Monday, October 31, 2011

Put It in Your Belly

Tonight, Joci was so excited to go trick-or-treating that she didn't want to eat anything. I got a piece of cheese in her and a few nibbles of bread (she ate like a mouse...haha). She was all bundled in her costume and coat, ready to go out, and I handed her a tortilla chip. I asked her to eat it. She said no. I said, "C'mon, please, just put it in your belly."

Next thing I know, her coat is off, her dress is up, her belly is exposed. I guess she was trying to put it ON her belly? Perhaps IN it? And she just didn't know I meant for her to INGEST it?

Too cute.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our First Two Days in New York City

The thought of this blog post has intimidated me so I have been putting it off - plus, it's taken a few days to get back to normal life. But, as Rafiki would say, it is time.

Overall the trip was fantastic. So many memories. So many sights seen and things done. It went by in a blur. This is the first trip we went on as parents, and it was a little weird. I felt guilty having fun. I cried when talked on the phone. I definitely enjoyed my trip but there was always a part of me wanting to be at home with my girl. It wasn't a relaxing vacation, and we knew it wouldn't be going in. We had to modify our schedules a bit and adapt since we were kind of going a bit crazy with a long to-do list. I guess we'll just have to go back someday. :) So without further ado, part one of our trip.

Last Wednesday night, we put Joci to bed, said goodbye to my parents who were staying in our home, and drove to Salt Lake City, Utah. We arrived around midnight and spent the night at my sister's house. She drove us to the airport the next morning. We left a little late. That is the story of my life. I am never on time for anything. It's in my blood, I swear. We bit our nails through security. And of course...I had a suspicious item in my bag so it had to be hand searched. Ah...a toothbrush in a plastic case was the culprit. So they took that out and x-rayed the bag again. Well, I had two toothbrushes in there so we had to do that all again. many times a day does TSA see a toothbrush in a plastic case in a carry on bag? Every other bag at least? Time was really running out. So while my bag was undergoing the second search, I sent Justin on ahead to the gate. Then I ran through the airport and made it to the plane (why is the gate always the last one in the terminal???) huffing and puffing. We were the last people on the plane, but we were on. And flights charge for EVERYTHING these days. Sheesh! I remember when flying used to be so luxurious. I had my first taste of caviar on a flight. Oh well.

Three and a half hours later, we landed at JFK. I was really impressed with the airport. The terminals/gates are set up in a way that you feel like each gate is its own airport. Very convenient for one of the biggest airports in the world. We claimed our bags easily, watched a lost pigeon fly and roam around the airport, and got on a transfer bus to the hotel. The transfer bus driver was abrupt and kinda rude (not to us - to others) and we were like, "Yeah, this is New York." It took almost two hours to get from the air port to our hotel. Our room was on the 27th floor and we could see the Empire State Building from our window.

view from our room

We headed out to find a place to eat. We stayed away from the chain restaurants on Times Square that we can find anywhere and found a great Mexican place. Then we bravely walked about eight blocks to the Empire State Building.

Justin on Broadway

Lara praying for a miracle on 34th Street

It was close to midnight and we had the place to ourselves. Well, there were maybe 30 other tourists there, but we didn't have to wait in a single line nor did we have to elbow our way to get a view from the top. It was very romantic and exciting.

Top of the Empire State Building. You can kind of see the Chrysler building to the right of me. 

The next day was my birthday. We bravely made our way to the subway - and it wasn't nearly as scary or as confusing as I anticipated. We went to Max Brenner for an early lunch. It's a restaurant featuring a lot of amazing chocolate dishes. Justin got a shake and I got hot amazing. I cannot describe it, but I have never had chocolate that tasted like that before. If you get the chance to go to a Max Brenner, do it!

Hot cocoa on the left, a milkshake on the right...I still dream about this place.

