Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Andrew--warning this may be long.

Today is the two year anniversary of my brother's death. Originally it was thought to be self-inflicted (a story nobody believed), but due to a ridiculous excuse of an investigation done by the Provo Police which had too many flaws to make sense, we did our own investigating. We still don't know what happened exactly, but we know there was someone else in the room who had to have been standing right next to him and that he had probably been drugged.

My parents have tried everything to redeem his name and have the report marked at least as an accidental death, but apparently in this case the dead do not have the same rights as the living. He was not given a fair investigation, and although we can prove that his death is not self-inflicted, it still shows suicide on the official report.

I guess in my own little way, I want to be able to show the world how great of a guy my brother was. I am going to celebrate his memory by sharing a few of the experiences we had and the best things about my baby brother.

1. Andrew was probably one of the most empathetic people that I have ever known. He truly could feel what other people felt. He may not have always known what to do about it, but I remember his holding me as I cried on his shoulder and when we were little and I got in trouble, he would cry for me.

2. We always played together. It didn't matter what age we were. Our friends would get together when we were in high school and play laser tag almost every weekend. We ALWAYS had fun.

3. During the years when it was just he and I who lived at home we went on road trips with out parents quite often. I remember driving late at night, listening to Louis Armstrong sing "What a Wonderful World" and Andrew and I taking turns trying to imitate Louis' low gravely voice as we sang along to the song. It is still amazingly soothing to listen to jazz while driving late at night.

4. I was sick with food poisoning and didn't have the strength to get up the stairs to my room. He found me at the bottom of the stairs and carried me up to my bed.

5. Randomly we would run errands with each other. I would bounce on his bed to wake him up, saying "get up, get up, get up, get up..." over and over again. He would wake up and come do whatever it was that I wanted to do.

6. He always changed my oil and my brakes for me.

7. The first time I tried using eyeliner I went out and asked what he thought about it. Well, actually I asked if he thought I looked like a hooker. His response? "half and half."

8. He was never above wrestling. In the later years he always won, but I blame that on his being taller than me.

9. He let me practice learning to cut hair on him. Not like it was hard to do with his short haircut.

10. He was never afraid to tell someone that he loved them, nor was he afraid to show it.

11. We always watched all the cheesy family channel movies together, laughing at the same jokes.

12. He and I and my parents would sit on the loft talking until 3 in the morning. We always talked about everything, well almost everything.

13. We LOVED to watch movies together. When we were little we would watch Thoroughly Modern Millie and rewind the part where the apple shrivels over and over again. We also watched the Ewok Adventure all snuggled up in blankets with our knees to our chests because it was so scary.

14. We always fought over who got the most of my mom's pie. We both wanted the extra piece. Of course I also blame him for my eating so fast all of the time. I had to beat him to dessert for the pie.

15. The last day he came swimming with me in 65 degree weather because I wanted him to, we watched old Home Improvement reruns together, laughing hysterically and when he left he gave me a big wet kiss on my cheek just to annoy me. I said, "Just you wait. I'm going to get you back for that."

I miss him. He was my best friend. He would have loved my husband, and we all would have had so much fun. I wish there was something that I could do for him even now as I remember the hard times and the fun times. He always did so much for me. I just have to remember that he is watching down on me and laughing at all the same jokes. He's just waiting for me to come home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Todd's Birthday Cake

I find it a challenge to come up with a cake that will surprise Todd on his birthday, especially given that he doesn't really like cake and that will be his only real enjoyment from it. Last year I did a football helmet cake from his favorite team. This year, I searched and searched to find a cake that would be fun. Also that weekend I made a cake for Austin's birthday party. I am finding that two cakes in one day really sucks. Austin got Spiderman and Todd got a monkey. I wish I had pics of Austin's cake, too, but the day ended up being a bit hectic and we forgot to pull out the camera.

For Todd's cake, I actually bought the cake from Costco already with the green background, which is why this cake is shaped oven sucks and my cakes are lopsided when I bake them at home. Buying this cake from Costco was probably one of the best ideas that I have already had. They did the not so fun part and I got to decorate. In decorating, I used real sticks, a real banana and plenty of fondant. The outside "bamboo" is actually Pirouline Cookies. We just cut them at an angle to look like bamboo. Oh, and when I say "we" I mean it, because not only did the girls help with getting the fondant ready, they also put up most of the "bamboo" around the cake. I think that they did an excellent job.

I actually got quite the smile from Todd when he saw his cake, and YES...sticking my tongue out really does help when you are carrying a heavy carrot cake. (yuck, I hate carrot cake, but it is one of the few cakes that Todd will eat. He says it is selfless love on my part, given that I LOVE cake and still bought one that I don't like.)

