the Finn Review

Dear Finley,

You are one. You are joy. You are mine.

I love the way your thighs are ticklish. And your armpits. And your knees. And the back of your neck.

I love the way you kiss, mouth wide open and with an emphatic "muah!" My knees and forearms have never felt so loved.

I love the way you look straight at me while you very deliberately pick up a piece of food, hold it out over the floor, and drop it. You never do it with pear though. That's edible gold.

I love the way you excitedly bounce yourself across the floor or sway back and forth until you fall over as soon as you hear music. 

I love the way you get excited at the end of a book. The construction trucks made an adventure playground again? The gorilla snuck back into the bed again? You never seem to see it coming.

I love the way you'll finish nursing, roll onto your back, and start clapping. It makes me feel like a million bucks.

I love the way you can completely change my mood with just a smile or a sound or a look. 

I prayed for a baby who would be content, joy-filled, and a good sleeper. Two out of three isn't bad at all. 

I love you, my little Finn. You are special beyond belief. 



10 bad guesses and 10 bad clues

Well, things got a little hectic at the end of the semester and then we went in vacation, so I didn't finish this as soon as I was supposed to. Still, now it's time for my interpretations of what Sharayah might have meant by the ten nouns she claimed describe me. I really tried, but most of the time I had no idea and just gave whatever idea made me chuckle to myself.

1. Boiling water - A watched pot never boils, but sure enough if you look away there is soon boiling water doing whatever it is you needed boiling water for. I think maybe this means that at first glance it doesn't seem like I do much, but somehow when you look away I get tons of things done.

2. Celery - Not very good on its own but ok added to a good soup or something. Insubstantial but adds flavor. I don't know how this applies to me.

3. Cuckoo clock - Dependable (predictable?) but a little eccentric (or annoying?).

4. Pickwick Papers - I'm ashamed that I don't know enough to get how the literary reference applies. I know it's a Dickens book, but I haven't read it. I know Sharayah thinks it's really funny. Let's just say this one means smart and funny.

5. Costco's 93-inch bear - Impressive to look at, but not worth the expense.

6. Female elephant - She won't tell me why it has to be a female elephant. She won't even tell me if it matters for the explanation. It can't be that "elephants never forget," because I definitely have the absentminded professor thing going on. I'm really stuck on this one. Large nose?

7. Onion - I saw this one and said, "I have layers? Like an ogre?" I was met with blank stares, so I continued, "Like in Shrek?" More blank stares. So probably that's not the reference she was making. I make you cry but not because you're sad? That doesn't sound good.

8. Antivirus software - I protect you, but I'm always pestering you to upgrade me to the premium version.

9. White vinegar - Very useful for a wide variety of applications. Kind of gross smelling. I don't like this one.

10. Toilet paper - This is pretty weird. Toilet paper is for cleaning your bum and not much else. I guess I do clean a lot of bums in this house.

That devolved pretty quickly. I don't think I got any of them right.

Next are my 10 nouns for Sharayah. These are all used as nouns here even when the more common meaning is an adjective.

Self-help book
Alfred Pennyworth
Boxer crab


nine plus ten

At the end of every day I find myself completely blanking on the three dozen hilarious things that Lucas said that day. This bothers me so much. I try to jot them down somewhere. I try to make a mental note that will trigger the memory later on. But alas. Of the 142 things that I wanted to remember, I have managed to write down... 9 of them. Sigh.

I am going to make yet another concerted effort to remember more, but in the meantime, I feel as if I might as well share the 9 that did stick with me. So here goes..

Bathroom brainstorming:
Me: "Are you done going to the bathroom or do you have more?"
Lucas: "Mommy, maybe we should brainstorm some more."
Me: "Brainstorm about what?"
Lucas: "We need to brainstorm some more about if I am done or not. We should do some more thinking."
Me: "...I don't think I can help with that."
*Lucas places his hand on my shoulder and leans his head in close to my face*
Lucas: "Let's do some thinking, Mommy."

Book snoring:
*Lucas is running around the room making a "zzzzzzz" sound*
Me: "Are you pretending to be a bee?"
Lucas: "Um, no. Bees don't say 'zzzzzz.' People sleeping do."

Toy sharing:
*Lucas and Finley start fussing*
Me: "What's going on, boys? You need to play nicely with each other."
Lucas: "Finley has the button!"
Me: "It's okay if he plays with that button. You can play with one of the other buttons or wait until he's done with that one."
Lucas: "But... Finley tried to give the button to me but he accidentally gave it to himself!"

*trying to explain who Captain America is*
Me: "He's a superhero. He fights bad guys."
Lucas: "But, but heroes don't fight. They are HEROES. They rescue people."

Introducing Disney movies:
Lucas: "Wall-E sounds like the capital of North Carolina."

*Lucas is stirring up some concoction in his pot*
Lucas: "Then you put in some soda..."
Me: "Soda? What's soda?"
Lucas: "Baking soda!"

Deep thoughts:
Me: "So what would you like to talk about?"
Lucas: "Well, if I found a big pile of dirt... I would dig in it to see if Finley was under it and then I would rescue him and help him out."
Me: "...why would Finley be under a pile of dirt?"
Lucas: "Anything could be under a pile of dirt."

Language arts:
*Jason is talking about a book he's reading*
Me: "How's the language?"
Jason: "Um... Slight."
Lucas, the ever listening: "How do you speak in slight?"

Naming schemes:
Lucas: "Why is it called toilet paper?"
Jason: "It's like paper and you use it on the toilet."
Lucas: "Well then... why isn't soap called bathroom bubbles?"

Welcome to the mind of Lucas!

Switching gears now, here's how the next round of our Ten themed posts are going down. [WE ARE GETTING SO CLOSE TO ANNIVERSARY EXTRAVAGANZA/the end of these excessive posts.] Jason chose the topic of Nouns, so nouns it will be. We will each compile a list of ten (obviously) nouns that we think describe the other person. That person will then have the chance to figure out what is meant by these descriptive nouns before the "real" answers are given. It may sound confusing, so let's cut to the chase and get to my list of ten nouns. Apparently I'm going first since someone was supposedly too busy with work and life responsibilities to come up with his ten words. *ahem*

Ten Nouns Describing Jason
- Boiling water
- Celery
- Cuckoo clock
- Pickwick Papers
- Costco's 93-inch bear
- Female elephant
- Onion
- Antivirus software
- White vinegar
- Toilet paper

So there you have it. Perfection. Jason will attempt to interpret these nouns for himself as well as give his list of ten for me in his next post. This is going to be good, you guys. Solidly mediocre entertainment!

Round 1: GUESS WHO?

Answer: "I'm Captain America!"

Round 2: GUESS WHO?

Answer: "I'm a salamander pretending to be an upside down walrus!"


toddler tears

We take a momentary pause in our Ten-themed posts for a brief glimpse into the life and mind of Lucas.

Reason to melt down in blubbery tears #417: You want to name your work of art "The Unusual Scribble Picture" but your 3-year-old mind cannot figure out how to spell "unusual" and your mom is upstairs putting your brother down for a nap...

