Friday, August 26, 2011

We're Debt Free!

Just try and tell us that this doesn't feel good! We have now paid off all of the student loans and we paid off our couch. We are currently debt free and it feels GREAT.

We started making $100/month payments in September but we weren't seeing much progress. We started amping up our payments in December, bit by bit, and now they are gone. We are really excited. We bought the home study program for Financial Peace University on Craigslist in January and we are now on Baby Step 3.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Family Favorite

So, one of our all time favorite families is the Dyes. We got to see them at the tail end of our trip up to Utah for Jeff & Karen's wedding. We had a lot of fun hanging out with Travus, Kathy, and their nearly perfect children (Travus may disagree...).

We got to play Settlers, eat at Cafe Rio, drive out to the airport, drive out to the airport again (!), walk around our old neighborhood, and have a great time.

Yes, we drove out to the airport twice. And, from Saratoga Springs, that is no small commute...So, here's a fun little story. On the flight up to Utah, we were on a Southwest flight that went from Dallas to Amarillo to Denver to Salt Lake (all on one plane). Well, on the first leg of the flight, Cory and I were the last two people on the plane and there were only two seats left. You guessed it. Middle seats. About seven rows apart. And Cory's seat was between two...okay, I'll just say it. In the words of The Ladies Man (and our friend Jeff), "Now, that is big. Um, I was not expecting you to say anything over 200 pounds. Uh, I was basically expecting, like, 130, 135.. yeah, you are a big woman. Um, my advice to you is to, uh, avoid any type of food product that your neighborhood supermarket might try to sell you. But here's to you, Fat Lady." Well, one of them was a man. And very nice, according to Cory.

Anyways, Cory shoulders couldn't touch the back of his seat because of the situation. Now, he's an easygoing guy, so no complaining. But, the flight attendant noticed his predicament and gave him a $100 flight voucher! I tell you that karma bank is legit...

Now, on our return flight. We were flying US Airways and we...missed our flight. I know right!! About that karma bank... We usually fly Southwest, where seats are not assigned so checking in guarantees the order you board. So, we always check in the day before. But, with US Airways, the seats were assigned so we just spaced about that whole checking in online thing. So, we got to the airport and we missed the check in portal by approximately one minute. We were carrying on, so we didn't need to check our bags. But, the very unhelpful front desk person said no can do, loser. So, we missed our flight and had a really fun time getting home.

But, we made it and life has been crazy busy! Cory started up football and today was his first day of school. God is good and we are happy. The End.

He Finally Sealed the Deal!

Well, our best friend Jeff finally got married. He is now the husband of a smart, gorgeous, and funny girl named Karen. I would say he barely snagged her, but I'm a firm believer that if you are a ten, you marry a ten. Cory and I already know that Jeff is a ten, so with our stellar deductive reasoning we gather that Karen is as well. We got to go to their wedding and had a fabulous time.

As it should be, the weekend was all about Jeff and Karen. However, Karen's family tried to include Cory and me, which we really appreciated. This included punking me. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say it involved her dad saying, "I know you from somewhere...I'm sure of it," and this post. Which is not to be confused with this post. Which is a common mistake, you know.

Cory gave a great toast, I cried like an idiot, and we were happy and sad to let Jeff go. Happy because it took him approximately forever, we're so happy being married and wanted the same for him, and we doubted he truly liked being the third wheel on our floor playing Spades. Sad because we don't know Karen. But, we are determined to get to know her and convince her to like us. Well, I am. Cory says everyone likes him.

A little blast from the past...
Jeff Klakring wedding: August 6, 2011 (top)
Cory Carroll wedding: June 20, 2009 (bottom)
 I thought the biggest picture in this collage, although blurry, was so cute. I almost feel like a voyeur.

And they're off! So, now some of our favorite people are married and they live in Utah. What's the deal with that! It seems to be a recurring trend. A lame one.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting Random Checks in the Mail

So, today I got an awesome check in the mail! I am a member of a site called Ebates. You go through them to buy stuff off of sites that you're already shopping on. I get checks from them quarterly and they're usually $3-4. Which is still cool, because it's basically free money. BUT! I was buying a Groupon through them the other day and saw that my big fat check had gotten mailed and it was approximately ten times our normal check. I went through them when we booked our vacation and....drumroll!

Now, I know $44.57 won't make us rich, but I'm not complaining that I made it by buying something I was already going to buy. Excellent.

Sign up! I'd recommend it :) Go here and get your big fat check. Maybe I'll use mine to buy some jeans as mine have recently gotten a large rip in the crotch area. I know that word kind of ranks up there with scab, my bad. But, it's not as bad as pustule, siiick. Oh well, I got some good use out of those over worn jeans. And Cory keeps telling me to go shopping. If you ask him my response he might say in his Nazi impression of me, "It's not in the budget!" I swear I don't talk like a wicked witch Nazi, but it's his favorite voice of me. We're working through it.

