Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quick Garden Trip

Because today was unusually warm for this time of year, I took a break away from the chore of moving to meet Brigham and Janette at the Garden. We looked at the Christmas Trains display and then headed outside for a nice autumn stroll. While I was out, Nick continued to work on packing up our kitchen. He's worked so hard these past few days to be ready for the movers in the morning. By tomorrow at noon, we should have virtually all of our possessions at the new apartment. Hopefully I'll have the old apartment all clean by the late afternoon. The new place will be worth it, but moving is a lot of work. Also, they haven't installed a mailbox at the new place so we're not sure how we're going to get the mail. In the coming days, we'll post pictures of the new apartment, and get caught up on blogging the Christmas part of Christmas break.
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Moving Update

We've been too busy moving to tell you about the great Christmas we had. Here's a brief look at our progress. Most of our stuff is now at the end of the block in our new apartment. The movers are coming in the morning to take the furniture, but we're moving all of our boxes. Our friends Brigham & Janette and Chad and Angelina came over last night to help us. Angelina was a trooper in getting the new kitchen clean- the standard post-construction clean-up had not taken place. Since all three of the women were with child, we left the heavy lifting to our strong, capable husbands.

It looks like we still have a lot of stuff, but almost everything here the movers will take care of in about an hour or so tomorrow. I'm glad when we'll be settled in down the block.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nativity Done Right

The nativity scene posted yesterday was noted for its unbelievably awful nature. Today I'm posting something that is equally exceptional, it's just on the other end of the spectrum. We went to Temple Square with Nick's siblings and spouse the day after Christmas. Although it was freezing cold, we had a wonderful time walking around the square enjoying the lights.

I think this nativity scene is the most beautiful I could imagine. How could the backdrop be any more magnificent than the Salt Lake Temple, where Nick and I were married five years ago? The evening was filled with the Christmas spirit and I loved it.

Of course after wandering around in the frigid cold for about an hour, we had to get some hot chocolate at the Maverick to wrap up the evening.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Greatest Nativity Scene Ever

By greatest nativity scene ever, I mean that it's awesomely bad. Unbelievably bad. I toyed with the idea that vandals had actually changed the nativity scene overnight. We drove past this on the main street in Lehi on Christmas day. I made Nick turn around in snowy conditions so we could drive by again to take a picture.
This is the nativity scene outside a mortuary in Lehi. I think instead Mary laying a babe in a manger, she's laying him in a coffin. I don't know if it was just a convenient place to store an extra miniature coffin, or if the organizers wanted to imply that baby Jesus died. It is simply too bizarre for words.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree last night, complete with presents. When we have the light on in the office at night, it makes the tree light up for all those passing by on the freeway.
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Touched by a Clydesdale

Early this morning, just before my last chemistry exam ever, Janette, lil' A, and I went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens to meet with their very special guest, Scott the Budweiser Clydesdale. You can see the horses while you tour the brewery or visit Grant's Farm, but today we got to pet him. He was beautiful and had a very gentle temperament.

A photographer from the Post-Dispatch took A's picture, so we'll have to check out the paper tomorrow to see if she made the cut. Janette REALLY loves horses, and it was nice to watch her light up when she interacted with this one.

I've been made fun of for this coat by my mother and husband, but "that parka" as they call it was totally justified this week. It kept me from freezing to death each of the times I've had to chisel the ice off the car. More freezing rain is expected in the next few hours. Wish me luck!
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Place

Nick and I just returned form McDonald's. We went to take a Redbox movie back. When we went inside, I instantly noticed a group of three women as being out of place. It was like running into my mom and two others like her. At a McDonald's in Bountiful, there would be nothing interesting about them. At the McDonald's on Jefferson Ave at 9:00 PM, they definitely don't belong.

Nick noticed a car in the parking lot with a flat tire and Oklahoma license plates as we started to pull out. This McDonald's happens to be the closest place to pull over from the freeway off-ramp. Putting two and two together, we offered to help them change their tire.

Fortunately, AAA was on their way so they were all taken care of. I feel we get the blessings of being willing to serve without having to do any of the hard work. That work would be particularly unpleasant right now as it is 16 degrees, with windchill it's 4.

