Friday, January 30, 2009

Hmph. Gas is starting to stink.

Gasoline isn't $1.35 a gallon anymore. :( Just a short time ago, I loved the smell of gas. (Okay, I still love the smell of gas, just not the price.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I've had many interesting conversations over the last week or so about the Inauguration and the transfer of power in our country. And quite frankly, I'm surprised at the divide among people in the state in which I live. Some have gawked at the pomp and circumstance that seemed to accompany the Inauguration. Others have overwhelmingly jumped for joy. Others have ranted about how much they keep hearing "Obama this, Obama that."

Might I remind you that every time there is an Inauguration of a President of the United States, there is pomp and circumstance. Eight years have gone by; it's possible you can't remember the last one. And, eight years ago, we did not have the same level of technology to express our views and share them with our best friend's brother's girlfriend's mother. Text messaging, popular online social networks, streaming online video, blogs, etc. were simply not as prevalent as they are today. Hence, we hear a lot more "Obama this and Obama that" because we have the media sources to bring it to us.

M expressed a concern, "The way some people are talking, it's like he has a magic crystal wand that turns everything to gold and ushers in an era of world peace. While that would be nice (having a wizard for a president), it's just not realistic."

I completely agree that it's not realistic to believe President Obama will work magic; we all know he is not some sort of magician. He, himself, spoke of the responsibility of a successful future for our nation lies with us, not just with the President, but with the people. His role is as a leader. Someone to lead and inspire us (the people) to do our best in aiding the nation to progress. He's just a man. Yes, he's a regular President. No, President Obama will not work any magic. He is here to inspire, persuade, and motivate US to action. The leader of any organization cannot bring his organization to a successful position alone. Every member is called to put forth effort.

The Inauguration publicity was grand. And it was that way because "the people" made it that way. People are proud to be involved. But the fact that we see President Barack Obama as a man, a "regular" President, is absolute cause to celebrate! He is an African American man, leading a country who used to enslave people with his same skin color. Keeping the history of our nation in mind, you cannot discount the fact that this is a milestone, an historic Inauguration by mere fact fact that we elected an African American President. I believe there is definitely cause to rejoice and be proud that our nation has made that type of progress.

Now once again, whether we "like" him or not, let's not be openly pessimistic and negative. There is no glory in putting down your fellow men. I am not saying that you need to love him or his policies or his position on controversial issues. I am saying that openly berating the man who swore that he "will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of {his} ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" is simply not appropriate. Vote against him. Be upset with a decision he makes. Fine. But to mock the Inauguration of a President is not appropriate. Be an American. Let's be patriotic, for heaven's sake.

I am hopeful that President Obama will have the courage and tenacity required to lead our country into greater times. My daily prayers include him, and I would encourage all of you to consider doing the same, that he may be guided by God to make wise decisions for us and our country. Let's be hopeful. Let's not be pessimistic. I once heard, "If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack is in!

Barack Hussein Obama is in! Read his Inaugural Address here.

You must admit that this Presidential Inauguration has caught your eye more than many others. It has mine. Barack is just a great speaker. Let's hope that his actions during his presidency instill as much hope and confidence in us, as his words do. But as he stated, the responsibility does not lie solely with him. We are responsible to sustain and support him and participate fully in achieving success for our nation.

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

"This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an
uncertain destiny."

Also, did you love the music "Air and Simple Gifts" by John Williams, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero?!

And, I know I'm a "girl", but I love this photo of Barack and Michelle. Kissing is one of life's many joys!

And now, whether or not you wanted Barack Obama to be President, I hope that, as Americans, we will have the courage to support our new leader and pray for his success in leading our country and for his ability to make wise and good decisions, which will affect all of us. Good luck Mr. President!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One year ago...

One year ago today, I was waking up to this sight

and the sounds of these.

365 Days ago, I was ziplining through the canopy of coffee plantations

at the base of this volcano.

Yes, it was just one year ago that I was relaxing in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, swimming in this

with a view like this,

being mesmerized by clouds like these,

enjoying the sunsets,

and basking in the glow,

with these fine people.

