Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breaking News!!

Xandri officially started walking today! She took her first faltering steps a few weeks ago, but today is the day we're marking. She's walking from one side of the room to the other... She's so cute and small, I love it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mother Nature's Fury: The Beauty and Devastation

A few days ago we had our first ice storm this winter. It was terrible to drive in, they canceled school for two days. When you're driving in an ice storm, the ice lands on the windshield and freezes there. Visibility is almost nil. Roads are layered in ice. Power lines are encased in ice. Trees are encased. Everything is. Power lines, weighed down by the ice, fall and sometimes break, causing power outages all over. Tree limbs snap like toothpicks. Just google ice storm in an image search and you'll come up with some crazy pictures.

This picture I believe was taken somewhere in the Netherlands in some crazy ice storm- it's not quite this bad in the Midwest.

Here's a sampling for your enjoyment- some pics I took in my yard. Some of them decry the destruction of the storm, others highlight the fragility of life. Small leaves and berries gently encased in ice, seem to be protected by Mother Nature rather than punished.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Zickgraf-Style

This is how it works at my house. Melody is my muse. This is my composition. I can only hope that's a compliment.

A Glimpse Into The Three-Year Old Psyche

Since I've copious amounts of updating to do on my blog (ahem. A month plus worth. So keep an eye out down the page since I'll be post-dating my posts.), I've decided to throw you people a bone. Here are some of the amazing things that lend us entertainment day in and day out.

To start us off, please begin by examining the following photograph:

This photograph was taken yesterday morning. The circumstances surrounding this event are as follows:

I was in the midst of my morning routine, not fully aware of what Avril was up to, but vaguely conscious of her buzzing about doing whatever it is she does. I heard her mention her plans to go shopping, but didn't stop to take in the scene that would welcome me until she asked me to fix her hair. Indeed, I was halfway done with her ponytail when I finally glanced down and saw what she was wearing. Apparently, she really was prepared to go shopping.

Further anecdotal evidence of my three-year old's charming personality will be providing in several accounts describing conversations we've had or overheard with Avril.

Exhibit A:

While eating dinner, she declared, "I've got to eat lots and lots of dinner, food and lunch and applesauce and then I'll grow up big and strong and tall to be a Daddy!"

Exhibit B:

Watching Derek study, she asked him the prevailing question that is ever on her lips, "Why?"
His response was, "Because I want to be a doctor."
To which she eagerly responded, "I want to be a doctor, too! I'm going to study!"

Exhibit C:

Derek (wearing a brown shirt and taking his lead from the preceding conversations): "Do you want to be a Daddy or a doctor or a mom?"
Avril: "A Daddy! I want to wear a brown shirt!"

Exhibit D:

Also during dinner. I think I came into the conversation she was having with herself a little too late, but this is what I heard, "And if someone's standing on my head they could fall off down to the floor or the carpet or the ground or the world or the schoolbus or the truck!" Her voice rose in pitch as each possibility was listed.

Exhibit E:

This morning we came downstairs to find Derek's half-full bag of licorice now empty and Avril with two in hand. When Derek asked her what happened to his licorice, she replied, "Ummm... they were bones and I was a puppy!"

Exhibit F:

This one I'm not sure really counts as evidence of her personality, but I'll list it here anyway since I'm pretty proud of myself for coming up with something so effective. Today anyway.

Since Avril is so hung up on growing big and tall like Mommy and Daddy, I've convinced her the way we grew this big was by eating our vegetables. So now I call all the bites I want her to eat "growing bites". It works like a charm. She ate all her "growing bites" for the first time today I think...

Monday, December 3, 2007


(I need some feedback on the photos. I edited them in Picasa and they look fantastic on my laptop screen, but terrible and orange on my desktop. What do you see?)

So we went to the KCOM "Prom" this weekend. Actually, it's the winter formal, but I'm a dork and it makes me giggle a little bit in my head to pretend like I'm going to prom again.

In any case, it was super fun. I spent far too much time getting ready, but it was super worth it.

First of all, I got my dress ages ago on sale at Dillard's. I knew I'd never have a chance to wear it, but it was $30 and ... well, a girl can dream, right? But more than not having the opportunity, I have to mention that originally it didn't have the little inset thing in the front- it went that low. Since it had a bit of a train, my wonderful neighbor (who, lucky for me, used to work as a seamstress for a formal/bridal shop in town) kindly made the adjustments to make it modest for me. Further, she also hemmed the wrap for me, since it was also sleeveless.

