Friday, December 30, 2011

It's over!

I feel like I need to start this obligatory post how everyone else does - WHAT A YEAR - but the truth is this: My year was actually really boring. After wrapping up our time on Statia and moving back to America there was about a five month lull in Idaho at my parent’s place, followed by a move to Phoenix because we just couldn’t stand waiting around anymore, followed by Jon leaving me for seven weeks to attend a review course, during which time I hit “refresh” on Craiglist job postings over and over and over, punctuated by the occasional interview and many trips to the dog park. At the end of November I finally started working, which means I’ve been productive for exactly five weeks out of the past two and a half years. (If you’re new to the blog, read this brief explanation lest you think terrible things about me.)

The following is a mishmash of my favorite posts, quotes, and comments from the year. Later I’ll do a breakdown of my blog statistics like I did last January.


Cross this one off the bucket list
EXCERPT: "Baby sea turtles bumping into your feet in the ocean is adorable."

The good old days
SUMMARY from Carly Maready in the comments: "I laughed and laughed and laughed. Poor hamster. Corinne is never cutting my hair."

Guess who’s having the best! Week! Ever!
SUMMARY: When I saw my first adult sea turtle AND found a blue bead!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

It’s all fun and games until someone falls on their face

EXCERPT: "I should have known to not hold a strange ferret up to my face--" [camera pans to her blood-spattered vest] "--I had no idea noses could bleed this much."

I predict a bidding war
MY FAVORITE BULLET POINT: "sturdy wrist strap"

Names 2010

Dolphinsbarn: "Giving a kid many of these names is like giving them a neck tattoo on the way out the womb." 
Christa J.: "I would appreciate you removing the name Vestal from your post. I don't want it to get too popular before I have children." 
Shannon: "I totally lurked onto this site but have to share one of my favorites from my son's preschool class: Galligrr. Yes. As in, that's how a tiger would pronounce it. It's really spelled that way." 
Kyle M: "@AtSmith, we aren't ridiculing the kids, we're ridiculing the parents, and rightly so. These kids will have a handicap throughout their life. If you don't believe me, watch what I do with your daughter Tayzlee's resume in 20 years. Just watch!" 
Lindsey: "This. Is. Awesome. You just made me really homesick for living in the Utah/Idaho name belt! Long live Vestal!"


Alison: "...And Alison Wonderland...thanks for stealing my screen name I've had since 1993, spelled EXACTLY the same way. $10 says your kids are name Austin, Cason, Peyton and COPYCAT!" 
Anonymous: "I am not a huge fan of way out there names or too crazy of spellings but my name is spelled different and I have loved it, and by the way. All of my daughters have different spellings except one and hers is the only name is is pronounced wrong! I think it is strange that a person with an untraditional spelling of a name would ridicule other parents choices in names. Jessie is not "traditionally" a girls name nor is it "traditionally" spelled Jessie. If you are going to pick on people for spelling their daughters name Jesee (or however they spelled it), you should not use your name on the blog, unless you are of course a man and your name is Jesse! Your name was probably an abomination to all those Pearls,Sarah's, and Abigail's that had "traditional" and "sensible" names. They probably thought those same things you are thinking about these parents.Again, I don't think parents should give them stupid names like the Abcd that was mentioned above, but just because a girl is named Katelyn instead of the original Caitlin does not make them bad parents or "poor" children.
Thanks,Mandee(and I LOVE my name and I don't think my parents are stupid)"

(Of course, I couldn’t help but respond…)

"It's cute because it's so, so wrong.
Also, say my parents had named me Jhessykah. That would mean I can't dislike made up names and misspellings? I don't get it. People don't name themselves. Certainly if I had a daughter named Payzlee you would have a legitimate point." 
Anonymous: "I don't care for the name particularly, but my aunt's name was Vestal. She made enough money to (most likely) buy and sell you."

EXCERPT: "Within the first hour of our visit, she may or may not have told us that her late husband was an impotent alcoholic and that she had to find another man to bless her womb. I could be wrong, though; she requires three interpreters and even then you’ll only understand a quarter of what she’s saying."

