Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bear World

Yesterday, Grandma and Grandpa Z. took us to Bear World. It's been open for thirteen years and I've never been. We saw a lot of cool things and Joci and her cousin Haiden had a blast. I have lots of pictures - and trust me, I have only posted a fraction.

A leucistic bull elk named Choctaw, estimated to be one in six million. They also have a leucistic female named Lucy who just had white twins and there was a third baby elk in the petting zoo.

A fawn.

Chilling in the car

A grizzly named Bridget

After our drive-through, we took the curator tours where we got to ride in a truck like this. The little kids could see things much better here than in their car seats. We also got to feed the dear grass cubes and feed the grizzlies and black bears bread and donuts.

Bridget the Grizzly

This black bear waved at us and then caught donuts in his mouth as we tossed them down.

These are all the yearling bears. They are separated from their mothers when they are a few months old so the mothers will breed again and so the other male bears won't see the babies as mating threats and try to kill them off.

Uncle Jon and Haiden

Stiltz the Moose. Or as Joci called him "Mickey Moose."

Big Boy the elk

A baby bear just a few months old. Back in April we got to see baby cubs hold one. This could have been one of them. Some of the babies were wrestling and biting each other. Joci was very concerned and kept telling the bears to stop biting and go to timeout.

The petting zoo was the best petting zoo I've ever seen. This teeny baby deer named Andy was so adorable. Joci fell in love with him and he loved to be pet.

A cool peacock


The leucistic baby elk Maverick. I got to pet him but he wouldn't let anyone else.

All the deer were so docile and liked to be pet. We also pet pot bellied pigs and goats.

On top of the awesome drive through "park" and amazing petting zoo, they had free carnival rides.

On another ride

It was such a great day. I can't believe we have never gone before. And thanks a to my darling husband for his internet sleuthing skills for finding the name of the white elk (Choctaw) because we all had forgotten.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

People Should Not Be Allowed to Graduate High School Unless They...

  • Can identify all of the states in America (not from memory - just pick them out of a list)
  • With 75% accuracy, be able to identify the correct continent of other countries
  • Know when to use the words "was" and "were" accurately
  • Name the last three Presidents of the country
  • Name the three branches of the judicial system
  • Name five historically important Presidents and know why they were important
  • Be able to spell--without a spellchecker--at a fifth grade level
  • Know how to use a spell-checker
  • Can add and subtract numbers up to 100 without a calculator
  • Read aloud at an eight grade level without having to stop and sound out words

I have met quite a few people--almost "many" people--who have graduated high school and in many cases college who cannot accomplish these basic educational tasks. I just balk. Our educational system is failing us all. Is there anything I am missing on this list?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Get 'Em While They're Hot - Adoption Blog Buttons

UPDATE: I was alerted to a problem with the code on the left. It is now fixed. Ashley, Alicia, and anyone else who got the code before 9:30 a.m. Friday the 29th, discard your old code and use the current code on the left. Thanks!

I got so many votes for these two buttons that I decided to make both of them available.

On the left-hand side of my blog, you'll see them there with a box of code underneath. To put the button on your sidebar, copy that code, go into the Blogger Design tab, add an HTML widget and paste in the code I provided.

In the near future, I will do a give-away for everyone who has this button on their blog, so get a jump start!

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You Judge the Dab

I read the back labels of anything I can get my hands on. Maybe that's why I became a copywriter who writes that kind of random hooey. But I do.

I have this bottle of Caress Body Wash that has instructions to "pour a dab on a pouf (you judge the dab)..."

the "(you judge the dab)" part always gets to me.

I know exactly what it is supposed to mean: "you determine the amount of dab to put on the pouf."

But it could also mean this: "pass judgment upon the dab."

I opt for the latter definition. It's a little Amelia Bedelia, but when I am in the shower and I put a dab of the body wash on my pouf, before lathering it on my skin, I look at that dab and say out loud - every single time I shower - "I judge you."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Women In the Scriptures Blog

I am always looking for ways to increase my own understanding of the scriptures, to "search" them more than just read them.

