Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I felt betrayed. I felt the sorrow of a lost loved one. I felt a member of our family, one with the heart of a champion, had been torn from us. Jeff says it's better this way--that a clean break is better--no long, drawn-out good byes. No crying and carrying on about why it has to be this way. And then I ask him if he remembers how The Black Bullet took us just weeks ago to Arizona and back, "And this is how we repay the years of tireless service, the abuse without complaint, the performance with nary a need for maintenance? What if I start getting old, huh? What will you do with me?"
It's at this point he rolls his eyes. "Amber, there is another college student who needs her now. Her time with us is past."
Anyway, so I wrote a tribute to my car. I loved that car.
Subtotals: The Black Bullet
Number of miles traveled: 225,803. Number of owners: 4. Number of make-outs witnessed: 18. Number of seatbelts: 5. Number of cigarette burns: 9. Number of rips in leather, major: 5; minor: 11. Number of times being barfed on: 5. Number of car seats held: 3. Number of blow-outs: 0. Number of flats: 4. Number of jumps, received: 3; given: 10. Number of new batteries: 2. Number of times being hotwired: 0. Number of scratches in paint: 38. Number of emotional breakdowns witnessed: 12. Number of blizzards driven through: 29. Number of thunderstorms driven through: 74. Number of umbrellas in trunk: 1. Number of insects in grill, currently: 8; total: 78, 654. Number of times being cursed at: 3. Number of near-death experiences: 5. Number of animals hit: 4. Number of deer seen: 36. Number of trips to Idaho: 41. Number of cross-country trips: 0. Number of funerals driven to: 9. Number of trips to the grocery store: 672. Number of babies carried: 18. Number of washes: 177. Number of faces pressed upon the windows: 10. Number of suitcases carried: 224. Number of times sold: 4. Number of broken windows: 1. Number of French fries under driver’s seat: 2. Number of curbs driven upon: 49. Number of times anti-lock brakes engaged: 3. Number of times airbag deployed: 0. Number of states visited: 6. Number of garages lived in: 7. Number of times horn was honked: 106. Number of times shifted into reverse while rolling forward: 1. Number of times driven with gas door open: 2. Number of left turns: 22, 044. Number of wrong turns: 340. Number of witnessed nose pickings: 54. Number of preset buttons on radio: 8. Number of confessions heard: 16. Number of CDs played: 336. Number of times stranded on side of road: 0. Number of times being pulled over: 10. Number on license plate: 581. Number of doors: 4. Number of windows: 7. Number of mirrors: 3. Number of years on the road: 17.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It was family picture time, and we got some good ones! I'm just sending you a spoiler here, because I don't want to ruin the Christmas card surprises...because I know they're such great surprises. Anyway, if you don't think I have your address to send you a card, shoot me off an e-mail so I can get one to you!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Melissa, our lovely chef and hostess with the mostest,
My Aunt and Uncle in Lake Havasu City
Whoopie! Video Games!
And, of course, FOOD!
And...watching the crazy shenanigans of Austin and Chris.
And not to mention the things we didn't get pictures of...like our impromptu dance party, or the marathon Rock Band playing, or me...doing my homework. That last one wasn't the best. But everything else was! We even got to visit Jeff's cousin in St. George on our way home. Awesome! Thanks to everyone who made it a wonderful, memorable Thanksgiving! We know we have a lot to be thankful for, especially family and friends.
Monday, November 17, 2008
They've become reclusive and quiet lately, rarely leaving the house. Their lights are burning at all hours of the night and it seems the occupants never sleep. During the few occasions where the family has been seen in daylight they seem pale, with dark and sunken eyes. Neighbors are fearing the worst--they've sold their souls to education and bureaucracy.
Friday, November 14, 2008
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure how to rate this book...it is not for the faint of heart or impatient. The real merit here lies in the literary moves: Joyce's almost obsessive metaphors, symbolisms and styles. At times the content is crude, and usually the plot is convoluted, forcing strict attention from the reader. Overall, a magnificent, highly self-aware epic.
View all my reviews.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Yesterday Elaina and Carter came home with "I Voted!" stickers on their shirts because at Lindon Elementary, the kids decided the elections were unfair. They didn't understand why parents got to vote and they didn't. So, they held elections of their own, and were allowed the opportunity to experience a semblance of democracy in action.
"You got to vote? Really?" I asked.
