April 30, 2010

This is Not Meth...It's Detergent.

I don't know when I decided saving money was more important than, say, being normal. It could have been the time I strung yarn all around my small, one-bedroom apartment in order to hang-dry my clothes. Or it could have been the time I hand-sewed a thrift store shoe back together. Or maybe it was the time I didn't have any yarn, so I vigorously brushed the cats and hand-wove their loose fur into a skein, in order to complete a hat order.

(The last one didn't actually happen.)

So when I read a blog post on The Simple Dollar about homemade laundry detergent, I jumped at the idea. Keene, bless his soul, is just as weird and cheap as I am, so he went along with my plan.

The only problem I encountered is that washing soda is very hard to find in some areas. We checked the grocery store and a Walmart, but no luck. I finally bought a box of baking soda, figuring I could work with it in some way. Only after buying the baking soda did I hear that some hardware stores carry washing soda. Aye, aye, aye.

Fortunately for me, because I didn't want to go to any more stores, I googled "replace washing soda with baking soda" and found a recipe online. Hooray for unprepared washery!

So, here is the recipe we went with (which strayed quite a bit from the recipe I had found on Google):

1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
2.5 cups of Arm & Hammer baking soda
1 bar of Zote washing soap

The bar of Zote isn't necessary, however. You could use almost any kind of regular soap. However, as Tipnut.com suggests, "You can use any soap that lists sodium palmate, sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate, etc. Just be sure you are using real soap and not detergent beauty bars with added free oils." Oils or dyes can cause a bad reaction and/or possibly ruin your clothes.

The first step is grating the bar of soap. This step alone is why I highly recommend Zote. Once grated, the shavings act like miniature worms when shaken. I picked up a pile of soap shavings and dropped them into the bowl, watching them wriggle and settle after a minute. Wowie!

Next, heat the shavings in a pot on medium-low, with just enough water to cover it. Stir frequently, until the soap is melted completely.

Add salt to taste.

(You didn't actually drink it just then, did you?)

Next, fill a bucket with about two gallons of hot water and stir in the melted soap. Then, pour in the baking soda and stir some more.

It was at about this time, while sitting on the kitchen floor, stirring a bit bucket full of steaming liquid, that I said, "I bet anybody passing by our window thinks we're in here cooking up some meth."

(That being said, I'm not sure how meth is prepared, so my observation may be wildly off. It wouldn't be the first time. I also thought crack could be injected and had no idea until recently that opium was related to heroin.)

And that's it. Simple. The mixture will be thin. To wash a full load, you use a 1/2 cup. For a soiled load (trying to stifle giggles here), use 1 cup.

I wanted to do a wash test, to see how well this detergent works. I sifted through a pile of laundry but saw nothing terribly dirty (there's a first for everything). In a moment of inspiration, I grabbed a white t-shirt and swiped it across the stove and counter, still covered in the grease and sauce and seasonings from dinner. (I get very messy when I cook. The kitchen usually looks like a battlefield afterward. Dead bodies and all.)

I upped the contrast in this picture so you can see just how much crap was on the t-shirt afterward.

I ran a load, then went out for coffee with a friend until midnight. This part is not necessary for your homemade laundry detergent process, but I highly recommend it anyways.

This morning, I checked on that shirt. While the detergent gave it a good try, it couldn't completely eliminate the grease stains which I had just asininedly smeared onto my shirt. (Don't bother looking it up, that's not a real word.)

A for effort, detergent. But you can't compete with my retarded whims.

Aside from the new stain, however, the shirt looked really clean. I was so confident in my new detergent's ability that I sniffed a pair of my undies. It was not without some trepidation, but I was nearly certain that I would not be displeased. Not to mention, I have only about a 25% sense of smell, so even a less-than-stellar washing might have gotten past me.

But I'm here to tell you, the undies were so fresh and so clean. You might even say they were panty-sniffingly fresh!

That shall be the name: Kelli's Sniffable Undies Detergent. It'll be huge.



Notes from the Future: I discovered that one cup of baking soda mixed with one cup of Borax acts as a dishwasher detergent too. Throw in two tablespoons of vinegar into the rinse aid compartment, and you've got yourself some hippie-fresh dishes!

The Pitfalls of Suddenly Single Friends

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

When both you and your best friend are coupled up, it can be the greatest thing in the world. You can double-date, your boyfriends can become friends and you have someone who understands issues you face. However, when that friend is suddenly single, your own relationship can suffer. Here’s how it happens and how you can prevent it.