Living on Hospital Food

While we were on vacation, the seventh Harry Potter premiered. Some of you know that Cory and I are embarrassingly into Harry Potter. We're mostly into the books, but let's be honest, we love all things Harry Potter. So, we were fairly devastated that we booked our own vacation on such a crucial day. Whatevs, we're over it.

So, when we got back we decided we were going to go see Harry Potter pronto. But, we moved it to Tuesday because...Haley, Cory's sister, had her second baby! We were so excited so we headed up to Frisco to check out the beautiful Camilla Lujean.

She is absolutely beautiful. We got to hold her in the hospital which is something I haven't done since my little sister was born...17 years ago. Cory had never been to the hospital to hold a new baby. It was awesome. Another thing that was awesome...the HOSPITAL FOOD. Let me tell you. If we lived closer, we would probably go on dates there. We got a good meal for $7 for the both of us. Beat that Taco Bell. I think it rivaled the hospital food in Provo, and that's saying something.

We saw Harry Potter the next day and it was about how I expected. Cory enjoyed it and I enjoyed it until the last 15 minutes when they made up a sub par ending that was nowhere near the quality of the original ending. Just repeating the mantra, "You have to view it differently than the book."

Speaking of book adaptations, this weekend, we went and saw The Help. It was so good! It was a wonderful adaptation of the book. We would definitely recommend it. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It Will Cost you $20 to Enter My Country, Please

So, a few weeks ago Cory and I spent a week in the Dominican Republic and had a fanfreakintastic time.

Our trip started out with a Dominican hello. You walk straight onto the tarmac, and you pass dozens of workers, but they are all sitting there doing nothing. So funny. They charge you twenty AMERICAN dollars to enter their country ($10/person). Such a scam, but did we just pay thousands of dollars to get there to say no? I don't know why we don't charge people to get into American airports. I mean we pay for them to have medical care. Anyways. Our room was much better than anticipated...I was so anxious that our room would be a dump. It was wonderful! As a part of our package we got a 'free' couples massage and time in their private jacuzzi. We spent a lot of our time eating out almost every night, reading on the beach, and spending time together. Cory said life was good when he had his glass bottled coke, was reading Harry Potter, and was sitting on our balcony. We drank a ton of mixed drinks, sans alcohol, and felt spoiled spoiled spoiled.

 We went on an excursion horse back riding and snorkeling. Well, my horse was more of a starved pony. It was so sad. We met a fun couple on their honeymoon from South Carolina, saw a nice load of trash on the beach, and I dropped our lenses cap and caused a horse traffic jam to get it again.  Even with the sketchy parts, we love going on excursions and had a fabulous time on this particular overpriced getaway.

We had a great time snorkeling...but it was an experience! Cory said I had to make my duck billed picture the biggest (okay fiiine, he calls it "The Skeletor"). So, I'm kind of in the bottom percentile of swimmers. Cory was diving under water like some seal, while every so often I'm gagging on salt water because I leaned my head back too far and got some in my breathing tube. My favorite part was having all the fish come straight up to you for bread and nipping on your fingers.

My favorite part of this day was parasailing! I wish we had a picture of the gorgeous view we got. We got a great deal on parasailing because we bided our time and low balled them so much that they said we were ridiculous, left, and then came back a while later and said we had to tell everyone who asked that we paid more. It was wonderful.

On our last full day we rented a car and drove into a nearby town. I loved it. They had markets all over the place with fruit, vegetables, and meat. Ugh. The meat market was one of the nastiest things I have ever seen. Piles and piles of raw meat with flies swarming everywhere. There was muck on the ground and workers were using these huge meat cleavers (that were probably covered in disease) to cut off the meat. We were crossing our fingers that that meat was not being served at our resort! Maybe that explains my little 24 hour bug on Monday... We took some fun pictures and experienced the CRAZY CRAZY drivers there. I swear... their driving fatalities must be out of control. There were babies squashed between two adults on tiny little scooters jetting in and out of traffic, scooters carrying tvs and other huge things, vans with dozens of people in them, etc. People were insane. I liked it more than Cory because I wasn't driving. Me under possibly fatal pressure is not a pretty picture. 

The last morning, we did a little photoshoot on the beach. Cory looks like such a model in some of the pictures. Some of you know that whenever I do impersonations, it always ends up sounding like a Mexican with a lisp, who might have a minor disability. Well, my pictures were like my impersonation, but in human form. During the week, we kept seeing girls do photoshoots on the beach with what looked like their mom. They'd be crawling up the beach with this fierce sex kitten face while their mom is like yeah, work it girl. Cory thought it would be funny if I tried that. Negatory. We saw lots of old, saggy, leathery, topless women, some younger more attractive thong butt women (we're happily married so Cory just looked away, while I'm like for real! they have no dimples???), and a variety of men in very very sexy speedos. We took some pictures, but we'll spare you.

