Sunday, December 6, 2009

If you'd like to know

Matt got a free chest-cabinet thing while helping some people move in our ward, and we thought that with a little love and, perhaps even inexperienced, care it could look nice in our house.

So we got our first dip into "refinishing" furniture. I say "refinishing" because we didn't end up refinishing it after stripping it down. It just wasn't nice enough wood, but with a little paint it looks nice enough for us.

We stripped off the children's stickers and old thick layers of ugly paint (it took a few coats and two different types of stripper to get it off). The spray on stripper wasn't near as effective as the paint on stripper. (How old am I that I keep smiling the more times I write stripper?) (Matt says 12.) We also had to scrub and scrape and sand like crazy to get it smooth. As most first time projects end up being, it cost a lot more than free; but at least we have the pleasure of knowing we did it ourselves.

And Matt got a new sander out of the deal.

So this is the finished product, minus the hinges, but who needs those? It's the perfect spot--covering our carpet stains from our rotten pumpkins. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Worth of Tree Souls--feel free to quote in church talks

Well Thanksgiving came and went. Overall is was a great holiday. In the Cragun tradition, we went out and got our tree on Saturday. (When I say in the Cragun tradition, it was pretty much in the Cragun tradition. Ususally we get our tree on Fri.) However, most important, we cut it ourselves. We found a small Christmas tree farm about 30 minutes out of town and drove out with my parents. The weather was excellent.

We saw a lot of trees. We walked past many very nice ones; some large and some small. But there in the midst of all of the strong, healthy, well-shaped trees was the one that was destined to be ours--a Christmas tree named Mohanna.

As you may or may not be able to tell that tree is only $5. Because I am my father's son, it was a deal not to be passed up. Why only $5?

The bottom two feet of the tree was in really rough shape. When we took it up to the man at the front, we told him we had cut one of the $5 trees. He said "good I'm glad to see it go." But even though the tree looked coarse and rough on the outside we knew better. We got the tree bailed and on the roof of the car to ride home.

Even though many walked by our tree and dismissed it every time because it had the equivalent of a large rash covering 20% of its body, I'd say we got a screaming deal. And once we cut the hump off of Quasimoto, it became a very nice tree that takes up most of our living room imposing cheer and good tidings on all that bask in it's glow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

In 60 years...

we'll look like this.

But until then, we look like this.

This is Hocking Hills. We went on a very pretty little hike on probably
one of the last weekends there was this year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear Matt: Come home and beat up my fever.

Swiney has hit our home. It is not fun. I'm sorry to say I was one of those people who downplayed the whole virus. Oh it's just like any other flu, just more people get it, oh stop worrying about it, if you get you get it.

Well, I have been humbled. I laid on my couch Sunday after church not to rise again (only somewhat figuratively speaking) until... hopefully tonight, and it's Friday. I missed an entire week of work. I went through multiple medicines. I am just now getting my appetite back. And I now wish you all the best of luck in staying healthy and say, if you feel the desire to get the swine flu vaccination, by all means, Fight the Flu!

Best of luck,


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Conan would have gotten the helicopter too

Besides just a website, I thought I'd post an interesting story.

I'm taking a few classes this year at The Ohio State University (just so everyone knows, it is called 'The' Ohio State University). I'm trying to finish off my masters that I started last year. Lucky for me Nicole is working full-time and therefore I qualify for resident tuition rates.

Of course, as the astute will point out, qualifying for resident tuition is not the same thing as being charged resident tuition--which being not-so-astute is what I found out last week. I got a bit of a sticker shock when my tuition bill was a tidy $2,000 more than what I was planning. This was because I was still considered a non-resident and was being assessed a non-resident fee.

When I called the registrar I was told that checking the boxes was not enough and that I actually had to submit paper work to prove that Nicole was employed full-time and could be considered my sugar-mama. Without taking a breath, she went on to tell me that the deadline to submit the paperwork was the Friday before.

This was all quite a surprise. I registered for my classes after the residency deadline, and I didn't know I wasn't actually considered a resident until after I registered. So I decided that I was going to have to go down to campus and speak to someone in person.

So I spent the next two hours finding the necessary paper work and psyching myself up for battle with the registrars office. My plan was to go down the registrar, kick down the door, state my case, take a few hostages, and not leave until I had been given instate tuition and a helicopter.