You Go Out With Her More
It only makes sense that she will want to go out and have fun, maybe meet new men (especially if she was dumped and feeling particularly vulnerable). It only makes more sense that she will want you to come with her. She needs a wingman to help her, to cheer her up, to just be around her. However, this can be detrimental to your own relationship since you will be spending less time with your boyfriend, and more time in the company of different men, which can lead to problems. We all know relationships are fabulous. But sometimes single-hood seems more fun when you have been with the same person for a long time. To watch your friend flirt (and be flirted) with good-looking or charming strangers, you may start to wonder if you shouldn’t also be single again.

She Wants You To Be Single
You know what makes being single much better? When your friend is single too. Living it up at the bar and sharing sexy stories about strangers is only fun if you have someone by your side. However, if you cannot relate with or participate in her single life, it stops being quite so exciting for her. She may subconsciously (or maybe not…) start saying things or putting ideas into your head to make you second-guess your relationship. It is understandable that the newly single friend doesn’t want your boyfriend hanging around. Firstly, he may remind her of the relationship she just left (or of relationships altogether). Secondly, his presence may prevent other men from approaching her. Thirdly, she may just want some girl-time. However, this unintentional ultimatum, once again, may take more time away from your boyfriend, which can potentially hurt your relationship.

You Start Analyzing Your Own Relationship Problems
You may not think things are so bad with your own relationship until your friend talks about how similar issues ruined hers. Maybe she grew tired of her boyfriend working too much or maybe she just decided she could find someone better. Having those relationship problems highlighted may make you think, “Wait, I think my boyfriend works too much, also!” or “Maybe I can do better too…” The best thing you can do for your relationship during this time is to stay positive. Think about the things you appreciate or enjoy about your boyfriend. Focus on the reasons you like being in a relationship. Also, talk with your boyfriend about what went wrong with your friend’s relationship. Together, brainstorm ways to ensure this won’t happen to you two, as well.

April 29, 2010

The World is Right

When the kids are getting along, they're adorable.

They sing the "I've got the joy-joy-joy-joy" song in two-part harmony, make up games that involve farting and/or kicking, and they laugh uncontrollably at the dinner table while Keene and I scowl.

They are currently playing LIFE with Kayden gently explaining and helping Maia through it.

It almost makes me cry.


Notes from the Future: it didn't last.

April 28, 2010

Hooray for Starbucks!

I noticed something curious at my last Starbucks visit.

They were selling coloring books and these:
Soy crayons.

Yay! Now vegan children can eat their crayons too!


(While searching for a photo online to use--because I'm a scaredy cat who didn't want to take the stealth camera shot myself--I found this hilarious blog post at Die Hipster .)


On a side note: I also noticed their new line of healthy snacks. One of their mass-produced, glossy signs read:

"Two Mom's in the Raw"

Really, Starbucks? Mom's?

Look, if you need some help in the editing department, I have a degree and I'll work for chais.

(That is not "chai's," just in case you're tempted. I realize that by not using the apostrophe, the word looks kind of funky...but you've got to accept it and move on. Just move on.)

Call me.

Dear Sister Petersen

After writing and posting the resignation letter to the LDS church, I was mildly worried about what kind of backlash I would face with my extended (and very religious) family. I'm not exactly close to them, living over 500 miles away and being too selfishly wrapped up in my own life to ever call or write. While I have seen a couple relatives once over the last 2-3 years, I have not seen the majority of them (and what a majority: coming from a Mormon family, I have literally hundreds of cousins) since I was a child...if ever.

Nevertheless, "not exactly close" doesn't mean I was setting out to alienate them. I had recently come into contact with about thirty cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents via Facebook. (Ahh, good old Facebook. Bringing families together better than Sally Jessy Raphael could have ever dreamed.) So what would happen when they noticed my "quitting the church" blog post notifications?

Within an hour of posting that letter, a message popped up in my Facebook inbox. It was from my grandma. I had a quick moment of "ruh roh." My grandma was writing to make sure I understood what I was doing, to ask if I had really thought this through, to reiterate that she believed this to be the one true church...and to point out that she will love me no matter what I choose to do. Then she alerted me that it was my move on our internet Scrabble game.

Mad props to Grandma.

While there may be people in the future who will choose to not associate with me, that is fine. What better way to find out who really cares for you than to unwittingly dole out such a drastic test?