Let's go again. Come on, let's.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Last semester, in a class I was able to read the biography of Rigoberta Menchú Tum, (I, Rigoberta Menchú), who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work as an advocate for Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation in her native Guatemala and throughout the western hemisphere. Born into a poor family in the Mayan culture, she became active in the resistance to oppression in Guatemala after her family was murdered during the struggle for Indian peasants' rights. Her life story was recounted in the book, and she also narrated the powerful documentary film "When the Mountains Tremble" about the struggles and suffering of the Mayan people.

So obviously, I was thrilled when I saw that the keynote address to kick off the University of Utah's 25th Anniversary Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be given by Rigoberta Menchú Tum on Thursday, 15 January at Kingsbury Hall. The presentation (reviewed here)was quite inspiring. Her story and presence are powerful. As she herself said in the address, "You can read all the books you want, but it's not until you experience another culture firsthand, that you really begin to learn." She spoke of respecting other, of how to live in peace and promote peace. Interestingly, although there was an English translator, I was able to understand much of what she said in Spanish. (I've decided that I need to officially learn to speak Spanish.) I'm glad I heard about this and jumped at the chance to attend.

Paz : Paix : صلح (solh) : Taika : Мир : Friður : Pokój : Miers : Maluhia : Frieden : שלום (Shalom) : Pax


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Discoveries of 2008.

Friday night, I went to a party hosted by my friend Amber. It was a Girls Night with the theme of "What I Learned in 2008." We were asked to bring a favorite dish discovered in 2008 along with the recipe to share with everyone. Next we were to bring a top ten list of what we discovered in 2008 (with copies to hand out to everyone). Possible thoughts included: favorite new book, cool websites, additional recipes, make-up, great buys, favorite music, cooking secrets, trip ideas, diet plans, favorite toilet paper, parenting secrets, or any nugget of knowledge we felt worthy to pass along. The last thing we brought was a little gift basket to give away. The basket consisted of items listed on our top ten list.

I was so excited anticipating this party. What a fun idea! I loved sharing what I've learned and I learned lots of new things, some of which I've already checked out. Very fun, it was!

And I know you're all just dying to know what my top ten list looked like, so here you go:

eclaires's Discoveries of 2008

1. bareMinerals makeup by Bare Escentuals – With bareMinerals, your search for the perfect foundation is over; you’ll never go back to your old stuff again! Made from 100% pure bareMinerals it’s free of preservatives, oil, fragrance, talc and other skin irritants. I have fallen in love with the look of beautifully bare skin.

2. L'Oréal Telescopic® Clean Definition Mascara – I'll admit, I was very skeptical considering the No Clump Brush™ is so thin and long, with few bristles. But I found that the thin brush allows you to easily coat the lashes without weighing them down, resulting in a very natural look. The sparsely placed bristles allow for a combing effect, keeping lashes separated and clump free. And it perfectly lengthens my lashes (up to 60% they say). So I'm sold. Dare I say, I've found a new favorite? I know... hard to believe, but I think it's true.

3. – I have become a coupon clipper. Okay, I always have been, but this year I discovered online coupons. And they generally have stuff that I actually buy! Don’t go to the grocery store with checking here first.

4. Curves – The Women’s Only Health Club and Fitness Center with Aerobic and Strength Training Workout. This was actually a discovery of 2007, but worthy to share. No more worrying about people looking you up and down at the gym. Go to Curves and get a great workout in 30 minutes without the uncomfortable “meat market” feel of other co-ed gyms. And you’ll see results!

5. All things Google – I can’t live without my Google calendar, gmail, Blogger, and my iGoogle homepage brings those all together. My life has been made much easier and more fun!

6. – Internet Radio. Listen anywhere you have an internet connection and speakers. No commercials. Pick the genres and artists you like. Find out about new artists and songs you haven’t heard before.

7. Winter Squash – Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn, etc. Delicious! Top puréed cooked winter squash with cinnamon and maple syrup. Steam cubes of winter squash and onion wedges in oven with a little bit of olive oil. Top "strings" of spaghetti squash with pasta sauce. Add cubes of winter squash to your favorite vegetable soup recipe. Slice strips of butternut squash and bake to make Squash Snacks. There are endless ideas for these nutrient-filled vegetables.

