Our Christmas Surprise

12.30.2009
Announcing: Baby Boy Nelson
ETA: April 21, 2010

I am the Ultimate Rosie

Yes, folks, Bron and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting our first baby boy in April!  We were awfully coniving and decided to keep it a secret from family and friends at home until our trip home after the Christmas holiday.  We know, we're stinkers.  We can't wait to see their reactions!  I hope it was totally worth it.  Saving this surprise until Christmas was all Bron's idea.  I've loved the agonizing anticipation.  To them, this is going to be the shortest pregnancy ever.  I am already over halfway through this pregnancy, clocking in at about 24 weeks now.  I love feeling my baby move.

During those first few weeks of pregnancy, I did suffer from a little morning sickness, but not too bad.  I just felt nauseous all day long for about three weeks straight.  It was actually all the animal smells at work that I dreaded most.  To this day, I still scare people when I turn green in the dog wing.  Other than that, I'm feeling great! 

My favorite day so far was when Bron came with me to my 19 week appointment to see the baby on the ultrasound screen and hopefully find out the gender.  He was overjoyed when he saw the outdoor plumbing!  It was both amazing and surreal to hear the heartbeat and watch our baby move.  It was also reassuring to find that every detail about our little guy is growing and developing normally.  Bron and I fell in love all over again, with each other, and with our little bump. 

13 Weeks
Ready for a football pass

19 Weeks
Handsome Profile

19 Weeks
Five Little Toes

19 Weeks
The Baby Bump on Thanksgiving Day

I can't believe this is real and happening to us.  Life as we know it is about to change drastically.  But I'm sooo excited to become a mommy!  I feel really blessed.  Bron and I are grateful that I'm healthy and happy and that our little guy is developing just as expected. We pray that everything else during this pregnancy will progress just as smoothly.

P.S.  I think we're stuck on the name, Jedediah.  Jed for short.  We think it's very befitting of a little cowboy.

Bron had a Birthday Shout Hooray

12.22.2009
Bron turned 26 years old last Sunday.  It was an excuse to spoil the man and celebrate!  He totally deserved it.

Friday evening we drove over to Burlington, VT to eat dinner at none other than our favorite place: Texas Roadhouse.  We immediately felt at home.  Everything was standardly the same: the music, the food, the friendly service.  Bron and I enjoyed ourselves very much.  We didn't deviate from our usual entrees either. I ordered my favorite ribs and Bron had the best steak he's eaten since we moved to New York (except for the $50 steak in Montreal that Miner bought at a conference).  The only thing that was missing were "the guys".  Click here to find out more.  Needless to say, Bron and I left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

Sunday is often anything but a day of rest for Bron.  We left for church a little after 7:00AM so Bron could make it to his meetings.  After church, Bron had to work down in the barn for a few hours.  When he did finally make it home, he was beat.  However, Bron's whole countenance changed when he checked his phone.  Both my family and his had left messages singing, "happy birthday".  The Nelson boys sing it so off key, it hurts.  But that's exactly what made the moment so endearing.  Thanks everyone for your thoughtfulness!

Together, Bron and I celebrated his birthday with a steak and potato dinner (I know, again, right?) and brownies with peanut butter topping.  Then Bron sat in his "throne" (the oversized recliner) to open his present.  I was so happy he was genuinely surprised!  I'm horrible at keeping secrets, but he wasn't expecting these.        


The look of surprise!


Bron got padded gloves and biking shorts to wear this spring! 
Now he'll be able to ride his bike until his legs fall off.

Happy Birthday, Honey!  You deserve it.  I love you!!!

P.S.  Is it me, or has this blog turned into an ode to food???  With how much I write about it, it's amazing I don't weigh 300 pounds already!

Holiday Parties

12.21.2009
Tis the season for PARTIES!

The Branch Christmas Party:
Our Branch held their big Christmas Party on the first Friday evening in December.  It was well put-together.  We ate a giant feast of turkey with all the trimmings and finished it off with pies and cupcakes for dessert.  Afterwards, we all got to decorate an ornament for the tree that sits in the foyer.


We sat at the "cool" table with the youth and missionaries.

Oh, I wish you could be a fly on the wall and see what I see during our branch's meetings.  I can't help giggling to myself or rolling my eyes.  I've never been in such a dysfunctional ward or branch family.  It's just too funny to watch all these many personalities (some very strange or needy) interact!  It's a circus.  Organized chaos.  Literally.  And we have the circus folk to prove it here in what we call the North Country. 

A sense of humor is paramount here.  It's the "little things" that make my day every time I come to church.