Did some shopping. Justin had better luck than me, but it was fun. Then we went downtown to the financial district to visit the two month old 9-11 Memorial. It was a sobering and sacred experience. I noticed a tree that looked a little...special, I guess, and I asked a guide about it. It is dubbed the "Survivor Tree" and was found in the rubble after the attacks, "decapitated" and charred. With some TLC, it blossomed and grew. Hurricane Irene knocked it over, but it still survived. The guide talked to us about it for almost an hour, so I am writing the Cliff's notes version here. :) I asked about the white roses around it. The Scandinavian royal families had been there that morning and left the roses to pay their respects.

In the not-so-scary subway

St. Peter's Church

Protests on Wall Street

The new Freedom Tower under construction

9-11 Memorial

The Survivor Tree
Flowers from the Scandinavian royal court

We scrapped our original evening plans. Instead we took the Subway a few blocks north and then walked FOREVER to find Katz's Deli. This is the deli in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan demonstrates how women can know. The pastrami was unlike anything I had ever had in my life. And since each sandwich cost $15, it made sense. Wow. So good. I wished I were a cow and had seven stomachs, I got too full too fast.

And then we went back to the hotel and called it a night.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

We got home last night from our New York/New England trip close to midnight. We made some really big memories and saw so many exciting things. Oh how I wish Max Brenner (the Chocolate Restaurant) were in Idaho Falls. Although my hips would be huge!

I was so excited to see my little girl. I snuggled her while she was fast asleep. This morning I went into her room, she was still sleeping but stirring. I touched her leg and said, "Hi, Joce." She popped up like she was on a spring - in a flash she was on two feet on her bed then jumped into my arms. She was just as excited to see her daddy.

Such a sweet reunion.

A few things worth sharing:

  • Of all the places I've been in the US (I will leave Europe and South America out of this one) Massachusetts drivers are the worst by a long shot. 
  • Shopping at a discount store in NYC is like Black Friday here. 
  • Many people were nicer than I expected.
  • People in the customer service industry were ruder than I expected.
  • The subways weren't as scary as I thought they might be.
  • I left a bag of souvenirs in my hotel room after checking out. They are long gone. :(
  • My parents are awesome.
  • I think I need to move to Concord, MA.
  • The Met is impressive but thanks to modern Hollywood movies, I kind of felt like I'd seen everything before. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Would Your Accessories Be?

My ingenious, brilliant writer friend J.Clark Gardner made my likeness into a Lara Puppet - a make believe toy that will be the big thing this Christmas (order yours now!).

So here it is - the latest craze. Lara Puppets with Accessories!

Accessories include my blog, my baby, my cat Gabby, my holiday socks (did you know I wear holiday socks every single day - unless it is summer and i am in sandals), a People magazine, and orange panties (because of an essay I wrote about invisible, irrefutable power of skimpy panties worn under conservative work attire).

J.Clark came up with all of this without consulting me at all. I love it. So funny and pretty spot on.

If you were a toy, what would your accessories be?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday to Me!

I am 30 today!

Well, Future Lara is. Present Lara is writing this post on Tuesday to schedule to post on Friday. :)

I bet Future Lara is having a blast. She is in the capital of the world, eating amazing food, and seeing a lot of amazing sights (and, let's be honest, she's a bit of a pansy so she's probably overwhelmed and has a finger ache from clutching her purse so tightly to prevent mugging).  If Future Lara sticks to the intinerary, she is having breakfast at Max Brenner, going shopping, having an early dinner at Gino's in Brooklyn, going to the WTC memorial museum, and taking the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline at night.

Pretty good birthday, huh?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jocelyn is Two and a Half Today!

My little baby is officially two and a half today. She is such a delightful, funny, intelligent child. Practically every day I find myself saying how wonderful she is.

Here are a few things about her at 2 1/2.