And for our Fifth Anniversary

For our fifth anniversary, we going to do something exciting. It's something we've always wanted to do. We're going to live on a ground floor. We've lived in a basement (it will probably be another decade before we live somewhere so nice again), a third story, and we're currently in a second story unit. At the end of the month we're moving, but not too far away. In fact, we're staying on the same block.

With the expected arrival of Baby Johnson in March, we decided we needed a little more room. We do have a small closet-like room in our current apartment that is big enough for a crib (barely), but with babies come Grandmas, and where would we put those? Also, our stairs are steeper than is currently standard. Kate calls our stairs "the ladder." I would be a little afraid of carrying a baby up and down them. And then there's the whole issue of trying to keep crawling babies from falling down those too steep stairs.

So, we're moving to the end of the same block, same side of the street. I'm sure it will still be a painful process. Our new place looks much like the current one. It was just finished being remodeled by the same company, so it has the same wall colors, wood floor, tile, and kitchen appliances. It just happens to be closer to the ground and with an additional bedroom.

And Nick, the traditional Fifth Anniversary gift is wood, but they don't make wood jewelry, so know that I can be flexible.

The Ice Storms Cometh

We had our first ice storm of the year last night. Actually, there was one we missed while we were in Utah for Thanksgiving. When we got back, three of our four car doors were frozen shut.

Last night's storm was not as bad as it had been predicted to be, but any ice is troublesome. Nick intentionally left later than usual for his clinic so that the roads would be clear and salted. The freeway I watch from my window seems to be moving along just fine, but there were lots of reports of accidents this morning. We may be getting more ice later this week, but only time will tell.

Update: Again, the car doors were frozen shut on the Taurus. I had to climb over to the driver's seat from the passenger side. Nick said he gloried in the garage as he drove the unfrozen, clear of ice Honda past everyone digging their cars out and using hot wet towels to thaw their door open.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Card Pictures

Yesterday, Nick had a surprise day off. The doctor's office he's doing his clinic work in right now canceled all their appointments and closed for the day. One doctor was on vacation and the other was with her husband after surgery, and needed an additional day out of the office. We had asked Janette to take our picture for Christmas cards, but hadn't found a good time to actually take the pictures.

Nick's surprise day off created the perfect opportunity. The weather was nice, (a high of fifty for December doesn't come along every day), Janette was willing and available, and Nick was home during daylight hours (which end about 5:00 these days.) We had a lovely walk through the Botanical Gardens, and Janette took some great pictures. I don't want to spoil the surprise (in case I actually follow through with sending cards) so I've posted a picture I like, but not the picture we'll use.

Thanks Janette!
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Brave, Brave People

Brigham and Janette have been working on redoing their bathroom this last week. They knew the window in their shower had created a water problem, so they expected some difficulty with the project. Even so, they've experienced more setbacks than they anticipated. This picture is Brigham installing glass brick in the window. It looks beautiful.

Their experience has taught me I really don't want to be involved in heavy-duty home improvement projects. Sure, I'm willing to paint a room, but when it comes to something structural, I'm calling a professional who will have it done in a fraction of the time.

Brigham and Janette are the rare home-improvers who actually take the time to have the quality of their work rival a professional. The people they bought their home from were not, which has caused quite a few problems. For example, their ceiling started to reveal leaks in the roof. Further investigation revealed a whole in the roof had been patched with silicone. Not Cool!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tree Update

We went to the Festival of Trees auction last night, but we didn't stick around until bidding closed. We know that our tree and the Wheadon's tree both sold, but we don't know for how much. We should be able to find out who bought them, but I don't have that information yet.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Festival of Trees

I extended my stay in Utah to be a part of the Festival of Trees, paying tribute to our friend Rebekah who passed away suddenly in March. The trees are decorated, viewed by thousands of people, and then auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Children's hospital.
We started with a pre-lit tree, and hundreds of bulbs. It took more work than you would think, and the festival has a lot of requirements that you have to meet, designed so that the tree can be moved in one piece and survive. We were there for nearly seven hours.
Great Aunt Norma helped entertain a couple of her great-grandchildren. It was a party with Wheadons- they set up their tree in the stall next to us. They've participated for several years and helped us learn the ropes.