The Wyeth Holiday Party:
The next weekend, Wyeth had their annual Christmas Party.  It was held in a humungous space often reserved for weddings just a few miles from our home.  (I need to go back in the daytime, or better yet, this spring to check out the beautiful outdoor scenery there!)  Over 300 people attended the party.  I tried to introduce Bron to everyone I knew, but there were simply too many new faces and names for Bron to remember.  We sat at a big table surrounded by a bunch of my co-workers and were promptly fed our choice of prime rib or stuffed chicken.  Some of the guys, including Bron, were encouraged to eat second helpings, so I got to taste a little bit of both!  Okay, so I ate more than just "a little". 
 

Enjoying Ourselves During Dinner


Myself, Christy, and Kaitlyn
(Yes, they are wearing matching red blouses! Very funny.)

On top of the meal, there was also a bar and live band.  It being the last big hurrah before everyone loses their jobs, many people chose to take advantage of the wide array of alchohol. It was fun just to watch people let loose and enjoy themselves. Then Bron took me out on the dance floor and spun me around. I love dancing with my husband. You can't beat a ten dollar evening like that!

The Miner Institute Christmas Party:
A week later, Miner Institute held their Christmas Party at this huge, old, victorian home known as The Elks Lodge.  I thought I knew a lot of the people employed at Miner; apparantly not.  During the open cocktail bar, Bron made the rounds with me at his side and I met some new people--all while happily sipping away at a Shirley Temple to my heart's delight.  I think I just like the cherries.

After a scrumptious dinner and good conversation, the company held an annual auction.  All proceeds went to a local charity.  It was entertaining to watch folks bid higher and higher and team up against another.  We couldn't help laughing!  Over $900 was raised for the charity, which was easy to do considering something like a homemade cheesecake went for $80 and a $50 gift card went for $75!  It was a great evening out.        

Excitement in the Carco

12.18.2009
(For those of you who might not know, I work for a pharmeceutical research company.  Our site specializes in drug research and safety.  The opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions the study directors would want me to have.)



This morning started out like any other typical morning at work; I was assigned to dose rats in a carco study.  Carcinogen studies typically last two full years.  The rats start out young, white, and almost cute, then turn into ugly, fat, monsters.  The males are by far the worst. 

This particular room of male rats I was assigned to have been having a bad day for months.  Some rats are mellow and just lean back to take their dose of "medicine".  Some others act tough, but once I've got them in my grip, they're easy to handle.  A number, however, are downright evil.  Evil!  They rear up on their hind legs ready to attack my hand.  Then their hair stands on end, they scream, whip their tails around, scratch, and even turn to bite. 

Now I've been bitten before.  The rat isn't worth the trouble if there is someone around who is braver and has bigger hands.  John politely dosed one of my rats today for me.  He was also there to dose Casey's rat... until it bit the gavage needle right off and swallowed it!  John and Casey desperately tried to extract the needle using surgical tweezers, but failed.

I just laughed and turned to taunt the rat.  Serves the darn monster right!  He swallowed the needle himself and now he was going to die!  (Excuse me, be euthenized.)  The rat looked all right on the outside, but there was no way he was going to eat or drink normally ever again.  So John put him in a box and sent the rat to necropsy.

One less nasty rat down in the carco!  In my mind, it was time to celebrate.

Thirty minutes later, I screamed.  The rat in my hand had just bitten the gavage needle in half.  In half!  Casey ran over, ready with the tweezers in hand.  Too bad she's an avid gavage needle surgeon.  Today was that rat's lucky day: we removed the needle.

I think we'll be using stainless steel needles from now on.  Those cannot be bitten into pieces.  Too bad.                   

Christmas Countdown

12.15.2009
12 days until we fly to Salt Lake City to visit family for an entire week
10 days until Christmas
9 days until my last day of work
5 days until Bron's 26th birthday
2 days until I get my hair cut

We've got a lot to look forward to.  I'm excited!

Chef Bron

12.09.2009
My husband is a man of many talents, and cooking is one of them.  I have to admit, he's better in the kitchen than I am.  He's a very creative cook.  Plus, he can properly marinate or grill any kind of meat into a little piece of perfection just by combining things we already have in the fridge or pantry.  Although having a creative cook in the house can be a little more expensive from time to time, the tastes are totally worth it! 



I came home from work last night to find Mr. Handsome in the kitchen whipping us up his own version of a panini for dinner.  I love the way he throws that towel over his shoulder!  It makes me smile.  (I know the picture is a little blurry, but he doesn't like to hold still long enough for me to take them.)


Don't those warm marinated chicken sandwiches with cheese, avocado, peppers, and onion look delicious?  My mouth was watering.


Ready to eat!  The meal also included baked potato fries and a side salad.  (Yes, healthy!)

It was a great evening in the kitchen.  Thank you, Bron.  I love you!

Responsibility, What's That?

