Monday, November 22, 2010

Pedo, Thanksgiving, SD, Mom, and Other Rambling Thoughts...

I'm tired of being alone.

Ryan left last Saturday, November 13th, to fly across the country and the ocean for a series of pedo interviews.

On Sunday and Monday, he interviewed in Denver, Colorado.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, he interviewed in Honolulu, Hawaii.

On Thursday and Friday, he interviewed in Salt Lake City, Utah.

And now he is a Pocatello, Idaho, enjoying a few days with his family...until tomorrow night, when we will meet up in Denver, I will give him a big smooch, and we will spend the Thanksgiving weekend with my Pops and my Sisters.

I can't wait.

I get lonesome without Ryan around.  And I'm cold at night.

Eventually, Ryan is going to have to "rank" all of these pedo options.  He will put together a list of his top choice programs, and the programs will put together a list of their top choice applicants, and then a computer will "match" us (hopefully) to a wonderful place where we will spend the next two years of our lives.  I say "hopefully" because there's no guarantee he will get accepted anywhere, let alone at one of his top choice programs.  But I think he's quite darling and very delightful...smart and fun too...so hopefully those interviewers will agree with me.

On a completely unrelated note, I got an email from my dad this morning outlining his plans for the holiday weekend.  The subject line was "Funnest."  (This is a frequent one-word declaration made by the Westover girls when we are excited about something.)  I decided that I will paste the email here, which a few interjected translations of my father's lingo:

"As you know, Little Pal* is here now, so SD** is happy.  He will get even happier over the next couple of days.  
               *Little Pal=Laura, my little sister who is actually 23
                    **SD=Dad's nickname for himself.  It stands for "Super Dad."

A few things I'd like to do while we're all together.  I'm sure you'll have some to add:

1.  Set up Christmas tree and maybe a few other decorations - Thursday morning.

2.  Thanksgiving dinner is at 2 or 3 on Thursday.  It will probably be just our family and the Oldsters***.  I'd like to have a little Thanksgiving devotional-like thing with them.  Nothing elaborate.  I have a scripture I like (Psalm 100 a/k/a The Thanksgiving Psalm) that we could read and discuss, and then everyone could just mention something or a few things they are thankful for.  I'm open to any other ideas about this.
              ***The Oldsters=My wrinkly, wonderful grandparents

3.  Harry Potter movie.  Perhaps Thursday evening, leaving Buddy Man**** asleep with the Oldsters?
              ****Buddy Man=My older sister's son, Callum

4.  "Christmas morning" on Friday morning, since we won't be together in December

5.  Temple session on Saturday morning.  I'll have to round up a sitter for Buddy Man.

6.  Cafe Rio, of course. 

Can't wait to see everyone!

P.S. Yes, of course there is a Slave Girl***** list, but it's very short.  There may also be a Slave Boy****** list, including helping me get a new TV.  Old Faithful******* is acting up again."
            *****Slave Girls=His daughters
              ******Slave Boys=His sons-in-law
              Side note:  He actually writes "Slave Girl List" at the top of my to-do list when I come home to visit him.  A clerk at a store saw it once and said, "Wow...your boss thinks very highly of you."  I responded, "Actually, it's my dad."  Ha!
              *******Old Faithful=Dad's ghetto TV that he's had for 25 years

His email made me smile.  It also made me remember a similar email, sent eight years ago.  During my first semester of college, I was feeling pretty stressed and homesick right before the Thanksgiving break, and my mom sent me an encouraging email explaining all of the fun things she had planned for my long weekend:


"Rachel:  I am sorry that you are having such a hard time. Hang in there!  We are so excited for you to come home! The number one thing you need to do is SLEEP, and the number two thing is RELAX!!!!!! I want to think of some fun things to do while you're here, since Dad will be around and so we don't end up wasting the weekend. Here are some ideas I thought of:


-Melting Pot?
-Make some kind of treats or Christmas items for your Relief Society sisters?
-Movie?.....I have no idea what's out there, since I only go to movies with
my daughters
-Skiing?
-Sleeping
-Relaxing
-Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's
-More sleeping
-More relaxing

I'll keep trying to think of ideas. Do you have any ideas? We are wide
open for suggestions!

WE LOVE YOU! TRY NOT TO STRESS OUT TOO MUCH! Don't forget to sleep, take your vitamins, exercise, pray, and breathe deeply! :)

Love, Big Mama"


You may be wondering how I am quoting from an eight-year-old email.  Well, this morning, I went into my old email account, went back into the history, and found the email.

