Thursday, January 31, 2008

the last kid picked

Oh, it was so sad. Sad to the point that I left class feeling like the last kid picked for a game of kick ball.

So every semester the MA TESOL program at San Jose State administers a comprehensive exam for graduating students. And every semester the graduating students form study groups and meet weekly throughout the semester to study and prepare.

On Tuesday night I went to the first class of my last semester. It was like coming home. I knew everyone and they knew me. I love the people in my MA program. I even met up with some friends I hadn't seen in almost a year.

Before class I asked a friend if she had started thinking about a study group for the comps. Yes she had and would I like to join? They'd love to have me! And they're meeting every other Thursday at 1:30pm. Sigh. I work full time. Sorry--I won't be able to study with you guys.

After class I heard two friends talking about schedules, and I asked if they were forming a study group. Yes! Please study with us! When are you meeting? Monday or Wednesday mornings. Sigh. I work full time. Sorry--I won't be able to study with you guys.

The only thing that made me feel better was the fact that the other girls looked almost as disappointed as I did.

Working full time and being a night student sucks. That's all there is to it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

so close

Just filled out my Application for Award of Master's Degree. 16 weeks and counting. It's so close I can taste it. Not sure what it tastes like, but I can taste it.

returned home

Our wonderful President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away this past Sunday. He was a kind, gentle man who led our church for many years. He was highly respected by people around the world--inside and out of the church. Not to mention he had a great sense of humor and was always sure to cause smiles and laughs wherever he went. We will miss him greatly, but are comforted by the knowledge that he has returned to his wife and to our Father in Heaven.

If you don't know much about him, the New York Times wrote a wonderful article. Take a moment to read it:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

vroom vroom

Dianna got her license this morning!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Everyone knows you're supposed to figure out your tax deductions so that the minimal amount is taken out. And everyone knows that the government is essentially using any extra taxes you paid to earn interest for themselves. And everyone knows that when you allow the government to keep your money throughout the year and give it back to you in tax returns, you miss out on the interest you could have made on that money. And everyone knows that you should keep that money throughout the year, put it into savings, and earn interest.

But I know that if I had my taxes worked out perfectly so that the money came to me and not to the government, I would have spent the majority of the money. And I know I wouldn't have saved very much. And I know that means I wouldn't have earned interest. And I know I wouldn't have a check coming to me in February that could allow me to attend a friend's wedding, buy a washer and dryer, and get out of debt.

Now you tell me. Is it really that bad that I let the government hold on to my money for the year?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

big hunk of metal

We have been in the possession of a washer and dryer for a few months. We are technically borrowing them. But they have been causing us a great deal of stress (and costing us a great deal of money).

When we got them, the dryer was broken. So we had it fixed, which cost about $$$. But, alas, the dryer is broken again. And the washer is having problems, too. We could pour about $$$$ more into the appliances to fix them, but who's to say they aren't going to break again in a month? Then we'd have to pour another $$$$$ into them.

So here are our options:

1) Forget the idea of having a washer and dryer in our place, give them back, and live with the fact that we will spend $$ a month on laundry (and that doesn't include Richard and Dianna's laundry expenses). But even more likely, we will just never have clean clothes, because we are rarely home long enough to do coin-operated laundry. And when we finally get around to it, we do about 6 or 7 loads and end up with hours of clothes-folding to do. Not my idea of time well spent.

2) Pay to have them fixed again---That will be twice in the 3 months we've had them. That's ridiculous, right? My gut tells me they will break again. (You know, since my gut talks and all.)

3) Spend a little more to buy a new (but used) set off Craigslist---But who knows what condition they will be in, and there's just as much of a chance that they will break as well. And then we'll just have to fork over even more $$$$$$$$$$$!

4) Spend even more to buy a brand-new set that will be our washer and dryer for life. If we buy a new set, we can get a 4-year warrantee and not have to spend another penny on them for at least 4 years. We hope to stay in our apartment for at least the next 3 years, and by that time they will have long since paid for themselves, and we can then store them if we temporarily end up in a place that doesn't have a washer/dryer hook-up.

Here's one (of many) dilemmas. I feel like for every new hunk of metal purchased, someone takes a perfectly good used hunk of metal to the dump. This doesn't sit well with me. But how do you find that perfectly good used hunk of metal?? There's no way of telling whether the used hunk of metal marked "in perfect condition" is really in perfect condition. It's a gamble.