So there's the dress. Next, the hair- my darling friend Janae' helped me out in exchange for some Mary Kay product- although in all honesty, I got by far the better end of that deal! The nails hot pink were done with my sweet friend Jaime earlier in the day.

Once I spent pretty much the whole day getting ready, Derek and I drove to the TCC- and that thoughtful man dropped me at the door and then went and dropped the girls off at the free babysitting provided for the dance. He met me there and we found a good table (dinner was also provided. Did I mention dance tickets and dinner were free? As in, everything we did that night was awesome-- and FREE?

Dinner was fairly delicious and I was surprised at how good the cake was. Normally I'm not impressed.

And then? The rest of the night was just a fantastic night. See, perhaps I should give a little background here. Derek is an amazing guy. He's funny, he's intelligent, he's just got a great personality and people love him. However, since his favorite past-time right now is the World of Warcraft, few people out here have had a chance to see that side of him. So basically, he was my arm candy that night. We danced for forever and had a ball.

We got to break it down with some super rad people. Overall? It was a great night. Plus, he picked the kids up after sitting, too.

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Thanksgiving this year was fun. You've already read up to Tuesday before T-giving, so continuing on...

My cousin opted to come out to visit up in our little podunk 'Ville because she wanted a low-key, quiet Thanksgiving break to study for a business test she had coming up. So that's what she got. We kept it low-key. So low-key I can't really remember what we did besides a couple of movies and Thanksgiving dinner. We also, of course, were sure to hit up Pancake City for their amazing pancakes and both opted for the same pancakes as last time- Georgia Peach for me Cinnamon Apple for Camas. Mouthwatering.

Anyway, so actual T-giving was really cool. I'm really proud of my table display, which was also inspired by Melody.

I think I did a good job glossing them over with Picasa, too. I bought a 5 lb. turkey breast and we cooked that instead of a full bird. We had honey cornbread, delicious mashed potatoes and gravy, yams and apples (which I've decided for good that I really honestly just don't like), this amazing chutney that Camas brought with her for us, nutritious salad, Passion Punch and our famous and absolutely amazing crumble top apple pie.

The secret is in the preparation of the apples and in the crumble topping. For the apples, it's very straightforward but takes a while. Just use a potato peeler to peel down 4-5 large apples and follow whatever recipe you have. I'm too lazy to post the one I have. Unless I get requests. It's just the consistency of those apples is amazing. And my favorite apples- Rome- weren't available this year, so we used something else, I can't even remember what. It might have been honeycrisp, but I could just be thinking of Katherine's blog on those.

Friday was also low-key. We made sure to watch The Office and Seinfeld. That's our classic hang-out mix: funny movies/shows and cooking. That's our special time together.

Love you Camas! Even though I know you won't read this because "who has time to read blogs?!"

And then Saturday came much too soon and I dropped my favorite relative off at the airport. Until next time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I&B Adventures Continued

So Monday we basically spent the day playing at the park. We had a rockin' good time and so did the pups, running around sniffing and digging everything they could find. Apparently K-ville put in a disc golf course in the park by the Aquatic Center- super fun. Here are a few pics to document the super fun day.

And a video to document Derek's attempts to squeeze through the monkey bars. WORTH it.

Tuesday we drove to KC early and (tried to) hit a few more church sites. We headed for Adam-ondi-ahman first. Unfortunately, due to my headstrong intellectual pride, I assumed that since I'd been there once (coming from the opposite direction over three years ago) I knew how to get there. I'd seen the map, I knew there was a sign... unfortunately, that sign was AFTER you turn off onto another road, not off of highway 6, which is where we were. So, since we were also tight on time and heading to the airport, we just had to skip it. So we hit Far West instead and then continued out to Haun's Mill. NOT worth it. It was so far out off of about a billion dirt roads that it was just annoying. It looked a lot closer on the map. So much for trusting my map reading skills. We wound up getting to the airport about 45 minutes before their flight left- the ideal, but very risky time. Because what if security is busy and you have to wait in a thousand mile long line? But if not, then you get through everything and don't have to wait. Fortunately for them, the second was what happened.