Jewel came and her artistic touch added to the tree- she arranged the embellishments and star at the top to cap the tree off with just the right flourish. There were moments of tears as we thought of Rebekah, but we really had a lot of fun too. This tree also comes with a beautiful canvas print of Bouguereau's "Song of the Angels."

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Car

We attended sacrament meeting today with my parents and siblings. During the last talk, the speaker was connecting pride and ingratitude. His example culminated in his sentence, "Have you ever said, `Have you seen the Johnson's car? What a piece of Junk.'"

We all started laughing (reverently). Of course, Nick and I and my family have all seen our car and to one degree or another, have thought "What a piece of junk." The most common time that thought crosses my mind is when the car won't start. However, for a 1992 Honda, it's doing great. We're grateful for it and love it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip So Far

We've had a great time on our Thanksgiving break. We spent Thanksgiving day with Nick's mom, and since Debbie is an excellent cook it was a particularly delicious Thanksgiving. Caesar came with us. He had a great time chasing and hanging out with Sophie, Debbie's dog. They both loved a rolled down window.

We spent Friday with Nick's dad and little brother, S. We watched S play a game of football with the neighborhood kids. He's the one in camouflage, so it's like you can't see him. S came with us to my mom's house for a sleepover, and we stopped at Temple Square on the way home to look at the lights. We're making good use of our too-short time here.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mopping, Part 2

I mentioned that something always happens to the floor right after you mop. I realize Saturday to Wednesday is not right after you mop, but I do feel the floor has been cursed this week. I dropped more things than usual. Moments before the incident pictured above, a spice jar rolled off the fridge and shattered on the floor. I spilled my spaghetti dinner. I would like to give Nick just a titch of blame for adding oil to the noodles, which aided them in their efforts to escape the containment of my plate. Heat was also a factor. You can't stop food that's too hot to touch. Just let it go.
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Caesar- We're Coming!

Caesar, cheer up! We're going to be there in the morning. We're going to have so much fun!

Actually, he's despondent because he's wearing a T-shirt. He does get very excited when we come for a visit, even though I think he's happy most of the time even when we're gone.

And Caesar, we promise not to dress you up in people clothes.

Caution: Totally Gross

I emptied my new vacuum for the first time, and took a picture of all the fabulous things it had caught in its trap. Nick was surprised and disgusted by how much of the ball consisted of my hair. I was disgusted but not surprised.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quick Photo Updates

I had a small back load of photos to upload to the computer. Now I can share my favorite moments with you. We attended the Ward Thanksgiving party on November 15. Nick and I made the recipe of green bean casserole that states it makes 54 servings. It took two #10 cans of green beans, six cans of soup, and 1 1/2 pounds of french friend onions. Pictured above is the most impressive jell-o layering I have seen in some time, which was featured at that party.
This picture is not from Halloween. It's from last week. When we went to the Mills (a mall here) we got Miss A a Crown at Burger King. She added the pumpkin herself.
The Douglas Family refinished the wooden floor in their dining room. When they moved in, it was carpeting, which was reportedly in bad shape. They tore out the carpeting to reveal a thick layer of glue. You wouldn't know from looking at it that there was a beautiful oak floor underneath. Now that it's all finished, it's gorgeous.
This is my lab experiment from last week. I distilled the essential oil from cloves. It took absolutely forever, but is really the only experiment that I've done that is easily explainable. After obtaining a very small amount of the essential oil, we ran it through the IR Spectrometer. I know you're all excited.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

End of Autumn

I visited the botanical garden on Wednesday, and these were about the only leaves left on any trees. After we had a particularly cold Friday, I'm convinced that almost all weather I would identify as Autumn is gone. Winter is upon us, but the then the high yesterday was nearly 50, so savor these above-freezing days while you can.

In the last couple of months, I've replaced my mop, brooms, and most recently vacuum (thanks mom). You'd expect my apartment to be really clean now. I'm working on it. Because the new vacuum has a hose, something I've always wanted, I've been able to vacuum in all sorts of places that had never before been suctioned. There are now no dead flies in the crevasse of any window, there's no build-up of dust between the slats of my banister, and my blinds have never looked whiter.

