March 2015


The twins have gone through a few different stages of attachment to snugglies. Even at the very young age of a couple months Gwen lost interest in a pacifier and preferred her thumb instead. When they were several months old we gave Gwen a stuffed elephant that would play music when you pulled his tail. She seemed moderately interested in it, enough so that it got pretty dirty over time and we had to figure out how to wash it. It didn’t seem feasible to put the music box in the washing machine, nor did it seem like we could get it clean by wiping the fur, so Melissa performed an episiotomy and removed the music box. Gwen hasn’t missed the music since then, though she has become much more attached to elephant. She takes the two strings that come from his head, wraps them around her hand and sucks her thumb. Her elephant is also the subject of the first sentence she ever said. When she can’t find him she will earnestly ask “Where is he?!?”

Teddy prefers pacifiers to this day. Not long after he was born we discovered WubbaNubs. These are preferable because they are more efficient: they combine a pacifier with a snuggly. Teddy now has a monkey, a tiger and a duck. However, we aren’t sure how much longer he can have them because he has started shredding them with his teeth. He and Gwen both call them “passers”.

We have now gotten to the point where it is a dire situation if we can’t find their snugglies. One day Melissa could not find elephant anywhere and Gwen had to nap without him. Later in the day we found him in the onion bin in the pantry. Another example: we were at IKEA one night when we realized that Teddy did not have his dinosaur WubbaNub. We retraced our steps through the entire store but couldn’t find it and had to go home without it. On a subsequent trip to IKEA a few months later Chris watched Teddy shove his pacifier behind a shelf full of bathroom items, and herein lies the problem: both babies have a habit of throwing or hiding things that they want (especially when they are mad). Teddy will throw his pacifier on the ground and will immediately say “Uh oh!”. Everett observed this today and said “Teddy. It’s not uh oh if you chucked it!” Indeed.

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Nine Years

Melissa and Chris celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary this week. This started on Wednesday night when Melissa gave Chris his anniversary gifts (chocolate covered almonds and a new pair of waterproof winter pants). Chris’ gift to Melissa was a night out on Friday night. First we went to Chris Johnson’s house for the SCI Family & Friends Get Together, then to Sapa for a quick sushi dinner, and finally to Painting with a Twist where we sat next to each other and each painted one half of Starry Night. This turned out much better than either of us expected.
Halfway through the evening there was a competition to see who could paint on a paper plate on top of his or her head. The scene was supposed to contain ocean waves, an island with a palm tree, and a fish swimming in the ocean. Melissa won the competition for painting the best duck. Melissa later said that this was “one of the highest quality dates we have ever had, because of talking.” She also clarified that going to movies is nice but doesn’t allow as much, you know, talking.

In 2005 Chris gave Melissa a folding photo book that he bought in Copenhagen. We have used it for our anniversary photos every since, and each year when we go through it we are reminded of how much our lives have changed. The arrival of the twins and our move last year have certainly accelerated these changes. We feel a sense of gratitude for each other, for our children, and for the many positive changes we have experienced since moving to Utah. Chris has been very happy with his new job, and the whole family has been happy with our new house.

Another tradition is to take a family photo. Expectations often run high with these kinds of photos – they need to be perfect! We gave up on this a while ago and now we just wrangle everyone into position and snap it. It’s harder than it looks.

We enjoyed a couple glasses of wine while we were painting on Friday night. The way that they served it was a reminder of one of the oddities of living in Utah: how alcohol is sold and dispensed. First, we were asked at the door if we would like to participate in a wine tasting, and if so it would be $5 per person (not sure why we couldn’t pay this when we signed up for the event). We were then given a small piece of paper explaining that wine is made by fermenting grapes and that its color comes from their skin (presumably this was the educational portion of the wine tasting). Then we were told that each of us would get 4 2.5oz pours of wine. The wine was perfect to accompany painting, but it was also funny that it was a 1.5L bottle of a relatively common red wine and this was the only variety we drank that evening. There were two painting instructors that evening. One was on stage giving us instructions. The other was walking around the floor giving advice, and importantly he would periodically go through and refill everyone’s glass using a special mechanical metering system attached to the wine bottle that presumably provided 2.5oz at a time. Fortunately he wasn’t very good at counting and gave us each some number of glasses that may not be exactly equal to 4. I might have been more or might have been less – I don’t want to provide details in case the Utah Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is reading this website. You see, in Utah the sale and distribution of alcohol is controlled by a board that is composed of people who don’t drink and who come up with bewildering and sometimes irritating ideas. The description on their website reads “Utah’s system of controlling the sale of alcoholic beverages is not as unique as most people believe.” This statement reflects two things. First, poor grammar. “Unique” means one of a kind, and it is incorrect to use comparators or modifiers relative to uniqueness (i.e. there is no such thing as more unique, most unique, pretty unique, highly unique, not as unique, somewhat unique, etc). Second, some degree of self-awareness about their strange ideas. They go on to state that “There are eighteen states and one county in Maryland which control the sale of alcoholic beverages at either the wholesale or retail level.” The county in Maryland that they are referring to is Montgomery County, which is where Chris grew up. It is true that in some regards Montgomery County is more restrictive than the state of Utah. For example, by disallowing the sale of any alcohol in grocery stores, even beer. However, Utah has staked out a reputation for being so weird about alcohol that people across the nation believe that it’s impossible to get a drink in the Beehive State, while almost no one bats an eye about alcohol sales in Montgomery County. Here is a small, carefully metered sampler of Utah weirdness:
-You cannot buy regular beer cold. Only low alcohol beer can be bought cold.
-If you buy regular beer, you can only buy one bottle at a time. There is no such thing as a 6-pack or 12-pack or a case. Every bottle is scanned and sold individually.
-Regular beer is only served in bottles; draft beer from kegs is only low alcohol.
-Regular beer, wine and liquor can only be purchased at State Liquor Stores which are open from 11am-7pm Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday and holidays.
-With only one exception that we are aware of, the State Liquor Stores are about the size of a corner market in Manhattan, with about the same selection.
-Restaurants and bars can have many different types of liquor licenses. This is bewildering for patrons because you never know what is going to happen after you order a drink. Some places will only serve you a drink if you also order food. Some places claim that they have to keep a handwritten log of all drinks served. Others claim that it’s illegal for the bartender to serve you a drink at the bar – he has to set it on a special table at the end of the bar and a server will bring it to you, which is strange because he is right in front of you when he pours it. One more: there is a place in Park City who claims that it’s illegal for you to carry your drink from the bar to your table; they do it for you using a special tray.

Homebrew anyone?

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