What would you do??

Friday, January 18, 2008

under pressure

I can't work unless I'm under pressure. It's incredibly annoying. And unless I have something I'm training for, I start slacking on my exercise. People are constantly asking me why I do so many races. Why? Because is causes pressure--which makes me get off my butt.

When I read Julia's post about her new mantra, I asked her for a mantra that would get my butt up and out of my chair to go running. Julia proposed something intriguing. "Beat Julia." A little competition--who can run the best 4-mile time by Monday. Considering I haven't been running at all lately (that's what happens when there's no race on the calendar), she's going to kick my butt. But I don't even care. It's the pressure that I like. My fastest 4-mile time? Probably 34 minutes (8 1/2 minute miles). I'll be lucky if I run 9-minute miles by Monday. So I suggested we see who can get the fastest time every week.

Granted, I'm not the most competitive person, so I'll feel a little silly (and a little evil) saying "Beat Julia!" while I run, but since it was her idea, I'll just have to go for it.

Thanks for the motivation, Julia! Let the games begin!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


It takes about 20 muscles to smile and about 40 to frown. So does that mean when I'm having a bad day I'm getting a better facial workout?

quite the fashionista

I'm exstatic. Not just slightly amused. Exstatic. We went to Petsmart on Tuesday to get a new home for little Herbie. (That's what I'm calling him for now. We'll see if it sticks.) It was SO fun. I wanted to buy everything (and we practically did).

Before: The ghetto. Large tupperware home with small tupperware lids serving as water and food dishes and a little black drawer serving as a hideout.

After: MTV Cribs. 10-gallon aquarium, calcium sand, under-tank heater, thermometer and hydrometer, real wood for him to climb on, a real wood shelter, a plant (which is quickly dying), a water dish and sponge, and two new haute couture shells. Oh, and his old tupperware food dish just to remind him that he's still, he's still Jenny from the block.

The first night he didn't do anything. Just hid in his shelter.

BUT! This morning I went to check on him and noticed there were tracks all over the place. Food trailed into the sand. Half the water was gone. But the best part? There was his old shell sitting in the sand! He had switched shells! Not only did he change clothes, but he actually tried on both outfits before picking one (as evidenced by the rejected shell being completely flipped over and turned around).

Old outfit:

New outfit:

Rejected outfit:

Quite the fashionista!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the human body: take 2

The brain. How amazing is the brain? Last year I started reading a book by one of our graduating medical students. It's The Three Pound Enigma, by Shannon Moffett. Shannon explains the brain through descriptions of her own interactions with neurosurgeons, patients, and research. The patients' experiences are amazing, but even more amazing is the way she describes the intricacies of the brain in ways that even I can understand. It's not meant to be a thrilling page-turner, but it definitely keeps my attention.

I have had two MRIs of my brain in my life (which, by the way, I find completely relaxing and actually fall asleep during). Right after I had the second done, the MRI technicial said, "Have you ever seen your brain?" What kind of a question is that? Who actually gets to see their brain? So he actually showed me the cross-section pictures the MRI took of my brain. It was the coolest thing ever. He started on one side and scrolled through--it was like we were literally going through my brain from one side to the other (or back to front or top to bottom--I can't remember). And yes, it was all there.

Not my brain. I should see if I can get a picture of my MRI.

The body and the way it works is fascinating. But the mysteries that still surround the functions of the brain are mind boggling. There is so much we don't know.

The brain scares me more than anything else. Break an arm and it will most likely heal. Break your brain? A whole different story. Working at a medical school, I get to read through a lot of personal statements (the "essays" they write to submit with their residency applications). One student in the past wrote about a patient he encountered who came to the hospital with a self-diagnosed case of schizophrenia. For some reason that blew me away. Can you imagine diagnosing yourself with schizophrenia? All the psychiatry students wrote about their touching experiences with these patients, and it made me think. Depression, anziety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction. They are all very real and very scary.

