Monday, June 27, 2011

Animal Rescue

One of the many side jobs I have as a teacher is being the advisor for my school's chapter of the National Honor Society. It's a service organization for students who excel in academics and leadership. So, basically, they're the best kids ever, and it's a lot of fun and very uplifting.

Last week, we had the chance to help out at a local animal rescue center. I was surprised to find out that they had a lot more than just dogs and cats. They also had horses, chickens, pigs, goats (regular and pygmy), emus, geese, ducks, and even a couple of yaks! Here's a picture of an emu for you, I think it's Clyde. I'd have a picture of the yak too, but when we stood by the fence to look at it, it false charged us and scared me to death.We fed the animals first thing, and, dang, they eat well! A lot of local businesses donate produce and bread for them. After they had eaten, and the owners of the facility had relocated Andy the head-butting goat, we split up into groups and cleaned stalls.

Mike and I mostly helped to clean out the pygmy goat stall, and then the sheep stall. I was okay with this, because I love pygmy goats. They're kind of adorable. I mean, look at this:
Also, it turns out Mike is the small-livestock-whisperer. All the goats and sheep wanted him to pet them.After the hard manual labor was done, we took a couple of giant dogs for a walk. Mike got to walk a huge, gorgeous Siberian husky, and a walked a black dog that could have passed for a black bear.

By the end, we were sunburned, exhausted, and very happy. It's really fulfilling to work hard alongside of a very cute (and strong!) husband and some very impressive and talented kids. Our next big activity is a tour of the food bank and helping out a little bit there. I'm pretty excited for it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why We Crave Drama

Something that is interesting about people is the seemingly inherent need for drama. Even if you don't think you want it, there seems to be something that pulls you into a juicy story or a venting rage. Or is that just me?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think I've put my finger on it. To explain, I first need to present a detailed analogy.

One Christmas, my cousin gave my little brother an old west style fort made out of wooden blocks. That fort, simple as it was, substantially changed our play time. We invented the most time consuming and intense game yet. The premise was simple: you have spring, summer, and fall to plan, grow, build, and trade. Then, winter comes, and the fortmaster would determine whether or not you survived the winter.

Our neighbors, 5 siblings close in age to us and each other, my brother, my sister, and I were the contestants. We each had a plot of bedroom carpet staked out. And then, we'd have a free for all to vie for starting capital. The toy box was opened and you grabbed like mad for my brother's farm animals, cowboys, marbles, socks, anything that could possibly be helpful, until time was up. That's when trading began.

Of course, we were kind of cutthroats, but we were also endlessly creative. We were almost manic in the way we gathered, traded, and prepared for an imaginary winter and it's dangers. Of course, there was little real danger except for the danger of the fortmaster's declaring a disappointing, or embarrassing fate. We loved that too; creativity in explaining that you didn't have enough blankets or firewood, so you had to cut open a cow and sleep in it for the last 2 weeks of winter (we obviously, had just recently watched Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back), was crucial to making the game fun. It was invigorating to have the sensation of fighting something huge and dangerous, and, yet, being completely safe.

I think that the gossip and drama of life can be the same way. We create a temporary enemy, a person who has upset us or done something we dislike. This feeling of conflict brings an adrenaline rush because we are choosing to fight, even if our enemy is not present (they usually aren't). And yet, there is seldom any real danger. We can criticize, theorize, and even demonize a person or group of people in the safety of like-minded people with very little chance of anything happening. Essentially, participating in gossip and negativity is giving us a rush of adrenaline without any risk.

I assume, like most chemical induced responses, this can be addictive. I guess that's why it's so easy to slip into the cycle of negativity. Hopefully this isn't coming off as self-righteous or preachy, it's just that I've been trying to eliminate some of the negativity in my life, but it's turned out to be hard. It's really hard. And I think thinking about it this way has given me a little bit more objective way of looking at these situations as they come up. Hopefully that will help me to try to deal with things in a positive way instead of wallowing in negativity because my brain loves the chemical hit is gets when I fight an imaginary battle.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Live Every Week Like It's Shark Week

Forever and ever ago now, we made these awesome shark cupcakes with Stephanie and Cortney.
Here's a secret about me, I love themed parties. So, I was really excited when we planned to make the cupcakes and watch Jaws (which I had never seen before). It was fun, and the movie only made me scream like twice.
Luckily, I now get the "That's some bad hat, Harry" reference (Mike says it's in the credits of either Lost or House).
To make sure we can go to the beach in the future, Mike looked up the odds, and you're more likely to get hit by lightning than attacked by a shark. Unless you wear a swimsuit with fish designs and swim around sharks while they eat. So, that's good to know.

I think we'll have another themed cupcake night soon. We're watching Tremors this week to prepare for the live episode of Film Sack we'll get to see at the conference we're going to on Friday (this time, it's Mike's professional conference), maybe killer worm cupcakes? We'll see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Finally Summer!

There were days I thought it would never come. But, we're pretty much having a blast! Here's our latest adventure... at home s'mores. Maybe this is a thing people do, but I have only ever made them over a fire.

Anyway, we turned on the broiler and toasted the marshmallows, and warmed out hands...
... toasted them...
... and enjoyed their gooey goodness.
(They are purple looking because they are chocolate marshmallows, not an effect of the cooking method.)

In other news, we're making some exciting changes. Mike is transferring to the U of U because they have a great computer science with a nationally ranked emphasis in video gaming. We are so lucky because we get to spend tons of time together. We're headed to Alaska soon, and hopefully we'll be able to go to California later on to check out some of the big video game companies and do fun things. I'm not going to lie, this has the potential to be the best summer ever.