Sunday, December 23, 2012

When in Rome...

So, people, I'm on vacation! I've had limited internet access, and let's face it, I'm in ROME at the moment, so I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time blogging, or really on the internet in general. But today I have a few minutes and access to a computer, so I'll just tell you about my day today. Pictures and stories of the rest of the trip will come later.*

The rest of my family went and saw The Hobbit this afternoon, but I decided to stay behind, in part because my introverted self was needing a little time to stretch her wings, and also because I'm in ROME, and I can see The Hobbit AT HOME. So I grabbed my book, my wallet, and my sunglasses and started walking. And this is what I did:

• wandered through a green shady park, strewn with the occasional remains of a marble column (fenced)
• watched a soccer game between two community teams, played with all the passion and intensity of Italians that you can imagine
• sat on a rock between the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, reading a book and people-watching
• wandered the streets around the Colosseum, watching various street performers and vendors
• ate what I think was a giant donut that was put in a panini grill thing, which was amazing
• was told by an older Italian man that I was "very attractive" and then he told me that "if you were not married, I would offer to sleep together for the last day of the year, for many presents." Uh...thanks? But no thanks. Most of me was annoyed at this, but there was a small part of me that thought "How classic. What a classic Roman experience."
• looked at the Piazza Venezia, all lit up
• sort of stumbled upon the Pantheon in a search for a public restroom

All in all, a good day. Wandering is sometimes the best way to visit a place.

* Remember when I went to New York like, a year and a half ago, and was all "I'll write more about this later!" and then never did? Me too. I'll try not to do that with this trip; in an effort to ensure posting, the trip posts will probably be less ambitious than the New York ones were. And just for the record, I'll probably never post about the rest of the New York trip. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Amaaaaazing Face, How Sweet the Sound*

My sister Beckah has been my best friend for most of my life. When you first meet us, we don't look a lot alike...she's short and has brown hair, brown eyes, and olive skin. I'm average height, with strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, and light skin. There's this certain face we make, though, and we look a LOT like sisters when we do that.

And apparently, NO pictures exist of it on facebook, or I'd post it here.

But anyway, Beckah has always been INCREDIBLY photogenic. She was one of the CUTEST babies you have ever seen, and something about her little face made her picture-perfect.

Now, she hasn't lost that ability, but rather, let's say her facial photo abilities have GROWN since childhood. Because over the last few years, we've noticed that Beckah's face is becoming increasingly...flexible.

Let's start with her eyes. In recent years, Beckah's developed this ability:
How does she DO that? I keep trying, and just end up giving myself a headache.

Okay, second of all, her lips.
Note that in the bottom right-hand picture, Beckah is employing both her lip skills AND her eye skills.

There are also several pictures in which Beckah has arranged her face to appear like she's melting.
The awesomest part about that last picture is that it's actually a part of a "Whittaker photo shoot" from a couple of years ago. Yeah, try getting the Whittakers to be serious for a family photo shoot.

When we saw this picture, we laughed until we cried, and then I made it my desktop background on my laptop.

Anyway, all these things combined lead to the most amazing photo faces EVER. 

See? See? How the heck does she do that? How does she get her face to do these amazing things!? She's so awesome.

But, I guess it runs in the family.

* This is probably the worst joke I've ever made on this blog.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Say it, sister.

Bit of intellectualism here today. Okay, a lot. This is a long entry, but it’s important.

Sooo, an article showed up on Fox News' website today. It was written by a woman named named Suzanne Venker.

And I have a few problems with the article.

But a word of introduction. The thing is, both my husband and I are feminists. (Yes, my HUSBAND and I.) More people are than realize it, I think, but that's because feminism, in this day and age, has many branches. There's a whole spectrum, from men-hating, angry feminists to those who would simply like the genders to be seen more equally. People hear the word "feminism" and just think of one end of the spectrum. But I love men. I think men and women are both valuable. I was raised by strong men and strong women, and continue to be surrounded by them.

To help you see where I'm coming from, Jacob and I's particular tenet of feminism includes these basic ideas:
1. We don't believe in abusing men in order to reclaim the feminine spirit, because we're against the entire idea of abusing anyone, especially on the basis of gender.
2. Women and men may be fundamentally different in a few ways, but they are still equally valuable to society.
3. The "fundamental differences" between men and women are fewer than we'd like to think, and the majority of them are dictated by society and are pretty arbitrary. (Hairy legs doesn't make me "less feminine.")
4. Women are still being objectified in society, to the ultimate harm of society, and it needs to stop.
5. This is getting super-intellectual, but a great deal of sexism is inherent in the bipolar pairings of "male" and "not-male." Society's views are problematic because they often fail to see women as women. They instead just see them as "the thing that's not men."
6. We don't have any problems with what men and women ARE. We have problems with what society says women and men SHOULD BE. 

The rest of my thoughts on the subject will be apparent as I respond to this article. I've included it here in its entirety, with my responses interspersed in blue type. (NOTE: I'm not the only one who has problems with this article. Another strong response can be found here.)


The battle of the sexes is alive and well. According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.

The so-called death of good men (read: marriageable men) has been a hot subject in the media as of late. Much of the coverage has been in response to the fact that for the first time in history, women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce. And yet the national average shows that women still earn only 77% of what men earn doing the same jobs. Women earn less than men across all racial and ethnic groups. Women are still more likely to work stereotypically "feminine jobs" like nursing, teaching, secretary work and housekeeping. They’re also getting most of the college degrees. The problem? This new phenomenon has changed the dance between men and women. So...should women NOT be educated?

As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I’ve spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who’ve told me, in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same.

Women aren’t women anymore. Okay, hang on. Has the rate of hermaphrodite babies increased? 'Cause I might not shave my legs or wear makeup, but if I go to a doctor, she/he will still take a look at me and check the box labeled "female." This is getting into that whole society-defining-gender thing. These men who don't want to get married because "women aren't women anymore" might need to reexamine their definitions of womanhood.

Also, if women aren't women anymore, when were they women? What age of feminine definitions would you like to see society return to?