12.03.2009
My mom used to have a little poem on the side of her fridge:

It can be done
It should be done
It shall be done... tomorrow

Last night the dishes were begging to be washed (again), the laundry carefully folded (yet again), and the bathroom could have benefited from a good scrubbing (again).  Instead, I decided to plop my rear end on the couch and justified my lazy mood by labeling serum tubes for Bron's study while simultaneously watching, The Notebook. 

Oh, and I melted some chocolate chips and dipped frozen strawberries in it.  Delectible! 

*Sigh*  It was a really nice evening.

I hope I'm not the only one who does this occasionally...

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

11.30.2009
Four days off from work was bliss.  Bron and I were actually quite social over the long weekend, despite being so far away from family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day at Pete and Rachel's home, a fellow Miner student.  Lindsey, a tech from Ireland, joined us with her friend, Rich.  We spent the early evening munching on appetizers and watching football.  Pete and Rachel put together a fabulous traditional turkey dinner.  (The advantage of not hosting dinner is no pressure.  The bad part is no leftovers.  Oh well.)  All I can say is that football + good food + friendly conversation = a very relaxing and enjoyable evening.  Of course, we helped with the dishes!


The scrumptious berry pie I made for dessert
(This is for you, Momma Nelson!)

Friday morning I ventured out to conquer the holiday shopping!  Though I didn't leave the house till after 10:00 AM, I still found everything I needed or wanted.  It feels awesome to have the majority of the Christmas shopping all done at once.  Plus, it doesn't hurt to know that I'm getting a good deal on almost everything!

This will be our 3rd Christmas together!  I love being married and starting our own Holiday traditions.  Bron and I spent Friday night setting up the Christmas tree and all the decorations.  He gets just as excited as I do!  This time of year is just so MAGICAL!  We opened the box to our brand new tree that we bought half off after the holiday last year.  It's not large or impressive, but perfect for a couple of college students.  This year I added to our tree decorations by purchasing strings of red wooden beads, gold ribbon, and my favorite: eight metal barn stars!  The tree looks jaw-dropping beautiful!  The lights and colors are mesmerizing!  Then it was time to add our ornaments.  Bron and I have a tradition that started on our honeymoon.  We buy an ornament to commemorate our various trips to everywhere.  Eventually, we'll have a "travel tree" full of memories!  These are just a few of my favorites:


The little bear means a lot to Bron.


The ornament that commemorates our trip to Maine.



My mom gave us these ornaments for our 1st Christmas together in 2007.  They mean a lot to me.


A bell sent to me all the way from Japan from my best friend, Laura Alice.


A sand dollar from our Honeymoon

We spent Saturday afternoon at Tim and Jen's house, another couple in our branch.  The boys went outside to do some much needed preventive maintenance on our Impala.  We girls hung out inside where it was warm.  Tim and Jen had us over for dinner as well.  After dinner, Tim entertained us with his amazing gun collection and crazy stories about those guns and his dirt bikes.  It was a lot of fun!

Thanks to our friends, we had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Thankful

11.23.2009
Thanksgiving is almost here!  I can't wait to devour all the traditional holiday foods...and then eat the leftovers too!  It's also a great time to express "thanks" and what we are thankful for.  I've actually felt very blessed these last few months and thought it appropriate to document and share for what I'm grateful.

My "Thankful" List:
(in no particular order)
  1. Always having enough: enough food, clothing, warmth, money, etc.  You name it, I've got it!  It might not be a heck of a lot, or the best there is, but I'm satisfied and happy.
  2. A thoughtful husband who tries so hard everyday to do his best in everything he does.  I couldn't ask for anyone better.  We have a great marriage.  I hope its sweetness lasts forever.
  3. Knowledge of the gospel and my testimony.  I'm grateful I know where I came from, who I am, and where I'm going.  It sure makes life a lot simpler.  Best of all, I know that my family can be together forever, and that's comforting.  I'm grateful for the temple and the blessings received there.  I'm grateful for my Savior and the chance he has given me to return to live with Him.
  4. Family.  I love my family.  I'm grateful for all they have taught me, for their unconditional support, and all of our fun memories!
  5. Friends.  I'm grateful for the friends that give me a smile or who like to engage in a casual conversation, have a little fun, and who read my blog!  But I'm most grateful for those few true friends that I know will be there for me for a lifetime.  You know who you are; that's a special bond.   
  6. A reliable vehicle.
  7. To be born an American.
  8. My talents and hobbies. 
  9. Heat included in our monthly rent.
  10. My health.  My husband's health.  My family's health. (Including the horrific accident my family was just in.  Thank goodness they are all okay!)
  11. My running shoes.  In fact, I'm grateful for all my cute shoes!  And the opportunity to buy more later!
  12. Food.  I love food.  All kinds.  Strawberries.  Chocolate.  Twiced baked potatoes.  Blintzes.  Thanksgiving comfort foods.  Cheeseballs and crakers.  I'm a firm believer that eating well = happier living.
  13. My education.  Bron's education and the opportunity we stumbled upon here in New York.
  14. Where I've been: my experiences which have shaped me into who I am today.  Okay, so those were a few tough times now and then, but I'd like to think that they were worth it and for my own good whether I liked it or not.
  15. Travel.  I've lived in quite a few places and have visited even more.
  16. The girls in my Young Women.
  17. Good books.  I love a good fiction novel.
  18. Going HOME for a week after Christmas to see family!  I'm sooo excited!!!  Definitely a blessing.  Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for providing the tickets. 
What are you thankful for this season?