Okay, pushing aside the mushy crap and moving on to the cold, hard reality of this quittin' business. I have read over and over that the first trick the church tries to pull is: "Oops, we didn't get your letter." I imagine a mailman trying to hand the letter to a bishop, but the latter sticking his fingers in his ears and yelling, "La la la la...I can't hear you!"

I went to the post office to mail the letter certified and with a return receipt. I walked up to the front counter and handed the letter to a clerk. While sifting through my wallet for $5.00 (see how informative I am being?), the clerk glanced at my letter inquisitively.

With a chuckle, he said, "Checking to see if you're still a member?"

With a chuckle, I replied, "Nope, trying to not be a member anymore..."

The smile abruptly left his face and he said nothing more to me. No "have a good day" or "thank you". Uncomfortable. As I walked away, I thought, "He's not going to mail it. He's just going to throw it away now, I know it."

But a few days later, I received my confirmation that the clerk did, in fact, mail it:



My excitement level kicked up a notch. What would happen next? By the next day (the Mormons are anything if not efficient), I received a letter:

April 23, 2010

Dear Sister Petersen and son:

I have been asked to acknowledge your recent letter in which you request that your names be removed from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I have also been asked to inform you that the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees. Therefore, your letter and a copy of this reply are being sent to President Richard L. Millett Jr. of the Denver Colorado Stake. He will have Bishop J. Mott of the Cherry Creek Ward contact you concerning the fulfillment of your request.

In view of the eternal consequences of such an action, the Brethren urge you to reconsider your request and to prayfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency.

Sincerely,

Gregory W. Dodge
Manager, Member and Statistical Records



Along with the letter was a bi-fold titled "The Invitation." I squealed, "It came! I read about this pamphlet!" You would have thought I had just been accepted into my college of choice by the way Keene and I carried on.

The Invitation read:

An Invitation to Come Back

We reach out to members of the Church throughout the world in a spirit of love and brotherhood inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our interest and concern are always with the individual man or woman, boy or girl. Our great responsibility is to see that each is "remembered and nourished by the good word of God" (Moroni 6:4). If any have been offended, we are sorry. (This was my favorite part. "Aw shucks, Church, don't take it so hard. It's not you, it's me.") Our only desire is to cultivate a spirit of mercy and kindness, of understanding and healing. We seek to follow the example of our Lord, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38).

To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the Church, we say come back. We invite you to return and partake of the happiness you once knew. You will find many with outstretched arms to welcome you, assist you, and give you comfort.

The Church needs your strength, love, loyalty, and devotion. The course is fixed and certain by which a person may return to the full blessings of Church membership, and we stand ready to receive all who wish to do so.

Sincerely yours,

The First Presidency


So far, the process is moving along exactly as I had read. I am anticipating the next step which is a visit from some church official, in which he (of course it will be a man...these women they have been sending over the years are clearly not effective enough) will try to sway me back to the church.


I look forward the conversation and, hopefully, the thumbs-up pictures I will take with him.


Note from the Future: I realize you can see my address on the letter. Please don't be an internet cliche and stalk me. However, if you do decide to, just know that I will blog about the experience. I mean, this "quitting Mormonism" stuff can only interest people for so long.

April 27, 2010

If only Facebook told it like it really is...

"Kelli Petersen has clicked on her own profile thirteen times today."

"Kelli Petersen tried to look at photos of her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, but was denied access."

"Kelli Petersen changed her profile photo because she didn't think her current one was hot enough."

"Kelli Petersen searched for high school classmates to see how well they've aged."

"Kelli Petersen started to take a quiz about 'Which High School Musical Character Am I?' but got worried that her results would show up on her page, so she quickly closed the application."

An Open Letter to the Motorcylist with the Purple Jacket


Dear Motorcyclist,

You're pretty cool. We all know this. You can maneuver into tight spaces between cars, you can swerve easily, and you can even travel on the shoulder to avoid sitting in traffic like the rest of us jackasses.

Nevertheless, when you wound up driving in front of me in the slow shuffle we call our commute, please don't make the mistake of thinking it was because of your rad driving skills. Rather, I had to slam on my brakes so you didn't wind up fully pressed into my driver's side door, leaving a crotch-rocket-shaped dent on my car.