Last month I attended a depression workshop at Kaiser. Have you ever seen how many health and wellness classes they offer? I find it fascinating. I learned so much in that two-hour session. We even got to take a little test that measures our depression severity. I scored a 2 on of a scale of 0-19+. That meant I'm not at all depressed. But I could have told you that without the test. :) The class was so incredibly informative, and I think everyone should take it. You never know when a friend, family member, or even you might start showing signs of depression. It's like recognizing the signs of a heart attack. Best to catch it early. Knowledge is power, right?

Assuming no mental disorders, what about personalities? How do they interact with our brains? How exactly do our spiritual beings interact with our physical beings? Did we have the exact same personalities in the preexistence before we received bodies? Did the addition of a brain filled with hormones alter our personalities? Would our personalities have the same fundamental characteristics even if we had been raised in a different environment? Each of the kids in my family have very distinct personalities. Sometimes our personalities clash and cause tension, but most of the time it's just amusing.

I took the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (like the Myers Briggs personality test). I'd like to take the Myers Briggs and see if it gives the same results. It's kind of creepy how interpretations of your 4-letter "type" can really describe you. Granted, it's not exact--there are exceptions, but it's not that far off, either. What made me one type and my sister another? Do our personality types change over time or do we just manifest them differently?

This is your brain. This is your brain on Homer. Any questions?

So many questions. So much to learn. So little interest in actually figuring it all out. I think I'll just let people like Shannon do the research and I'll learn through them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

our new pet likes black boxes

Along with their leftover milk, cheese, and frozen chicken, we inherited the Derby's hermit crab when they moved. I wasn't sure I was on board when Christian said, "Yeah! We'll take him!" But now I love him. He's scared of people and stays in his shell whenever we're around. We keep him on the couch close to the heater since it has been so cold. Last night we put him in a casserole dish so we could clean his tupperware (yeah, not such a glamorous life). When we got back from Christian's soccer game, he was gone. We weren't all that worried, except that our living room was incredibly messy and he had a million places to hide.

We only moved a couple pillows and found him hiding in the curve of a pair of snowboarding goggles. I felt so bad for him (or her--I have no idea. We'll say it's a he). I had this crazy thought of having a free-roaming hermit crab living in our apartment--free to roam wherever he wanted instead of being kept in a little tank. But then I came to my senses. We would step on him or he would pinch us. And no one would ever come over to our house knowing a hermit crab might crawl out from under the couch. Creepy.

So we decided to go get him an adequate (and much larger) home with hiding places, plenty of sand, and friends. Yes--friends. And then we'll give them one extra shell and they'll play musical shells. It will be lovely. But until then we needed something for him to hide in. So I grabbed a tiny black drawer from the box on my dresser. I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but the minute I put it in his...uh...tupperware, he crawled right in. He now hangs out in there--outside his shell, not all drawn in. It makes me happy.

I keep wanting to call him Hermy, but that's such a horribly unoriginal name for a hermit crab. Meghan had a name for him, but I forgot what it was. Dianna suggested Fred, but it just doesn't sound right when I say it. Any suggestions?

I had a dream last night that he died. And I was so sad. Looks like he's in our family for good now.


Pictures should do the trick:

Getting ready to board. Nice face, Christian:

Dianna and Toni:


Nice view of Christian and the lake:

Christian jumping:

Oops. My mittens prevented me from taking this shot a split second earlier:

Richard decided to groom the run with his butt:

Dianna hadn't been snowboarding in years, and she did great:

Richard standing on his head:

Christian and I decided to go for a walk, and of course we had to go down to the lake:

Hanging out by ourselves on the pier:

I thought Christian looked so cute in his outfit, but he wasn't amused:

Other than practically being knocked off the chair lift (not to mention any names, but wait your turn, Richard!) and a long, smelly, emotional ride home, the trip was great!

Monday, January 14, 2008

the human body: take 1

As many of you know, the human body fascinates me. I think it is the most amazing creation. And I consider it one of my many hobbies.


Side note: I removed the side link with my weight and measurements. Having is sit there without any progress made it look like some strange obsession instead of a progress report. And that's not what I want to convey. Getting into shape is my hobby, not my obsession. If it were an obsession, I'd have 10 percent body fat. :)

Love our bodies or hate our bodies? I know it's not always black and white, but most people lean toward one side or the other. It's often hard to love our bodies in this perfection-obsessed world. Plastic surgery, diets, age-defying products. Like I said, nothing is black and white, so I don't think all surgery, diets, and products are evil. That would just be silly and border on extremist. But it's important to be cautious and healthy.


