15 December 2011

The Saga Continues

Scene from the Reynolds household:

Kara exits kitchen to see Ryan sitting on couch, watching Finding Nemo

K: Is Sam in the bath tub?
R: Yeah.
S(from bathroom): Poopy! poopy!
R: Is he saying poopy?
K: *runs to bathroom to see Sam standing up in the tub, taking a dump* Argh! Grab him! Put him on the toilet!
R: *grabs Sam out of the tub* Put the potty seat on for me!
*panicked flurry of action*

Much rejoicing ensued as the poop went in the potty.

12 December 2011

Guest Post- Andrew

Andrew has gallantly offered his time and talents again this year, gracing us with a blog post about his and Tara's first Christmas as a married couple. Check out his blog Absolutely Andrew for his outdoor adventures/photography and funny stories about his life.
******
The tone for Tara's and my first holiday season as a married couple was set in early December when I was fired from my job.  In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise, but at the time, it was our sole source of income that I had just flushed down the drain with some extraneous facebooking.  And so, for much of December, I sat cooped up in our cold apartment sending my resume to myriad companies, endlessly tweaking it, trying to get through those blasted text filtering algorithms.  The only things that helped me retain my sanity were the Mondays season pass I had at Solitude (purchased when I still had a job), teaching myself html, and Tara's endless awesomeness throughout the entire ordeal.  Meanwhile, my mother notified the entire extended family that  I was unemployed so we would't be doing gifts that year.  Thanks, Mom.
After two weeks of feeling like the ultimate loser who can't hold down a job and support his new wife, I decided it was time to get out of the apartment.  I suggested to Tara that we drive up to Park City for the evening to see the lights and peruse the galleries.  It turned out to be a wonderful idea.  PC is so magical during the holidays and it was nice to be out in the crisp mountain air.  Window shopping the expensive boutiques amidst all the yuppies clad in over-the-top apres-ski outfits made us practically forget we were poor.
In the car, we popped in the Ingrid Michaelson album Be OK that I had gotten for Tara as a Christmas gift.  The entire album is good, but it was the last song, "You and I", that really struck us on our way back to SLC:

don't you worry, there my honey 
we might not have any money 
but we've got our love to pay the bills 

maybe I think you're cute and funny, 
maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you, 
if you know what I mean


And within moments were we both belting out along with the song, tears streaming down our faces.  It was the quintessential Christmas moment in which all the stresses of the world are forgotten and the unbreakable bond between two people is all that matters.  Yes, a similar scene has probably been depicted in at lest 3 Sundance films, but this was ours.

Since that first year, we continue to make a tradition of visiting Park City each Christmas.  Sure, these days we may actually enjoy a fancy dinner up there, but the laughing at fur-clad Californians remains the same.  It is also safe to say that Ingrid Michaelson is choice Christmas music in the Newcomb house.

08 December 2011

All Dogs Go To Heaven

We lost our beloved family pet, Allie, this week. She's been battling cancer for several months, and my mom finally had to put her to sleep when it became apparent that the cancer had spread to her brain. Our family misses our dear pooch. Sorry to get all Marley and Me on you, but I wanted to pay tribute to Allie on our blog.
Allie, mid-"ROOGLE!"

When my sister and I were young children, we had two family dogs that had been with my parents longer than we had. Whiskey was a big lovable Alaskan Malamute, who sadly died when I was only 5 years old. I remember being so sad about our dog being gone- I think it's the earliest time I ever actually said a prayer, for my dog who had left me. Buck lasted a long time- he made it to Anchorage with us. My dad had to put him down one summer while the rest of us were back in Maryland visiting family. It was so hard not to be there to say goodbye, and I'm sure it was hard on my dad to have to do that by himself.
After being dog-less for a time, my parents decided that it was time to get another family pet. We went down to Anchorage Animal Control and fell in love with the fluffy white puppy. Cassi picked out the name Allie. It was the first time we'd been involved in selecting and naming our dog, and boy was it exciting.

Torturing Allie by making her wear my sweatshirt. She was a good sport about being dressed up in people-clothes.

Allie was a unique dog for us right from the start because she didn't bark- she only howled (or "roogled", in our family vernacular). She did have one major vice, however: digging. She dug her way out of our yard many times that first summer. Thankfully she never ran away, but only hung around our street waiting for us to find her. We thought she was simultaneously the smartest and dumbest dog we'd ever met.
Dressed up for our Beatles party as "Martha My Dear"


Hanging out in her favorite spot, where she could survey the living room

Even though Cassi and I never called the dog our "sister", Allie was definitely part of the family.

Dad helps Allie open a Christmas present. Usually a new squeaky toy or some kind of doggie delicacy

Why is Grandpa sleeping in my house?

Getting a bath from Cassi


Sammy has loved Allie ever since he met her. To her credit, Allie always treated him gently, from when he was a newborn to when he was a not-so-gentle 2-year-old. I know when we visit my parents for Christmas, Sam will want to know where Allie is.

When my parents moved to New Mexico, Allie spent a semester living with Cassi in Northern California. 
On a walk through the redwood trees

On a walk in Anchorage

We all loved our dog very much, and she will be greatly missed. RIP, Allie.