Don't Get Too Comfortable

11.16.2009
Just when I was securely settled into a life of uneventful routine, fate decided to keep me on my toes and change things up.

It all started last Monday when news broke that Pfizer is exiting our Chazy facility.  Hundreds of people in the area will be looking for a new job within months, including me.  Bummer.

Wednesday I received a scary phone call from my mom that she and my two little brothers were involved in a head-on collision Tuesday afternoon.  The van flipped over and is totaled.  Thank goodness everyone is all right!  Everyone had their seat belts on.  The boys emerged unscathed; they just screamed and were really scared.  The driver's seat, however, took the big blow. The worst of my mom's injuries is her right foot. The brake petal basically went through her foot. The bones in her ankle and foot broke, the skin and ligaments tore, and her foot was facing backwards! It took 45 minutes, the jaws of life, and a team of emergency personnel to pull her out of the van. She had surgery on Tuesday night. Now she has lots of pins and metal holding everything together and is at home taking it easy.  She'll be a couch potato for at least 8 weeks. My sweet grandparents are there to help out for a little while. If her foot heals okay, she'll be walking again in a few months and will be back to normal mostly. So say a prayer that she'll heal up nice!  I was a little shook up after hearing the news.  I felt a lot better after the house got a good cleaning.  It's amazing how cleaning can be therapy.  I'm very, very thankful that my family is okay.  It could easily have been a lot worse.

Sunday morning my phone rang at 9:20AM.  It was the District President and he wanted to talk with Bron.  He asked Bron if he could speak with us before church.  It takes twenty minutes to get there and I was just getting out of the shower!  So we hurried like mad and made it there just five minutes shy of 10:00AM.  Whew.  The District President sat us down and explained that he was there to put in a new branch presidency during sacrament meeting.  He then extended Bron the invitation to be the new 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.  We were both shocked!  Tears welled up in my eyes; I had so many thoughts and emotions flying through my mind all at once!  As if Bron isn't busy enough already!  This new church responsibility would require so much more of his time.  In the same moment, I was proud of him too.  Accepting a big calling like this so suddenly says a lot about his character.  I'm so thankful for the man I chose to marry!

After church the District President and his counselor set the new branch presidency apart.  It was a really sweet blessing, one that both Bron and I needed to hear.

Following that, Bron got right to work learning what to do with all the tithing slips.  So I got to hang out for two more hours.  It's just the beginning.  We only have one vehicle and Bron will have a 7:30AM meeting every Sunday.  I guess I'll bring my piano books and teach myself how to play.

The shock of Bron's new church responsibility lasted all day.  No calling or job within the LDS Church is necessarily better than another because we switch it all up periodically and each take our turn.  Some callings just require more time and dedication, more thought, more leadership skills, more prayer.  However, I don't think we would be given these same opportunities to serve in the Church at home in Idaho.  There are simply many more able-bodied, older and wiser men capable of taking on leadership postitions.  This little New York branch of ours is definitely going to force us to stretch and grow.  Sometimes that hurts, ya know.  But I think we will learn things here that we otherwise would not learn until much later, if at all.  Maybe that's just one reason why we're here.

For example, my calling as the counselor in the Young Women's organization has forced me to take charge and get organized.  I don't have any experienced women around to lead me along and teach me "how it's done".  I'm learning the job on my own.  I started from scratch.  Thankfully, there are lots of resources for me to use to plan mutual activities and lessons: church manuals, the internet, and family that are only a call away.  I rely a lot on my own experiences as a teenager and try to emulate what my leaders did for me.  I'll admit, it took me a few weeks to step it up and get into the swing of things; I still struggle periodically.  However, as I have served, I have really come to love my calling in the Young Women!  I love my girls.  I dread that any one of them might graduate from high school and never come back to church.  I sincerely hope that they make the right choices in their lives to ensure true happiness.  I want them to have the same blessings I have.  Maybe that's the beginning of understanding just a pinch of Christ's love for us.