It was a wonderful trip!! As an added bonus, we just got a ticket in the mail for the red light Cory ran on the way home from the airport. I've been telling him for months... "Cory, it is illegal to not stop before you turn right at a red!" He's always like bla bla bla it's fine. Boo yah Cory. Laney is the man. So, although I am not a huge fan of making a $75 budget for the ticket, I'm perfectly okay with making a budget called, "Cory will never ever turn right before stopping and Laney is super awesome. The. End." I'm confident this $75 will be an investment. *Disclaimer: Cory really is an awesome driver. He even drives like a grandmother with both hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel. He just had a red light vice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Um...So the Mavs won.

In case you have been living at the bottom of a well for a while, the Mavericks won the NBA championship. Which meant, that I had one flippin' ecstatic husband. If you didn't know that, I speak for Cory in saying, "You're dead to me."

I know it's been a while but I thought some of you might appreciate this play by play I captured for posterity's sake. I took pictures as they won and Cory's reaction is priceless.

Some of you may have noticed the long, extended bromance hug between Cory and Logan. It lasted no less than four frames. If you didn't, it probably means you know Cory.

We had a great night. I won't ever be able to replicate this moment for Cory, which means the rest of our life may be a bit of a letdown. Go Mavs!

Only the cutest little girl that we might steal.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Recently, an article was published as part of an evangelical symposium asserting that Mitt Romney is unfit to be president because he "either by intent or effect promotes a false and dangerous religion." I found the article very interesting, but narrow minded. I usually try and rule out presidential candidates based on if their values align with mine. However, I do think that there are many people that will discount Romney purely based on his religion. 

Essentially, Mr. Smith's main points are:

  • Any Mormon is unfit to be president because the Mormon religion is false.
  • Your beliefs and your values are inseparably intertwined. "If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually—but inevitably—be warped."
  • Because Mormons believe in continuing revelation, they may change anything they believe at whim and take America to hell in a handbasket.
  • Our view of American history does not align with the world historical view. 
  • The Mormon church would grow in an unhealthy and unreasonable way as a result of this political boost. Which would "cause souls to be lost." 

I am a Latter-day Saint. I am a Christian. However, the Jesus Christ that I love and worship is different in significant ways from the Jesus Christ that evangelical Christians worship. 

  • I do not believe in the traditional Trinity as defined in the Nicene Creed--that God is One but Three. According to Christian evangelicals, He is God, but He is also Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three physically separate people. They are one in purpose.
  • I do not believe that the canon of scripture ends after the close of the New Testament.
  • While my religion does not align with typical monotheism, I only and will always only worship one god--my God.
  • I believe that families are eternal. I believe that marriage and family relationships are perpetuated beyond the grave. What's the point of a beautiful family and meaningful marriage if it ends at death?

I think this article is ignorant and the author writes from a bigoted point of view. A bigot "[exhibits] intolerance and animosity toward those of differing beliefs" (Wikipedia). Yes, I believe different things than the average Christian. But, I still respect their belief system. This article assumes that if someone is different than us, we should ostracize them or try and make them be more like us. They need to fit into our set mold of the perfect religion.

He even states that "it is possible that in the future the LDS church will renounce its heretical beliefs and come fully into the fold of orthodox Christianity." That's funny. Maybe someday I won't be a ridiculous heretic and I'll repent of my ways. Maybe then Mitt Romney could be president. If you take his way of generalizing statements and replace "Mormon" with Jew, you could call him a Nazi. Replace "Mormon" with "Black" and he would sound like a racist. But, no, he is an evangelical Christian. A Christian. Love one another, eh? 

We live in a country where religious freedoms are protected. However, we also have freedom of speech. As such, Mr. Smith can write what he wants and I can believe in my religion of choice. I hope that we live in a country where people vote for a man or woman based on their core values, and not purely on their religion. Let's retract the hatred and unite as Americans and move forward in our goals for a better future for our children.

"I should hope that I can sit one of my grandchildren on my knee and tell them that in our religiously diverse society they are as good as anyone else, and that they will be judged by the fruits of their lives and not by discriminatory interpretations of their faith."

The Head of Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a response that responds to some of his main points here. The author of the article has released a response to criticism to his article here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't You Dryclean Your Pajamas?

So, yesterday I went to go get the drycleaning that Cory had dropped off last week. Yes, we are frugal, but I splurge on dry cleaning. My time is worth more than spending hours and hours ironing all of Cory's button ups for work. I live in America rather than India for a reason. Plus, it costs $0.89 to get a shirt laundered and he can wear it 2-3 times because it's starched.

Anyways, as I'm going through the clothes before I leave the cleaners I see that Cory has drycleaned a pair of basketball shorts! I was like, "Cory, did you seriously dry clean your basketball shorts?! Seriously??" Those of you who know Cory well know that he LOVES basketball shorts. He has tons of different kinds and he used to always wear basketball shorts under his jeans. In his words, "You never know when there'll be a pickup game and you need to join the game." He gets home from work and dress pants off, basketball shorts on. Some of the basketball shorts he has are quite nice. However, these...not so much. Let's just say that someone wore them painting last summer and accidentally got paint all over them. Not naming names, but it rhymes with Melamey.

