Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Doing my Job as a Watchdog for the Public

Hello, America. There is a pressing issue that I think needs to be brought to the attention of you good Americans. You see, there seems to be a rampant epidemic of terrible baby names coursing throughout our great nation, and I for one want to see this blight stopped dead in its tracks.

The other night, Dave and I somehow got on the topic of baby names. I think it started when I made him start translating various meaningful terms like "love" and "faith" into Japanese to see if any of them are cute for a little girl. But, I don't think that tactic is going to work because none of them were really name material. Go figure.

Anyway, Dave then decided to look up which names were most popular last year, and I introduced him to the wonder that is the Social Security Administration's website. It had been awhile since I had looked at it and we consequently spent the next 30 minutes rolling on the floor laughing at some of the gems that we found.

Now, I really hope that this doesn't offend anyone. Names are very personal. But some of these boys' names just shocked me in their popularity:

1. Deshawn, which, at 656 beat out Harry, Craig, Lee, and Toby (which I feel are very normal names...)
2. Nehemiah, all the way at 340, which was more popular last year than Scott, Brent, Mitchell, or Trent.
3. Cain. Cain. WHAT THE CRAP?! It was only 956 but still....enough people used it that it got on the map.
4. Issac. Probably the little brothers of all the Cains out there. Enough people accidentally misspelled Isaac that it was all the way up in the 430's.
5. And lastly, Alexzander. 675. Taking phonetic spelling to a whole new level.

The girls' names were not nearly as shocking because I think that people can take more liberty there. Living in Utah, I have seen my fair share of creative naming practices, but still....the fact that some of these were popular enough that even a few people used them blew me away. I think that there has been a surge in really cute girls' names lately, so I pretty much loved the top 25 (with the exception of Neveah...Heaven backwards...but if you like it, more power to you!), but one shocker was the fact that the name Mae, which I think is absolutely adorable (and the name of my cousin-in-law's little girl) was all the way at 988, and preceeded by Devyn and followed by Xiomara, Aracely, and Bryleigh. I definitely feel that it was a diamond in the rough there. So, I am pretty much convinced that there is no way to predict people's taste when it comes to this very emotional and meaningful subject.

Any opinions on baby naming? Any name horror stories?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Broc

I have a new love in my life. He has bright red hair has this endearing habit of putting his tiny hands up by his face when he sleeps. It's my friend Anne's new baby, Broc. He is so stinking cute and it is so exciting that one of my best friends has a baby! He is actually over a month old now, but I realized that I never talked about going to see her in the hospital, and this baby is too cute not to mention.

So, we actually knew the day that Anne would have Broc, because she had a scheduled cesarean (he was breach. I know cool baby terms like that now). We found out that he was born without a hitch on Tuesday, so on Wednesday I texted the other girls and we schemed to figure out how we could get an official invite to come to the hospital and see Anne and the new baby. I finally was a big tactless lame-o and just texted her and asked if she would please let me come, and she graciously said yes. So, after work me and Larsie Snider went to the hospital (random side note: I call my friend Lauren "Larsie". Not sure why. Her initial are now LDS which I love. And, I am happy that we both finally found love but sad that our plans to adopt Kate Gosselin's kid-see below- and raise them as the Doughty-Hopkins isn't going to work out.)

Back on track: We got to the hospital and found that apparently we needed a security code to get into the maternity ward. The last time I went to the hospital to visit a mom and baby it was my own mom and the baby was Tess, and I had no recollection of needing a code (of course, I was 10). We tried calling Anne but she didn't answer, and we didn't have Cody's number, so all we could do was wait in this tiny vestibule while all of the people who had codes and knew about these sorts of things passed us by (I tried to sneak in after one but Lauren told me it was a bad idea. The nurse she talked to on that little hospital phone said it was a "security lockdown", whatever that means. I think maybe people try to steal babies in Utah).

This hospital doesn't mess around...


Finally, Anne called us back (how dare she be busy when she had a baby 24 hours ago!) and we got to go in. Baby Broc is so cute! He has all of this bright red hair and it is just the cutest thing ever! Cody said that all of the nurses just kept talking about it and he could feel the jealousy of the other dads just bouncing off the walls of the nursery.