Quick photoshop, so my blackout background kind of looks poopy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Scares Me

OK, so I was checking my hotmail account and I like to read the little news blurbs that are highlighted. This one scared me. It really shows how much things have changed, even since I was in school. It is a list of statistics gathered by the Tyra Banks show. It was collected anonymously and then she also selected people from the survey to participate in a panel on her show. Here is the list:
  • On average, girls are losing their virginity at 15 years of age.
  • 14 percent of teens who are having sex say they’re doing it AT school.
  • 52 percent of survey respondents say they do not use protection when having sex.
  • One in three says she fears having a sexually transmitted disease.
  • 24 percent of teens with STDs say they still have unprotected sex.
  • One in five girls says she wants to be a teen mom.
  • About 50 percent acknowledge that they’ve hit someone.
  • One out of three teens has tried drugs
Here is the link to a snippet from her show, which shows some of the girls on the panel and also Tyra's interview on the Today Show. In her interview she talks about some of the main reasons that girls are having sex at such an early age. One of the main ones is that we are not talking to our kids about sex, another is a desire for someone to love them, hence the girls wanting to get pregnant. All I have to say about this, is that it is extremely scary. We need to talk to our kids, especially our girls, openly about sex. They need to know what it is all about.

Also, the next interview down discusses the correlation between teenage pregnancy and how much television our kids watch, stating that kids don't need TVs in their rooms, which is what my family's rule always was. I find these clips especially interesting, because the advice given is what those of us who grew up in the church have heard our whole lives.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And the Bolts Have It.

I would like to tell you all about my Murphy's Law table.

It all started out because my brother-in-law had a spare tabletop...random, I know. Long story short, he got it with a bunch of other stuff at an auction. It is a pretty nice tabletop, so when he was just going to throw it away, my parents saved it from the trash heap. They were being very thoughtful because they felt it would look nice in our travel room. The only problem is that the tabletop was just legs.

So about this point, I can see you wondering whether I am suddenly going to become this all-powerful crafty person, or become a regular Tim Allen. I'm pretty sure that you are leaning toward an Auna-ba-nauna version of Tool Time.

LUCKILY, my daddy was here to help me with this table. We made a trip to Lowe's the night before and picked up ready to screw in legs that we would just need to screw in and stain. Alas, it was not to be so. The next day when we started our "simple" project, we realized that the screws on the legs were too big for where the table already had places for them. This meant that we had to go back to Lowe's. To make certain that we wouldn't make the same mistake, we took the table top with us. (It is only a small coffee table size.)

When we got to Lowe's I returned the old legs and we went in search of new ones. Rolling the table back toward lumber on the top of our cart, we found the legs and tried different styles. None of them were fabulous, but the same style we had just brought back was doable. We tried all sorts of different table kits looking for screws that would fit and realized that this was going to be a serious project, because everything was either too small or too big. I was beginning to feel a bit like Goldilocks. Finally we decided that we would have to go find the screws separate from the legs, buy the same legs we returned, but for some reason for a higher price, and some dowel. Why dowel, you ask? Well, that is because we took the screws out of the legs, pounded dowels into the holes and then re-drilled for a slightly smaller double sided screw.

This would have worked great, especially after we found the color of stain that we wanted, if only I had been able to find my pliers at my house. I KNOW I have some. I can see them in my mind. Where Todd put them, however, is a mystery. So, I ended up borrowing pliers and a pair of vise grips from my neighbor. We finally got the screws out and everything drilled back how it should be, but we were presented with a problem when putting the new screws in. We couldn't grip the place where the threads were because we needed them to screw, but we could only get the screw into the leg so far. I though to myself, I wonder if I screw this into the table, if it will tighten in once it reaches as far as the screw goes into the table? Did that work, you ask? No. Of course not. Instead, I screwed the leg right through the other side of the table. Fabulous. "Never give up. Never surrender."

To finish this story, since this blog entry is getting absolutely gargantuan, the color of stain we chose was fact, we had the right color at the house all along, my dad had to go BACK to Lowe's and got some bolts that we used to tighten the screws into the legs by facing them in opposing directions on the screw and giving us a grip. Superglue to the rescue, which helped fix the veneer on the top of the table and we were done. OK, so last of all? Maybe we should have measured the height of the legs. We flipped the table over and "Oh yeah...this might be a bit too tall."

We'd had enough. We just cut the ends of the legs off. So, if you would like to see our Murphy's Law table, it is now on display in our travel room. Please, just don't put your feet up on it, as I haven't finished creating supports for the spindly legs. Gotta love a FREE tabletop. Oh wait, that was supposed to be free and easy? Doh!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


...apparently lately I am into single word titles.

