Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 07

We hope all of you who frequent this blog had a wonderful Christmas. Christmas here in Raleigh was low key. We weren't able to go to Utah or Georgia for Christmas and we had to go back to work the next day. We did have a relaxing day at our little apartment. We went for a walk, went to a movie, and caught up with some of our families and friends on the phone.

Here I am showing off one of my new t-shirts and showing off a present we got from Cheyney's parents.

Here is Cheyn relaxing after opening the presents.

Pre-Christmas Get Away

The weekend before Christmas we went to Boone, North Carolina. Boone is a cute little town in the middle of the Appalachians. It seems to be a mixture of small mountains and tree's, antique shops, and mobile homes. We stayed at a fun lodge about ten miles away from Boone. We don't own a TV and so we were able vedge some with their TV with cable. The highlight of the TV watching was the Cougs pulling out a miracle against UCLA.

On Christmas Eve we got to go snow tubing on artificial snow (for 25$ each!) Here is the sledding run. There is a little airport like conveyor belt that brings you back up. A fun little trip, but it made us miss the Rocky Mountains.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

paper cut to the EYE

Paper cuts anywhere are painful, but are even worse on the EYE BALL. I am a hazard to myself with paper. I was running out the door and some how jabbed the paper I was holding into my eye. Corneal abrasion.... very painful. So for the next day and a half, I couldn't see, my nose was running, and my eye turned red and swollen. Luckily, my sister's boyfriend's dad is an ophthalmologist. I gave him an urgent call and he said for me to put a patch over my eye. Every time I blinked I was scrapping off the cells that were healing over the abrasion. Don't I look like a sexy pirate!

Everyone thought I was an idiot for calling into work over a paper cut. Thanks to a trip to the eye doctor and 60 bucks worth of eye drops. I am as good as new!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven Books From '07

Ryan here. I love a good book and I like talking about and recommending books to others. I think this comes from growing up with a family weekly library run, and watching Reading Rainbow. Here are seven book recommendations from what I was reading this year*. I would love to hear any recommendations you have for me or would like to pass on in the comments. So here they are. Of course paraphrasing Reading Rainbow, you might want to check these out...."but you don't have to take my word for it."

7. Team of Rivals
I Really like reading about Lincoln. As far as Presidents go he's the tops in my book. This history was about the conflict that Lincoln managed between his smart and self willed cabinet members as he tried to keep his cabinet, party, and nation together. The author focuses on Lincolns way of getting and managing the best man for the job whether enemy or rival instead of just installing cronies. A good book of history. I recommend it as well as the biography I read last year Lincoln: A life of purpose and power.

6. Mao: The Unknown Story
Man, Mao is an evil man (this blog will now be censured in China). I really didn't know much about the Great Leap Forward and other horrible social engineering programs. Mao was a tyrant who caused the death of tens of million. The author has a clear hatred for Mao and through this book I learned why he stirs such feelings. I read this as we were traveling and relaxing in Fiji and left it at a village school library where it will probably gather dust for years to come

5. The Reagan Diaries
A fun treat. You get to read portions of Ronald Reagan's journal when he was President. On the average day he would review the movie he saw that day as well talking about relations with the USSR and then talk about March of Dimes kids who visited his office. I'm by no means a conservative but I couldn't help but admire his optimism and charisma. His narration towards the beginning of being shot by John Hinckley Jr and his subsequent recovery in the hospital are especially worth reading.

4. Moby Dick
Melville's brain is like a mid 19th century Google on whaling. I was surprised how much of this book was about whaling practices and encyclopedic information instead of Ahab and his quest for the white whale. Through the narrative the author changes his mind: First person narrative and then third person, Adventure tale and then encyclopedia, Fast paced and then slow slow paced and then fast paced again. I can't say it was an easy read and I got everything, but it was worth the work and I learned a lot. For example I learned what ambergris exists. Melville scores points with me for a number of Fijian references. He does lose a point with me for not having the appropriate translation of the word whale into common "Fegee" (Fijian): Tauvuto and not Pekee-nuee-nuee.. .C'mon Herman.

3. A Long Way Gone
Don't read this book if you are depressed. The memoir of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone, its a devastating and grim book. The author avoids romanticizing or overstating his experience as a victim and soldier. This book is very well written. The author has a special knack at communicating his experience while avoiding saying too much or being too agenda driven. Makes you thankful for the somewhat stable situation most of us are in. I came away feeling somber like when I read We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families.

