Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Swiftly into Conversation

In the past, I've given Taylor Swift a hard time. I don't know if it's that avoid-the-trends elitism or exhaustion from hearing her songs over-played on the radio. All I know is that from the first time I heard "Romeo," I was against her.

Her songs are catchy though, so I've often had them stuck in my head. This led to defiantly rewriting the lyrics.

Actually, lately I've really enjoyed her new song, "Back to December." I feel like it's more authentic and real than a story about fictional teenage lovers. But this post isn't about that.

This post is about how on our first night with Satomi, we learned that her favorite music artist is Taylor Swift. Her favorite song is "You Belong With Me," the very song which I loathed so much that I rewrote the lyrics in defense of the other girl (see above link).

It was like that scene in Caddyshack, where that guy is in the proshop saying, "This hat is so ugly. Why do they sell this hat! It's hideous." Then someone walks by wearing the hat, and he says, "Oh, but on you it looks great."

I had a decision to make. I could either verbally tear Taylor Swift apart, or I could jump on the bandwagon. I swallowed my anti-T.Swift pride and silently thanked Mix 105.1 for playing all her songs all the time, because when Satomi hummed the tune of her favorite song, I was able to pick it up and sing the words, "Why can't you seeeeeeee, you belong to meeeee?" Then there was laughter and bonding.

Moral of the story: keep up with pop culture so that you can relate to your Japanese exchange students.

Extra tip: "Hey, you, I don't like your girlfriend" by Avril would have helped too, but I didn't know that one as well. Mix, can you get on that?

Ren Faire Fun!!

This past weekend we went to the Renaissance Festival in Tampa Bay with Zane's family. It was my first Ren Faire. It was also Satomi's first Ren Faire. Weird coincidence, huh?

from Satomi's camera

We had a fun time with the medieval headbands, or do you call these tiaras? Tiara sounds prettier.

Here we are proudly wearing our custom-fitted tiaras. I'm blessed to have such sweet, beautiful inlaws (some call us outlaws*). We were all brave enough to marry into the same family.  

Petting a llama and a miniature donkey. I didn't know they existed.

Part of the Ren Faire experience is the carnival booths. Zane, along with his bro and dad, had no trouble hitting the bell on the stong man thing.

My favorite part of the Ren Faire was the assortment of fantastic costumes! Next time I want to join in the creative fun.

Centaur lady was my favorite costume of the day. This photo was taken by Satomi. I'm glad she was smart enough to have her camera out at the right time.

Satomi's favorite costume of the day was a fairy, but the runner-up was this archer. I may use this picture as a guide to make costumes for Zane and me next year. Although, I think I'll make Zane more Link-like.

Just noticed - does that archer have a elf leaf cape fastener thing? (Real LOTR geeks would know the correct name for it. I'm just an amateur).

These fairies struck a pose when Satomi aimed her camera.

Everyone at the festival was so friendly, even in the immense heat of March in Florida. I envied the actors for getting to play around all weekend in fun costumes. I respected them for all the work they put into a festival like this! But I did NOT envy those poor knights jousting in the sun. Their suits of armor looked like ovens!

I look forward to returning better costumed, now that I have ideas flowing through my brain. Sewing posts to come, maybe?

*"Some people" being Zane's uncle, who also married in.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This little plague went to the market...

Last week, we went to Publix and there was a display of food for Passover. I usually pass over this section, since I'm not Jewish, but Zane noticed this in the display:

I just stood there saying over and over, "That's so weird."

Satomi saw it and said, "What is that?"

I told her it was a famous story that all Jewish people know (and many other people too). I told the Passover/Exodus story starting with baby Moses in a basket and ending with Pharaoh letting the Hebrews go. It took a while, because we had to stop to define: Jew, Hebrew, Pharaoh, slave, plague, etc.

If you haven't heard this story, it's in the second book of the Bible, Exodus.

She asked if Moses' firstborn was killed in the last plague. I said no, because they put the blood around the door. I explained that this event foreshadows Jesus (Japanese-English dictionary was used for "foreshadow"). Jesus was killed so that we wouldn't die.

