Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Good Old Days, Episode II

Some more oft-told Sweet family lore.  This second installment begins eerily similar to the first.

See also:
Episode I
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V

--------------------------------------
That time my mom went out of town and my dad forgot to feed the horses for three days. He only realized his mistake when my mom called to ask how her ponies were doing. He sprinted outside, threw them some hay, then told her, "They were hungry."

That time Annie and I were pulling faces at the car behind us on a long road trip and they flagged my parents down. We thought we were busted, but it turns out they were just letting us know that all our clothes had blown off the roof of the car. That's what you get for strapping duffel bags onto a Volvo and then driving 60 miles an hour into the wind. You'd think my parents would have learned their lesson, after spending an hour chasing underwear all over the interstate, but ten years later the same exact thing happened somewhere outside of Elko, NV. 

That time Corinne was babysitting, the people's dog diarrhead all over the house, and the only way she could think of to clean it up involved A) a brown paper bag and B) a spoon. 

That time Annie passed out, fell down a flight of stairs, had a seizure, then slid down another flight of stairs while Corinne and I laughed hysterically. My mom had called her to dinner which was met with a cheerful, "Okay!" coming from upstairs, followed by a series of loud thumps, two clonks, and a thud. By the time we ran to the staircase and realized what had happened she was waking up, attempting to lift her head, and blinking confusedly on the landing. It was the subsequent seizing that sent her sliding down the second half of the staircase. My mom was on her own for the catching, because Corinne and I were rolling on the floor. (Turns out Annie was fine. She'd just stood up too quickly and blacked out at the most inopportune moment.)

How "sex" was a bad word in our house, and that time my dad angrily hollered, "WHAT'S THIS RATED???" when someone said "sex" in a video. A church-released video. That we were watching for Family Home Evening. 

That ill-fated family trip to a Virginia ski hill aptly named "Massanutten". Firstly, my parents scored a free night's stay there plus two ski passes as a result of going to some sales presentation, yet my dad still wouldn't spring for a couple more passes so the whole family could ski together. Instead, he took us out on the hill one at a time while everyone else sat brooding in the lodge for hours. Secondly, I very nearly died that day. A handful of sad snow-making machines plus a hundred-thousand skiers turned the hill into a perilous block of ice. Oblivious to the danger, I pointed my skis straight downhill and pumped my little sticks as fast as I could. I must have been going at least eighty miles an hour when I hit a pothole and went reeling. People were leaping out of my way left and right as I careened all the way down the hillside and eventually slid to a stop at the entrance to the ski lift. My dad caught up a minute later (holding both of my skis), and, judging from my poor, contorted, limp body, assumed I was maimed for life. Somehow I was unscathed. Last time I ever went skiing, though. 

That time Annie was 100% positive that the words to a certain Disney song said, "Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the dest!", and her unwillingness to back down even long after her position on the issue had been invalidated by her sisters.

The day my mom discovered our hidden stash of poop and fart jokes.  Her world was rattled. ("How could my sweet, precious little girls be so crude??")

The first time my mom ever said "crap". That vile word she refused to allow in her house. That word that caused her the deepest sorrow when one of her kids used it. That word that cost us a whole quarter every time we uttered it. She finally embraced it the day our ailing dog, Sadie, had an abdominal explosion all over the house. "THAT DOG CRAPPED EVERYWHERE!!!!" *gasp* "Mom! You said 'crap'!" "SHE DID CRAP! SHE CRAPPED EVERYWHERE! THERE IS NO OTHER WORD TO DESCRIBE WHAT THAT DOG DID TO MY HOUSE!!!!" One of the best moments of my life, for sure, a close second being when she finally gave in to the word "freaking." 

How Annie didn't want to grow up because she was afraid of heights.

That time Corinne and I saw what can only be described as a shell-less burn-victim turtle skittering at breakneck speed across a fire-scorched stretch of interstate. We both saw it. We both screamed bloody murder. Neither of us can explain it.

That time Corinne discovered something grisly in her recently-extracted-wisdom-tooth socket. She explained to me with no small measure of disgust that the doctor had apparently left a strip of hamburgered skin hanging out of the wound. Two days later I asked her if it was still there and she casually replied, "Oh, it was just food."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'M UNEMPLOYED!!

And quitting yesterday morning was the best thing I ever did. I'm not going to hash out all the details on my public blog, but let's just say the job didn't work out. Luckily I cut my losses early and can move on to bigger and better things. I'm totally and completely assured in my decision - a far cry from my panicky and emotional weekend when I realized I'd made a mistake (ask Jon. It was very panicky and emotional). There are better things on the horizon and I don't have to compromise. And that's all there is to say about that.

