Friday, August 29, 2008

Grooming the Alpha Male

Among higher primate social groups, there's always the big alpha male that runs the show and gets all the respect. Among gorillas he is usually known as the silverback. I always thought it would be pretty neat to get that kind of respect at home, and being the head of a household that consists of more than myself, I'm finally getting it.

One of the main ways you know the alpha male among primates is that everyone socially grooms each other, eating the little bugs, and everyone grooms the alpha male, but he doesn't groom anyone. Now that's when you know you are the big dog.


In real life it kind of just hurts to get groomed, in my experience. For some time people have been telling me that I have hair growing on the tip of my nose, but I never really noticed it. And if I can't see it, no one can, right? I notice it now, because my eyes water to no end as my wife pulls them out one by one. They barely get a chance to see daylight before she pins me down and attacks them with the tweezers. I never put up any kind of fight because I realize it's an expression of love. Sometimes it feels like tough love, but it's genuine.

I won't post a picture of the other grooming activity I receive: the popping of zits on my back. For the most part I prohibit face zit popping because it's a disfiguring activity, but if my body looks like I just got attacked by killer bees, she's the only one that has to deal with the consequences. And yes, it makes my eyes water, but I usually try to hold my breath instead of yell out and then I say something stoic like "I didn't feel that." Although occasionally there is that one zit that you know is attached to my spinal chord because it hurts all over and sends me into uncontrollable spasms when it gets pinched.

Yes, grooming hurts, but it's very therapeutic. When Ashley has had a frustrating day, or is feeling sick, or otherwise is out of sorts, nothing brings her back to energetic chipperness faster than making me squeal with pain just a little. If I am already perfectly groomed with no extra hair or skin imperfections, then it can really be a downer for her day. So unfulfilling. I like to think she likes grooming because of all the loving contact associated with it, or perhaps it's because she was born with freakishly perfect skin and no unnecessary hair so it's scientifically interesting to her. Somewhere down there I think what she likes best is seeing me hold back tears as she seeks out and attacks all my imperfections . It's a microcosm of our marriage, really.

And honestly, I like it. :)

You have to earn your respect, or at least pay for it. After all even silverbacks have to make some contribution to the welfare of the family unit besides just looking intimidating and providing DNA for the next generation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let's hear it for my man!

Well, our apartment is very, very far from being picture-ready for the blog, but it is already transformed... We've spent the summer in a little studio I sublet because Grant had a roommate at his place and let's be honest-who on either end of that situation would want to shack up together? But now my lease is about up and Grant's roommate has left the country and his apartment so we're making the move!

While I ran about all morning with various time-consuming far-away errands and came home and napped all afternoon, Grant huffed and puffed all day spending his morning and afternoon working hard on the apartment, making the transition from it being his grad school shared space to his family's first real Home.

That's actually quite a feat, because it involved dismantling the loft bed he made for himself last year. That alone involved sawing through 4 pieces of 4x4 lumber he used as the legs for the bed. He set up and arranged our entire bedroom (putting together our bed and dragging in the dressers and end tables we're using as night stands). He also made the switch from his roommate's room to our office/extra room by dismantling the bed Jonathan left behind (but no 4x4s this time) and bringing all the storage things he had in his bedroom along with his piano and their speakers in.

So he was tossing around furniture all day and doing a LOT of heavy work. Then we went to the other apartment and he just cheerfully kept going like the Energizer Bunny loading up the car and taking it home and unloading it while I packed things up at the studio.

I was really blown away.

He's still sleeping now, but he's totally earned it. Unfortunately, despite all of Grant's hard work our place is far from picture-ready for the blog. He did the heavy lifting and now it's my job to organize! Turns out I like doing that. And Grant likes that I know where everything is. Sometimes when he asks for something the answer is, "On the table" or "By your computer mouse" but my favorite when the answer is more like, "Underneath the case of the DVD we watched last night" or "On the second shelf of the small cabinet behind the Vitamin C".

Watching him work so hard and without complaint was just one of those things that the other person probably doesn't even think about but makes you fall in Love with them all over again.

Being in this place as Grant's wife is an interesting experience...we both look at each other often and say, "We're married...weird." And I know that we actually did get married, but suddenly I'm bringing in all my stuff to his apartment and he's rearranging furniture and it just puts a whole new level of reality on it. We spent most of our time as friends and a couple here and now being's quite surreal.

Of course, most couples go through that as they're moving in before the wedding and settling in after the honeymoon but most of you know that Grant and I are certainly not most couples.

But I do hope all couples have some measure of the Happiness Grant and I have day in and day out...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Big Day for the Farnsworths!

It's our two month anniversary! Time to celebrate.

We have waited a long time and today several important things happened.

The first is that we got a new addition to the family

Ha ha. For anyone know knows anything about me (Grant), you know I don't really care for cars. Never did, really. Too dangerous and inconvenient. That's why I've been living without one for the last few years. Well, and they cost money. In fact, my driver's licence expired a few months ago, which made it stressful for me to even think about cars. I mean, thinking about cars means I would have to think about taking a dang driving test!