I think the way the human body changes and morphs is amazing. A friend of mine (a teenager) was recently complaining that her butt and thighs were growing. She is one of the most beautiful people I know (and has a hot little body), and her "growing" butt and thighs are only changing her from an absolutely beautiful girl to an absolutely beautiful woman. The other day I met a guy at the gym who had lost 400 pounds. What an accomplishment. He looked great, but more importantly he was so proud of himself. Another friend of mine recently struggled through an inflamed vestibular nerve in her ear, causing vertigo and over four months of recovery time. There was nothing medicine could do to heal the problem--she just had to wait it out, and her body worked it out and fixed it on its own. I now have vericose veins on my legs and more noticeable wrinkles around my eyes. No big deal. That's what's supposed to happen and makes me love my body that much more. It works. It's doing what it's supposed to.

I know growing old isn't always glamorous. I know it's frustrating when you can't do the things you used to. I know there are aches and pains and hard times associated with an old body. But it's natural.


I love my body, and I think it's fun to see how it changes. So I'm finally going to start my project. I've told some people about my project, but not many. Some people have looked at me like I'm insane. Others have understood the art behind it. It makes me want to be 80 already, just to see the final product.

Picture this: a flipbook look at the changes a body goes through from the "prime" years through old age. To some people, this might sound depressing, but to me it sounds beautiful. I'm sure I'm not the first to do this, but since it will be of myself, I'm quite excited. I plan to take pictures of myself (in a bikini--I'm just not artsy enough to go nude) at set intervals for the rest of my life. Pregnancy, recovery, losing weight, gaining weight, growing old, changes in the shape of my body, changes in the elasticity of my skin. Not to mention it will be fun to see how my hair color/style/length morphs over time. Of course, I won't be posting these pictures. At the end of the project, it will be art. But until then, it's just pictures of me in a bikini. Not happening.


Who knows what the future holds. Who knows if I will live long enough to finish this project. But I'm not worried about it. Just excited.

Friday, January 11, 2008

it's friday

Guess where we're headed tonight...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

the perfect weekday

The perfect weekday would include the following (in no particular order):

30 minutes of eating breakfast and just being slow.
1 hour of scripture study.
1 to 2 hours of exercise.
15 minutes to shower, do my hair, and get ready for the day (I can dream, right?).
3 hours of home improvement activities (such as organizing).
At least 5 hours of hanging out with just Christian (a movie, a bike ride, a nap, a game, or just sitting around).
2 hours of hanging out with friends and/or family.
45 minutes for a pedicure.
45 minutes for a facial.
1 hour just to sit down and read a book or look up shoes on the internet.
3 hours for taking classes (such as nutrition, photography, dance, auto-shop, personal trainer certification, etc).
2 hours to teach an ESL class.
2 hours (and a huge beautiful kitchen) to make a yummy dinner.
Oh, and 9-10 hours to sleep every night.

And that's just a weekday. Weekends will be spent snowboarding, wakeboarding, camping, hiking, scuba-diving, sky-diving, shopping, and going out to movies and dinner.

What would your perfect weekday include?

day 7: the flight home

(This was written on January 4th)

We took a 6am flight home this morning, which means we got up at the insanely early hour of 4:45am (which is 2:45am back home). We were only about 10 minutes from the airport and we walked up to our gate about thirty minutes before the departure time. We literally walked up and got on the plane. Perfect. Our connecting flight was perfect, too. Walked up and straight onto the plane. I think I like it that way.

The first leg of the flight was in a little plane from Huntsville to Atlanta. The second, from Atlanta to San Jose, has been pretty funny.

Let’s start with the gas. Someone near us keeps passing gas. It’s pretty bad. And it’s definitely not either of us. Every half hour or so we look at each other, scrunch up our noses in disgust, and giggle a little (quietly, of course—we wouldn’t want to embarrass the offending passenger).