Anne looked GREAT but since I am her friend and I wouldn't want anyone posting pictures of me laying in a hospital bed on the internet, I won't show you the pictures of her but she was just her normal calm and collected self. I love that about her and I wish I could be the same way all the time.

A few weeks ago Anne needed someone to watch Broc for like an hour while she and Cody did cleaning checks (they work at an apartment complex, and understandably didn't want to take their precious baby into the mold-infested death traps that we college students live in half the time) so I jumped on that opportunity. I made Dave take gratuitous pictures of me and Broc, naturally:

He still has all that hair! Isn't it grand? I am pretty sure my babies will have one color of hair, and it is the same as the Gosselin kids (which I am fine with) so I have to enjoy red hair on other people's kids. He is just the best little baby. Ok, gushing over...does anyone else want to let me watch their new babies for them?

Comeback of the Year

I got a little off the blog lately...I just felt like no one was reading it, so what was the point? Then I got all "what is the purpose of life?" and figured it wasn't worth writing about dumb stuff that no one really wants to hear about anyway. But then I realized that I really like having this little journal of sorts for my own purposes anyway, so I should suck it up and get over myself. Still....if anyone is out could comment or something?

So, to get myself back on track I figured that I would do a super-fast re-cap of the past month and things that I have left out, and then I can get back to normal this week.

First of all, I have talked about my coupon obsession. Seriously, I think it is so fun! I mean, it does take a lot of time but I just read the blogs and subscribe to the daily emails, and they well me all of the good stuff and where to get it, so I really don't even figure stuff out myself. I will probably start posting if I get a really good deal somewhere just so that the rest of you can too, though! P.S., for those of you in Utah, you should check and see if the WalMart near you does double coupon Tuesdays. Ours does in Orem and Springville, and it is seriously so great! This Tuesday I am going to get really good deals on pasta sauce, shaving cream, brownie mix, pineapple, and some other really random yet useful things.

Yesterday I ran a 10k. It was a random little Pioneer Day race right by our house. It was actually really hard! The first mile was all uphill and it killed me. I really thought that I was not going to be able to run the whole thing. I did, however, keep up with this old guy wearing a purple mesh tank top and red running shorts, so that kept me entertained for 6.2 miles. I think my legs have been a little tired lately, so today it feels really good to take a break...ahhh, Sundays. Dave is so sweet to get up early and come to these things with me. When I crossed the finish line, he was there with my water bottle, but when he had pulled it out of the console in our car it took the whole cup holder with it and he didn't notice till he was far away from the car, so he was standing there holding my water and the cup holder. It doesn't sound funny now but it was then? I was feeling all good about the fact that I was 8th in my category until I realized that there were only 21 people in my really good at all. And, there was a wheelchair category (with one participant) and he was over a minute faster than me per mile. So I feel pretty great about myself right now.

Has anyone else discovered Stumbleupon??? My mom introduced me, and as she says, "I can't stop stumbling!" You put in all of your interests and it pulls up random sites that correspond. It is awesome because as you go you can tell it if you like or don't like something, and it bookmarks the ones you like. It also hones its selections so that it gets more and more specific, kind of like We were having some friends from our ward over for dinner on Wednesday so I tried this recipe that I found on there, and it was sooooo good! I'm trying this one tonight! I have found so many yummy recipes and also craft ideas that I never would have found otherwise!

Also...what is the deal with pregnant women painting their bare stomachs? It is gross. No one wanted to see your bare stomach when it was flat, and so they definitely don't want to see it covered in paint when it is giant and stretched to the breaking point (mine will look like this too, it's nothing personal). I am sorry, I just have to say something! It's not artistic, it's just kind of weird.