To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Okay, before I say this, I should note that I know a lot of really great men. In fact, most of them aren't rapists (as far as I know), if not all of them. BUT, let's not forget that somewhere between 1 out of 4 or 5 COLLEGE-AGED women report surviving rape or attempted rape. Since their fourteenth birthday. My freshmen year in college, I sat with a group of 11 or 12 girls talking about this, and I asked if any of them had ever been sexually assaulted. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM RAISED THEIR HANDS. And none of them were assaulted by other women. I recognize the danger of saying "men are the enemy." I don't think it's just men that are the problem...I think it's society in general--what society tells men they should be. But it's still a huge problem. Most men don't realize that the goal of not being assaulted is a part of the average urban woman's DAILY routine. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal Oh, you mean that pedestal that MEN created for THEMSELVES throughout history? (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) Okay, if we're gonna start talking about pedestals, we better really talk about who built them, who put men and women on them, and what they're made of. I'm fine with pedestals when every pedestal is the same height and when they're all made of things like "human beings all have inherent value" and were built by everyone. I know it's tempting to point fingers and accuse feminists of pushing men of their pedestals and destroying women's pedestals and stuff. But if the pedestals that this author is talking about had anything to do with economic laws, employment laws, divorce laws, or the objectification of women, those pedestals were outdated and disenfranchising. and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs. So...what's not rightfully mine, as a woman? The right to own a home? The right to sue if a man at work only offers me a promotion if I show him my boobs? The right to hold a job? The right to vote? The right to be granted a divorce if my husband hits me? Pretty sure those are all things that ARE rightfully mine.

Now the men have nowhere to go. But up.

It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. I'm gonna get a little pretentious-sounding for a moment, but forgive me. Helene Cixous and Jacque Derrida talked a lot about binary pairings in their works. Throughout the world's history, and in many places throughout the world today, the pairing was/is "men good/women bad." Feminism movements within the last 50 - 70 years have sought to challenge this idea. And yes, some of them have been a little radical. I think either pairing is harmful. But written into this statement is an inherent flaw. The author is claiming that the dynamic of women good/men bad has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. But...would restoring things to the men good/women bad dynamic RESTORE the relationship between the sexes? Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. I don't have a specific comeback, but I am just going to point out that this is a hasty generalization.

But what if the death of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is – hold on to your seats – women’s fault? Lemme tell a little story. I'm a student teacher at a high school. At the beginning of the year, I was sitting in on a class and didn't have a chair. One of the young men in the class came and brought me one and someone said, "Thank you, what a gentleman! There aren't enough of those around." A young man quipped, "Maybe the reason so few boys aspire to be gentlemen is because so few girls aspire to be ladylike." Everyone laughed, but then I replied, "But a TRUE gentleman is a gentleman whether a girl is ladylike or not." This story encapsulates so much that I have to say about this claim: "The death of good men is women's fault." I should not be responsible for a man's behavior. I should not have to EARN respect. Good men should be good men because it's the RIGHT THING TO DO, because they want to be good, because it will make the world a better place. I refuse to accept that MY behavior as a woman, good or bad, justifies a man's behavior. And I feel this goes both ways. If a boy doesn't hold a door open for me, I should still treat him politely. (Note: However, if a man attempts to rape me, I think I have every right to defend myself. Just as if a woman attempts to rape a man, he has a right to defend himself.)

You’ll never hear that in the media. All the articles and books (and television programs, for that matter) put women front and center, while men and children sit in the back seat. Do they? Do they really? Let me introduce you to something called the "Bechdel Test." The Bechdel Test was popularized in 1985 by a cartoonist named Alison Bechdel. Here's the test: A film/article/book/tv episode must have: Two women characters with names. Those women must talk to each other. And they must talk to each other about SOMETHING OTHER THAN A MAN. You'd be surprised how many films FAIL this test. At least the ones you've heard of. Some feminists argue that the conversation that's not about a man has to last a full minute or longer, but by those standards, almost NO movies pass. Some movies from 2012 that HAVE passed include: All I Want is Everything, Foreign Letters, Jack and Diane...notably, blockbusters like "The Avengers," while fun movies, totally fail. That doesn't really sound like "putting women front and center" to me. Unless you mean "front and center" in such a way that objectifies women. Then I'll agree that they're "front and center" in the media. But after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. This is just poor grammar. Maybe I'm getting nitpicky, but the subject in this sentence is incredibly unclear. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. So are a lot of women. Tired of being told that they are fundamentally ill-equipped for leadership. That their value is based on their appearance. That they are the weaker vessel, better suited to decoration than use. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

WHAT?!!!?! This whole paragraph is problematic. Okay, first of all—how are men justified, how is ANYONE justified in being pissed off at “the rise of women”? Shouldn't that be CELEBRATED?! Second of all...geez, I don't even know where to go from here. Okay, second of all, the "rise of women" means the world has a more diverse group of people making the decisions, and with all those perspectives, better decisions can be made. No one should feel undermined. Furthermore, there's this idea. What if a woman doesn't get married? Because of whatever reason--lack of opportunity, whatever. As a Mormon woman college student, I felt this conundrum. Do I go to college, knowing my degree will be wasted as I get married to someone who will bring home the bacon? But if I don't get married, I want to be able to provide for myself. But if I get a degree, will men see me as undermining their ability to be the supporter of a family? Luckily, I managed to find and marry a man whose willing to take things as they come--supporting a family will be a responsibility that we share in whatever way works best for us. And that doesn't make him any less of a man.

And regarding that DNA claim, SHOW ME THE EXACT GENE. Show me where that gene is. Show me the gene that is in charge of the desire to provide for and protect their families. THEN, show me the scientific, genetically-based proof that women DON'T have this gene, and then show me the scientific, genetically-based proof that men are inherently BETTER at this than women, and THEN show me why that means women SHOULDN'T be educated or in the workforce.

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever. Wait. I think that's the sexual revolution. Related to feminism, but not the same thing.

It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek. I can accept that women and men will have better, more balanced lives with one another. That’s part of the reason I’m a feminist. But I will not accept that women need men to pick up the slack at the office in order to be happy. I do not accept that “linear career goals” are inherently in men’s natures. I do not accept that asking to join the workforce (especially if a woman is unmarried) dismisses anything about the nature of manhood.

So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

Again, who’s defining this nature? How accurately do these feminine and masculine natures reflect the reality of men and women? This last paragraph rings so false to me. Inherent in it is this implication that if I’m more feminine, I’ll find a husband. As in, if I wear make up more often, if I don’t get an education, if I express no interest in the workforce. But this definition of “feminine” is NOT ME. And ain’t I a woman? If I did these things to snare a husband, I would be doing so under false pretenses. I don’t want to lower my standards in my definitions of a marriageable man in order to find someone to marry. Good men are out there. The marriageable men are those with whom you can be yourself. Not those who will want you more if you wear heels. They can still LIKE it when you wear heels, but it shouldn't be a condition of attraction. 