07 December 2011

Guest Post- Sarah

Our first Christmas guest post comes from Sarah Müller. When we moved into our apartment, I asked some of the other moms who they would recommend as a babysitter. Sarah was top of the list, so we had her watch Sam for us a few times. Sammy LOVES Sarah, and when she first left SLC to go to college, it took him a few months to stop asking for her every day. Ryan and I love Sarah, too, and we've enjoyed keeping in touch with her while she's away at school. She maintains a personal blog (check it out here) and tumblr account, and is also working as a DJ for a college radio station!
******
Growing up, I was always excited for the Christmas season. Not because it meant presents or time off school (although both were great), but because it meant decorations. My family puts our decorations up the first Monday of December and it's always an exciting time. My sisters and I would come home from school, grab the boxes from the attic/basement, and start decorating. We love Christmas decorations so much that we have fake mistletoe that hangs up year round. My favorite decoration was and still is our Veggie Tales nativity set. As well as the fake mistletoe. (:
This semester I moved away from home to attend college. Since I won't be back home until the middle of December, I'm missing out on decorating. I decided that even though there are only two and a half weeks of school left, my roommates and I definitely needed some Christmas spirit. So I set my schoolwork down and got to decorating.
I'm not very artistically talented but I decided that bringing the Christmas spirit definitely trumps my lack of artistic abilities. So after learning how to make a snowflake (because up until this point I didn't know how) and nearly breaking my leg putting up decorations (desk chairs don't have a lot of holiday spirit) I made 27 snowflakes, 26 paper chains, a few paper ornaments, and a paper Christmas tree. (:


As I put up my decorations, I started thinking about how people "decorate" their lives with Christmas. Some believe that Christmas is all about material items and focus on getting presents and buying presents. They "decorate" their season with money, busyness, and pride. Others believe that Christmas centers on Christ and "decorate" their season with him. While my decorations don't reflect centering Christ in my season, that is my goal. (:

Also, I have to share my must listen to while putting up Christmas decorations song- The Cowboy's Christmas Ball by The Killers. :D

06 December 2011

Christmas Recollections

Last year I asked a few friends to write a guest post for the blog that shared a Thanksgiving memory. I really enjoyed it, and decided to feature guest bloggers again this year, but at Christmas instead of Thanksgiving. I have a few lined up, but if anyone else is interested please let me know! I would be happy to write a post for your blog in return!
*******
Does anyone else do the Christmas pickle? Not the kind that you eat, but the kind on your tree!
Every year on Christmas Eve my mom hides an ornament shaped like a pickle on our Christmas tree. Then, on Christmas morning, the first person to find the pickle gets an extra present, which is usually a game or something to do as a family. Not to brag, but I pretty much always win. That pickle and I have a special affinity for each other.
Cassi experiences the agony of defeat, 2007

When it comes down to opening presents, we all sit in front of the Christmas tree and my dad hands out presents one at a time for us to open.

Cassi gets a present from "Ninja Claus", 2007

Let me pause here to say something about my dad. My dad and I are alike in many ways, and yet in a lot of ways we're really different. We get along well, though, and I think that's because neither of us like to indulge in conversation. We're not really big talkers, and we're both comfortable with silence. And my dad is even less sentimental than I am. So anyways, that hat that my dad is wearing in the above picture says "Grinch" across the front. It's kind of a family joke that my dad isn't exactly a high-energy jovial kind of guy. He doesn't like to draw attention to himself.
When they lived in Alaska, my parents and the other FedEx pilots/spouses would collect presents and deliver them to the kids in the local hospital. One of the guys would always dress up as Santa Claus to deliver the presents. One year, the guy who usually dressed up as Santa couldn't make it, so somehow my dad ended up inside the Santa suit. I'm sure he hated the idea, but there you go: Even "the Grinch" himself was willing to do something to make a bunch of sick kids happy. That's the spirit of Christmas, right? Going the extra mile to make someone else happy. I was really proud of my dad for dressing up as Santa that year.

My family, Christmas 2007


05 December 2011

Christmastime is here

If that title doesn't get Charlie Brown Christmas music running through your head, I don't think we can be friends. Just kidding, of course.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I'm ready to embrace Christmas, rampant commercialism and all. Sammy and I have been listening to the Christmas radio station in the car as we do errands, and last week Ryan brought home a Christmas tree for us to decorate for Family Home Evening. It's the first year we've actually had a tree, and we love it!
Christmas 2009

Christmas 2011- quite an improvement!

Ryan and I strung the lights and the beaded strings around the tree (which was harder than I thought it would be). Then we let Sam put the ornaments on wherever he wanted.

But, being the control freak that I am, I spread them out so they looked better after he went to bed.
Below is a picture of Sam playing with two ornaments. I believe they are the Nutcracker and Clara from the Nutcracker collection. 
When I was a kid, the best part of decorating the tree was playing with the ornaments. I know some people like to decorate their tree with globes of various colors, or candy canes, or something like that, but we always had a mishmash of ornaments that my parents had collected over the years and my sister and I had made in school. We had a Rosebud sled (the significance of which I didn't get as a kid), some  musical instruments, gingerbread men that retained their smell year after year, and some plastic angels, to name a few. My mom now has more ornaments than can actually fit on a Christmas tree, so some get left off. It always makes me a little sad, knowing that one of my favorite ornaments from childhood didn't make the cut.
The Reynolds Christmas tree, however, only has a handful of ornaments. My mom bought a Nutcracker set for me, because those were our very favorites as kids. Ryan's dad carved a rocking horse for Sam's first Christmas, which we hang up pretty high so he can't get to it. There's a snowflake with Sam's picture on it that the Nursery leaders made last year- Sam's eyes are all red because it was his first month in Nursery and he cried A LOT when we left him there. And there is the Mommy and Daddy clay elf ornament, with a little string to hang the "elf babies" on- we added Baby Brudder this year, although we haven't written his name on it yet because we still don't have a name for the poor kid. And that's it for ornaments. I'm sure in a few years we'll have added a lot more to our collection. For now, though, we're just happy to sit in the glow of our tree and be reminded of the Christmas memories we already have.