Then, I was free of children and had about 5 glorious hours (maybe 4) to run errands, do shopping, grab some sushi and overall enjoy myself before I picked up my cousin from the airport. Yeah, the same one who inspired the improved hostess/guest relations. Until I took a wrong exit and wound up lost in ghetto KC for about an hour or so. Then my Costco trip took extra time because I forgot my Costco card and with everything that wound up happening, my 4-5 hours evaporated before I got to do the fun stuff. But it was fine, because when I picked her up, she treated me to dinner (I LOVE this girl!) at On The Border and then we hit up JCPenney to return something of hers.

Thanksgiving with Camas will be coming up in a week!

Monday, November 26, 2007

And the Best Guest Award goes to....

So my sis and her hubby came to visit the week before Thanksgiving (tickets were cheaper...). Basically from start to end we had a rockin' good time. They came about mid-finals week, so Derek missed out on the first few days.

Further, it's sort of an ongoing joke between my sis and I ("joke" doesn't seem the right word, but you'll get my meaning") to be the best in hospitality- whether we're playing guest or hostess. This was largely inspired by the standing Best Guest, my cousin Camas (this girl is amazing- I love having her visit. Her "best guest-ness" inspired my interest in perfecting my hostessing.). Evidence of the justness (that doesn't sound like a word... is that a word? Spellcheck didn't call my bluff. Ironically, it did on "spellcheck") of is scattered throughout the post, so enjoy the pictures and accompanying stories.

The girls loved getting to know their aunt and uncle. I don't think Avril realized they were our family, because she kept calling them our "friends" and after they left, she kept asking when our "friends Breta and Isaac" were coming back. Anyway, they spent a lot of time just playing with and otherwise entertaining our kids.


While here, we went around to all the Missouri/Illinois church sites, starting when I picked them up at the KC airport. The photo on the left is the Nauvoo temple (an LDS temple if I have any not-so-LDS readers). The photo on the right is the RLDS temple. Kinda crazy-looking. We didn't have time to take a guided tour so they wouldn't let us in to check it out. The little people are me with Xandri and Isaac with Avril.

Across the street is the Independence LDS Visitors Center. These are pictures of the kids playroom- they loved it. They had some really cool displays up as well, very interesting stuff. Again, history for the not-so-LDS, the reason Independence is such a popular LDS/RLDS site is that this is the original place the LDS were commanded to establish Zion, but due to the Saints' individual weaknesses and the rising hostility surrounding Mormons, it became necessary to move on, shall we say. (If I have any fellow LDS readers who are noticing any inaccuracies, please feel free to post in my comments.) We believe that it still is to be the site of Zion at some future date.

This is in front of and inside of the Liberty Jail Visitor's Center. This is where Joseph Smith, along with a few other leaders of the church at the time, were held in rather cramped quarters in a vulgar jail. Though on a physical level it was a horrific experience and very trying simply because of the concern for the church members and their families and the persecution they were enduring, it is hailed by church members as one of the most beautiful times in church history because of the remarkable revelations Joseph received.

Finally, some more evidence of the Best Guest Award- yes, they brought a little gift for each of us- Toblerone for Derek and I (they know our weaknesses) and little toys for the girls. Not only that, but they washed my dishes for me and cleaned my kitchen, they helped us clean up, what was it, 12 bags of leaves?

On Friday, we went to Nauvoo and Carthage Jail (pictured above)after Derek's last final. The poor guy was so tired, but Friday was the only day we could go, so not only did he go with us, but he drove the whole way (2hr15min drive each way). He was really good about it- mostly. We got into a weird tense discussion (I can't even remember about what) and the result is this angry-looking picture of him. Lucky for us, I can bury my emotions and put on a plastic smile when needed. ;)