If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork. And they might be crap husbands since they needed women to fulfill an arbitrary, societally-based definition of gender to feel good about themselves.

*  *  *  *  *

I know I said a lot. And some of it was snarky. But one more word. I feel that this article is disrespectful to and/or ignorant of women's issues throughout the rest of the world. This article seems to be focusing it's attack on a particular branch of "man-hating feminists," but feminism is bigger than that. Before you start pointing fingers at the general world of "feminism," let it continue its work in countries where women can be jailed for reporting rape, where women suffer genital mutilation (or "female circumcision"), where women have no voice and no face. Millions of women throughout the world are still victims of societies that do not place value on them. And I, for one, am proud to align myself with the feminists who are seeking to right these wrongs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The toker

This is why I'm still in love with my husband. Because he says things like this that totally crack me up: 

Jacob was all wrapped up from head to toe in a quilt on our bed, with just his face showing. I came and hugged him, smiled and said, "Aw, you're a cute little burrito!"

He smiled back and replied, "Actually, I'm a roll of weed."

I said, "Like...a joint? You're a joint?"

He smiled and nodded. And then I laughed for a long time. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Take you me for a sponge, my lord?"

Jacob and I had a vision this morning. We want to produce "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." And we want to cast the cast of House MD.

I'll let you think about that awesomeness for a minute.

Okay, now that you've let that percolate for a little bit, here are the specifics.

Hugh Laurie

Robert Sean Leonard

Jesse Spencer

Jennifer Morrison

 Lisa Edelstein

 Michael Weston
(doesn't he look dodgy?)

Peter Jacobson

Omar Epps

Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, Anne Dudek

We don't know if we have enough tragedians, and we don't know which of them will play Alfred. But we kind of don't care. 

Now we're just really sad that this probably won't actually happen. Who knows, though? Anyone have the contact info for the casting folks for House?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's evolution, baby

So I've got this great post forthcoming about my sister's ability to make CRAZY faces in photos, but it's taking a while to put together. So in the meantime, enjoy this series of alarming pictures that highlight the earth's flora, fauna, and phenomena. You may alternate between horror and amazement over the next few seconds.

First of all, doesn't this look like a water dragon?

Well, it's not a water dragon. It's an octopus consuming a seagull.

 And speaking of ocean life, this is what shark scales look like under a microscope:

I think they look like space ships. Made by aliens. Who also make underwater crop circles! J/K, these are made by a Japanese puffer fish:

And speaking of fish, check out the Sarcastic Fringehead!

RAWR! Apparently, these guys are very territorial. (And they also have one of the coolest names ever.)

AND speaking of "territorial," cat got your tongue, or is it Cymothoa exigua? These parasites destroy the tongues of fish and replace them with...well, themselves. 

Doesn't he look smug? Also note the terrifyingly human-like teeth the fish possesses. But he's not the only one. Meet the pacu fish!

But I guess teeth are still kinda scary in humans too. Like when you examine a child's skull before they lose their baby teeth:

But the human body is not all scary! See, look at this high definition super close up of a human eye:

Cool, huh? Oh, and hey, here's what your nervous system looks like:

So after doing this post, I'm realizing that 6 out of the 9 pictures are from the ocean. Apparently, the ocean is freaking awesome. And terrifying. And awesome.

And I tell you what, if there were more fish with names like "sarcastic fringehead," I might MOVE to the ocean.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The thing in the drain

You never realize how much you appreciate long, hot showers in the winter until you can't have them for a few days.

So, our tub has been draining kinda slowly lately. This happens every few months, so we lift up the trap, clean it out a bit and move on. Yesterday, I had the day off from school, so I thought I'd tackle the drain. I cleaned it out, but the water still wasn't draining very well. On to the plunger method! Still not much drainage. Next weapon: baking soda and vinegar! Still not much drainage. Run to Walmart, grab a home pipe-snake and run that! Still slow. Drain-O Gel! STILL slow. If anything, it's gotten SLOWER. We give up and call the landlady, who gets us in contact with a plumber. They run their industrial pipe-snake and...STILL slow. Plumber's acidic drain-cleaner stuff? Nope, still not working.

So as of last night, we had about an inch of standing gunky water that took five hours to drain, and cancerous fumes from the acidic drain-cleaner stuff flowing through the house on a night when it's 15 degrees outside. I mention the temperature because it means we couldn't open the windows for very long. I mean, we DID open the windows, but we left the house for like, two hours. But our shower/tub is out of commission, until at least Monday. At which point, they'll be knocking out a wall to fix the plumbing.

And the thing is that in the summer, I hate showering. It's too hot, and you just have to do it again in a day or two, and it takes time away from being outside. But in the winter, a hot shower is emotionally therapeutic. It says to me, "You will be warm all the time again soon. If not forever, then for these few minutes, you can be warm." I know it's technically still fall, but around here, fall lasts about a month, and it's pretty much winter here now.

Anyway. More later. I'm going to grab my shampoo and run over to my inlaws' house.

image via

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Guys, I never realize how many documentaries I really watch until I do these blogs.

Here are a few educational gems to indulge in, if you've got an hour or so to spare, or want something running in the background while you fold laundry. Happy viewing!

Atlantis: The Evidence
I've watched a lot of documentaries about Atlantis, but this one was the most comprehensive. It took all the historical theories about Atlantis and covered each of them. It's based on the idea that Plato wrote about Atlantis as a cautionary tale against wealth, creating this world from snippets of surrounding cultures. Fun documentary, and a great introduction into the legend.

The Beauty of Maps
There are several parts to this documentary, but I've only watched the first bit about Medieval maps. (I'm not sure if the other bits are available of these days, I'll find 'em and watch 'em.) This first documentary focuses on the Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is one of the oldest complete maps in the world. I hadn't thought about this before, but this documentary caused me to realize that maps don't just give us a location...they give us a world-view. That line "here be dragons" was actually used on a real map. Maps also had a role in "othering" peoples...they could be portrayed as lower class in a map.

Cracking the Maya Code
Okay, first of all, this documentary features this screenshot:

 so, that's fun. Also, linguistics is fascinating. So are the Mayans.

Do We Really Need the Moon? 
Okay, EVERYTHING about our entire existence is tied to the moon. Not just the tides. Heck, if it wasn't for the moon, life on earth might not even exist. You might find yourself looking up every time you go outside at night for a while after watching this. Or wishing you had a telescope. Or both.