03 December 2011

Thanksgiving

In the last-minute rush to finish NaNoWriMo this year, I didn't have a lot of time to post about our lovely Thanksgiving trip. Part of that rush was due to the fact that I was so busy over the long weekend that I got behind on my word count- which was actually a positive thing. We left Salt Lake around 2:30pm the day before Thanksgiving with our friend Elisa, who we always bring back to Colorado with us. Sammy was a champion for the whole long drive- every time he got fussy, we'd give him his blanket and Snugaphant and ignore him for a few minutes, and he'd fall asleep. In fact, in Ryan's opinion, I was the worst passenger because ol' pregnant bladder insisted on stopping at every "major city" in Wyoming to use the bathroom. This was because
1)Sometimes it is 50 miles between restrooms along that portion of I-80 and,
2)There are no private places along the side of the road to stop because Wyoming has no trees.
Anyways.
We dropped Elisa off and made it into Deer Trail in only 9 hours, even with all my bathroom breaks. So there, Ryan.
On Thanksgiving morning we headed out to the ranch where Ryan's dad works and lives. The kids whose family owns the ranch wanted to play with Sammy, so we went out and threw rocks at a cattle guard for a good hour. Ryan took me and Sam out on his dad's 4-wheeler to see the ranch, which was terrifying and yet exciting. The rest of Ryan's family joined us for Thanksgiving dinner, which was wonderful. Russ and Richard cooked a big turkey, and we had all the traditional side dishes (plus a few surprises, like the lasagna Richard made in his Dutch oven). Sammy was having too much fun playing with his cousins to eat more than a few crackers.
We headed into Denver the next day to hang out at Ryan's brother Rusty's house. My cousin Steven and his wife Lauren drove up from the Springs to see us. We met them for dinner at an old favorite of ours, Mustard's Last Stand. It was so nice to see them, and nice for them to indulge us on our restaurant pick! The food must not have agreed with Sammy, however, because he barfed twice that night. Lucky for us, Rusty lives in a for real house with his own washing machine, which happened to be right off the room we slept in. That made it pretty easy to clean up after him.
Saturday morning we woke up all strung out from being up all night with His Royal Barfiness, and met Ryan's mom for breakfast. We ate lunch back at Rusty's, picked Elisa up at her mom's, and headed back to Utah! Ryan actually let me drive through Wyoming- it was really windy, which was a little nervewracking. But we made it home safely, somehow.
It was a really good Thanksgiving, with good food and good company. I think Sam will remember his cousins when he sees them next year, and he'll be really excited to play with them again. Next year we'll also have Baby Brudder in tow- we'll see who's the worst traveler then!

30 November 2011

Final Excerpt and Triumphant-ness

Another year, another novel.
Although this year, my novel is only about halfway complete, at 50,000 words, making it more likely to be a real book when it is finally completed. I will probably take a break from it, like last year, and then pick it up again to finish for real. Or maybe I'll write the next half next NaNoWriMo. Who knows?
Here's your last excerpt:


Kevin rose from the bench and briskly wiped the crumbs off his hands. “Come on, guys,” he said, pulling on his gear. “Let’s get moving so we don’t have to climb the mountain in the dark.”
            They complied, and after everyone was suited up they started along the road, heading past the village. Joshua continued looking above the treeline, hoping to see the mountain. He was disappointed.
            A few miles beyond the town, the trees began to thin out, making it easier to see. Joshua was starting to get anxious about reaching Mount Chanhassen, when he noticed a bigger break in the trees. As they approached it, they all stopped dead in their tracks.
            “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kevin grumbled. “This is their idea of a mountain?” Standing in front of them was a hill. It was covered in lush vegetation, and couldn’t have risen in elevation more than a few hundred feet.
            “Well,” Joshua said cautiously, “Silas did say it was the tallest rock out here. And there’s definitely nothing else bigger.”
            “No wonder he said all paths to the top were safe,” Kevin replied, disgusted. “It’s just a hill!”
            Jason started to snicker. “It sounds like you guys were making a mountain out of a molehill!” he cried, dissolving completely into full-blown laughter. He bent in half, clutching his stomach and wiping tears from his eyes. Joshua elbowed him and he toppled over, still laughing like a hyena. Joshua left him lying on the forest floor and turned right off the path to head toward the so-called Mount Chanhassen. The others followed him. Natalie had a hard time getting Jason to his feet, but eventually he recovered enough to get up. He pulled leaves out of his curly hair as they walked up the hill.
            “Do you think we’ll reach the top before it gets dark?” Jason asked them. Joshua could hear the laughter straining to escape his friend, so he ignored him and kept walking.
            “Do you need any help?” he asked Danae, hoping the gentle incline wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for her.
            She shook her head. “No, I think I can manage,” she said, smirking.
            It took less than a half-hour to get to the top of the hill. They dropped their gear and looked around. Instead of being able to see the entire kingdom, as Joshua had envisioned, they could only see the tops of trees. It was easy to see that Silas was quite right: there was nothing else this tall for miles. Kevin cleared some rocks out of the way with his foot and began setting up the tent. It was a pretty simple affair, just a metal frame draped with a canvas that was anchored to the ground. Joshua gave him a hand, and they finished in minutes.
            “Well, we made it to the top of the mountain, the tent is up, and there are hours to go until the blue fire shows up,” Kevin said. He rested his hands on his hips and surveyed the tent, looking pleased with his handiwork. “What do you guys want to do now?” he asked.
            Danae sighed. “I should probably take a nap. Even if it wasn’t a hike up a mountain, that walk still tired me out,” she said. Kevin and Joshua piled up the quilts inside the tent so she could lie down comfortably. “Wake me up when it starts to get dark,” she instructed them sternly. “I don’t want to miss any blue fire.” She crawled into the tent, shutting the flap behind her.
            “Speaking of fire,” Kevin said, “we should probably get to work on building ours so we can cook dinner.” He got to work, rummaging around the bag with the firelighter. “Go find some wood,” he told Natalie and Jason, who obediently set off down the hill to the forest, hand in hand.”
            “You shouldn’t have asked them to go get wood alone,” Joshua commented, sitting down next to Kevin on the hard ground. “They’ll be gone for ages.”
            Kevin let out a snort of laughter. “I don’t care. If I have to hear Jason make another joke about the mountain, I’ll beat him with a canteen.” Joshua laughed too. “Why don’t you go look around for places where the clue might be?” Kevin suggested, all business again. “Even if we won’t be able to read it until the blue fire show, at least we can get an idea of where to look for it.”