On my way down to campus, I said a prayer asking that everything would work out. When I got to campus I told the secretary that I needed to submit my paperwork for residency and she proceeded to laugh at me and then say 'good luck'. It turned out that the residency specialist was on lunch and so another lady came out and said that she would take my paper work and give it to the specialist. I was hesitant because I had to find out that day if I could get residency because my tuition was due the day after. I explained my circumstances and she said that they were not taking any more applications, but that she would pass on the information and it was possible, but not likely, that the specialist would call me.

So I handed over my paperwork without much else to do. As I walked back to my car, I was disappointed in myself. That is definitely not how any of the character's Arnold Schwarzenager played would have handled the situation. Rambo would have shot them with an exploding arrow. Conan would have used his crazy sword. The Terminator would have blown the place up with a bazooka but all three would have gotten instate rates. I just walked out with a 'please call me'. Halfway to my car I decided that I should go back (this part was inspiration).

When I got back, the residency specialist was there. I was now in line behind 5 people. With each person I could see that my chances of a happy ending were rapidly disappearing. The specialist was quite ornery and was quite happy telling people the deadline was a week ago. I decided to wait it out though because I had faith something would happen and it would work out. The last people to go before me was a couple. He was a grad student and had filled out all of his paper work on time but there was an issue or two, so the specialist helped them. He was a full-time student and so their tuition bill include about $8000 in out of state fees. However, with the specialist, things got worked out. The wife at that point was so happy at having the money back that she asked if she could give the specialist a hug. The specialist's face lit up and the two hugged.

Then it was my turn. Now smiling, the specialist invited me back to her office. I explained my case. And she told me that she normally would tell me 'no' but since she was having a good day and I brought all of my paper work with me she would put it through. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be. I'm sure that there was some divine intervention when that girl hugged the specialist. Anyway, I'm glad for when prayers are answered in such simple ways; even if it means I didn't get a helicopter.


For those of you wondering why I haven't posted recently, it's because I've been very involved making a new website.

The site is:

It's a mountain bike trail finder. If you mountain bike, you should take a look. If you don't mountain bike, you should consider getting one, but still got take a look anyway.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Giant Sized

This weekend we drove to Barnesville, Ohio for the amazing Pumpkin Festival to see...

King Pumpkin!!

But mostly to see my aunt and uncle that were visiting from Wyoming.
We've always been closest to the Athey's in our family because they lived a few streets away from us growing up, and Pam babysat me when I was little every day. They have 5 boys, we have 5 girls (and 1 boy:). And I've missed my family a lot lately so it was so nice to see close family.

And they bought me a King sandwich. How nice of them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I thought I would give a little update. We are still in Ohio and I love my job!! I cannot believe the difference it makes in your life whether you like your job or not. I work with students with autism and it is the best job in the world. Matt also loves what he does and sometimes can't get enough of it so we feel extremely blessed.

Other things.
I played with these for a few days this summer while my sister and brother-in-law got tan.

Matt and I also hit 1 year of marital bliss... First year is paper.

We went mountain biking a few times this summer, and now I have a giant bruise on my leg to prove it.

We spent an awesome vacation with Matt's family in the Duluth-ish area in Minnesota by Lake Superior.This is Eric and Catherine.
My little sister finally went off to college. She's getting so big.

We became OSU fans. Purely for two reasons. We don't like being egged or called names or having our tires slashed. And, now I can wear jeans on Friday while wearing a sports shirt... Go Buckeyes!

My wonderful sister Monica and her husband James and family came to visit this weekend! I love being closer to someone in my family, even if the rest of them are so far away.
We spent Saturday at the Delaware (Ohio) County Fair.

This is something the hillbillies call bus racing. Long buses from the dregs of dump yards drive around in figure 8's until they hit into each other.

This is what I call a fat baby.