The best he could sound out was "UHN UZURA" and he knew it wasn't right, so I came downstairs to a sobbing kid bent over his picture saying, over and over, "Mommy, Mommy, I don't know how to do it. How do you spell unusual? Hoooow?" I had such a mix of emotions when I saw him - sadness that my boy was so torn, amusement that this was a crying moment at all, pride that he had made such a valiant and thoughtful effort at such a new and difficult word...

Lucas, you are my ever so unusual and incredibly special little boy. You amaze me every day with your brilliance and goodness and maturity. Never stop tackling the difficult things. Never be afraid to ask for help. Never stop trying. I love you, buddy. So much. All the way to Papua New Guinea and Lichtenstein and back.


ten ways (the he version)

You know the drill by now. Here are 10 ways I'm the same as I was 10 years ago, and 10 ways I'm different.

-I'm still socially awkward. Luckily I have built-in friends at home. And given enough time to get used to people, I do alright having regular human conversations out in the wild.
-I dress the same. Seriously, if I hadn't lost so much weight (see differences below) I'd probably be wearing the exact same clothes. I don't care about fashion or trendiness. I just want to wear what's comfortable and doesn't look terrible. Fairly casual polo or button down shirts for work (mostly lumberjack style shirts lately). Jeans, cargo shorts, t-shirts for not-work. I guess I have more t-shirts without words on them now.
-I still don't like shaving. I've finally found the solution, though.
-I still can't help following politics even though still not one politician represents my views on most topics.
-Pizza is still pretty great (although my toppings are different, see below).
-I spend large portions of the day thinking about math. Really, I spend large portions of the day thinking, period. I'm still pretty quiet and introspective. I also think about my kids, my family, the future, books I'm reading, music, how to solve the world's problems. But math definitely occupies a larger share of my thought-space than it should for a normal person.
-Quotes from Friends, The Office, and Homestar Runner still pop into my head frequently. At least I say fewer of them out-loud.
-I am equally good at juggling. Which is to say, I am still not good at juggling. Lucas likes to watch me, but my (lack of) skills have led to him thinking that juggling is just throwing a bunch of things in the air and watching them all land. He sometimes comes into a room with his hands full and says, "Let's juggle!" and immediately throws it all as high as he can, making no attempt to catch any of it.
-I'm probably too judgmental of people for what appears to me to be lack of thought, reason, or logic, or for other flaws, when I don't know their life or what they go through. And of course my list of flaws is just fine too, thanks, and while (contrary maybe to popular belief) I don't think it's wrong to think things are wrong, it's not my job to find and catalog all of the ways in which other people fail. I'm supposed to love people like Jesus and let Him handle the rest.
-I would still marry Sharayah in a heartbeat. Just because she went first doesn't mean I stole this one. There's no one else out there I could do life with. We are still perfect for each other.

-I'm not balding anymore. I'm just plain bald. I actually think this is an improvement. I'd rank hair amounts as follows: 1: Hair. 2: Bald. 3: Balding. I think balding actually looks worse. What can you do with hair that's still trying to cover your head but obviously failing? It's much better to just be done with it and have a regular bald-guy hair style. I've come to accept my baldness. Turning 30 helped.
-I sleep less, but on a more normal schedule. I spent most of college never sleeping (alternating with crashing for long periods). Most semesters I was on a 6-nights-per-week plan (one semester was 5-nights-per-week), but I made up for it by crashing for over 12 hours most weekend nights. Now I sleep every night, but only 5-6 hours per night.
-I have a real job. I spent too many years to count as a student worker while going through my who-knows-how-many years of education. Near the end of grad school I was essentially doing the same thing I do now, but now I'm officially faculty instead of a grad student. Teaching isn't exactly lucrative, but it's a good job with flexible (though plentiful) hours so I can spend a lot of time with family and we can afford what we need.
-I eat differently. We never eat fast food. Sharayah cooks most days. I eat vegetables. Not all of them, but as far as vegetables go I ate pretty much just corn, peas, and potatoes before, so I've changed a lot. I actually like some vegetables, and I even eat some of the ones that I don't like. You won't find me eating a salad, but still. I also only eat fish and poultry on the meat side. That was actually barely even a conscious decision. Sharayah doesn't want to eat or cook the other meats, and we so rarely eat out, that it sort of just happened.
-I weigh a lot less. I think I'm backwards from the normal way, but my lifetime high weight is actually my wedding weight. I was 215 then. I had been about 205 through most of college. In the first year or two of marriage I dropped to 165 and I've stayed near there ever since. I've never hit 180 again. I didn't really try to lose weight, I just stopped eating at Saga since I wasn't a student and started eating home-cooked meals every day. Probably paying for my own food also helped.
-I don't really spend time on music anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still know enough on my guitar to lead a worship service (key of G, anyone?), but my guitar skills have really atrophied. I guess having successfully woo-ed the girl, I spend a lot less time trying to impress her with my music. This is one of my few changes that I'd like to undo, but having kids has cut out what little guitar time I was spending, so we'll see. I also had been listening to a lot less music, although I've been working on that. I haven't had time to go find new music, but I'm re-listening to my old stuff. Most of it is still good.
-I no longer drink soda or caffeine. I don't know how I did it. I was assuredly addicted to caffeine. All those 2-liter mountain dews didn't drink themselves while I pulled all those all-nighters in college. After we got married, I just decided (maybe she suggested it? I really don't remember) not to buy it anymore. I fall asleep a lot easier, my migraines are gone (though I still get approximately weekly headaches, they're not even remotely comparable to before), and I no longer crave green acidic beverages.
-I'm a much better (picture book) reader. I didn't notice this change, but Sharayah says I wasn't very good at it at first. Now I do voices and everything. It's very dramatic.
-I'm a dad. This is such a deep and profound change that I don't even know how to talk about it in summary form. Like Sharayah said, it gives an entirely new perspective on thinking of God as a Father. It changes all of my priorities. When you're a parent, you wake up every day and decide to put someone else before yourself over and over and over. Obviously as a husband I try to put my wife first, but she doesn't depend on me for her very survival (much as she might argue that point). Kids need you so fully and so innocently, and you are responsible for them in every way. I had no idea what being a dad was until the day I held Lucas. I know I was a dad for a while before that, but Sharayah really took care of all the parenting before he was born. The joy, stress, love, worry, pain, and elation I feel every day from being a dad is quite the emotional roller-coaster for a guy who used to be so even-keel that I wondered sometimes if I even had emotions.

Now I'm supposed to announce our next 10s topic.
Up next: 10 nouns.


ten ways [the she version] part 2

Part 2! Go!

"Ten Ways I am Different From 2008 Me!"

- I am much less sarcastic. Really. I am. I feel like there should be more to say here, but I'm erring on the side of "The less I say, the more true this difference will seem."

- If I get the urge, I can run a mile or two without feeling like I'm dying. This does not sound impressive, I know. But I have never been a runner. The ORU Fun Runs were always a source of inevitable embarrassment for me. So the fact that I can now, ten years/two kids/100 pints of ice cream later, go run a mile or two whenever I want without too much effort is a big deal. A big change. A good change.

- I think I'm significantly less weird. Or, at the very least, I have managed to install a low-functioning filter on my speech and actions. It sometimes makes life less fun and almost always makes life a little less awkward, but it is a change that I am sure the world appreciates. Sometimes I wonder how in the world Jason fell in love with me all those years ago. I was quite the odd duck. Good thing he didn't mind waterfowl.