Next is the flight attendant. She walked up and asked us what we wanted to drink. Christian asked for a sprite, and I asked her what other kinds of soda they had. “You want club soda?” No, what other kinds of soda do you have? With a confused look, she responded, “We have club soda.” No, what OTHER kinds of soda do you have? “You mean soft drinks? We have sprite and coke.” Oh, I didn’t realize soda only meant club soda. I can’t quite figure this out. Shouldn’t a flight attendant, who obviously does this multiple times every day, dealing with people from all over the world, realize that some people refer to “soft drinks” as “soda” or “soda pop” or “pop?” It was like she had never heard that before. Christian, being the nice guy that he is, said that maybe she just couldn't hear me. I guess I could give her the benefit of the doubt. But not after she handed out the crackers.

I was on this same flight just over a month ago, on my way home from my trip with Jennifer. The flight attendant gives you the option of cheese crackers, peanuts, or little cookies. They even announce it at the beginning of the flight: “A flight attendant will have drinks and your choice of...” So when I heard the announcement on this flight, I immediately looked forward to the little cookies. I was really hungry. So while she was pouring our drinks, she proceeded to set three packets of cheese crackers on the tray of the guy in the aisle seat. She hadn’t even asked any of us what kind of snack we wanted. Just plopped them down. Trying to come up with some sort of explanation, I thought maybe the guy had asked her for three of them and I just hadn’t noticed. I eyed the little cookies on her cart as she continued giving us our drinks. When she was done, she asked the people opposite us what they wanted. I kept thinking she would come back and ask what snack we wanted. When she moved on to the next aisle, I figured out that the three cracker packets were for the three of us and that she was just expecting the guy in the aisle seat to pass them down.

Then there’s the guy in the aisle seat. Christian and I obviously had not gotten any snacks. And there were three sitting on his tray. What did he do? He rearranged them on his tray and started drinking his drink. I really didn’t want cheese crackers, but my stomach was starting to hurt out of hunger and the lady was long gone. Christian and I kept looking at each other, laughing a little, confused about why he hadn’t passed them down. We waited patiently for probably almost 5 minutes, hoping he would realize that he was supposed to pass them down. No such luck. I couldn’t believe it! Was he oblivious? (More stinky gas...) Or was he just keeping them for himself on purpose? I couldn’t take it anymore! I told Christian it was time to ask, and he politely said, “Hey, could we get some of those?” And do you know what the guy did? He handed him one. ONE! He gave Christian one, opened the other to start eating it, and put the third one in the seat pouch in front of him for later. Are you kidding me?? It was so hard to contain our laughter. We just looked at each other in disbelief.

The flight attendants just came around for the second time. It was a different lady. She promptly asked, “What would you like to drink?” I played it safe and asked for water. She immediately came back with, “And what kind of snack? Crackers, peanuts, or cookies?” Cookies, please. And that was that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

in desperate need of photos

My blog is lacking photos. It needs them desperately. If my internet is working tonight, I'll sit down for a couple hours and put the photos of our trip into my trip blogs. And I'll add Christmas photos. But seriously, resizing and posting pictures can take a really long time. I hope my internet is fast tonight.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

let it snow

It's snowing in the Sierras! I got so excited about the stormy weather and immediately said, "When are we going to Tahoe??!!" His answer? "Tomorrow." Wait, what? He was totally serious. Christian and I are flying home from Alabama tomorrow morning. We're getting into the airport around 10am. Let's drive to Tahoe as soon as we get home. I immediately said, "Ok! Yay! Let's go to Tahoe!!"

We are obviously lacking sleep and common sense. It is storming in the mountains, we've been on the road for 6 days, Christian drove about 2400 miles, and we were actually considering driving up to the mountains. Wow.

Of course, we came to our senses. We're not driving to Tahoe. Maybe next weekend when it stops snowing and there are 6 feet of new snow for us to play in. Can't wait!

Snapshot from Homewood's webcam:

Day 6: Madison, AL

We spent the day in Madison, Alabama with the Derbys. Well, technically we spent the day in the Derby's house in Madison, Alabama. We literally spent the whole day in their house. Boxes everywhere. But the boys had a table set up with these little remote control work trucks and a whole system for moving around little blue and red balls. It kept them (and Christian) entertained for hours.

Views of Madison

That's pretty much all we did. Christian and I took a little nap. We looked at a real estate magazine, gawking at how inexpensive the houses are. Massive houses on acres of lake-front property with stables and guest houses were less than $2 million. Even more amazing were the 4-bedroom, 3-bath brand new houses for $250,000. Wow.