8. Salt Lake Choral Artists – I have found my niche once again. I love choral singing and discovered SLCA this summer. I auditioned and am now a member. Salt Lake Choral Artists is one of America’s premier community choirs, delighting audiences with outstanding choral performances for many years. The choir focuses on classical, contemporary, and culturally diverse music and emphasizes collaborations with other performing groups from the community. As Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Brady Allred has applied his wealth of choral conducting experience, remarkable range of musical talent, and exceptional leadership to bring the Salt Lake Choral Artists to a higher level of artistic excellence. His skills have generated new enthusiasm among choir members, serious interest from the media, and the attention of donors who recognize the importance of promoting top-quality performing arts in this community.

9. Calcium Chews – One a day increases your daily intake of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K and satisfies your sweet tooth. Costco’s Kirkland Brand tastes the best and are sugar-free!

10. Smart Balance Natural Peanut Butter – Peanut butter with no hydrogenated oils, thus no trans fat, no added refined sugar, and 1000mg of Omega-3s per serving. You can’t pass that up! Plus it tastes great! Check out their butter spread products as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

100th Blog Post!

So I just realized that I was about to post to my blog for the 100th time and thought... it's 100... I should celebrate. Shouldn't I?
There. Was that good? Okay, I'm done. Party over. On to regularly scheduled programming. Er, ... blogging.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I'm a fermata. Hold me.

I love touch. I suppose my family is a "touching" family. I grew up like that. I'm used to it. Physical human contact. Lots of it. Hugging, pushing, shoving, holding, sitting-on, lying-on, leaning against, hitting, poking, grabbing, cuddling, hair-brushing, stroking, petting, arm-tickling, wrestling, massaging, boosting, kissing, hand-holding, nuzzling, tagging, squeezing, rocking, snuggling... you get the idea. I'd venture to say that I'm the one in my family who likes/appreciates/needs physical human contact most and is most readily willing to ask for/initiate such touch. Apparently, I have always been a "cuddly" person. As a baby, I'd snuggle up as close as I could into my mom's neck and nuzzle for as long as I could. I think I still do that. I've learned that touch is one major way I feel/give love. I love it, and it's all so wonderfully normal, and comforting, and human.

Social life is a bit different from family life, and there are different acceptable levels of contact for different people. As I grew up and learned about things like "personal space" and "bubbles," there was by simple social necessity less casual invasion of other people's space. Which is fine, I guess, but sometimes strange to try and remember that not everyone is as okay with bodily contact as I or the people I grew up with.

Generally, I am not as "in need" of physical affection, as I was when I was a child. I guess I'm more comfortable with myself and know how to comfort myself. But I won't deny that there are days when I need a hug, a gentle embrace, a pat on the back, a stroke of the neck, or to have my hair played with, be held, or be able to sit close to someone and lean against them, to hug them, to push them, poke them, hold them, touch them, or slide my feet under them as we're lying on the couch. I need it to relax, to calm down, to be comforted—to comfort. It doesn't take much. But some days, I need it to keep my sanity.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Thank you M!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas: Memories Old & New and an Answer to Prayer.

I love the smell of fresh pine. I love the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. I love Christmas lights. I love the opportunity to focus more on Christ and remember His birth. I love listening to good Christmas music. I love giving really fun gifts to people I love. Christmastime brings all these things as well as wonderful memories.

Most Christmases as a child, I spent the first part of the vacation with my mom, my brother, and my grandparents. Christmas Eve meant Aunt Edie's corn chowder and new pajamas. I slept in the northernmost bed in the blue bedroom with my brother in the twin next to me. There were years I could hardly go to sleep that night because I was so excited. Santa would always leave our stockings at the foot of our bed, so waking up several times in the middle of the night, straining in the dark to see the foot of my bed was not uncommon. We were allowed to open everything in our stockings any time after 6am, usually, but we had to wait until everyone was ready to open all the gifts. Oh the torture! As I got older, I didn't mind waiting. None of this I-just-woke-up-look in pictures anymore. Most years, my aunt, uncle, and cousins would arrive the day after Christmas and we'd do it all over again.

The second part of Christmas vacation was generally spent with my dad, my stepmom, my brother, and my sister. We'd spend the afternoon at Auntie Vicki's house waiting what seemed like a century to a little kid for dinner to be served. Playing pool, smiling when Nono went on his rantings and ravings about how I should eat more peaches. Eating Noni's delicious risotto. Meeting cousin John's new girlfriend, just about every year. Going to the movies. And more relaxing.