I'm sure you are a super guy, with your purple leather jacket and all. I would hate to see you wind up looking like a pile of bloody vomit on the side of the road, because you failed to look where you going prior to changing lanes at a zip-fast pace. I assure you, we (in our boring sedans and SUVs) will still think you are the tops even if you slow it down a bit and avoid driving in the areas which regular motorists cannot travel.

In the meantime, you are giving all motorcyclists a bad name. Cut it out.

Sincerely,


Girl with Sweaty Palms Gripping the Wheel of Old-Man Car

2010 UMX Competition at Bender's Tavern

Writing for a music magazine is really fun.

No, seriously, it is.

One of the many perks is that you get invited to neat events, such as UMX. This is an annual "Battle of the Bands" put on by Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN), the brains behind the city's biggest festival, People's Fair. Leading up to the event, hundreds of bands apply for the chance to just play at UMX. Out of those hundreds, only about 80 are accepted. Over the course of a weekend, each band plays a 10-minute-long set, while the audience judges them. The event is free to everyone.

The prize: the opportunity to play in front of thousands of people at People's Fair.

I haven't quite figured out the system of green ballots versus orange ballots. Sponsors and "official" judges get one color while everyone else gets another color. What I do know, however, is that by being associated with Colorado Music Buzz, I get free beers. And isn't that what music is really about: free beers?

So, on March 28th, desperately hungover from the night before, I dragged my sorry ass to Benders Tavern. I felt too sick for their fantastic Bloody Marys, but I summoned the willpower to suck one down, anyways. Unbeatable, I tell you. I have the strength of forty gods.

Along with my boyfriend and my best friend (a musician and a music promoter, respectively...together, we're like the A-Team of Denver music), we traipsed between the two stages every ten minutes, watching band after band. Some were good, some were bad, some were really bad. But none were average. Because the rule of the ballots is that you can't rate a band as average (a 3, on the scale of 1-5). Otherwise, 75% of the bands would be 3s. This makes the task of judging extremely difficult.

"This band is the reason the number three was invented," as Keene wrote for one act.

Nevertheless, there were some standout acts.

Abi and the Blue Language is a boisterous, 4-piece ensemble with the frontwoman playing keys and the sax. And what a frontwoman she is! Abi is flamboyant, loud, and stylish with the bravado to back her occasionally brash lyrics. The rest of band, however, seems to fade into the background, unable to compete with Abi's spotlight. Funnily, it seemed quite a few people at UMX were offended by the band's lyrics. One mother gasped and covered her teenager's ears in horror, acting as if Abi had just exposed herself onstage.

Unfortunately, I think it's like the Blue Language will not make it to People's Fair because of this. It seems their real audience may be found in seedy clubs and raunchy burlesque shows. And those venues are more fun, anyways.

Another band that made me sit up and pay attention (as well as I could while clutching my gurgling stomach, that is) was Mono Verde. This lively Latin-Reggae band blew the crowd away with trumpets, bongos, accoustic guitars, saxophones, and more. Two vocalists tag-teamed, sometimes in Spanish, sometimes English, but always with emotion. Generally, I'm not a fan of Latin music because it drives me nuts not knowing the lyrics (or only some of them). Also, my limited exposure to the genre means most of what I have heard was, well, pretty chungo. So for a Latin band to receive my supa-prestigious 2010 Best of UMX award, you know they must be fantastic.

(Or, it could mean every other band was just horrible. Rest assured, if you are one of the 79 other bands that played UMX, the former is true.)


That being said, however, I'm disappointed in the band's sense of marketing. Riding on that excitement which comes from discovering a new local band, I went to Google to track them down. Not only did I want to get details on their next show, but I also wanted to write up a blurb in the magazine about them. After a bit of searching, I found a Myspace page that 1) had no upcoming shows listed, 2) had no songs available for listening, 3) was entirely in Spanish (something I might have been able to work with, had I not been facing a deadline). This goes without saying, but I had to pass on writing about them this time.

Notes from the Future: I just checked back on their Myspace page and they now have some upcoming shows listed, such as D-Note in Arvada on May 1st or Mercury Cafe in Denver on May 15th.

April 26, 2010

Eric.

Remember when I posted about that super creepy spider-centipede-looking bug? This is what it looks like if you need a refresher:

http://images.whatsthatbug.com/images/house_centipede_vegetarian.jpg

Anyhow, Keene found one at his band space. What do you think he did?

Yup, brought it home. In a jar. And named it Eric.