I am still in love with my husband after 7 months. We keep joking about how we're really going to make it, and then I just want to re-enact this (really just the last part. And why does Nick at Nite stink now and have the George Lopez Show instead of awesome stuff like MTM?):

One last random thing: I was looking at my camera the other day (which I can't find so there may be a lack of pictures for a while) and I found this feature called the "clipboard" which I had no idea about. It had some random pictures on it that I had forgotten about, but I must have taken them while my camera was on this setting and therefore I didn't ever upload them onto my computer. The first time I went to Dave's house, back when our relationship was new, my roommates wanted me to take pictures of his house (don't ask me why, although it makes perfect sense to me and I would have asked the same of them. Girls are funny). Of course, I thought it would weird his family out if five minutes after they met me I whipped out the camera and started snapping pics of their TV room and banisters, so I did the natural thing, which was only take pictures of the room that I was staying in (which happened to be Dave's room. He was nice enough to sleep on the couch). These are the gems that ensued and I laughed so hard when I rediscovered them:

Asian-esque quilt.

Can you spot Dave? Also, babe's first teddy bear was too sweet (it actually says "Baby's First Teddy Bear" on that blue heart it's holding)

Pictures of pictures always turn out so good. Especially senior photo montages. Dave still has that blue shirt, PS. 

This one is my favorite. The intercom? Why did I think this was worth a picture? I think I was just really lonely in there or something.

So, former roommates, sorry you had to wait a year and a half but here is the photo essay of my first weekend in St. George that I promised (cute side-note, though....I still have the note that my friend Jennifer snuck into my bag for me to find when I got said something cute like "Dave's family is going to love you! Not as much as I do though!" Jenn's a great friend like that.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Closet Couponing

It's time to be real here. I have a secret addiction. Actually, if you have looked at my Facebook in the last month you will have noticed a suspicious number of things that I have "liked" that are things I would never normally Oscar Mayer hotdogs, Uncle Ben's Rice, etc. Dave is really worried that I will accidentally not realize that he is signed off of his account and therefore have him "like" Venus for Women or something like that.

Anyway, I have become a couponer! Or, at least I really want to be one. I have tried really hard to learn more about it lately and I feel like there are some good deals (we also call them "dills" in honor of our Utah home. You have to wait till things are on sell to get the best dills) out there just waiting to be found. You just have to know where to look and how to go about it. So, in honor of my new addiction, and because I am so qualified, here are my top tips for new couponers:

1. You kind of have to change your attitude about shopping. Before, I would make a shopping list, think of what I needed, and then get really mad when there weren't coupons floating around for what I needed. I then realized that you have to bide your time, wait until you can combine a coupon with a sale, and then stock up one what you need. That is how I ended up with 8 boxes of cereal on my laundry shelves. But I got them for a fifth of the price! (that was one of my happiest deals to date)

2. You might have to get lost out in scary grain fields looking for a recycling center. Provo has curbside recycling so it is kind of hard to find newspaper bins just anywhere, and I wanted to look for coupons that people had thrown away. I accidentally ended up at this crazy compost center way out in the boonies of Provo:

Amber waves of grain right there. I think this was actually a place for people to bring their logs and dead farm animals. Not a coupon in sight.

3. When you do find coupons, you must absolutely be willing to dumpster dive a little. Sacrifice the body. I found a bin at our local Smith's and used my snow scraper in my car to dig through since I was not tall enough to really reach. Sure, I smacked my head on the top of the bin, but was it worth it? Definitely.

 The plastic bags were brought along as a decoy to recycle. However, I didn't end up finding a place to recycle them so there they still sit in my car.

4. Don't buy things that you don't really want in the first place! If you could see the terrible quality picture below, you would see that there were a few suspicious purchases but most of my most recent haul were things that I really needed and would use. The one exception was the three bags of sweet potato fries, but I totally love those things and I most definitely would have just made them with a raw potato but this was just as cheap! I did catch myself trying to buy these weird Ritz Crackerfuls things, because they were only $.60, but then I realized that they looked a little barfy and I really didn't want them in the first place.

The oatmeal, pens, floss and conditioner were free :)

5. Sacrifice everything for free food. Dignity, time, whatever. It will be worth it. And when you are too late for National Free Slurpee Day at 7/11, try not to be too sad:

Poor little guy. 