St Maarten
EXCERPT: "Once the resulting sandstorm died down enough for me to turn around and look for him, all I saw was his body curled into a little ball, facedown. Turtled, if you will."

Why meeeee
EXCERPT: "The doctor told me the bruising might get worse and spread over the next few days. He also assured me that what he'd extracted was definitely organic and terrestrial."

INCLUDED BECAUSE: of anonymous' comment - "wow a lovely also"

EXCERPT: "Annie asked Dad if he had a mustache when he was a baby."

You are NOT the baby’s father
EXCERPT: "It couldn't possibly be that Ricki Lake, THE Ricki Lake, as in, ‘Hi my name is Jessie Sweet, I'm 11 years old and I watch the Ricki Lake Show when my parents aren't home’ reposted MY update for all 45,688 of her followers to see."

On the road
INCLUDED BECAUSE of the following exchange in the comments:

An introduction
EXCERPT: "Ian, or Owen?"


Good dog

St Jon

Just call me Evelyn Couch
EXCERPT: "Still, it’s better than when Corinne got Roald Dahl."

For your Wednesday
EXCERPT: "Hey, look. You have clothes on, and I can drive. That's everything we need to go get some pie."

A play in one act

I knew no one would believe me, so I took a picture

It’s official!
INCLUDED BECAUSE: of the joke at the end that totally bombed. I received no less than four text messages from friends and family wondering what my awesome new job was.

A conversation I wish I’d had, circa October 2004
EXCERPT: "You always think of the best responses 7 years later."

Why I will never book travel with Expedia ever again, and why you should seriously consider doing the same :)
EXCERPT: "THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO THEY ARE MESSING WITH HERE. I have many tens of people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter! Including my mother (not sure about my dad) and siblings!"

Good Old Days, Episode II
EXCERPT: "Oh, it was just food."

Times I made people cry
EXCERPT: "…the essence of it was that we liked Sarah!! and we HATED Amanda!!!! and SHE was the one we didn't want sitting with us!!!!!!! and there was definitely the word ‘walrus’ in there somewhere."
ALSO INCLUDED BECAUSE: of the comment from my aunt Mariann - "Wait til you have kids. Your numbers will definitely go up!"


Thanks for reading! Next year might be better! No promises.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

We drove up to Salt Lake for Christmas this year. It was a little more low-key than usual - my mom was sick (more on that later), and Corinne's due any moment with her little boy. Apparently flying cross country while 39 weeks pregnant isn't advised. (I emailed her yesterday to see what she was up to and she replied, "lolling in bed". And she didn't mean Laugh Out Louding. Poor little lamb.)

The drive up!

We thought we were in for it when we saw this storm up ahead of us, but luckily it didn't slow us down too much:

Happy Anniversary! SEVEN YEARS. My cousin Sarah got married that same day so this was us right before leaving for the reception:

Me being tall:

We walked through temple square afterwards, even though Jon didn't bring a coat. So so so so so so so so so so beautiful:

Right before Annie snapped the following picture, she took another one, reviewed it, started laughing hysterically and told us it was HORRENDOUS of both of us. Later, when I cycled through the pictures, I found the one she was talking about and I didn't think it was bad of me at all :(
(Jon was cold.)

Have you ever really looked at an antelope?

My grandma's nativity is prettier than your grandma's nativity:

Jon found three sticks of string cheese in his coat pocket. He hadn't worn the coat in a year.

Christmas Day! We spent it at Annie's house in Heber.  Jon and I slept over the night before and my parents drove up from Salt Lake for the day. We had the most delicious breakfast EVER (eggs Newport, ever heard of it? You layer English muffins, ham, a delicious mixture of hollandaise and sliced hardboiled eggs, with crumbled bacon on top), then opened presents, then watched Inception, then made our traditional fondue for dinner.

My parents had to leave a couple of hours before we made chocolate fondue, and they totally missed out:

Back at my grandparents' house; dad holding Gunner's head up for him again.