Greeks: Crucible of Civilization 
Favorite parts about this? Story of the marathon, and learning more about Socrates. Greece really was the crucible of civilization. Can you imagine how incredible it is that democracy was born? No one had EVER done that in the world the Greeks knew about at the time! Seriously...without a handful of black and white stones on some steps in Athens, the U.S. as we know it probably wouldn't exist. Man, the Greeks were awesome. (Okay, so they didn't treat their women very well, know.) 

Revelation of the Pyramids
You guys. Aliens totally built the pyramids. This documentary PROVES it.
Okay, so it's a little heavy-handed on the conspiracy angle. Interviews are interspersed with these intense image/music sequences. But the math behind this whole pyramid thing is pretty crazy awesome. And I like the parallels with other cultures that it draws.

The Science of Dogs
Okay, besides being fascinating, this documentary also features, for about two minutes, the expertise of a guy named Dr. Morten Kringelbach, which should be reason enough to watch. If that isn't enough for you, you can be drawn in by the interesting history of domestication and how/why dogs seem to communicate so well with human beings.

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive
This is a slightly heavier documentary than those I usually recommend, but it is EXCELLENT. Stephen Fry, that gem of a British entertainer, has suffered from manic depression for most of his life, but has chosen not to be medicated. In this 2-hour documentary, he shares his story and interviews handfuls of others about their experiences with this often misunderstood condition. There are a lot of brave people who deal with the challenges of manic depression, and they are each even more courageous for sharing their stories. I feel that I learned a great deal both about the medicine and the humanity of manic depression.

We the Tiny House People
Have you heard of the Tiny House movement? People moving away from space-wasting/spacious living and finding joy in 400 square feet? There's also a blog about the phenomenon, and I am totally enchanted by it. Jacob and I's current apartment is only about 700 square feet...probably a little less. But I was totally inspired by the simplicity with which the "Tiny House People" live. One aspect of tiny house living that I especially love is its eco-friendly nature. Less space = less stuff, fewer emissions, less electricity, and more alternative energy. Even if you're not inspired to give up all your worldly goods and move into a shed, you may be inspired to go through your home, get rid of a few things and make some changes to smaller living. (Oh, and there's a charming hippie lady who lives on a delightfully colorful houseboat, and there is a part of me that wants her life. And her houseboat.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

Oh hey blogosphere!

Sorry I abandoned you for a while there. I've been student teaching, trying to find a new car (ours finally died), doing graphic design, watching "Bielzy and Gottfried" at BYU-I, helping advertise and usher for Deep Love, and possibly developing lactose intolerance (I know I'm a hypochondriac, but this is for real--testing this week).


I don't really have too much to say now, I just wanted to let you know that I'm alive. OH, and that I won second place in the Idaho Falls Poetry Slam this weekend! It was an honor to be among so many great poets. And I'm excited to spend my $50 gift certificate to a used bookstore. And it made me even more excited about publishing my work this December.

So, I leave you with this delightful screenshot. Jacob and I were looking for this cartoon made in reference to a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, and I just liked the "related" searched that came up.

Oh, and if you're in Utah next week, seriously, go see Deep Love. It will rock your world.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Texts Out of Context

I have a blog-friend who does a series called "Texts Out of Context." I thought it was a great idea, so I thought I'd join in the fun. Here are a few texts from my phone's inbox and outbox of late, with no accompanying explanations.

"Which hose?"

"Its a little...well there's a pelvic examination on stage."

"Thanks Uncle Susan!"
(a few seconds later)
"I mean Liz."

"Arrrrlright. Cabloon me bloomers and fiddle me anchors!"

"I bought some corn from a pirate the other day. It was only a buck an ear."

"You are like a gigantic party in the sky."

"I don't often remember my dreams, but when I do, I remember what the cartoon sheep said." 

"Totally. It's like being naked."

"How is student teaching? Are you teaching drama? Will I like being a teacher? HAVE I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE!?!?"

"I will send you something over the internets tonight when I get home from work that will take your mind off your stupid uterus."

"Win the lottery. Invent something. Rob a bank."

"Lorayne...why? Why are you awake?"

"Was I suffering from amnesia and lost inside an vast underground cavern with magical pokemon like creatures? Cause if so, we had the same dream! - Miss you too, Betty Lou."

"Hey! I love ya! Hope you're doing yoga!"

"Are you zombie walking even in your illness?"

"Ireland will never be free until I can marry my brother."

"Call me back! Or bring duct tape! Just to patch the hole so we can get home."

"Would you...kiss a moose?"

"We accept this proposition. With joy."

"I just used a big marker to grade their tests. Making those big slash marks made me feel a little better. Immature maybe. But it helped."

"Cause there aren't always cops around?"

"This is important. IS YOUR MOM IN TOWN?"

"Yes indeed. The child sleepeth."

"I might have. I don't remember the details. You always have the coolest dreams. Remember that one where sheep were singing about luggage?"

"Oh I am a simple cow living a simple life but sometimes I feel exploited."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life as a hypochondriac

I have a tendency towards anxiety. I could go more deeply into this, but frankly, I'm not brave enough to address that on this blog, so I'll just address one facet of this anxiety.

I have two phobias. One is raccoons (bad experience on a Girl Scout camp-out), and the other is the majority of things that have to do with medicine.

I mean, I TAKE medicine. I'm actually pretty good in a first aid emergency situation. Blood doesn't bother me too much (at least not after being in Macbeth), and I have a decent knowledge of home remedies for the day-to-day ailment.

But now and then, this phobia takes a hold of me and I become an anxiety-ridden MESS. Here's what life is like for a hypochondriac.

You go home a little early from school/work, because you're not feeling well. In a moment of sickly boredom, you visit and discover that there's been a massive meningitis outbreak in the U.S., with cases in Idaho. You are IMMEDIATELY CERTAIN that you have meningitis. Because, even though you only slept like 3 hours last night and that co-worker you spend all day with is still getting over a cold, you are sure that what you're experiencing can only be meningitis. Heck, your neck is even sore! It's been sore for days! Never mind the fact that you definitely slept funny and it's really more like your shoulders that are sore. YOU HAVE MENINGITIS. After tearfully panicking and realizing you don't even have a will written, you scroll down on the CNN news story and discover that it's a rare form of NON-CONTAGIOUS fungal meningitis that is linked to a contaminated batch of injectable steroids. You've never been injected with steroids.