Coupon in peace, my friends.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One of my favorite faux pas

I hope that this title doesn't make me sound pretentious or anything like that. I promise that I don't go around waiting for people to do goofy things on accident....but I have noticed that, especially in Utah it seems, people have the queer tendency to not listen to song lyrics, and then use completely inappropriate songs for wedding videos, Daddy-daughter dances, Facebook albums, and things of that sort. Has anyone seen that episode of Arrested Development where Michael and Maeby sing the duet at the Christmas party and it is so completely wrong for an uncle and niece to be singing. You know that one.

 Some of the best(/worst) song misuses in my opinion, include:

"Slow-Dancing in a Burning Room" by John Mayer: This is clearly a break-up song ("this is the deep and dying breath of/ this love that we've been working on. duh). That doesn't mean it isn't a great song, I just probably wouldn't use it for anything related to my wedding or love life.

"Wonderland", again by John Mayer: This is completely inappropriate for anything involving a wedding since there will be children and grandparents there. Enough said. Same goes for "Let's Get it On" Again, little kids and grandparents.

"I Think I Wanna Marry You", by Bruno Mars: It is a cute, catchy tune, and I am a hypocrite, since I used this on a Facebook album. BUT, I did not include the part of the lyrics which talk about getting drunk and married on a whim.

"Hear You Me", by Jimmy Eat World. Dave pointed this one out. It is a pretty song but actually about the singer's mom dying. However, Dave still wanted to include it on our wedding playlist...curious.

"Vanilla Twilight", by Owl City. First of all, don't have anything by Owl City on anything. Just don't do it. But Melissa pointed out to me that, while it is about two people in love, it is also about how they are apart and missing each other ("the spaces between my fingers are where yours fit perfectly")

There are many more, trust me. But last week I was a total pot calling the kettle black because I was listening to the song "Landed" by Ben Folds (one of the many songs that Dave got me hooked on. For some reason he didn't take on my musical tastes as readily as I took on his. I guess Faith Hill and Celine Dion are not as universally beloved as I thought), and thinking about how much I like that song. It's catchy. And the title "Landed" made me think that it was about finding your true love or something. Then, all of a sudden I decided to actually listen to the lyrics and I realized that they are in fact about this guy who is in a relationship with this totally crazy woman and he always felt like it was his fault but he finally realized that he had to leave her and move on with his life because she was just too difficult.

First of all, I wondered why the heck DAVE would possibly like a song about being in a relationship with a crazy woman since that would CLEARLY never pertain to his real life, but then I realized that I had totally done what I had always made fun of people for doing! It was this depressing song and I had thought that it was about love! How embarrassing for my self-esteem. Thank heavens I didn't include it in our wedding video.

Has anyone else ever noticed this tendency in song abuse? Tell me the best ones! P.S. if anyone loves these songs and used them for a wedding or something, I am just kidding. I am sure that Owl City or Bruno Mars can be tastefully done :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Music in the Park

Growing up in Alaska, there was this weekly event that we would go to called Music in the Park. Every Wednesday at noon (only in the summer) there would be a musical performance of some kind in this little park in downtown Anchorage. I seriously miss going to it so, so much. Usually the music was fun to listen to, but the best part was definitely people watching. Anchorage has its share of...colorful characters to be sure. There was usually an appearance by a drunk of some kind. Lots of kids dancing. (great combo there) But our favorite part was this lady that was there every time for as long as I can remember. She usually wore neon of some kind and often wore roller skates. She always was bouncing around, dancing to the music. Often while still wearing the roller skates. My mom told me that last week when they were there, they sang happy birthday to her because it was her 81st birthday! So I am convinced that the secret to a long and fruitful life is dancing in neon shorts in city parks. That is why I do it every day now.

Anyway, I found out that the park that is right across from our apartment building has these free Sunday night concerts every Sunday in June. Sadly, we had plans that conflicted every week except that last one, so we only got to go to one. I was so crazed in my desire to partake of free community events that I think Dave didn't dare protest going, although I think he enjoyed it was a brass band, after all. And, like he does when we watch "So You Think You Can Dance", I could say "are they good? Is he good?" every two minutes.