But anyway, I digress. It turns out that married people get cars. That's what we do. And Ashley and I are married. So we went out and bought my dream car. Really. Well technically it would have to be yellow to be my dream car but this satisfies the most important thing colorwise: you can find it in the dang parking lot.

How did we find it? Craigslist. We limited our search to people living close enough to walk to and this little baby popped right up. Finding used stuff is one really nice thing about living in the city (don't get me started on parking, though).

Anyway this is a 2004 Chevy Aveo and we LOOOOOOOVE it. It's amazingly Farnsworth sized. It's peppy and get's great gas mileage. It's interior space is shockingly large, both passenger and storage-wise. And it's so small you can turn it on a dime and park wherever you feel like. Oh such a nice car. And look at that color!

If you will look closely at this picture you will see me holding something else that makes life amazing: a GPS! Yes, we bought a GPS. It was only $150 at walmart and there was no holding us back. Ashley used to use GPS at her work and we were both really taken with it. We'll eat beans for a month in order to have GPS. We are really living the dream, let me tell you.

So the first thing we did was take it to the DMV to get it registered and get me a licence. Well we were super pleased to learn that I didn't have to take a driving test because my license had expired within a year (whew). After much waiting and angst, I am officially an illinois-ian and I can drive. Of course I don't like to, so I made Ashley drive us back anyway. I am real comfortable with so many roles of a father, but driving the's on an as-needed basis.

Unfortunately the place we went doesn't do licence plates so we will have to go tomorrow to another place. But the DMV we visited was right next to...

WALMART! and Sams club actually too. We went straight over and satisfied a bunch of our pent up demand (which we had because we couldn't freaking shop without a car!). You can't tell, but the trunk on this car is amazingly capacious. We are really stocked on food now, and we did some careful shopping for car stuff: the thing that you put in the windshield to keep the sun off the dashboard, jumper cables, a gas can, a basic tool set. Our car got some nice attention today. We were going to polish it with Ashley's hair but we were afraid of lightning. :)

This purchase happened on the same day as another event: my old roommate moved away. This means the two bedroom apartment where I used to live is available, and we put a bunch of our stuff in the car (yay! we can do that now) and moved it to our new apartment. We are even going to sleep here to make it seem official.

In several ways, we feel so much more married today than we ever did. And it's naaaaaice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sosososososo very glad to be married...and why.

Ahhhhh, Dawson's Creek. Although my affair with Pacey, Joey, Dawson and Jen began when they began airing while I was the characters' ages as a sophomore in high school, I quickly got too busy to keep up with them. But I liked them well enough I always wanted to know what happened to them and played catch-up when I was a nanny, trying to make sure I was on the elipitical when the reruns played on TBS and my Aussie friend Kel and I had a little party to view the series finale in 2003. I might have even purchased the first season on DVD.

The show's action depicts the epitome of teen angst and drama set in the backdrop of fictional Capeside, Massachusetts. Essentially, it's a soap opera for teenagers. I don't necessarily recommend it because the show regularly portrays minors doing things I wouldn't have considered even as a non-member adult, but it's a good analogy for my story today.

Now, when you put a bunch of single Mormon kids together, although the settings and activities are different-the level of drama is pretty much the same as what you'll find in any given episode of Dawson's Creek. My experience in the single's branch here was no different. I was actually regularly exhausted and woeful about how much my life resembled a show such as Dawson's Creek as I became sucked into it all. Oh. My. GOODNESS.

But then I got married and that magically all ceased. Vanished in a puff of air. It is AWESOME. I just have my quiet little life with my husband. At Tuesday night burgers yesterday we chatted about how nice it is to know that when we go home, it doesn't matter what we end up doing-whether we cuddle and chat for the rest of the evening or even if he has to get back to work programming for his dissertation and I keep plowing through my adventures getting to know Edward Cullen and Bella Swan better (my awesome mother-in-law sent me my own copy of Twilght!!) we'll be together. We never sit around wondering how our evening will pass because there is someone waiting for us at home eager to spend the evening with us.


So awesome and lovely and all things Good, in fact, I didn't realize until last Sunday just how much I didn't miss it.

Our church services were replaced with a special stake-wide conference with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve (which is a very, very, very big deal to the non-Mormons reading-and for the Mormons, it was Elder Oaks, if you're curious). Being a stake function, the singles branch was there along with all the family wards. I was sitting just a few rows up from the very back and towards the end of the conference I witnessed a very typical scene from the LDS singles culture version of Dawson's Creek.

