Friday, October 24, 2008

American Tim Tam Slam

Since it's been close to four years since I was living Down Under, I haven't had a Tim Tam Slam in a long time.  With wanting a warm drink and cookie dessert one Sunday evening, I came up with this nice little recipe:
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 or 2 chunks (equal to 1 or 2 spoonfuls) of Milo that you can scrape off from the solid mass that is left from a few years ago
  • 1 heaping spoonful of dark Belgian hot chocolate mix
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk
  • One chocolate chip cookie, warmed up in the microwave for somewhere between 10-15 seconds, depending upon your microwave
Pour water over Milo chunks in mug.  Stir for about 20 seconds to make sure all chunks are dissolved.  Add heaping spoonful of hot chocolate mix and stir in.  Then add just enough milk to top off the mug (about 1 to 2 tablespoons).  Dip the warm chocolate chip cook in the hot Milo/chocolate drink, and let it almost start to dissolve before pulling it out and taking a sumptuous bite.  Then drink in chocolate-ty goodness.  Repeat the previous two steps until finished.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

PIcture Tag! If You're Reading This, You're IT!

The rules of the game: go to your "Pictures" Folder and take the fourth picture from your fourth folder and post it; then write a little bit about it--it's fun!

As for the picture above.....really it's from my fifth folder "Bryce Canyon", and it's actually not even the fourth picture, but it's probably my favorite picture from our little jaunt throughout Bryce.  (My fourth folder has only three pictures of me counting coins....a once favorite pastime of my childhood).  That's Shelley Barrett, a good friend and past roommate, Christy my sister, and moi.  A much more talented and knowledgeable photographer used my little digital camera to take this picture through a natural tunnel on the Peek-a-Boo Loop trail.  Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

We also stopped by Zion's on our trip this past April--we were taking our own spring break--and thus the picture below from Weeping Rock.  It's not raining in the background, that's just the drippy waterfall from the weeping rock.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Pebble in a Pond

Recently, much news has begun to swirl around us, giving us bits and pieces surrounding the upcoming Proposition 8 voting to be held in California.

While I am not always the fondest the Wikipedia, it seems to have the most brief, straightforward and complete explanation of the reason for Proposition 8, and I found it very helpful in understanding the reason for the issue at hand.  Click here for that link.

As a Latter-day Saint, when I was first given news about all of this, my thoughts first turned to the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, where it states "that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."  This statement--as well as the entire Proclamation--are principles that I believe in.  At there is a link to the Proclamation, as well as links to the LDS Church's official stance on the issue.

Following my thought process, my first stance was that I should support those voting for Proposition 8.  But, then I thought,  was it intolerant and unfair to those who had chosen another lifestyle?  What if my choice didn't pass--was it really so bad to let marriage be defined in another way if the only thing to happen would be the change of the definition?

While at first it seems that there are no ramifications, other than the actual definition and recognition of marriage to be between a husband and wife, the passing or non-passing of Proposition 8 will generate ripples that will be felt hereafter.

If Proposition 8 does not pass, marriage will be defined as a union between two persons.  To ensure that there is equality for same gender unions, rights of free speech and actions based on religious beliefs will be challenged in the arena of public policy.  This may* happen in:
  • Churches.  Religious institutions may be banned from actions based on their doctrines or beliefs to ensure equality for same gender unions, and will thus lose government support or tax benefits if not following suit.  This may happen with church operated adoption agencies that will be required to allow adoptions for same-gender couples; performance of same-gender marriages will be required to happen in churches and other sacred sites; the teaching and preaching of doctrines that do not condone same-gender relationships will be seen as a violation of equality, and may be banned.
  • Schools.  Public education will most likely be required to include a curriculum that equates heterosexual and homosexual marriages and relationships, and will be taught in public schools.  Student religious organizations that do not allow same-gender beliefs or members will lose their campus recognition and benefits; universities will lose their accreditation if they do not provide married housing to same-sex couples.
If Proposition 8 does pass, marriage will be defined as a union between a man and a woman.  Domestic partnerships and civil unions (same-sex couples) will still have the same rights and marriage-related benefits.  Religious and educational institutions will still be able to teach doctrines, principles, and ideas, along with receiving the same support from government as they have in the past.

From a moral standpoint, I also believe that the Proposition will have a far-reaching effect on our children, and thus the future of all on this earth.  Research has concluded that children raised in a home with a mother and a father are given the best and opportunity for becoming socially adjusted, developing their own identity, and understanding their gender identity.  Just another thing to consider in the mix of all of this.

A more thorough look at the issue is in place before one votes.  I have found the following websites--for, against, or neutral--on Proposition 8 to be helpful in understanding the issue from legitimate sources.

Each site has additional links, articles, and sources of information.