It was so fun! I was basking in the glow of patriotic brass music mixed with free concertness while simultaneously feeling sad about the fact that it was the last week in June and we had only made it to this one time. The band was good and they did that thing where they play all of the military hymns (are they hymns? just songs?) and whoever served in that branch stands up and everyone applauds. I got nervous that it was going to be awkward when no one stood up for a while, but luckily someone finally did and it was this cute little old man who had been sitting behind us and whittling away on this walking stick. Like, tearing it up, he had an inch-thick layer of wood shavings all over his laps. So, needless to say we were already big fans of his.

 The fact that I cut Dave's hair is looking extra-apparent here...

I had to get a pic of the Luv Monkey blanket. It is our go-to blanket for any outdoor event and it never ceases to get a comment. And this also serves as proof that, while my arms are definitely hairier than Dave's, my legs at least are not.

The one thing that I am really sad that I didn't get a picture of was the "children's march." The director of the band was really into his job and he said that they have a tradition at these concerts where they invite all of the kids to go up and follow him around in a march while the band plays. I told Dave that I would give him $5 to spend however he wanted if he went up and marched with the kids but he refused. I was concerned for a minute that we might have a Pied Piper situation on our hands when the director led them around the back of the pioneer museum (which they were playing in front of) and out of sight but the reappeared a few minutes later so all was well. We were especially fond of this one little kid who looked like a strange mixture of an old man and a baby (don't pretend you haven't seen kids like that).

I also made these and took them over to play games with Dave's friends afterwards:

I was too lazy to cut the strawberries into smaller strips, though I see now that it really would have given them that extra something...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Covert Ops

Yep, I'm double-posting. I hope that doesn't offend the three people who read this blog. I wanted to document last night's adventures while they were still fresh in my mind, though. We got a very top-secret Facebook message on Tuesday from Tyler (Dave's cousin's husband. But we just all refer to each other as cousins because it is much less confusing, and Tyler and I look like we could be cousins too so it works) inviting us to participate in a most discreet mission to release a school of goldfish into the wilds that are the duck pond/stream at the south end of BYU campus. I really shouldn't probably write this, because I am becoming the self-incriminating equivalent of the guy that videotaped himself vandalizing a house back when youtube was new (does anyone else remember this?), but seeing as it was really neither harmful nor that subversive I doubt any BYU Police will read this or care.

The adventure began as dusk fell and we drove to the Springville WalMart to purchase the lucky participants. I was slightly horrified by the level of disgustingness hat was the goldfish tank, especially when the guy opened it up and there were definitely a ton of gross dead fish carcasses stuck to the filters. If I were one of those liberal vegetarian people, I would have staged a sit-in or something:

 The chosen ones, all 20 of them, complete with the complimentary dead one (PS Kiku is having a baby GIRL! Yay!)

We then made our way to campus. The brains behind this operation was Tyler, who informed us that goldfish grow to surround their surroundings, so if we released them they might grow and turn gigantic become subjects for Bio 100 classes or perhaps just food for one of BYU's many packs of roving feral cats (I wish I was kidding, but it's a real problem...) They will be our legacy to BYU. And, if we got caught we had Kiku and no one can get mad at a cute pregnant lady.

Fish-bag modeling is a thing now. And yes, Kiku is under the hood of their car in the background. This woman is hard-core.

 Unfortunately fish modeling caused the knot to become really tight

 Gently introducing them to their new home. They seemed so happy and free away from that tank!

Afterwards we scammed off of Tyler and Kiku's Groupon to Earth Fruits frozen yogurt and we all decided that the exotic fruit flavors were rather delicious. I of course doused the healthy Acai that Dave chose for us with Swedish Fish and Butterfinger bits, but the antioxidants cancelled the sugar right out.

Can someone give me a need-based scholarship to their charm school so that I can learn not to slouch? Also, notice that both boys are doing "surprised eating" faces and the girls are acting normal. How could they both do a facial expression that is so obscure without coordinating? Mysterious. Anyway, it was a very fun Wednesday night on the town with our delightful cousinfriends.