He took it to work, where he was supposed to let it go, but instead switched it to a clear box from his lab and filled it with bugs for Eric to eat, as well as plants and stuff. Then brought it back home. He told me about it right away, saying, "I didn't want to just hide it in the tool closet and be deceitful, but I promise you won't even see it."

Arg. I can't let this set a precedent of keeping nasty bugs, though! "Uh oh, Eric died...I better find something else to put in this cage. Like a scorpion or an alligator or a dinosaur!"

Oh yeah. I forgot that I don't like kids.

There are many kids out there that remind me of why I don't like kids. Sure, they're cute (sometimes) and tend to have better clothes than me. But my dislike doesn't just stem from jealousy. They earn my prejudice. They totally justify it.

Take yesterday, for example. We threw Maia's 6th birthday party.

("Threw it where? Har har har!" you may be saying and thinking how clever you are. To this I reply, "Threw it in your face because you weren't invited! How does that taste?")

Keene reserved the movie theater at our apartment complex for the day. We live in a pseudo-fancy apartment complex which has a movie theater, in addition to the fancy pool I brag about all summer. We set up all the important party things such as Twister, a hula hoop, a video camera, cake with weird polka dots and stripes, and four 2-liters of soda. Even though we don't really drink soda, Keene was very excited at how cheap they were. He's not allowed at the store alone now.

The little girls started trickling in at 2:00. As they walked in, I over-enthusiastically greeted their parents because I didn't want them to be weirded out by me like many of my son's friend's parents are upon first meeting. It may be the zebra coat or crooked bangs or the fact that, on some days, I look and act about ten years older than Kayden. I'm not really sure. But on this particular day, my bangs were pinned back and I was wearing a nice, somewhat dressy shirt and clean-ish jeans.

We played a little Twister while waiting for everybody to arrive. What I didn't realize when I bought the game is that it is meant for adults, not 6-year-old girls. While they had fun, it turned out to be like a session of Hatha Yoga for them. But without the peace. There is no meditation in the world of little girls. That would require they close their mouths once in a while.

So, the girls were all nice and adorable and well-behaved and this made me happy. Well-behaved children are like Xanax for me. I started thinking, "Aw, they aren't so bad. I shouldn't be so harsh in my decision to hate children."

But then, I realized that one little girl was not like the rest. While they were all loud and screamy (which is cool...I'm loud and screamy too, so I can relate), this one was not good at listening.

"No, no, the buttons on the wall are only for adults to push."

"No, don't leave the room. You need to stay in here."

"No, I said don't touch those buttons."

"No, let Maia open her own presents."

"I said let Maia open her own presents."

"No, you can't take other kids' toys."

To me, it says a lot about a kid who won't obey adults who aren't their parents. I mean, it is their job to push the boundaries with the parents a little bit. But to push the boundaries of a strange, new adult? What are you, child, a psychopath or something?

At one point, another little girl said to Annoying Girl, "This isn't your birthday, it's Maia's. Quit opening her presents." I wanted to sweep that child up and give her a big kiss on the forehead for her sense of snarkiness and for standing up for the birthday girl. But I'd get arrested and jail is just no way to spend a Saturday.

Now, maybe it's because, as a child, I was shy and mostly respectful (yes, it's true!). But I just can't understand what makes a child feel it's okay to grab the birthday candles off someone else's cake as soon as they're blown out or to hit an adult with a stuffed animal that had just graciously been given to her.

Nevertheless, Keene the child-whisperer later said, "I think she's great! She's a firecracker." I replied, "Well, that's fine, but I'm staying at a hotel if she ever spends the night."

So in conclusion, I probably don't hate all kids.. Just the bad, misbehaving ones. And since that seems to include about 80% of the kids I meet, it's safe to categorically say that I dislike 80% of kids in the whole wide world.

I bet you're saying, "Sheesh, what a witch." Well, it's true. I am a witch...with big shark teeth (I meant to type "sharp," but "shark" works even better). Now please go and inform the children of this.

April 24, 2010

Death Cab for Cutie.

I fucking hate the singer's voice. It's like he's trying to sound British or faux-punk.

"It smells l-oi-ke a garbage can!"

Listen here, dude, you're from Washington. No matter how much you e-nun-c-i-ate, you will never be from Liverpool. So just stop trying.

April 23, 2010

Is Your Single Behavior Sabotaging a Possible Relationship?