As I was preparing my Relief Society lesson tonight (I am subbing, it's not something I regularly do) I stumbled across this blog. And I LOVE it!

So inspiring. So gratifying. I love being a woman. We rule!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Wedding Theory

I am in the thick of producing some videos at work. It's my first time producing videos (also writing the script and directing - go me!) and it's a lot of work. It's kind of fun, but I wish I had more time. Another week. Another day. Another hour.

I've been stressed. Wrenches get thrown into well-laid plans at the last minute and it is so annoying and frustrating. There are too many suicidal jokes flying around the office for comfort.

My coworker told me about the Wedding Theory and it's so brilliant that I just have to share this awesome knowledge with the world.

Imagine you are a bride planning your wedding (most of you probably don't have to imagine - just remember!). The peach colored roses you so painstakingly selected arrive and they are actually yellow. The bird cage centerpieces you planned on broke and at the last minute you have to switch to tapered candles. You can't find the pearl earrings you were planning on wearing so you have to borrow your mom's diamond studs. The harpist called in sick so you had to get a DJ. So many things are going wrong. All the little details you spent years dreaming about are coming unraveled. Your wedding is a disaster!

Your guests arrive. They see beautiful, elegant decorations. They smell the sweet perfume of roses in full bloom. They see a blushing bride sparkling in diamonds. They think your wedding is an absolute dream.

The thing is, the guests don't know the yellow roses were supposed to peach or that there was supposed to be a harpist in the corner. They don't know any different, so when they see the whole wedding production, it is just perfect to them. They are ready to dance to the great music and enjoy a good time.

I have got to remember that. Whether it's birthday parties or a video shoot, the audience for whom its intended will never know about the last minute switches and discarded plans. They will think that everything is just how it should be. And that is all that matters.

Good perspective, huh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seeing Adoption From the Other Side - Guest Post by Ashley

I am hijacking a post from my good friend Ashley at Feigning Fertility. Like me, she's an adoptive mama. I've abbreviated her post. You can read the full thing here.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the park with my kids. It was my first outing with the people from my new ward and I was looking forward to making some friends and just being a normal mom.

That all went out the window when they realized (after hounding me and not dropping it) that Julia had been adopted.

The questions came; do you keep in contact with her real mom, why, does she have more kids, why didn't she give that kid away too, why'd she give up Julia, why do you still talk to her and on and on.

After spending five years being an advocate for adoption, I choked. And I did so in front of my daughter. I don't care what other people think about adoption, but I *very* much care what my daughter thinks about it. And these women made adoption sound shady and, even worse, made Carri sound like some horrible person I saved Julia from.

After venting to my husband and others, I finally calmed myself down and allowed myself to see it from their point of view.

If all you knew about something was what you saw in movies, tv and the news, your view on ANYTHING would be horribly skewed.

I put myself in their shoes. I watch Glee, which teaches us that birth moms are perfect 15 year old cheerleaders who got pregnant by a guy on the football team. Or that birth moms are women who sell their babies to gay couples and spend the rest of their lives regretting it. From made-for-tv dramas, you learn that birth moms are also strippers, hookers or drug users who sell their baby for a little extra cash and then regret their decision to the point where they come and steal the baby back. Juno teaches us that birth moms are teenagers who don't care about the baby after they leave the hospital. Adoptive couples never love their children as much as they do their own children and tend to beat the kids and abuse them in general. And they will do anything, including steal a baby from a hospital or a baby-sitter, to have a child.

None of these things are true. The reason people make movies about them or report them on the news is because they're dramatic and never actually happen. It's sensationalized.  

I know these women don't know Carri or any of the other awesome NORMAL birth moms that are out there. Their comments weren't rude in their eyes, they were actually trying to sound informed and be understanding. I missed an opportunity to educate them on the reality of adoption, especially open adoption. That is my fault. I know that if they met Carri, they would see automatically that she is an amazing person and loves Julia very much.  

