from the rainy northwest to the driest deserts

October 20, 2014

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I always heard that deserts were dry, dead, monotonous places. When I first moved to Utah, which is classified as a desert, I thought - yup, everyone was right. Compared to Oregon, it is very dry here. Compared to Oregon, it is substantially less green.

But you know what? The desert is growing on me. Last weekend, we went for a quick weekend getaway to Saint George. Let me tell you, Saint George is a magical place. Seriously. It's made up of beautiful sandstone red cliffs, gorgeous creosote that are almost neon in their yellow, bright blue skies, and cacti. The deserts are anything but dead: they're vibrant and alive and call me crazy, but I swear you can almost feel an energy washing over you in the desert, something in the heat and the wind that feels so alive.

I spent a good week trying to convince Jason to come with us, but in the end, he opted to spend the weekend visiting some of his brothers. So it was just me, Sam, and baby girl. I was a little worried about doing all the hiking and adventuring with a three-month-old, but she was a total champ. If she needed to nap, she napped, even if it was in the middle of a hike. If she needed to eat, she ate, even if it was on a shuttle bus filled with smelly hikers. She got a little tired of being pulled along everywhere on our last afternoon, but we just went back to our hotel and gave her a good long nap, and then she was good to go again!

Here are a few snapshots of our time in Saint George. A few more posts will be coming soon (mostly filled with these red rocks with which I'm obsessed).

Now, we're back and unpacking (I feel like I had to pack up baby's whole room for our trip! Portable crib, crib sheets, diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, pacifiers, baby carriers, clothes. Sheesh. Babies these days!). What are the chances that my daughter will be on anything that resembles a normal schedule still? I'm betting slim to none :)

Which would you pick if you had the chance:
the rainy, moderate climate or a dry desert?

Things I just can't get behind

October 17, 2014

There are some trends and habits that I totally get. Everyone's burning love for the fall season, girl scout cookies, and Pinterest, for example. But there are some things that are super popular that I just DON'T GET. We all have our weird things, and these are mine! My friend Danica recently did a post about things she hates (see it here), and I knew I just had to make a list of my own. Buckle up for a crazy lady venting about weird things!

This picture has nothing to do with the post, except to illustrate the fact that clearly,
I don't get things that normal people get ;)

Dogs elevated to human status.  I realize I'm mortally offending at least four of my closest friends by saying this, but dogs are not humans. (Please, friends, still love me?) If the statement "dogs are man's best friend" applies to you, don't you think you need more friends? I actually really like dogs, and I think they can be great companions, but I guess I've never had a relationship with a dog that comes close to a relationship with a best friend. Also, I don't get why dogs need clothes, because they have centuries of evolutionary adaptations, aka fur, to keep them warm. Maybe if I grew up with a dog I'd get why people sometimes say they're parents, only to reveal that what they mean is they're dog owners? One of my dog-loving readers, help me understand this!

Halloween.  I don't know why, but I've never really liked this holiday. I mean, I guess it's fun to dress up and get candy and such? I can't ever get into the Halloween spirit very much, but I wish I could! Dry ice cauldrons and making a cool costume would be super fun, but I'm just not into it. It's not you, Halloween, it's me.

Chevron.  I once owned a chevron patterned lanyard for work, but that's where my chevron career starts and stops. I feel like I'm majorly underperforming in this category, since everyone's laptop wallpapers and Christmas decorations and leggings and living rooms and firstborn sons are chevron patterned these days. And have you seen GroopDealz lately? Every third item is chevron! Do you think this is a passing trend or something that's here to stay?

Sandwiches.  I know, this one is so weird. I'm the type of person who would rather eat turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and bread separately than combined on a sandwich. Subway? Never once craved it. I'll eat a sandwich if someone makes one for me, but I'm never in the mood for one.

Abbreviating words. Totes cray cray adorbs, obvs. HAS NO ONE READ 1984?? Remember how our communication, and then the world, will come crashing down around us if we stop using actual language to express ourselves??? Yes, I am paranoid about this. Yes, I realize it's not healthy. Also, hours spent explaining to students that "2" and "u" are not real words has gotten to me.

So there you have it: weird things I just can't get behind. Now it's your turn! Are you with me on anything on my list? What's on your list?

The Magic Fourteen Days

October 15, 2014

I have this belief that every single year, there is exactly two weeks of perfect fall weather. Fourteen days of gorgeous leaf colors, clear blue skies, and highs in the 70s. And then BOOM - all of a sudden you have a light snow, highs in the 40s, bare trees, dead leaves on the ground, and pumpkins that begin to rot because of the cold.