15 November 2011

Excerpt #2

I'm halfway through November, and halfway to 50,000 words. I appreciate all the help and encouragement people have given me on Facebook! It's time for another excerpt. This is where we first meet The Seer (ooh!)



The seer lived in the forest, a mere hour’s walk from the castle, as Jonas informed them after breakfast. Natalie was outfitted in a pair of soft leather boots, as her sandals weren’t really up to the task of a hike. Jonas led them on a winding path through the trees. Joshua saw that many of them were slightly charred. Last night’s battle had hurt the forest, too. They walked, making the occasional bit of small talk with Jonas. It took just over an hour to reach the small dwelling in which the seer lived.
            Jonas rapped smartly on the door. “Evelyn?” he called. “Evelyn! It’s Jonas.” Joshua saw movement through one of the thick-paned windows. Seconds later, the door opened.
            The loveliest young woman Joshua had ever seen in his life stepped outside. Her carrot-orange hair reached her waist. Her eyes were a light green, and seemed to sparkle mischievously as she smiled at them. Joshua’s jaw dropped. So did Jason’s and Kevin’s.
            “Good morning, Jonas,” the seer lilted. “I see you’ve brought me the prince.” She looked at Joshua appraisingly.
            “Hello, Evie,” Jonas replied. “The prince and his helpers, just like you said.”
            “Did you expect it would be otherwise?” she teased. “Come inside.” They followed her in and sat down at a round wooden table. Once seated, the seer leaned forward to study Joshua, resting her chin in her hand.
            “Yes, the Artifacts,” she mused. “He will look for them, I see that. But where to begin?”
            Jonas opened his mouth to answer, but she cut him off with a wave of her hand. “Not asking you, Jonas. Just thinking out loud,” she said pleasantly. “I think it’s going to take a few cups of tea.”
            Joshua cleared his throat. “Do you read tea leaves?” he asked. That was something he’d read in a book.
            She laughed, high and clear. “Goodness me, no. I just like tea. You can have coffee, if you prefer.” She rose and put a kettle on a hook above a small fireplace. Jason stared at her openly. Natalie glared at him and nudged him in the ribs. He smiled sheepishly at her.
            “Do you have any questions for me?” she asked the group when she sat down again. They exchanged glances.
            “Can you tell us more about the Artifacts?” Joshua asked. “All we know is we’re supposed to find some… things.”
            “I certainly can,” the seer answered. “Perhaps talking about them will make our path more clear to me. Yes, let me begin at the beginning.” She settled back into her chair.

            “Once upon a time- for all the best stories begin this way- our land was ruled by a High King. He was a benevolent ruler who cared for the people and their welfare. His son, however, was a cruel man who delighted in many vices. The High King saw this in his son, and knew that when his son became king he would mistreat the people and the land. So before he died, he divided his land into ten kingdoms, and chose ten of his personal guards as king of each land. He bequeathed unto each new king three Sovereign Artifacts, to represent their power and autonomy.
            “The king’s son was furious at his father, and slew him with a sword upon hearing the news that he wasn’t to become king. The new kings were outraged over the death of the High King. A tribunal was elected, with representatives from each land, and the king’s son was sentenced to death.” At this, the seer shook her head sadly.
            “It was the last time the kingdoms worked together before going their separate ways. For the most part, they left each other in peace. Over the centuries, however, the kingdoms have begun to lust for power over each other. Rydale has already absorbed Carene, and become the largest of the nine remaining kingdoms. Chanhassen, as the only kingdom now that has lost its Artifacts, will surely fall soon.” The kettle whistled, and the seer rose to pour drinks for them all. She peered at each of the children.
            “Coffee for you,” she said to Jason, who laughed out loud. “And… tea for the both of you,” she added, nodding to Danae and Kevin. “I’m sorry I have no chocolate, hot or otherwise,” she said to Natalie, who wore an expression of mixed surprise and disappointment.
            “Could I try the tea?” she asked timidly. The seer smiled gently and nodded.
            “Jonas? You’ll have to make up your mind if you want me to read it,” she chided. He laughed.
            “I’ll take coffee,” he said. “Got you this time.”
            “Indeed,” she agreed. “And for our prince?” She looked expectantly at Joshua.
            “Don’t you know already?” he asked, puzzled.
            “You’re hard to read,” she explained. “It must be your gift. I can’t See what it is you want.” Joshua frowned.
            “My gift?” he asked.
            “You know about the gifts, do you not?” the seer asked. She looked at Jonas.
            “I’ve mentioned them,” he said. “Only briefly.”
            “Well,” the seer said briskly. “All in good time. What will you have to drink?” she asked Joshua.
            “Tea,” he said.
            Drinks were poured, and the seer sat down to resume her tale.