  • She weighs 29.5 lbs
  • She just started “cursing”—she says “Oh gosh!” and “Darnit!” Very funny.
  • Train whistles terrify her.
  • She is scared of Beast on Beauty and the Beast, yet it remains one of her most requested movies.
  • She loves the movie Tangled. She knows all the character names. She insists on rocking out to the song during the credits. Every night when we tuck her in, she mimics the part where Mother Gothel kisses Rapunzel on top of the head and says, “I love you most.”
  • She checks on everyone and asks "Are you ok?" every few minutes.
  • She dislocated her elbow last week (nursemaid’s elbow).
  • Any time she accomplishes anything she says, “I make it!” Even if “I did it!” would be a more appropriate response.
  • She got stitches over the summer.
  • She is still a good eater—not too picky and loves fruits and vegetables.
  • Favorite foods right now are noodles, carrots, grapes, and apples.
  • Favorite toys are baby dolls, markers, paint, and her toy vanity.
  • She loves having her nails painted and says “Thank you” after I paint each nail.
  • She is very polite and says “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” a lot. “Please” is a little more rare.
  • She loves to tell people—very loudly!—“Bye! See ya tomorrow!” Even strangers in public restrooms.
  • She is so cute when she plays with her dollies. I will overhear her chattering. She will ask if they need to go potty and say it’s time to change their bum. She will tell them not to cry, rock and shush them, and sing to them. So sweet.
  • She likes to “play” the ukulele for me and tells me to dance.
  • She can recognize numbers 1-9.
  • She can count to 12. She has had 1-10 mastered for a while. Eleven and twelve are new.
  • She is fascinated by any animal.
  • She seriously is the best kid ever!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

30 Things to Do in New York City

Next Friday, I will turn 30. I am proud of it,actually. I never want to be one of those women who are squeamish to tell their age. At least that is my philosophy now. And next Friday, I will also be in the Big Apple on the trip I won in July.

So to honor that, here are 30 things on my NYC to-do list:

  1. See a Broadway play
  2. Eat New York Cheesecake
  3. Go to Central Park
  4. See the Friends building
  5. Ride in a taxi 
  6. Eat a hot dog from a vendor
  7. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
  8. Go to the Met
  9. See a cool, old cemetery
  10. See the naked cowboy
  11. Ice skate in Rockefeller Center
  12. Go to the Empire State Building
  13. Eat New York pizza
  14. Eat a falafel
  15. See the Statue of Liberty
  16. Eat at a unique, ethnic restaurant
  17. Get lost
  18. Pay my respects at Ground Zero/World Trade Center
  19. See Times Square at night
  20. Take a ferry ride
  21. Eat a bagel - preferably with lox
  22. Go shopping on 5th Avenue
  23. See the Manhattan LDS Temple
  24. See St. Paul's Chapel
  25. Eat an apple in the Big Apple (this was Justin's idea - I love it!) 
  26. See the Manhattan Skyline
  27. Have a romantic, fancy dinner date
  28. Sing NYC songs all the time - "New York State of Mind, "On Broadway," "Jennie from the Block," "Empire State of Mind," etc. 
  29. Eat a pastrami sandwich at a New York Deli
  30. Pick up an accent :)

I know about half of these have to do with food...but that's what I look forward to!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is Life Better as an Adult?

I was texting my old high school buddy Lucas today to wish him a happy birthday. He is turning 32 after all. And naturally, he had to remind me that I turn 30 in a week and a half.

Our brief dialogue brought back a bunch of old memories. Angsty teens hanging out in the graveyard. Mourning over our parents who just didn't get it. The boys/the girls that were out of our league. And yes, the good times too. Goofing off during play practice. Awesome dates. School trips.

Ah, teenagehood. The good, the bad, and the ugliness of it all.

I enjoyed my teenage years. I think. They were painful but they were also amazing. There are so many opportunities and fun activities that only happen when you're a teen. I loved that. I even reveled in the pain that accompanied growth and self-discovery (okay, so perhaps I was a bit emo). There were times though when I very literally wanted to die and never see another day. It was bad.

There was a time I thought 30 would be the end of my life. Heck, I figured 25 was ancient. Nothing cool happened after 21, right? I would have a few fun years of college, backpacking across Europe, becoming famous, and then I'd get married, have kids, be a boring soccer mom and life would not be worth living. That's how I thought it would all pan out.