Anyway, again history for those unfamiliar (the Reader's Digest condensed version)- Nauvoo was the refuge the Saints found in Illinois after the extermination order passed in Missouri. Initially, it was called Commerce (I believe) and was a swampy wasteland full of mosquitoes with malaria or some disease. They arrived is this miserable place no one else wanted, sick, freezing and dying and turned it into a bustling, profitable growing little city. The surrounding areas still held a lot of hatred for the Mormons and the haters were able to trump up some charges (like so many times before) against Joseph Smith and the leaders of the church. They claimed treason, that the local militia raised (a common thing back then) was an army raised to fight the government. So Joseph, his brother Hyrum and a few other church leaders accompanied them to the jail in Carthage. They were to spend the night there and go to trial the next day. Before their trial, however, an angry mob rushed the jail and killed the Prophet and his brother, as well as wounding two other men in the room. As the site of the martyrdom, many LDS people make the trek to check it out, to hear the stories and to see the sites firsthand. It sounds trite, but there is a spirit, a solemnity, almost a reverence that permeates these places.

Continuing on with the trip, on Saturday, we had scheduled a bellydancing class for ourselves (just me and Breta- the boys stayed with kids and played Magic the Gathering for the rest of the day. The bellydancing class was a lot of fun, but it was two hours! Which, actually, passed really fast. I will say one thing- I need to practice isolating each glute more if I plan to be a bellydancer...

Sunday we just did the church thing and some stuff I can't remember and Monday we went to the park and played disc golf (or as George called it, "frolf"). I have a lot of pics for that, so I'll put up another post... now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Xandri's First Birthday

My ikkle baby turned 1 yesterday! We kept it pretty low key, we didn't do a big party or anything... honestly, I think a party would have freaked her out. As it was, we just decided to make her first birthday special in other ways.

I picked out what I figured were her favorite foods for her meals: honeycomb cereal for breakfast, swirl coffee cake for lunch (amazing), and anything with noodles for dinner (we did spaghetti). I also made some chocolate cupcakes for her dessert.

I went shopping earlier that day with Avril for her gifts and got them out to wrap. I went to get the wrapping paper, and when I got back I saw that Avril had caught onto the idea- she had gotten all of the presents out of the shopping bags and was handing them to Xandri. So I decided to forgo the wrapping. She had also received two packages earlier in the day: one from Grandpa Jackson (my dad) and one from Grandma Zan (Derek's mom). So once we had all of her gifts open, we cracked open the packages.

Grandma Zan had sent matching outfits for the girls- which Avril noticed immediately and insisted they don right then and there as she stripped down in preparation for the switch.

So after changing their clothes, we opened Grandpa Jackson's package. He sent two books and a See 'n Say (makes animal sounds), and 4 ziploc bags stuffed full of animal crackers and teddy grahams. Xandri went straight for the bags. She seized all four in her little hands and proceeded to crawl around with them, flinging them around and protecting them from the very interested puppies.

Avril was very interested in all the other things, especially the See 'n Say.

Finally, after the day was over, it wound up really being too late for cupcakes. So this morning, I sat Xandri on the counter (a usual occurrence in our house- she's a very careful baby) and turned to make some bread. When I turned back, I found her covered in crumbs from her cupcake.

She had opened the ziploc bag on her own and took matters into her own hands. Just look at that face.

My baby's one.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween: A Choose Your Own Adventure Tale

Option 1:

Halloween dawned bright and crisp. The perfect fall morning began early at our house-- but not too early.
Avril and I got up and I dressed her in her darling, hand-stitched princess costume I had completed weeks in advance. Her hair fell in perfect ringlets on her shoulders and was complimented by a gleaming tiara. Since it was chilly out, I insisted that she also wear her little fur shawl and muff- my little princess couldn't be cold at school, now could she?!

While Avril was at school, Xandri and I had an adventurous morning- we baked the morning away, making dozens of Halloween sugar cookies: witches, ghosts, skulls, goblins. Then we decorated them with delicious homemade frosting, all colored remarkably well. Of course, it wouldn't be a true holiday without the sprinkles, so while Xandri licked the frosting off her fingers and dipped her little fingers back for more, I smiled lovingly and gently wiped her clean.

We dressed up the puppies in their sweet little homemade costumes, Kitty was- you guessed it- a kitty, and The Corporal also dressed as himself in dress blues. We took them to a dog Halloween party in which they tied for first place in the costume contest. When Avril got home, we all went trunk-or-treating (Derek was able to come as well since school was canceled for Halloween), holding hands and skipping from car to car singing Halloween songs.