A young man I know walked down the aisle, perhaps to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom and when he came back instead of going back to his original seat with his friends he stopped and sat down in an empty seat on the aisle next to a girl I know he used to be dating, but judging by the stiffness in her posture when he sat down, isn't anymore. He tried to talk to her and was answered with nods or a shake of the head. She didn't look at him, he kept trying to talk to her...the saga ensued. As I watched it I was reminded of another time when another scene unfolded...I had a date with someone Saturday night and showed up to church late enough Sunday morning that the opening song was being sung and I was able to sit by myself. However, another young man rushed over and sat down next to me and whispered in my ear, "I'm making sure to lean over and say something to you right now so that it looks like I had to come over and for an important reason so nod your head right now. Really, I've been waiting for you to get here so I could sit next to you and when you didn't come sit next to me I came over here instead." Then my date from the night before walked by behind us in the last row to shut the chapel doors... It was a stressful Sunday morning for me.
And just for the record, the 2nd guy's moves were smooth enough he got me to marry him later.
But, watching the couple at conference I was just filled with relief that it no longer resembled my life in ANY way, shape or form. When I was a nanny my employer would listen to the my stories and laugh as she told me that once I was married, life would be boring so to enjoy the adventure while it lasted. She even said she ate it up because she remembered what it was like...
So, as my Facebook status Sunday afternoon declared, I am really, really, really glad I'm not single anymore. I have my boring life with my ever-so-sweet husband-and I couldn't be Happier with it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

At long last...

There was somewhat of a public outcry when Grant posted about my sleeping habits and included pictures to boot. He concluded his thoughts on the matter by saying, "I have resolved, at least tentatively, that I will be getting up at the same time as her and toughing it out". I love my husband. Quite, quite dearly. But. The times he actually has gotten out of bed before me have been minimal. And they certainly haven't been the days I've gone into work at 7:00 am. Now, there have been lots of days his insomnia has really given him some grief and kept him up quite late into the night, but I don't remember this being the case the next time I went into work after he posted that. In fact, he was sleeping soundly enough for me to take a picture with out his knowledge as I walked out the door (like it's some great feat).

I feel quite badly for Grant because not only does he struggle with insomnia (usually when he's stressed and there's been a lot of that going on with school) but he's also an incredibly light sleeper. I can sleep through thunderstorms without twitching but it can pull him into consciousness to see what's wrong with me if I so much as change my breathing pattern. So when I approached him yesterday to kiss him goodbye before I went into work and he didn't move, I had to look at his chest to make sure he was breathing and actually alive.

I might sleep with my eyes open, but that's not noticeable if the lights are off. Grant clucks his tongue in his sleep. I know I jerk and moan-but that's normal. Trying to go to sleep to "cluck, cluck, cluck..." is quite a challenge, if I do happen to wake up in the middle of the night. It's been my experience that most people will stop making whatever bothersome noise they're emitting if you simply give them a good nudge, but this is Grant and I don't want to wake him so I just have to wait it out. One night, though it was persistent enough that I sought refuge with my i-pod so I could tune out the dang clucking and get back to sleep.

But besides making fun of each other, we do lots of fun things too. Like go out for really delicious burgers. But the story of how we found them is rather blog-worthy in and of itself. A few weeks ago, Grant had a friend in his department at school who was moving to London and planning to chuck all his furniture and buy new there. Well, he offered Grant anything we'd like to have, but warning us that all of the stuff was really bad and he was just going to throw it away anyway. I'm not sure what this guy's standards are, but we replaced Grant's metal futon with a leather loveseat for free. We also got a whole bedroom set, 2 desks, a shelving unit, end tables, a huge rolling kitchen cart and could have had a dining room table with chairs but it was just too big for our place. We couldn't believe the stuff he gave us was "crap" in his eyes because we're not sure we would have bought new things that nice.

But after a long, sweaty day of dealing with elevator schedules and getting his stuff to our place and another person's house we decided we were all well-deserving of food and beverage. There is a bar/grill type place here in Evanston that offers $1 burgers on Tuesdays after 5pm if you order a beverage. Well, although I'm sure they make the deal to get people to buy the expensive beer, you're also entitled if you get lemonade like me and Grant. This particular arrangement was something Grant had always known about but never actually attended with his friends when they went, mostly out of a distaste for bars. Well. He got schooled. We know that sometimes, in the world of Deals-you get what you pay for. We figured the burgers would be kinda like this, but oh, no. It was just a really good deal. So good we've been back every Tuesday since to enjoy them. Since they're so cheap, you have to pay a little for extras like cheese (75¢) and pickles, tomato or onion (25¢ each). But still, even with my pickles and cheese it's less than $2 for what is normally $7-8 at this establishment. And the fries are good too...

So, even though I don't say much, I am Lovin' the married life, especially because it's with Grant. He's so fun and energetic and excited about everything, he really makes life a ball. And he's doting-I've always, always, always wanted to be doted upon. Many people who have seen us or even just pictures have made comments on how obviously he adores me-of course, I reciprocate those feelings, I'm designed to by nature of being a woman. But the way he cares for, Loves and treats me fills me up to the very tips of my toes.

I am so very, very Happily married.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Photo Mosaic

Ashley and I went through our respective picture collections to compile a collection from our lives and from our lives together and we made a photo mosaic. I won't bore you with the details but I had so much fun writing programs to modify and prepare the pictures and then using software to create this mosaic. It took a lot of time but it was worth it. Ashley started reading Eragon to pass the time while I was working on it.

Yes, it's made of little pictures from our lives. You probably can't see it here, but you can go to a (slightly shrunk from the original) version at my picasaweb site. If you download it and zoom in you can see all the sweet pictures.

We can't wait for the poster to arrive (20x24). We are going to frame it right away.

Ahhh technology and family. Can there be any two things as wonderful?