To put it mildly (haha), our branch is also a strange gathering place for an array of personalities and backgrounds.  Everyone has some weird quirk; some of them drive me bonkers!  I've noticed, however, that as I get to know certain individuals and anticipate their funny quirks, I'm not so bothered by them.  Instead, I'm able to look past and better understand the person.  The YW president and I had a rough start.  Now I think things will be okay because I need her as much as she needs me; if only she'd be more dependable!

Hopefully Bron and I will become better people because of our experiences here.  Hopefully.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Drama and Trauma

11.09.2009
The anxious wait is over.

It's official: Pfizer is indefinitely shutting down the Chazy research facility site. In fact, Pfizer is closing down the entire area, which includes sites in Rouses Point and Plattsburgh too. Some employees will be absorbed into other facilities across the United States, but nobody knows their individual fate just yet. What we do know, however, is that over 600 people in our rural New York area will be looking for a new job (unless a third party swoops in to buy the site).

It sounds really scary. Many tears have been shed (which were akward for me to witness). I don't think anyone had much of an appetite during lunch. It's a real loss and should be grieved as one. However, it's not the end of the world. The exiting of our Chazy facility signals a time of dramatic change. The people who work here will no doubt rise to the challenge and turn over a new leaf in their careers. Some families will be forced to move. I'm sure I'll see others at odd jobs around town. Not everyone will emerge unscathed over the coming months, but they will move on and adjust. So say a prayer for those who need it most. I already did.

The Patriot Game

Our weekend began with a social get together on Friday evening with the folks at Miner. It was great! We had fantastic food and fantastic conversation. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. Bron and I even tried our hand at homemade root beer since nobody here had ever heard of making it with dry ice. (Don't ask if it turned out right or not!) It was a fun night!

On Sunday Bron and I got to see the NFL Patriots play in person! Our friend, Roxanne, had extra tickets and invited us and another Miner employee, Katie, to keep her company. It was definitely an opportunity we weren't going to pass up!

Our trek to see the New England Patriots challenge the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts started really early Sunday morning. We left the house at 5:30AM. It was quite the drive. We crossed over three state lines (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) twice in one day! But I think it was totally worth it.

When we arrived at the stadium we found parking a block away next to a hundred other crazies and their vehicles. Tail-gating was my favorite part of the day. It was exhilerating to see the fans in such a good mood; everyone grilling, drinking, and playing games. The parking lot smelled like one giant fire pit. We ate hot chili in Fritos bags by Katie who ingeniously plugged her crock pot into the outlet in the car. To top the afternoon off, the sky was calm and clear and the temperature over sixty degrees! That's amazing.


View From Our Seats


The Patriots Kicking Some Trash

The stadium was new and HUGE! We had fairly good seats; could have been better, could have been a lot worse. But what mattered was that we were there. In person. Our cheers echoing with the rest of the crowd and onto t.v. screens across the country. It was pretty cool. And the best part was that our team won!


Roxanne after the Big Game


Happy After the Game


Scoping Out the Field: Katie, Roxanne, Jessie

Poor Bron. I don't think I have the appropriate appreciation for football. He was always answering my questions about various flags and calls. Football rules are many.

We had a long but good return trip. Katie is an awesome conversationalist. We arrived home just after 11:00PM last night. If you ask us if we'd do it again, we'd reply, "Definitely."

A Nasty Surprise

11.05.2009
This morning I found that a mouse had left me little gifts in my kitchen drawers again. Gross! Just the thought of the little creature climbing over all of my stuff gives me the heebeejeebees.

But I work with mice and rats everyday. What's the big deal, you ask? The rodents at work are white and guaranteed to be disease free. Plus, they're in a controlled environment and live in individual cages. The mouse roaming my kitchen is exactly the opposite. Anyhow, I wouldn't appreciate any animal's feet, germs, and feces on my silverware.

So I'm on the defense. We already have little packets of poison throughout the garage, basement, and kitchen from our mouse incident this summer. If our little intruder hasn't found it already, the trap we set this morning probably will. The little animal's days are numbered!

P.S. We ended up trapping TWO little critters! And there has been nothing for days. I think we conquered, but I will be sure to keep the traps set until it totally freezes outside.

It's the Holiday Season

11.03.2009
Halloween is my favorite holiday next to Christmas. I get so excited! I'm not sure why, but I absolutely LOVE it! Maybe because it's all the real scary stuff all rolled into one faux event; you know the slimy eyeballs are fake, but can't help feeling a little squeamish. I love haunted houses: the lights, the sounds, and the screams all done in good fun. I love the colors of Autumn. I love the leaves. I love the season's crisp cool air and the need for comfy over-sized sweaters. I love pumpkins and the flickering lights from jack-o-lanterns. I love corn mazes. Halloween is the one time of the year where all ages are encouraged to dress up and let loose! Sometimes I'd love to be somebody or something I'm not, to pretend even for just a few minutes. Halloween is also the one cultural phenomenon when every door is waiting to be knocked upon, opened, and candy spilled into eager buckets held by pudgy little fingers. It's the one night when anything can happen! If all that combined isn't amazing, then what is?