Then she said, "Is that why Jesus is called the Lamb of God?"  BINGO!

There I was thinking that plague finger puppets were the weirdest (maybe even stupidest) thing I'd ever seen, and yet their presence in that store provided a way for me to share the gospel. Mysterious ways, people, mysterious ways!

P.S. The "lice" plague should be gnats/flies. Also, one of those plagues looks like a clown. I had to look it up, because I couldn't remember what it really is. You can partially read its label. 10 points if you know it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rainbow Plight

I had a pair of sandals.

 I'd left them by the door.

I found one shoe in shambles.

'Cause toys can be a bore.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strawberry Fun

I like to go strawberry picking at least once per season. The berries are so much better than what you buy in the store. Fresh picked makes a difference!

Here we are a couple Saturdays ago... beautiful weather, beautiful strawberries, and beautiful people!

Five things about this last picture:
1. It was taken with my gorilla grip tripod. 
2. It was taken two weeks ago.
3. The azaleas are dead and gone now. 
4. I'm Team Edward and I don't care who knows it. 
5. Zane's mom gave me those jeans as a gift, and they are now my favorite jeans. They make my badonkadonk look all honky-tonky in a good way. What are the chances of that working out?! Thanks, Vicky!!

Strawberry picking is super fun and everyone should do it. I'm already making plans for blueberry picking in May!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Tale of Sickness

I don't get sick often. I'm super healthy, but over the weekend I was pretty ill. Sore throat, congestion, chills, aches, fever. You know it. I'm feeling better today, so that's GOOOOOOD! In the midst of my pain, I remembered the last time I was sick, nearly eight months ago... *twinkly music transitioning us into a dream/flashback sequence*

...The year was 2010.
The location was Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. 

I was on vacation in Utah with Zane and his parents. We were having a grand old time, and I lost my health. I blame it on altitude sickness, which shot my immune system, which allowed me to contract some horrible infection in my head.

Let me describe my pain: throat and ear throbbing, waking in the middle of the night in tears, ibprofen overdosing in vain, cringing through waves of pain pulsating through my head.

Zane found the nearest doctor to Bryce Canyon, a hospital in Panguitch, Utah. It serves several small towns in the area - "area" being miles and miles. I'm a city-girl, so this freaked me out.

Panguitch Hospital is only open on certain days of the week. I'm a city-girl, so this freaked me out.

We had to wait an entire day until the hospital was open.

This is me on my day of painful waiting. I was not happy, though I tried to look it. Are you convinced?

We went to the hospital first thing the next morning, while Zane's parents hiked in the beautiful canyon. When we arrived to the nearly empty parking lot and walked into the deserted, yet surprisingly new and clean hospital, the woman at the desk told us that we would have to wait until 4:00pm because they were booked all morning.

Then she told us that there was a nice skate park nearby if we wanted to go there while we wait.

I wanted to scream and throw things and say, "I'm in severe pain, lady! Do you think I want to skateboard? I can't even walk without crying from pain! Your eye make-up looks bad, and there's no one in this place except us, so how can you be booked?!"

I didn't say that. We left and came back at 4:00pm. Then I saw a nice, young, attractive, hipster intern about my illness. That made things better.

He checked me for strep. Negative. No inflammation in my ear. No sinus infection. My illness was a mystery. The doctor that he was working under (old, creepy, non-hipster) concurred that there was no obvious reason for my illness. Since I was just passing through they gave me antibiotics, which worked.

The next day Zane's parents took us to a waterfall they had discovered while we were at Panguitch hosipital. It was an extremely mild hike of Bryce Canyon.

I'm obviously feeling better.

*Twinkly music bringing us back to the present* Luckily my illness this weekend didn't involve too much pain or missing out national parks. Although I did have to miss out on meeting baby Elinor in her first week of life. Boo.

But! I went to the doctor yesterday to confirm I didn't have strep throat. I didn't! I don't! Non-contagious! I'm holding babies tonight!!! 

P.S. You get 50 points if you spot the special person who traveled out west with us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love Song for an Angel

Sunday, Satomi (our Japanese student) and I were talking about religion and Catholicism, etc. She asked me if I knew a particular film.