2. Lenghten Your Stride
A wonderful biography in the tradition of recent David O Mckay and Joseph Smith Biographies. I remember going to the prophets Spencer W. Kimball's viewing when I was seven. I enjoyed filling in on the times and teachings of the prophet of my early primary years. This biography is written by the prophets son. The author is interested in contextualizing the prophet in the times and events he lived through and giving us a complete perspective of Spencer W. Kimball's years as President of the LDS Church . I'm impressed with SWK's fortitude in the face of physical struggles. He had a vision and understanding of the beauty and international appeal of the Gospel of Christ and the Church. The chapter on the 1978 revelation is powerful. His opposition of the ERA and Nuclear proliferation were interesting.

1. The Race Beat
This is a history of the American civil rights movement focusing on the black and white presses and how they played a role in making their readers aware of the mid century inequalities. I enjoyed the narratives of freedom riders, sit ins, and school integrators in Alabama and Arkansas. I enjoyed hearing the accounts of Martin Luther King Jr being imprisoned in Albany, GA and organizing non-violent protest in Raleigh, North Carolina. Now that I have a bit more familiarity with the South and lived close to both places this year it's fun to trace through a few of the notable places. Activists in the civil rights movement were truly heroic. I enjoyed the authors special insights on the battles and logistics involved in the press when covering the movement.

*I have to rule out Uncertain Sanctuary because its out of print, but if your a Webb (Cheyney's side) or interested in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico I recommend the book. Also I try to read some Flannery O Connor each year, so that doesn't count as a new book this year. I recommend her fiction to all. She's my favorite fiction writer.

Here is a list of 2007 books I got through and took my favorites from:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not above Bribery

We have had to bribe our primary class to encourage appropriate behavior during our Sunday School lessons. I made a "behavior-momenometor" to help gauge the behavior in the classroom. When they are on HOT and stay on HOT, it means they are closer to having a party. If they refuse to say a prayer, sit in their seat or be reverent, the behavior-momenonmetor will slip down to WARM, COOL or COLD... taking them far away from a party. Well, these nine 10 year-olds were on HOT five times in a row which elicited a PARTY.

We went to the movies and saw Disney's Enchanted. Then came over to our apartment for pizza, decorating cupcakes, and playing games. I felt like a 10 year old hoping my friends would come to my party. It was fun to see their reaction when their parents came to pick them up. They were actually disappointed they had to leave! The party was a success!

(video on other blog)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Autumn in Raleigh

The Autumn leaves here in Raleigh are beautiful. Just in this past week the leaves started to fall off the trees.  (video on other blog)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SWINE TIME and the Harpers

South Georgia is known for its seasonal festivals. Ya'll must have heard of the famous Swine Time, Rattlesnake Roundup and Mule Day. These are big events and we look forward to them all year. Swine Time is the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Climax, GA, population 900. It is a day dedicated to pigs. It has a greased pig catching contest, pig squealing contest, and a chitin eatin' contest. We decided to take advantage of what Swine Time had to offer and started with a 5K for which none of us trained.

Results for our age division:
Ridge: 2nd place

Ryan: 3rd place

Cheyney: 2nd place

McKay: 3rd place

(Don't be too proud of us; I think there were 5 people in each age division)

The Harpers

Jenny and I have been best friends since we were 6 months old. Now she is a mother of 3 beautiful little girls (Shelby, Coby James, and Bay). I love her family so. It is so cool to have a best friend for life.
the thumb suckers .... Look at those friendly chickens!!!

Alligators, manatees, and bald eagles OH MY!!!

The day after Thanksgiving, we got to have the Hill family all to ourselves! My dad has been so excited to take the kids (Emilie, Elisabeth, Alexander, and Benjamin) to Wakula springs. It was a great trip and a must do when visiting the South. We saw 12 alligators, 5 manatees, and 1 bald eagle, not to mention tons of other wild life. I will let the pictures speak for themselves!
As you can see, we were pretty dang close. The gator even hissed at Emilie.

Turkey day traditions

This is Cheyney speaking. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is full of family, friends and fun. Ever since I was little, my family, the Barbers, Meyers and Lunts and others have created priceless traditions. Some have fallen by the way side like: camping out the night before, making a video, and sneaking into the Barbers van before they drive away. I guess we have gotten too tired to sleep outside, too old to make a video (always featuring Garrett on the toilet), and too fat to hide in the Barbers Jeep. But many traditions still stand, even though many are married and making traditions of their own. This year we got Ryan's sister, Wendy, and her darling family to be with us. I hope this will be a new tradition.

#1. Turkey Bowl game: Dads vs. Kids
The dads are getting slower but are recruiting married "kids" to be on the their team. This was my first year on the adult team and the first time the dads have won in about 5 years! Ryan made a touch down. I tried to block for the quarterback and caught a 10 yard pass. I was a HUGE contributor to the team.

Look at me with my awesome blocking skills. I call it the RABBIT STANCE.

