Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This post is mostly by my husband. He sent me an email today to tell me that he was a nerd (haha). In his own words:

This morning as I ate breakfast I looked at a Domino's Pizza ad that was left on the table. They are advertising their online ordering and computerized "pizza tracker". While I was trying to figure out what they meant by "There's no wait online" (unless you can download your pizza, there is obviously some wait for the pizza to arrive--why else would there be something to track it's progress), I saw that some clever person decided to put a string on 1's and 0's to show that this was high-tech. I looked at the binary numbers and naturally I convert them to hexadecimal. Then I realized that they were ASCII code--they were letters. (ASCII code is the way computers convert letters into binary). There was a message, and I started remembering the movie "A Beautiful Mind". I looked again and saw that it was indeed ASCII letters, so I found an ASCII chart at work and decoded the message (too bad I didn't have it all memorized anymore). Whoever sent that message out, I have read it, and I have heard your message. I am a nerd, and there's another nerd out there somewhere. We have communicated in a way that only nerds can.


This was later followed by an email by myself asking what the encoded message was. His response:

Do you really want to know what it said? It's not that exciting. it said "Binary" binary, ha! That's like spelling "soup" in alphabet soup.

To which I thought to myself, "I love nerds." I'm quite happy to be married to one. I'm quite happy to be one. And I have always enjoyed binary. One of the funniest shirts I ever saw said:

"There are 10 types of people in this world:
Those who understand binary and those who don't."

What I wouldn't give to own that shirt right now.
This one is pretty good too. (but only if you can read it :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hello family and friends!

I have enjoyed spending the last two mornings catching up on everyone's blogs, their family business, and all the fun Christmas (and post Christmas) times.

I also decided after reading all that everyone else is up to that it's about time I post some new things as well. I've decided to post everything in 4 different post (following this one) but it will cover everything from last week to back before my family came for Christmas, and I'm going to start with the most recent and work my way backwards.

So, I hope between my new hobby, our family health update, Christmas pics, and Seaworld that there will be something for everyone (whether family, friend, or acquaintance) to enjoy.

Okay so my new favorite hobby is making cakes. I don't have access to a kiln any longer and painting just does not sufficiently fill my need to work in 3D. (It also does not taste as good.) So, I have taking up cake decorating.

It all started when my roommate Mary decided to save some money and make her own wedding cake. "What a fantastic idea!" I thought. And so, following in her example, I decided to make my own. It took me seven hours to decorate the wedding cake but in the end it cost me around 20 bucks, and I had exactly what I wanted for my wedding. Since it seems that I will never get around to posting pictures from the wedding...hopefully, these cake shots will tide some of you over. Here I am piping on the curly blue swirls. I have already covered the pieces in fondant and dusted the cake with a luster dust.

The bottom three layers were styrofoam cake dummies while the fourth (and top) layer was made of white cake with blue swirls in it. That way we could still do our cake cutting.
I was pretty much just making everything up as I went along. I had spent many hours watching the food network and had some idea of how this might go. But it was still a learning experience. Piping can be very tiresome. Still, like I said before. I couldn't have been happier. It was perfectly what I wanted.
Shortly after moving here to Texas, Monte's birthday rolled around. In an attempt to make new friends in the ward and to throw Monte the biggest birthday celebration he had ever had...we had a large dinner party. The whole birthday was Asian themed so we cooked all kinds of Asian food and had chopsticks and little take out boxes for our guest. There was Asian candies and streamers and decorations. The whole living room and kitchen was a myriad of reds and golds. Most people in attendance thought that we were just really into the Olympics because Monte would not let me tell anyone it was his birthday.

But they got the idea when I surprised Monte by having everyone sing Happy Birthday to him while he stood next to a very large red velvet cake.
To really get an idea of the size of this cake you have to realize that the top section is two 8" rounds (so about the size that any normal birthday cake would be) and the bottom circle was 12" round. The candles were 4 inch candles as well. And the Asian topper was at least half a foot. It was a very large cake. I couldn't get too into the piping details on this cake because the icing was a homemade creme cheese frosting. The kind that goes perfect with a red velvet cake. I really should have taken a picture of the inside so you could see how beautiful it was when it was cut. BRIGHT RED!

Needless to say...the mere size of the cake turned some heads. It was so much fun!