Your lower back has been sore for a little while, and stretching isn't helping, so you log on to that handy hypochondriac's nightmare Have you ever visited this website? Don't. You'll panic. Even if you're NOT a hypochondriac. Anyway, you use the online "symptom checker," and discover that, besides indicating "muscle strain," pain in the lower back can also be a symptom of a ruptured organ (there are several to choose from), several varieties of cancer, and acute kidney failure. Noting that your urine wasn't the purest color the last time you went, you decide to research acute kidney failure a little further, and discover that apparently, acute kidney failure can happen with NO SYMPTOMS. So even if you're feeling totally fine, your kidneys could be failing at any point in time. Acutely.

Children's books like Madeline (wherein that French orphan girl gets appendicitis) and that one Curious George book wherein he swallows a puzzle piece? Those continue to haunt you well into your mid and late twenties. To this day, if I have a slight pain in my side, I think of that stupid orphan girl and her burst appendix.

Any throat pain is immediately a deadly form of strep, or tonsillitis. I actually have had tonsillitis before (remember this? and THIS monstrosity?) and survived it, so I really shouldn't worry. But that trip to the hospital during that episode was NOT something I'd care to repeat.

Anyway. I bring all of this up, because I'm totally getting sick. That meningitis thing up there happened to me today. My throat is KILLING me, but it's just red--no tonsiloliths or white strep patches. And I haven't been injected with steroids, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe from meningitis. I promised my cooperating teacher no sick days, AND tomorrow is the beginning of my unit, so I don't really have time to get sick.

So, like any good hypochondriac would do, I'm signing off to go gargle with Listerine/take vitamins/drink water/sleep/do yoga/take echinacea (how the heck to you spell that?!)/eat a spoonful of honey with cinnamon/eat toast/take a bath.

Wish me luck. 

image via

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chronically under-dressed

I have a friend who confessed once to the blog-o-sphere that she's chronically under-dressed. I remember reading that blog, admiring her wit, and moving on with my life.

However, now that I'm making a foray into the semi-professional world of education, where BYU-I and high school requirements request that I dress more professionally, I'm realizing that I might be chronically under-dressed as well.

I never really thought of this, although in retrospect, Sundays should have given me a clue. I spend every Sunday looking at my closet and trying to figure out what to wear...not necessarily because I'm very picky, but because I just don't own a lot of non-casual things.

Once jeans and t-shirts were out of the picture, I discovered that apparently that's what I've been wearing for the last few years. Without my standard jeans and Harry Potter/band t-shirts, I found that I have approximately 7 outfits to wear to school. I guess I could get more creative with the mixing and matching, but frankly, I AM picky.

I mean, 7 outfits is a decent amount, but when you consider the 5-day school week, that means that after about a week and a half, I have cycle through again. And as much as I would like to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, our two-digit spending amount per week doesn't really permit it.

Which makes the Rexburg Clothing Swap one of the best ideas I've ever had.

(Okay, it wasn't JUST my idea. But I pushed for it to happen.) A friend owns a clothing boutique in town, and she offered to host the event. We made flyers telling people to bring their old clothes tagged at garage sale price, and that night, we spent the evening haggling, trading, and buying. Everyone gets a new wardrobe, and no one has to spend a lot of money. 

My wardrobe is now rounded out with the addition of 7 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, 3 sweaters, and 1 blazer. The total cost? A little under $20. A third world solution to a first world problem.

Seriously, people. Organize a clothing swap. Our leftover clothing items were donated to the local Family Crisis Center. So we all got new clothes, saved money, reduced waste, reduced consumerism, donated to a good cause, and enjoyed one another's company. 

Oh, and I also got this awesome green crushed velvet beaded skirt that someone said "looked like something a drama teacher would wear." I looked up, replied, "Man, I haven't worn something like that since the last time I organized a Ren Faire," and handed over a dollar. I'm gonna wear it to school this week.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Watch this!

Leonardo Da Vinci
I mean, come on. The guy was a GENIUS. You know how he wrote backwards? He actually didn't do that on purpose at first...he was dyslexic, and since he was an illegitimate child, he didn't have access to the education that would teach him otherwise. So in teaching himself to write, he wrote backwards.

Cracking the Color Code
I mentioned this documentary in passing once, but it deserves its own blurb. This fascinating documentary discusses how the brain and the eyes work to see color, the evolutionary and biological reasoning behind the ability to see color, how color is created, and what colors mean from a psychological standpoint.

The Secret Life of the Brain
Man, neuroscience is awesome. I cannot wait for science to figure out more about how this hunk of gray and white matter works. In the meantime, here's almost everything we know about the human brain in layman's terms in four and a half hours. The documentary discusses the human brain through five main stages: babyhood, childhood, teenage years, adult years, and elderly years.

Biology of Dads
Did you know that when a man becomes a father, his testosterone levels drop dramatically? A new dad has less testosterone in the first few months of his baby's life than he did before puberty. It's biology's way of protecting a newborn from the manly and possibly violent urges of men. This documentary covers some soft and hard science regarding the role of fathers in children's lives.

The Human Face
First of all, who wouldn't want to watch a documentary hosted by John Cleese? This four-part documentary covers some of the fascinating psychology and biology of human faces, including the nature of fame and recognition, the nature of "beauty," and how the face can be used to communicate (or lie). 

Secrets of Body Language
We've all heard that communication is way more nonverbal than verbal. Everything from posture to the "microexpressions" our faces make communicate something. This brief documentary addresses all the ways we can communicate without words and analyzes how famous historical figures used body language to their advantage, or disadvantage. 

* On an unrelated note, anyone else think that the guy to the left of the television in that picture up there looks like Lee Harvey Oswald?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things Student Teaching Will Teach You

I've been doing my student teaching for a little over a month now, and I love it. I won't talk much about it here--respecting student privacy and all that--but there are a few key things I've learned that are worth sharing. 

1. Professional clothes take a little getting used to. If you're usually a jeans/t-shirt/cardigan type, like me.
2. You really do have to give instructions like, three times.
3. The ancient Romans were SERIOUSLY messed up people. I mean, brilliant, but...bloody.
4. Your bladder is stronger than you think.

Several readers and family members have asked if I could share some of my experiences as a student teacher here on this blog, similar to the way I shared experiences as a Primary teacher. The sad answer is "no." In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have even posted the Primary kid stories without the permission of their parents. But I wasn't in a legally binding situation then. As a student teacher in a public school, I'm legally obligated and under contract (both with the school district and with BYU-Idaho) to respect student privacy, and by sharing stories in a public forum like this blog, I would be putting my teaching certification at risk. But even legal obligations aside, I'm becoming more and more aware of the power of the internet, and am becoming more careful about what I choose to publish. I've come to respect each of the students I work with enough to not want to publish stories about them. I am keeping a private journal of my experiences, so they are recorded, but sharing them in this forum is something I'll be avoiding.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Things I don't understand about Pinterest

Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest. I spent years resisting it, certain it would be a black hole for my time. (I also have an unreasonable need to go against the crowd, so that was part of my resistance too.) But I finally gave in and got an account, and I was partly right. It IS a black hole for my time, but that black hole actually has a wormhole in it that leads to another dimension that's full of creativity and awesomeness!