07 November 2011

Excerpt #1

I crossed the 10,000 words mark for NaNoWriMo, so I figured it was time for an excerpt. The opening of the novel can be found on my Writer's Page. This section is 8,000 or so words into the novel.
*******


As if they’d read his mind, the dark clouds in the sky released their pent-up moisture.  Raindrops, big ones, dive-bombed them from above. Natalie gasped as the first drops pelted them. It was only minutes until they were soaked.  Natalie and Kevin’s blond hair looked almost as dark as Joshua’s, plastered to their heads.  Beads of water flecked Kevin’s glasses; Joshua wondered if he could even see.   Next to him, Danae sighed.
            “This is ridiculous, Jason,” she spat.  He looked startled at her outburst.  She stuck her finger out at him.  “If it wasn’t for your dumb idea, we wouldn’t be stuck on a boat in the middle of a lake during a rainstorm!”  Her eyes narrowed accusingly.  Natalie had sat up and pulled away from Jason, glaring at him too.  He looked at her helplessly.  Kevin continued to peer through his rain-speckled glasses at the dark forest.  Before Jason could mutter out an excuse, Kevin pointed to the trees.
            “We’re not getting any closer,” he said loudly.  The others paused from glaring at Jason to look out across the lake too.  Their target did indeed seem just as far away as when they’d left.  Kevin turned back to them.
            “Something is wrong, you guys.  It’s completely dark overhead, and those trees are still blacker than the ones right next to them.  There’s no rain whatsoever on our side of the lake.  We’re moving straight ahead even though the wind has changed.”  Joshua hadn’t even realized with all the rain that Danae’s hair was off his face and blowing towards Natalie. 
            Kevin continued.  “We should jump out and swim back to our side of the lake,” he urged.
            “What?” the four of them yelled at him.  Natalie crossed her arms.  “I am not getting in that water, Kevin,” she said angrily.  “It’s freezing.  We could all get hypothermia and die.”
            “Do you have an alternative?” he shot back.  “It’s better than being pulled to some dark grove of trees in a boat that shouldn’t be moving that direction!” 
            Joshua looked over the side of the boat.  That water was deep.  It was dark, cold, and as unforgiving as the rain.  He shook his head.
            “Kevin, look how far away our side is.  She’s right: we’d never make it, it’s too cold to swim,” he said, as calmly as possible. 
            Danae nodded. “I don’t like it either,” she whispered, “but I think we should stay.” 
            Kevin looked away angrily and smacked the side of the Chanhassen with his left hand.  Natalie was leaning back into Jason, who was hugging her to him with both arms now.  They were quiet again.  Joshua pulled off his windbreaker and handed it to Natalie.  He wanted to give it to Danae, but her sweater and jeans offered much more warmth than Natalie’s skimpy outfit.  She smiled at him gratefully and pulled it over her head, still shivering.
            Kevin broke the silence.  “It finally looks like we’re getting closer,” he said, no longer angry.  Just resigned.  Joshua looked out across the water.  He agreed with Kevin.  Suddenly they were moving faster, inexorably towards the mysterious trees.  Just as suddenly, the rain was gone, though it was still dark.  And much sooner than he wanted, the boat bumped into the shore directly in front of the dark grove Jason wanted so badly to explore. 
            No one moved.  Joshua barely felt Danae breathing next to him. 
            Kevin turned to Jason.  “Well?  I thought you wanted to come here,” he said nastily.  “Why don’t you get out then?”

05 November 2011

I did a stupid thing

I like to think of myself as an intelligent person. When you skip a grade in elementary school, you kind of get slapped with the label "smart kid"and in my case it has become part of my identity.
But every now and then I go and do something that makes me seriously question whether I actually am as smart as I think I am.
Last Saturday my dear sweet husband decided to make waffles for breakfast. He is incapable of making waffles without making a huge mess, so I always tell him that if he wants to make waffles, he'd better clean it up. Well, his idea of cleaning up the waffle mix was to put the bag of Krusteaz on the counter next to the sink, 6 inches away from the pantry (where it actually belongs). And being on the counter next to the sink, the bottom of the bag got wet.
So in order to save our giant bag of waffle mix, I started scooping out the mix and transferring it into gallon Ziploc bags. When I'd emptied out about half of the bag, I decided it was light enough to pick up and dump into the next empty Ziploc. As soon as I picked up the bag, the wet bottom burst open and dumped floury waffle mix all over my kitchen floor.
Important choice: Sweep it up, or use the vacuum?
My Precious...
I have a very nice Dyson ball vacuum that my mom got for me for Christmas last year. I am in love with my vacuum. It is so easy to use and to clean and to empty out when it is full. I have a two-year-old, so I use it almost every day. I think my vacuum is invincible.
It isn't.
I happily sucked up all the flour through the hose, stopping a couple times to empty the vacuum into the trash can. Then I realized that my vacuum was covered in flour. So I took it to Ryan, who was showering, and told him I needed to rinse out all my vacuum parts to get the flour out. He got out of the shower, and I rinsed out my vacuum and left the pieces in the tub to dry. A few hours later, I put it all back together.
The next time I tried to use my vacuum, the engine let out this crazy high-pitched whine. Ryan made me shut it off. Then he looked at it.

"It's still covered in flour," he said.
"I know that. I think if I just keep using it, eventually all the flour will come out," I replied.
"It probably has flour in the motor. You can't use this! I'll clean it for you," he insisted.