My goal this week is to go back and try again. To not take it all personally.  Time to put my teaching hat back on...


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Universe Wants Me to Have a Trip to New York

"I'll try not to win another Wii this year," I said on the way to the company picnic. "This year, I'll win you a trip. A cruise."

My company's annual picnic is more like a day at Disneyland. Well, maybe Lagoon. Fair rides, snow cones, cotton candy, and prizes. Lots of prizes. In the years past I have my name has been drawn exactly twice. And both times I have won a Wii. Too funny.

We had a lot of fun. We...

...rode a horse

...ate cotton candy. Joci doesn't like it (Wha??) but liked to feed it to others 

...had our face painted

 ...jumped in a bouncy house

...rode the rides appropriate for a 2 year old 

...played in the water zone

...confiscated Mom's snow cone

I didn't think I would win anything. The chances are slim, plus I've had such luck in the past, it seemed unlikely. And then the CEO got ready to draw names for the last thing - the grand prizes. They were giving away three trips. The first person called would have their choice between all 3 - Oahu, Hawaii, New York City, and Washington, DC. In jest, I told Justin, "I would pick New York."

And then...they drew the name...and said..."From marketing, Lara Hays!" He mispronounced my name, saying it "Lora" which threw me off. I sat still for a second, and then my husband nudged me and said, "That's you! Go get your prize!!"

So I ran up and claimed the trip to New  York. I am sure a lot of people think I am crazy for not picking Hawaii, but I have been to Hawaii several times but I have never seen New York. I am so excited, I can hardly believe it.

So start spreading the news....:)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Help Me Choose an Adoption Blog Button

We're Expecting!

So I hope you all gathered from last Wednesday's post that we have been accepted into an adoption program and are getting all our ducks in a row to get on the list. We will be working with A New Beginning, which is the agency we went through for Jocelyn's adoption and we just love them.

This is happening a bit sooner than I anticipated. On our anniversary, Justin and I discussed baby #2. When we sketched out our personal timeline, we figured we'd start the process again early in 2012. We knew the program with A New Beginning was closed but they had a waiting list to get in the program. We decided to get on that list, not knowing how many couples were ahead of us, and just kind of hope we could get into the program in the next 6-8 months.

We didn't even officially apply to that list, although our caseworker was aware of our intentions.

I thought it would be nice to take this adoption slower because last time we were so excited and just rushing to get things done.

I work with the guy who took our family pictures a couple weeks ago. Jason Miller does amazing award-winning landscape photography and recently expressed interest in portraiture. I asked him if he would do our portraits sometime this summer. Late July, late August, I was in no hurry. Just wanted some pictures for adoption profiles and such. I asked him on a Monday and he came back and said that Thursday would be the best day for him - they had company coming and a baby due any day. I tried to convince him that we could really push the session back a month or two, but he really liked the idea of doing it that Thursday. Although I felt it was a little premature, we went with it and the pictures turned out so great.

The next Monday, I got an email from my caseworker saying that they had an opening in the program and it was reserved for us - just send in our application.


I was NOT ready for that. I called Justin. "What do we do?"

"We take it," he said without hesitating.

I explained that this did not fit into our timeline.

He reminded me that someone else might have a different timeline for us and we need to trust that. :)

He is so right.

So my head is still trying to keep up with this, but we are going for baby #2!

I've mocked up some blog buttons. Which do you like best? Also - what size of buttons do you think are most common/best? These are 150 x 150, but if I can go up to 200 x 200, maybe that would be better. What do you think?

I would love your opinions about these buttons - and hopefully you'll like the one I pick enough to put it on your blog! :)

#1 Black and White

#2 Standing Group

 #3 Sitting Group

#4 Crouching Down

#5 Cupcakes

#6 Picnic

#7 Walking

I need your opinions, so even if you don't usually comment or you're a lurker, make an exception and let me know. :)


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