"Yeah!" They replied, stickers brandished.
"So, who did you vote for?"
Elaina quickly piped, "I voted for McCain."
"Why?" I wanted to see if they were truly informed voters.
"Because," she immediately and matter-of-factly replied, "He has a woman vice president."
"Carter, who did you vote for?"
His answer was so loud and enthusiastic it startled me. "BARACK OBAMA!!!"
"Okay," I laughed, "why?"
Sunday, October 12, 2008
In many ways we're so much alike...
In other ways, we're very different. Melissa is so glam and fabulous and I'm so...not.
It's all the similarities and differences that make friendship so wonderful, isn't it? I'm thinking of Melissa and all of you who might read my blog with all of your individual personalities, and all the things that make your friendships valuable to me, and I'm just grateful. So grateful!
Thanks for coming to visit, Melissa! Here's to good times and good friends!
Monday, October 6, 2008
I entered an essay for Shoes.com, describing which super powers I would grant my shoes, if only I could. It's kind of silly but hey- I was chosen as runner-up and won a gift certificate! So guess what, ladies? I'm buyin' me a new pair of shoes!
Read it here: http://www.shoes.com/content.aspx?contentid=editor
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Up to this point, I had been running a little (all on a treadmill, all at the gym and only 2-3 miles in a go). After this point, I determined to try and run a 5k. So, I kept running, registered for the Strawberry Days 5k in Pleasant Grove, and pushed myself a little harder at the gym. Jeff ran the race with me and we both came in around the middle (beating out the senior citizens and the people with baby joggers--yeah!) and it was around this time I started getting to know Kay. I mentioned to Kay that I wanted to start running (like, really running) and she offered to be my running partner. We were a little unevenly matched, she the Arabian purebred and I, Ol' Glue Stick from the pasture.
Kay is very patient.
She pushed me through the summer to prepare for the Provo River Half Marathon. We completed the race in fairly good time (for me, not her!) and I was amazed, even while running, that I was able to run so far. Afterward she asked, "So, a marathon next summer?" And a year ago next Saturday, we ran the St. George marathon together.
...at like 3 in the morning!
It was freezing last year. We wore pants and jackets up to the starting line, where they had bonfires and hot cocoa.
I wasn't sure if Kay would want to run the whole thing with me, since it was my first time and I was so much slower. But, in her words, "We train together, we run together!" And I love her for that!
This is mile 21? 23?, where we finally saw Jeff and smiled for some pictures.
In the last mile of the race, Kay kept saying, "It's just around this corner. The finish line is just around the corner." So we finally rounded the corner, and WAAAAY down the street was the finish line. That was the hardest distance of the marathon for me; the last quarter of a mile.
Kay and I have a million inside jokes, now that we've gone so many miles together. I never could have done this without her. She was the best coach/motivation/friend.
I thought maybe I'd cry when I finished- but I didn't. I was just happy- and pretty tired. I wore my medal for the next two days.
P.S. Kay is running St. George next weekend and hoping to qualify for Boston. Good Luck, Kay!!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It all started out August 22nd at Jeff's niece's wedding luncheon. They had those little snack bags with, among other things, orangey, cheesy, delicious, crunchy Cheetos. I'm not talking about those puffy, air-filled ones. I'm talking about the stelagtite-shaped, crispy-crunchy ones. So, I grabbed a bag with my lunch.
Mmmm...nom, nom, nom.
I quickly found that one bag was simply not sufficient. For, I wasn't even a quarter of the way through my meal and my Cheetos were gone. So, seeing the supply was plenty, I grabbed another. Elaina, wishing to be done with her meal and not having touched her Cheetos yet was for the first time ever, relieved from having to finish everything she'd dished up for herself. Bag #3 was just as wonderful as its predecessors. Bag #4 was procured by similar methods, donated by one of my newly favorited nieces. Ah, my stack of shiny, orange bags with Chester Cheetah grinning up at me. Ah, sweet cheesy fingertips, stained in reminder of my snack.
But I am NOT addicted. They were just really, really good and I haven't had them in a really, really long time.
Next, I was flying to San Diego. For me, as soon as the plane starts taxiing, I start thinking about my snack and my drink. Really, come on. It's the only diversion I have in there. I'm waiting and waiting for my bag of nuts or perhaps a cookie, when the lady sitting next to me (who took my window seat, but I was an adult and didn't give her a hard time about it) produces from her handbag a huge, family-sized bag of Cheetos. So I, from the aisle, watch as she takes each cheesy, crunchy walking-stick-looking snack from her enormous bag and munches them throughout the flight.