Bron and I actually spent a fairly uneventful Halloween at home. I made mini mummy dogs (lil' smokies) for dinner. They were so cute and fun to make!

I used dabs of mustard for eyes!
We bought a bag of Bron's favorite Reese's candy just in case the few neighbor kids that we actually do have stopped by. Plus, Bron knew he'd get to eat the "leftovers". haha

Look at what my sweet husband put together for me on Monday evening! My treadmill! The weather will soon be turning to ice and snow here. When I leave work around 4:30 the sun is already halfway set. There's no more daylight available for playing outside in the evenings no thanks to "day light savings" time!
I think I'm addicted to running. It's a hobby, and I love it. My treadmill is a beast, but I don't care. This machine is going to help keep my rear in gear all winter long!

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to start preparing for Thanksgiving and concentrating on Christmas gifts! This year all the bells and whistles on our Thanksgiving table will be done by yours truly, with a little help from my husband, of course. I've never put together an entire Thanksgiving meal together. I've got a lot of recipes to learn!

Senior Pictures

10.28.2009
Meet beautiful, cute, Corinne!

Corinne is one of the young women in our small branch here in New York. She's a convert to the Church and is what we like to call a "rock". She's awesome and knows her stuff! I've been so impressed with her. She's been an example to me from time to time, and I'm her leader! Corinne is also the strangest teenager I've ever met, and it's one of her best qualities: she's always concerned with everyone else but herself.

Corinne knew I had just gotten my new camera and asked if I'd take her senior pictures. I said I would try! If they didn't turn out, she could go somewhere else. Corinne and I had a blast of an afternoon on Sunday taking pictures around our home! She was a ton of fun! Miraculously, a few pictures did turn out. These are some of my favorites.

















So obviously I have some work ahead of me trying to get the camera to focus in just the right spots (her eyes) and more. I don't have any cool photo editing stuff--I just mess with exposure and saturation mostly and add a few rounded corners and borders from the internet. If you have any photography feedback, I'd love to hear it! Any down-right honest suggestions on portrait taking and photo editing would be greatly appreciated.

But overall, I kinda like how these turned out.

St. Joseph's Cathedral

10.26.2009
How in the world can a city just an hour from home feel so foreign? Oh, I know. They only speak French! (Though I must admit, some Quebecians do speak very good English.)

Bron and I spent our Saturday in Montreal. My lack of French aside, I'm really falling in love with the city. There's so much history and culture! Plus, it's quite pretty; there's a church or cathedral on every block. After our morning session at the LDS temple, we drove over to check out St. Joseph's Cathedral. It's incredibly massive and can be described as no less than eye candy for my camera. The cathedral very much reminded me of a landmark I once visited in Paris.





Bron and I toured the entire facility, from the basilisque to the tomb of St. Andre. The ceilings soared above us. I've never seen stained glass windows with so much detail. I also saw St. Andre's heart (yes, a real human heart) laid to rest in a special box. However, my favorite part were the rooms filled with warm candles lit for prayers. I would have taken more pictures, but that would have been irreverent.



We had a great afternoon in Montreal. I can't wait to go back to explore more of the city!

A Country Girl Education

10.23.2009
Bron is home! Yay! He spent almost three full days at the Cornell Nutrition Conference in Syracuse. We stayed up all evening just talking. I love having him home. It was the first time I fell into a really deep sleep in two nights!

One of the topics we discussed and that Bron brought away from the conference is that we (95% of the population) need to make our voices heard. The other small percent of the population is controlling the current legislation right now. We need to protect farmers' rights and prevent them from being over taxed. It simply starts with education.

Before I married my husband and into his dairy farming family, I was a very naive city girl. Two and a half years later, I have been successfully indoctrinated into country living and farm life. My world and some of my views have changed because I have seen a working farm first-hand. And because Bron is getting his education primarily in dairy animals, I can ask specific questions and have them answered in almost too much detail.

For example, are organic foods really better than conventional? The answer is: no. Conventional fruits and vegetables contain the same amounts of vitamins and minerals--if not more--than organic. Conventional foods are grown bigger and juicier because they are genetically modified. That modification has no effect on you. As for pesticides, however, the person most in danger is the farmer spraying it. Plus, the FDA has very strict guidelines. I understand if you want to avoid any risks. That's why there's an organic niche just for you.