#2. Bonfire and singing Christmas Carols
The perfect way to end the Thanksgiving day and start the Christmas season. Each year, it is tradition to worry that the bonfire is too big and will burn down the forest and the power lines it is under. We also have to sit super far away because it is too HOT.

#3. Blow Hockey
This is a tradition that I brought back. Totally fun but remember to clean the spit off the table.

#4. The dessert, compliments of Jason and Aunt Michelle

#5. Family, Friends, Fun

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

California Trip Update

Late post. I was in California Oct 26-29. A few notes:

* I went to the wedding of my wonderful friend Justin and his wife Stephanie. The wedding was in Palm Springs and was just perfect. I'm so happy for them.

* The house they had the reception at was amazing. I stayed there Friday night. It's for sale and I think I could buy it if I saved up my entire income for 114 years.

*At the reception I had a brush with fame. Any of you who grew up in Utah watch Hooked on Aerobics on KBYU? I met Mr. low effort himself, who was the groom's uncle.

*I Made it over to LA for 36 hours and it was way too short. I was only able to say hi to people I much rather would have spent the week with. I stayed with Hubs in Hollywood. I miss him, and miss all of you. I promise to bring Cheyney and spend more time the next time we come out.

*Flew out of Burbank. Nice to see the San Fernando Valley still exists. Hubbel even took me for a drive over to the statue of liberty of the valley.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tar Heel Date Night

Late Fall is here in Raleigh. Its getting cooler, the leaves have changed, and basketball season is starting. You have to choose a team around here. Every day when you drive around here you see people with magnets, stickers, and flags on their car rooting for their school. We've already decided the team we're rooting for out here is Carolina as opposed to Duke or NC State.We have allegiance to UNC since Cheyn works for them, they used to have Jordan, and they have an excellent basketball team to watch currently ranked at the top.

Cheyn scored some tickets from work and we got to go to the basketball game last night. The exhibition against Shaw had the feeling of a Harlem Globetrotters game. There were a few great dunks and it was a blowout. Cheyn bought herself a shirt for the game on Saturday and I almost was convinced to too, but then I realized that I need to get a new Cougs shirt before that and I felt like I would be cheating.

Video from our seat at the game, tarnished by my mug at the end on other blog.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

State Fair

Last night we went to the North Carolina State Fair. We loved the rabbits, piglets, and cows. The 1,187 lb pumpkin was amazing. We saw the cake competition where the support our troops cake got an honorable mention. The paintings and art by the area high schools were enjoyable. The fair was packed with lots of kids on the rickety rides and carnies who just reminded me of patients at the state hospital. But for us the whole motivation of going was the food.

Fairs are the lovely time when you can eat things you can only get and probably should only eat once a year. Chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick and giant turkey drumsticks were available. Deep fried deserts like fried Twinkies, candy bars, Oreos and funnel cake were there.

Cheyn had been fixing for a fried Snickers bar for a long time after hearing about them. We enjoyed one of those. It was kind of like a melted candy bar in a scone. It actually was really good and had more calories than your average meal I'm sure. After that we finished off the night by splitting a funnel cake, something I'd never had before.

Now we should probably diet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I have hesitated writing about my job basically because I didn't know what the crap I was doing. It is my first job as a nurse practitioner and a total career change. I have been an R.N. working mostly with pediatrics and now I am all about THE SPINE. Did I mention that I knew NOTHING about the spine. The job is at UNC in Chapel Hill which is a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up, so now I am trying to learn everything. It is pretty intimidating to try to read MRI's, learn all the pathophysiology, and keep up with 2 surgeons. I basically work in a clinic in the hospital trying to weed out surgical candidates. It is difficult dealing with people in pain, much of it chronic. I hope I don't become jaded and evil. "Oh, it is just neck pain! No radiating symptoms into your arms? GET OUT, your wasting my time!!!" But I am learning a ton. The perks of the job have been watching surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeons are the carpenters of surgery. Today I watched the surgeon hammer a nail in a lady's back and vertebrae, fill the collapsed vertebrae with balloon to pump it back up and fill the space with cement. (Kyphoplasty) Pretty cool. The really crazy part was the lady was AWAKE during the procedure. Maybe one day I will get to scrub in. I don't know how I will contribute?
So, now I am thinking about the spine night and day. My dreams haunt me by quizzing me on the dermatomes! It is slowly getting better. At least good enough to admit on our blog what my job is.

The Folks

We have no friends:

#1. Because we left such great ones behind, no one can compare.
#2. We are in a new area.
#3. We are pretty anti-social.
#4. I think it is harder to find a couple that we both enjoy.
#5. My R.S. president told me that some people won't bother to get to know us because we are apartment renters, therefore, not permanent. And she informed us that we could NEVER afford a house in ward boundaries. Ouch.