Of course I thought that. Every adult told me how jealous they were of my age. What they wouldn't give to be a child again. No worries. So much fun. No stress. Being an adult was hard. Jobs. Bosses. Taxes. Divorce. Rebellious kids. Settling down. Selling out. Adulthood seemed to stink of unfulfilled potential.

I *really* wasn't looking forward to it.

And now that I am here? It is AWESOME!

Call me immature, but I really like being an adult. Life keeps getting better and better. I am sure typing this out will jinx it all, but there are some truly good things:
Staying up as late as I want
Going places I want
Better relationships with all my family members
Confidence like never before
Making money
Spending money however I want
Being taken seriously
Sex...oh wait, I already said that. :)
Never taking a math class again
And not using all that algebra and calculus teachers said I would. Seriously, in most professions you can go through life without solving for X. Teachers lie when they say you'll use math.

Angsty, emotional 15 year old Lara with the cute guy she liked that she never had the guts to ask out. 

Super awesome, confident 29 year old Lara who can spend $50 on fancy lamb tenderloin in Las Vegas if she wants to. 

What do you think? Is being an adult far awesomer than you expected? Or am I the only one?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Corn Maze

Autumn time is magical. 

Don't you just love this?

As usual, Joci was quite nervous about the tractor ride.

Paige always has this "I know something you don't" smile. Cracks me up. 

Bouncing around! Joci tried doing this on her own and did a full on flip/somersault into the dust.  

Afton loved the bouncing balls and had to try every one!

Family fun

Our little pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Introducing Justin, the LCPC

Once upon a time, Justin decided to become a counselor. He got his Bachelor's degree in psychology from University of Idaho and then got his Master's in mental health counseling at Idaho State University a few years later. Six months after graduating with his Master's degree, Justin took a license exam and became a licensed professional counselor (LPC). The next and last step for him in his career path was to get a clinical certification, which entailed two years of work as an LPC and 2000 supervised hours by someone with a clinical certification. So Justin did that. And then it was time for another exam. Justin took it in May...and failed. (Not a cheap test, either. And it was across the state, so that means gas money, hotel, and food money.)

Justin studied all summer - well, for the last couple weeks of summer :) - and retook the test on September 13. He passed!!! We were so excited. Justin was ready to apply for his LCPC. He needed to get all the signatures from his supervisors and proof of his 2000 hours all notarized, his application, etc. He started getting this together. On Monday Sept 26 at 3:13 pm, he realized the deadline for the application was the next day for board review. If he didn't get his application in on time, he would have to wait until February until the board met again.

So at 3:14, Justin called me to say that he just realized his application was due the next day and he wasn't sure how he could get it there in time. He works in Pocatello - an hour away from where we live and where I work. And since he sees clients all day, his job isn't as flexible as mine. Luckily his paperwork was in the Idaho Falls office just ten minutes away from where I work - and there was a notary on staff at that office. And as luck would have it, I have a post office in my building. So we made a plan. Justin would get on the horn with his boss and have him sign everything, then I would pick it up and overnight mail it to Boise. I popped into the mail room at work. Their last run was at 4:20. But the UPS office in town's last run was 5:30. I got a prepaid envelope and took off to Justin's office thinking I would be back before 4:20 to get it in the mail.

As I was driving to the Idaho Falls office, Justin called again. His boss pointed out that Justin forgot to sign something. So Justin cancelled his clients for the rest of the day and was headed back to Idaho Falls so he could sign the papers and be on his way. New plan. I would pick up the papers from his office and go to the UPS office and meet Justin there, Justin would sign the papers, and we would send them off.

Five minutes later, I got another call. Our plan won't work. Justin's boss needs to put the application in an envelope, seal it, and sign the back. So Justin needed to go to his work office and sign it there so his boss can sign it again. And then we could go to UPS.

And of course Justin's work office is across town from the UPS store. We started to panic.

Forty-five minutes later, we have everything signed and notarized. We booked it across town and make it to the UPS office at 5:02. Twenty-eight minutes to spare!

We had a lovely, relaxing evening.