Anyway, I am so excited, because I have officially brought Todd over to the dark side. He now enjoys the Fox TV show, Bones, as much as I do. It is truly the only show I watch on a regular basis...well, that and the Disney channel, but you can only watch the same episode of Hannah Montana so many times.

Oh, and the reason for 2 pics, is that the bottom one is my fav, but it didn't have the TV title on it. Sigh. How HOTT is David Boreanaz?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I have been going through pics that were taken while in New Zealand and I realized that there are about a million pictures of a bird. Same bird, many of the same poses, some more picturesque than others, but seriously...that is a lot of pics of one bird. I think both Todd and I must have taken the camera at different times because this bird ate breakfast with us out on the deck of our hotel.

I've also included a pic of the dock at our hotel. We were lucky to stay in some amazing locations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Keys Lost, Much Like Paradise Lost

In my last entry I told about my little car rental/driving situation in New Zealand. I guess our trip just seemed to be based around the theme of cars. We ended up going through 3 cars during the trip (just got home today).

The week of work went well with record numbers for Todd's team, hopefully it will continue to work out that way with the follow-up team and after the paperwork is all finished. We saw over 2000 people in 6 days of sessions. Obtaining more than just a tourist view of the country was fabulous. The people were all so amazing and it was very difficult to have a desire to come home. During this time we traveled into a few of the bigger towns/cities, ending up in Auckland. We didn't have time to really see much during this time, driving several hours through the windy roads after dark and getting up to work in the morning.

After the work week, however, was when the vacation began. We had made plans previously to go to the beach Saturday night, but Todd surprised me with fantastic seats to Phantom of the Opera. I wasn't about to complain. Sunday we headed up North to the Bay of Islands. The day was a slow start due to entering paperwork and then we were off to a scenic drive to Russell. We had a day cruise booked for Monday, so Sunday was free to drive slowly and stop in small towns, scenic views, etc. We had brunch at a tea shoppe, hiked through forest to the top of a small waterfall, viewed beaches and more. After that, it was decided that we better get a bit more distance behind us, so we drove to Wharangei (said Fahng-a-rhey) to their falls.

The falls were GORGEOUS and there was a small pond at the top with local kids swimming and swinging into it on a rope swing. One kid even climbed clear up in a tree and jumped in. Yeah, we don't get away with that sort of stuff anymore in the States. sigh. On our way up, Todd decided that he wanted to join the kids so stripped down to his shorts and hopped on the rope, swinging into the lake. The kids all loved it and he got out and swung on the rope again.

It wasn't until we got to the car, Todd in wet shorts, that we realized we didn't have the car keys. Ummm...oops. Not sure where we had left them, we searched all the trails we had walked down, and any tree or rock we had sat on to no avail. Best we could figure was that Todd had the keys in his pocket when he swung into the pond. Fabulous, eh? especially since nobody can even get down to the bottom of the pond AND it flows into the waterfall.

To make a short story even shorter, a group of people let us use their cell phones so that it was local, the kids we offered a hundred bucks to couldn't swim down far enough to find keys, we couldn't get a hold of the rental company, but Ford Roadside Assistance towed us to a Ford dealership, the tow truck man actually rang a different car rental shoppe manager at their home and they came and rented us an additional car. The next day we finally were able to get a hold of the original car rental place, who was not at all helpful (I'm now boycotting Europcar for their horrible customer service and leaving us in the lurch) and found out we had to have new keys made for the car. We did make it to Russell just in time to catch the last ferry over and made our cruise around the islands (my new life goal is now to buy and island down there). It was BEAUTIFUL and I will have some pics up later. Of course we had to spend our last day driving around to fix up everything with the car and switch out vehicles, which meant we didn't get to go to the black beach. year.

So now I am home with some new jewelry, a cheap guitar (random, I know), a sweater made out of Possum fur, and a $700 NZD bill for keys that I will never again use. Thank Heavens for the exchange rate. Oh, and the possum fur is super soft. I flew back into the states, am shocked at their horrible customer service (so spoiled in New Zealand), check our bags a few times...all 7 bags checked and 4 carry-ons, watching as the guitar gets thrown onto the luggage ramp regardless of the fragile sticker and then sit alone on the plane because Todd and I don't have seats together. We picked up our luggage in SLC and Todd waited for me to go get the truck out of parking. I get into the truck, oh blessed normal-sized truck, back out, pull onto the wrong lane of traffic while turning on my blinker...doh! stupid windshield wipers!