I've had a lot of time on my hands lately, some of which I've spent taking innumerable pictures of Penny, some of which I've spent teaching her to roll over (cutest thing EVERRR, yes I took a video, no I'm not posting it), some of which I've spent with her at the dog park,  and some of which I've spent improving my domesticity.

 So fresh and so clean. And sleepy.


 Introspective.


....Yikes. Should I get that eye looked at?

Had the dog park all to ourselves one day.


On the subject of being domestic. It's high time I remind you all about THIS RECIPE. I posted it on my blog back when my mom was my only reader and it's one of my favorite things ever to eat. I made it the other day and thought I should repost the recipe. MAKE IT NOW.


Then two days ago I made PUMPKIN AND EFFING COCONUT SOUP from this recipe (thanks, Lianna!). Definitely the best soup I've ever made, and I have made at least two soups.

And look at me, all grown up and going to the grocery store all by myself! Check out the produce bags at my local super Walmart; have you ever seen anything more obscene???


It went all the way up to my armpit. Perfect for really, really long cucumbers and also for examining cow colons. (I don't typically wear flip flops for anything other than taking Penny outside but you should SEE the blister on the back of my left foot. I don't even know if you can call it a blister at this point - it's definitely more of a seeping, dime-sized cavity. That's what I get for wearing shoes to work.)

Finally, speaking of taking Penny outside, and the reason why I'm writing this blog post well past my bedtime. I started hearing some helicopter activity around ten which is a common occurrence and no cause for alarm. Then, as I turned on the bathroom faucet to wash my face, I heard police officers screaming into megaphones to COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. So, of course, I sprinted, SPRINTED for my phone. Unfortunately, by the time I was rolling footage, all the megaphoning was finished, but I think I still captured the essence of the moment when there were at least three helicopters encircling my building. Three cheers for Phoenix!




Thus, I'm never going outside again. If Penny can learn to roll over, she can learn to use the toilet.

Who wants to visit????

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'M EMPLOYED!!

For the first time in two years! The job search went so much better than I ever could have hoped. I've only really been looking for two weeks, have had several interviews, and even turned down a couple of offers. Then, on Monday I met with a woman at a counseling office, today I went back in for a "follow-up" wherein she offered me the job, and I start tomorrow!

It's 8-5 Monday through Friday and sounds like a really great opportunity. The only downside is that there are no insurance benefits, but fortunately I'll be making enough money to have us insured privately instead.  The position is reception and administrative support with lots of potential to advance fairly quickly.  I'm very pleased.

Luckily, we were in a place that I could be a little bit picky and I didn't feel like I had to take the first thing that came along. Which was a HUGE blessing, but try telling that to my nerves. I've been a little bit of an anxious wreck during this whole process and am so glad to finally have something to do to fill my days other than hitting "refresh" on job listing sites and fretting about interviews.

And that's my news. OH - and how terrible am I? I'm not nervous at all about starting my new job, but I'm completely torn up over leaving Penny at home during the day. Millions of people do it, and I used to work full time in Tucson with Jon always on the road, so it's not like it's a new concept. But it still makes me sad. And then I think about working parents, of CHILDREN, and I can't even imagine how I'd feel if she were a human being. I'm the lamest person I know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pre-Hallowe'en Treat

I don't think it's possible for you to love this picture even half as much as I do, but you can sure try.


[Insert blood-curdling scream here]


Still have the scar from those stitches, btw:


Fortunately, the swelling has since gone down.

(And there isn't a cool story of how the injury happened. I tripped on a toy and fell face first onto another toy. Thanks a lot, hands.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I want my money back

[phone conversation]
Me: I made Banoffee the other day.
Annie: Huh?
Me: Banoffee.
Annie: .....what did you say?
Me: Banoffee.
Annie: Ga-nocky? Oooooh, gnocchi.
Me: No. Banoffee. Like banana-toffee. Banoffee.

Apparently it's a staple in the UK and catching on in the US. I followed this recipe, and the entire thing was sort of a disaster. First of all, the girl's recommendation for turning Eagle Brand milk into carmel? Yeah, the day I want molten carmel and twisted metal exploding in my face is the day I'll boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk on my stovetop. I did a little research on alternate methods and went for the instructions listed on Eagle Brand's website: "Just empty into a saucepan, heat and stir!" Another website confirmed this method, explaining it would take between ten and fifteen minutes before it turned to carmel.