I also mopped the kitchen for the first time in quite a while on Saturday. I recently replaced the mop I bought when we first got married. I hated it from the first time I used it, and because I don't need to mop all that often I didn't do anything about it until now. I got the foam head roller mop from Costco. It's a huge improvement.
So after the semi-annual mopping, a garbage bag broke open and spewed junk, including egg whites all over the floor. Murphy's law I guess. But it is all cleaned up now and likely to stay that way for a while. But it does seem like things happen to the floor JUST after you mop. Last time, the morning after I mopped I had work men tromp through the kitchen when it was wet outside, so the floor was quickly dirtied with muddy footprints. The egg whites were way worse.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

Be sure to vote in the Utah Baby Name's Poll, boys edition.

A few weird things have happened to us in St. Louis, and today I have another one to add to the list.

I was with my friend Sarah who had just had her braces taken off (Hurray!) and we were celebrating with her first post-alignment meal. Sarah made a comment that the helicopters sure sounded loud today. Since Sarah and I both live near two trauma-one hospitals and two children's hospitals, you might be surprised by how many helicopters and ambulances we're accustomed to hearing in a day.

A moment later, I commented to Sarah that yes, the helicopter was really loud, sounding like a lawnmower just outside her window or like a helicopter just overhead. In that instant, Sarah leaped out of her seat as she pointed outside. I turned around in time to see a cop in a bullet-proof vest disappear out of the corner of the courtyard. (I'm not sure if he jumped over the fence or what.)

We moved upstairs, for a couple reasons. It stands to logic that stray bullets are usually not that high (we hope, but fortunately we heard no shots fired.) And most importantly, I wanted to get a better view of the action. Nothing more happened in the front yard, but several minutes later we saw the cops, all in the vests, haul off a teenaged-looking suspect in cuffs. The helicopter continued to zoom overhead for at least fifteen more minutes. I decided to stay inside until the coast was clear. Going to your car in the middle of a manhunt seems like a great way to be carjacked.

Mom, we're fine. We love it here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Greatest Disapointment of Nick's Life

Now, it's not exactly fair to say that Nick is a picky eater. You can definitely say he is a particular eater. In addition to the list of things/flavors he doesn't eat [pickles, beans, mustard, olives, tomatoes, etc] there is a list of things he eats only under special conditions. Top on this list is mayonnaise.

Nick would NEVER put mayonnaise on a sandwich, but he will eat Ranch dressing. Even though Ranch is 1/2 mayonnaise, he claims it doesn't taste like mayonnaise to him. However, for this discussion it is assumed he's talking about Kraft Ranch. No other Ranch will do. But now there's a problem.

Recently I bought a new bottle of Kraft Ranch. We had salad as part of dinner, and Nick kept double checking with me, "This is the Kraft Ranch? It doesn't taste like Kraft. It tastes like mayonnaise." Usually I would understand his paranoia, as I have made many generic substitutions to his diet. But I know that both macaroni and cheese and Ranch dressing must always be Kraft.

Despite my reassurance that I had indeed bought regular Kraft Ranch, he went to the fridge and got out the bottle. If Nick ever cried, I'm sure he would have right then, as he found the "New Fresh Taste!" disclaimer on the part of the label that breaks when you twist the cap off. He only had one dressing, and now they had taken it away. He's been in mourning ever since.

Today we went to Sam's Club and found ourselves in the commercial foods section as we gathered the ingredients to make 54 servings of green bean casserole for our ward Thanksgiving party tonight. Nick spotted their commercial Kraft Ranch dressing. The label was not the new design. The bottle made no claims of "Fresh New Taste!"
Just in case it is still the old Ranch formula that allegedly does not taste like mayonnaise, we are now the proud owners of one gallon of Kraft Ranch dressing.
Anybody having salad soon? We would love to share our dressing with you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend Wedding

Saturday Nick and I attended the wedding of my former workmate. It was the first Catholic wedding I've been to. Everyone looked beautiful, especially the bride. It was really fun to see several of the nurses I worked with. While I've never caught myself thinking, "man, I really wished I was taking care of very sick people and had an overwhelming day at work," I do catch myself wishing I was with the nurses there. I met a lot of really great people during my time at St. Mary's. This picture is me with some of them (and the bride was one of the greatest, but Crystal is not in this picture so we'll mention her specifically.) Pictured is me, Micah, Kim, Tara, and Nicole.
The reception was in an art gallery, but I felt as if much of the art could have been done in a collaborative project between V and O.
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