Since we don't have any friends here, we have to ship them in. My mom and dad came up for the weekend. Not only do they say and do all the right things, but we got to hang out with friends. We got to all the normal things that friends do: play games, go hiking, tour museums, try new restaurants, listen to conference together and have heart to hearts. I was devastated when they left.

So, we are ready for our next visitors. Anyone?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Internet Searching as a Charitable Act

I recently read a book on Google about how internet search ads work. Each time you search, advertisers are competing to be on the side or near the top of the page so they can get business when you click on their advertisement. Companies pay from a few pennies to close to 30 dollars to Google for top billing for words (such as mesolothemia).

I've been a big fan of the Google search engine but Yahoo search has opened a charitable wing of their search engine that is about as accurate and effective as Google. My friend Stacy tipped me off on GoodSearch. The great thing about this search engine is that the searcher gets to select where part of the advertising profits go from the search. GoodSearch donates a little over a penny for each search to the non-profit of your choice. I find this idea very appealing because I can now wander through the internet searching for such trivia as how does "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" end, brush up on what Buddhism is all about so I can sound educated when I talk with one of my co-workers, or search for the weather and bam!, three cents to charity.

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

I've usually select LDS Philanthropies as my designated charity, and enjoy checking daily as the change builds up as peoples searches benefit that charity. Last month eight bucks were generated off 800 searches by people who use GoodSearch. Nice to know that you can generate for the Perpetual Education Fund or Humanitarian Aid without breaking a sweat. And just think how much could be generated if a lot of people were doing it, instead of the few people that are searching now. You can set GoodSearch as your homepage and put a browser up on your internet browser. There are hundreds of other Chairties you can select to generate for if you want to save animals, trees, children, or Darfur. Read more about the details here. I still use Google for Maps and a few more intricate searches, but recommend you give GoodSearch a try.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Our bowl runneth over

As renters, we don't fix problems in our apartment ourselves. We get to wait for someone to fix it for us. We have had chronic intermittent toilet running since we have moved in. We have called the office several times and are still waiting patiently for the annoying noise to stop. Last night after a 3 a.m. bathroom visit, we heard a knock on our door. I was startled and sent Ryan (the man of the house) to the door. Anything someone has to tell you at 3 a.m. is not going to be good news. On his way to the door, his feet sunk and splashed in the carpet. We then noticed there was an inch of water on the bathroom floor. The knock was our downstairs neighbors who were awoken by their fire alarm and the water that was dripping into their apartment.

After turning off the water and using all the towels we own, our bathroom was almost back to normal. Not a fun way to start off the week..... sleep deprived and not being able to use the toilet. Ryan called AGAIN today and they said they fixed it but when I came home from work ..... still running.

If we were still in L.A., I would be worried that our neighbors would shoot us. We are not so worried here but just in case we are baking them a plate of cookies.

My husband doesn't beat me

So, I was minding my own business skipping and singing around our humble abode. I suddenly had an immediate need for super glue and remembered that it was in a tuperware drawer on the top shelf of the closet. I opened the drawer but realized I was vertically challenged and with out go-go gadget arms to retrieved the needed item. My tall and handsome husband was coming to the rescue but while I wasn't looking the tuperware drawer and the one on top of it fell on my nose! These were heavy drawers holding bolts, nails, duck tape, and other fix it items. Ice was promptly applied while I crumbled into Ryan's arms. I felt like it was me against the world and the world just won. I was sure that I would be sporting a broken nose with a big bruise to match. I would have to explain to everyone that my husband doesn't beat me.

The drawers have been placed in a safe place on the floor. We are slowly making our home dummy proof. And lucky enough, my nose isn't broken and I have no black eye.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good Friend in Town

We were lucky to have our good friend in town from Sunday to this morning at about 4:45 a.m. Notice from picture that she even smiles at that hour!

She made the most of the daytime, when Cheyn and I were working. Mrs Dora visited a number of museums and places we haven't even made it to: A butterfly arboretum in the Natural History Museum downtown, a Tobacco Museum in Durham, and a nuclear power plant close to here I didn't even know existed.

We were able to catch up and have some good talks and see a bit of town with her too. We went up to Duke and saw the famous chapel. We went for Cookout and for Sushi. She took us dancing with her at a local place. We watched in amazement from the side and she brought us out later and taught us a few steps. OK mostly me.

What a treat to have her in town. We love you Ms. Dora

Hatching Dinosaur Egg

Ryan made a music video and for a dinosaur hatching slide show (focusing mainly on the slide show) for intended multimedia experience.  Ryan geeked out a little bit but had fun doing it.