CONCLUSION: The worst part of the entire trip was when my mom got a virus in her ear that made her dizzy, nauseated, and bed-ridden for three whole days.  The best part of the entire trip was when, at the wedding reception, my cousin Adam picked a piece of food out of his salad and asked my brother-in-law Steve if it was an apple slice. Steve responded with a little too much gusto, "It's jicama" - and as he said it, a big chunk of jicama flew out of his mouth and landed on the floor.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hope I didn't inhale any spores...

(We are currently in Utah. I wrote this blog post two days ago and never got around to publishing it. Woopsies. Also, since this was written, we celebrated our SEVENTH wedding anniversary which probably deserves its own post but isn't going to get it.)

I have been such a slacker. Working full time is not conducive to regular blogging, and it hasn't helped that there's been nothing particularly newsworthy going on ever since I got this job. We leave this afternoon for Utah for Christmas so I should probably tell you about the mushroom we found growing in our bathroom before we go:

This is the mushroom we found growing in our bathroom.

And I'll conclude with this picture of Penny - to date, my favorite picture of her ever. Something to do with the expression on her face and the fact that she's holding her toy with her freaky shorn feet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Sometime someone ask me a question immediately after I take a swig of water so that I can answer normally without swallowing first. We are going to laugh SO hard.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Everyone likes free stuff

I finally got my blog Christmassed! Also, remember how I made this?

You may have it. Happy Christmas.

(download here.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

That's what's up

When we lived in Tucson, I worked for the best company on earth for two and a half years. I won’t get sappy about it, even though A) my feelings about it are very sappy, and B) those were some of the happiest years of my entire life. I’ll just say that leaving was heartbreaking, and I’m absolutely certain that I’d still be working there were it not for our quitting America temporarily so Jon could attend medical school.

When we knew we were for sure moving to Phoenix (where the region is headquartered) I immediately got in touch with my old HR manager and let her know I would be in the area and looking for work. Her reply was disappointing but left me the faintest glimmer of hope – they were still on a reduced staff after 100+ layoffs, but she’d keep me in mind if anything cropped up over the next few months.

Something finally cropped up last week, but NO ONE GET TOO EXCITED because it’s only a temporary position for December and some of January. I knew what it was when I agreed to it, and come the new year I’ll be back to square one unless I can get something else lined up before then. Still, that being said….it is so good to be back, even just for a little while. The work is easy but fulfilling, the people are old friends, the commute is pleasant, I work half-days on Fridays, and, in short, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing this holiday season. It helps that Jon is being really boring lately what with studying 10 hours a day and all. It also helps that the office is absolutely gorgeous.

main lobby



my desk

I want to work here forever.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Better late than never

Finally, pictures from our trip to Utah for Thanksgiving.

On the way there, we flew right over the Grand Canyon. It was awesome. We also passed directly over Kennecotte copper mine (sadly, unpictured).

Our first day there, the whole family went to the new Natural History Museum of Utah. Quite a view from the balcony at sunset.

         Me, Annie

My favorite part. Wall o' Ceratopsians.

Me, Annie, Thanksgiving (and my birthday!) morning.

Crab drink! A Sweet family holiday staple. Clamato juice, crab meat, grapefruit. It is much more delicious than it sounds. (It's like ceviche! Ceviche soup. Served cold. Nothing to be afraid of.)

Annie's an art major and used the family as subjects for her weekly sketch assignment. Here she is doing a ten-minute portrait of Serena, our sister-in-law.

Jon and The General at the Hogle Zoo.

Lemur, Serena

I won't tell you the disgusting thing it was doing. Let's just say that apparently gorillas like to eat their own barf.

I was so glad we decided to go to Music and the Spoken Word in the old Tabernacle building on Temple Square, because it was their first week doing Christmas music! It's not Christmas without MoTab.

The assembly hall.

Cool fountain in the new City Creek development.

And then....the drive home. View of Mount Timpanogos on the way from Heber to Provo.

During the trip back, the Mazda turned 388,888 kilometers and Jon was insistent on me taking a picture. 

