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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Winter Wonderland?

Hey Everyone,

Has anyone noticed that most Christmas songs revolove around some kind of snow or cold weather? The streets are always glistening, kids playing in the snow, snow men, sleigh rides (which you can't have without snow), coats, rosy faces and toasty fires?

Well, I noticed. And I'm noticing right now that's it's 60 degrees here and sunny. It feels like spring outside. It's December! Don't you think we should get some sort of cold weather? A nice frost even? Because we haven't gotten that yet this year. And let me just mention that I think it's weird that we live in an area where birds actually migrate here to spend the winter. It's so weird to see all these birds flying around all the time.

Because of this warm weather, I'm finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. That could also be because I'm still puking my guts out with my pregnancy. But it's hard when I listen to Christmas music on my way home from work and have the air conditioning blowing. I miss those days of actually having to bundle up in a coat to go outside. I miss wearing sweaters in Decemeber (because I rarely wear them now...too hot!). I miss the snow. I miss knowing that with the snow comes Christmas and parties and lights blinking out from the snow. I miss the warm houses full of people and foyers filled with slushy shoes.

Maybe what I'm really missing is being home for Christmas. I miss being involved in all the parties. I miss getting together with all my family at Nana's house and seeing the kids play and talking to my aunts and uncles. I miss the card games that Juice's family has. I'm just missing Utah right now.

Only 18 more days till we come!

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Friday, November 05, 2004

In Memorandum

Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been a little lax in keeping up with my blog. Things have been hectic here. I know, it's no excuse for not writing but how about this excuse? Juice and I are pregnant! And I have been sick sick sick. I'm just now starting to feel better so I can get back into doing 'real life' things. Those all important things we do like surfing the web and writing emails. :)

Sad news is that my Grandpa has passed away. He was 76 years old, and I think ready to go. What I remember most about him were his stories of growing up in a tiny town in Utah, and how he always seemed pleased to see me. He and I did one of my college projects on Hooper, where he grew up. We drove around to all the sights he remembered and I taped him talking about the people who lived there and his memories of who owned what land. I really enjoyed getting to know that part of his life! But I will miss him. This is a picture of Grandpa and Juice my cousin Elizabeth's wedding.

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Good service; Bad service

Hey everyone,

I had the opportunity to have 2 very good examples of good and bad service yesterday. The funny thing was that I was thinking about this very topic as a possible blog entry (well, I was going to talk about people in the east but...this works too).

Scenario 1: Juice dropped off a roll of film to be developed for the one hour development place at 1:05 pm. I went by on my way home to pick it up around 6:30 pm. Edith was at the counter, and there were a 2 people in line in front of me. Now, you know the film counters are often long, and I was standing on one end in full view. Well, Edith looked straight at me, no smile, no nod, no acknowledgment. Well, I suppose there was acknowledgement because she looked right at me but other than eye contact, there was nothing. Nada. 6:45 pm rolls around...still nothing. She's back behind the counter, doing her film-processing thing, and there are now a few more people behind me in line. We're all kind of looking at each other a little bewildered and glancing at Edith (who, by the way, looked like a very fierce hawk, hooked nose and all). Now, the people in front of me didn't seem concerned, so I assumed that she was helping them and will get to me soon.

6:50 pm came, and I considered saying "Hello Edith, some help please?" but I didn't have to. As soon as I opened my mouth, she comes over to the counter with a few packs of pictures and waves to a Hispanic guy lurking in the background. He comes scurrying up to the counter, and the rest of us look a little put out at each other. And he didn't speak English. Edith kept asking him for his membership card, and he kept looking at her blankly. So I pulled out my card and pointed at it and pointed at Edith. He got the idea but didn't have one. At this point Edith looked put out, which I thought was amazing because she didn't look put out when she asked him 5 or 6 times for his card.

Anyway, she went from the Hispanic guy to the ladies in front of me and then to me. I told her I was here to pick up for us, and she asked if I was sure. Um, yes. I'm sure. Is she calling my hubby a liar? Grr... She found my film tacked onto the "to be processed" rack. Not done. Of course. It cleared Juice's name though. :) In any case, she went right into doing it. Oookaaay. Didn't she see the people stacking up behind me? Couldn't she multi-task? In any case, I finally got my film about 7:20 pm, all with the people behind me waiting to be helped as well.