... It's funny

I think that's a good enough ending right there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Value of Money

Now that we're back, we've been required to get back to the hustle and bustle of normal life. Unfortunately, that usually means spending money. In todays current economic climate and as the US economy recovers, many are worried about hyper-inflation because of the recent increases in government deficit spending. Some of my faithful blog readers are Economists and know exactly what is going on with the US economy and how a Public Option for health care will fix our budget problems (sorry to get politcal, it just slipped). For the rest of my reading audience I have put together this post in hopes of helping you, the reader, understand what your money will really buy. Because I like cars, and we've made several recent automotive related purchases, I'm going to use cars.

1. A mid-grade Michelin windshield wiper will cost you $7.
2. A recent oil and filter change will run you $18 (with coupon).
3. Replacing a cracked engine mount will cost $72. You'll pay an additional $23 for overnight shipping because some autoparts store workers don't read numbers so well and already went ahead and pulled the engine our of your car and put the new mount in only to discover that it doesn't fit and no one in town can get the real one in for at least 4 business days...I've heard of it happening.
4. It will cost you $180 to drive to Lake Superior in MN from our house in Ohio.
5. It will cost you $550 to replace your old sketchy set of low profile tires that hydroplanes as soon as it looks like it's going to rain with some sweet Yoko's. (They were only $40 more than the cheapest set and have a much better warranty.)

6. And finally, for the cost of only two sets of tires, you can get this beauty:

It's a 1987 Nissan Frontier with 114K miles. It's ugly, but it's a truck, so it doens't need to be pretty. It runs like a champ. All of the other cars we looked at in this price range were in serious need of repair, this one didn't need anything. So, anyway, for the cost of 1,666 Snickers bars or two sets of tires, you can get a truck--not your dream truck, but one that will still move a couch or some dirt.

We're back

So this is my first of two back-to-back posts. We're officially in the States again (as of a month ago). I'm now working full-time and Nicole starts tomorrow. I love my job, and Nicole is excited for hers.

As we got towards the end of our time in England, I was glad to come home. And while I loved England, I have decided that I won't miss...

...streets that are too small and narrow and raise your heart rate like you were runnning wind sprints because whenever you drive you are worried about plowing into another car, a building built literally right next to the road, a kid on a bike, or possibly all three depending on fate's sense of humor.

...street signs that are hard to find and make no sense when you do.

...British sinks. Besides an overuse of plumbing hardware, it really leaves you with two options, be miserable with an ice-cold handwashing, or be miserable in the ER waiting room with second-degree burns on your hands.

...beaches in July that are 'just for looking' because it is still only 65 degrees and colder in the water. (They are still pretty though.)

...our rental car. May the next Avis customer enjoy it as much as I did...and may they also get the insurance.

I'm really glad we could go. It was a great time! I'm really glad we're back though too. Life is great.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free money!

I'm doing it. I'm posting more about our trip to England; I was a slacker, and a procrastinator, but no more. (And if you didn't know already, we are now residents of OHIO.)

So, London was incredible, but Matt had to go back to work so I went back to touring. This is the new cottage we moved into in Brackley.

One night Matthew and I went into a small little town where I had my first English fish n' chips experience, although I hear pub style is a little different than the wrap-it-up-in-newspaper style. Notice the random combination of food.

On the way back we stopped to see an enormous manor, but it was closed to visitors, so we conveniently missed the sign that said no visitors on the path that walked through the African pride lands. Or it felt like it. There were different types of deer grazing all across this huge field, which was actually the property of this manor. It was incredible. You could walk right through them.

The next day my wonderful friend Kris took me to a couple of towns in the Cotswolds. I was told before I left that I had to go to the Cotswolds and I had to eat scones and clotted cream there. The Cotswolds are as English as it gets.


Isn't she wonderful?

Scones and clotted cream, my favorite English treat.
That, and Sticky Toffee Pudding.


Bibury is the most famous of the Cotswold villages and it's incredible!

I went to the Stowe Landscape Gardens later in the week, which was a few miles from our cottage, by walking the whole way. It was kind of like a park that had monuments scattered all over and it was beautiful!

I spent another day in Oxford, because I love it, and went to Christ's Church.
Harry Potter anyone?

My final stop for this post is Waddesdon Manor, on top of a large hill, that I walked up with an English lady and learned about Queen Elizabeth; it's crazy to think that one person could own something this incredible. They say he didn't even live there, he just built it to host parties at. I was invited.
This was near the aviary.

Watching kids steal the English pennies from the fountain.