Now, Cory insists that it was an accident. "I just took the laundry basket and gave them everything in it." Riiiight. Last night, he was gushing about how soft the dry cleaned shorts felt. Not that I don't love paying $2 every time I want to wash a pair of pajamas, but, dry cleaning basketball shorts is where I draw the line.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lighting Things on Fire

Cory and I recently acquired a gas barbecue from his sister. Our plan is to soak up a wonderful summer with lots of swimming at the pool, exploring Fort Worth, boating, visiting Austin, and grilling (among other things). I love the summer. It may make me sound extremely superficial, but I truly feel happier when I am tan. It feels like summer and, let's be honest, tan fat is way more attractive than white fat.

Anyways, back to grilling. Grilling allows Cory to expand his grilled ham and cheese/egg on toast repertoire. Which the man can make a mean grilled cheese. Today, we had the missionaries over for dinner. Being the domestic goddess that I am, I made Southwest Taco Chicken Chimichangas (with homemade tortillas yeah baby) and had Cory grill the Taco Chicken on the barbecue. Then, I thought, let's grill our corn on the barbecue.

Well, I wasn't exactly on my A-game today and we were running only like 30 minutes late for dinner by the time we ate. No big deal! So, it says to soak the corn for 20 minutes. Two minutes will do right?

Well, they did pretty good with lots of rotating and eventually we pulled the husks back and wrapped the corn in foil. Right before we were going to eat, Cory pulled them out of the barbecue and put them on a plate. Next thing I know, he's walking in saying, "So, umm..."

I go out and the corn husks are totally on fire! Like not just a tender flame. I'm talking a husky blaze of glory. Which, of course, I planned to put on a show for the missionaries. I always try and light things I cook on fire. I'm like, "Cory, aren't you going to throw water on it or something!"

We got it under absolute control with no damage to our grill or to our delicious corn. Apparently they weren't on fire when he pulled them out but there must have been a little spark in one of them (kind of like when a smoker lights a forest on fire with his little spark from being a litter bug).

It's a good thing we still have a few more months in the summer to perfect our corn grilling.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Good Life

I'm sitting here on the couch watching my cat stretch his soul all over my red rug. Not a care in the world besides the number of birds teasing him through the window panes, the timeliness of his meals, and if he gets a good scratch behind the ear.

I've had an unfortunate trait since I was a small child. It's the fast forward syndrome. I've always been looking ahead, looking forward to the next stage of my life. The problem started in middle school, became more of a disease in high school, and settled into a comfortable prognosis in college. My mom would advise me to live in the present, don't wish your life away.

Well, in case you are wondering, I have an excellent life. I live in one of the best states, in one of the best countries in the world. I have a killer best friend, who stands by me as we face our goals, trials, and joys. I come from a solid family who taught me how to love. In an uncertain economy, we are blessed to have jobs that provide us with more than we need. I was raised in a powerful faith to know who I am, where I came from, and where I can go. I have an education from one of the best universities in the country. I am healthy.

But, I still sometimes get so excited when I think about the future that I have a difficult time focusing on the present. Right now, Cory and I are feverishly paying off his student loans so that we can begin saving for our first home. We are very anxious to be in our first house that is ours. We will be finished paying off our student loans and couch loan soon. We were originally saving less than 25% of our income. However, as our self control and income have increased, we have been able to increase our savings to around 37%. I'm hoping this month we can save 42%. It feels good to live on much less than what we earn.

My point is that we will be finished paying off the loans and our couch in mid July! I am unbelievably excited. Then, after that, we would like to save up 3 months of living expenses by the end of November. After that, the goal is to save up 20% down for a house.

Meanwhile, although we are not quite ready to start having children, it is exciting to think about getting closer to that stage. We are feeling more mature, more financially fit, and more rooted in our relationship to take that step. It won't be for a while longer, but in a couple years I will hopefully be in the stage that I think will be the most fun--getting to stay home with our kids.

So, can you blame me for loving the present but getting excited for the future? We will be debt free this summer. After that, all the money we save will be like paying ourselves. Which is totally awesome.

In other news, do you ever have recurring dreams? When I was a kid, I had lots of nightmares. It got to the point that my mom kept a miniature baby mattress next to her bed for me to sleep on when I came down in the night. I think I am cursed to always have school dreams. I recently had a dream I often have. I'm in a class in college/high school and I never attend the class, take any of the tests, do the homework, etc. During the dream, I am cursed to stress the entire time about how on earth I am going to get an A in the class. I start worrying about how "I've never failed a class! How could I have let this happen without noticing! This is so irresponsible..." It's always a major relief when the dream is over. Nerd alert!