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

Being single is all about freedom: freedom to dress how you want, do what you want, clean when you want, and so on. You don’t have a girlfriend who insists you cut your hair or take the garbage out before your apartment starts to smell. You don’t have a boyfriend who wants to see you wearing something nicer than sweatpants or makes you want to keep your legs clean-shaven. You don’t have a significant other who stops you from making a fool of yourself in public.
However, this sense of freedom is a bit of a Catch-22. No one is around to keep you on your toes. Yet these behaviors can stop possible mates from wanting to be around, keeping you on your toes. It is up to you to spot and fix these relationship-sabotaging behaviors.

Wild Child

No one expects (or wants!) you to be subdued on a Friday night at the bar. You can let loose and have fun. However, know the social limits. Every guy wants to be with that girl who will crack a joke, do a funny dance, and laugh too much. However, it is the rare man who wants to bring the drunk girl—the one flashing her bra and starting fights—home to meet his family. A woman will not look at the man groping the butts of random women and think, “I’m going to marry that guy someday.”

Pigpen

Your home is your own private area; but if you are not careful, it will ensure you never have to share it with anyone else. Say you’re on a date. You find yourself rounding the bases at light speed and you bring the date back home with you. If he or she walks in and sees piles of garbage on the coffee table or cockroaches eating the leftover food on your counter, it will be very difficult to feel passionate. Not only could it ruin your night…it could ruin your chances of this date becoming something more permanent.

Furthermore, your personal hygiene will be a big roadblock if it is not up to par. It’s easy to fall back on certain things, if you don’t have that somebody around to impress. Maybe you don’t shower as often as you could. Or maybe you only shave your legs in the summer (sound familiar?). Or maybe you don’t iron your wrinkly clothes. However, if you act as if you don’t love yourself, as if you’re not proud of your appearance, potential mates will notice.

Busy Bee

One of the best pieces of advice for people hoping to find a mate is to get involved and be busy. Being out and about, working on your hobbies is a great way to meet like-minded people. However, have you become so accustomed to filling your schedule that you are unable to free up time if necessary? If a person asks you out, but you must repeatedly reschedule or “take a rain check,” he or she will not wait around forever. Learn the art of downtime.

April 22, 2010

The Hidden Stakes in Your Relationship's Heart

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

What are the most common reasons a relationship ends? Infidelity, loss of interest, incompatibility, or lack of communication. Wow, those are all pretty big indicators that something is wrong within a relationship. However, what about those small things people never think twice about, the minor happenings you may not even notice seeping in? Here are some problems which could actually be killing your relationship from the inside out.

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions
“I am only telling you this because I love you.” Ah, the words of friends and family. Sometimes they have the best intentions. They may see something in your partner to which you have turned a blind eye. But sometimes, they just can’t see past their own opinions—such views that may have nothing to do with your partner at all. So what if your family thinks he is pompous or your friends think she is ditzy? This input has a way of crawling into your mind, taking hold, and poisoning a relationship. There are times when you need to listen to those you love (such as when they are worried for your safety, money, job, or other factors which do not involve “but you’re too good for him/her!”) and there are times when you need to tell them to butt out. Keep in mind, however, if it is not just one or two people but your whole clan warning you away…you may want to pay a little attention.

Video Game Break-Up Box
“Just another minute, I’m close to beating this level!” Archaeologists will someday look back on our generation and refer to the computer or Wii as the Break-up Box. “Many people of long ago (particularly the males) used to get so absorbed within the workings of this strange device that it would drive away the partner and sever the relationship altogether. Fascinating!” they will ruminate. It is no surprise that, when doing a Google search of “World of Warcraft” and “divorce,” there are nearly a million hits. A person can become so engaged with a game that he or she will lose focus of what is really important. Don’t be that guy.

Getting Too Comfortable
“Can we please go out or something?” One of the best parts of being in a relationship is feeling so comfortable with another person that you do not have to get dressed up, you do not have to entertain them at all times, you can just…be…you. Yet this is one of the biggest traps into which a couple can fall. A person can become so comfortable in his or her relationship that they stop caring about their appearances, take their partner for granted, and may even become an outright bore. When this happens, it becomes very difficult for the girl/boyfriend to want to remain in that relationship. It is not just possible, but likely, if you are not careful. While you can certainly allow comfort into the relationship, don’t let it become the entire relationship.

A Birthday Party for Wana

On the day I turned 19 years old, a friend came to visit me at the bookstore where I worked. As we talked, she spotted an adorable teddy bear which we were promoting (buy three children's books, receive the bear for $5.00 or something). We agreed the bear was possibly the cutest teddy bear in the world. She said, "I'm going to buy it for you...for a birthday present." And she did. Because it was my birthday, after all.