Floor Swimming is the Shiz

It's a little bit embarrassing what lengths I will go to to obtain discretionary income. I haven't yet stooped to selling my body to the plasma lab but it's really just a matter of time. I love participating in studies that I see on campus, but sadly, most of the ads I see are for depressed, pregnant, non-native English speakers who are right-handed (seriously, there are ads for those people all over). So, since I am none of those I am stuck doing the lame ones that the Marriott school does every summer.

My sister Grace told me about Amazon Mechanical Turk, where you can earn like .50 for doing little surveys and stuff. She has somehow figured out how to get like $120 on there, but I have earned a whopping $8 so far. Sometimes they have really weird stuff for you to do, but this one was definitely the weirdest so far. I asked Dave if he would mind standing on the counter and taking three pictures of me laying on my back and "air swimming" in three different poses. Turns out this is more difficult to make look authentic than I at first realized. The following results ensued:



Yep. So I got a whole $1.50 for uploading pictures of myself swimming on the ground. I have no idea why they would want them but I signed my life away for the cost of a McDonald's cone.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Celebration of Cheap Things

Ever since we got married my free radar has been ultra-sensitive. I will "like" pretty much anything on Facebook for a free coupon. I am a Facebook hooch like that, no standards at all. Case in point, if you "like" P.F. Chang's today, you will get a free lettuce wrap! That is why, if you are friends with either me or Dave, you will see that we liked two different PF Chang's in an effort to find the right one.

Anyway, I have had this secret desire to be an extreme couponer ever since I saw the show on TLC. Now, there are things that I think are a little weird about when they buy 170 bottles of mustard or a whole cart of Nestle Crunch bars (Dave gets really worked up about how useless that is. For some reason, it's kind of cute)....but on the whole, it is really cool that these people can feed their families of 6 for like $25 a week. I have been subscribing to the Krazy Koupon Lady's daily emails and she has some good stuff. Granted, some of it you need a Sunday paper coupon insert for, which we don't get. On the way home last night I saw a newspaper recycling dumpster and seriously considered digging through it, but it was raining. And, tetanus and hepatitis scare me and I feel like dumpster diving might be a good way to get those diseases.

The only place that I have really figured out how to coupon thus far is Walgreen's. Who would have thought that a drugstore would be the best place to score deals on food and stuff? They have some really great bargains, though. They do this thing where if you buy certain products in certain amounts or combinations, you get "Register Rewards" which are printed out after your purchase and then they are good for a certain amount off your next purchase. They also let you stack coupons, as long as you do not have more coupons than you have items in your transaction. It all takes a little though before you go shopping (and I had to be annoying and ask the girl to let me buy my stuff in two transactions, but I am sure they are used to it there.). Actually, it takes a lot of thought....I spent like an hour searching for the coupons to buy my seven items last night. Some extreme people spend 30 hours a week planning their trips. Yikes.

Anyway, I didn't get anything for free like a really savvy couponer would have, but I did get my favorite cereal for a fraction of the cost! Buying name-brand cereal is one thing that I admittedly (Oh my gosh Dave has rubbed off on me....I say admittedly so much now!) miss a little about having a single-girl budget....not that "Honey Oat Clusters" aren't delicious too. But last night Walgreens was having a sale on Special K and Raisin Bran Crunch--my favorites!--so I figured out a way to save on them. They are usually like $3.50, but were on sale for $2.50, then I found a $1.00 manufacturer's coupon, used a $3.00 Register Rewards I got on lunch meat last week, and then bought some toothpaste on sale (you can never have too much, right?) which got me another $1.00 register rewards and so I ended up saving like $7.00 on four boxes. I am sure that savings like this will someday make us disgustingly wealthy and Dave will have his thrifty wife to thank for it :) Not really, but I did feel good about getting what I really wanted for cheaper than the generic brand, and now I have four boxes of my favorite cereal sitting in our laundry closet (see....I am turning into a hoarder who hides things in weird places). And, this is my lunch today:

My beloved Raisin Bran Crunch from a tupperware and milk in a water bottle to be added upon consumption. I am going to have to hide while I eat so that people don't see me and think I'm psycho. (P.S. please do not think that this is my table at home and that I subscribe to US Weekly. This is our break room at I just read it there. Much better than paying for it.)

Does anyone have any couponing tips that they want to share with me? I am new at this....