- I understand God as a Father. This could probably be broadened into its own post all by itself, but I'll try to keep it brief. God has a lot of roles and God as Father is a big one, but I don't think I could ever fully wrap my head around it. In 2008 as a non-parent, I could only attempt to understand this particular relationship through the lens of being the child, and as it turns out, this really didn't give me the full scope of who He was to me. Once I became a parent, it pretty suddenly all made sense. The answer to the question of "Why even make beings who you know are going to mess up and turn from you and hate you?" The magnitude of what He did on the cross. Everything. God as my Father suddenly became a relationship I could completely wrap my head around. It was a neat light bulb moment.

- I am no longer [as bad of] a sympathetic cry-er. Honestly, I'm not sure this counts as a change since I'm pretty sure the stoic, unbidden tears still come if I have to watch an adult cry. BUT, I do not feel the urge to cry at all for, like, 99% of Lucas's and Finley's bawling events, so I think this surely counts as not being an absolute sympathetic cry-er like I feel like I used to be. I can stare at them right in their bright red, tear-streaked, bubbly-nosed faces and not feel even a smidgen of impending tears. Not a drop. And so mark it as progress I will!

- I worry and stress about things so much more. I blame mom-hood 100%. I love a good 92% of the changes that came from becoming a mom, but I dislike this change so.much. The fear of the unknown. The late night What If-ing. The anxiety of things all-the-time, inevitably, falling through the cracks. The stress of not being/doing "enough." It's rough sometimes. I want the best for my kids. I want them safe. I want them to feel loved. I want them happy and healthy and thriving. I don't know why these desires so often translate into worry and stress as that seems rather counterproductive. It is something I am constantly trying to work on [which, ironically, sometimes leads to even more stress...]. Because the bottom line is, I want to give them the best of me. And the best of me can't happen when I'm curled up with a sick stomach over some maybe-down-the-road tragedy. So. There's that. A work in progress I am. [A weird/sad side effect of this change is that I no longer enjoy storms. I used to love the sound of rain pounding away on the roof or the excitement of potentially losing electricity and having to use flashlights. No more. Now all I can think about is, "Will more of our shingles blow off? Will that thunder wake the boys? How am I going to calm the kids/make dinner/salvage the food in the fridge?" No fun at all. Le sigh.]

- I understand eating cheese. I used to think all cheese tasted the same. Cheese is cheese is cheese is meh. Take it or leave it. But now, for better [taste buds] or worse [waistline], I GET CHEESE. I know cheese names. I have a cursory understanding of the cheese-ing process. I can identify cheeses by sight and some even by taste. I'm not any cheese connoisseur, not even close. The fancy cheeses and the moldy cheeses and the cheeses that have names I can't pronounce... I'm still oblivious to their finer qualities and elite statuses. But the normal, everyday man cheeses, I get them. I understand their appeal. I accept that they make life tastier. I stand with you, cheeses!

- I have more self-confidence and can even speak with librarians without wanting to cry. Let's not get carried away here. I don't mean that I can now hold spur-of-the-moment coherent conversations with librarians [or anyone else for that matter] BUT I can approach the circulation desk and make a request without overthinking it for five minutes. My voice no longer quivers [though my volume control is still a bit wonky]. I can even smile and sorta look pleasant while doing it. I realize this probably does not sound like a boost in self-confidence at all, but trust me, it is. This change/progress can even be expanded to include people like cashiers and neighbors and sometimes customer service folks. I won't be able to think of anything to say beyond the initial pleasantries or the customer-to-employee request, but I can confidently carry out those menial tasks without wanting to be swallowed into the ground. Baby steps, I tell you.

- I no longer see a screaming child in the store and automatically think, "What a bratty kid. Man, if I was his parent..." Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect. And sometimes being a parent now makes me feel like I have earned the right to raise my eyebrows and feel smug that my kid hasn't thrown a fit in public today. And I do often see poor behavior rewarded which instinctively makes me cringe on a good day and secretly judge on a bad day. But more often than not, I hear a wailing kid and instantly feel for the parent. I know what it's like to have a completely irrational child throwing a completely irrational fit and to feel the growing sense of panic or desperation or frustration. "Please, oh please, oh please, just stop screaming." It was interesting how quickly I noticed this change in perspective once I became a parent to the baby who red-faced angry yelled at any unfamiliar face; who seemed to time his cranky, fragile phases around the weeks where we had special outings or get togethers planned; and who took 9 months to smile at a non-family-member. Life happens, and with a kid that often means life happens with so.many.emotions whirling around. An inconsolable child doesn't necessarily mean rotten behavior or poor parenting. Oftentimes it just means a wee one with a missed nap or a late lunch or an irrational attraction to the normal smiley face drawn on the Costco receipt and not a rabbit smiley face. So now, instead of rolling my eyes and hearing snarky comments in my head, I find myself instinctively sending up a quick prayer for grace for the mom. Growth! 

I can make some pretty good sheep/goat warbles. Also, I have really upped my horse whinny game. Reading books to kids really enhances skills you didn't even know needed to be enhanced. My chicken? I can bawk and cluck with the best of them. My dog? I can woof, bark, bow wow, ruff, arf, and howl. My cat? I can fool Puma. My cow needs more depth. My donkey still leaves much to be desired. My pig lacks that gutteral snort that really sells it. But my caprines? I can do flocks and herds of them, young or old, content or otherwise. I have even been known to sing the alphabet song as a sheep or goat; it's always a big hit. Basically, feel free to book me for your next birthday bash for children 3 and under - I'm as entertaining as a bounce house with a slow leak, and much cheaper.

So, there you have it! Ten more things. What's the takeaway from this post and the last? Let me bullet point it for you:
  • Compared to pre-married me ten years ago, I am the same in at least ten largely unimportant ways.
  • Compared to pre-married me ten years ago, I am different in at least ten largely unimportant ways.
  • It is actually easier to think up differences than similarities.
  • I can write forever about nothing in particular.
  • I like ice cream.
Jason will be up next with his ten-plus-ten ways. He is also in charge of coming up with the next Ten Years topic, so get excited about that. Now, be on your way whilst I continue to think about ice cream.

my two best differents


ten ways [the she version] part 1

This next installment of our Ten Year themed posts is "Ten Ways: Same and Different." Unsurprisingly, a lot can change in ten years. And surprisingly, a lot can stay the same. We shall attempt to jot down ten of each. Call it a personal evaluation, if you will.

In a shocking turn of events, these ten-plus-ten things got all wordy and out of hand, so my lists will again be separated into two parts. 🙄

Without further ado, "Ten Ways I am the Same as 2008 Me!"

- I cannot whistle. I don't understand what I'm missing. A part of me still thinks whistling is a made-up skill by people who get a kick out of making others look silly.

- I still dread showers. I don't know why. I like to blame my hair and its it-takes-ten-hours-to-dry-because-who-has-time-or-desire-to-blow-hot-air-at-it-for-an-hour-ness. I don't mind the shower once I'm in there, but I dread the entire lead-up time. I will not admit how many days I have procrastinated showering before, but I will say being a mom has only helped extend my All Time Best.