Organic farmers are doing something right, however. They often plant a variety of fruits and vegetables. This in turn protects the farmer's entire crop from being destroyed by one bug, fungus, or other threat. Because of public demand, conventional farmers are forced to plant a monoculture. For example, potato farmers in Idaho grow the Russet Burbank potato almost exclusively because those are the type people prefer for their french fries and other great edibles. One bug can destroy hundreds of acres of fields of russet potatoes in one season. These farmers must use various forms of pesticides, etc. to protect their crop and their livelihood. So why can't people eat a variety of potatoes for their french fries? Who cares if they don't stick long and prettily out of the red McDonald's box? They would still taste delectible. I think it would be a win-win situation for everyone all around!

In the year 2050 it is projected that we will need to produce 100% more food to feed the planet's growing population. Less than 20% of this food will come from new land dedicated to farming. The rest is left up to food science and engineering. In other words, we will produce more crops per acre. We're already doing it and will continue to improve. Organics will not play a part in saving the world because they just can't produce those numbers.  However, I am not against planting a home-grown garden.  I think it's a great way to feed a family!

Did you know that a cow fed a conventional diet of silage, hay, and corn mixture can produce over 100 lbs. of milk per day? (That's what Miner is doing right now.) An organic cow grazing only on grass produces a third of the amount, around 35 lbs. of milk per day. Although grazing is obviously very cheap, it's actually more practical and cost-efficient in most cases to feed cows a conventional diet. I'm sure Bron's brother, Talon, has a few words to add to this paragraph about some of the other pros and cons. He's been using honey to treat mastitis (as opposed to antibiotics) and it seems to work! That's one simple remedy that's exciting!

Also FYI, Americans prefer the taste of a conventionally fed cow over a grass fed cow. Yum, Yum, Beef!

Bron and I talked about growth hormones in cows and the perception that people think their children are hitting puberty sooner because of these hormones. It simply isn't true. I've heard this argument many times, but was too afraid to speak up. I should have. It's a proven fact that girls start their menstrual cycle when they hit about 100 lbs. (Girls, think back to this horrific time in your young life!) Boys begin their journey into manhood at about the same weight. Today we are feeding our children bigger (proportions) and better foods than ever before in the United States.

The same idea is true in animals as well. Dairy calfs can grow into a mature cow much more quickly when fed exactly what they need. This means that a heifer can be bred and start producing milk at a younger age. Hormones are primarily given to beef cows to spur their growth. Just as there are regulations for a cow given antibiotics and the time between which her milk can be put in the tank, there is a certain amount of time allotted between administering hormones and slaughter. Because of this time lapse, there is no detectable amount of hormone in the meat we eat. Plus, if that isn't enough, the hormone denaturizes (just as bacteria) when the meat is cooked. Therefore, it's harmless anyway! So unless you or your child eats raw meat, you're in the green.

BST is another debatable subject. BST is already naturally occurring in animals that produce milk. Scientists were just able to make more. By giving a cow BST, she is able to produce more milk. The milk's fat and other nutritional content stay about the same. The only drawback is that her body wears-out faster. Nobody anywhere wants to admit that BST was originally given to human babies with absolutely no response.

Finally, many of the United States' legislation is based on world-wide data. So while the numbers may be true in South America, they don't hold a candle to the realities in the US. Our numbers are that different! Legislation for this country needs to be made upon research and numbers from this country. It only makes sense, right?

Please remember that many of our everyday conveniences, medical advances, and our quality and longevity of life have come from revolutionary ideas in science and engineering. It is imperative that research is done using good laboratory techniques. Better yet, research must be done in good conscience. Believe me, I do this every day I come to work!

I know I'm opinionated and out-spoken. I always have been; can't help it. I also know there are many other opinions out there and people may disagree with me or have some rebuttal. But that's what makes us compromise and move forward for a better world. Educate yourself and don't be afraid to speak up! It would make me happiest.

October in New York

10.19.2009
Our lives are still plugging along with work, school, and church.

Friday night I had my very first Sinfonia performance in the Giltz Auditorium at the college. It was called the Prism Concert because various musical groups were situated around the auditorium. When it was our turn, a bright spotlight was turned on us. Each group played just one piece. It was a short but sweet concert. The idea behind it was great! And, of course, they saved the best group for last. (It wasn't us!) Bron and I both enjoyed it a lot. Plus, I love having an excuse to put on my long black skirt! Afterward, Bron took me out for a strawberry milkshake. He had a fudge sundae. It was a good evening.

We're well into Autumn now which means it's a great time of year for photos! Bron was an awesome sport. He walked around with me all last Sunday evening while I took pictures. Fortunately, nature is a more patient photo subject than husbands.

I've been experimenting with my camera and a little photo editing. Everything was shot in Manual mode. Thanks for the great tips, Rachel!















Day One

10.16.2009
Today is Day One. Yesterday Pfizer officially closed the merger with Wyeth. We are now Pfizer. I arrived at work today to find brand new blue Pfizer signs out front, in my computer browser, and on my phone screen. Weird.