Monte, seeing how much fun I was having making cakes started researching. He found a cake shop here in Austin that taught classes. As a Christmas present this years he bought me cake decorating classes: courses 1, 2, and 3. He has been very supportive thus far in helping me mix icings and prepare for my classes. I only have one cake to show as of right now. It was the cake we decorated the first class. They showed us how to torte, fill, and ice our cakes. Then we practiced with the round and star tips.
We had to share the icings and colors so all of our cakes looked pretty much the same (not much in the way of creativity yet) but they are more just for practice right now. This cake I ended up putting "Happy Birthday Rebecca" and taking it over to a friend's party a couple of days later. This week I will be making cupcakes and another cake. I will post pictures of my continued cake endeavors as I go. Course 1 is just the basic tips and how to make a rose. But in Course 2 we will do a lot of different kinds of flowers and Course 3 will be fondant and tiered cakes. This really was one of the best Christmas surprises ever!

Health Update

One of the great things about this cake class that Monte got for me is that I'm getting out of the house, even if it's just for once a week. My health has left me with little energy. I posted awhile back about all the strange things that my body was doing and the end result is that the doctors can't find anything wrong. I've been to see 4 different doctors in the last 5 months and it is only getting worse. They have now done three different blood test and a deeper screening on my thyroid. Except for the pain they can't find much wrong with me.

Last week the doctor put me back on another steroid to help control the pain that has now moved from my back, neck, and knees into my feet, chest, and hands as well. The knuckles in my fingers would swell in the mornings or when I wake from a nap and I would not be able to bend my fingers. The chest pain also had gotten so bad I that I couldn't sleep any longer. The doctor is afraid that I may be form gastritis from all the stress the pain has caused on my body. So now I have to take the steroid (4 times a day) with food and the heartburn medicine twice a day on an empty stomach. Not a pleasant day.

Good news is, though, that the rheumatology department had a cancellation so I have an appointment on the 9th of February instead of having to wait another three months to see a specialist. So, wish me luck there. This is really starting to be very annoying. In five months I feel like I went from a healthy 26 year old to an old woman's arthritic body. I WANT MY BODY BACK!


As for Monte, he's doing alright. The doctor switch his medicine again to a stronger one and seems a little miffed that things haven't improved much. He said it's just ulcerative colitis and we can give you medicine and you'll get better. Well, Monte is still having flare ups and the medicines aren't fixing anything. The new medicine he is on messes with his immune system so he has to have his blood checked weekly. Last week he blood test came back with a slightly high white blood count so he had to do another stool sample. That sample showed no more signs of C. Diff. which is a bacteria that he has been fighting on and off in his intestines. So that is good that it's gone...but why the high white count? We have to wait till this week's blood test to see if it has changed at all.

I have learned more about doctors and medicine and insurance in the few months I have been married than in my whole life up until this point. It's been crazy. I'm thinking of getting a medical degree so that I don't have to pay the doctors 20 dollars each visit to tell me they can't figure it out.


On a completely unrelated note, but as a little treat to those of you that read the health update is a true story.

So, if you have ever watched The Office you may have come across an episode where in a bat flies into Dunder Mifflin and terrorizes the employees. Just this week my husband sent me this email that he received while at his cubicle at work:

"A bat was sighted on the 6th floor this morning. It appears to have found a good hiding place for now. If you do see the bat, please do not touch it. Call the fixx line ext. 33499. They have the proper gear to handle the bat. "

Honestly...I could not stop laughing when I read that. Apparently this sort of thing is not as uncommon as I once thought. What do you think proper gear for a bat really is?

And on another somewhat related note...since we've just discussed bats and cakes (in the prior post) I thought it only too appropriate to include this picture that I came across. It apparently is a bat wedding cake. If only I had known that such a thing existed when I was making my cake.

If only.
(Okay, so really...I think it's just supposed to be ivy. But poor choice on whomever decided on such dark colored pointy ivy for the wedding cake. It really looks like bats have just landed all over this cake.)
Christmas Time!

Okay, now on to Christmas stuff. My parents drove over from South Carolina and my brother flew down from Utah to join Monte and I in Christmas festivities. It was wonderful see everyone again. I guess I just saw them at the wedding six months before, but I missed everyone sooo much already. If I had the money, I'd buy my brother house here so that he could come and stay.
We couldn't hang our stockings so they ended up on the floor this year. We told my brother that he had to use a very little stocking because we could not afford to buy another one, but then we surprised him Christmas morning when Santa magically switched his mini stocking for a really really big one. (The foot of which held a two liter root beer.)
We had a very nice Christmas morning opening gifts and laughing with each other. Monte and I made sure each person got something special from Texas. Like a cactus, jack-o-lope, tornado identification guide, or armadillo road kill to name a few.

And I think my parents enjoyed not having to clean up any of the mess this year. (I think unwrapping presents wore Jonathan out.)
We did other things with my family besides just gifts as well. We all went to see Light Row. It's a mile and half walk past lots and lots of Christmas light displays that Austin puts on over by the botanical gardens. We tried to make it to San Antonio too but because of a nasty cold that was going around we didn't end up leaving Austin. We did give my family a tour of the area but unfortunately I don't have any pictures of those days.