- My dream is still to one day live on a farm. It doesn't have to be massive. It doesn't have to have the whole menagerie of animals. There may only be 7 kids running about instead of 21. But there will be two horses, and Jason and I will ride off into the wooded acres of our property every evening to check on our duck pond. And there will be a few miniature goats. And some laying hens. And our subsistence garden will be filled with tomatoes and potatoes and celery and herbs and pizza. It will be the good life.

- I am not at all interested in politics. Ten years ago, this would have been a perfectly benign admission. Nowadays, I feel like this comment would be met with some amusingly passionate [to put it mildly] reprimands. Oh well, check back with me in another ten years.

- One day I will write a book. I fluctuate on whether I have enough stamina for a novel or if I should keep my oddities to a 20-page children's book. There may not be a publisher. There may not be any allowed readers. The illustrations may be clipped out of the ever-growing file of Lucas's childhood artwork. But there will be a book. One day.

- I cannot chit-chat. I cannot emphasize how bad I am at chit-chat. It is some world-class awkward. It was a toss up to decide whether "I cannot chit-chat" should go in the Same category or if "I am even worse at chit-chat" should go in the Different category. I think I truly am worse at it now than I was pre-2008, simply due to getting better at avoiding situations requiring it which, inevitably, caused my limited skills to atrophy at an alarming rate. But, the awkward result is still the same, so here I will keep it. I promise I do not mean to be rude, world. I just can't chit-chat. I never know where the line between "engaging and interesting" and "too personal and odd" questions lies, so I just sit there. My apologies.

- I still eat Cheerios with apple juice. No shame. It's so good. You have to make sure to use plain Cheerios and not the already sweetened ones or else it will be a disgustingly sweet breakfast. Oh man, I just had a brilliantly delicious idea: Cheerios mixed with applesauce. My mouth is watering. Breakfast tomorrow!

- My sense of style and fashion is so... undeveloped. I have no idea how to develop one's sense of style. I have no idea if I would even want to develop a sense of style given some of today's styles. I feel a surge of pride and accomplishment any time I choose and buy a shirt that isn't a t-shirt. I feel an even greater surge of accomplishment any time I change out of my standard literally-10-years-old t-shirt and pajama pants. [Side note: When I tried to type "pajama pants," my phone decided "island pants" was a better correction. If I had some island pants, I think my decline into Never Ever Change My Clothes would be complete.] I realize how sad this sounds, but I just think of this super lax dress code as a side perk of my work-from-home job. Anyway. I have zero ideas how I would ever be able to change my sense of fashion even if I were interested enough to try. Are leggings still the in thing? Jeggings? Woggings? (...wool leggings?) Suffice it to say, this particular Same is probably destined to never move to the Different category.

- I am meant to be a stay-at-home mom. The days can be long, the crying-over-nothing fits many, the desires to eat tortilla chips while locked in the bathroom only just barely resisted, but this mom-ing business is unquestionably my purpose. It's a little weird how much I doubt my parenting abilities and yet still know I'm doing a solid job of it. I think the confidence comes from the Big Picture of parenting and the doubt comes from the Minutiae Picture. Is everyone alive? Fed? Largely content? Is there growth, both physically and mentally? Is there love? If yes, then, success! Good parent award! You're doing this thing! [Yes, this is what conversations between me and the voice in my head sound like... except there's also a lot of indecipherable mutters and resigned sighing and "ugh, whatever" grunts...] It is only when I allow myself to microscopically examine an area that I start getting the what-if-I'm-a-terrible-parent sweats. Do I allow too much free play? Am I not encouraging enough outdoor play? Am I introducing foods too early? Too late? Am I enabling a bad habit just for the sake of a few minutes of peace and quiet? Am I not giving enough hugs? Am I being too stern? Should I have more varied activities/foods/learning opportunities? Maybe I should Pinterest more things? Maybe I should take a course in time/life/child management? It's endless. And it's easy to say, "There's no one answer, no one solution, no one perfect way to handle this situation, so just do your best," but it's an entirely different matter to stop the wondering, the self-badgering, the "let me google just one more thing." It's hard to shut my brain off when I get on a kick about something. But, bottom line, I am meant to do this thing. Hold hands. Give haircuts. Excavate boogers. Ask God for peace. Learn more about cotton pickers than I ever thought I needed to know. Take pictures. Wipe tears. Answer 38 whys before breakfast. Make up goofy songs. Beg God for patience. Sing goofy songs so much they start feeling like real songs. Keep a straight face in the face of you-can't-make-this-stuff-up toddler-isms. Compliment ragged stuffed animals on their cleanliness. Take spontaneous walks to the park. Love through the screaming and hiccuping and whining. Thank God for joy. This is my life. It is an extremely tiring but incredibly fulfilling life, and it is one I know 100% I am meant to live.

- I would marry Jason again in a heartbeat. I feel this should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. The ten year anniversary is a triumph that a good number of marriages never achieve. And even though it has been pretty easy for us, I know it hasn't been for a good many others. So I do feel this tenth Same is a notable one. Jason is hands down the best friend, husband, father to my boys, killer of bugs, eater of questionable homemade meals I could have ever married. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and looking back it is quite, quite clear that I could not be living the best version of my life right now if I hadn't said "I do" on that grossly hot Texas day nearly ten years ago. He is the rice to my sushi. He is the sandbag to my hot air balloon [though I promise I will never jettison you from my gondola, love]. He is my Same, whether it is ten, twenty, or fifty years out.

The exhilarating Ten Differences coming up next! Exhilarating, I tell you.

my same, forever


a memorable 10 (the he version)

As promised (by Sharayah, not me - I know better than to promise to post since I so often fail to do so), I have also made a list of 10 memories from the last 10 years. I tried to at least sort of evenly space them, and I also tried to not make them too kid-centered since it's about our anniversary and we do mostly only talk about our kids the rest of the time. So, here are 10 fun or sad things we've done.

- The time we left our chocolate strawberries behind
That was actually the second part of our food-related follies right after our wedding. We didn't really get any food at the wedding, as everything went by too quickly. The venue said that happens a lot to the bride and groom, and they packed us two to-go meals. We had a pasta buffet at the wedding, so they just asked us what kind we wanted in our boxes. At the airport we were super hungry. We pulled out the boxes... and it was just dry pasta. No sauce, no anything except dry bow tie pasta.
The second part involved the strawberries. We were going on a cruise for our honeymoon. It started the day after the wedding, so we flew to Florida after the wedding and stayed at a hotel near the ship. In our room we were pleasantly surprised with a big plate of chocolate covered strawberries and some kind of weird structure made of chocolate. It was delicious, what we ate of it. Then we put it in the fridge. And I never saw it again. We just left it there in the fridge when we left the next morning. Sometimes I still think about it. Those poor strawberries, all alone, wondering where we went. The chocolate, never achieving its chocolaty destiny (being eaten by me).

- The time our pee-filled cat carrier was stolen
There isn't much to this story. We were living in a really cheap apartment in Tulsa right after we got married. Panther had peed all over the cat carrier on some ill-fated trip, so I left it outside our apartment on the patio until I got up the mojo to clean it out. It was outside our glass window/doors, which were right next to the front door. Someone just took it one night. Well, I hope they enjoyed it.