And...tomorrow is Friday! Let's hope the Mavericks continue to perform because it keeps Cory happy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness II

My beating Cory was short lived. We've had some blows to the bracket. Such is life. Yet, oddly enough, life goes on. For me, at least. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of last year. Cory was absolutely devastated when Kansas lost in the second round. The sounds coming from the living room were similar to that of a man having his first born ripped from his arms. I swear he nearly injured his wrist pounding on the carpet in angst.

Here's to hoping for a better year.

March Madness

So, this year I actually made a bracket! We are having a competition at work and I am in Cory's facebook groups. And...can I just point out one teeny tiny little detail:


Which is really all that matters.

Friday, March 11, 2011

He Survived!

We are so excited! Cory made it through the layoffs at his school this week. They were firing 12-15 secondary teachers and at least two were laid off at his campus this week. We've heard that even more were laid off at the highschool that is right next to the 9th grade campus. He was really nervous because you know, last in, first out.

I've been praying that he'd make it through (of course, always adding that slightly frustrating,"if it's thy will" business). Still, I've been thinking about the fact that if Cory didn't get laid off, it didn't change the fact that someone would get laid off. I really hope that the people who did get laid off have good savings and are able to find work.

On Wednesday afternoon, he went to a new hire meeting with some other first year teachers. He said the gist of the meeting was this message: I know that most of you are probably getting laid off, but, just so you know, we love you.

Then, the football staff had a meeting with the head football coach. He said, "I have no idea what is going to happen, and I have no control over who gets fired. But, I do know it is based off of seniority." Cory left this feeling like, You may very well get axed.

Right after he got back to his room, he got a phone call from his principal asking him to come meet with her. At this point, he decided that he was getting fired. He made the long walk down to her office preparing for the worst. She actually just wanted to tell him that she signed him up for a couple training days. He felt like that was a good sign. I mean, why would she waste training on someone who wouldn't be here next here? Maybe I am safe.

Then, he had an individual meeting with the athletic director. He said, "You know the situation. I've heard great things about you, but as you know, you were the last coach hired. I have not been told who they are laying off, which ticks me off. I wish I could at least choose who I got to keep, but they aren't telling me or the principals. But, I want you to trust me if you get laid off. Just wait, and I'll try and find you a position somewhere." Which was helpful. But, at that point he realized that his principal had no idea if he was getting fired. His hope from the training melted away.

Then, coaches kept calling him, asking him if he got the dreaded phone call. That wasn't helpful :)

He had heard that one of the biology teachers/football coaches got fired. So, he figured that they'd probably similarly shave down the math department. Then, they fired one of his fellow math teachers. He still didn't feel safe, because they've been offering "relocation" to some senior teachers. He figured they could lay him off, and move an older teacher in to fill his spot.

But, while they laid off a math teacher and two coaches that he works with, he made it through. Of course, it's because he's totally awesome. And lucky.

So, a few things made today a GREAT day:

1. Cory has a job next year.
2. I'm loving my new job and learning a lot.
3. We went out for sushi to celebrate. And, it was delicious.
4. I was able to get a half day off on Tuesday when my family is coming up to visit next week.
5. Kroger let me use my expired $3 off your next shopping visit coupon.
6. Blue Bell was on sale and I bought five half-gallons. I mean, why else do we have a deep freeze??

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In the Zone

A month ago, I rehauled my cleaning routine and switched to a daily chores and zone cleaning method. Before, I felt like certain rooms were not being cleaned regularly and my house looked clean but was not thoroughly clean. Also, I think in my brain bathrooms, towels, and sheets were being cleaned on a weekly regular basis, and in reality they were being cleaned whenever I "got to it."

So, I decided I wanted to switch over to a zone cleaning method. Crystal at MoneySavingMom also had a customizable Cleaning List printable that I used to set up daily chores. These daily chores help me keep the basics of my house clean (bathroom, towels, sheets, etc.).  They are probably my favorite part of my new cleaning routine.

Then, on top of that I used some zone cleaning ideas that Heather from Want What You Have uses. Of course, I tweaked them for my home. Basically, I get down and dirty with cleaning in each zone. Down to the baseboards and to the top of the ceiling fan.

I split my house into five zones. So, every 5 weeks, my whole house gets a deep clean. I just finished my 4th week and it is great! Yes, during Zone 3 I did skip the laundry room deep clean...but I'll squeeze it in another week.

I know it's a little intense. But, I really like the routine it gives me. I thrive off of routine. Still, I don't get to everything every week.

Here are my zones:

Zone One: Kitchen & Dining Room
Zone Two: Living Room & Back Entry
Zone Three: Front Entrance, Hall Bathroom, Stairs, & Laundry Room
Zone Four: Guest Bedroom/Office & Guest Bathroom
Zone Five: Master Bedroom & Bathroom

I only used the first page of Crystal's daily cleaning list:

Daily Cleaning List

This week, I actually did all of this week's zone cleaning on Saturday. That seemed to work out. However, if I have time during the week, I'll do a little here and there.