This year, the Magic Fourteen Days is happening right now. On Sunday, we went for a drive up the canyon to enjoy the season. It was absolutely gorgeous. Apparently all of Utah Valley had the same Sunday drive idea (according to everyone's instagrams), but it felt pretty empty to us. And so so beautiful. After our drive, we went to Vivian Park (where my dad proposed to my mom!) and walked around the pathways for a while.

 Reason #400 why Sam loves baby girl: Whenever I demand to take pictures (all the time) and he doesn't want to be in them (all the time), he just hands me baby girl. I have a really cute instant prop, and he doesn't have to be in the pictures. That's what we call a win-win, people.
 Clearly, I was really into this. Claire? Not so much :)

Anyone else agree with me about the Magic Fourteen Days?

In another note, we're headed to St. George this weekend for a quick trip. Any places we must eat? Things we must do? Hikes we can't miss (that aren't too long for a three-month-old)?

Scary Short Stories (to get you in the Halloween mood)

October 14, 2014

I'll be the first to admit: I'm a wimp when it comes to scary things. Horror films freak me out, I refuse to read anything by Stephen King, and I've been to exactly one haunted house in my life, which was more than enough for me.

But at the same time, it is really fun to get in the Halloween mood and enjoy being scared a little bit during this spooky time of year. Emphasis on a little bit ;) I don't always have time to commit to a big Halloween novel in October, but I love short stories. They're fun, and scary, but you can read them quickly and you won't have to sleep with the light on for weeks afterwards.

Here is a list of my favorite scary short stories that rate low on the evil and overly-graphic scale:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Graphic Novel)- Washington Irving
I haven't actually read the novel version of this story, but I read a shortened graphic novel. It was the perfect blend of scary and short, even though the illustrations were a little distracting in my opinion. I like the cartoon version of this one, too :) It's about a superstitious man who takes an ill-fated trip into the woods.

The Cask of Amontillado  - Edgar Allen Poe
I remember reading this in middle school before Halloween. Edgar Allan Poe is the master of horror short stories, and this one was perfectly sinister. It's about a single-minded man with a terrible plan for revenge.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Alvin Schwartz
This is a collection of very short scary stories. Some of these are scarier than others, but overall, this is a good collection of horror stories. As the title suggests, these are best read aloud in a dark room. The illustrations are creepy too.

The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allen Poe
Another perfectly scary short story about a paranoid murderer trying to prove his innocence. They just don't make stories nowadays like they used to. This is one of the classics.

The Tailypo - Joanna Galdone
This is an illustrated children's book about an older man who lives alone and cuts off the tail of an animal to eat for dinner. But then the animal wants its tail back... This one is good for younger audiences, too.

The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe
The Raven is a short poem by the classic Poe. This is probably one of the most iconic Halloween stories of all time. It's not my personal favorite of his, but hey, you can't make a list of scary short stories without including The Raven.

The Ghost-Eye Tree - Bill Martin Jr.
This book is beautifully written and illustrated. It's really not too scary, and actually has a good message to it, but it had to be included here because it gets the reader instantly in a spooky Halloween mood. It's about two young kids who have to pass by a haunted tree on a dark night. A great read-aloud to kids.

The Most Dangerous Game - Richard Connell
Thanks Tayler for reminding me to add this one! I read this short story in middle school as well, and loved it. It's about a hunter who stumbles upon an island. On that island is a dangerous man who has a passion for hunting the most cunning game...

In case you do have time for a novel, I'd recommend Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Phantom of the Opera. However, these books aren't the action-packed thrillers I thought they would be. For example, Dracula is 90% about the scientific process and only 10% about vampires. And Frankenstein is just weird and disjointed, which I think is supposed to be the point, but still, I ended up skimming most of it.The shortened versions of these stories would be fun though.

If you don't totally love being freaked out, this next list is for you. It's a list of novels that aren't horror stories (in fact, most of these are romances), but they still have a wonderful stormy, unsettled feeling about them. I love cuddling up with one of these books on a spooky, windy night.

  • The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern 
  • The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield (one of my all-time faves!)
  • Wuthering Heights  - Emily Bronte
  • Blackmoore - Julianne Donaldson 
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Which of these do you love/hate?
And what am I missing?
Tell me your favorite spooky short stories!
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