- The time we were outbid for 4 houses
When we moved to Delaware for me to work on my PhD, we thought a lot about buying a house. The market was good for buyers (prices were still relatively low from the crash) and my income had increased to the "paltry" graduate stipend at UD from the "abysmal" graduate stipend I'd been getting at TU in Tulsa (you know, the salary that paid for the apartment where someone stole a pee-filled cat carrier). We looked at dozens of houses over a few months, learning all about what we wanted and needed in a house, what we were willing to fix ourselves, etc. We even found 2 houses we really liked and 2 that were pretty good. Over those months we made offers on those 4 houses, and we lost every time. It all worked out, since we ended up really liking the apartment that we found when we gave up on houses. We also gained a lot of house-hunting experience which helped us find the right house in Missouri.

- The time we were up all night in New York
Sharayah beat me to this one. This was our night-before-Thanksgiving adventure. We wandered the streets all night and watched the parade cold and exhausted the next morning. It was great fun. Side note: "The city that never sleeps" is a terrible nickname for New York. After about 2am, everything was deserted. We will hopefully repeat this one someday.

- The time we slept in the freezing car
When traveling before we had kids, Sharayah and I would often save money by not staying in hotels. We would just drive the whole way wherever in one shot, resting or napping when needed at rest stops. On one trip, we knew it would take more than one day, so we brought blankets and pillows and planned to sleep in the car. The back seats fold down to make a flat space that's about as wide as a twin bed, though not as long. Perfect height for Sharayah. I was a bit cramped. Still, adventure! Well, it was a lot colder than we expected. We couldn't leave the car on all night, so we just turned the heat way up until it was pretty toasty, turned off the car, and went to sleep. We woke up colder than we'd ever been. I think we were colder than in New York. We weren't sure what to do, but we eventually decided we'd turn on the car and have to periodically wake up and turn it off or on again until morning. It worked out fine, but I'll never forget waking up able to see my breath, so cold that even Sharayah thought it was cold.

- The time we became ping pong masters
While living in Delaware we had a two bedroom apartment, so until Lucas was born we just had an extra room. One Christmas we had the amazing idea to put a ping pong table on our Christmas list. I don't think we were expecting to actually get one, but my awesome parents got one for us. We set it up in the extra room, and bam! Ping pong room. It barely fit in there. I'm sure it wasn't regulation to have the walls so close. But we loved it. We played so much ping pong. We played two-handed. We played off-handed. We learned to make the ball curve. We became ping pong masters. Sharayah was much better than I was. I'm not saying it's because she's Korean, but she does have excellent hand-eye coordination.
Sadly, when we moved to Missouri, the movers horribly mangled the legs and frame of the table, so now it's just sitting in the basement, waiting until we have time to fix it and play it again. Since Lucas is almost 3 and a half years old and we haven't played since he was born, I don't think it'll be happening any time soon. Maybe when he's old enough to play.

- The time we got super sick for weeks and watched Merlin
I went to a math conference in Wyoming one summer while we lived in Delaware. We drove the whole way, about 25 hours of driving not including stops. That's a cool memory on its own. We stayed in Wyoming for two weeks and did a little adventuring there as well between my math lectures. At any rate, someone there must have been sick with a pretty nasty version of the flu. A few people did miss the last days of the conference feeling sick. Thankfully we must not have gotten it until the very end, because our symptoms didn't really start until we got home. The drive would have been a nightmare otherwise. Once home, we got hit really hard. Fever, chills, horrible congestion, etc. We just hid in the corner of the couch for two or three weeks, leaving only to crawl to the kitchen for food. I made it to the grocery store somehow and bought a bunch of TV dinners, which we never get, just so we would have something to eat. We sat for hours on the couch, miserable, watching Merlin on Netflix. I think we made it through the whole series in those few weeks while we were sick. Possibly we finished after we got better - I don't remember how long the series was. We had never seen it, and we haven't watched it since. At any rate, we ate all those TV dinners and watched that show and sat miserably on the couch until finally we were better. Oddly enough, I kind of look back on the whole thing rather fondly. It was some kind of weird bonding experience to go through it together. If we didn't have kids, a (very) small part of me would kind of like to do it again sometime.

- The time we distractedly watched a hockey game
For my 28th birthday Sharayah bought us tickets to a Flyers game. The game was actually months later, in January, 2014. As it happens, the game fell on a weekend when we were very wondering with anxious excitement whether Sharayah was pregnant. On the way to the game, we bought a test. Then we went to the game and watched it. Distractedly. It was a lot of fun. Then we went home and passed the test. Or, Sharayah did. I didn't really have anything else to do at that point.

- The time we let Lucas ride by himself at a theme park
When Sharayah was pregnant with Finley, my parents sent us on a second babymoon to Branson. There's a lot of neat stuff there, but one thing that sticks out is our trip to Silver Dollar City. Sharayah couldn't really go on any rides, so I went on all the little kid rides (and one big kid ride that I thought was a little kid ride) with Lucas. Other than that scary (because it was too fast) ride, he had a great time. He loved the carousel, as he does everywhere, but he said his favorite ride was the little ride-around-in-slow-circles-in-a-ladybug ride. It was pretty much like all of the little kid rides, except this one didn't go up and down at all and was small enough that they let kids who were 36 inches ride alone. He had a stoic expression the whole time. For all appearances he was either bored or doing his "I'm too scared to move or show any emotions so I will just sit here" thing. However, when the ride ended he was excited and said he liked it, and at the end of the day he said it was his favorite. He still liked it the best when we went back with Finley (though he still appeared not to be into it at all).

- The time we watched White Collar again and ate way too much Red Robin
When you have a new baby, it's difficult to do a lot of really basic things like cooking or finding the energy to do something besides watch shows and fall asleep in the evenings. In Finley's first couple months, we had a lot of take-out Red Robin. For some reason, in this kind of situation (where we are too tired to cook and we actually go to a restaurant) we seem to go to the same place and get the same food over and over instead of spreading it around. Probably once a week (though those months are quite a blur, it could have been more or less) I brought home Red Robin, and after Lucas went to bed we'd sit on the couch with Finley sleeping on one of us while we ate it and rewatched White Collar (don't worry, we did manage to feed Lucas real food). We got two dinners out of each trip, since we each only at half of our meal. On other nights we'd still sit with Finley sleeping on us and watch the show. I think it was just anything to get him to sleep and give us some way to relax. We had seen the show through once before, but it really held up. As exhausted as we were, it's actually a really nice memory to think of that tiny baby (instead of the rather giant version someone has swapped him with now) quietly sleeping on my chest while we ate our strange version of comfort food and watched our silly show.

Honorable mention:
- The time we argued over whether there is such a thing as a brontosaurus
I only have one honorable mention, so I think I can still comment on it a little. This was in Tulsa, so it was in our first 2 years of marriage. It was our first argument and the only one that I still specifically remember. Basically I mentioned that scientists now thought that there wasn't any such thing as a brontosaurus, because the discoverer had made a mistake and it was actually just a brachiosaurus. Sharayah said that made no sense. Technically, at the time, I was (mostly) right: the brontosaurus was discovered 2 years after the apatosaurus (not the brachiosaurus), and scientists later decided they were the same thing. Their rules then state that only the earlier name should survive. As it happens, people don't generally care about nomenclature rules, so the name brontosaurus stuck around anyway.  On the other hand, she wasn't actually disputing that scientists now said those were the same dinosaur. She was disputing that that meant there was no such thing as brontosaurus. I think her position was that both names could just mean the same dinosaur. It doesn't mean there is no brontosaurus. She convinced me of this ("won the argument") at the time. The two big surprises to me are that, first, this nomenclature debacle happened over 100 years ago, and second, in 2015 a new study decided that, actually, brontosaurus is different enough from apatosaurus to be its own species, so now Sharayah is even more right ("I never doubted it.")