LIARS!!!!!!!!!!!

I heated and stirred until my arm ached. Then I kept heating and stirring until my silicon spatula tore in half. Then I switched to a wooden spoon and kept heating and stirring until I'd heated and stirred for THIRTY MINUTES - at one point thinking maybe it needed to boil? Even though the websites said nothing about boiling it? - before it finally turned into something slightly darker and more viscous than warm sweetened condensed milk. I killed the heat and stowed it in the fridge, turning my attention to the whipped cream topping (which turned out very nicely).

Checking every few minutes on my carmel, I realized it was hardening exponentially faster than it was cooling. By the time it was touchable, it was cement. I could not have even chipped it out with Maria Shriver's face.

Two days later my bananas were nearing their end, so I reattempted. This time I tried the microwave method for turning Eagle Brand milk into carmel. It only partially worked, and created an overwhelming, sticky mess in my microwave when it boiled over (no one warned me that THAT was a possibility).

By now my whipped cream, which had been sitting in the fridge for two days, wasn't looking so fluffy. Trying to liven it up with the handmixer, I brought it dangerously close to butter. As in, there were a few yellow-tinged chunks sitting atop my pie once it was all assembled.

The good news, though, is that it was delicious. I totally ate two pieces of it, before the bananas dissolved into inedible mush.

The bad news is that I'll never make it, or anything else, ever again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I Will Never Book Travel through Expedia Ever Again, and Why You Should Very Seriously Consider Doing the Same :)


During our move down to Phoenix we planned to stay a night in Page, Arizona. We searched Expedia for dog-friendly hotels and booked a room in advance at the Best Western ArizonaInn. When we arrived after a long day of driving, however, we were informed by the front desk that dogs, in fact, were not allowed at that hotel. Jon then spoke with an Expedia customer service agent who was properly chagrinned at the mistake on their website and did her best to find us an alternative. This process took over an hour, since hardly any hotels in Page accept pets and of the ones that did, none had any availability on such short notice. Finally a room was located, we were promised a $50 Expedia voucher for our trouble, and the call was transferred to Days Inn whereupon we quickly learned that fifty bucks would not cover the difference between the two hotels.

I turned to Twitter and explained what had happened followed by, "Not good enough, Expedia, not good enough." Within an hour I had a response from an Expedia representative, and we began communicating via direct message to get to the bottom of the issue.

Expedia: "Thanks for responding, we've sent your case to our service team and they'll be in touch with you once they've finished review."

Two days later a rep called Jon to ask some clarifying questions. The conclusion to that conversation was that they would send our information along to the people who handle that sort of thing. That last sentence is important; go read it again.

Eight days later, we hadn't heard back. So I sent a direct message to Expedia that said, "It's been over a week and I haven't heard back on anything yet. Did I get forgotten? :("

To which they replied, wait for it, "My team says they were able to reach you by phone on 9/22. Was there something they were following up on for you?"

I had been patient until then, but now I was irritated. There had been NO resolution in the phone call between Jon and the customer service representative. It was suddenly clear that they were just shuffling the case around, no one wanting to address it,  and somewhere along the way we'd been forgotten.

I replied, "They called us to ask some clarifying questions, but there was no conclusion. They said they would 'pass along the information to the people who handle these cases'".

Expedia's response: "Thanks for letting us know. I'll re-escalate this for you and our team will be in touch tomorrow morning."

That was on October 1st. On October 4th, I wrote, "Hi. No one called me the next morning."

To which they replied, "We tried calling Sunday morning and left a voicemail".

Now, I'm not saying they're liars, but neither Jon nor I had any missed calls or voicemails from Expedia until later that day when an agent named Kristine called while I was interviewing for a job and left me a message saying something to the effect of, WAIT FOR IT, "I already spoke with your husband on September 22. You should talk to him."

I DID TALK TO HIM!!!!! HE IS MY HUSBAND!!! AND THERE WAS NO RESOLUTION TO THAT PHONE CALL!!!!!!!! YOU SAID YOU WERE PASSING THE CASE OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT IS NOT A CONCLUSION!!!!!!!!!!!!

And to further fan the flames of my anger, the number she left for me to call was a voicemail-only line. Meaning I could call and leave a message, and then she could take up to 24 hours to respond (which she certainly did. Each time).