Serena won best moment of the entire trip with her dramatic retelling of a childhood story. She was watching a neighbor's chickens and one of them died. When she went to step on the fresh grave to tamp down the dirt, the thing let out a nightmarish, guttural gobble from under the earth - the result of some surplus air inside its lungs.

(There's a reason for the delay in putting up this post. I'll tell you all about it another time.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Her bite is worse than her bark. And she doesn't bite. So.

We boarded Penny at a kennel while we were in Utah, and I wondered how much of her time there she'd spend barking. My question was answered shortly after she arrived home.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I haz a husband

Jonny J, rocking the side part

On Friday night, Jon arrived home after seven weeks in Dallas. Just a few days after we moved to Phoenix, he left for a medical licensing exam review course and I've been all alone this whole time. You didn't know he was gone, because I don't know you're not a murderous psychopath. Now he's back, and I'm not lonesome anymore, and the world is lovely. We leave tomorrow for our trip to Utah for Thanksgiving/my birthday, so between that and our reunion I had a lot to look forward to these past couple weeks.

Speaking of, last night he took me to dinner at a fancy fondue place as an early birthday celebration, and I don't want to brag, but,

Swiss cheese fondue, Mediterranean crepe (with scallops, leeks, and saffron sauce), pear crepe. My taste buds were overjoyed. I love birthdays.

We'll be gone until at least Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Times I Made People Cry

It's not a long list.

The first was Amanda Wetherbee. In seventh grade, I was not very cool. I'd just moved across the country and was trying unsuccessfully to fit in to cliques that had formed when my classmates were fetuses. After a few months of eating lunch alone, I was befriended by one of the misfits groups. Luckily, these were the smart-and-wholesome-albeit-totally-socially-inept loners because let's face it; I would have pledged allegiance to anyone that wanted to sit with me during lunch.

[And I have to interject here, because I've had this quote written down for months- MONTHS- waiting for the right moment to share it, and I think this just might be it. This summer, Corinne was saying how this one girl ruined sixth grade for her, AND I QUOTE: "She stole all my friends, so I had to make friends with the goth kids because they were the only ones that would take me halfway through the year."]

My middle school cafeteria served Dominos pizza daily and I'd sit with my awkward group of misfits, all of us ripping our pizzas into bite-sized chunks and dipping them in watered-down ranch dressing. A girl named Sarah who was very nice but decidedly more socially inept than the rest of us (and that's saying a lot) had been sitting at our table for about a week when I made Amanda cry, AND SHE DESERVED IT.

Before I get to the meat of it, I need to set something straight. I'd be lying by omission if you thought I was some valiant person in middle school, always on the lookout for people to stick up for, because I was not. I was a scared, sad little bird, just trying to get through each day. But when Amanda Wetherbee, completely unprovoked, loudly asked Sarah in the most poisonous tone imaginable why she was sitting at our table when none of us liked her, something inside me snapped.

I can't quote myself verbatim, but the essence of it was that we liked Sarah!! and we HATED Amanda!!!! and SHE was the one we didn't want sitting with us!!!!!!! and there was definitely the word "walrus" in there somewhere. When I finished, I realized I'd been yelling. Everyone's mouths were open. Amanda pushed back from the table, burst into tears, and ran for the bathroom.

I was pretty sure I'd eventually be called to the principal's office, once she told her parents the horrible things I'd said, so after school I fearfully explained to my mom what had happened, and that I'd probably be in trouble, and that I was so ashamed, and that it would never happen again. She shocked me by telling me how proud she was that I'd stuck up for someone else. Up until then, it had honestly not occurred to me that I'd done the right thing.

The second incident was my junior year of high school and I can't explain the story without giving out some personal details, so sorry if it's TMI. I'll try to put it delicately. I was having some "female issues" that involved losing copious amounts of blood for months on end. When I finally told my mom, she immediately booked me with the gynecologist, who put me on birth control so that I wouldn't, you know, bleed to death. [OH MY GOSH I almost forgot! When I stepped into the lobby after my first appointment, I came face to face with the nine-months-pregnant Mia Maids advisor which resulted in one of the most uncomfortable greetings of my entire life. I'm sure she wasn't expecting to run into one of her Young Women at the gynecologist's office, and I wasn't going to tell her why, exactly, I was there. Let's just hope she gave me the benefit of the doubt.]