My first week of work went well. I'm starting to get the hang of it. I'm hoping that I'll be successful once training is over!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joy in the Simple Things

Maybe we should take a leaf out of this kid's book. He laughs hysterically when he hears ripping paper!

I started the job today. I'm really excited about it. I think I can be successful at it and I'll get to learn something new. We'll see how the next couple weeks of training go. Training can get a little tedious; but, it is still interesting.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cows & Government

You may have seen a variation of this before. A summary of sorts of world government according to cows.


 You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk. 

Pure Socialism

You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you all the milk you need. 

Bureaucratic Socialism

Your cows are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you should need.


You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk. 

Pure Communism

You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. 

Real World Communism

You share two cows with your neighbors. You and your neighbors bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation. 

Russian Communism

You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market. 


You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the Mafia takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the "free" market. 

Cambodian Communism

You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you. 


You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you. 


You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned. 

Pure Democracy

You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk. 

Representative Democracy

You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk. 

British Democracy

You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything. 


You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows. 

Pure Anarchy

You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you. 

Pure Capitalism

 You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. 


You don't have any cows. The bank will not lend you money to buy cows, because you don't have any cows to put up as collateral. 


You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them. 

Political Correctness

You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, war mongering, intolerant past) two differently - aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender. 


You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons. 

Enron Capitalism

You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank. He then executes a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by your CFO who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on six more. 

And, I have this song on constant repeat right now. Love it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Job :)

Well, last week I interviewed for a position at a medical billing company in the area. One of our friends, Jody, is the Director of Operations. Well, I got offered the position of account representative and I start next week! There is a lot of room for growth in their company.

So, I'm slightly nervous because I've never done medical billing before. But, I'm excited for a change and the chance to get rid of Cory's student loans and save up for a house a lot faster. Plus, I've thought about it quite a bit and it feels right for right now.

Jody talked to me about working for her company back in the fall. However, I was hesitant to make the change. First off, I had been hoping to teach. I was fantasizing that I'd maybe possibly get a mid year position. Which didn't happen. Second, I applied for lots of paraprofessional positions in the district and interviewed for some. Didn't pan out. Third, when Cory has the summers off, I would be working full time. Before, I did contract landscape work for my dad.

I was also trying out substituting. Well, it didn't take long for me to decide that it is no fun to sub after you know what it's like to have your own class. It's kind of like eating generic ice cream after eating Blue Bell. Doesn't satisfy.

However, the problems in the economy that most people felt a couple years ago are now hitting the insulated state governments. So, although there have been teacher layoffs the past couple years, it is going to be really bad this year. Cory's superintendent held a meeting with the entire district on Monday (which rarely happens) and held a "State of the District Address." Basically, he said that they will have a cutback of over 12% next year. That is about $13.8 million.

Last year, to save $5.4 million, they cut 145 positions, eliminating the jobs of 105 people. They were able to hire back about half of those in some capacity.

They are looking at several solutions, but some of those will probably be layoffs, moving teachers around, not replacing teachers who retire, etc.

So, I've thought a lot about it and decided it would probably be a good idea for me to have alternatives because there might not be any open positions next year! As such, I'm making a bit of a career switch :) Now, here's to hoping that Cory has a job next year! We've been feeling very blessed that he was able to snag such a great position. He'll hopefully find out in the next month or so if his contract will be extended!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Recent Book Reviews

So, I'm addicted to reading. You know those nerdy kids that you see walking home from school reading? While wearing big glasses? And you feel sad in your heart and hope that they don't get picked on and that they have at least one friend? Yes, that kid was me. Well, I haven't been reading as much as I should, but I have started to get a little bit of a 2011 list. Here are some recent reviews.

Mazerunner by James Dashner

Well-written with several surprising twists, this book follows the grain of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Basically, this book is about a group of teenage boys who live in a wall enclosed compound called "The Glade," which is surrounded by a seemingly impossible maze. The only safe spot in the maze is their compound, which seals daily. They've been sending out Runners every day to map out the maze, but it changes every day. After years of trying, they seem to be going nowhere.

Meanwhile, Thomas wakes up in an elevator heading up with no memory of how he got there or who he is. While he can remember what grocery stores are, he can't remember any specific grocery stores. He knows what a Mom and Dad is, but he cannot remember his own. He arrives to find out that like clockwork, every month, a boy arrives in the Glade. However, the next day, the very first girl arrives in the Glade. She delivers the message that no one else is coming and the end is coming. Whoever has created the Glade, and put the boys there, is ready to end the normal routine. The boys scramble to solve an impossible maze before time runs out.

The thing I loved about this book, was that it was difficult to predict what was going to happen. Dashner is skilled at making you very confident that things are one way, and then changing your perspective chapters or even pages later. When I finished this book, I was very intrigued with the set up he had created. Try as I could, I could not figure out the entire solution. Second, although the boys do have their own made up slang ("shuck face," etc.), I did not find their dialogue juvenile or annoying. This was one of my complaints with Fablehaven.