As I read her words, my heart ached a little.  I miss her more than I even know.

But then I remembered that I still have someone who sends me encouraging emails: my dad.  And the more I thought about that, the more grateful I became.

I've written and talked about my mom a lot...most people know all about my mom...but I haven't shared enough about my amazing father.

This is the man who I called earlier this week on the way to school, and when he asked how I was doing, I broke down sobbing.   "Why can't I have a baby?"  I blubbered into the phone, and he just listened and told me he loves me and told me he's sorry that everything is difficult right now.

My dad knows the update on every fertility treatment and every doctor's consultation.  Not many dads would know that stuff...and actually, I doubt he would know that stuff if my mom were still alive.  But since she's not, he has stepped in and been there for his girls in every way.

He sends us care packages for holidays.  He sends us flowers on the first day of our new school years (we're all teachers).  He spoils us and even takes us shopping when he comes for a visit.  (He dozes on the couch outside the dressing room while we pick something out.)  He really is "Super Dad."

And I get to see him tomorrow night.

I have a lot to be grateful for.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I love them. I really do.

Meet the Daytons:


In this photo (taken at a recent Halloween party), they are dressed up as Ammon and one of King Lamoni's sheep.  The Book of Mormon includes the story of Ammon, a Nephite missionary and shepherd to the Lamanite king.  When robbers come and try to steal the king's sheep, Ammon cuts off all of their arms.  (Hence the arm that Adrian is holding in the photo.)

Obviously, this gruesome tale is one of the Dayton's three-year-old son's favorites.

Meet Taylor:


I recently babysat this cute little blondie, and he told me that he wanted to play "Hamon."  I wasn't sure what he meant, until he came at me with a styrofoam sword and pretended to visciously chop off my arms. 

When we reversed roles--he was the robber; I was Ammon--he somehow got all of the sheep (which were actually pillows) out of the pasture despite my best efforts to chop off his arms.  Why is it that the styrofoam blade is effective on my arms but not his?

I absolutely adore little Taylor.  He is hilarious and so smart.  Apparently, the other day, after Natalie got off the phone with me, Taylor asked, "Mom, who were you talking to?" 

"Rachel."

He paused for a moment and then said, "I love her.  I really do."

Ha!  That absolutely made my day.

We have so many wonderful friends in Buffalo who let me play with their children, invite me to dinner when Ryan is out of town, and listen to me vent about life when it's stressful.  How did I get so lucky to have such great friends?

I love them.  I really do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I am a he-she.

Little known fact about me:  I have one less rib than most human beings.

This anomaly is due to a serious spine surgery I had when I was eleven years old.  My rib was used to replace the cartilage between my vertebrae, and then my spine was fused with a rod and several large screws.

But I digress.

As a teenager, I always thought that because I have 23 ribs instead of 24, I was practically a man.  After all, God took one of Adam's ribs in order to make Eve, right?  I had heard that, as a result of that divine act, all men have one fewer rib than women do.  Which would explain a lot about me: low voice, flat chest, total inability to craft.

Years later, I was quite disappointed to discover that men and women do in fact have the same number of ribs.

I guess I'm a woman after all.

Or so I thought.

One of the lovely revelations of my fertility tests is that I have an excessive amount of testosterone coursing through my body.

Awesome!

When I told my little sister the good news, she burst into raucous laughter and asked, "Why did they tell you that?  Did they just want to give you a complex for the rest of your life, or is there something they can do to fix it?"

I assured her that there is something they can do to fix it: prescribe me a steroid to take twenty days out of the month.  Now, not only am I a manly woman, I am a chubby manly woman.  Most women gain twenty pounds when they are pregnant; I've gained twenty pounds trying to get pregnant.

Double awesome!

Anyway, the other day I had to meet with my fertility doc to discuss different options for treatment.  My body is no longer responding to the medicines I've been taking, so we're changing to a different drug.

"Does this mean I get to stop taking the steriod?"  I asked hopefully.

He looked at my chart.  "No," he answered simply.  "With testosterone levels this high, you definitely need to keep taking it with the new drug."

With testosterone levels this high??!!  What is that supposed to mean?

I left the office with his disturbing words ringing in my ears and contacted my friend, Rachel Shaw, who is a whiz with hair.

I needed to feel like a woman.

