Friday, July 20, 2007

First Date

We stopped in Livermore the other night to visit one of my old mission companions, Andrea. She had a baby just 3 weeks after I had Sophie so it was fun to catch up and see each other's offspring. We laid them on the floor so they could look at each other and laughed that it was their "first date". Luckily we caught most of it on video. Jakob said something to her and she turned her head around and looked the other way. Playing hard to get? Maybe. I'll have to talk to Sophie later about giving nice boys a chance :)

video

Monday, July 16, 2007

Home Sweet Ghetto

When we arrived in San Leandro, we weren't taken back by it's beauty. Our neighborhood is rather quaint and homey, but outside of that things are a little run down and, well, I'll put it this way -- I won't be jogging outside at night. I didn't think it was that ghetto at first, but after a few trips around other parts of the Bay, we're convinced that it is. We got some Thai in downtown Palo Alto last night after going to Ikea. Palo Alto is NICE. A lot nicer than San Leandro.

On top of being in an undesirable part of town, we're really close (like 100 feet) to a daily run of a Union Pacific train -- complete with horn-blowing and house tremors. BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, also runs close by, and the picture wouldn't be complete without planes flying overhead on the way to the Oakland International Airport, about 10 minutes from here.

The couple of trips we've taken to Wal-Mart reminded us that we're not in Provo anymore. I realized during the first few minutes I was in there that we, aside from the door greeter, were the only white people in the whole place. Don't get me wrong, that usually doesn't bother me, but it was getting late and well, the crowd that goes to Wal-Mart at night isn't the kind I'd invited over for dinner. Last night we needed to drop by there on the way home and because it was late, I decided to stay in the car with the baby. I pulled out my laptop and checked my e-mail while I was waiting.

Then it occurred to me, "Why am I sitting here in a ghetto parking lot, alone, with a laptop in my lap shining like a beacon in the dark, just asking to be ripped off?"

As I finished up what I was doing, a car parked in the spot right across from me, and a man got out of the car. I saw him glance over at me, then he started to walk over. I immediately began to tense up, I closed my laptop a bit and I heard him start to say something to me like he wanted me to roll down my window. I shook my head at him as if to say, "No way, buddy. There is NO way I'm rolling down my window so you can get me." I think he sensed it and stayed about 5 feet from the car. I could hear him say through the window,

"Hey, if I were you, I wouldn't be sitting in this parking lot with a laptop running. Somebody was ripped off last week. I thought I'd warn you."

Silly, naive me, with my Idaho license plates. That's what he was probably thinking. He was right. What was I thinking?

On the brighter side, I do feel safe in our neighborbood and our place is kind of cute (despite the carpet).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Next Stop: Sacramento

Things have settled down a bit since the first three crazy days we were here. The fridge and stove seem to run great. I baked some cookies and finally felt like I was at home. Although, sitting on lawn chairs in the living room and watching episodes of Monk displayed on a monitor that sits on the floor hardly feels like home. Only another week or so to go.

We met our neighbors. I decided that it's good to meet your neighbors. It seems like a silly thing to say, but I didn't realize it took extra effort to meet the people in my neighborhood until I lived in a place where everyone on my street wasn't in my ward. Our neighbors are an older couple named Sam and Patty. They've lived here for nine years and Patti's daughter and grand-daughter live right next door. We've been over there a couple of times to ask questions about things and they even put some ice packs and breast milk in their fridge for us until we got ours. They're super nice. And they even commented a couple of times that they love the sound of a baby crying. Good thing because Sophie has been having a lot of loud but brief outbursts this week.

I guess I should mention the training since it's the reason why we came out here. :) It's been really fun! I've met some nice people. (And incidentally, the mother of one of my old roommates at Utah State is in my class. She lives in Pennsylvania. Small world.) The class is small and only has about 12 or so women. Nope, no men. And a few of the women are from out of the country (Mexico, Hungary, Ukraine, Korea and Taiwan. Only the lady from Mexico flew in from her country. The others live here.) I've learned a lot about why my Suzuki teacher did the things she did and a lot about creating an atmosphere where children can learn music like they learn language. I'll have to post a summary of things when I finish. There's so many cool things about Suzuki!