*States in the United States and countries within the European Union where marriage has been redefined as a union between two partners have already taken steps in their governments to enforce equality of same-sex unions in religious and educational arenas, as cited in "The Divine Institution of Marriage" news release on 13 August 2008 at the LDS Church's website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Are you his mom?

Ummmm, no.  Not even close.  

When a boy befriended one of the boys that I work with at my residential treatment center, they came over to me to ask permission if they could begin the corn maze (we were at Thanksgiving Point enjoying the multiplicity of corn maze activities they have they aren't even mazes).  With only about 20 minutes left before we were going to gather up and leave, I told them that we wouldn't have time for the big maze, but that they could try the kiddie maze, and then we were all going home to have dinner.  Thus proceeded the question about whether I was his mom.

While totally warranted by my explanation that we were going home to have dinner, I felt unhip...maybe I really am getting wrinkles and the few white hairs I have really are showing through?  Do I really look that old?

But, when we got back into the car, the boys wanted to listen to my iPod, so that made me feel hip least I have cool music to teenage boys, for however old I am.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Odds and Ends

This weekend is General Conference, and on Friday night I was worried that I might miss it.  With Christy and I moving into the lovely new town home she bought, we weren't so sure how long our grace period for free cable would be.  However, when we plugged in the TV last night to see if we could catch some of the BYU vs. USU football game, we quickly had a little set-up going and watched the game.  Thus, today, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Conference at our new little place, albeit the TV is on the floor at the moment.

Unfortunately for me, I totally let sleep overcome me about two-thirds of the way through the afternoon session, so I'll have to wait for my podcasts to come in to listen to those.  One thing I really enjoyed this year was President Monson's welcome to Conference.  What a very aware, observant, and open man he is.  While President Hinckley set us up to be more of a world-wide Church, President Monson--I believe--has carried on and furthered his, and thus the Church's, outreach to all; he doesn't just tell them who we are and answer the questions, but offers a very friendly and sincere invitation to all to come and partake.  What a man to follow--he holds a worldwide vision while simultaneously conversing and becoming friends with the one.

Between the two sessions, Christy and I went singing in the rain (well, just jogging in the rain, and the singing happened afterwards while I was in the shower).  I love it out here.  Cute little kids in their rain jackets waved to us--or stared at us--as we ran past, the main attractions were a park and a descent sized field full of ready to be harvested pumpkins, and maybe two cars drove by us on our route the entire time.  As we ran up to a bridge that goes over a small stream, we noticed a newly paved trail lining the stream's southern bank.  Since we were pressed for time, and just a wee bit wet, we never saw exactly how far the trail extended east of 900 W (it stopped maybe 40 yards west of it), and will have to try that one again.

I looked up my goals on one of my previous blogs, and figured that I at least needed to update everyone on my progress on them since I haven't posted any official documentation of what I've committed myself to really do this year.  Thus, things to check off the docket:
  1. I am on an all-ladies Ultimate Frisbee club team that will travel to weekend tournaments this winter.  This sounds mighty elite, and in a way it is, but each practice I go to, I'm learning tons, and the gals on the team have been awesome to teach me a few tricks of the trade and answer my endless questions.  I may not be the best player on the team, but hey, I apparently made cuts.
  2. I did cultivate one plant for a friend, and have been keeping up on mine quite well, except for those that need to be repotted.  But the Christmas cactus just got a nice trim today and is looking much better.
  3. As far as the 2012 Olympics in London, its looking like it's a definitely possibility for me to compete for......the cheapest plane ticket over there as a tourist.  Speed walking is a bigger sport than I ever realized, and thus I don't think I have quite the chances for being the next Michael Phelps for women's sports like I thought I did.  Ah well.
  4. Did get a bookshelf, and yes, I did finish one book I was reading last night, The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz.  True story that just makes my mind reel.  Four thousand miles on foot over about twelve months at about 20 miles a day, through Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and over the Himilayas to freedom in India after escaping a USSR concentration/work camp.  Slavomir's telling of his experience freely flows, and often caused my mind to wonder what the human mind and body can ultimately endure, and how much grace God showers upon us day to day.  This may be the subject of an upcoming blog....
  5. And, yes, I am in the process of applying for grad school Fall 2009.  I went in and talked with three of my professors, and they even all remembered me quite well.....that bodes well for me, but it also means I have quite the standard to reach and live up to.  Talking with Brian Hill, the graduate coordinator and my professor down in New Zealand, he was slightly disappointed in my above average scores on the GRE, and told me that he thought I would at least score above 1300, which he also told me would solidly solidify my spot as one of the nominees to begin the program.  I need to have a strong showing since I already have two strikes against me: I'm from BYU, and I've already graduated with a degree from the RMYL department.  Another quandry that I must address is if I really want to quit my job.  I was thinking that I could work and go to school part time, but it looks like it is a full-time program only, and it is highly recommended that I don't work.  
Oh, and the picture?  That is a picture of Mike Haney and I, riding donkeys, all the way back from May.  Since I didn't have any cool pictures to post yet, I thought this would keep things interesting.  Probably about the coolest first date I've ever been on, Mike was a true gentleman and really kept things interesting as I rode Pedro, a past circus donkey.  