After dinner we stopped back at the Derby's hotel to grab our stuff and get a ride over to a hotel by the airport. When we got to their room, there was a note on the door. A sprinkler had broken in the attic and had leaked into their room. Technically the note said it had "flooded" their room. Not good. All our stuff and their stuff were in the room. Luckily the room had gotten wet, but was not necessarily "flooded." Some things were damp, but the only thing ruined was a pair of Jennifer's leather boots. Poor thing. They were her favorites. Just one more thing they didn't need during this super hectic move.

But because of all the trouble, the hotel moved them from a one-bedroom suite to a 2-bedroom suite. So they decided to have us just stay in the second bedroom. That works, right? Our sixth hotel in six nights.

Can you tell she just said "You're not seriously going to make me take a picture"?

So here we are hanging out in the common room of the suite. Christian is building ceiling-high towers with blocks, and Finn is running around naked after his bath. Ahhh, we love hanging out with the Derbys.

I think I need to buy Christian some building blocks.

I just finished telling Christian for the 100th time that he needs to not laugh when the kids do something they're not supposed to. He says he just can't keep a straight face. I told him he has a few years to practice, because he'd better figure it out before our kids are old enough to make him laugh. I think it's no use.

Their faces show how much fun Christian is.

Time to go to bed. We have a very early flight tomorrow morning. Heading home.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Day 5: Jackson, MI to Madison, AL

7:15am: Out the door and into the truck. Not bad. I like Jackson. I could spend more time in Louisiana and Mississippi.

8:30am: A town called Chunky. And a river called Chunky River. Funny.

9:04am: We’re in Alabama! Looks just like Louisiana and Mississippi. Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas took so long to drive across that Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama seem to fly by in the blink of an eye.

9:30am: We’re at a gas station and Christian can’t get the gas cap to come off. We’ve had no problems with it thus far, but this time it feels like it’s been welded on. And the poor guy has been standing out in the cold for the last 10 minutes trying to remove it. Less than 5 hours from our destination, and we can’t even get gas. Great.

9:35am: He got it! Way to persevere, Christian. Now get back in the truck and warm up those hands! Christian just declared that he doesn’t like experiencing all four seasons and plans to stay in California where the weather is pretty mild the whole year round.

11:27am: For the first time this trip, we are on a freeway heading north. For once the sun isn’t glaring into my eyes through my side window. It’s kind of nice. We just passed through Birmingham (which, by the way, actually had an impressive-sized downtown) and we’re heading North toward Huntsville and Madison. You know what’s funny? I’m typing about finally heading to Madison, Alabama, and the narrator on the CD is talking about heading to Madison Avenue, New York City. Funny coincidence.

11:33am: A truck just went by with a deer in the back. We could see the antlers sticking out. Guess they had a good hunting morning.

12:35pm: Decided to stop for lunch. We had a choice: Waffle House or Hardee’s. I wanted a big waffle from Waffle House. But I knew we were almost an hour away, so grabbing something quick at Hardee’s and eating it in the truck seemed like the best idea. As we walked into Hardee’s, Christian said something about sitting down and eat it. What?? If I had known he wanted to sit and eat, I would have gone to Waffle House! But by that time we had parked the truck and were on our way in. Arrrggg! So I downed a cheeseburger and curly fries and pretended they were a yummy waffle. Didn’t really work, but it was worth a try.

1:07pm: 10 miles to Madison! We made it! Luckily, I already know where I’m going from my Thanksgiving trip with Jennifer. Can’t wait to get out of this truck and spend a little time with the Derbys in Alabama. While it has been cold everywhere we’ve been, the weather has been nice and sunny the whole way here—perfect just for our trip.

10:12pm: Poor Derbys. Moving is so hard. Especially when you’re moving back into a house you’ve been renting out for the last 6 years. There’s so much to do. We helped them move their stuff into their house tonight. Half a dozen guys from the Elders Quorum at church came to help. They were so incredibly friendly and made the moving fun. It was fun that the Derbys already knew the guys (and we just getting to re-know them). The guys from the ward were trying to convince us to move out there, too. I know they’ll love being back in their old ward. After just standing around and laughing with Jennifer and Mike, I know we will miss them so much. Up until now it wasn’t like they were really going to be gone since we would be seeing them out here. But now that we’re here and flying home in a day and a half, it’s real. We’re going home and they’re staying here. And we’ll miss them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Day 4: Kilgore, TX to Jackson, MI

8:59am: Finally got out of bed. I think we’ve given up on the idea of getting an early start.