Cruel, nasty window-seat-stealng...
Weeks later, there is a carnival at the kids' elementary school and they have, oh yes- Cheetos in little, snack-sized bags. However at this venue, quantities are monitored and the kids weren't so gracious. So what was I to do when, as I was walking through the aisles at Costco, there was a gigantic orange bag of seemingly bottomless Cheetos? What was I to do?
I'll tell you what I did- I bought them for the first time in my life! I bought chips which, besides the tortilla varieties, I never do. And then, I sat on the front porch with my friend Chelsy and we ate them. Not all of them, but many. And every day since I have eaten many more.
The other day Elaina spotted me with my beloved bag and, raising it in the air, she put her hand on her hip. "Mom," she said in a very disappointed tone.
"What?" I asked, defensively.
She just looked at me, shaking her head. "Are you addicted?"
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Let me start instead with the final definition, namely, an education based on the “traditional arts and sciences” or liberal arts. These include the study of arts, literature, languages, mathematics, science, history and philosophy. As a language and literature girl, I don’t see the value of mathematics in any education, but that’s another subject for another day. Based on this definition of the word “liberal,” do these things have place in a conservative environment? Is there value in science, in history, in philosophy and yes, even math? I should hope that the answer to this question, particularly in light of this definition, is yes.
Another definition of the word “liberal” has to do with attitudes supporting reform and progress. I would wager that, within this explanation is the very essence of
For me, perhaps what is most defining in terms of my exposure to a “liberal” education on this campus is as it is presented in quantifiable terms. Namely, as liberal is defined as “giving freely” or “generous in amount.” I see a “liberal” education as one that tries to answer the questions, fill in the gaps, find holes in knowledge accepted and perhaps taken for granted. Does it mean that I accept everything I am taught? Of course not. No one here would. But the education is there, in all forms, for me to choose or not. In this definition of a “liberal” education, there are opportunities for expanded knowledge. There is an environment for critical thinking, for adding to established knowledge and perhaps making a contribution to various fields of research.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities defines a liberal education thus: “Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.”
Most often, when confronted with the term, “liberal,” there are other definitions that we place upon it. The political notions of progressiveness are sometimes the first and most readily-associated, contrary to many of the definitions we’ve encountered here. Often the term in itself can call to mind a certain way of thinking, a certain pedagogy that many, in this local climate of conservativism, might approach with caution. Likewise, those labeled “conservative” are often pitted against these liberal notions- forcing some kind of opposition, a line drawn in the sand where one is either of the liberal camp or the conservative one. Really, the fact that these labels exist at all should, within the definition and aims of a “liberal” education, be troubling.
I, myself, can identify with many of the views shared by so-named conservatives. However, I have also learned, as I have studied out the implications of the word “liberal,” that I’m not entirely comfortable being placed in a position opposing it, either. In fact, as I have attended
So now, let’s return to our original question, namely, what is the value of a “liberal” education on a “conservative” campus? Let’s remove these formerly-held labels that I have discussed, which deal in preconceptions and misconceptions. Let’s not limit one another, or the campus in general, to the supposed terms of reductive identities, and let’s allow one another to move freely about, questioning the validity and legitimacy of either and all arguments, ideals and traditions.
It should also be the concern of students and educators, in all facets of this argument to consider the implications of a “liberal” education, or one in which critical thinking, question and inquiry are championed. You could say a “liberal” education fosters an atmosphere in which students are challenged, where boundaries are reconsidered, and where beliefs are examined. It is important to notice that I use the words “challenged,” and “questioned,” and not such words as “belittled” or “threatened.” I don’t believe that inquiry has to threaten beliefs or traditions, to destroy any previously-held ideals, in order to be challenging.
I will conclude with what a “liberal” education, as I have come to understand it and as I have experienced it here on UVU’s campus, has been for me. I have received liberal, or generous helpings of viewpoints and attitudes, beliefs and ideals. I have been taught to examine them critically and to sort through them in order to discover my own answers and sets of truth within them. I have been taught to find my footing in an atmosphere that fosters development, social responsibility and, to quote the AACU, “strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.”