That evening, to the Halloween soundtrack I had spent the past month assembling, Avril helped me in the kitchen as we prepared a delectable Halloween feast, complete with spider pizza, ghoulish salad, bloody beverages, and snake bites for dessert. In between helping me, Avril would alternately help Derek as he carved out magnificent jack-o-lanterns to sit on our porch. After dinner was over, we had plenty of time to play tidy up the kitchen, clean the girls and puppies, put all of our costumes back on (Derek was an Army general and I was the spitting image of Lara Croft) and head out the door for a night full of trick-or-treating. The girls and puppies all behaved perfectly as neighbor after neighbor answered their doors with oohs and ahs. We finally arrived home exhausted, but full of candy and contentment as we tucked in our darling, tired little girls to sleep at 8:30pm, just in time for Derek and I to settle in for a romantic, but scary movie.

Option 2:

Ok, I don't even know where the morning went. Avril made it to school, dressed and with her hair in a ponytail. I still wasn't sure what to do about a costume, I had a couple ideas that hadn't exactly panned out and I was out of time. Somehow, though, the morning disappeared with none of my frantically laid plans actually coming to fruition. I wound up sticking her in a little dress that was much to small (pictured on Xandri in the beginning pictures) and some borrowed wings to be a fairy for the trunk-or-treat.

And Xandri wore Avril's ladybug costume-- yeah, Avril's costume, which she wore at 4 months of age, also fit my Xandri-- at just shy of 1 year of age.

However, I did manage to make some sugar cookies: all skulls and ghosts, since I knew how to make those without cookie cutters (don't ask me why HyVee didn't have any decent cookie cutters). They wound up being frosting-less since I didn't have any cream cheese and I refuse to make any other kind of frosting. Sadly, most of them turned out extra-crispy since I'm still getting used to how hot my oven cooks.

I also did manage to make a spider pizza and some delicious desserts called snake bites-- a layered dessert with creamy, yogurt-y layers with strawberry Jell-O layers. However, in order to have the time to do this (since I started late and didn't plan it out well), we missed trick-or-treating. For our kids at least. Everyone else in the neighborhood and everywhere else in town managed to knock on our door-- about every 20 seconds, or at least as long as it took me to get back in the kitchen to get my hands back in the dough yet again.

While I was cooking, though, Derek was, at the direction of Avril, carving emotional pumpkins-- an angry one, a happy one and a grumpy one (pictured in that order, left to right). It required pretty much all of Derek's creative juices to figure out how to differentiate angry and grumpy in a jack-o-lantern. In my opinion, it was a smashing success.

And the soundtrack that I'd planned on making? Yeah, I just downloaded 2 or 3 songs and we listened to them over and over until Derek made me turn them off.

The dog-costume contest I didn't know about until after OTHER people posted pictures of their winning pooches...

Anyway, even though we didn't go trick-or-treating (which Avril figured out was the keyword to getting candy from us), I still consider our Halloween a success. So we didn't go quite according to plan... We still had a blast and Avril and Xandri loved it.

And I picked up Avril's new costumes from Wal-Mart
after Halloween. Who can beat 75% off? Like she knew the difference, anyway. She LOVES her new costumes (she also has a witch costume, not pictured. That's reserved for next year). (Oh, and confession... all the costume pictures of the girls were not taken on Halloween. No, they were taken over Thanksgiving break...)

Oh, and the scary, romantic movie? Yeah, actually it was The Invisible, which was more like an
unintentional comedy. It wasn't that scary, it was ridiculously romantic and overall, we were laughing AT it, not with it in the end.

Also, the following pictures were taken the Friday before Halloween, when Derek and I attended something like a frat party for Halloween. All the med students (unmarried, that is) were there and it was my (naive, yes, I know) first experience at such a party. It was pretty much just like the movies. All my party education comes from the movies... how sad is that? No longer!

This picture I had to put up because in the other one I'm making a really weird face... like I'm trying to be tough but came out looking sick.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Scorpion--- the Next Generation

Avril suddenly started crying a minute ago. I asked what was wrong and she said she hurt her foot. While she was trying to do scorpion.

Xandri's First Steps

Well, well, well, my little bug is growing up. She actually stood on her own for the first time a couple of days ago and took a couple of steps yesterday (several times). I think she's had the strength and ability for a while, but she's such a cautious little girl, she doesn't want to do it until she's completely ready. (For example, I can, without fear of her falling- or even moving really, leave her sitting on my kitchen counter while I walk across the room to the garbage can and back.)