She said it was about a woman who saw a man kill someone. The woman went to the police, and they told her to go to a convent. Satomi asked if that was Catholic, and I said yes. She said the film was called "Love Song for an Angel." I had never heard of it. I asked if they found the man who killed someone, and she said no. She said the woman sings a song at the convent. I asked her how old the movie was, and she said not very old.

She was sure I had heard of the movie, but just didn't recognize the name. When we got home, she looked it up on Yahoo Japan and clicked to images. What popped up was the movie poster for Sister Act.

Then we laughed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Green Day

[Guest blogger! The following post is by my sister, Lydia. She's been married for four months and is already cooking more extravagant meals than me. I've got a lot to learn. Enjoy!!]

Not the band. Though I wonder if they picked that name from any relation to this day.

I like themed events because you get to coordinate clothes, food, decorations, etc. Holidays are the most convenient and traditional of such events, and people are more willing to cooperate. On St. Patrick’s Day, really the only theme is green. And Irish, if you have it. I’m lucky (pun intended) because my husband has red hair.

We decided to start cooking real meals (not just frozen foods) and on our list was Shepherd’s pie. Kevin was adamant that we have it on the 17th.

So, I peeled 2 large potatoes.

 I cut them up and boiled them.

Then I realized that we don’t own a potato masher, so let them boil a little longer before adding butter and a lot of milk. Luckily, they stirred easily.

And to make this Irish meal a little more American style St. Patrick’s Day-y, I added some green food coloring. (Actually blue and yellow was the best I could find, but I know my color basics.)

And voila…

I wonder if that’s how Sam I Am made his eggs green?

I did the rest of the process pretty lazily and just mixed ground beef with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (darn! We failed!). More advanced cooks would add some kind of soup or gravy to make it less dry. I would suggest that.

And plopped the green potatoes on top. 

With some melted cheddar cheese on top, it was a decent dinner. My leprechaun husband seemed to enjoy it.

Note: this is not a cooking post, nor a recipe. This is holiday inspiration!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Relative Productivity

Yesterday morning my best friend went into labor. I went to work.

No baby at 4pm, so after work, I got my hair cut by a 40 year-old seemingly straight man at Supercuts. I have reason to believe that I was the first female he had ever worked with. I've never had a stylist so slow and meticulous about long layers. He held his breath for every snip and let out a little grunt aftewards - like he was focusing really hard. The final result was great, though.

At 5:30pm I helped Zane at an event in town where he deejayed for 500 crazed, chaotic elementary school children. Their corporate screams reached decibals of which I didn't know the human voice was capable.

No baby at 7:30pm. I picked up our Japanese student and went to Publix to fill up our five gallon jug of water. Satomi wanted to carry it into the house. I said, "Are you sure? It's heavy!" She said, "Yes!" I think she wants the full American experience.

This morning I woke up expecting a text, but no baby. Weird. I had done so much in the past 24 hours, while my friend was in labor. So, I kept going with my day.

I babysat for the sweetest little one year-old and skyped with my sister in China. He enjoyed watching our video chat. I enjoyed talking to Angela. I miss her. Tomorrow's her birthday, but it's actually today in China. Ha! Figure that one out.

Aftewards I exercised with my other sister for a few minutes, then talked with her for a few hours. If my body could become fit based on how many words I use in a day, I'd be ripped.

I came home, welcomed home my hubs, and at 4:45pm - as in a few minutes ago - I received the picture text of beautiful little baby Elinor! Finally a sweet little face to go with the name. :) Can't wait to hold her and kiss her. And cheer on her beautiful mama for persevering through 30ish hours of labor. What a woman!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Onion Growth

Yesterday I pulled this out of a bag of sweet onions, which has been in my veggie crisper drawer for months. There are a bunch of onions in there, but only this one was growing.
I think I will plant it. 

Have you ever seen this before? If so, what did you do? 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japanese Food!

Tonight Satomi cooked Nikujaga for us. It's made up of potatoes, onions, carrots, and pork in soy sauce, sugar, and mentsuyu (sauce) all cooked on the stove. She also brought some instant rice and instant miso shiru (soup). One word: Yum!