I took the bear home and put it on my dresser. Not more than a week past before 2-year-old Kayden discovered the bear and claimed it as his own. He named it Wana, and made sure it was in bed with him every night as he fell asleep. It became his most treasured doll.

Fast-forward to the present, he still sleeps with the bear (but don't tell his buddies). A week ago, he informed us (with actual handmade invitations) that there would be a birthday party for Wana on April 20th, at 5:23 p.m.

First we ate dinner, with Wana as the special guest. (Don't worry, we didn't eat the plastic pizza and doughnut too.)



After dinner, we had a birthday party for a stuffed bear. But this wasn't just a "make-believe" party, oh no. Kayden had put some real thought into it.

Leading up to the party, he had begun saving up his desserts at school, rather than eating them. A Rice-Krispie treat, a cookie, and a fruit roll-up made up the birthday cake:


I think Keene and I were both a little wary about eating the cake, but it turned out to be really tasty.

Then it was time for presents. The week before, Kayden had asked me oh-so-politely if I would make a hat for Wana, so I did. And I wrapped it.

Then everybody gave Wana their own presents: a crocheted flower from Keene, a car from Maia, and an eraser from Kayden.

Overall, the bear's party was a raging success.

April 20, 2010

My Celebrity Twin.

Awhile back, there was a day-long fad on Facebook: Celebrity Twin Day! Post a picture of your celebrity twin in your profile!

I didn't do it because fads are lame. Instead, I wait until the fad peters out and then I do it. Because then, it's kitschy and retro. It's like owning a lava lamp, but without the commitment.

So, here is my celebrity twin:



No, not Sheryl Crow (though I certainly wouldn't complain).

I'm talking about Willie Nelson.

It's true:


See?

The resemblance is uncanny:














Still not sure?














I don't know when it first occurred to me that I looked like an old man.











It might have been around the time I first put my long hair into braids or tied on a bandana.














Suddenly, people on the streets were stopping me, asking if I would sign their crumpled and fragrant Ziploc baggies.












It's hard to tell the difference, I know.

Nevertheless, I don't mind being mistaken for Willie Nelson. I feel like we share a special bond. We have a real connection.

Quitting Mormonism Begins with a Single Step, Part Two

Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 East North Temple, Room 1372
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-5310


To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Latter-Day Saints. I have not attended church for over fifteen years and have no desire to do so in the future. I would like my name permanently removed from all membership rolls.

Additionally, I would like my son, Kayden, to be removed if he is indeed considered a member as well. He has a sharp, curious mind and tends to put his faith in science more than religion.

Sincerely,

Kelli Petersen
Former-Mormon Extraordinaire


P.S. Thank you for all the chunks of bread and thimbles of water you have served to me over the years. As a child sitting through a two-hour sacrament, that part was always a small blessing.


(Yes, the font is indeed Comic Sans.)

April 19, 2010

Unexpected.

As I've said before, my office is in a very industrial part of town. There are bottling plants, brick distributors, factories with actual smoke stacks, and a thousand auto body shops with parking lots full of cars in varying states of decrepitness.

And let's not forget the homeless people by the train tracks. I know I can't.

Moreover, I have what seems to be a junkyard outside of my office window. It has a lot of scrap metal, some horse trailers, and an RV I wish to steal someday.

But despite the smoke and odors, the neighborhood is really not as dreary as it looks in these photos. To be fair, my camera phone is both cheap and damaged.

I would look at life through a dreary lens if I were cheap and damaged too.

On the front of one of these body shops is a sign with a photo of a red Dodge Viper next to the business name. Naturally, I assumed that it was a stock photo since I had seen a red Dodge Viper used on at least ten business cards in the past. That seems to be a message: "See, I run such a successful business that I can afford to rent this Viper for a day!"

So imagine my surprise when, while driving to lunch one day, I saw this parked outside that building:

Even my phone can't see that car as anything but vibrant and beautiful. I thought it was a fluke, that it must be a rich client or something. But no, I've noticed it parked there nearly every day in the afternoons.

Sometimes it makes me want to cry a little.

But I don't.

Because I'm not a bawl-baby, you know.