Is this a time of celebration and excitement, or anxious foreboding about our individual jobs? I think it's a little bit of both. The tension in yesterday's meeting was practically tangible and I think the CEO has a future in politics. He successfully managed to answer every specific question with positive, ambiguous answers. So still, no one knows what will happen to our site here in Chazy in the near future. Some people have a very bleak outlook. Still, others are positive. I like to err on the positive side by nature.

Inevitably, some people everywhere will lose their jobs. I want to cry for those who will lose their careers. What a blow! But that's capitalism. However, I'm sure most of those people are educated and talented and will be able to find something new. The worst part for people is not knowing; not being able to prepare.

As for me, this is just a job I have for now while my husband finishes school. It'll look great on my resume!

On a much cooler note, I got to observe in Repro yesterday! Some of you readers might think I'm morbid and gross. However, I know there are a few of you who would jump at this opportunity!

Repro invited me to see them open up a euthanized Dam (rat) and take out the babies. I can't believe a dozen or so fit into that tiny stomach! I watched and asked questions as the entire process was explained to me. Soon, I was rolling these little skin ball rat babies on a paper towel over to be weighed and placed on a warmer. They were actually really cute. Later, they were euthanized and then opened up under a microscope. I got to see all their tiny tissues! Repro is looking for malformations of any kind anywhere. Despite how awful this sounds, it really is neat because this kind of work prevents birth defects in our own babies.

After all that, I was taken into the back where I got to see some old specimens preserved in jars with fluid. It sounds like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but it wasn't. There were just a few on a shelf. They were colored skeletons of a monkey, chicken, rabbits, and even tiny conjoined rat skeletons with one skull. Sweet! How many people get to see that stuff?

Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined myself at a job like this.

Baking

10.11.2009
The cool weather and shorter days make me want to bake! Fall time encompasses the best traditional comfort foods: pies, carmeled corn, carmeled apples, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, sweet potato everything, and the list goes on!

Friday night was the perfect night for staying in and watching a movie. Bron decided to experiment with the carmel popcorn recipe. He's a great connoisseur! Twenty minutes later we were eating the most delicious and crunchy cracker-jack popcorn ever! Way to go, honey!

Saturday night we went to an End-of-Study Party to celebrate the finish of a particular research project at Miner. (Too bad they just started another one! haha) The supervisors hosted a southern style dinner. We ate appetizers, brown rice, gumbo, and best of all: crawdads! Crawdads were like eating mini lobsters, a totally new experience for me! There is a technically correct way to peel, suck, and eat these little critters. Very messy, hands on, and the best way to break the ice with new friends.

I brought these little goodies to the party for dessert.

They're called Double Chocolate Dream Cookies which I stuck together with orange cream cheese frosting. I had a roommate in college (Liz) who made different variations of these all year long. They were a hit then and were a hit Saturday night too.

Three cheers for baking yumminess!

My New Hobby

10.03.2009
I bought myself a new toy! Yes, folks, it's an expensive, professional grade SLR camera: the Canon Rebel Xsi. Isn't she pretty?

Friday night's purchase wasn't a spur-of-the-moment splurge. No, this camera has been meditated and contemplated on for months. I used to teach violin lessons after work. Two years later I had a couple thousand dollars saved up. At first I wanted a Yamaha Clavinova piano; it's electronic, sounds and plays like a dream, and only weighs about 100 lbs. But after much deliberation, I decided that I don't even pick up my violin enough. I need to. When Bron finally finishes school, I can purchase a real upright piano for a quarter of the cost. A camera, however, goes along with my other obsessions: scrapbooking and frames. And a camera can pal along with me almost anywhere. I would absolutely love to learn to take pictures worth scrapping, framing, and keeping forever. I want to take nice pictures of my future babies and my family. But better yet, develop a new talent and express whatever creativity I might possess. I'm really excited!

So today I took the camera out for its first test ride, er should I say, MY first test ride. I walked around the farm trying to capture the scenery I see here everyday and realized... I know nothing about photography! I tried to use various manual modes, but the camera's little computer is much smarter. The pictures seemed to turn out better on its pre-set modes. How does it know? I don't have a clue, but this I vow: someday I will know more about photography than that little computer and I will take better pictures too. Someday. This is going to be a journey, just my camera and me.

Until then, please enjoy the few snipets I did take of Miner Farm with my first attempts at photo editing:

Once a Cornfield


A Little Autumn Color



Can You See Our House?

{IN HONOR OF HALLOWEEN}



Spider Webs!

I'm so happy to have a husband who supports me in any idea, hobby, or talent I want to persue. I always knew he would, and for that I'm grateful. However, I think this photography thing is something that Bron can enjoy too. He may even have a more natural knack for it!

If you have any suggestions, websites, or resources for me to check out on photography, please let me know!