So here we are, almost to 10 years later. We've had a lot of great adventures.


a memorable ten [the she version] part 2

Ah, part 2! I know you all have been on the edge of your seats waiting in breathless anticipation for the next five memories. In the words of Lucas, "You don't have to worry!" Here you go, six through ten!

- The time we stayed up all night in New York City
We had just moved into our Delaware apartment a couple days earlier, and we decided to go on an adventure! We packed a backpack, hopped on a bus, and took off for New York City... on the day before Thanksgiving. That's right, we were headed for the Macy's Day parade! This is truly one of my favorite adventures. What makes our adventure especially adventurous is, due to the need to keep things as inexpensive as possible, we were going to arrive in NYC the day before the parade, sightsee all the sights to see, and then just wander about all night until the parade started the next morning. Who needs a good night sleep anyway? Adrenaline will keep us awake! Or so we hoped. It was so.much.fun. And so cold. And so exhausting. And so worth it. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all of the decorated Christmas windows. We thoroughly wandered Central Park in both daylight and at night. We ate pizza and roasted chestnuts. We took advantage of the fancy restrooms in the multi-storied department stores. We pretended to be sheep. We got glimpses of the parade balloons being aired up. We sight-see-ed all the sights there were to see. It was a good, tiring day. We checked our watches, and it was only 9 PM. It was starting to get a wee bit chilly. By 10 PM, we started feeling that cold-seeping-into-your-bones feeling. By 11 PM, we were reconsidering our life choices and wondering how in the world we were going to make it to 9 AM. But then we stumbled upon a grand plan: Go see a movie. Two hours of sitting in a warm, dark room? Brilliant. It was November 24th, 2010, and we discovered a new movie was premiering that night. So that is how we managed to see Tangled on opening night at midnight in New York City. That movie will forever be attached to good, good memories. It was so warm. And so dark. And so sleepy. But I think we managed to stay awake for 99% of the movie. But, come 2 AM, out we were shoo-ed, back into the cold. We wandered about until 4 AM, when we decided to stake a claim to what we hoped would be our parade viewing spot. Things we did not take into consideration: 1) It is so, so, so much colder to sit in one place than to be moving and 2) You can only go so long before you need to go to the bathroom again. Hypothermia crossed Jason's mind a dozen times [it only crossed mine 3 or 4] as we were sitting there. We sat and shivered and convinced ourselves we did not need to pee and ate granola bars and cold chestnuts that I'd forgotten in my pocket and hoped, wished, pleaded for the sun to come up. Marching bands started arriving/practicing and that got our adrenaline going again. We were going to watch the Macy's Day parade live and in person and from an amazing viewpoint! It was starting to get really packed with people, shoulder to shoulder, I-can-smell-your-morning-breath packed. We knew the parade had started up, but since we had chosen a spot near the end of the parade route, it was still going to be a little while before it got to us. It was, of course, at this critical point in time when I finally couldn't put it off any longer - I had to find a bathroom. Pushing our way through the crowd to get away from the parade route was much harder than you'd expect. People did not want to move, even though it was quite clear we would be freeing up space closer to the front. We had to walk pretty far to finally find a restroom to use and ended up watching the parade from a less crowded spot [though not nearly as close to the road as our first spot had been]. By this point, fatigue was definitely setting in and I almost found myself wishing the parade would pick up the pace a bit. I believe we had a 4 PM bus ride back home and I may have slept the entire way back. It was the greatest and most exhausting of adventures.

- The time we went on a winter wonderland, tree cutting adventure
Jason has actually already written a post about this particular memory, but I couldn't leave it out of my list as it is one of my favorite days from the last ten years. It was so snowy. The roads were not great, which increased the risky adventure aspect of it. We had to keep the heater blasting in the car to keep our windshield clear of ice. The tree farm was beautifully covered in snow. It was picture perfect. And we didn't know it at the time, but we were just a mere two weeks away from Lucas entering our lives. Craziness.

- The time we slept in the trunk and nearly froze
I believe we were making the 12 hour trek from Delaware down to Tennessee to spend Christmas with my family. Being the young, cheap whippersnappers that we were, we opted [as was our custom] to not book a hotel nor start out on our trip early in the morning. Instead, we would leisurely start driving once we got packed the morning of, take breaks whenever desired, eat many a road snack, stop at a rest area when we got sleepy, and sleep in the car for a while until we wanted to drive again. Ah, pre-Lucas-and-Finley us... So young and rested and full of brilliant ideas. Well, since it was nearly Christmas, it was obviously cold out. Quite cold out that year in fact. We drove. We sang. We ate. We stretched our legs at every leg-stretching spot we could find. We ate some more. And then we got sleepy. We pulled into a rest stop and set up our bed for the night. We put our duffel bag of belongings in the front seat [oh to travel light again! no playards! no diapers! no ten changes of clothes! no bags of kid food, utensils, toys, books, and "we have to bring this to make our trip with kids easier" items!], spread out a blanket on the folded-down backseats, and got cozy with our pillows and blankets. The car was off. The winter was outside. We slept. And then, some amount of time later, I woke. The car was still off but the winter was now inside. It was so cold. There was not a speck of heat remaining in the car. I could not feel things that I knew I should be feeling. I kicked Jason awake and he started up the car. But as we sat there, waiting waiting waiting for the car to warm up again, I remember thinking there was a very serious, real possibility of frostbite and WHAT WOULD WE DO. But, here we are, five or six years later, and we both still have our ears, noses, fingers, and toes-es. So whew.