So a full day after I left a message on her machine, she called again. This time I was in the shower. She laughed in her message that we were playing "phone tag" and reminded me to call and leave her another message. Of course we're playing phone tag, I HAVE to leave messages every time I call. I have no other choice. I cannot call and speak to a human, only a machine. That is the way your system is designed.

And the most aggravating of all. It was as though it had never occurred to her that perhaps she had caught me at a bad time and that she could try again a little while later. No. If I missed her call, I had to call back, leave another voicemail, and wait the full 24 hours again. I'm sure the reason for the voicemail-only line is because that department is just so busy, and to that I say NO WONDER. Your system is so ineffective and your people so unaccountable that it takes weeks for each issue to be resolved. Of course the cases pile up.

Then, after her first two attempts (when I was in a job interview and the shower, respectively), she quit calling me back altogether. Today I left my third message in a row with no response.

So like I said, this story has no conclusion. It's now been 26 days since they screwed up our hotel reservations, and they've simply quit communicating with me. Well, THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO THEY ARE MESSING WITH HERE. I have many tens of people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter! Including my mother (not sure about my dad) and siblings! That is some serious relevancy! We will not stand for this!


*****EDITED TO ADD*****
Today, Kristine called me back, apologized, and said she'd work with her manager to figure out how to compensate us for the trouble. I told her I'm not looking for week's free stay in Maui, I just think that at the very least they should cover the entire difference between the two hotels. Obviously I'll update if/when I ever hear back.

*****EDITED TO ADD****
A few days later, Kristine called back and told me there was nothing more she could do for me. Expedia = *fart noise*

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Conversation I Wish I'd Had, Circa October 2004

Me: Hi! I'm your downstairs neighbor.
Woman: ..Uhh...hi?
Me: No, no, I don't think you understand. I'm the neighbor that you reported yesterday because my music was "blaring".
Woman: Oh, right. Well my baby was napping so yes, I reported you.
Me: Yeah, it was an interesting phone call. When management made contact, my roommate and I were sure they had the wrong apartment, since we didn't think we were playing any music at all.
Woman: Well--
Me: Excuse me DON'T interrupt me. When management called, you see, we were quite confused. We couldn't hear a thing. But they insisted that we were "blasting" music and making it impossible for babies everywhere to sleep. So we, my roommate and I, decided to investigate. A trip into the bedroom revealed that one of us had, indeed, accidentally left the radio on, playing so quietly that once we vacated to the living room it was completely forgotten.
Woman: Well, there must be a vent connecting the rooms, or something, because it was really making a lot of noise.
Me: Hey, you know what else makes a lot of noise?
Woman: .....What?
Me: Your stupid baby screaming at all hours of the night, that's what.
Woman: E-e-excuse me?
Me: You heard me. So tomorrow, when you hear a slight sound coming from my apartment during naptime, you just keep in mind all the times I've awoken at 3am to the blood-curdling and interminable shrieks of your little banshee.
Woman: [starts to cry]
Me: I said GOOD DAY.


You always think of the best responses seven years later.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Family Video

The. THEEE family video. There is only one. (Thank goodness my uncle gave us excerpts of his footage from Christmas 1989, otherwise there would be ZERO family videos.) This summer I looked into having it converted from VHS to digital, but there was no one in Rexburg to do it for me so I had to improvise. One day I'll actually have it done the real way, but I had a fear of this tape being lost forever and I figured a sorry copy is better than no copy.  I hope we can still be friends.

The video takes place at my Grandma and Grandpa Dalby's house in Logan, Utah. I had just turned four, Annie was six, Corinne was eight. In only five minutes and twenty-five seconds, it effectively sums up our childhood sisterly dynamic - Corinne in charge, Annie and I doing what's required to stay in her good graces. (The only thing that's missing is a whole lot of screaming and crying.)

I added subtitles for the best parts and the ones that might be hard to hear. Watch it full-screen so they're easier to read. My absolute favorite moment is Annie at the very end.





Sunday, October 02, 2011

How Jon Kills a Shower Spider

Jon: How am I supposed to kill this thing?
Me: Just get a shoe and kill it.
Jon: [shudder] I think I'll drown it in shampoo. [proceeds to drown it in shampoo]
Me: ...is it dead yet?
Jon: I don't think so. [waits thirty seconds, then turns on the water to rinse it down the drain. The shampoo rinses away but the spider is stuck to the floor of the tub.]
Me: ...is it dead?
Jon: I don't think so. His legs are still moving, see?
Me: But how do you know it's not the water making his legs move?
Jon: .........................................................it might be the water.

fin