Overall, I know a book is great when I get nervous reading it. What I mean by this, is that I get so absorbed into the book that I can barely wait to see what happens. I cannot put the book down. I give it 5 stars.

Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This book continues the deception and trickery. You are still left wondering what exactly is going on, who can we trust, and how on earth is he going to tie things up. I won't give too much about the plot because it would be a spoiler for Mazerunner. However, I felt that this book didn't have nearly as much direction and motivation as the first book. It was still excellent, but I had a few moments where I wanted to skip over parts. My real complaint is that the third book doesn't come out until October 2011! I give it 4 stars.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This was excellent! An absolutely wonderful, well researched portrayal of Louis Zamperini's amazing story. This book is so well written, it's amazing the author did not live the events herself. Further, it's almost impossible to read the things this man went through. You follow Louis from Olympian athlete in the Berlin Olympics to Air Force bombardier. When his plane crashes, he is stranded on the ocean with little food for 47 days. He then spends the next couple years enduring incredible atrocities in multiple Japanese prisoner of war camps.

The writing is this book is vivid, the research is absolutely meticulous, and the painting Hillenbrand recreates is so rich in your mind, that you feel like you're seeing it happen. An absolutely incredible read...5 stars!

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanna DuPrau

This is the third book in the City of Ember series.  Although I started out enjoying this series, this installment felt disjointed and unrelated. The main character was immature and foolish. It was very difficult to relate to her. It was definitely not as compelling of a read as the first two books. Saying that, I am still planning on reading the 4th book to see how it ends. 2.5 stars

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In her stunning debut fantasy novel, Kristen Cashore, weaves a world of strong characters and believable dialogue. Katsa is born into one of seven neighboring kingdoms with the "grace" or skill of killing. In her kingdom, all Gracelings are automatically taken into the service of the king. As such, she is forced to kill or punish the king's enemies. However, when she meets Prince Po, she makes an unlikely friend, and through a chain of events realizes that there is an extremely powerful danger in a nearby kingdom that could literally destroy the world with words alone. They go on a quest to save their world.

I really enjoyed this book. The growth of the heroine and the development of the plot was enjoyable and urged you to keep reading. The concept of people being born with "graces" (fighting, swimming, mind reading, sensing storms, cooking, archery, etc.) was very intriguing to me. Because of her grace, Katsa feels very disconnected from others. In many ways, they fear her, and she views herself as a monster. However, Cashore paints a vivid picture that gradually helps you understand what is truly happening.

Parents should note that although it is written for the 14 and up audience, there are a few very discreet romantic scenes. Saying that, my main complaint with this book was that the author tried to repeatedly embed some of her personal opinions into the story. Katsa is opposed to getting married ever and thinks that a deep romantic relationship does not need the 'restricting' ties of marriage. I was personally annoyed by this and felt it unneccesary to the story. Because of this, I give it 4.5 stars.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Idol Within

So, Cory and I don't have cable. But, I do know what American Idol is. I also have come to the realization that I am not a good singer and will never be on American Idol. This took several years of choir and being alive. In high school, I quit track when my parents told me, "Ya know, you're really not that good at track (I fell a lot). Maybe you should invest more time in something you're good at, like school." It went sort of like that except no one really had to tell me I was lousy.

However, there are a few songs that truly make me feel like I could be on American Idol. You know the jam them in your car and you unabashedly belt out the lyrics. Often, you get really proud when you finally realize they aren't saying "why did Santa leave the light oOoOoOn" but actually "why did Samson love Delilah?" (true story. song: Someday We'll Know). Then, when the music gets turned down, you realize it actually isn't you that sounds good. It's all the singer, and you in fact are terrible. But, just keep singing, my friend. I just usually make sure I'm alone. But, you know, your prerogative.

These are just a few recent favorites:

Ridin' Solo by Jason Derulo. Yes, I realize I'm married. But I really like this song. Let it just be known that this song would probably get me on American Idol.

Locked up by Ingrid Michaelson. If my voice matched the one in my brain, one version of it would sound like Ingrid Michaelson. I sing this song while I'm doing my laundry sometimes. With pride. As I would belt it on American Idol. And win in the alternate reality where I can sing (refer to first paragraph if you're still confused about my ability).

World on Fire by Sarah McLachlan. I remember listening to this CD when I was ten years old and we were driving up to Utah for Christmas. I remember seeing her perform live on TV once and she had one of those earpieces that real singers have in their ears. It looked like a hearing aid and I thought she was deaf. I was like that's amazing that she sounds so good when she's deaf!!

Right, Laney. Sarah McLachlan is 'deaf' and you should probably just keep singing in your car.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Utah Trip Part II

Saturday: Today, We went snowboarding at Sundance with Jeff, Spencer, and our great friends the Dyes. The snow was lousy, the weather was great, and we had a great time. At Brighton, we saw an idiot lovely girl skiing down the mountain in a very skimpy bikini. It looked so fun I nearly ripped off my three layers to join her. No repeats of that at Sundance, although I did put on a good show.