We ended up staying home and playing games most of the time. That and eating. Eating is always very good around the holidays. Here is the Christmas day meal that we made. The table, table cloth, china plates and serving dishes, and silverware were all wedding presents. I owe my grandparents for most of it. But it made a really nice table for our delicious meal.
Monte and I had had some roast wrapped around spinach and feta cheese once before from Whole Foods that we liked and so we tried to serve that for Christmas. They ended up only having pork wraps this time around so we tried those. And Monte got a pork wrap filled with apples and cherries instead of spinach and cheese since he is not a spinach lover.
I think I prefer the roast but my dad loves pork and thought they were wonderful. It was a really nice meal. My mom made so much of her wild rice, sausage, nuts, and cherries dish that we spent the next week trying to finish it all off. But it was delicious! So Monte and I did not mind that at all.
Alas, after a wonderful week it was time to say goodbye to my crazy family. My parents left Monday afternoon but my brother wasn't flying out till early Tuesday morning.

So, we took my brother out for a steak. We had promised him back when we found out that we would be moving to Texas that if he came to visit us we would buy him a good steak. The Texas Roadhouse seemed like an excellent choice. So Monte and Jonathan and myself headed over there Monday evening for one last hurrah with my little bro.
It was really great to be able to spend a little more time with him before he left. The hardest thing about getting married is having to move away from him. Sometimes I wonder why we are so close. Is it because we were born just a year apart from each other? Was it because there were no other siblings so we only had each other? Was it because are personalities mesh really well together? Or because we have a gospel perspective on things?

I don't know...maybe it's just everything combined, but I do feel like I got really really really lucky to have such a wonderful brother. (And that's all I'll say on that cause I'm sure this will embarrass him enough.)

But hey, it was a great dinner. And a great Christmas. And I really love the holidays!
(And of course it wouldn't be a good Texas restaurant without free peanuts and cactus decor now would it.)
So, the last thing that I'll mention this posting go around it our trip to Seaworld down in San Antonio. Monte and I went to Seaworld during our first week here in Texas as part of our honeymoon. I didn't bring my camera then and we didn't find out till the park was closing that they let you feed dolphins. So, seeing as how our passes were good for two days, we planned to head back some time just to feed the dolphins. :)

Well, the end of the year was approaching and our tickets were about the expire with the new year so we headed to San Antonio the weekend before Christmas to go see the dolphins. It was our 6 month anniversary too so it seemed only to perfect to use the tickets then.

When we arrived at Seaworld it was fun to see the changes they had made from their summer decor to their winter wonderland. It was pretty hot that day (even though it was December) but they had covered the ground with a white fleece and put up a big Christmas tree. They also had bubble machines near the entrance so that when you were in line starring into the park it looked like it magically snowing inside. It was pretty cool.

Our first stop, of course, was the dolphin pool.
Dolphins feel exactly like you would expect them to feel. For some reason that surprised me. We spent a really long time at the dolphin pool. I just couldn't get enough of them.
My favorite dolphin was "Chubby". He was so much bigger than all the rest. I finally got a picture of him when the trainers came out with their buckets of fish and all the dolphins came rushing over and began chirping and bobbing out of the water to get a much bigger meal than we were allowed to feed them. Check Chubby out. He has like three double chins. Oh I wanted to take him home with me sooo bad.
Finally I pulled myself away from the dolphins and Monte and I went to look at the other attractions.We spent time in the aquarium. I have always liked fish. And then we sat down and watched the penguins do funny things for awhile. And the puffins. I didn't know that puffins could be so humorous. Birds don't usually interested me...but when they swim they become so much cooler.
We tried to take a picture in front of the aquarium wreath but with the flash on you can not see the fish...and with the flash off you can not see us. I have included the 'flash on' picture can see some of the coral behind us but the fish and manta rays and sharks didn't show up at all.
After all of that, we managed to catch the last Shamu showing of the day. We had watched the Shamu show twice on our previous visit, but this show was Christmas themed so it was a bit different.
All the tricks were done to live Christmas music. It was quite entertaining. Only downfall was that because we were a little late showing up for the performance...the only seats left open were in the splash zone. We sat in the splash zone during the summer and ended up a little damp. We sat in the splash zone during this trip and ended up completely soaked. You can't really tell in this picture cause I threw my jacket over our heads to protect us and the camera, but our pants are completely soaked through. In the summer I had on a bathing the winter...I rode home in wet underwear.