fell asleep on Chris's lap. I don't know about you, but this isn't my ideal sleeping position. It doesn't appear to be amazingly comfortable.

It would seem, however, that Megan finds it quite comfortable. She stayed that way even when we moved her into the car seat.

A nasty cough caught hold of Jane last week, so we kept her home from church just to be on the safe side. Chris went to Priesthood while I stayed with the girls, then Chris came home and stayed with them while I went to church to conduct the music in Sacrament meeting and choir. This is what I came home to.

I was kind of jealous.

Jane is all about cows now. I have told this story several times because I think it's funny. Sorry if you've already heard it--but now you have the pictures to go with it!

We drive past a field on our way home from day care. Jane points out the cows and has a lovely conversation with them as we drive on:

"Hi cows! Moo! I go get my cup. Daddy has cup at home. Just a minute. Be right back. I go get my cup. See ya cows! Moo!"

And here is Jane on that same day.

We trade babysitting with the Datwylers so we can each make it to the temple at least once a month. Claire and Linus came to hang out with us for a few hours last Saturday. We




and twirled some more.

It was a fun visit. Even Mark came over to say hello.

Megan pretty much slept through the whole thing.

Saturday was the first time since I've gone back to work that we actually stayed home all weekend. We, thankfully, managed to get a lot of housework done, which needless to say, has been sorely neglected while I've been at school. Most importantly, we got all the laundry done.

Megan pretty much slept through the whole thing. It's what she does.

Well, she's not always asleep.

I'm counting on her to wake me up in time for school when Chris isn't home to make sure I hear the alarm.

Our grand excitement on Sunday was--drum roll please--putting up the Christmas tree.

With the toddler in our house, we have learned to keep the tree up on a table to keep it less toddler-accessible. Chris, in all his clever engineering-ness, devised a way to tie it down.

Pretty stable, huh?

Of course, then we realized that we had started with the middle section of the tree instead of the we started over.

But it worked the second time, too!

Jane kept herself entertained throughout the evening by trying out different headwear. First up, Megan's bow.

Second, a wooden heart-shaped wreath.

Think she has a future in fashion? Or maybe hairstyling?

She was singing Christmas songs, by the way. At least, that's what she told me. I think she was secretly catching up on her Tom Clancy reading. She does call him Grandpa when she looks at the picture on the back cover.

In the end, we didn't put any decorations on the the moment, it's not worth the fight of keeping Jane away. So we have only a nicely-lit tree. It still makes me happy.

Megan pretty much slept through the whole thing.

And here's us...because we were there.

And yes, I promise that Megan really isn't always asleep. She's a cutie.

So, when I'm stressed, I look at my cute family and think of funny stories.

Even when I'm really stressed, already on the verge of tears, with two kids screaming for my attention, all I need to do is think of Furkey Tertilizer and I smile again.