So, we hadn't seen the Dyes for seven months and we were meeting them at the top of the mountain. Well, Travus really likes to tease us. So, as we're nearing the top, I tell Cory, "Okay, you can't fall. Travus will make fun of us!" So, we get all prepped and ready.

Well, as I'm getting off the lift, I realize that my pocket zipper seems to be stuck. I could not get off! Cory cruises off, smooth sailing. Finally, I was able to bail and fall to my side on the ground three or four feet up. It was really awesome. The lift lady was like, "Are you okay???"

So, later in the day, our friend Jeff was with a random guy on the lift and was telling him that he had some friends visiting from Texas. He felt it important to mention that we fall off the lift a lot (Cory is still learning and trips sometimes, and to save face he likes to pull me down with him. naturally. plus, you just heard about my grand entrance). The guy is like, "Dude, I saw some girl in a white jacket EAT IT on the lift earlier!" And Jeff is like, "That's them!!" What can I say, people notice us wherever we go.

After skiing, we of course headed over to Cafe Rio (which we've really missed) with Mitchell, Veronica, Nate, Russell, Jeff, and Spencer.  That night, we went hot tubbing at the Dyes and visited. It was great being back.

Sunday: On Sunday, we went to our old ward. One of our old friends asked if we had moved back. hahahaha. No. We are very settled in the South. That night, we had dinner with the Dyes, played Settlers and Blokus (Cory was victorious in both, with very little scruples. He was ruthless and I'm still a bit bitter).

Monday: We headed back early to my grandparents, stayed and visited and had lunch at Paradise, then headed to the airport in the afternoon. With the blizzard chasing us to Texas, we got delayed two hours with de-icing. As a nice treat, the airline lost our bags. Until Thursday night. And, when they dropped them off, they only dropped off Cory's. We had to call them to get mine.

When we got back Monday night, it was anticipated that school would be canceled the next day because of the ice storm. Well, it did get canceled...for the next four days. We went over to Cory's parents' house on Tuesday and didn't leave until Saturday.The next week, we misssed Wednesday. So we had 5 snow days in two weeks. We came back to school and it was mid February :) Texas freaks out when it snows.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Utah Trip!

Last weekend we went up to Utah to snowboard and see some really great people. We had a fabulous time! I only utterly embarrassed myself two times on the trip (once Friday, once Saturday), which was a plus. Here's a little synopsis of what we did:

Thursday: We arrived in Salt Lake without too many hitches. Our connecting flight got a little delayed because they had to just really quickly spend 20 minutes to remove some excess cargo. Luckily, we made it. The guy across the aisle....not so lucky. Okay, bad joke, I know.

As a side note, when we moved from Utah to Texas, we brought our snowboards. When we got to Texas, we woke up from the stupor of packing and asked ourselves, "So, why did we bring these massive things to a place with no snow?" So, after looking for overpriced travel bags, we ended up securely taping our boards inside a huge white comforter a la white trash. We decided those babies were staying in Utah.

It of course got thoroughly searched (the check in lady did ask if it was a dead body which made me reminisce about the time I brought my fake bones through security...). We asked her, "So what if it is??" kidding. As I'm walking up at the baggage claim, I hear some guys joking about how "someone forgot his snowboard bag." Yes, guys, stupid traveler coming through, make way!! I had to correct them (we're leaving them here, etc), but I still looked like an idiot hauling off my bag of security tape. Jeff and Mitchell picked us up and we went to my Gramma & Papa's house and visited with them until late.

Gorgeous view!
Friday: We had a great day snowboarding with Jeff and Spencer at Brighton. So, here was my first embarrassing moment. I prepped for the day by wearing underarmour and some fancy fleece of Jeff's. I switched up my normal order of clothes because underarmour needs to be straight on your skin to be "effective" bla bla bla. So, I wore my bra on top of my underarmour, then the fleece, then everything else.

During the day, we went into the lodge for a really expensive snack. Warm, I decided to remove a few layers while standing in the middle of the lodge.  Jacket, fleece, ka bam, and I was nice and cooled off. Do you see where this is going?

In my general cool and smooth demeanor, I walk into the bathroom and realize that, oh crap, I have been walking around the lodge wearing my skin colored bra over my underarmour. Classy! I decided that since I would never see those men in the lodge again, I would pretend that I had not just channeled my inner Doug.

After snowboarding, we had a great time eating sushi with Mindy, Steve, Stuart, Jeff, Mitchell, Russell, Spencer, and a new friend whose name I can't remember. After, we celebrated Chinese New Year with some people from Cory's old ward. It was just like Tangled.Very fun, minus the "us not being Chinese" part. Which, of course, was no big deal. We were supposed to write our wishes for the year on the lantern. Those are top secret of course :) We had bidded on Priceline for a hotel, so we stayed in Provo.

I'll post about Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in another post. I don't want it to be too long!