But here's a picture from the roll.

Soot Puppy!

Scenario 2: I went to Subway for dinner after I FINALLY got my film and the customer service was so drastically different. The guy behind the counter was down right friendly. I walked in, walked up to the counter and even though he was helping others, he smiled at me and motioned he'd be with me in one moment. I was amazed at the difference because both Edith and this guy were about the same age (I would say mid to late 40's) but he had such a better attitude about everything. And the sandwiches (one for me, one for Juice when he got home from class) were made to perfection! What a difference it was between Edith and Nice Subway Guy. He made my day and wiped out all the bad vibes I got from Edith.

Just goes to show you how much a smile can mean to a person.

Love you all,
Safire, Juice, and Soot!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Do Squirrels eat bulbs?

Hey everyone,

Last weekend between Conference sessions, Juice and I planted bulbs. We planted them all along the front of our house and along the side. The snow crocuses we planted in the front and I planted pink daffodils along the side. Yes, pink! They should be stunning in the spring. We're very excited for spring to come! But my question is this: Do squirrels eat bulbs? Ever since we planted the bulbs, I've noticed a lot of squirrels hanging around. A lot more than usual.

These squirrels are gray, and really not afraid of people. Seriously, I've gotten close enough to these things to see their little whiskers on each side of their nose. I tried to chase them out of the yard, but since they are not afraid of people, this has very little effect.

What does have effect is Soot! Wow those things move when they see her coming. And so does Soot when she sees them. The other day, we were walking back home and a squirrel was on the top of a fence we were walking next too. Soot saw it, ran to the end of the fence and stood there with open jaws. Well, this squirrel saw Soot running on the ground and picked up some speed to get off the fence before Soot got there. They both got to the end of the fence at the same time. They both leapt in the air at the same time. They both met in the air at the same time, although I think the squirrel got the worse end of the deal. Soot only got it's tail. And only the fur on the tail so the squirrel didn't stick around too long. It leapt away, tearing out a big hunk of it's tail fur, and ran up the tree. Soot sat at that tree and whined and barked for about 2 minutes, the whole time I'm laughing and trying to get her to go inside. I had to drag her away from the tree.

Now every time we go outside she has to smell around every tree to see where the squirrels have gone. And we have a toy of hers that is a grey squirrel and she has been carrying that around for a few days. You'd think she liked being the hunter! And hopefully her presence will keep those squirrels away from my flowers!

Speaking of having a run in with animals, Juice had one recently. I don't know when, but he pulled out one of his shirts in the morning and put it on and I noticed a dark spot on his shoulder. When I went to get a closer look, he'd been hit by a bird. Who knows when it happened or how many times he's worn the shirt with the bird bomb on it! I made him change his shirt, and he gave it to me. Uh, what? Wash it? Okay, I did. Twice.

Does anyone know how to get out dried bird poop from fabric?

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A day in the life of Soot

I hear them up there. Walking around when it's still dark outside. I hear them talking. He should be coming down soon. He always comes down in the morning when it's still dark.

Still waiting for someone to come down and be with me. My pack is up there, and I'm not! Hey! Someone! Come and get me!

I knew reminding them that I was alone would get them down to me. See, here he comes. I'm a little sleepy but it feels good to get out of the box. Ahh...and it feels good to have my belly scratched first thing in the morning.

Oh, we're going outside? Okay okay! Outside outside! Are we going out the door outside? We are? I see the thing they tie to my jingles out in his hand. Outside outside! Up the hill as fast as I can. Umph. Doesn't he know that I can go faster than that? Let's go let's go let's go. What's this smell? It goes over here, no, back over here. No, no, lost it, let's go back to the beginning. Umph...again, go faster! Sniff sniff sniff sniff....

Inside? You want to go inside? Well, okay. I haven't seen her yet this morning. There she is! Hi hi hi hi! Food! Yum yum yum...