Tomorrow morning we're heading to Sacramento for the weekend. Sophie needs to meet the Perry clan and I think Steve's mom wants to show her off at her gyms. They've got her picture on all the computers there and even posted some by the cardio machines. Ha. She's famous! We're also making a trip to Ikea to get some shelves for the kitchen. Ikea's fun. I haven't been to the one in Draper yet, though. I'm giving it a few months to settle down. I still can't believe people camped out there.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

. . . but I still love technology. Always and forever.

How do I even begin to describe the last three days? Well, I don't have pictures yet and if you're brave enough to read this whole thing, you'll know why. They'll come soon enough.

I need to preface this story with a few concerns I had before coming to San Leandro. The whole reason why we're out here is for me to do my Suzuki training and because an apartment had opened up on the waiting list we've been on since October (for when we move here in the fall), we decided to stay here instead. Because I'm nursing Sophie I was worried that my class would interfere with her feeding schedule. (I use the term "schedule" very loosely.) The days are broken up into a 4-hour class, followed by a 1-hour break, then another 2-hours for observing lessons. Sophie is just beginning to go 3 hours between day feedings, so I had a brilliant plan to pump breastmilk a day ahead so she could eat during my long class session. I had some that I had frozen, so we put it in a cooler with an ice pack until we got to San Leandro and I could stick it in the fridge.

Well, assuming we would have a fridge was my first mistake. We got into San Leandro at about 8:30 PM on Monday and went directly to Damian's office (our manager). We read through all the contracts and rules and he made a comment that the guy who lived in the place before us had cut about an inch off of the bottom of some cabinets so he could fit his fridge in. (Instead of unscrewing them from the wall and moving them up.)

I said to Damian, "Oh, the guy brought his own fridge?"

"Ya, none of the aparments are furnished."

"You mean appliances, too? Like fridges, stoves and stuff?"

"Yep."

A few minutes later in the conversation, I also found out that it didn't have a dishwasher or a garbage disposal either. That was a shock. This was the first aparment I had lived in that didn't have at least a fridge and a stove. We expected that we would provide our own washer and dryer, but this absolutely floored me. Then I thought about the breastmilk in the cooler and panicked a little.

We walked into the apartment and the first thing I noticed was the ugliest carpet in the world. Everywhere. That was really disappointing to me because I had expected hardwood floors. The unit we saw last summer had lots of hardwood and the guy who lived there said that most of the units have hardwood or a combination with carpet. Ours has all carpet, except for linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom. On the bright side, the carpet was really clean. Damian had shampooed it twice and made sure the whole apartment was spick and span. This is actually the cleanest apartment I think I've moved into. I don't feel like I need to wipe anything down. That night we set up Sophie's bed and our air mattress and started to talk about how the next day would go, with me driving back and forth and him taking care of Sophie. I was really worried that she wouldn't be satisfied with the milk that I had saved for her and that she would be screaming here at home with poor Steve totally helpless and unable to feed her more. That on top the need we had to find a fridge and stove as soon as possible, plus the slight anxiety I had about starting (and finding) my Suzuki class and being in a city where I didn't know my way around, just broke me. I burst into tears for a few minutes, and then I was better.

Tuesday morning I started my class and Steve stayed home with Sophie to do some appliance research. We decided that instead of using more of our savings to splurge on new appliances that we would get some decent used ones and save some money. So Steve hunted on Craigslist that day and we found a decent Whirlpool gas stove that someone was giving away for free in the area. YAY! That was a good start!

This morning Steve rented a truck to go pick up the stove and to go to San Francisco to get his scooter. We figured since we only had the truck until tomorrow morning at 7, we should probably look for a fridge, too. Steve was still in San Francisco when I got home from class, so I jumped on Craigslist and found a guy who was selling a fridge, a washer/dryer set and a BBQ grill. All for $700. Not bad at all. Everything was Kenmore and in really good shape as far as I could tell from the pictures. The next few hours went like this:

5:00 I emailed the guy and asked him for dimensions.