Also, she'll only do it with sufficient motivation-- e.g. in order to get to Mommy from Daddy (warms my heart, it does...) I still can't believe it. She's such a big girl! And yet, she's still so tiny!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Xandri's First Word

Ok, I've put off deciding this, because it sounds like we're just the overeager parents saying, "Oh, wow, she said her first word!" over a word that could honestly be her just making sounds. But I really do think her first word is, "Hi." It's so cute when she says it, and I'm convinced that she says it largely in response to one of us saying "hi" first. She also says "yeah", but that one I'm not sure she really knows what she's saying. And finally, if "hi" isn't her first word, then "down" is.

Why "down"? Well, she hears it an awful lot-- the puppies are constantly jumping up to her highchair (what? They know it's a no-fail way to get delicious people food.), so we're constantly admonishing them, "Down!" The other day they were jumping up and I wasn't paying close attention, but suddenly Derek realized what she was saying: "Down! Down!" each time they jumped up.

How do I feel about this? My emotions are manifold. First, excited, like any mother would be to hear her little darling achieving this milestone. Secondly, proud- that seems like a pretty impressive first word to me-- no "dada", "mama", "ba-ba" or whatever. No, she's telling those puppies what to do-- decisively! Thirdly, a little surprised-- she's my baby! That's where she's going to stay. She's not a growing girl, she's the baby and she'll always be the baby! And finally, ... well, there is no fourth feeling, I just said manifold so it seemed like there should be at least four. We'll go with scared on this one, I guess. Yeah, that fits. Scared--- back to she's my baby!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I Love the 80s

I need to learn to dance like this... brilliant.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Discussion on Poop

Ah, the joys of motherhood. Who knew that I would ever be one to include a post about poop on my blog? As it stands, this is the conversation Avril and I had this morning when we were getting ready for church:

"I have green poop, Mom."
"Yeah, in the toilet downstairs, in the family room bathroom. I didn't flush."
"I know."
"I don't have green poop now. I have different shaped poop. I have snake poop! I like snakes. Snakes are fun. Snakes are good to me. I like spiders, too. Look, Mom, I have snake poop and different-shaped poop! I have kaysuh-i-diya (how she says quesadilla) poop! I don't like quesa-i-dilla poop. We don't like quesa-i-dilla poop, do we Mom?"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Foux da fa fa

"I would like a croissant. Pleased to meet you. Where is the library? Here is my passport. Ah, Gerard Depardieu. Baguette. *laughs*"
"Baguette, *laughs*"
"And now the trip to the supermarket! Grapefruit! Pineapple! Orange Juice! Beef! Soup of the Day! Camembert! Jacque Cousteau, baguette"
"Hello Sir"
"Hello my little bureau de change"
"I'm alright, alright?"
"I'm alright"
"Voila, the conversation in the park"
"Where is the book?"
"At the library"
"And the dance music?"
"At the disco"
"And the disco?"
"It's here, baby!"
"One, two, one two three four"
"Where is the pool?"
"Pardon me?"
"Where is the pool?"
"Splish splash!"
"Uhhh... I don't understand."
"Do you speak French?"
"Do you speak French?"
"Uhhh.... No."

Match Results

Well, the results are in and it's official! We're moving to Logan next year! Hello the West. Hello mountains. Hello snowboarding. Hello friends and family. Hello grandmas.
The idea of moving to Logan is such a fresh one for me. It involves so many new things and so many of the familiar: old friends and family within an easy driving distance; still includes the driving distance; new community- I'm not entirely sure what to expect when I get there; I'm looking forward to all the outdoorsy stuff; a new house- hopefully... I'm looking forward to applying all the things I'm learning here (from the artsy to the social) and trying a new take, a new start. As hard as it is to pick up and move every couple of years, it is nice that it affords us the chance to clean out our lives: our houses and our habits and start over with new things we've learned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beggars Can't Be Choosers...

But boy, does a beggar's life suck! Yeah, I played the beggar this past weekend. But before we discuss the first line, let's start with the happy side of the weekend.