Oh, are we leaving? No, just she's leaving? Wait a second. I want to be with her! Where is she going? Wait wait! But...but...oh, it's a toy! Attack the toy! Grrrrrrr....

He's around still. He picked up that fuzzy that they put me in the box with. I like that fuzzy. What are you doing with the fuzzy? Oh, in the box. Okay. And where is my treat? He put that in the box too! I better go get it.

Here I am in the box. Again. What is their fascination with putting me in the box. I spend a lot of time here. But at least I have the fuzzy. And it squeaks when you chew it right.

Hm? Wha'? He's here again? But I just started my afternoon nap. It's good to be out of the box, and have my belly rubbed again. Are we going outside again? Okay. It's warm in this patch of light. I'm going to sit in it for awhile. He has something that smells good. Is it food? It is food! Can I have some? Please please please? No? Are you sure?

Are you really sure? Because I would love to share it with you. No? Okay, I have my own food. That's pretty good.

Back in the box? I can finish my nap then.

Done sleeping. Who is coming home first today? It's him. I hear him. Yay I'm out of the box! Hi hi hi hi...can we go outside? Yes, outside? Yay outside! Did I hear you say walk? I want a walk. Walk walk walk walk. And out the door? Yes! Run run run umph. Again, I go faster than this!

Who is that over there? I hear them. It's little ones! I love the little ones. They squeal and run away and I can chase them! Let's see the pups! Oh fun fun fun. Play play play. Oh, are we walking? I guess we're walking. I see more pups over there. Let's go over there! No? I guess I could go in this direction. There are some interesting smells over here.

Boy it's hot. I need water. We're going back home soon, right? I need water. Oh good, we are home! Inside inside. Water water water. Ah...cool floor. And I'm wet because I dug in the water. That helps me be nice and cool.

Are we going somewhere? In the moving thing? I like the moving thing because there are all sorts of moving things around and I can look at them. Very interesting. I see her! I see her! Hi hi hi hi! My pack is together. I like this.

Back home. Inside to play with the ball. Does she want to play too? Run chase run chase. I'm getting tired. But I don't want to stop playing! Hey...let go. No bite huh? Well, okay.

He's picking up the fuzzy again. Is it box time? What about my treat? Treat in the box. I go in too! I'm tired. I'm going to curl up with the fuzzy and sleep.

Love you all,

Monday, September 20, 2004

Insert catchy title here...

Hey everyone,

It's been a long week for us. Juice is still trying to adjust to his new work/school schedule. It's hard on him to have to be up so late every night. But he seems to be enjoying his classes so far. But I rarely seem him on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays so you'll have to ask him for sure. But he says he likes it and I'll take that at face value. :)

On the nights that Juice has school, I spend most of it walking the dog and playing with her. It's nice to have some company when he's gone. Soot's favorite toy right now is a small red dog that we got at her vet's office. The receptionists put that small red dog on a leash and loves to chase it around. Especially when you swing it. Well last night, the leash broke! Poor thing was chewed through. But it didn't stop Soot from running around the house with that red dog in her mouth. She loves it that much. Another favorite toy is an empty plastic milk carton. You know, the gallon ones with the handles? She loves carrying it around the house and stalking it. She'll drop it, walk away, turn around, crouch, and the pounce on it. Behold the mighty hunter! Get that milk jug!

We didn't do much this weekend. I went out and bought a new suitcase with my birthday money. We went to the outlet mall in Virginia called Potomac Mills. (www.potomacmills.com) It's a huge place! And it's a major tourist trap. It even has a foreign money exchange center in the mall. Amazingly enough. But they have really great stores like Off Saks 5th Ave and the Nordstrom Rack. I got a really nice suitcase for about 65 dollars. It's bright blue, and has a bunch of little pockets on the inside. My favorite thing is that they have a plastic pocket sewn into the liner to put your 'wet' things in. Very cool.