6:00 He emailed me back with dimensions, so I called Steve and we decided we would take the whole lot. (We'd been talking about getting a real grill when we got here since we use our little one so much.) I emailed the guy back and told him we wanted to pick everything up tonight, if possible.

6:45 No response from the guy yet. He lives about an hour from where our place is and about 45 minutes from where Steve was. Because we had to pay for the rental truck by the mile, we decide to both start driving up there from where we were and meet in the hopes that he'll write us back with an address within the hour. I set up my little command station in the passenger side of the car which included a map of the bay area, my laptop equipped with my nifty little Sprint card, and my cell phone. Both plugged into an Ac/DC adaptor so I wouldn't lose power. I opened up my Gmail account, so I could watch for his email while I was driving. (Hey, it's not that dangerous. All I had to do was hit F5 to refresh the page :))

7:15 Running around Target trying to find rope, which I didn't end up finding.

7:45 Driving on the freeway, halfway to where Steve and I had planned to meet. No response from the guy yet, so I start praying in my head that this will work out because we had decided against buying brand new stuff. I'm sure the Lord smiles on frugality, so I thought He should smile on us, too.

7:50 Received the following email from the guy:

"Sorry. We just sold the washer and dryer, and actually need the refrigerator until next week."

My first thought was, "WHAT THE?! When you pray really hard for things, they're supposed to work out!! And I'm 30 minutes from home for no reason!!" I wasn't blaming God or anything. I was just upset.

8:00 Met up with Steve and we talked about what we should do. I suggested that since we've got the truck, to try to find a fridge right then. I start looking at Craigslist and found a fridge and a washer/dryer set. They were listed by different people, but both were within 10 minutes of where we were staying. We arrange times to pick everything up, then we took off back where we came from with Steve leading the way with his trusty little GPS to both homes. (It was about this time that Steve informed me that we were out of minutes until Sunday.)

8:30 Picked up the fridge.

9:15 Steve dropped me off at home so I could feed Sophie. I was so proud of her. She slept through all of this and went 4 hours before she was hungry again.

Now it's 11:45 and Steve just got home with the washer and dryer. They weren't in as good of shape as we expected, but they'll work fine.

I got to thinking about all of this and the first thing that occurred to me was that we spent $525 on a fridge and a washer and dryer. If that other deal would have gone through, we would have spent $700. We ended up spending $175 less and maybe God was telling us we really didn't need a BBQ grill right now.

Another thing that occurred to me was how awesome technology is. In a matter of a few hours, we were able to get three major appliances in two cities in about three hours. And we did all of this remotely and wirelessly. I would like to thank the laptop, Sprint mobile broadband, the cell phones, the AC/DC adaptor, the GPS and Google Maps.

Kip knew what he was talking about.

Monday, July 09, 2007

In-N-Out

We don't go to California without eating at In-N-Out. We don't even make it to California before we stop at the one in Reno. Steve's a California boy and there's some kind of uncontrollable urge that he was born with to eat there. He could eat In-N-Out multiple times a day during our vacation, but luckily he spares me. Don't get me wrong -- I love In-N-Out, but it doesn't exactly go "In-N-Out" of my hips very well.

Since it was Sophie's first trip to In-N-Out, we thought we'd document the occasion. Too bad she won't be eating anything. . . directly anyways.



Were heading into the pass between Reno and Sacramento, so I better jet before I lose my connection!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Off to California

Steve and I are leaving really early Monday morning to go to California, and we'll be gone for two weeks. The 12 hour car trip ought to be interesting. Sophie did OK on our trial run up to Idaho Falls, so hopefully she'll just sleep most of the way there. Here's what we have planned:

1. Suzuki Teacher Training in Oakland

Unlike other cities where this training is held, the Oakland location decided to spread the class out into two weeks. We didn't particularly want to stay in California for two weeks, but I guess it's better than buying airfare to St. Louis, which was my second option. Class starts Tuesday and goes until Friday, then resumes again the next week Monday through Thursday. I have a 4-hour class each day followed by a 2-hour observation session. Luckily there's an hour break where I can nurse Sophie. We're trying to figure out how we're going to feed her during the 4-hour session because right now she only goes about 2-3 hours between feedings during the day. It sounds like the class will be relatively small and maybe all female, so I might be able to bring her. That would be lovely.