But there are things on and about Pinterest that I just don't get.

#1. The constant tutorials for elaborate nail art. 

Exhibit A:

Pretty snazzy. But...who the heck has TIME?! Furthermore, even if you DID have the time, wouldn't you be CONSTANTLY worried about messing your nails up? Especially after spending, what, seven hours on them? And, who would REALLY see them? If your nails are complementing your outfit somehow, if someone is far enough away to see your whole outfit, they sure won't see the details on your nails.

#2. The constant note to "Pin now, read later." 

Because A) isn't that what everyone does ANYWAY? Does anyone really NOT pin something because they don't want to read it RIGHT NOW? B) This seems like a "selling point" on your pins. Which doesn't make ANY sense because you won't make money or anything if more people pin your pins. And if you DO make money on your pins, like, if it directs you to your blog or something, why are you telling people to NOT read it right now? C) If I am going to read the pin right now, what's it to you? Are you trying to do me a favor by telling me when to read this pin?

#3. The fact that things like this get perpetuated: 

What? What? FIRST OF ALL, the fact that the trite saying keeps getting attributed to Shakespeare is alone reason enough for dismay and confusion. But the smug "Yes, it is by Shakespeare, it's from Hamlet" is even worse. In a snarky reply to the above comments, someone added a line that IS from Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2: "But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading." *sigh*

Okay. Back to pinning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Things Found in Books

Short post today. 

I love "found things." Scraps of paper intrigue me. The other day I found a note tucked into one of my own books, speculating on what would happen if birds slept around more. (Which is a really good question, although I don't know how much birds actually sleep around already.) Other things found in books lately:

A pedigree chart for Adolf Hitler (in a book of monologues)
Pro-wrestler trading cards (in a book of trivial knowledge)
Business card for an "Erotic Party" consultant (in a copy of "The Dogs of Babel")

Glorious fabulous realities. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Past lists

Found these two lists in the backlog of drafts. Thought they were worth sharing. 

Winter 2012 highlights
Listening to music and painting during scene painting class.
Giggling with the cast of Enchanted April when things went wrong.
Jamming with Dave and Jacob and sometimes Camilla.
Playing with baby Kaitlynn in the mornings, and her joy at eating.
Talking with Kyrie, Camilla, and Dave for hours over Olive Garden one Saturday night.
Laying in bed with Jacob and watching the Beatles Anthology during the weekends.
Running around at the Dry Farms in the moonlight and the snow, freezing our butts off and falling over every few seconds.
Sitting on the roof outside our bedroom window the few times it was warm enough.
Cuddling with Jacob on lazy Sunday mornings before church. 
The fact that it wasn't super snowy miserable all semester. 

San Francisco August 2012 Trip highlights
Five hours in a science museum with Jacob.
Talking genealogy with Opa and Oma, sifting through records and learning German vocabulary.
Everyone reading together in the living room in Fremont.
Watching Jacob eat the best mango curry he's ever had in San Francisco.
Family get-togethers with hot dogs, rolls, German talking and laughing.
Pic-nic-ing on a river and wading in the water.
Riding a motorboat really fast, pretending to be Harry Potter riding Buckbeak over the lake at Hogwarts.
Naps in our little attic bedroom in a cabin at Lake Tahoe, listening to the rain on the tin roof.
Stargazing with Jacob on the lawn of the Lake Tahoe cabin, talking about books and watching bats fly over.
Scattergories in the evening with parents and grandparents.
Rafting a river, which included getting marooned on a rock under a bridge (and un-marooning ourselves), and being randomly applauded by a small group of people on the shore for having an umbrella.
German tempers. Enough said. (Occasionally exacerbated by hearing loss.)
Walking with Jacob through pinewood neighborhoods of charming cabins and imagining our futures.
Nearly dying of chocolate-covered raisin overdose.
Listening to Steely Dan with Mom, Ray and Jacob as we drove around Emerald Bay.

Good times. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three conversations

Reasons to love being a Whittaker. These chat conversations happened during a group Skype on Saturday:

Talking about how dad raised us well, to not feel limited by our gender:

 Talking about a woman who approached Isha at church about her feminist views:
And my favorite; talking about camel ride excursions from cruise ships: 

I like being a Chapman, but I'm glad I was raised a Whittaker.

Friday, September 14, 2012

December itinerary

photo via

No Christmas presents necessary this year. This will do me just fine.

(Now please bless that things will calm down in the Middle East and North Africa. These are some pretty incredible treasures.) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

26 things: Report

Now that my birthday has passed, it's time to report on my "26 Goals While 26"! On my 27th birthday, 2 goals were retired, 16 were accomplished, 2 were in progress, 6 had yet to be done. Not bad!

1. Personal goal. (Sorry, readers, you don't get in on this one.)
Didn't make it. But we will!

2. Attend a Parson Red Heads show.
Retired. The opportunity just didn't present itself. We were even in Portland! But they weren't playing. It's still a goal, though!

3. Read 26 new books. (Plays, poetry collections and short story collections count if I read the whole thing, cover to cover) 
DONE - Last book finished on Tuesday, May 8th! (I'm going to keep reading books, of course. Check out which ones on goodreads if you're interested. Just click on "reading!" up at the top)

4. Hike Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake.
Never made it!

5. Learn to cook 5 new things (dinner things). 
Completed July 1st. This one has helped me discover that I actually like cooking! When I know what I'm making ahead of time, and have some time, I really like cooking.

6. Finish the current volume of my journal, with more than just notes from Church. 
Final entry written on Saturday, January 29th, 2012. On to Volume #18!

7. Go through the temple for 5 family names.
In progress - 1 out of 5 I'm going to keep working on this one.

8. Learn to ride a motorcycle bigger than 110 cc’s. 
May 19th - 20th: Took the Idaho motorcycle safety course. Learned on a Suzuki GZ 250.

9. Finish writing the first draft of the “Kirby Novel.” 
At 10:17 pm on Monday, November 28th. There's still so much to do that it doesn't feel done, but I'm thrilled to have at least a complete draft!