I've had a cold the past few days and it's been driving me nuts. I know exactly where I got it. A few Sundays ago, Hannah, one of my sunbeams, was talking to me and I couldn't hear her. So I got closer to hear better and she sneezed right in my face! Eww! I'm sure that's where this cold came from since I'm normally a fairly healthy person. Ah well...At least it's a fairly mild cold. It just means I've been sleeping a lot, and I stayed home from work on Thursday to nurse my poor health. I'm happy to report that my health is getting better now. :)

The weather has been beautiful the past few days. We had Hurricane Ivan come through and apparently did a lot of damage in Virginia with tornadoes and floods. We just had a lot of rain and wind, but nothing too serious. We were lucky. But since then, the weather has been nice, mid 70s and sun shining! And it's not too hot. It feels like a very nice crisp fall day today. I even had to wear my jacket this morning. Yay!

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fall Already?

Hey everyone,

It went from being hot and humid to actually cold. I was wishing for my coat this morning. It's raining today and when it rains out here, it normally doesn't change the temperature a whole lot. It just gets moist-er. Because let's face it, it's very moist here all the time. I don't like the rain in the summer because it doesn't do anything to help the temperature. If anything, it raises it! And you're just moist all the time. Steam rises from the streets and sidewalks, but doesn't seem to go away. But today, it rained and it's down right cold. No steaming streets, no sticky hands, nothing. Fall is coming!

The leaves are just starting to change slightly. You can see the trees tinted in red and brown (although some of that might be from the cicadas this year). Fall in the east is different because you can't watch it move down the mountains. It just surprises you all of a sudden with the changes.

I am so looking forward to full blown fall. The leaves out here are gorgeous! I'm excited for this year because last year we had the hurricane that blew a lot of the leaves off the trees prematurely. So this year we should have some fantastic color. At least, I'm hoping so. Mom and Dad are visiting in October and I would really like them to see some of the fantastic leaves out here!

I had a really nice birthday. Thank you everyone for your cards and gifts! It's nice to feel loved. :) Juice had class that night so I spent the night with the puppy and a good movie. Juice took me out to dinner on Saturday night to celebrate, though. We went to a restaurant called The Last Mango. It's pretty good. Kind of a Jamaican style food. I had a sweet pork sandwich with bbq sauce and pineapples (a weird combo, I know but it worked!). Juice had a jerk chicken sandwich. It was actually quite tasty and reasonable. And it had a beautiful fish tank.

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Long weekend...does everything have to break at once?

Hi everyone,

It's been a nice long holiday weekend for Juice and me out on the east coast. We had a good time. Friday night we went camping with our ward in a forest near our house. It's called Little Bennet National Forest. We took the puppy along and boy did she have fun! All the kids loved her because well, she's so cute! And she's hyper so she would run with them. There was one little girl named Hannah who's 5 who kept squealing with delight whenever Cinder went towards her. It made me think of my niece who LOVES animals.

Juice set up our tent and I played with the kids and the puppy. We had dinner and roasted marshmallows with the ward for a bit. But we went to bed early because I was tired. We took Soot in her new travel bag to get her used to it so when we come to Utah for Christmas, she won't freak out. (Yes, we are bringing her.) She was a very good puppy and didn't wake up until about 5am. That's when we normally get up and that's when we take her out for the morning. So we got up early with her, and went back to bed after she had 'been a good girl.'

We slept for a few more hours and woke up for breakfast, provided by our ward. There were eggs, sausage, muffins, juice and bananas. Juice didn't touch the bananas, but I think I had two. Yum! Soot again was a ball of fire with the kids and she was having a good time running as far as her leash would let her. As we got ready to pack the tent up, we took Soot inside it and Juice burrowed into his sleeping back all the way at the bottom and asked, "Where's Soot?" It was so cute to see her cock her head at the big lump where he was. He asked again and she started to dig on the sleeping bag. She was determined to get him out of there! It was so cute. We played that for awhile, and then packed up everything to take home.

As I was packing the car up, I noticed that it was looking a little lopsided. I thought maybe we had parked in a ditch but no, we had a flat tire. Again. This is the second flat tire we've had in a week. Both times because we had a screw stuck in the tire. So, Juice put the spare tire on and I went on a short hike with the puppy. It's very beautiful here with lots of trees. I like the forest floor because hardly anything grows down there. It's a lot cooler in the trees than out in the sun. I saw a really pretty glade with bright green grass dappled by the sun. Soot and I ran around in it for awhile and went back to see Juice.