The next day, Justin called me. "I messed up. I forgot to send my part of the application." I told Justin to call the bureau in Boise, turn on the charm, and see if he could fax his stuff in. Justin wasn't so sure, but decided to try. If not, he decided he could take off and drive to Boise and hand-deliver his stuff.

He called. The woman he talked to wasn't so hot on the fax idea. Especially since Justin forgot to send his money too and you can't really fax that.  :) So he said he would drive. The lady back-pedaled. Last time someone did that, they got in a wreck. So she said if he faxed everything then overnighted it, she would accept it. So Justin filled out his application, got it notarized, got a passport-type picture taken at Walgreens, wrote the check, and overnighted it to Boise.

Everything got in.

And then we had to wait to make sure the board accepted everything - that they approved of all signatures and that Justin had done enough.

Justin found out tonight that everything went through! Woohoo!!! He is officially an LCPC as of today! Way to go, babe. It's been a long time comin'!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Home Study Submitted

We submitted our home study today.

What happens next?

When our caseworker gets it in the mail, she will review all our answers to the questions, our medical tests, our FBI background checks, our references, our financial status, etc - all the info we had to gather.

The caseworker will basically write up a summary of our home study, come to our home and review it with us, ask us any questions regarding the answers we provided, look at our home to make sure we have space for a baby and a clean, safe environment.

And then with our caseworker's stamp of approval, we write a very big check and we are on the list.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fair Fun 2011

Man, we love the fair. We went twice this year. (I, personally, went three times.) The food. So artery-clogging delicious. The animals. So cute. The energy. So fun. 

Joci and cousin Haiden in a covered wagon

Grandma bought Joci two rides. Aunt Jen was kind enough to take Joci. Ride number one was the carousel. Joci thought she was in heaven, riding a horsey. 

For ride number two, Joci begged to go on the caterpillar roller coaster. We were nervous it would be too much, but we let her make her choice. She did not like it. She looked extremely nervous and for days afterward, she kept saying, "Caterpillar scary." She would say it at the most random times to random people. During night time prayers, "Caterpillar scary." Walking into day care and saying hello to the receptionist, "Caterpillar scary." Checking out at the grocery store, "Caterpillar scary."

Next time we went to the fair, Joci had a pony ride. I think erased all of the scary caterpillar memories. We thought she had a good time on the carousel horsey - this was seventh heaven. I had to keep reminding her to hold on with two hands because she was so excited she would wave her arms and almost fall off. I was so nervous, but she had a blast. She kept saying, "I ride a horsey. So FUN!" And still whenever anyone says the word "fun" she starts talking about the horsey ride being "so fun." 

Fun at the petting zoo.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

At Least Blogging is a Productive Form of Procrastination (and cute pictures of Joci)

Since Justin fell asleep early tonight, I told myself it would be a great opportunity to work on my novel. My own personal deadline is to have it ready for submission by my birthday. Which is in 20 days.

Instead...I am procrastinating. Not smart. But it's true. I am.

And at least blogging feels more productive than wasting time on and

But I am feeling really guilty. So I gotta do something in my book. But for now, here are some recent, fun pictures.

I went in to check on Joci while she was napping and I couldn't find her. I could hear her breathing and followed the noise to this. 

Joci's latest obsession is markers. Here she has put all the lids on her fingertips. 

Another crazy nap time. 

I was Skyping with my family and Joci disappeared for a moment, when she returned, she was applying mascara. So glad she didn't poke an eye out! Life has definitely become more interesting since she learned how to unscrew lids. 

So pretty! 

Painting! Also a new obsession

We had a tub of spreadable cream cheese in the fridge Joci loved. She'd call it her "bucket of cheese" and dig in with her fists. When she was feeling particularly generous, she'd share! 

I spent waaaaay too much on foam curlers at the store, but I knew my little girl would just look adorable with those little curls. Joci was so excited to have them in and sat still while I put them in. We blow dried them for a little while, which really freaked her out. She eventually pulled them all out and the curls vanished. Her hair doesn't hold curl like mine does. We will have to try again sometime with lots of gel. 


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