Here's a picture of the instant rice package with Zane and Satomi in the background. I took this with a web cam.
Zane and Satomi chopping vegetables. I was overseeing and documenting and encouraging throughout the process. Anyway to get out of cooking...just kidding...kind of. 

This is the correct way to set a Japanese place setting. I'm left-handed so my chopsticks are facing the right.

This is a great family photo taken with my new gorilla grip tripod. 
Gorilla Grip Tripod: Pros - takes pictures from the window sill. Cons - I can't set it up straight.

It was extremely delicious. We all licked our plates clean (not really, that's not very Japanese). The best part is that Satomi gave us the mentsuyu (sauce) so we can make it again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Foreign Host

We're currently hosting a Japanese student named Satomi. Here's a short list of some things we've done:

Last weekend we....
Ate at Taco Bell
Watched Zane play flag football
Participated in a square dance
Went to church
Shopped at Target
Put together a jigsaw puzzle
Watched The Princess Bride
Cooked on the outdoor grill
Played Wii

Some American phrases/words she's learned from us include:
"Oh my goodness!"
"Lost in translation"
"Ladies first"
"Curiosity killed the cat."
"Too much" vs "So much"

Yesterday we went to Sam's Club - she cracked up laughing at the size of the dog food bags. "American size" haha. So true!! I bought a 50 pound bag of food for Rufio that will last us about 4-6 months. What can I say? God bless the USA.

"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I can buy in bulk! And I won't forget the times that I used to go to the store every week."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bursting with Adventure

Today I finished shooting for the short film, "Bursting with Excitement," a story about a groom and his best man on the day of his wedding, and how everything keeps going wrong. I played the part of the stressed-out wedding coordinator.

This is the first Full Sail film I've worked on. Many Full Sailers that I've auditioned for rubbed me the wrong way by saying things like, "You don't have much experience" or "You've never been in a Full Sail film?" I had written them off as elitists.

But throughout the filming, I caught zero elitist vibes from them. They were the most respectful and genuine people. They even had a griddle going with omeletes and pancakes for everyone for breakfast. When I wrapped, everyone on set applauded me before I left. (They do that for everyone, but I still felt like a pretty special girl.)

Here's a couple shots in the dressing room right before I left. I forgot to get one with me in costume. If you look behind my head in this next picture, you'll see the grey shirt and pink dress suit that I wore. I hemmed the skirt, so I'd look sexy...or at least decent. Maybe I should get credit as wardrobe assistant or something.
2nd AD Bryan on the left. Wardrobe/Hair/Make Up expert Kristyn on the right. She even did my eyeliner. She's kinda amazing. Or am I amazing for not blinking incessantly? Oh wait, I did.

And some of the talented wedding party cast. From left to right: Jason, me, Matt and Chris. I smacked Chris' face about thirty times today. He's a good sport. I'd love to work with all of them again if the stars align...or we get cast together.

Fun times filming at Full Sail!

Before you ask, if you want to see the film, you'll get to whenever I get a copy, which according to Jason, can take up to, if not more than, five months. That was a long sentence with lots of commas. Perhaps too many.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bees, Grommit!

The honey bees!
Da bumble bees!
Them honey bees!
Those bumble bees!

Right in my own backyard!

Reward and Reproach

Sometimes my struggle with infertility is on the surface. I hate bottles, binkies, baby bumps, and pregnancy news. Other times, my struggle reaches the depths of my soul. Why would God choose this path for us - why would he keep this good thing from us?

Here are two major stumbling blocks for me:

1. Rewards. People say that children are a "reward," and until yesterday I hoped it was just a phrase. As in, not in the Bible. I was wrong. Check it:

Psalm 127:3 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."

Wow. Really? Rewards are something given after accomplishment or good behavior. Rewards are withheld from naughty and negligent children. You get a gold star when you finish your chores. You get a baby
2. Reproach. I recently read Genesis 30, focusing on the meanings of each name of the children of Jacob. I felt a sting when I  got to the end of the chapter:

Genesis 30:23 "[Rachel] conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.'"