He was done with the tire, and mostly packed up. We said goodbye to our ward and went home. I took a nice long nap with Soot on the couch. I'm not sure what Juice did but I think he played GameCube for a bit. We had dinner and watched a movie that evening, the puppy still sleeping. We wore her out! We need to remember this when we travel so we can wear her out on Christmas day. Hopefully then she'll sleep the whole way over on the plane.

Sunday I wasn't feeling very well and stayed home to sleep. Juice taught my sunbeam class.

On Monday, we decided to try and clean the house and get some things done. You know, all those little things that houses need. We're slowly getting everything the way we want in the house. Juice was cleaning our guest bedroom windows and I was scrubbing the kitchen sink down. Still trying to get paint off that thing. Anyway, I heard Juice hammering away at the window sill because the window had warped a bit, and he couldn't get the pane out to clean it. I didn't think anything of it until the hammering became the sound of glass shattering. Oops!! He had tried to force it out of the window and the stress was too great for the window to stay intact. I ran upstairs to see what happened and he's standing there, holding the broken window looking a little dazed. We had to shut the puppy up so she wouldn't get cut with all the glass and I helped him pick up the pieces. Good news is that he got the window out of the sill. And we have double paned windows so we're not open to the elements. So now that window is nice and clean, if missing a piece of glass.

We bought a new car! Yes, we are now a two car family. It's a fairly old Ford Taurus (91) but with 53,000 miles on it. Can you believe that? We got it for a really good price. Basically all we wanted it for was so that I could have a car when I go to work. I normally ride the metro and the bus but I was tired of waiting for the bus (last 4th of July weekend I spent an hour and a half waiting for the stupid thing. I finally had to call Tammy to take me to the metro station.) The bus stop is about a mile away and I just couldn't see me walking that every day in the winter. They don't shovel the walks here when it snows. So, we bought a car. I leave it at the metro during the week and I drive it home on the weekends. We picked it up on Monday and I love having it. :)

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Welcome September!

Hello everyone,

September! I love this month. Not only is it my birthday month, but it means fall, cooler weather, and we're that much closer to Christmas!

This is the second September we've spent on the east coast. Last September was very eventful. We had the hurricane, I started at my job, and Juice started grad school. This September is a little quieter. No hurricane this year for us, (those poor people in Florida are getting hit hard!) and I've been at my job for a year. And Juice started his second, and hopefully final, year of grad school.

Let me explain my job a little bit better. GIVF is an infertility clinic. Basically we dope up nice women on hormones and put them through the roller coaster ride of daily poking, prodding and the like. It makes these nice women (I have to believe they are nice), very upset people. Now mainly they are nice but sometimes those hormones we give them don't mesh. It gets interesting. My section of the office consists of 4 other people besides me. Maria, Hodan, Jon, and Tammy. Tammy is my boss. We answer all the incoming calls to the Institute, make appointments, and give general information. I have learned a lot in the year working here. Did you know that there are 2 different options for choosing the gender of your child? One option is do do what is called Microsort (www.microsort.com) where we separate the female sperm from the male sperm by putting them in a solution that will attach to the X or Y chromosome. If it's an X, it will show pink on the microscope (imagine that!) and if it's a Y, it will show green. Right now Microsort is in clinical trial so there are a few guidelines that patients must qualify in order to have it done. Like they have to be doing this for family balancing (people who already have one child and would like another of the opposite sex) and for X linked disorders (like hemophilia). Typically, these disorders only show up in male children, and female children are unaffected, although they carry the gene. Currently I think the success rate of Microsort is 91% for a girl, and 78% for a boy. The cost is around $3,000 for the sort.

If you want to get more in depth with the genetic side of selecting a specific gender, you can do what's called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In order to this, you have to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) so that we can have the embryos outside the uterus. When the embryos reach a specific stage in their development, we'll take a cell out of them and test them for gender as well as genetic disorders. This is 99% accurate for a gender. But it's more involved than the Microsort option.