Rachel curled every strand and poofed and bobbypinned and hairsprayed.  Then I went to the mall and entered Sephora for the first time ever (are you proud of me, Laura?) and bought some eyeshadow and blush.

Then Ryan and I went to a formal dinner/dance put on by the Alumni of the Dental School.  I got to hang out with a few of my fun girlfriends, Candice and Rozannah, while Ryan got to hang out with their husbands, Ezra and Chris.



Ryan and I got Shirley Temples, and the bartenders laughed at us.


It was a fun night, and wearing patterned nylons, heels, and a fancy hairdo, I almost forgot that I am a he-she.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do you want to eat more veggies?


I'm not a fan of vegetables.  Never have been.  We didn't eat a lot of vegetables in my house growing up; we ate baby carrots, frozen corn (which I hear is a grain, not a vegetable), frozen peas, canned green beans, and an occasional salad...but that's about it.

It's one of my life goals to learn how to prepare delicious vegetables--to teach myself (and my future kids) to like veggies.

Luckily for me, another English teacher at my school, Kristen, is incredibly devoted to health and fitness.  She is amazing!  She is a teeny tiny little thing, but she is also super buff and can lift some serious weights.  

I often ask her questions about nutrition, and I recently asked her to start a weekly post on her health/fitness blog of easy, "non-scary" vegetable recipes.  She agreed!

I think she will be posting an easy veggie recipe every week in my honor (she actually titled the series "Rachel's Recipes"), and I've promised her that I will try them all.  If you'd like to join me in the quest to eat more veggies, check out Kristen's blog here.

In the mean time, do you have any easy, delicious, nutritious vegetable recipes that you are willing to share with me?  If so, post the recipe in the comments or email me.  I promise I'll give each recipe a try.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quest for the Caramel Apple

I used to be way into Halloween.  I mean way.

In middle and high school, my best friend Lizzy and I always came up with elaborate costumes and wore them to school.  One year, we were Patsy and the King from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Another year, she made me a fabulous Marge Simpson outfit complete with yellow skin and a huge blue wig.  (She is an artist/seamstress.)  We planned the costumes for weeks and always did something crazy on Halloween night.

In college, I decked out my apartment in decorations and demanded that my roommates plan an annual "Halloween date" with me, even if none of us had boyfriends.  My junior year, I actually did have a boyfriend:


The evening included carving pumpkins, a mummy wrap race, bubbling potion to drink, etc.  Very dorky and fun.  And of course, I wore a Halloween costume all day, even in college.

Well I'm sad to admit it, but for the past few years, I have been a total Halloween fud.  I haven't decorated the house, carved pumpkins, or even thought about Halloween until basically the day of.

I blame teaching.  Honestly, when I expend so much energy trying to be creative for my students (yes, I do decorate my classroom for holidays and wear random costumes for lessons), I don't have any energy left to be fun for myself.

Thank goodness some of our friends in Buffalo, the Evans, force us to have a little Halloween spirit each year.  They host an annual costume party with spooky food, great company, and perhaps best of all...homemade caramel apples as prizes for the costume contest!

These caramel apples are like nothing you have ever seen before: Huge, crisp, green apples enrobed in rich caramel and chocolate, rolled in a variety of candies.  Some applies are rolled in crushed Oreos; others are rolled in crushed Reeses Pieces; some are rolled in crushed Snickers.  Are you salivating yet??

The first year, we arrived at the party as Harry Potter and Hermione.  Though people liked our costume, we didn't win a prize, and I watched in dismay as other colorful characters walked away with the coveted caramel apples.


The second year, I was determined not to miss out.  Ryan threw together this Alice in Wonderland ensemble, and, due to his creativity, I was the happy recipient of an Evans Decadent Apple.


This year, we waited until the very last minute, and, with only two hours until the party, we still had not come up with costumes.  Dreams of a divine apple fading away, I desperately searched through our drawers and found my Chinese silk pajamas. With the addition of a red robe for a kimono, a black knee-high nylon for a hair knot, poster board for a rice picker hat, several black pipe cleaner for mustaches, and black eyeliner for temporary "soul patches," we were back in business.



The competition was stiff, but we ended up with an award: Coolest Costumes.  A Twix caramel apple was ours to be devoured.  [Insert "The Hallelujah Chorus."]  Pure bliss.

Thanks, Evans, not just for the apple--mostly for the amazingly fun Halloween tradition!