- The time Lucas tried to eat a ping pong ball
This day was a pretty awful Mom day. I'd give myself a solid D- if I'm in a good mood [read: if I have a pint of ice cream in my hands]. Lucas was a brand new 10-month-old. He was all over the place - crawling over any barriers we tried to put up, standing up against anything that would hold him, and trying to ingest all things food or otherwise. It was nearing his bedtime and he was playing on the couch next to us. All of a sudden, he just threw himself backwards, off the couch. I remember seeing it almost in slow motion. It sounds so dramatic, but it seriously felt like everything was moving so slowly, molasses-like, as we tried to keep Lucas from falling off the couch. But the molasses [or, more likely, our slow reflexes] kept us from rescuing him and off he went. He landed with a solid thud, flat on his back [better than on the top of his head/neck I guess?]. Again, time was doing its weird thing and I felt like I just stared down at his completely still body for the longest time. But then time started up again and Lucas started wailing and I kept standing there trying not to freak out and Jason leaped over and scooped him up. STOP. Halt. Wait a second. This was supposed to be about Lucas eating a ping pong ball, not some other random event, right? Well, it is, I'm getting there. Stick with me here. So, Lucas needed some snuggles and soon seemed completely normal. He recovered from the incident much, much, much more quickly than I did [I needed until the next day before I could relax and stop entertaining ideas of brain injury]. I am quite sure that the emotional effects of the couch tumble were dampening my normal level of "don't let the baby have things that can fit in his mouth" alertness, because in my foggy state of "make Lucas happy at all costs to make sure he's really, truly okay" I handed him a ping pong ball. Why was there a nearby ping pong ball to hand him in the first place? Because Lucas loved to use it in our mini foosball table, of course [it was larger/safer than the ball that was supposed to be used with the game...]. He loved, loved, loved those balls and I knew he would laugh and giggle and be ever so happy if he got to hold the ping pong ball in his hands. So, for the laughs and giggles and happys, I gave him a ping pong ball. I fully intended to be on high alert for him trying to taste it, but he didn't even give me a chance. As soon as he had that ball in his hands, he got SO excited and just popped the entire thing into his mouth. Just, in it went. And, cue freak out panic attack #2. The ball was just small enough to fit completely in his mouth and so was also scarily enough just big enough to be difficult to get out since you couldn't get your fingers inside his mouth at all to pop it out. Again, time slowed down, everything took forever, yada yada yada. As terrifying visions of incapacitated babies flooded my brain, my molasses hands finally got to his face and while one hand barely managed to jam a finger into his mouth, the other squeezed his other cheek from behind. And pop, out came the slobbery ping pong ball. Lucas was completely fine but was pretty miffed that I had taken away his special treat. Kids. Based upon this dramatic retelling alone, it is probably quite obvious why this memory makes it into my ten memories. Mom emotions really make things stick with you, for better or worse.

- The time a random mom told me I was doing a great job
Kids. You do things that you know they will love, and they throw you for a loop by pretending you are making them walk through lava. This past Christmas, we took a trip to Branson with Jason's parents and one of our planned activities was an indoor water place. Lucas has always been one to fight the very idea of being in the water and then never want to leave once you get him in [typical kid?], so I was expecting some sort of orneriness but was hopeful that I could pull him through in time for him to have a fun time. Well, of course, this was the time that Lucas chose to be especially stubborn and no amount of coaxing, pleading, bargaining, or reasoning made any progress in getting him into his swimsuit. I finally decided to just lay down the law and told him he had to wear his swimsuit even if he just wanted to sit in a chair and not have any fun in the water. He agreed to this compromise, until we got to the bathroom to change. And then it was wild sobbing time. Sigh. By this point I had completely resigned myself to this outing being a complete flop and was only, naively, trying to work out the why to the madness. I wasn't going to force him to have the fun I knew he would have, but I did want some kind of explanation as to why he was putting up such a resistance for seemingly no reason. So there we sat/stood/crouched/kneeled/squatted in the busy restroom, swimsuit-ed peoples walking to and fro, in and out, attempting to make some kind of communication breakthrough. I would talk. He would wail. I would suggest something. He would blubber. I would ask a question. He would stutter out some incomplete thought. And since I love being the center of attention for a bunch of random people, it wasn't at all awkward and didn't make me at all self-conscious. But, slowly, eventually, we got to the point where the frustrated stomping and hair-trigger crying wound down to snuffling and occasional coherent responses. And it was around this point where two things happened, two people randomly interacted with our overly dramatic situation. First, a girl, probably aged ten or eleven, came through the door, passed us, and then walked backward to come stand in front of us. She looked at Lucas and then at me and said, "He's really cute." Blubber and boogers everywhere, his shirt half off, face streaked with tears, and a blank stare - I'm really not sure what the girl saw at this particular moment, but it amused and pleased me all the same. She gave a little wave to Lucas and skipped off. Less than a minute later, a woman came up behind us, on her way out of the bathroom, and stopped next to us. I remember feeling like she was towering over me since at that point I was crouched down with Lucas sitting on my knee. I thought perhaps she needed something behind me. But instead she simply smiled at Lucas and turned to me and said, "You're doing a great job. You are doing everything right. I have four of my own and I just wanted to tell you that you're doing great, Mom. Stick it out. It's all worth it, isn't it? They're worth it." And she left. It sounds so silly, but this random woman's words were like a balm to my soul. She didn't know me. I'll never know her name. But she was a mom who heard/saw another mom going through probably an all too familiar situation and she reached out in solidarity and said the exact words that I needed to hear at that moment. So, since I didn't get a chance to say it in that echo-y water park restroom, I will say it now: Thanks, fellow mom. You have probably completely forgotten this interaction by now, but it will stick with me for a very, very long time. Your words of encouragement in that moment were perfect. To moms! [In case you were wondering, Lucas, shortly after, did don his swimsuit and had a grand old time, as expected...]

So there you have it. The second batch of five memories from the last ten years. Is it a coincidence that these five "off the top of my head memorable" memories happened either when I was freezing cold or when a child was crying? No, no, it is not. That's how I roll. And now you know how to make memories with me in the future.

Because this post isn't nearly long enough, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The time I ate a mouthful of ant cereal
- The time we stuck it to the man and walked out on a job
- The time we road tripped 1,759 miles to Wyoming
- The time Lucas freaked out and ran away crying from a dog who 1) was friendly and 2) was ignoring him
- The time Finley pooped up to his neck, took a shower, and still managed to leak poop drips from his feet

I will now commence my nagging to get Jason working on his, undoubtedly more succinct, list of memories.

Forever memory #1

Forever memory #2


a memorable ten [the she version] part 1

We have succeeded in getting Finley solidly through his newborn and infant days and well into his plain ol' baby days [though, seriously, not for long what with him shoveling sweet potato and not face-planting anymore and already working on pulling himself to standing], so we are going to make an effort to be more blog-y. And by we, I mean I am going to make an effort and push/drag/shove Jason along as well.

So, with that in mind, we are going to attempt a few Ten themed blogs, in honor of the upcoming "We Still Haven't Used the Marjoram in our Spice Rack Wedding Gift and It Is Apparently Almost Ten Years Old Now" celebration. We plan to do a few lists of Tens, from each of our perspectives, and that will get us all nicely settled into blogging by the time May arrives. There you go, Jason, now you are committed. The world knows.

Summary of goals:
1) Blog more.
2) Look up recipes that include marjoram.

Side quest: Google "Is marjoram still good after ten years?"

Today's post is Ten Memories. These are not your normal "Oh, we graduated! Oh, we had a kid! Oh, we bought a house!" memories. [At least mine aren't. You'll have to wait and see if Jason's are. OH THE SUSPENSE.] They are just random memories that pop into my head when I ask myself, "Hm, what stories have happened to us these past ten years?"

I, of course, began this post with every intention to keep these ten random memories brief and to the point. But lo and behold, they exploded into a mess of verbiage that has necessitated this post be split into two parts. This should really come as a surprise to no one [least of all me]. Anyway, if you wish to only know the highlights, read the bold-ed titles and move on with your evening. If you delve into the particulars, you might need a snack to munch on. I suggest popcorn lightly seasoned with nutritional yeast.

With all that said, here we go: "Ten Not Particularly Monumental But Still Worth Mentioning Memories. Parts 1-5."