10. Anonymously pay for a stranger's meal. 
September 5th. I did this at a drive-through! This is cool because it also coincided with my friend Carrie's birthday. She's the one who came up with the "26 Things to Do While 26" thing anyway, and for her birthday, she asked that people do random acts of kindness. Bam.

11. Get a 3.4 GPA each semester. 
Fall semester 2011 - 4.0
Winter semester 2012 - 3.9 (Including an A- in Hyrum Conrad's Directing I class!)

12. Give someone a copy of the Book of Mormon. 
August. This was part of a group effort, and it was awesome.

13. Sleep under the stars.
 I guess you're technically ALWAYS sleeping underneath the stars, but I had intended to do so without a roof in between me and them. Oh well.

14. Travel to someplace I've NEVER been before. 
Weekend of April 14th - 16th, 2012. I'm counting Cannon Beach, Oregon. Because while I've been to Oregon, including the coast, I'm 99.9% sure I've never been to Cannon Beach itself. And I'm not made of money, you know.

15. Go sledding.
RETIRED. There was never a combination of enough snow and time to accomplish this. (Remember this?) Which is AWESOME. This goal had to do with making the most of my least favorite season, but I didn't even have to! Oh global warming, how I love you. (Not really.)

16. Bake a pumpkin pie. 
I've modified this one. Maybe I'll actually make a pumpkin pie someday, but in the meantime, on Sunday, March 25th, I made a apple pie. And it was really good. So I'm counting it.

17. Complete the scrapbook for the trip to Germany my family made in high school. 
Done! As of December 17th, around 10 pm. Just in time for Christmas!

18. Finish the New York City travel diary.
Yeah, that might not get done. Maybe ever.

19. Learn Hindi basics. (I might modify this one...I've been focusing on ASL lately...)
I actually don't really know much more Hindi OR ASL than I did a year ago.

20. Read 5 Shakespeare plays I haven't read before.
In progress - 1 out of 5 Twelfth Night

21. Go horseback riding. 
Friday, Sept. 30th, through the BYU-I Outdoor Resource Center. Sunset ride through Harriman State Park, coming back under the stars and listening to elk call all around.

22. Sew a skirt or dress for myself. 
Ah, heck, I'll count this. I didn't sew a skirt or a dress. But I did modify like, three shirts, and sewed some curtains and some slipcovers for couch cushions.

23. Build an online acting resume. 
Done! As of Friday, May 18th. Check it out.

24. Ride the carousel at Porter Park. 
Wednesday, June 13th. Twice in one day! With Beckah once, and then again with Beckah AND Jacob.

25. Run a mile in under 15 minutes.
I think I might have done this, but I didn't actually time it. I ran/walked a 5K in 25 minutes, so...

26. Make a painting. 
I think this counts. This is my final for scene painting. It's a little rough, but from 30 feet away, it works. And I did it in two and a half hours.

So, this was awesome. I like having goals and I like correlating them with my birthday rather than with the new year. But I found that 26 is a few too many goals to realistically tackle in one year. I love the idea of it, but it also means that I'll have to keep adding goals each year forever. And I don't want to give myself quite so many things to accomplish in one year. So I've decided to modify it and do 15 things each year. As for the goals while I'm 27? Check it out: 

1. Do an street art installation of some kind. Rules: Must be impermanent! No damage to property allowed.
2. Self-publish a book of poetry and sell it (online, local stores, etc.).
3. Complete the T-shirt quilt project that's been languishing in various closets for over ten years.
4. Become a certified secondary school teacher and receive my Bachelor's degree. (which is totally in progress--I love student teaching!)
5. Eliminate red meat from my diet (uuggghhh...I love it so much! I don't even eat that much! Oh, this is going to be hard.)
6. Eliminate the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags (shopping = reusable canvas, trash = biodegradable).
7. Learn to juggle. (Shout-out to Carrie Chapman!)
8. Travel to a place I've never been before, and be cool about it. (Sometimes I suck at traveling...I get stressed out. I want to live life more stress-free anyway!)
9. Do yoga outdoors.
10. Build a bookcase. A sturdy one. One that shall stand for many years. But also be affordable and easily rearranged and transported.
11. Go on a hike. (I didn't hike AT ALL this past year! How silly!)
12. Attend a Parson Redheads show.
13. Do the temple work for at least 5 family names.
14. Complete reading the entire Book of Mormon with Jacob.
15. Go on a spontaneous road trip.

Let it begin. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 8th

Given the date today, I felt for a moment that I should be posting something more solemn or at the very least, more...patriotic? But when thinking back on the events of September 11th, 2001, what I really feel is that we need a lot more kindness in the world. So I have chosen to coincide my report on my "Random Acts of Kindness"-themed birthday with a date that a lot of people need healing on.

I stole this idea from my friend Carrie, and decided to make my own little "Random Act of Kindness" cards to leave as we tried to spread joy around town. I made a few extras to keep in the car/my purse for future clandestine service. And clandestine service? A BLAST. Jacob pointed out that it's kind of like being a criminal, except with no moral get the thrill of doing something secret and sneaky but you don't have to worry about being arrested. I suggested we start a "Random Acts of Kindness" Rehabilitation Group, sort of as a prison-release program. Give people the thrill of a robbery without harming society.

The only challenge we had in the day--besides fitting everything in--was that in Rexburg, we had to leave notes specifying that whoever found an item could keep it. The town ain't perfect, but there are enough people who would just return a found gift card to the service desk instead of using it. =) Those little cards helped, too, I hope.

Wanna hear what we did? Jacob's sister Anna joined us for some of these, and we had a blast running around town together. It took us from 10 am to 6 pm, but it was worth it.