This year was a little different.

Katie and I braved the snow and bought a fresh Christmas tree. Katie not only braved the snow, but she braved being seen with me in one of my wacky moods.

Then we decorated.

Christmas Eve was spent with M's family. We had a great dinner followed up by singing of Christmas carols around the piano. In keeping with Dutch tradition, they open all their gifts from each other after dinner that night. So M and I exchanged ours as well.

M and I had been giving each other hints about our gifts for each other and allowing one other to ask one question per week for the preceding five or six weeks. Neither one of us had any real clue as to what we were getting. M got me an FM Transmitter. It's actually quite cool. It transmits from any audio source to an FM radio station up to 150 feet in all directions. This means I can listen to my iPod in the car. I can listen to the TV in "surround sound" if I have a couple of radios nearby. I can broadcast what's on my computer to the stereo in the kitchen. It's great!

I got M the moon. :) Truly. Well, it's a Moon in My Room, a detailed light-up moon that shines like the real thing. Using the remote control, you can select any of 12 different phase settings. I think it's very cool.

Christmas morning began very early. Katie, her brother Andy, our friend Jovanni, and I went to the Christian Life Center and helped set up for the Christmas meal. Hundreds of homeless and struggling individuals and families were expected to arrive by bus to eat that day. I was happy to be able to help out.

Later that evening, M and I drove down with another friend, Sara, to my mom's for Christmas dinner. Dinner with my mom, Stephen, Agnė, M, and Sara was very nice. We exchanged gifts, ate a delicious cherry dessert (my grandma's recipe), and played Bananagrams, one of my favorite word games. Agnė got it for Christmas from my mom. And don't think that just because she's not a native English speaker that she won't give you a run for your money!

On our way home, snow was coming down pretty heavily. Luckily, M is a rockstar! He managed to get us all home safely, along with help from "God's holy angels" in the form of four massive snow plows ahead of us. We had all knelt in prayer before we headed out, to wrap up our wonderful Christmas and prepare for our drive home. Stephen offered a beautiful prayer, in which he requested the blessing of safety for us as we returned home. As he made the request, he asked Heavenly Father that "even thy (God's) holy angels would accompany them (us)" as we drove through the storm. About fifteen minutes into our journey, we were in whiteout conditions for ten minutes or so when all of a sudden, four ginormous snow plows entered the freeway just ahead of us. They began to work forming a barrier ahead, plowing the snow out of our path. We traveled along behind them for about 45 seconds, when M turned to me and smiled, saying, "Do you want to call your mom and tell her that 'God's holy angels' are accompanying us home in the form of four snow plow drivers?"

A blatant, yet beautiful answer to prayer was Heavenly Father's gift to us on Christmas Day. How very fitting!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Schultz Philosophy.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
It's already tomorrow in Australia."

The following is the philosophy of not my friends the Schultzes, but of Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Monday, January 05, 2009

7 Random Things

So Brooke-let tagged me awhile back and I'm finally remembering to think of and post seven random things about myself. Here goes...

1. I smell everything. Beware. May you always smell divine.
2. I love all things WWII, especially first-hand Resistance stories. May we have such resilience of spirit.
3. I still rock out to Debbie Gibson. Sorry, I'll never be able to call her Deborah.
4. I first got glasses in the 4th grade. Seeing street signs and the chalkboard was so much more fun after that.
5. I've been known to cut my English Lit class, hiding in the stairwell to read. Ironic.
6. I don't believe in unpainted toenails. On women, at least. May yours always be painted. (Especially if you're wearing open toed shoes.)
7. I was in a car accident once when our car landed on the roof after fishtailing out of control at 80mph. I crawled out the back window unscathed. Thank you.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pucker-up: It's New Year's!

I had a great New Year's Eve. M and I spent the first half of the evening with his family watching the last part of the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice and playing Super Boggle (four-letter minimum). The second half of the evening was spent at our LDS Singles Ward party, playing Rockband, singing karaoke, dancing, and eating a pancake breakfast.

Oh and of course a little midnight smooching. We were all puckered up...