When we remove labels, notions of “us” versus “them” or “attackers” versus “the attacked,” when we strip away such reductive and destructive behaviors, education can take place. A true and truly “liberal” education can take place.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Before this, I thought giving talks in church were intimidating...
Over the summer, one of my professors wrote to me, asking if I would participate with her and a few other faculty members on a panel for the Ethics Awareness Conference that UVU holds each year on campus. This is where dignitaries, faculty, community members and students come to hear presentations which would raise our ethical awareness. Our panel was to address the very loaded question, "What is the value of a 'liberal' education on a 'conservative' campus?"
So, for our panel, Dr. Anderson presented first, followed by Dr. Wager, who was followed by Dr. Hamblin, and then (not Dr.) me. Intimidating? Uh, yeah! I gave my 10-minute presentation and then the floor was open to students, faculty and other audience members to engage in some Q&A. In the end, you'd have to ask someone who was there how it went, but I felt pretty good about it. I also fielded some questions and have lived to tell the tale.
Anyway, it was a good experience and best of all, is over! Phew!
(Picture coutesy of UVU's Department of Ethics and Values.)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
We also went sailing on the bay, and I spent a day at the spa. If I didn't miss my kiddos so dang much, it would be hard to come home after a trip like that.
Oh- and now that I'm back, I'm dropping my French class! Thanks to all of you and your sound advise, I have the strength to say "no"! Hooray!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
As many of you know, our house has been a "halfway house" of sorts for family members since we moved in about four years ago. We've had brothers, sisters, cousins friends and married couples staying with us continuously from the beginning. Well, for the past few weeks we've had Jeff's brother Jeremy and his wife living here and wouldn't you know- as soon as they get all moved in, they find a new apartment. So it looks as though, starting this weekend, we won't have any tenants. It will be so strange and quiet around here.
So, if anyone is planning a trip to Utah, make sure you stop on in and help us fill the new void in our lives. We're really excited to see Joe and Melissa in October!!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I've got a full course load and a dilemma. I was hoping for some advise from you, trusted blog friends. So, up until a few days ago, I was registered for 13 credits, three of them belonging to an Intro. to Art class that I've always wanted to take, just for fun. I could have used these credits toward anything I wanted, upper or lower division. Well then, I get an e-mail from my French professor. She is trying to build the French program at UV, and part of that is the dream of having a French minor available. Long story short, enrollment to these crucial classes is down and she came asking me to take 2050, Advanced French Grammars and Culture Studies. So, I dropped the art class and registered for French. However, I went to the class today, and I'm pretty overwhelmed. I haven't had French for nine months, and this is upper-level and pretty rough. It's also unnecessary. I don't need it to graduate, and I do need my GPA to stay up. But my dropping the class would mean the whole class could be dropped from the schedule, effecting the rest of the students in that class and the whole French program.
What to do? What would you do?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Elaina and Carter have been SO ready for school to start. I, on the other hand, feel totally blindsided. The summer went too fast, and suddenly the first day of school is already upon us? Unreal. But they looked so cute, marching to the bus stop in their new duds. That was one of my favorite things about the first day of school: shiny, new tennis shoes that nearly blinded people when in direct sunlight. I also remember going back-to-school shopping with my mom, and her nearly dying when I told her I wanted some $20 jeans. She said that was outrageous. (Never mind the going rate for Guess jeans in those days- it would have sent her over the edge!)
So tell me: what are some of your memories from elementary school? Any first-day traditions when you were growing up, or great stories from those young, impressionable years? I'd love to hear them!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
For the past few nights Jeff and I have stayed up until around one and two o'clock in the morning, watching all the events we can (at that hour, it's been volleyball!). He'll even bring in the laptop and we'll watch the events we missed during the day on nbc.com.
Now, for anyone who may have been watching last night, perhaps you caught the women's team gymnastics event. Coming into it, China was favored to win the gold. These girls, some of them rumored to be underage, have practically been trained since fetuses to be flippin', twirlin', balancing machines. So, enter Team USA. They're feisty and adorable, just putting everything out there, trying to beat China. NO pressure. So Alicia Sacramone, amid the pressure of perfection, falls on her balance beam routine. Trying to shake off the disappointment she obviously felt with herself, Alicia tries to find a moment to herself, tries to pull it together before her next event, and the cameras just won't get off of her.