So today Ryan sat down to clean out the Dyson vacuum. It is full of moldy flour. Ryan worked on it for an hour today and barely made a dent in it. My precious vacuum has been beaten by Krusteaz. Krusteaz and an idiot named Kara.
I called Dyson today, and they gave me the number of a local store that can take a look at it. I can replace the part with the worst mold for about 80 dollars, which wouldn't be so bad. In the meantime, I've got to borrow other people's vacuums to clean up after Sammy. Plus there is the shame and guilt that I killed my beautiful vacuum.

Remember, friends. If you ever start thinking you are really smart, the universe will find a way to prove to you that YOU AREN'T.

01 November 2011

Happy Hamomeen

One of Sam's cutest mispronunciations is Hamomeen for Halloween. I swoon.
Sam's favorite book last month was Library Lion, so I decided that he would be a lion for Halloween, and Ryan and I would be the two librarians from the book. Unfortunately, I woke up with a cold on Halloween morning, and decided it wouldn't be worth the effort for Ryan and I to dress up (I think Ryan was relieved). I made Sam's costume this year by turning a furry-lined coat inside out and sewing a mane, wrist fringe, and tail onto the coat. Ryan added the face paint for the finishing touches. Now that Halloween is over I will strip all the decorations off and turn Sam's coat right side out so he can wear it, although I think he'll be pretty upset that his "lion coat" is gone.
Getting his face paint done. He loved holding the mirror by himself to look at his evolving face!

At "Boo at the Zoo" before Halloween with his buddy, Saiji.

So ready to trick or treat! He was so excited!

Who is that lady dressed like a cat?

It's Andrea! And she has CANDY! Hooray!

Not like this actually needs to be said, but I will probably end up eating most of Sam's candy. And surprisingly, we had a lot leftover ourselves. There were only 2 or 3 other groups out trick-or-treating that we saw during the hour we were out. Is trick-or-treating not as big a deal in Utah? Or is it just our neighborhood? In any case I was quite surprised. But not at all disappointed that I have lots of Milk Duds to finish off. Yum... Why are they called Milk Duds? They are definitely not duds, if you ask me.

Family Photos

Every year, usually around our anniversary, we have our family photos taken. I was way too sick in July to even think about having my picture taken, so we postponed it to fall this year. Our friend Amanda Penton took our pictures this year, and we are so grateful to her for doing such an amazing job. She got some great shots of squirrely Sammy, and really captured the fall colors and the mood we were going for.
We now have four sets of "family photos", and I thought I'd post a little nostalgia on here as well as our new pictures.
Me and Ryan:
2008
2009
2010

2011
And our growing family!


2008
2009
2010

2011


And here are the rest of my favorites from this year's photo shoot:






Kiss attack!

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Just wanted to let you all know that even though I'm sick, I have made my word count for today. Woohoo! Keep up with my progress on my writer's page by clicking here.

25 October 2011

Ketchup

It's been a while...
Too long, in fact. You all probably heard from me/Facebook/Radio Grandma (you know who you are) that I'm pregnant again, which means I spent the past several months wishing that everyone would just go away and let me stay in bed. Which of course did not happen. I have pretty amazing friends at church, who brought dinner to us and took Sam to the park, and thanks to their help I am back on my feet. And still pregnant at 21 weeks, a real triumph for me after last time. We found out we are having a boy- and all my dreams of little girl dresses and hairbows were summarily crushed, while Ryan's vision of two rough-and-tumble mud balls to play with came to fruition. We're working on a name. I'll keep you posted.
Lots of other good things happened to us while I was sick. The biggest and best is that all of Ryan's hard work of the past year has paid off- the Church decided at the end of September to bring him on as their newest full-time Seminary teacher. We are still a little dumbfounded, a month later. We have a pension plan, and great health benefits, and a REAL JOB. I'm so proud of Ryan for sticking with it- it finally paid off.
I also passed the genetic counseling board examination. I don't have a job, but at least I can say I'm certifiably competent on paper. Yippee... I will be signing my name Kara Reynolds, MS CGC for a week just to make myself feel good.
Sammy is becoming quite the little talker. He is starting to use sentences, which is cool even though for the most part I'm the only person who can understand him.
That's all for now. I will hopefully put up some Halloween pictures next week. I made Sam's Halloween costume for the third year running, and Ryan and I will be dressing up, too. I will also be starting NaNoWriMo again on November 1st- with a totally different flavor of novel this year.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

14 July 2011

Sam-to-English Dictionary & Phrasebook

Bippas- Scriptures
Bups- Chips
Chockit- Chocolate
Moooooooooore- More
JooooOOOOooose- Juice
Jeld- Gerald (from Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books)
Mommy joooose- Soda
Bankie- Blanket
Pano- Piano
Teestry- Toy Story
Nuk- Snuggle
Nuggie- Snuggie (his stuffed elephant)
Memo- Elmo
Geh- Again
Buhdeh- Peanut butter
Fush- Flush
Wahdoh- Water
Daddy- Daddy
Daddy- Jelly
PEESE PEESE PEESE!- I would really like to have that.
Hot!- I don't want that/It scares me.