Anyway, there was this girl in my seminary class. We'll call her Alexa, because that was her name. She was the type of person to take a guideline from For the Strength of Youth and run it all the way to the other end of the field, then judge you against her invented standard, which is just the sort of person I have zero tolerance for. She was adamant about not kissing before marriage. KISSING. Actually, how she put it was, she could never kiss a guy before marriage any more passionately than she'd kiss her dad, which I thought was wonderfully creeptastic. Anyway, she caught wind that I was on birth control, WICKED, IMMORAL BIRTH CONTROL, and took matters into her own hands.

She confronted me in the commons between classes, and it did not end well for her. She told me that birth control was against the church and that it was sinful of me to use it. She thought she was saving my soul. I lost it on her, and I honestly do not remember a single thing that I said. I must have blacked out from rage, because I typically have a great memory. I never actually saw her cry, but she was visibly upset when I concluded, and during the next break between classes my concerned friend Andy asked me why Alexa had been sobbing after our conversation. I happily explained.

[To non-Mormon readers - the LDS church in no way opposes birth control. We're certainly a family-oriented religion, but, from the church's official website, "The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife". In Alexa's defense, there is no mention on there of teenaged girls using birth control as prevention from bleeding to death, though, so. Maybe she was right after all.]

And there it is. Two people. SO FAR.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Ways I'm Saving Money Whilst Unemployed:
  • By not going to any interviews, therefore saving in gas costs. 
  • By making my own meals. I've only eaten out FOUR TIMES in the past seven weeks, and two of those were Taco Bell for under three dollars (it is very, very wrong that my first/only Mexican food since moving to Phoenix has been Taco Bell). One was Subway. The last was my first-ever Vietnamese food. I went with pho - a yummy noodle soup - and because I am equal parts savvy and adverse to mispronouncing words, I even looked up how to order it on my phone before heading inside. Turns out it's not "fo", it's "fuh", and it was really hard for me to point to the word "pho" and say, "fuh" (though, admittedly, pretty fun. FUH!)
  • By doing laundry and running the dishwasher during non-peak hours. Maybe everyone else already knew this, but it blew my mind. You can save tons by not running those appliances between noon and 7 p.m. I also changed the settings on my dishwasher so that they air dry with no heat.
  • By not really doing anything that costs money, ever. 

Ways I'm Not Saving Money Whilst Unemployed:
  • By booking a spur-of-the-moment trip to Salt Lake for Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111 So, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so excited. The whole family minus pregnant Corinne will be there and I cannot wait. (Have I mentioned on my blog that she's expecting again?? Because she is! A boy! Due early January!) Also, my BIRTHDAY IS ON THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR, which only happens every seven years, so it was sort of a no-brainer to do it up right. The last time it was on Thanksgiving was in our first year of marriage and we were living in Canada, where Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, so. It was sort of a disappointing day, not gonna lie.

What I've Been Up To Whilst Unemployed:

  • Still making stuff in Photoshop, and I cannot think of a better time to catch my blog up on my recent creations.

First, a couple of ones in neons. I started obsessing over the color combo last week, after I made this for my Sunday School class:

So I promptly made neon ombre popsicles:

And reused it when yesterday, Jon's sister Kelsey asked me to make her a "bright, festive" blog header:

Last week, I was in full-on animal mode when I cranked out this chick:

this kiwi:

this capybara (and friend):

and this okapi, which is sort of my pride and joy:

Then, last night, I had a vision for a Christmas-themed creation, so I broke my rule of NO CHRISTMAS BEFORE THANKSGIVING to make it:

...but I haven't even so much as glanced at my Christmas music playlist in iTunes, nor will I until my second-favorite holiday is over. STOP STOMPING ON THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!