10:00am: Back on the freeway. And there are trees everywhere! Half of them are deciduous and in their dormant brown winter state, but the other half are evergreens. And the landscape is continuously rolling. It’s such a stark contrast to the flat grasslands we drove through yesterday. And the shoulders of the road and the area in the median are covered in new green grassy growth. Today we’re driving into (and probably all the way through) Louisiana. We are absolutely determined to stop and eat something interesting for lunch. I think we’ll stop in Monroe for lunch.

10:47am: We’re in Louisiana! And it’s green! And wet! I love it. Interesting billboards. They are advertising a casino, but at the bottom of each, there is an advertisement for a phone number to call if you have a gambling problem.

11:02am: Just drove past an old cemetery in Shreveport. Not one headstone was straight. It looked like every single one was crooked. Looked like the perfect hauntedi cemetery. I think the stones are crooked because the zombies come up out of the ground every night and don’t bother fixing their misplaced headstones. Just crossed the Red River, and, of course, there was a big beautiful riverboat on it.

11:30am: Swampy wetness everywhere! Ponds, creeks, rivers. I love it. I would just love to see this place in the Spring. I’m sure it’s amazing. We’re listening to one of my CDs and I forgot that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech is on it. So appropriate for driving through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (considering he mentions Mississippi and Alabama specifically). Although there’s still a long way to go to fully be free of racism in this country, I think he would be proud to see how far it has come from when he gave that speech. Let freedom ring.

1:33pm: Oh my goodness. We just stopped for lunch. I think I’m moving to Louisiana. No. If I moved here I’d end up fat and broke—because I’d spend all my money on food. We just stopped at Copelands of New Orleans. Looks like a chain restaurant since it was across from a mall and just had that feel to it, but it was SO good! I had Eggplant Pirogue (fried eggplant with an au gratin sauce and shrimp over angel hair pasta) and Christian had the Shrimp Etouffee (gulf shrimp in a dark roux-??? sauce over steamed rice). Both were absolutely delicious. We sat there the entire time commenting on how good our food was with every bite. But the best part? Both dishes came with a biscuit. These biscuits literally melted in our mouths. I don’t think I have ever eaten a biscuit quite like it. We skipped dessert since we were both so full, but we saw them in a counter on the way out. Oh man. They looked so good. I can’t wait to go somewhere for dinner!

10:01pm: What a great day. After lunch we continued listening to our 3rd book: The Devil Wears Prada. The scenery was wonderful. Trees everywhere. Agricultural fields cut out of the trees. We crossed the crazy winding Mississippi River, and the time just kept flying by. Before we knew it we were in Jackson, Mississippi. After only 5 hours on the road (considering we drove 15 hours the day before), we decided Jackson would be a great place to stop.

I chose the Cabot Lodge Hotel because it was near a state park and a recommended restaurant. The sun was threatening to go down, so we rushed back out to the truck and drove to the state park. It was closed. Bleh. New Years day. So we kept driving and turned onto a residential street. It was meant to be. The houses were amazing. After winding through the neighborhood, we realized it was very close to our hotel. So we parked the truck at the hotel and set off on foot. We love looking at old houses. Brick. Columns. Intricate details. Love it.

When it started getting dark, we walked back to our hotel, changed our clothes, and went down to the exercise room. I only ran for 20 minutes, but it felt so good to get some exercise.

We then braved the cold to walk up the street to eat at Schimmels, but when we got to it, we realized it was closed. Bleh. New Years Day. Luckily, Christian suggested we walk around the corner to see if there was anything down the road. I doubted it, but then we saw Que Sera Sera, one of the other restaurants we had thought about going to. Perfect! We both ordered the same thing—Bayou Ribeye with onions and mushrooms and garlic pasta. Mmmmm. And the fried mushroom appetizer was scrumptious.

Braving the cold again, we walked back to our hotel. The lobby of the hotel is cozy and decorated like a mountain lodge. We chose the couch near the fireplace and spent the next half hour reading magazines and relaxing.

I think today was worth the countless hours in the truck.

Tomorrow: destination Madison, Alabama!