2. Checking Out Our Apartment

I had originally signed up for campus housing during our stay at Oakland, but our apartment suddenly opened, so we decided that we'd stay there instead. Staying in a totally empty apartment is a little trickier than I had originally thought. I got to thinking about little, everyday things that hotels have that we wouldn't, like a shower curtain, toilet paper and hey, a BED. So, we're going to be sleeping on an air mattress and Sophie will be in her pack n' play (no change for her :)). We had thought about getting a new mattress for a few months now, and since we're going to be there for a couple of weeks, we decided to have one sent there so it'll be one less thing we have to move. It's one of those memory foam ones. I was sort of skeptical about it in the beginning, but I'll let you know how it sleeps.

3. The Scooter

Another item of business we're taking care of is Steve's mode of transportation while we're down there this fall -- and for the next 3.5 years. We've decided to sell our beige Honda (if you know anyone who's interested, let us know. It's a great car :)) and get Steve a scooter for commuting to and from school. We're going to be living about 2 miles from his school and he doesn't have to take the freeway, so we thought it would save us some money on insurance and gas (90 miles to the gallon, baby!). He found the one he wanted at a scooter place in San Francisco, so we'll go pick it up and leave it in our apartment when we come back to Utah. (Again, one more less item to have to worry about transporting later.)

4. Free stuff

Because our apartment will be bare, we would have been deprived of cable TV (I can handle), and the Internet (Harder for me to handle). Cable is still out, but we managed to find a way to have the Internet for two weeks relatively cheaply. We went over to the Sprint store yesterday and signed up for their mobile broadband service. Because the first month is a trial, we'll just keep it as long as we're in California and cancel it when we get back. They'll just charge us for the usage while we were away, which will be around $40. Not bad. I've never had Internet access in the CAR before, so this will be a thrill for me. Plus, I'll be able to blog about our trip and not have to wait until we get home :)

One of my friends introduced me to something called Freecycle. If you haven't heard of it, it's pretty cool. (Chelsea aka the greatest bargain shopper ever: you will love this!) It's similar to Craigslist, but everything on there is given away. TOTALLY FREE. I signed up for the SF Bay Area Freecycle and have been watching all kinds of free stuff come and go. We're thinking of getting a free table or some other kind of furniture just for our stay in Cali, then giving it away right before we go home.

5. The In-laws

Of course, we can't make a trip to California and not see Steve's family. We'll go to Sacramento over the weekend during my break so they can all dote over Sophie. Oh yeah, and see us, too. Isn't it funny how you suddenly play second fiddle to the loudest, messiest, most high-maintenance member of your family? :) Speaking of . . . we were at my grandma's house last night and usually when we come over, the first thing my grandma does is hug me. Well, the first thing she did last night was take the baby from me, talk to her for a second, then turn around to go back into the kitchen. I had to ask for my hug! Oh, well. :)

Well, off we go! Maybe I'll something to post in Reno . . .that's our first hot spot after Wendover. Nothing usually happens before Wendover anyway. Come to think of it, nothing really happens anywhere in Nevada. I may just blog because I CAN!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Too Hot

Disclaimer: Before I begin my rant, I would like to address the Texas residents who may be reading this, as well as any others who reside in a humid, sauna-like climate. I realize that to you, I have no reason to complain about the weather. I give you lots of credit surviving in such nasty wetness, but I was raised in Idaho, and because of that, the temperature at which my body begins to hate the outdoors is around 87 degrees. If there is a lake nearby to jump into, then the temperature may reach 94 degrees. Just wait about 6 or 7 months, and I will be scoffing at your measly 40-degree weather and "freak" snow flurries.