In any case, that's a little bit about my job. I feel like I've written a book!

Juice started school today. He's a little nervous and sad to be going back to his very hectic schedule. But, this is the reason why we're here. I think he'll have a fine semester. He's got Mechanics of Space Flight, Theory of Vibration, and Spacecraft Design. I think it sounds like a lot of fun for him.

Love you all,
Safire and Juice

Friday, August 27, 2004

A trip to DC, not on the Metro

Hello everyone,

Juice and I took a trip to downtown DC to visit our neighbor, Marie, who had eye surgery. I guess she has something wrong with her thyroid and since it was never detected, it did a lot of things to her body. Including making her eyes bug out of her head, which is not good. If they hadn't caught it now, it would have blinded her. So they had to do surgery and go through her nose and sink her eyes farther into her skull, but drilling part of her skull. Ouch!! They also had to stitch her eyes closed to make sure that everything stays in there. In any case, we wanted to make sure that we saw her. William, her husband, drove us down there.

As we were driving, we're getting closer into DC and we're seeing less and less white people. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing about the African American race but it's a little disconcerting to be the minority. I've never had that happen.

Marie was looking like she was doing okay. She was hurting (of course) and had ice over he eyes but she had a good time talking with everyone. Her parents came too. Her dad has the most awesome voice. Deep and resonating like James Earl Jones.

As we were leaving the hospital, William had to pull over to see where we were. And I'm counting the people on the street. 12 walk past, all black. Then another 12, again, all black. Here we are, 4 white people in a very black neighborhood. All the windows had bars, even the doors had bars. Wow. Now, this was not a bad neighborhood in DC. We were in the NE corner. Which isn't terrible. You don't want to go into SE. That's a neighborhood where people get shot in broad daylight. Stay away from there!

In any case, we got home safe and sound, and no worse for wear because of our trip downtown.

Love you all,
Safirecat and Juice

Friday, August 20, 2004


Hello all,

This is the first post on my blog I made to keep everyone in touch with what Juice and I are doing out here in Maryland. I know we don't keep in touch as much as we'd like to, and I thought that this would be a good thing to let everyone know what's been going on with us. So, just a quick overview and then I'll get up to date.

Juice and I moved out to the east coast almost exactly a year ago. Although at the time we moved to Virginia to a nice apartment complex. It was a cute, 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor with a washer and dryer! My favorite thing in that apartment. We stayed there about 8 months and then moved to Maryland.

Why did we move? Well, in those 8 months that we lived there, Juice got a job as a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin (http://www.lockheedmartin.com). The job was in MD and we thought it wouldn't be too bad of a commute for Juice so that we could stay where we were. Boy were we wrong! He had a 2 and half hour commute one way, so that was 5 hours a day he spent trying to go places. We thought, 5 hours driving, 40 hour work week, and him going to school full time was too much. So we moved.

We decided to buy a house because the interest rates were fantastic and we would be paying just as much with rent as a mortgage payment. So we took the plunge! We found the house we bought the very first day out looking. It was just what we were looking for. 3 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, with another washer and dryer. Very important, those washer and dryers. :) So on April 1, 2004, we closed on the house and moved in! Juice now only drives 10 minutes to work every day and is able to go home for lunch every day. Lucky dog.

So that pretty much brings us up to speed on where we are. Now on to what we're doing. We bought a Cairn Terrier puppy soon after moving to our house. We named her Soot. She was so sweet as a tiny puppy, and now she's just so much fun. She loves people and can do all sorts of tricks. She can sit, stay, lay down, speak, and shake. The shake is adorable but she sits and lays down the best.

We just celebrated our 3rd anniversary with a trip to West Virginia. It was beautiful. This summer has been nice and restful.

Coming up in our lives is school for Juice. He'll continue at George Washington University as a grad student. This will be his last full year. I continue to work at Genetics and IVF (http://www.givf.com) in Virigina, making apointments for either infertility and prenatal genetic testing. Boy have I leared a lot!

We've been enjoying our time here in Maryland! More updates to come!