My friend Natalie invited me out to her wedding a few months ago (the invite occurred a few months ago; the wedding occurred this weekend.) and offered a buddy pass (aka standby ticket) for $80 to fly to Phoenix from Kirksville. Not bad. Not bad at all. Probably would have normally cost upwards of $350 (off the top of my head). I procrastinated giving her a solid answer until shortly before the trip because I wasn't sure how standby worked and didn't want to wind up stranded halfway to Phoenix or something. So when it was pretty clear that the flight wouldn't be full, that I would have a seat, I went ahead and got the ticket.

For those who are wondering, yes, I left the girls home with Derek. Just that is the makings of a beautiful vacation...

The flight over was perfect, went without a hitch. Natalie picked me up at the airport, we went to her parents' place where I met her family, did our nails and watched episodes of The Office (brilliant, absolutely brilliant). Saturday morning we went and got pedicures. I've only ever had three, so I can't really say this with much authority (as far as that that comes from experience), but that was honestly the best pedicure EVER. For $25, I got your basic pedicure, plus a 10-15 minute hot stone massage for my legs, the best nails ever and a cute little flower (with glitter!) on each of my big toenails. The girl who gave me mine did an amazing job and we all agreed that I got the best one.

I won't bother to mention that I haven't completely weaned Xandri yet and did indeed forget my pump, because anyone who hasn't nursed a child can't really understand the level of pain that that causes. Fortunately, Natalie's sil had one to lend...

The rest of the day was spent helping Natalie get ready for her big event, helping her keep a cool head and convincing her that no one would notice the giant basketball hoop that her dear family had failed to remove (the thing takes 6 men to take down--- at least half that number essentially refused to help). She looked absolutely amazing in her wedding gown and her wedding went really well. Her parents have an amazing yard, with the most beautiful pool I've ever seen (short of a really cool resort we went to in Mazatlan. Yeah, it was that cool). The food at the reception was great and her family was fun to hang out with and chat with. I enjoyed being able to hang out without the concern or whining of small children. Well, the ones that were mine anyway. It was almost music to my ears to hear it from children who weren't mine. No responsibility!

After the reception, Natalie and Pete left and we helped take everything down and clean up. My flight was to leave at 9am. Unfortunately, forgetful boob that I am, I left my phone at the hairdresser's and we had to stop by before we went to the airport. So we left at around 6:30, grabbed my phone and checked in at the airport... did the whole security thing, went to my gate (of course it was at the end of the horrible terminal, but no big deal... yet). Here's where it started to curve downhill. I checked in at the gate to find that they were overbooked by three. There was essentially no way I was going to make that flight.

I began to evaluate my options. I asked the gate attendant a few questions and learned that there was a flight leaving at 3pm that was almost as full as the one leaving at 9am; a flight leaving at 6:23pm that was wide open; a flight going to St. Louis leaving 10 minutes before mine that had an opening or two; and that Monday's flights to KC were essentially the same as far as times and bookings. I proceeded to call Derek to find out what he was willing to do and what time the Amtrak left for La Plata.

Driving the 2h45m drive to KC with two little girls was impossible for him. Nothing real stood in his way aside from the inconvenience. That ruled out St. Louis as well. The Amtrak wouldn't work out either.

All things considered, my best option was to leave on the 6pm flight that evening. Fortunately for me, Natalie's wonderful parents had left me their phone number and they were more than happy to pick me up from the airport to wait until it was time to go again. (I owe them.)

Summing up, I stayed with them until my 6pm flight, flew into KC at about 11pm. (Before I left, A. kindly called and offered to hotwire a hotel for me... My response: "Mmm, no, $50 is too much for now." I'm sure I'll be able to sleep at the airport, right? No problem.

About halfway through the flight, I started to get a migraine. I define migraine by a throbbing headache accompanied by nausea. I tried to sleep on the flight, but was definitely uncomfortable. I arrived feeling extremely cranky, tired and overall sick. And with nowhere to go. Ok. So the benches that I had planned to sleep on? Yeah, they ALL had armrests. I literally had to curl up into the space of one seat and sleep on my "borrowed" airline pillow on the cold, hard, metallic arm rest with my legs tucked up into my chest in a severe fetal position. I "slept" for about two hours this way.