It's really hot. I hate hot weather. I hate sweating. I hate the way my car feels after it's been turned off for 10 minutes. I hate that lazy, lethargic feeling I get when I've been outside too long. I hate the dilemma I face year after year between getting a good tan and keeping my skin wrinkle free for a couple extra years down the road. The only consolations I have right now is our rock star air-conditioning, the practicality of wearing flip-flops everyday, and the fact that we'll be moving to the Bay Area in the fall. If you've ever been to the Bay Area during the summer, you know that it's not nearly at hot as you'd expect nor as hot as the rest of California during the summer. Let me show you something:

Here's today's forecast off of my iGoogle for Provo:



And here's the forecast for San Leandro, where we'll be living next summer:



Notice that although the temperatures are much lower, it isn't due to thunderstorms or any cold front. It's still sunny! And this temperature disparity has been there for the past 3-4 weeks. Granted, the humidity is higher, but if it's cooler, I can tolerate it.

Another thing that I don't like is taking Sophie out in the heat. It's probably not very good for her right now because she's so little. Plus, the last thing I want is a sun-burned infant. She told me yesterday how much she hates the heat . . .

video

In this weather, I think we'd all rather be naked, too.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Blessed Weekend

We blessed Sophie on Sunday and had lots of family in town. My family was only here for Saturday and Sunday, but Steve's was here for almost a week. It was awfully cozy when everyone was in our apartment. It's times like these I really, really wish we had a house, but it was still fun. Sophie got so much attention that I think she was overwhelmed at times, but she did great. She's such a happy baby. I love it!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend courtesy of my dad. Yes, once again, our camera didn't leave it's case. It seems like we only take pictures of her when we're sitting around in our apartment and not when major life events take place. We'll get better, hopefully.

My mom found this gorgeous blessing dress for her. Aunt Hillie has her right after we dressed her.



When we put her in the car seat, it went from a 5-point harness to a 4-point. I don't think we could have gotten her buckled in between the legs. Luckily the church is only a few blocks away.



Here we are outside the church after sacrament meeting with my family. From the left we have Andrea (Dev's fiance), Devin, Hillie, the three of us, and my parents.



And with Steve's family. From the left, there's Kimi, Steve's mom Judi, the three of us, Steve's dad Rick, and Michael.



Here's Sophie conked out after the meeting. She was so good and slept most of the time. I was afraid she'd be one of the blessing screamers, but she wasn't. Whew.



The blessing Steve gave her was really sweet, and I was filled with emotion during the entire meeting. I was thinking about how grateful I was to have my family there, to be married to an amazing man, to have such a sweet little girl join our family and to have the Gospel in my life.

Because it was 4th of July weekend, too, I got to thinking about the significance this holiday has had in my life. It has always been one of my favorites. I remember watching the fireworks every year along the Snake River in Idaho Falls trying to hold back tears during the "Proud to be an American" song they played on the radio as part of the fireworks show. (Usually Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" snapped me out of it.) I remembered thinking how lucky I was to be able to do the things I can do and have the freedom to live my life how I wanted. I remember attending a basketball game at Utah State and hearing the national anthem for the first time since I'd been home from Russia. Again, I was choked up, but I tried extra hard to hold it back because who in the world cries at the beginning of a basketball game? After seeing how a newly democratic, but still slightly oppressed country lives, I was even more grateful for the country that I live in. We may gripe about our President sometimes, but we have a long way to go before our government is as corrupt as other countries around the world.

The 4th of July was also the day that Steve proposed, and as most of you know, he was deployed to Afghanistan for 18 months right after we were married. Spending a 4th of July at home while my husband was out serving his country in a war-torn part of the world gave me another perspective on patriotism. I'd always been grateful for the men and women who serve our country, but having experienced it so close makes me even more grateful. And grateful for the families who send them out and for those who don't see them return.

Now, this 4th of July weekend we were able to bless Sophie and start a new phase of our lives.

Happy 4th of July everyone :)