It also makes me scheme. My plan is to casually drop by the office, introduce myself, tell them I'm getting to know my neighbors, suck up to the staff, figure out who drives the car, make a point to be extra-nice to that person, start inviting him/her to the children's birthday parties, volunteer Keene to help when that person is moving, subtly mention that I may die someday...


Then when the time is right, I will ask how much (within a $20 range, of course...I am on a budget, after all) I can give them to let me drive the car.

And then I will cross it off my Future list. It's all coming together now.

Exploding Animals and Sunday Hikes

Sunday was warm and Keene didn't have band practice, so we decided to go hiking with the kids. To pick out a trail, I went to the Fun Colorado Hikes website. This is a fantastic, user-friendly site that makes it easy to scour the many, many trails in Colorado. You can search by distance from Denver, by difficulty level, or by Colorado region (North, South, etc.)

I looked in the 60 Minutes From Denver and found a moderate trail called Three Mile Creek Trail. Additionally, it said, "You will enjoy crossing over the creek more than fifteen times!" How did they know that? We get excited about the prospect of playing in any form of water, whether it's in a pool, river, lake, or muddy puddle.

We piled in the car and drove on Highway 285 for about 1.5 hours (or seven hours, in kid-time). This includes the ten-minute traffic stop, when a policeman noticed that I had two license plates: an expired plate still attached at the back and a current one in my rear window. I explained that the screws were stripped, which is why the expired one was still attached. The oh-so-nice cop let me go with a warning, after we promised to work on swapping the plates as soon as we got home.

As I was pulling away, I asked Keene, "So is this what normal traffic stops are like? No worries about warrants? No threats of jail-time? I wasn't even worried about my license being taken away this time!" (It's been an eventful few years...) Immediately, I sat up straighter and felt the sense of responsible adult fulfillment wash over me.

With that out of the way, we proceeded to our hiking destination: Grant, Colorado. I think there are about five buildings in all of Grant. I wish we had the thirty seconds it would take to explore the town, but we were eager to start our Day o'Fun.

From Hwy 285, we turned right onto CR-62. This confused us since it doesn't really look like anything but a dirt road; nevertheless, it led us to the trailhead.

We filled out our information at the permit box before setting out. There's nothing that says, "safe family hike" like specifying how many people are in your party and how long you'll be gone in case you later turn up missing.

The hike was immediately beautiful, despite the signs of rampant pine beetles and forest fires.


The hike was also immediately worrisome, since the first five minutes involved walking along the side of a steep slope with an abrupt drop-off. I watched the kids nervously, ready to grab onto them at the first sign of a stumble. Oh, but don't worry: there were three strands of barb wire blocking you from plunging off the cliff. Whew!



Finally, the ground leveled and we entered the forest where everywhere you looked were trees, trees, trees. Standing up, lying down, leaning over...

...acting as bridges. There were many of these simple, but sturdy bridges along the path.



However, there was one instance in which we had to cross a stream by rock-jumping.


There was one area that seemed to serve as the bulletin board of the forest. All of the trees were etched with initials, names, or messages. My favorite was this one:

It made me imagine Led Zeppelin had followed this path forty years ago.

This tree kept throwing gang signs, trying to intimidate us.
"It's not going to work, Tree!"

Although we didn't see any animals, we did spot the hairy Bigfoot at one point, running behind the trees:

While the trail itself was a pretty easy walk, there were many times when we ventured just off the path to explore something more interesting (and a little more treacherous than a Sunday afternoon stroll).



Halfway through our hike, we stopped for a water-and-granola break. I am so glad we brought the snacks. Even though we ate lunch prior to leaving the house, we got pretty hungry from all the exercise by this point.

Finally we reached a meadow after walking for maybe two hours. There was deer (elk?) poop everywhere, but unfortunately, we didn't see any actual wildlife...

However, we did see where a bird of some kind must have spontaneously combusted:

And a deer (or elk):

And a tree:
And an owl:





On our way back down, we came across some really strange trees.

The "goodbye cruel world!" tree standing on this ledge:

The upside-down tree:

The alien-caterpillar-horse tree:




The siamese-twin tree (connected at the base):


The literal rock face:








See-saw!

When I said that we didn't see any animals, that wasn't entirely true.
We did see a wooden bunny, hiding behind the tree:



On our way home, we stopped at the hot-dog-shaped hot-dog stand (which was delicious, by the way).





Notes from the Future: Keene fixed my license plate situation. I think he should quit his fancy, lab-coat-wearing job and become a mechanic. They wear jumpsuits, you know.