At 1:30 I woke up and tried various new positions. Nothing really helped. I tried to sleep on the cold linoleum floor. HA! That was awful. Next option: bathroom countertop. No better. It was probably about 2:30 or so by the time I wandered down the hall in search of carpeted floor. Luckily I found some. Unfortunately, every time I "fell asleep", I would wake up what would seem to be an hour or two later only to find a measly twenty minutes had passed. I have never passed such a long night in my life. Not even when I was giving birth. Finally, I went and checked in at 4:30 when they opened and went to wait for a gift shop to open so I could get some Excedrin. Meanwhile, I tried to eat a little bit. I ate a couple bites of a croissant I had and half an apple. Yeah, all that nausea? Good thing I was next to a trash can. Do you think I remembered toothpaste? How about gum? Any kind of breath freshener at ALL? Course not.

So I spent the next three hours trying to ignore the vomit-taste in my mouth and trying not to vomit again. Still trying to catch even a little shut-eye.

The plane ride went quickly and naturally Derek was late picking me up. As it happens, that was probably the best sleep I got the entire night-- Kirksville's airport has futons.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Red Barn

Here's that post I told you I was going to put up...

I figure you can all glean from the wisdom I gained during my participation in the festival, so here's what I learned at Red Barn:

1- Finish your art BEFORE the week of the festival.2- Plan and be prepared to fully assemble your booth BEFORE the night prior to the festival.

- Prepare any business items (e.g. business cards, blogs, etc) BEFORE the week of the festival.

- Be prepared with a backup plan for printing if your printer stops printing in color and you can't share your work with any other computer because of incompatible programs and fonts. This may or may not include reimbursing a darling friend with a delicious apple pie (it's a-comin' Ruth, it's a-comin')

- If you share a booth, make sure your work is on par with your booth-mates'. (For example, if you share a booth with three amazingly talented artists who spent far more time, money and effort and show far more talent than you, don't expect to sell anything. Unless you price your work lower comparatively. See Pricing.) (See what I mean? My little tapestry is cute on it's own, but next to Debbie's art? HA! You skip right over it!)

- Pricing: Learn to price your work based on at least the following criteria:
  • -your time
  • -cost to you
  • -talent
  • -coolness factor
  • -whether or not you live in Kirksville (if you do, drop your prices $30. At least.)
  • -your booth-mates' talent and effort in comparison to yours

7- Adjust your behavior or expectations: for example, don't go take a belly-dancing class in the middle of the festival if you're hoping to sell something during that time. Perhaps a more active sales approach will actually win some sales. If you'd prefer to take a belly-dancing class than stand in the horrible cold rain and try and convince people that your work is worth buying, then don't expect to sell anything.

8- Remember that if the weather is perfect the day before the festival and there is a 20% chance of rain in the afternoon the day of the festival, that really means it's going to start the night before and rain continuously during set-up and for the first several hours of the morning, leading into a cold and dreary day that few people want to linger in. Oh, and you can bank on the day after being pretty perfect, too.

- Learn to listen to your husband. Try and remember all the I-told-you-so moments that you've recently experienced (within the past year or so) when it comes to business and pricing. Get a clue that he actually really might know something.

- Remember all those things you told yourself going into it:
  • if you don't sell any, they're great for your own decor
  • if you don't sell any, they'll make great Christmas gifts
  • you're ok if you broke even. Or even if you learned something.
  • you really didn't expect to sell a bunch anyway
  • it was the best excuse in the world to get two amazing, wonderful girls to come out for a visit
  • and that is honestly the deal-breaker. That's what made the whole thing worth it and that's why I would share my booth with these girls again and again, no matter what else happens!
To sum up-- yes, there were a few set-backs. To quote a dr.'s office sign that my mom has had on her fridge since I can remember, "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part." My failure to plan led to a lot of my problems, I think. But even with it all, it was so worth it to have Melody come and stay (if only briefly) with me and hang out with one of the most amazing women I know. Honestly, just working with her for those two days, I saw so much in her that I look up to. I feel like I have so much to learn and I respect her immensely. I loved sharing the booth with Debbie and Rachel as well, they are both amazing artists and I feel I have much to learn from them as well. What wonderful women to share such a cold, dreary and disappointing day with. I would choose no one else.