So, long story short, the team is rattled and makes some mistakes afterward, but still does well and earns the silver medal. Now, there were two things I have to wonder afterward:
#1: since when was earning a silver medal in the Olympics such a terrible thing that the media was tearing this team to shreds afterward?
#2: at what point does the NBC reporter who interviewed Alicia afterward, think that enough punches to the gut are enough? With questions like, "Your team was obviously let down after that fall. How does that make you feel?" and "So, you know that fall may have cost your team the gold, how will you ever be able to look at yourself in the mirror ever again?" By the end of the interview, Alicia was, rightly, in tears, and I was so furious at that reporter I could have decked her. Leave her alone!
What was awesome was that after the medals ceremony, that same reporter then had a go at the whole team. She starts firing away at Alicia again, but this time the team defended her, backed her up, and Shawn Johnson reminded us that, after all, they did win a silver at the Olympics- something to be very proud of.
Someone should have that reporter interview the men's gymnastics team. Watching their enthusiasm and triumph brought me to tears. I'd like to see someone tell them not to be proud of their bronze medals.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Now, for a moment of randomness, do any of you have cleaning/household tips you would like to share? I'm always open to new ones! For example, "boiling water in the microwave before attempting to clean it makes the job WAY easier!" Any others?
Sunday, August 3, 2008
We even rope poor, unsuspecting victims into playing along. But come on- by the end, everyone's playing their hearts out and singing at the top of their lungs. If you've never experienced the magic of Rock Band, come on over! We're always looking for band members.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I've had three bumper crops this year. First, my strawberries came on with a vengeance. I made jam, pies, shakes and smoothies, and still they kept coming! They're done now, but still spreading, attempting a hostile takeover of the garden as a whole. However, they have some rivals in their garden domination. The second picture is mint. What do I do with so much of it? I grew it so I could have it for this delicious drink my mom always used to make- but now it's out of control. Any mint recipes? I also have lots and lots of squash now, too. Now if you also find yourselves in the position of being over-gourded, contact your local Extension office. The Utah County Extension office in Provo provided me with a whole book of just zucchini recipes!
Confession time. I've been slacking like crazy on my blog lately- and I have two main excuses. #1- we just returned from the North Carolina coast from a Watson family reunion (pictures to follow shortly). #2- I went to a luncheon with some friends and all anyone there talked about, the whole time, was the Twilight books! After that, I decided it was ridiculous that I'm the only woman in the world who hasn't read them, so I borrowed them from a friend and read. In short, the house has gone to shambles, the dishes have gone undone, and my assignments have been neglected as I've blitzed the first three books. This is the way I read. I pick it up, and I don't put it down 'till it's done.
So, with this confession on the table, I would like to hear what you guys have to say about the first three books, pending the 4th release- what? This weekend? What have you guys thought of the books? And if you haven't read them, what are your reasons?- because I had a list.
And looking at this picture, I'm like "wait a minute- didn't Edward have blond hair?" Is that just me? And what's with the lipstick?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
...and I'm including this one because it's cool.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Alright, it's game time!
A few of my blogging friends have started this game, and it's been so much fun to read theirs, that I thought I would start one, too. All you have to do is leave a message with your best/funniest/most awesome memories of me! And then, you start the same game on your blog, and I respond to yours! It's a way to take a nice stroll down memory lane, and dredge up some embarrassing moments, all at the same time!
And okay, none of the children in this picture are me. It's just such a fabulous picture, I had to use it here. It's my older brother Keith, and my little sisters Kimberly and Gina. If any of these people actually blogged, maybe they could have a say in the usage of their pictures!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Carter: "Mom, can I have that lighter and unrestricted access to the fireworks so I can do with them what I may?"
Me: "Ah, no."
We were blessed to celebrate our nation's independence with many family members and friends, and the Cul-de-sac of Fire we do with our neighbors did not disappoint. I love our country and reverence those men and women who fought to make it free.
Monday, July 7, 2008
For a few years running, we have a tradition with some of our very good friends, the Laws family. We get up at 6:00 in the morning on the 3rd of July and pull our tired, tired kiddos out of bed to drive down to Provo. Then, as the sun is just rising over the mountains, we can watch the hot air balloon festival, where bunches of hot air balloons rise, then try to float back to hit targets. Then, afterwards, we hit Mimi's Cafe for breakfast. I always get their creamy hot chocolate and honey bran muffin. They also have omelettes that are to die for!