WHAT JACOB AND I DID, or Twenty Seven Random Acts of Kindness/Service to Celebrate My Twenty-Seventh Birthday

1. Recycled (thereby saving the earth, thereby being kind to the entire human race)
We do this all the time, but it's important and we believe in it and it's one of the kindest things you can do for humanity! 
2. Smiled at someone
A little thing, but we made a conscious effort to do this for someone we felt needed it. 
3. Let someone cut in front of us in line
This one was tough for a second...when we got to the front of the store, the lines were tiny! No one was waiting very long. Jacob came up with a solution. He found two guys who were waiting in line and directed them to a check-stand that was open with no one waiting. 
4. Left $1 in the toy section of the dollar store
Tried to do this at eye-level. This was one we definitely had to leave a note with...especially because we WANT kids to learn to return money when they find it laying around. 
5. Supported the local library by buying a book
The library has a little used book store to help its revenue. We will gladly support our community in this way. =)
6. Left two "book testimonies" in books in the library
This was fun. It's a pretty indirect little act of kindness, but I agree with Carrie's reasoning on this one...this is something I would LOVE to find. 
7. Left a $10 Walmart gift card to be found by a lucky person
Left this at the library, next to the DVD's. I see a lot of parents of young children flipping through the DVDs while their kids are looking at books, and I hope a young parent found this. 
8. Taped popcorn to a Redbox
Well, the last one we just handed to a guy at the Redbox. 
9. Left a poem among the nectarines at the grocery store
"First Lesson" by Philip Booth. Jacob was fond of my use of the word "among" when telling people about this act later. 
10. Left a yellow rose on a car in the parking lot
We thought about getting a dozen daisies and leaving them on multiple cars, but we decided to go fancy for one person instead of simple for many. 
11. Cleaned out the family cat's litter box
This one almost didn't work out, because someone had recently done it! We just sort of re-did it. 
12. Took some time to chat with neighborhood kids
This seems like a small one, but it's a pretty big deal for me. Chatting with strangers is really hard for me...I get all tongue-tied and awkward and scared. Jacob's always been a good example of friendliness, and I've tried to emulate him. Taking just those few minutes--sacrificing my comfort to be friendly--felt terrifying and wonderful. 
13. Did some temple work
Our kindness reached beyond this life and into the next! =)
14. Left a mixed CD in a stranger's mailbox
We did this once before for FHE and it was a blast. For a while, we were being really selective about what neighborhood to leave it in, before we decided we should just give it up to the fates and/or let the Lord guide us to the right mailbox. 
15. Left party poppers in a public park
Along with a note saying "Because you're worth celebrating!"
16. Left a good book in a public place to be found
"The Dogs of Babel." It's kinda weird, but I hope whoever finds it enjoys it! 
17. Dropped coins in a children's playground
This one was fun, even though I kept fearing that wary parents would catch us and somehow...get us in trouble?
18. Left an anonymous letter of encouragement on a whiteboard tray for a Sunday School teacher
I was just intending to leave this somewhere random, which I guess I did, but I hope it helped whoever was teaching Sunday School, especially. That can be nerve-wracking. 
19. Taped a joke on the inside of an elevator door
"What's black and white and red all over?" "A penguin with a diaper rash!"
20. Left a self-esteem boosting note on the mirror in a public bathroom
I can't remember exactly what it said, but something to the effect of reminding them that they are beautiful because they are daughters of God, no matter what the world says about them. 
21. Taped quarters to a laundromat washing machine
Self-explanatory. Fun. 
22. Left an anonymous positive comment on a blog
Also discovered some fun blogs in the process! Clicking "Next Blog" up on the top is a fun way to find all kinds of things. 
23. Took time to visit with family
This one goes along with #12. While talking with family isn't scary, I've grown to be selfish with my time, preferring to spend it in my own way instead of just enjoying time with others. Definitely a habit I want to break. 
24. Personally responded to each birthday wish sent to me on facebook
Generally, I just post a mass "Thank You" status for the birthday wishes, but in my continuing efforts to use my time to lift up others, I tried to give a little individual shout-out. 
25. Made and posted a "Welcome Home" sign for Dave and Camilla
They've been married ONE WEEK, and they live around the corner. They got home from their honeymoon on September 9th, so we made 'em a colorful greeting! 
26. Donated 1000 grains of rice through
Have you heard of this website? From the site: "Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme. Freerice has two goals: Provide education to everyone for free. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site." You basically go on the site, pick a subject, then answer test questions. For every question you get right, the site uses advertising/sponsor funds to purchase 10 grains of rice. So awesome. So I quizzed myself on Art History while feeding people in need! How cool is that? 
27. Gave a loan to a young woman in Bolivia to fund her purchase of a photocopy machine for her bookstore, through
I can't remember how I discovered this website, but I think it's a great idea. Kiva is a non-profit group that orchestrates microfinancing all over the world. It is a loan, so you do get paid back, and your money provides opportunities for those in need. On the website, you can search for individuals and causes by attribute, such as gender, Conflict Zones, Vulnerable Groups, Youth, and Green. I was thrilled to help someone in Bolivia, since that's where my dad served his mission! And I'm always for furthering the cause of women anywhere in the world.  

You all were so awesome and inspiring! Many of you let me know that you joined in without giving specifics, so just know that these are just a few of the things you shared.

- helped an elderly lady at the grocery store reach something she couldn't
- drove a rent check over to the landlord's house (because the wrong address MIGHT have been written on it...)
- gave a homeless man some money 
- did a roommate's dishes
- helped a girl carry groceries out to her car
- bought peach cobbler that supported the Mental Health Association of Utah (double win there...)
- gave some food to a homeless man with a sign
- held the door open (with a carseat + 20lb. baby in arm) for a woman walking with a cane
- babysat four kids for a lady whose husband is a firefighter and whom she hadn't seen in over a week
- paid for a friend who couldn't when a group went out to dinner after stake conference
- volunteered at the temple and tried to help, smile, and talk to everyone who passed
- sat next to a girl who was sitting alone in a meeting
- anonymously left flowers on a stranger's car
- paid for the person behind in line at the entrance to a National Park
- dropped money off at a ticket office, with instructions to pay for the next person's ticket
- kissed some guy out of pity (Ha ha! This is one of my favorites! )

All in all, it was a pretty great birthday. Service, family, and in the evening, cake and ice cream with our friends the Taits. At the end of the day, I was reminded that when it comes right down to it, we don't really need any more "stuff." Family members got me some chocolate and a few little things, but I couldn't think of any material thing I really needed this year, and that fact alone is enough cause for humble gratitude and a world of 7 billion people, there aren't nearly enough who can say that all their material needs are met. So with that in mind, I'm so grateful that Carrie for her Random-Acts-of-Kindness-themed birthday, which inspired me to have my own! I'm so grateful for all that you guys did. 

One little ripple can grow into a wave. I like to think our collective ripple of kindness is still going round the world.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Birthday Wishlist

 I am stealing this from my friend Carrie. Because it seems awesome. 

My birthday is on Saturday (the 8th), and here's what I want for my birthday. 

I want YOU to do one random act of kindness in honor of my birthday and then tell me about it. Leave me a comment on the blog, send me an e-mail, tell me on facebook if we're friends. 

I'll be doing some random acts of kindness of my own on that day, so between all of us, we might do some minor world-changing on Saturday.