30 June 2011

Wizard Rock! (or, Sammy's First Concert)

Being from Alaska, I haven't really gone to a lot of concerts (especially not outdoors). Somehow this fact has always made me feel... well, lame, for lack of a better word.
So when I heard that wizard rock pioneers Harry and the Potters would be playing at the library (!) in the outdoor amphitheater (!!) for free (!!!), I knew I had to get on the band wagon. (zing!)
Harry and the Potters is made up of two brothers (Harry Potter and Harry Potter) and whoever else they can get to play a variety of other instruments. Harry Potter 1 played keyboard and saxophone, Harry Potter 2 played guitar, and Sirius Black played the drums. The group sings about a wide variety of things from the Harry Potter books, like saving Ginny from the basilisk, and how Voldemort just doesn't understand love. Hilarious, right?
The boys put on an amazing show. They invited everyone to come down to the bottom level of the amphitheater to form a semi-mosh pit.
This was mostly high school kids... Ryan, Sam, and I elected to stay in our seats with Tara, Andrew, and Tara's sister Becky.
(By the way, check out Andrew's account of the evening!) Our friend Sarah, however, chose to join the crowd. She is a for-real HatP fan- she actually owns their CDs and knows all the lyrics!

Harry and Harry were non-stop balls of energy. While none of the songs were particularly amazing musical accomplishments, the lyrics were fresh and clever. Really, their take on things like Cho Chang talking about Roger Davies on her first date with Harry... pure comic genius. They got the crowd involved in chanting, making hand signs, and singing along. Even Sammy got into it!

Ryan liked it so much that at the end of the show, he told me to go buy a t-shirt. Andrew and Tara got in on the fun too:
From left to right: Hogwarts Tonsil Hockey Team, Voldemort Can't Stop the ROCK!, and Save Ginny!

Harry and the Potters have more stops to make on their tour before the last Harry Potter movie comes out. Don't miss them if they come to your town!

22 June 2011

Elder Holland thinks I'm cute

As most of you know, Ryan has been working hard this past year in the hopes of being hired by the Church as a Seminary teacher. He has made it through every evaluation so far- passed the 2-week "trial teaching", successfully completed his first semester of student teaching- and today was his next step. Today we were interviewed by a General Authority.
Time out for those who aren't familiar with the structure of our church. Local congregations (wards) are led by bishops. About 6-10 wards are led by stake presidents. Bishops and stake presidents are really only responsible for the specific people over whom they preside. General authorities, however, are responsible for the entire world. The men called to be general authorities are amazing, humble servants of the Lord, and have a whole host of duties, one of which is interviewing potential employees of the Church Educational System. To learn more about the structure of leadership in our church, visit the official page: How the Church is Organized.
We arrived at the Church Administration Building about 20 minutes early for our appointment with Elder Zwick, and had the opportunity to wait and watch as other general authorities of the Church passed in and out of the building. Elder Cook walked in front of us. Elder Ballard stopped to talk to us and commended Ryan on trying to become a Seminary teacher. Elder Holland said "Hi kids!" and said to Ryan, "I just have to come shake the hands of this cute couple. Well, she's cute- you're okay." He talked to us for a few minutes. And then, out of the window of the waiting room, we saw President Monson's car pull up next to the entrance (yes, he has a primo parking spot). Through the window he saluted us both and smiled.
Another time out- Elder Cook, Elder Ballard, and Elder Holland hold the priesthood office of Apostle. There are 12 apostles on the earth today, as there were when Christ organized his followers during His mortal life. Peter, James, and John- that is to whom you can liken Elder Cook and company. President Monson is God's prophet on earth today. He is the leader of the entire Church.
Our interview with Elder Zwick was unbelievable. Elder Zwick is a Seventy, which is the priesthood office under Apostle. He is a very kind and gentle man. He asked us a lot of questions about how we joined the Church, and asked Ryan a lot of questions about his personal conduct and worthiness. He asked me how I support Ryan as he works towards his career goals. Both Ryan and I shed a few tears as we talked about our experiences and expressed our love for each other and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Zwick told us that many people cry- you can't help but feel overwhelmed by the spirit in that building, with so many servants of the Lord present. I asked him how he doesn't cry all the time- yep, I got a joke in there.
We feel so humbled by our experience. What a blessing in our lives this time in Utah has been. We are excited that Ryan is getting closer and closer to becoming a Seminary teacher!

20 June 2011

Annie Get Your Gun

You might have heard that I am appearing in a community theater production of Annie Get Your Gun.
You might have heard that this is the show that brought you the famous tunes "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better".
You might have heard that tickets are only $8.

Well folks, the rumors are all true. So get your butt out to West Jordan for a night of musical theater magic!

Doors open at 7:00pm, showtime 7:30pm at Copper Hills High School. Closing night is this Saturday.

28 May 2011

Fire!

First of all, I want to announce that this is my 100th post. If The Reynolds Tribe was a TV show, we could be syndicated now. Although, it is kind of lame that it took us 3 years to post 100 times. Here's to improved consistency in posting!
****
Last week, Sam had trouble sleeping. One night, while Ryan was at work, Sam woke up around 12:30am and wouldn't stop fussing. I made him sleep in the pack and play in the living room so he wouldn't wake up the neighbors, and I went back to bed. Trying to fall back to sleep, I smelled something familiar. It smelled like a campfire. Now, I live in urban Salt Lake City, so campfire is not exactly something you'd expect to smell here. I could still smell it 10 minutes later, and started to get concerned that maybe some weirdo decided to make a campfire in my front yard. I risked waking Sam up to check.
Outside, the air was all smoky. I could see a faint orange light about a block away, and got worried that maybe I was smelling smoke from a REAL fire. So I called the police. By the way, I programmed the South Salt Lake Police Department in my phone- that's how awesome my neighborhood is. The nice dispatcher told me that there was a house fire pretty close by, but reassured me that the police would knock on my door if the fire spread and we had to leave.
Well, I stayed up reading for another hour, checking out the window every chapter for a wall of advancing flame. Half of my mind focused on my book while the other half thought about what I would grab on my way out the door if our house was in danger.
Obviously I would grab Sam. I would grab my backpack, and put our important documents in it. We keep them in 3 accordion file folders, so that'd be easy. I'd probably add my laptop to the bag, because there are just too many things that are irreplaceable on there. On my way to the car I'd get the diaper bag. And then I would drive to Elisa's house and pray that our house would be spared.
Luckily, the fire didn't spread. I went to bed at 2:30am reasonably convinced that it was safe to sleep. Although I did have to wash my hair the next morning because I smelled like smoke...
What would you grab on the way out the door in an emergency?