Whaaaaat? Is it just me, or does reproach=punishment? I looked it up on, and "disgrace" was one definition given, so I'm kind of hoping that's what Rachel means. There is disgrace in the inability to conceive. That's easier to digest than "God has taken away my punishment." Punishment for what? General sinfulness? Isn't that the point of grace? Sin's punishment is removed? Stumbling block.

I know I'm not the first person to struggle with this concept of God withholding something good from me. I can preach to myself that I don't deserve anything good, so I'm blessed to even be alive, but it doesn't take away the pain. It just makes me bitter.

I read this post from a friend's infertility blog, which was written years ago.

I relate to much of what he says in his post, including this statement: "I doubt that God is for me. I have this underlying faith in the goodness of God and the sweetness of his word, but his hand seems anything but good, and his words seem less and less sweet."

Throughout his post, he lists verses that do bring him hope and comfort, ending with this:

Isaiah 9:1 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins."

"The main thing I take away from this is that there is a point where God suddenly and mysteriously relents of his wrath and starts to speak tenderly. Oh, for that day to be soon!"

Amen, brother. Oh, for that day to be soon.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I often have imaginary conversations in my head. I have done it my entire life. I rarely notice when doing this, but I caught myself a couple times this week. Here are some of my conversations and hypotheses for why I do this.

Hypothesis A: I do this to subconsciously practice writing dialogue.

Person 1: "You know when you blow your nose, and the tissue doesn't catch it all, and it ends up all over your face and mouth?"
Person 2: "No."
P1: " either."
P2: "Why did you say that if you haven't experienced it?"
P1: "I just thought it'd be funny."
P2: "That happened to you, didn't it?"
P1: "No."
P2: "Yes, it did."
P1: "No, it didn't. I just thought it'd be funny."

Now, read that again, and this time think Michael Scott as Person 1 and Jim Halpert at Person 2.

Hypothesis B: I imaginarily converse to practice real-life conversations, which I intend to have.

Person 1: "Do you mind if I take pictures to put on my blog for all my fans?"
Person 2: "Haha, how many fans do you have?"
Person 1: "Oh, tons. Like 20."

Now, I'll be prepared when I have some form of this conversation on the film set Thursday.

Hypotheis C: I find therapy in internally reconciling with people from my past.

Person 1: "I used to think there was only one way of doing things, and I realize now how I imposed that belief on people around me. I always used to give you a hard time about everything, instead of just letting you be yourself. I don't even know why you were my friend. So, I'm sorry for that."

That conversation was a one-way apology that went through my head after a dream about a former classmate. Dreams can stir up old feelings and regrets in me. Perhaps I'm preparing for the chance to say it in person someday.

Three hypotheses of my internal conversations! Do you guys do this too? Is it just me? I'm normal, right?!?!

Person 2: Yes, you're normal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Floppy the Invalid

This is floppy. He's a victim of Rufio's love and respect. Floppy's been with Rufio longer than we have. He came with Rufio when we apopted him.
He used to have a nose. But after months of working at it, Rufio finally tore it off in triumph.

Since then, he's done more damage: 
First the eyes, one at a time. Then Floppy's left ear. I think the ear was an accident, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rufio finishes off the other ear.

I'd also like to add that Floppy's rear-end looks brand-new.

What does it all mean?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Clip Love

I once bought a hair clip in Nicaragua. Almost every woman wore one there. It became my favorite clip.
I searched the US (or central Florida), but no clips this shape were to be found.

Over the years I have lost and found the clip many times. I lost it last week when I was walking three miles with my friend.

I didn't realize until we got home. My legs hurt too much to backtrack on foot, so I drove along the road we walked and found it in a driveway.

I love this clip.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Azalea Progression

You know how I love azaleas!? Well, I did a little photo project for you guys (read: myself). This is the large, overgrown azalea bush outside our living room window.
February 11

February 24

February 27

February 27
Close-up of the buds ready to pop!

February 28

March 1 - Pop! This is a morning shot, so it's kind of faded.

March 2

March 3
There are still more buds waiting to bloom!

Yay! These bushes grow along the entire strip between the two houses, which means every window on that side of the house opens to these beautiful blossoms!