One fun part of the night was when we turned around to head back home on our trail in Hobblecreek Canyon, and the donkeys knew it, and started trotting home, just like a horse.  It was so funny that they really are as stubborn as can be and really whined and complained about going up the hills, but ran for home, even down steep hills that I thought they would be scared of with their poor depth perception.  I think Pedro took on his fears, and sensed I wouldn't like going down a steep hill too much, and thus proceeded fearlessly.  Feeling uneasy about my prospects of staying on Pedro, I quickly dismounted at the first sign of trouble (me starting to slip forward, feeling as if I might just use Pedro's neck as a slide if I slid any further)--Mike laughed so hard about my dismount, because the hill was so steep, I had to put my foot down and swing the other leg over, kind of like a cartwheel with no hands.  As soon as Pedro recognized that I was off, he took off running, and Mike and I after him until when cornered him into some brush oak.  Ah, that was a fun night.  Good times.

Labor Day Trip to San Jose and Northern California

It took me a while to get this blog posted because I was way too impatient with how long it took to upload all of these images in the order I wanted; thus, I would add a few at a time every few days or so, and now I finally finished adding them tonight. 

 So, now you have a picture timeline of my trip, which was fantastic, thanks to Tierney and Jared who really made it worthwhile with their generous offering of their home, time, food, and chauffering skills.  People like people with skills.

Friday: Santa Cruz!  While there was a heat wave sweltering over San Jose, Santa Cruz was carefully blanketed in fog, and thus we sported the sweatshirt look.  We enjoyed garlic fries, the Big Dipper Roller Coaster (which I absolutely was not scared of as you can see on my face), and ended up leaving early from a disappointing concert--a little too liberal and on-the-end-of-th-limb-and-about-to-break-it type of stuff.  Gotta love California.

Jared makes me look like even more of a wuss.

Lights, crowds, and fog . . . typical California beach line.

Fantastic tour guide Tierney, and excellent chauffer Jared.

Saturday: The Oakland Temple, San Francisco, and the John Muir Redwoods!  A little bit of everything was fit into this day--even expensive metered parking (even I didn't bring enough quarters to cover an hour)--as we began with the Oakland Temple (wanted to start the day right!), hit Ghiradelli Square, China Town, and a windy ride down Lombard street in downtown San Fran, drove over the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate en route to San Fran and the John Muir Redwoods, and finished up the day in the quiet and solitude beauty of the redwood trees.

Alcatraz . . . never leave California without a picture of this beauty.

Ghirardelli would bring a smile to any chocolate lover's face. 

A quick picture peek at China town . . . of course I got a picture of tourists instead of Chinese, just my luck.

Wow.  Beautiful!

Bridges are cool, but no need to take choreographed pictures of them.  Rearview mirrors and dashboards frame them quite nicely for me.

Did you know I love nature?  Little known fact . . .

Monday: Monterrey Bay and Carmel!  Monterrey Bay has the coolest aquarium I've ever been to--you could seriously spend all day there.  While the jellyfish exhibit is amazing and affords some pretty sweet pictures, I wish I could have gotten a picture of the all to0 rambunctious sea otters, and seen some shows of trained animals--who wants to see them act natural when you can train them to be otherwise?  But you can't expect to enjoy all those things when you show up on a holiday.  And while the Carmel coastline is all brown in these photos, driving out there we drove through thick wooded forests of all sorts of trees, even my favorite, the fragrant eucalyptus.

In the background is a shark . . . this odd looking specimen, called the sun fish, is keeping itself at a safe distance.  At least he's no dummy.

Shafts of light, fish, and vegetation.  Need I say more?  It's just beautiful.

Jared is hoping to get into yachting (i.e., the upper tier of the business world all owns yachts to enjoy keeping them in a bay, and maybe taking them out once a year).  I told him he could always invite me along.

Old meets new.

He really didn't want to sit still, so I went for the action shot.

Tuesday: Yep, while the rest of the working world went back to work, I went to the beach, going to Rio Del Mar, just a little bit south of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  As you can see, I had it all to myself, and enjoyed the waves, sand, sun, and time to myself to relax after a whirlwind weekend--I was quite rejuvenated before coming home on Wednesday.

The end.