07 May 2011

Bountiful Basket Report 5/7

This is what I got in my Bountiful Basket this week:
1 pineapple
1 cantalope
8 oranges
6 bananas
5 apples
1 flat of blueberries
1 head lettuce
9 large red potatoes
2 HUGE chunks of jicama
1 bag of green beans (1.5 lbs)
3 heads broccoli
5 tomatoes
2 cucumbers

Any recipes that this list brings to mind would be appreciated!

06 May 2011

What are YOU?

One time, in high school, I was hanging out with some of my "comrades" when I got asked a weird question.
One of my friends stared at me for several seconds, and then burst out, "What ARE you?"
I was puzzled.
"I mean, like are you Spanish or Arabian or something?"
I informed her that I am not Spanish or Arabian, but an eclectic mix of Italian, Lebanese, and a whole bunch of "white". I'm pretty sure my nose is Jewish, though I don't know where that came from.
My "vaguely ethnic" appearance has served me well in Utah, a place full of blondes. I was cast as an extra in the Church's upcoming New Testament series, because I apparently can pass for an Israelite. And last week, in Annie Get Your Gun, I got promoted from "ensemble" to "Indian" thanks to my long, dark brown hair. So much for blondes having more fun!
Sometimes, when I am alone and feel like laughing out loud, I say to myself, "What ARE you?" Guaranteed to crack me up.

15 April 2011

Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean!

She is TOTALLY making that up. I wake up every morning with a feather duster in my hands. After praying for a safe and clean day, I rush in to the baby's room to change his diaper. Isn't it incredible that I am able to do that without ever waking him up. I then zip into the bathroom and noiselessly shave, shower and dress, ALL while scrubbing the tub, bleaching the floors and toilet and folding towels that I washed while vacuuming after the baby but before the bathroom. The trickiest part of my morning comes from cleaning the burner guards while I make oatmeal for everyone. I set out old newspapers under Sammy AND Kara's chairs before I head out the door because I just KNOW that they will be throwing the very healthy oatmeal (infused with wheat germ) on the floor. My lunch-time highlight is when I rush home to take out the garbage and clean the refrigerator shelves. My wife makes the best dinners. I love washing all the dishes after she is done. I just wash Sammy right along with them. Now, does this sound like someone who accidently drops shaving cream on his wife's (recently sterilized) toothbrush? I think not. Just to prove my cleanliness, here's my first commercial for your viewing pleasure. I took out the earring and grew some hair since the 50's. Ahhhh... I love the smell of a freshly cleaned inaccuracy.

I am not making this up

I am 99% sure I brushed my teeth with shaving cream this morning.

I grabbed my toothbrush, wet the bristles, and stuck it in my mouth without looking at it. All of a sudden my mouth was filled with white foam and I started violently gagging. It took several rinses and many Dove chocolate eggs to get the taste out of my mouth. And yes, the toothbrush went in the trash can.

Ryan apparently made more of a mess than he normally does when he shaved this morning.

*shudder*

22 March 2011

Guest Post

I asked my friend Andrew to write a guest post for my blog back in November, promising him I'd write for his blog in return. He has finally collected! Read my thoughts on geocaching on Andrew's blog here. If you don't know what geocaching is, check it out: www.geocaching.com

We're closing in on one hundred posts here at thereynoldstribe. What should I do to celebrate?

11 March 2011

Entourage!

So, I don't know if you've heard, but lately my champion sleeper of a son has gone on sleep strike. He wakes up 5 or 6 times in the middle of the night, sometimes refusing to go back to sleep.
Obviously, this is starting to wear on me and Ryan. It's like going back to 6-month-old Sammy, and he's almost 2 years old. We've tried to be creative in finding ways to convince him to go back to sleep in his own bed. (As opposed to the pack and play. He is NOT allowed to sleep in our bed.)
Sam's into stuffed animals now. One of the ways I like to get him to lay down and stay down is to snuggle him up with his stuffed animal ENTOURAGE.
Members of the crew:

Snugaphant
Leader of the gang and Sammy's best friend. Only animal whose name Sammy can say (though it sounds like "snuk!")

Sock Monkey
Likes to dance. His theme song: "Sock monkey/The funky monkey" (sung to the tune of Brass Monkey, because Mommy liked the Beastie Boys in high school)

Blue Sock Monkey
Sock Monkey's funky, chunky cousin. He gives Sammy hugs with his velcro paws.

Pooh Bear
Nice and soft. Sammy's oldest friend on the crew.

Ringo Dingo
Actually a zebra. Head is twisted at an odd angle that gives Mommy the creeps. Sammy loves it.

The Crew
When I was a little kid, I used to be terrified that snakes would get in our house, slither up the stairs to my room, and jump into my bed. This was horrifying. (Wouldn't it be?) I got great satisfaction from positioning my "Jake bear" and a pillow shaped like Simba from The Lion King at the end of my bed to guard from serpentine intruders. I don't know whose idea that was, mine or my mom's. All I know is that it worked. So if Sam needs an entourage of stuffed animals to accompany him to bed...
... who am I to refuse?