- The time we almost got something for free in Jamaica
Waterfallin'. Such kids.
Our honeymoon consisted of two back-to-back cruises that made up 14 days of awesomeness. One of our stops was in Jamaica. Our waterfall-climbing excursion there was probably my favorite excursion the entire trip. I had worn my standard flip-flop footware, but when we got to the waterfall we found out that this was deemed unsafe. So I climbed the waterfall barefoot! It's a life highlight for sure. Anyway. On the way back to the ship, everyone has to go through the little market-like area where things of all sorts are being peddled to tourists. It was a different market atmosphere than we were used to, a lot more in your face and pressing, and we were just trying to quickly hurry back to the ship. [We also had forgotten to bring any money with us, so we had even less incentive to leisurely stroll.] We were stopped by a man selling wooden animal sculptures. They were lovely. They were something I might consider picking up as a souvenir, if I had money on me. But I did not, so we tried to politely turn down his sales pitch and move on. But then he said that we could have this one giraffe sculpture for free! Cue hesitant excitement! We were skeptical, but we accepted the sculpture that he thrust into our hands. However, once we thanked him for this "free gift," he told us we now had to buy the matching giraffe since it was a pair. We told him we had no money on us. He said to borrow it from someone. We told him we didn't know anyone. He said to go back to the ship and get our money. We said we didn't think there'd really be time for that. He then snatched away the "free" giraffe and sent us on our way. So we left Jamaica with fond memories of their waterfall but not so fond memories of their salesmanship. And no giraffe. C'est la vie.

- The time we felt rich and hungry and walked to Wal-Mart at 11 PM
I'm pretty sure this is what we wore from 2005-2010
The title says it all really. We were still living in Tulsa in Building 8017 Apartment E at the Lakes, located right behind the classy Tulsa Wal-Mart. It was late at night. We felt flush with cash from Jason's grad school pay and so we decided to splurge on a pre-bed snack. We bundled into our classic "oversized hoodie and jeans" college attire and walked to Wal-Mart. I remember feeling such a sense of adventure and freedom and excitement on that walk. [Don't mock - it was Tulsa and I was sheltered.] There was definitely some hopping and skipping and quite a bit of giddy laughter. We strolled the aisles and decided to go big - we bought not one, but TWO, boxes of cereal. We normally did not eat cereal in our 500 SF apartment. That was living in the lap of luxury. Our mornings were filled with toast or oatmeal packets. But here we were, almost midnight, dashing up 81st towards our apartment with a shopping bag filled with crunchy goodness. It was a glorious time. We ate two bowls each that night. TWO.

- The time Panther pooped in my lap
Ah, good old Drippy Drawers
I do not like to dwell on this memory, but some say it's cathartic to write out a traumatizing experience. I need to find my healing, so write I shall. The car was packed. We were headed out of town. I do not know our destination. It was probably some big life moment, but the only thing I can remember is this gross memory. We were driving through Jenks. Panther was stressing and yowling and letting off that awful fear/urine smell. I think we thought he might be less stressed if I was holding him and he could see out of the windows? So we let him stand in my lap and he seemed to be a little better, standing up against the door to look outside. He was shedding hairs everywhere because he was freaked out. He smelled terrible. His nose was probably leaking [this is not so much a remembered detail as an assumed side note]. And then, he just pooped. Right in my lap. I will spare you the details of the proffered gift, but the specifics make this event go from horrific to "Cat, I'm not sure I can ever love you the same." It was not your normal cat deposit. Let's leave it at that. Luckily we were not yet on the highway and were able to stop in a parking lot of a grocery store and have Jason run in and get some napkins. This was definitely a turning point in my relationship with Panther. May he forever frolic in the catnip forests of heaven.

- The time we found a Yeti
Fluffball Yeti
Mini Pumarooski
Staying on the cat theme, we now come to Yeti. We stumbled upon her outside the back entrance to the basement of the GC. She was huddled in a patch of grass, a wee kitty all weak and shivery and matted with fleas and grime. We took her to an emergency vet [it was late at night] who suggested we keep her comfortable overnight and take her to someone in the morning. We named her Yeti, for she was the tiniest abominable snowkitty you ever did see. She slept in our bathtub that night to keep her separated from Panther. We tore an old towel into tiny cat-sized blankets and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Jason took her to Banfield the next morning. We were ever so hopeful that they could revive our little Yeti. They kept her all day. Finally, at the end of business hours, they called us and told us we could come pick her up. They said she was flea infested and dehydrated but that we could take her home. So we picked up our new little kitty and a $350 bill and came home. Yeti passed away overnight. I was a mess - a terribly sad, not just a little bit angry mess. To this day, I still feel twinges of the anger at Petsmart. They had to have known she wasn't going to make it, but by saying she was good to go, they guaranteed themselves money. Bah. ANYWAY, to make a sad story slightly less sad, Yeti was the inspiration for us adopting Puma two weeks later. And despite his occasional annoyances, he has been a pretty good fur friend. Finley is all about him. :D

- The time I made a noodle soup so spicy we thought we might die. But we ate it anyway.
Our first homemade pizza!
I love a good noodle soup. Noodles, vegetables, and broth? Add in some bread on the side? Delicious. However, as everyone knows, I cannot for the life of me follow a recipe. You'd think it would be easy. I can read. I can measure. I can understand directions. But there is some weird thing inside of my brain that absolutely rebels at doing what a recipe very clearly states. I usually start off pretty well, getting to about the second or third ingredient without straying. But then I casually tweak the amount of the fourth ingredient. And then I omit the fifth ingredient. And by the time I'm supposed to be tossing in the sixth and seventh ingredients, I've already tossed the entire idea of a recipe. So, I've kinda given up on recipe cooking. Looking up a plethora of recipes to get an idea of what's supposed to be included in a meal and then throwing together something that slightly resembles it seems to be my
Our Random Fruit Pie!
style of cooking, and my family has come to accept this as tastiness [there may be some form of mealtime Stockholm syndrome going on, I'm not sure...]. So, THE noodle soup. It was a pretty basic noodle soup, but I decided I wanted to spice it up a tad. I had a bottle of cayenne pepper on hand so I casually dumped some in. Initial taste tests did not give the kick I was hoping for, so I may have
added a few more enthusiastic shakings. I then let the soup continue to do its simmering thing. When we eagerly dove into our bowls of noodle soup later that evening, we were met with a pretty intense surprise. The cayenne by this point had been fully incorporated in every part of the soup. It was SO.HOT. We pride ourselves on loving spicy food, however, so eat it we did. And then we congratulated ourselves on the beastliness of our taste buds and put away the leftovers in the
Homemade bread bowls and potato soup! 
fridge. At this point in my culinary career, I was unaware that the flavor of a meal intensifies once it's allowed to really sit in its juices for a long while. And intensify it did. We had three quarts of leftover noodle soup. And each time we ate it, it was even hotter than before. We nearly gave up. It was borderline inedible. But we broke out our stash of hardtack [another story for another day], dunked those bread rocks in the lava soup, and ate every last bit of it. Our dinners took longer to eat as we had to take many breaks between bites, but we did it. And Jason even had the audacity/kind-husband-iness to say that he still enjoyed it. True love, right there.

So there you have it. The first five memories from the last ten years. You can clearly see that we live an adventurous life! The next five will come... sometime between feeding Finley peas and finding Lucas's cup.